AdventureSmith Explorations Recommends
Five Small-Ship Cruises for Amateur Ornithologists
“Small ship cruises are able to access remote locations where larger vessels can’t go, safely and comfortably. As such they are the perfect platform for bird enthusiasts to view species that may otherwise be difficult to reach,” notes AdventureSmith Explorations director and founder Todd Smith, himself an avid birder.
For best viewing, he suggests, cruise when the birds are most prolific. In Alaska bird watching is best in spring (May 15-June 15) and after Aug. 15 to see migrations. Hundreds of bird species migrate to Alaska’s arctic each summer, crossing over Alaska’s inside passage. Glacier Bay National Park is a hotbed for birders with cute puffins and the rare Kittlitz’s Murrelet. Glacier Bay Adventure Cruise spends several days inside Glacier Bay and guests can get off the ship.
While guests on any Galapagos Islands Cruise will view many species, bird enthusiasts will appreciate the experts from National Geographic aboard the Endeavour and Islander. There are 56 native bird species in the Galapagos, with 80 percent found only here. Thirteen species of Darwin’s Finches are notoriously hard to identify but can be found throughout the archipelago. Choose an itinerary with Espanola Island during the breeding season of May-November to view the Waved Albatross with its seven-foot wingspan.
Delfin Amazon Cruises brings guests to minimally 100 birds. Colorful Macaws and Toucans get the most attention but serious birders delight in finding local species such as Antbirds and Hoatzin’s during excursions into small tributaries and lakes that increase chances of viewing a variety of species. Travel during the high water season of December-May for the best chance to see a variety of birds.
Cruising the Antarctic Peninsula reveals many species of penguin, such as Chinstrap, Adelie and Gentoo. For a greater diversity of penguins, including King penguins, and the chance to witness huge colonies of up to a million birds, select an Antarctic cruise that includes South Georgia and the Falkland Islands. The Antarctic cruise season is short and penguins mate, nest and rear their young from November to February. Travel in the early season of November and December to view courtship behavior, nesting and eggs. January and February are best to view newly hatched chicks and adolescents entering the water.
Papua New Guinea is one of the most exotic locations for viewing birds aboard a small ship. The diversity of species rivals anywhere on earth and bird watching is combined with authentic cultural interaction and incredible snorkeling. The region is particularly famous for endemic species such as the Raggiana and Blue Birds of Paradise and rare find including the Fire Maned Bowerbird. Most trips are scheduled during the dry season in October and November.
Founded in 2003, AdventureSmith Explorations is based in Tahoe City, CA, along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. In 2012, owner Todd Smith joined the ranks of Conde Nast Traveler's prestigious 13th Annual Travel Specialists List as the world’s expert on small ship expeditions. For information, availability and 2013 reservations Phone: 800-728-2875 toll-free, visit www.adventuresmithexplorations.com or Email: travel@AdventureSmithExplorations.com.