STEVE HOFFMAN Tour Leader/ Owner
In January 2017, after 10 years as Executive Director of Montana Audubon, Steve opted for a career change and started Merlin Birding & Nature Tours, LLC. Over the past 20+ years, Steve has led or co-led birding tours with the National Audubon Society (Belize, and Copper Canyon, Baja California & Oaxaca, Mexico), HawkWatch International (Veracruz, Mexico) and Montana Audubon (Costa Rica and throughout Montana).
As founder of HawkWatch International and Co-founder and Science Advisor for the Veracruz River of Raptors Project (VRR), Steve offers VRR tour participants a valuable scientific and historical perspective. Steve currently resides in Bozeman, MT.
Steve “Esh” Eshbaugh became hooked on birding at the age of eight when he stumbled upon an American Woodcock incubating eggs on her ground nest. Steve led his first international nature-guiding trip to Costa Rica in 1999; over the years has led eight other groups there. He has birded in 25 countries and very much looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for birding and nature education with tour participants. Esh uses Swarovski Optics on all his trips. He lives in Bozeman with his wife and son.
Merlin Birding & Nature Tours LLC was launched in early 2017. Our two US-based leaders, Steve Hoffman and Steve Eshbaugh (Esh"), have decades of guiding experience, primarily in Mexico and Central America. During the past 20 years Steve Hoffman has led eight 12-day tours to Veracruz, MX, and Steve Eshbaugh has led birding expeditions to Costa Rica on nine occasions during the past 15 years. Please note that we always choose the best, most knowledgeable local guides. We always limit the size of our tours (typically no more than 12 individuals), ensuring a client-to-guide ratio of 6-to-1 or better, thus providing a personalized experience for everyone. We shall make every effort to choose clean, comfortable accommodations (but not always luxurious!).
Tour prices are given “per person, double occupancy” and will generally include a tax-deductible donation to BOTH Montana Audubon (Steve Hoffman’s former employer) and a local nonprofit bird/habitat conservation organization working in the area(s) we visit.
Our tour fee includes the following (unless otherwise noted):
All trip materials, including detailed daily itinerary, list of what to bring, recommended field guides and pre-trip reading materials, checklist of likely birds & other noteworthy wildlife, etc.
All services of the leaders and guides
All transportation upon arrival to destination city
All accommodations during tour dates
All entrance fees to museums, parks, etc.
All meals (except alcoholic beverages) are included, typically from breakfast on the first full day through breakfast on the last full day
Tour prices DO NOT include round-trip airfare, passport/visa fees, departure taxes, baggage fees, single-supplement fees, telephone calls, laundry, room service, souvenirs, and tipping of the guides & drivers (optional but highly recommended).
PLEASE NOTE: Tour costs, itineraries and dates are subject to change. Prices may be affected by international currency exchange rates, fuel costs or itinerary changes.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: We strongly suggest all participants purchase trip insurance to cover unforeseen circumstances that may interfere with their travel plans. We have found the website Travelinsurance.com to be quite helpful when shopping for travel insurance that meet your specific needs.
IMMUNIZATIONS: Prior to your departure each participant is responsible for any necessary and appropriate vaccinations/immunizations. We recommend you consider visiting the Center for Disease Control website (www.cdc.gov) for specific guidance on trip-appropriate vaccinations/medications.
LIABILITY WAIVER: ALL participants are required to sign a Liability Waiver when registering for any of our tours. The waiver is included in the tour registration PDF.
Steve Eshbaugh, Guide & Naturalist