At Terra Incognita we’ve scoured the globe to identify the Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019. First launched in 2018, the list has grown in its second year to include over 80 tours in 40 countries across six continents.

Ecotourism is a fast-growing tourism sector, already worth USD 100 billion annually. According to The International Ecotourism Society, ecotourism is responsible tourism to natural areas that conserves the environment, supports the well-being of local people and educates visitors and hosts.

Done right, ecotourism can be a force for good, channelling resources to protect the places and species people seek to experience; creating employment opportunities for local people who need them most; and valuing and preserving local culture. Done poorly, ecotourism can put unsustainable pressure on wildlife and habitats, distort the local economy and change local customs and cultures irrevocably.

To help birding travellers make more informed choices Terra Incognita curated this community-generated list of amazing tours that seek to (i) conserve the environment, (ii) support local people and (iii) educate guests and hosts. The unique list below has been generated by a global community of travellers, bloggers, conservationists, tours guides, birders and ecotourism operators.

First launched in 2018, the list has grown in its second year to include over 80 tours in 40 countries across six continents.

“With every new tour we discover, we’re amazed to see what operators are doing to have a positive impact on the planet through tourism,” said Dr Nick Askew of Terra Incognita. “Eventually we hope to showcase ethical tour experiences in every country worldwide.”

Tour operators on the list are doing everything from partnering with conservation charities and donating to conservation projects, to offsetting the carbon emissions generated by their business activities and encouraging their guests to do the same during their travels. Some are contributing to conservation research, while others are empowering local people through environmental education and capacity building, supporting future conservation ambassadors.

The list includes a transparent explanation of how all tours contribute to conservation, local communities and education and is open to reviews from guests who’ve participated in the tours.

“It’s exciting to discover ecotourism operators that see sustainability as a fundamental way of doing business, rather than just a marketing strategy or checklist”, said Kristi Foster of Terra Incognita.

“Rather than take away from a tour, guests can join in that creative, innovative process. These tours are experiences where everyone involved learns and grows”, she added.

The Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019 list was launched during the British Birdfair 2019 – an annual event for birdwatchers that supports BirdLife International.

Bird experiences highlighted range from Golden-collared Manakin leks in Panama, to reintroduced blue ducks in New Zealand, to searching for Uganda’s iconic Shoebill by canoe. You can even see the autumn Vulture migration across the Strait of Gibraltar, with as many as 2,300 birds recorded in a single hour.

With tours in 40 countries across six continents you can find inspiration to explore a new corner of the world or discover an ethical experience closer to home.

Read on and join a movement to create positive change for people and planet through travel.


Featured Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019


Inglorious Bustards Birding & Wildlife Tours

We love birds and wildlife! But even more than that we love making sure you see it, experience it and have a fantastic time to boot. Between us we have over 40 years experience in nature conservation, ecology, tour leading and the hospitality industry, and we’ll use it to bring you fantastic wildlife spectacles alongside chilled-out birding and local culture and food whilst supporting our #FlywayPromise

Spain & Morocco | Inglorious Bustards Birding & Wildlife Tours | Birding Two Continents.

Legend has it that Hercules used his incredible strength to separate the continents of Europe and Africa, creating the Straits of Gibraltar. The Inglorious Bustards are all set to use our outstanding local knowledge and expertise to bring them back together for you! This is our feature specialist tour, and our experience of the area and local contacts mean we can take you where other guides fear to tread

The point at which Africa and Europe meet is also the epicenter for one of the world’s most spectacular bird migrations. Every year, millions of birds make the 14 km journey across the Straits of Gibraltar, making use of uplifts and thermals rising off the Rock of Gibraltar and the stunning Moroccan peak of Jebel Musa. An estimated 250,000 raptors pass over this rugged terrain during these periods, as well as untold thousands of other journeying passerines and seabirds.

On this trip we will experience the very best of two continents from cracking locations in both Spain and Morocco. As well as being at the heart of the thrilling migration spectacle, we will look for Marsh Owls, Northern Bald Ibis and Barbary Macaques as well as the seabirds and cetaceans of the Straits on a boat excursion and Moroccan specialties in both mountain and wetland sites.

There’ll be plenty of time to really enjoy the cultural differences too – one day you’ll be sharing tapas by the sea, the next you’ll be sipping mint tea on a rooftop!

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All India Birding Tours

Our birding tours have been designed to cater to areas which the local people are involved.

We are responsible to bring in and pioneer nearly all the states in Northeast India by introducing bird-watching tours in areas where the community used to depend on Hunting which has resulted in the local communities giving up hunting and taking up to host birdwatching tourism.

