Sunrise on a steamy tropical palm swamp; the daily ritual at a salt-rich clay lick; and scores of amazing birds that you have only seen in a field guide, inspiring the mantra, “I must see that bird!” The Amazon Conservation birding circuit offers these and myriad other nature experiences that inspire a lifetime of amazing memories.

In late October 2017, the nonprofit hosted our crew of three professional naturalists for a tour of this very circuit, from top to bottom: WayqechaVilla Carmen, and Los Amigos birding lodges. We covered habitats from the puna grasslands and Polylepis forests of the high Andes to the rainforests of the lower Amazon basin.

All three lodges provide comfortable visitor amenities, in addition to their respective scientific facilities. Trails at the stations—and the travel routes between them—offer a mind-boggling diversity of birds and habitats. In particular, the descent of the Manu Road—from Wayqecha to Villa Carmen—seems to host a suite of new bird species every 1,000 feet. And the boat trip down the Rio Madre de Dios tells a fascinating story of the region’s native wildlife and cultures.

Visit the lodges. Give yourself plenty of time. And support the valuable conservation efforts of Amazon Conservation. Just be prepared; for the nature experience of a lifetime.

Written by Stephen Shunk, Owner and Lead Guide at Paradise Birding and writer of the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America