SKY ISLANDS AND THE SONORAN DESERT
From the beautiful Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts the spectacular “Sky Islands” rise to considerable heights – up to ten thousand feet – and thus exhibit an astonishing array of diverse life zones. Their names – the Catalinas, Santa Ritas, Huachucas and Chiricahuas – are redolent of their heritage – the last was the ancestral hideout of Cochise and the Chiricahua Apaches.
Our visit to this outstanding area is timed to coincide with the beginning of the “monsoon” season and peak hummingbird migration, as they follow the abundant nectar of this “second spring” on their journey south. The numbers are impressive – hundreds of these little gems can be seen and photographed daily – and a tremendous variety too with a dozen or so species likely to feature. Black-chinned Hummingbird is the commonest but we’ll also see Blue-throated, Magnificent, Calliope, and the lovely little Anna’s and Costa’s Hummingbirds. In stark contrast to the desert the Sky Islands are cloaked in mesquite and grasslands, in forest and even meadows. These diverse habitats produce an unlikely association of species from the spectacular Elegant Trogon to Red Crossbill and from Townsend’s Solitaire to Montezuma’s Quail. Many fine butterflies such as Pipevine and Two-tailed Swallowtails, Atlantis Fritillary and Weidemeyer’s Admiral provide great subjects. There’s a varied Cactus flora, and a wonderful array of colourful lizards though a sighting of the rare Gila Monster will be a bonus. We’ll look for Elk, Pronghorn Antelope, Javelina and Coati, Bobcat and Coyote, and hope to see Black Bears roaming the forests and flowery meadows of these fabulous mountains – a real contrast to the baking deserts below.
A trip to Arizona wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the truly spectacular Grand Canyon – one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World. Here the wildlife takes a backseat and word cannot begin to describe the breath-taking landscape through your lens.
Birds & Reptiles. Also Mountain and Desert Landscapes including the Grand Canyon.
Very easy. No more than three or four miles in any one day, and always at a relaxed pace ideally suited to photographers. Some steep and quite rough paths in the canyons.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, accommodation and meals in Arizona. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, visas and items of a personal nature such as travel insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 12. Only one leader will accompany a group of 6 or less.
In Phoenix, Tucson, Sierra Vista and at Valle, just twenty miles from the Grand Canyon we stay in very good quality comfortable motels. Some Motels will have swimming pools. The lovely Santa Rita Lodge is situated above a stream in the heart of the Madera Canyon at an elevation of 4800 feet. It is an ideal place to relax and enjoy the abundant wildlife of the Coronado National Forest. The rustic cabins are set amid cottonwoods and have hummingbird feeders on the porches. In the Chiricahua Mountains, the Cave Creek Ranch has attractive cabins dotted about a wildlife-filled property. All rooms have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are direct from London to Phoenix. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* may be available.
*These routes may incur a supplement
While mid-summer highs around Tucson and Phoenix average around 37°C the afternoon “monsoon” thunderstorms usually break the extreme heat. Though the low humidity helps, the baking sun in the open desert is still very hot! On the other hand the mountains are quite comfortable at this time of year, especially when the rains begin. Highs seldom run above 27°C and in the mornings it can be as low as 15°C.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.
Mammal, butterfly and bird checklists are available.