Wild Latitudes


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South Texas

Birding the Lower Rio Grande Valley

Interested in this tour?

We invite you to join Wild Latitudes on our inaugural tour of one of the best birding regions in the United States: the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas!

You can't get much further south and still be in the US. The latitude and ecosystems of South Texas are subtropical. Exotic birds and other wildlife more typical of Mexico reach their northern range limits here. This means you can see wonderful species that you'll find nowhere else in the US.

Bird specialties of the Lower Rio Grande Valley include the beautiful Green Jay (shown on the cover), the Great Kiskadee, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Inca Dove, Olive Sparrow, and Altamira Oriole.

The region has a variety of excellent wildlife refuges and parks nestled among suburban and agricultural areas. As we look for birds in these natural areas, we'll keep our eyes open for other exciting animals, such as American Alligator, Collared Peccary, Spiny Softshell Turtle, and Armadillo.

As with all Wild Latitudes tours, we will take a light-hearted approach to our birding and nature exploration. We want everyone to have lots of fun, to learn new things, and to see wonderful animals, plants, and landscapes. We’ll keep a moderate pace while also maximizing our time in Texas.

Tour Highlights

 Searching for the special birds of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, such as the Altamira Oriole and Green Jay.

 Taking a cruise along the coast to look for Whooping Cranes.

 Visiting multiple sites in the complex of nature reserves known as the World Birding Center.

RockportCorpus ChristiBrownsvilleMcAllenTEXASMEXICON

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1

The tour begins with our arrival at Corpus Christi International Airport. We’ll drive a short distance north to our lodging in Rockport, on the shore of Aransas Bay.

Day 2

Today we get an early start and head north to explore Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. We’ll walk some short trails and drive the 9-mile auto tour loop in a leisurely fashion, stopping to identify birds and wildlife.

Day 3

This morning we’ll enjoy an intimate 3-hour cruise north to explore the wild margins of Aransas Wildlife Refuge. We’ll have great opportunities to see dozens of bird species: shorebirds, waders, and raptors. We should get close-up looks at the Endangered Whooping Crane. After our cruise, and then drive south towards Brownsville. Time allowing, we may stop to do some birding at Port Aransas Nature Preserve. We’ll also check the bird feeders at the King Ranch Visitor Center.

Day 4

This morning we head out early to visit Padre Island. At 113 miles from north to south, this is the world’s longest barrier island. We’ll visit the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center. Up-close encounters with numerous bird species along the path make this a great place to stroll for a couple hours. After lunch we’ll take time to enjoy a stroll on the beach, look for some shorebirds, and dip our toes in the Gulf of Mexico.

Day 5

We head off this morning to visit Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. This large refuge contains a unique mix of habitats, such as coastal prairie, thorn forest, and tidal flats. These habitats and the geography of the region make Laguna Atascosa a major migratory stopover for countless birds. There are plenty of resident and wintering birds here as well.

Day 6

We’ll spend most of today exploring the habitats of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. This is the headquarters of the World Birding Center. We’ll be on the lookout for more of the subtropical speciality birds of the Rio Grande Valley. Just around the corner is the National Butterfly Center. We’ll stop here in the afternoon to admire the free-flying butterflies among the flowers along the trails.

Day 7

This morning, we make a journey 1.5 hours to the west, into the thornscrub ecosystem. This region is far less urbanized and is mostly a patchwork of large cattle ranches. We’ll visit the tiny Salineño Nature Preserve, close to the banks of the Rio Grande. A little further west is Falcon State Park. The habitat here is arid, almost desert-like.

Day 8

Today we say our goodbyes—adios amigos!—and part company.

COST of TOUR: $2,645

START DATE: Feb 20, 2022

DURATION: 8 days

GROUP SIZE: Up to 12



  • Double-occupancy lodging
  • Ground transportation
  • Breakfasts and lunches
  • Excursions and park fees
  • Guiding services

Get the brochure for this tour

The PDF brochure includes:

  • A detailed itinerary
  • Tour Map
  • Registration Info


Ivan Phillipsen, Co-owner of Wild Latitudes, is a passionate naturalist with a background in scientific research. He holds an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in zoology. Natural history is Ivan’s true passion and what he is most excited to teach to others. Although he is fascinated by just about every aspect of nature, Ivan is particularly fond of birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, plants, and geology. Everything is interconnected in nature and Ivan takes a holistic approach when teaching about the natural world.

If you love nature travel, you’re in good hands with us

How We Travel

We gauge the success of a tour on how well it was enjoyed by all. Providing a rich, rewarding experience for each individual is our top priority. Our tours generally have an easy pace so that everyone gets to experience all a region has to offer.

We create a friendly, non-competitive atmosphere that encourages tour participants to help each other in the field. Just as safety and comfort are cornerstones of our tours, so are humor and the simple joy of learning. The good cheer and camaraderie on our tours often inspire post-trip get-togethers and new, life-long friendships.

Our Focus

We’re crazy about birds, but they are only part of the story.

Our tours offer a holistic experience by taking the time to appreciate all of the animals we encounter– including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. They all interact and play vital roles in their ecosystems. We also take time on our tours to explore the plants and geology of the regions we visit.

Fostering a deeper understanding of new cultures is one of our goals. On your tour, you’ll taste exotic cuisine and hear local music. You’ll have time to peruse the market, stroll through villages, and share stories with the people you meet.

Protecting the Wild

Ecotourism is a powerful tool for protecting the wild regions of the world. For example, parts of Uganda are now devoted to the conservation of the Mountain Gorilla. Though still endangered, ecotourism has pulled this species back from the precipice of extinction.

We aim to make a positive conservation impact wherever we travel. We often use local guides and stay in small, locally-owned lodges. On every trip, we donate to a local conservation organization that works to protect a native species or ecosystem. When you travel with Wild Latitudes you are helping to protect wild places and the amazing species that call them home.

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