From $2,495 per person sharing
January 6 – 10, 2024
4 nights / 3 days
This special safari has been jointly developed and marketed by The Wild Source with our preferred American birding experts – Reefs to Rockies. The two companies are both biologist owned and have joined forces on some American safaris to maximize opportunities for our travelers.
Owls have a special allure for wildlife watchers. Perhaps we are drawn in by the familiarity of front-looking faces. With most species being nocturnal we often don’t see them even when they are around. Owls are a mystery, with super powers of remarkable hearing and the ability to thrive in darkness these birds of prey are masterful predators. They can even thrive in frigid temperatures, but as winter takes hold some owls from the far north move to a larger food base in the rich Sax-Zim Bog in Minnesota, creating a unique opportunity for owl viewing.
This safari is designed to maximize opportunities to find and view a diversity of owl species. Birding specialty companies feature winter trips to Sax-Zim Bog to focus on Northern owl species, but our trip combines some local Bushman knowledge (TWS Guide originally from Botswana but now a USA resident) in Minneapolis (where you fly in and out anyway) allowing us to have an excellent opportunity to find 3 to 4 additional species. We still put a full amount of time in to focus on the Sax-Zim Bog where the giant ghost of the North, the Great Gray owl is the star attraction. The Great Gray is our primary target species, as well as the species with the highest chance of being seen and photographed. Snowy owls are also typically seen, with the Bog a possible location, but also there are good areas around Lake Superior where we base to ensure we are flexible to take advantage of any snowy owls using the area. We have a very high chance of seeing this species. Less predictable is the Northern Hawk-owl that are sometimes in the area, they are amazing day time hunters (we watched one catch a weasel after taking two voles) so high chance of observing and a major priority IF one is at the Sax-Zim bog. We have also had luck with barred owl, which is a wonderful year-round resident species in the Bog. Occasionally other owls wander in like the Boreal owl or Short-eared owl, but either of these will be considered a brilliant surprise. In Minneapolis we have a high chance of seeing Eastern screech, long-eared owls, and short-eared owls — all are fairly secretive species but we have excellent known locations to try to find them. We may well pick up the most commonly seen North American owl, the ubiquitous but impressive great-horned owl in this region too.
Beyond owls there are other wonderful birds to see, including some stunners like evening grosbeaks, and raptors like rough-legged hawks and bald eagles. Sax-Zim Bog has a winter magic feel and often produces some outstanding mammal sightings too. We will appreciate the overall wild and have time to enjoy the diversity while conducting our mission to maximize owl sightings.
Our guide team is exceptional and very unique in it’s depth. The full safari is guided by Reefs to Rockies specialist guide, Chip Clouse, a birding master and all-around naturalist. In Minneapolis we are joined by Toffee, who is actually a Bushman Guide from Botswana (the brother of Diesel, who guides for us in Botswana). Toffee was invited to the famed Disney Guide Training program and then married an American and settled in Minneapolis. With his soul always in the bush Toffee has sought out the wildlife in his area and has a special fondness for owls. Once in the Sax-Zim Bog you will also be joined by a local bird guide expert, Judd, who is a specialist birding guide in the region ensuring we have the most local up to date knowledge to maximize sightings.
You will be traveling in The Wild Source American safari vehicle, the Roaming Bison, which has a custom 4×4 conversion to cope with the winter conditions. Uniquely the vehicle also has a special hydraulic pop-top that will be a one-of-a-kind vehicle in the region for superior roadside owl photography. The vehicle makes a perfect ‘blind’ and has room for everyone to view at once. We also have high quality optics with a spotting scope to set up for close detailed viewing of owls at a distance. The vehicle is kitted with a fridge, a jet-boil for hot refreshments, and a supply of snacks to maximize our comfort as we go for serious wildlife viewing. When appropriate we will exit the vehicle and brave the cold to observe owls. Walks are typically on flat ground (likely covered in snow) and usually we are out the vehicle for less than 30 minutes, though some owls can put on a show and tempt you to stay out longer despite frigid temperatures (the vehicle is available to go and warm up).
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We are thrilled to share this exciting Owl safari with a maximum of 6 travelers.