There are a lot of birds in this big, beautiful world and seeing them requires a lot of travel… and a lot of help! The myriad joys of travel are increased immeasurably when one takes an interest in the native flora and fauna of a place. To truly optimize your opportunities for observation and understanding when you travel, put your pride to the side and rely on experts. Matching the right guide to the right locale can be the difference between a good trip and a truly memorable one.
I’ve been trying for a long time to find a way to aggregate tour company listings and reviews in a way that would be optimal for both users and tour operators. I have neither the time nor the inclination to be an archivist, obsessively chasing down every licensed guide in the world. Anyway, that approach flies in the face of how we do things on the internet. One thing I’ve recently learned from the brilliantly blossoming Nature Blog Network is that with the right design, a valuable resource can really build itself.
When I recently inquired about how to choose a birding tour, the highly reputable Jeff Gordon, a man with two decades of experience as both a professional bird tour leader and eager tour participant, hit the nail on the head regarding the limitations of current solutions:
Talking to friends, reading detailed itineraries and trip reports, and asking for references from the companies are all helpful, but as you suggest, a bit scattered and labor intensive. Over time, I hope that a useful web source for all this sort of information will emerge–and when it does, I hope it’s long on useful detail and short on personal attacks.
I’m sure many of you share Jeff’s hope. I certainly do. So here’s my attempt to bring both tour operator listings and impartial reviews under one roof. Presenting Best Birding Tours…
Best Birding Tours is designed to help match the birders of the world with the world’s birds. While I built it on the same toplist engine I’ve used for the Nature Blog Network, its purpose is dramatically different. Here’s a place any interested traveler can search by region a database of tour guides that submitted their sites for free. Right on the same site, anyone can rate and review any operator. Sounds cool, right?
Best Birding Tours is still a bit unpolished, as well as underpopulated. As word spreads, though, I’m looking forward to a dynamic representation of the most outstanding avian observation expediters out there. I’m also hopeful that you (yes, you) will help me improve Best Birding Tours over time by suggesting useful features, adding reviews, or just testing it out. So tell your friends, particularly the ones that lead professional birding tours. Whether you’re a world-class guide or just looking for one, this is the site for you!
Something like this is very much needed.
You may want to also check out the BirdingGuideReviews Yahoo Group. It hasn’t seemed to take off, but there are some reviews posted there. In fact, I had forgotten about it until I saw your post.
I hope your site works out, because it would be very nice to have a comprehensive resource for birding tour information and reviews.
How interesting Mike and you might want to invite Kevin from wildside tours http://www.wildsidetoursinc.com/ to join your list serv since he is aba approved bird tour guide.