Four years ago I sent a $500.00 deposit into Armas Hill's Focus on Nature Tours for a trip to Brazil's Pantanal. I then spoke to him on the phone about some additional questions and such with regard to the ecotour. One question I asked him alerted me to the fact that he does not know birds very well. I asked him,
"Will we see Amazon parrots in th Pantanal?"
Now anyone who is guiding birding tours to South America HAS to know that when one asks about Amazon parrots, one is asking about 30 species of green parrots that are in the genus Amazona (you know, Kingdon, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, and species and all that taxonomy stuff). Please note that Amazon parrot species occur in the Caribbean, Mexico (North America), Central America, and South America.
So he responded as follows:
"Oh, we won't be in the Amazon."
So the guy doesn't know birds (at least not basic ones, like parrots that occur right in his would-be ecotour's "backyard").
I immediately became suspicious and searched a bit more on-line and found a whole list of scathing complaints about Focus on Nature Tours and Armas Hill. Needless to say, he never returned my deposit. But compared to what others have lost, I seem to have gotten off easy!
I think that the reason he persists in his "business" is that, besides Armas Hill having a good and professional APPEARING website, most birders are trusting and easy-going folks. Perhaps when taken by someone like Armas Hill, a birding enthusiast is unlikely to do too much about it. I do hope that someone legally pursues him and puts an end to his abuse of peoples' good trust.