India | All India Birding Tours | Himalaya 20 days

The northeast Indian hill country and the adjacent Himalayas is an important center of endemism and biodiversity in general, full of charismatic wildlife species so as to excite almost any imagination.

The World Heritage Kaziranga National Park is a highly reputed wildlife protected area, located in Assam. A fabulous mosaic of grasslands, forests, and pools backed by misty hills.

The Park also has more than 450 species of birds, 18 of them are globally threatened species. Because of the varied habitat types that the Park comprises of, as also of the strict protection accorded to them, birding in Kaziranga is very special. The varied terrain provides habitat for wetland, grassland, and woodland species The Bengal Florican is the main attraction. You should also be able to see a good variety of raptors. See more here.

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Neophron Tours

Neophron Tours is one of the major tour operators in Bulgaria for travelers who come for specialized wildlife holidays. Run by experts with long experience in this type of tours, the company has built up a reputation for the quality of services offered. Neophron Tours offers a variety of birdwatching and other wildlife and natural history tours in Bulgaria, Northern Greece and Romania, including botanical tours, Brown Bear and Wolf viewing, dragonfly and butterfly tours, wildlife photography tours and mountain hiking. Nature tours can always be combined with visiting some of the sites, included in the UNESCO list of the world cultural heritage sites. Tailor-made tours for individuals and couples are always possible.

Bulgaria | Neophron Tours | Birds of Prey Tour

On this tour you have excellent chances to see all the 22 breeding raptors in Bulgaria, plus several passing, non-breeding and vagrant species, including Eurasian Black Vulture, Eurasian Griffon Vulture, Egyptian Vulture, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Eastern Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Saker Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Long-legged Buzzard, European Honey Buzzard, Montagu’s Harrier, Red-footed Falcon, and Levant Sparrowhawk. See more here.

Bulgaria | Neophron Tours | Woodpeckers, Owls and Grouse Tour

This tour gives a great opportunity to see all the nine resident species of woodpeckers occurring in Europe, plus some elusive species of owls and grouse, staying high in the wish-list of many birders. See more here.

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Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge

It is our sincere hope that all of our guests feel like family when they are on vacation at Tranquilo Bay. We try to give each of our guests the individual attention they deserve while they are staying with us. Each person’s experience is unique.

Jim & Renée Kimball and Jay Viola have been close friends for many years. We all wanted to do something off the beaten path. Working in Houston, Texas for over 10 years gave us time to research different parts of the world and fall in love with Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Jim and Jay came to Panama in 1999 and 2000 respectively to build the eco lodge. They have overseen the physical development of the resort every step of the way. Renée supported the cause from Houston working on the soft side of the resort’s development.

Jim brought Renée and son Tres to Bocas full time in September 2004. The Kimball’s daughter Boty was born in Panama in 2006. The Kimballs live on site at Tranquilo Bay. Jim and Renée both work on the lodge’s operations.

Jay’s family, including son Scott, joined Jay and the rest of the crew in Bocas in September 2006. Jay and his wife had a second son, Patrick here in Panama in 2008. Jay and his boys live on site at Tranquilo Bay.

We have a variety of staff members to meet your needs at Tranquilo Bay. The staff to guest ratio varies between 1:1 and 1:3 depending upon the season. Our full-time biologists, Ramon and Natalia, provide you with lots of information about all of the nature and wildlife found within Bocas del Toro. We also have our resident dogs, Fula and Chola, who do what they can to improve your stay with us.

Panama | Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge | Birding Western Panama

Tranquilo Bay has listed over 200 species of birds on-sight and over 500 from our daily excursions to nearby bird-rich environments. Bocas del Toro, Panama is geologically gifted, creating extreme species diversity; there are an incredible variety of ecosystems, habitats and altitudinal zones only a short distance from the lodge. Our guides are passionate about observing wildlife, excellent at spotting as well as identification and frequently work with bird watching groups and individuals with birding specific itineraries.

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Adventure Birding Tours

We are Birding and Wildlife Experts, Culture and History Specialist, Nature and Photography Assistance, Family holiday planners with dedication and determination to promote Tourism in Ghana. Our Tour Guides are well trained to Lead and Assist you on any tour in Ghana, and take you to the Upper Guinea Rainforest, Coastal Lagoons, Saharan Savannah Grassland, Mountains, Cape Coast and Elmina Castle and Cultural Centers to see all your target species of Birds and Mammals as well as exploring Culture and History centers to experience the colorful culture of Africa.

