14 August 2019
Latin America spans from Argentina to Mexico and takes in the Amazon rainforest, pristine Patagonia, the Atacama Desert and the beautifully dramatic Andes mountains. The vast and varied region encapsulates a plethora of stunning views across untouched natural environments teeming with unique exotic wildlife.
To prepare you for your next wildlife spotting trip, we’ve complied a list of the must-see wildlife of Latin America.
Spanning three different biomes (desert, forest and tropical rainforest), Mexico contains habitat for many different species, one of which is the jaguar. The third largest cat species in the world and the largest in the Americas, the jaguar’s preferred habitat is tropical and sub-tropical forests which Mexico has in abundance.
The elegant jaguar is a very elusive species and spotting one in the wild can be difficult, however, there is promising news coming out of Mexico that the jaguar population has increased by 20% between 2010-18, which is great for conservationists and also means that your chances of spotting one should be stronger too.
Where to stay: Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve - one of the largest protected areas in Mexico - boasts a small but healthy population of jaguars. Anyone who plans to spend some time here could consider staying at Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa. Nestled on a secluded stretch of sugar-white sand, this exquisite resort is surrounded by 44 acres of lush, blossoming gardens while its Unlimited-Luxury package strives to goes beyond what you’d expect from any other all-inclusive experience.
Colombia is now home to the largest tropical rainforest national park in the world, following the expansion of the Serrania del Chiribiquete in 2018. The national park boasts thousands of species of flora and fauna, one of which is the Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth.
Much of this sloth’s features are adapted for its survival, its notoriously unhurried movements are to conserve energy, its downwards pointing hair is to aid water runoff, even its individual hairs are adapted to allow algae to grow on them to help camouflaging with the surrounding forest.
The two-toed sloth likes to spend much of its time up in the tree canopy foraging for food and avoiding the risk of predators on the ground below, meaning a dense rainforest covering is imperative to its survival.
This woolly-looking animal originates from the Andes mountain range of Peru and is the cousin of the Vicuña which features on the Peruvian flag. The uninitiated could be forgiven for confusing the camelid species of South America, but the alpaca is easily differentiated by its blunt fluffy face, short ears, and soft coat.
Much of Peru is covered by the oscillating Andes mountain range, making it a dream destination for hikers. One of the most spectacular trekking routes in the world, the Inca Trail, runs through Peru’s stunning mountain landscapes, beautiful cloud forests, and ancient Inca ruins, passing through miles of Alpaca territory as it goes before culminating at Macha Picchu, one of the seven wonders of the world.
The exotic nation of Brazil is the largest in Latin America and contains the biggest portion of the Amazon rainforest which is the largest expanse of continuous tropical rainforest in the world and an important hub of biodiversity. Over 10% of global species call this area home whether that’s in the colossal murky river, the dense humid forest floor, or up in the lively canopy.
One of these species is the Macaw. These mesmerisingly colourful birds are the largest in the parrot family, and the biggest of the lot is the Hyacinth Macaw which swoops gracefully across the Amazon skyline boasting beautiful blue plumage and distinctive yellow circled eyes.
Despite the exciting colours of the Macaw family, you’re more likely to hear them before you see them on your Amazonian adventure. The noisy birds squawk and scream to communicate with one another and mark their territory.
The Valdes Peninsula on Argentina’s east coast in Patagonia is a hotspot for marine wildlife. The calm gulfs of the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site offer shelter from the harsh waters of the Southern Ocean and provide a breeding and nursey site for a number of marine mammals including the Southern Elephant Seal.
These huge beasts can weigh upwards of 3.5 tonnes and measure over five metres in length. The best time to see them is in mating season between August and March and as the only continental breeding ground for these giants outside of Antarctica, the Valdes Peninsula is the perfect place to do so.
Spider monkeys can be found throughout the tropical lowland rainforests of Central and South America. Their long, thin arms and prehensile tails are adapted to allow them to glide through the forest canopy and hang from the branches with ease, which has earned them their name due to the similarities they share with a spider hanging in its web.
Anyone keen to spot them should spin their way to Lake Catemaco, Lacandon Jungle, Calakmul biosphere reserve or the Sian Ka’an Biosphere reserve.
Take your passion for wildlife to Latin America by contacting your Travel Counsellor today for a personalised service that will exceed your every expectation.