Ph.D. R. J. Gutiérrez
"What I especially liked about Oscar was his judicious use of tape playback. He only used a tape when it was clear that we might not be able to see a particular species; this approach minimizes disturbance of species."
This brief summary of our recent birding trip with Oscar Rodriguez is a testament to the quality of the birding trip Oscar arranged for us in July 2018. We recommend Oscar without reservation (see specific comments below).
In June and July of 2018, my wife and I hired Oscar to guide us and our Argentine friend, Marcelo Gavenski, on a short, week-long, birding trip to Paraguay. Our top priority was to visit Mbaracayú Forest Reserve in northern Paraguay. Oscar met us in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina and I was immediately comforted by the sight of his comfortable but rugged 4x4 vehicle. Having been stranded or stuck a few times on birding trips because of poorly maintained vehicles, his vehicle was a welcome site. Oscar was keen to begin birding that evening so we went out owling in nearby Parque National Iguazú, which is always a good sign that a guide is enthusiastic. The following day we took a ferry over to Paraguay and then drove to Mbaracyú Forest Reserve. Throughout the week-long trip, Oscar knew great places to eat and bird in order to break up our rather long drives. In addition, Oscar had his hand-held GPS unit loaded with locations of special birds he had seen so that we could stop at exact places to check their presence.
Mbaracayú is one of the largest remaining Atlantic Rainforest areas in Paraguay. When I was on the Board of Governors of The Nature Conservancy (a land conservation group in the USA), we provided financial support to this newly established reserve. Hence, visiting Mbaracayú was a primary reason for visiting this area besides the birding, and we were not disappointed and neither will you be if you visit Mbaracayú. Once at Mbaracayú it was immediately clear to me that the staff knew and liked Oscar because there were many greetings and discussions between him and all levels of the staff. The accommodations at Mbaracayú are clean and comfortable – the food is very good and provides a sampling of the cuisine of Paraguay. The staff is really delightful and helpful.
Oscar has a keen ear and knows his bird vocalizations so we were able to see many species of interest. This reserve also has smaller areas of Cerrado ecosystem that have a unique assemblage of flora and birds, many of which we were able to see owing to Oscar’s knowledge and sharp eyes. He knew the local trails, the different areas of the reserve, and the key species we should be targeting on each trail. What I especially liked about Oscar was his judicious use of tape playback. He only used a tape when it was clear that we might not be able to see a particular species; this approach minimizes disturbance of species.
A trip bonus for us was that Oscar has a great deal of knowledge about the history of Paraguay and its indigenous peoples. Thus, our drives were also educational experiences that made them pass much quicker.
From Mbaracayú we drove to an area near Santa Rosa del Aguaray for an afternoon of chasing more Cerrado habitat specialists, which required a trip down a maze of farm roads to his spot for Cock-tailed Tyrant. We returned to Asunción the next day, stopping at a large wetland that had many marsh birds even though we experienced an unfortunate cold front that limited bird activity. Despite the cold, rain, and wind this area was enticing enough to want to come back!
Oscar is a safe and courteous driver and an amiable companion, which made the drives and trip relaxing and worry free. My only regret is that Oscar did not stop to buy warm, fresh “chipas” on the first day rather than the last day of the trip – then again, I might have gained an extra kilo or two! Chipas are one of Paraguay’s “comfort foods” and they sure do fit that label!
So we all thank you, Oscar for a wonderful trip, excellent birding, safe driving, and great companionship! We will recommend you as a bird guide to all of our friends. We look forward to returning someday to venture further into the Chaco!
Other Customer Testimonials
" In this sense it has been a great experience, this trip through Paraguay, worthy of being repeated one day, taking into account that this country is a great destination for Birdwatchers."
"Upon returning we knew that we were facing one of the best kept secrets in South America: "Paraguay!!!".
"I thought the variety of birdlife was exceptional and the guides were outstanding in their friendly attitude and level of expertise. They were very generous with their time and knowledge and everyone appreciated this".
"Oscar has a special skill in adapting the tour to the person. I am a birder, my sister is not, yet we were both equally happy with the experience".
Isabelle & Peter Meier
"It is not easy to describe with how much love you explain to us every little tree and flower and whatever spot in this awesome landscape. You did not miss one bird alongside the road and wherever we walked it seems to us as also the birds knew you so well as much as you knew every one of them!".
"His knowledge of bird identification, habitat, distribution in Paraguay and bird calls were extraordinary".
Dr. Luke Ward
"Oscar himself is an expert guide. His skill as an interpreter enhanced the groups’ understanding of local flora and fauna as well as land management practices on and around estancias".
"Our guide Oscar Rodriguez is not only an incredible ornithologist, but a conservationist as well, and has an uncanny ability to find target birds. He makes birding fun".
Gerald L. Zuercher, Ph.D.
"Oscar has organized class travel experiences for my students for years and each time has been special!"
"What was also very helpful was that you were able to gauge my style of birding and adapted your skills as a guide to my needs".
"Oscar was very knowledgeable about the natural history of Paraguay, demonstrating expertise in identifying the plants, reptiles, birds and mammals that we encountered and discussing aspects of their biology".
Tui Couch & Colleen Boreham
"Oscar was a superb bird spotter, very easy going, always ready to smile & a wealth of information."
"He has all the logistics perfectly organized, fully equiped with great vehicle and birding gear and the knowledge that only an experienced local guide can provide".
"Oscar was a fantastic leader and guide and got us to the birds and on the birds without fail. He willingly shared his knowledge of his country and its flora and fauna. It was a complete experience."
"He has comprehensive knowledge of both the wildlife and ecology as well as a clear affection and enthusiasm for sharing it with visitors".
"One of the most difficult skills to acquire in birding is learning the slight differences in bird sounds, and Andrew did learn much from you".
Kicab & Marta
"Oscar’s knowledge about wildlife (especially birds) was immense and his abilities made our photography trip a great success".
"I thank Oscar Rodríguez, a guide who is passionate about his work, for gathering the love and knowledge of the birds, thus achieving a spectacular bird watching that this place offers (115 species in 5 hours) through Paraguay birding & nature".
"On top of everything else, you have a delightful sense of humor, and are a very smooth, skillful driver".
Lucas A. Kaminski
"Our trip had the objective of finding interactions of symbiosis between caterpillars of butterflies and ants, a project funded by the National Geographic Society. Surely our trip was successful thanks to the help of our guide Oscar Rodriguez."
Dr. Günther Eichhorn
"Bird watching was very nice in the Chaco. I saw a lot of interesting new ones, like the Strange-tailed Tyrant, the Giant Rail and the Greater Rhea".
"I also highlight the great deal of professionalism in logistics, timetables and knowledge of routes and roads, which greatly contributed to the success of the campaign. Thanks Oscar!".