Birding Hotspots of a Lifetime

Planning a birding trip? See our recommendations for six birding hotspots around the world that everyone should see.

I need to start with a disclaimer. It’s nearly impossible to pick only six places in the whole world to go birding. And it might be even harder to recommend just one tour company for each place. Birding tourism is really booming. Dozens of companies seem to be popping up, promising you the best vacation of your life, full of jaw-dropping birds.

While I’ve been to only one of these birding hotspots myself (I adore Alaska), I really pulled out all the stops for this story, talking to bird experts and friends from around the country. After much research, I present you with these six great places to go, along with six great companies that can get you there.

If you’re planning a birding adventure, I strongly encourage you to contact some of these companies and see how they might be able to help. Selecting a company to go birding with is much like picking out a new pair of shoes. You can’t go by looks alone; you really have to try them on. I mean, you’re probably looking at spending thousands of dollars for one of these trips. So contact these companies and try them on for size—ask them questions, get their advice, talk to them about what areas you want to visit. Chances are, you’ll figure out the right fit and will soon be on your way to the trip of a lifetime.

Alaksa

It’s easy to see why people call Alaska the last frontier. It truly is a majestic piece of wilderness that has remained largely untouched. Anyone who has been there knows how special it is—and it’s a pretty special place for birds as well.

Many birding trips to Alaska go to Gambell, on the northwest tip of St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. (Once you’re this far west, you can actually see Russia if you have clear weather.) You’ll see a wide range of seabirds here like the tufted puffin (top right), as well as many other species, like the spectacled eider, white wagtail, red-necked stint, dusky warbler and hoary redpoll. Beyond Gambell, you’ll find a whole slew of other arctic birds waiting for you.

Yes, Alaska is big (roughly 20 percent the size of the Lower 48), but try to soak up as much as you can while you’re there. From the birds to the other wildlife to the astounding scenery, it will be one of your best trips ever.

CHECK OUT: A company called WINGS pioneered bird travel to Alaska, and many others have followed in its footsteps. WINGS has been around since the 1970s and has a wide range of tours all over the world, including several options with its sister company in the United Kingdom, Sunbird Tours. Its groups are small and the guides are some of the best in the business. Learn more at Wings Birding Tours Worldwide.

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