Ghana | Adventure Birding Tours | 16 Days Ghana Birding, Wildlife and Photography Tour

Ghana with over 760 species of birds. Ghana is an ideal West African Birdwatching Destination as you cover all of the West African core habitats that include Coastal lagoons and Saltpans, moving inland you find excellent Upper Guinea Rainforest protected areas and also the broad-leaved Guinea woodland and Savannah plains in Northern Ghana.

Ghana has 12 of the 15 Upper Guinea Endemic Bird Species recorded, is politically stable and has a well-developed infrastructure that is possibly the finest in West Africa. The star attraction is the Yellow-Headed Picathartes, Egyptian Plover and World famous Kakum National Park Rainforest canopy walkway.

Some of the much sought after species found here include Pel’s Fishing, Akun and Frasers Eagle Owl’s, Brown and Standard Winged Nightjars, Black, Rosy, Northern Carmine and Blue-Headed Bee-eaters, Red Cheeked Wattle Eye, Forbe’s Plover, Brown, Rufous Winged and Puvel’s Illadopsis, Long Tailed Hawk, Congo Serpent Eagle, Violet Backed Hyliota, Black Dwarf, Red-Billed Dwarf, Yellow Casqued, Brown Cheeked and White Crested Hornbills and over 20 species of Greenbul just to mention a few of the gems in store for visitors to this exceptional Birding Destination.

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Experience Nature

At Experience Nature, we aim to offer our travelers something a little different from the run of the mill Birdwatching holidays. We don’t believe in leading people on a mission to tick off as many species as is possible on a designated trip, we think it’s about experiencing wonderful wildlife, responsibly, at a relaxed pace and at ease in it’s natural environment.

Prior to offering a Birdwatching holiday, each is thoroughly researched and visited by us personally, to find the most suitable accommodation, the best local guides, and most accessible wildlife watching areas. Our Wildlife Photography holidays are also run with the same ethics, with hide-based breaks benefiting the local wildlife and not causing a disturbance.

Some holidays include a cultural twist, wine tasting in France, a Whisky distillery tour in Scotland, or fine dining in Sweden are examples… but all include unforgettable moments, which will stay with you forever. The sight & sound of thousands of Cranes arriving to feed at dawn, tranquil Canoe Safari’s for Beaver, brilliant Scarlet Ibis by the hundred coming to roost and visiting brightly colored Bee-eater colonies.

Gambia | Experience Nature | Jewels of The Gambia

The Gambia has been a popular Birdwatching destination since the 1970’s and is still probably the safest African Country to visit. No wonder our tour leader Ashley has visited close to 20 times, leading two trips a year here since 2011.

As with all our trips, this is run at a relaxed pace, giving ample opportunity to enjoy the wildlife and in particular the many colourful bird species that can be found here. With 9 Kingfishers and 8 Bee-eater species for example, this guarantees to be a real feast for the eyes.

With little effort, we can hope to see up to 300 bird species, with the photographers among us expecting to get quality images of a large percentage of these.

Throughout the trip we will have 3 guides and our own driver, making sure individual group members needs are catered for, so photographers, for example, can spend longer with a single species if they wish.

We spend time near the coast, but also travel inland to experience the real Gambia and it’s various habitats and associated wildlife, including Hippo’s, Bee-eater colonies, bird rich rice paddies and ancient forests.

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Bunica Maria

We are an eco-friendly guesthouse from the Danube Delta, Romania, and we promote traditional Romanian living style and fish food.

We organize birdwatching, wildlife and photography tours in this area.

Romania | Bunica Maria | Birdwatching in the Danube Delta

You will see the wildness of the Danube Delta.

Our tour is guided in English, and you will have the chance to discover lots of birds – Pelicans, White-tailed Eagles, Kingfishers, Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Ducks, etc. – and landscapes (the rise and the sunsets are amazing on the water). There are more than 330 species of birds in this area.

Each day of the tour (and there are 4 trips) we will visit different areas of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, whose biodiversity is only surpassed by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Galapagos Biosphere Reserve in Ecuador.

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Guyrapytâ Birdwatching Uruguay

Our company specialises in arranging bird watching tours in Uruguay.

From our base in Uruguay, the gateway to the River Plate Basin, we invite you to enjoy your holidays travelling around and observing the most attractive ecosystems in Pampas -grassland, native forest, wetlands- and birds in the region. All throughout our work in the field, we promote such values as the respect and recuperation of ecosystems and species.

Uruguay | Guyrapytâ Birdwatching Uruguay | From the Banks of the Uruguay River to the Atlantic Coast

Eight days itinerary around all the Uruguayan territory

This is a circular itinerary around all the Uruguayan territory in search of the birds restricted to the Pampas biome – Pampa endemics.

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Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019 Map

All Top Ethical Birding Ecotours 2019 | Alphabetical Order