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Belize and Tikal 13-Day

Gray-necked Woodrail Belize is the best location to begin your tropical birding travels! Located only a few hours from the USA, Belize is home to over 600 species of birds. Easy trails, comfortable climate and easy access to great birding locations make Belize a very special place to learn the tropical families.

Belize is one of the most environmentally conscious countries in the Americas. Thanks in part to its small population, over 60% of its 23,000 sq. kms. have been protected. This protection has allowed the birds and wildlife to continue to flourish. Over 600 bird species have been recorded within its borders and along its reef! Belize is the last Central American stronghold of the majestic Jabiru which nests in the savannas and wetlands of the north. Regional endemics such as Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Flycatcher and Yellow-lored Parrot may also be found in the savannas. The rare Orange-breasted Falcon and Stygian Owl can be found in the Maya Mountains alongside many of the northern migrants. The broad-leaf rainforest holds more target species including many forest raptors the rare and local Keel-billed Motmot.

The Mayan ruins of Tikal hold not only the magic of an ancient civilization, but also many species that are difficult to find elsewhere. Regional endemics like Gray-throated Chat and Rose-throated Tanager can be found in the low scrub forests near our lodge. Quiet patience have earned rare sightings of forest floor species like Thicket Tinamou and Pheasant Cuckoo. Evenings by the hidden ponds offer generous views of many birds who come to bathe at their edges in the waning light.

TOUR FOCUS: BIRDS

  • Tour Cost
  • Trip Length (number of days)

    13-days/12-nights with Tikal Extension on February tour only

     

    2018 Cost

    $3950 for 13-day trip, from Belize City

    Prices are per person double occupancy. If a single room is preferred or a suitable roommate is not available a single supplement fee of $600 will be charged.

     

    Included in the Tour Cost:

    All ground (and boat) transportation from Belize City airport. All accommodations. All meals from dinner on arrival day through breakfast on departure day. All entrance fees and guide fees. Tips for meal service.

     

    Not Included in the Tour Cost:

    International air travel, passport fees, luggage fees, trip insurance, alcoholic beverages, departure taxes, phone calls, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.

     

  • Itinerary
  • Brief Itinerary

    Day 1 - Arrive/Rio Bravo

    Day 2 - Rio Bravo

    Day 3 - Rio Bravo

    Day 4 - Maya Mountains

    Day 5 - Maya Mountains

    Day 6 - Maya Mountains

    Day 7 - Tikal

    Day 8 - Tikal

    Day 9 - Tikal

    Day 10 - Crooked Tree

    Day 11 - Crooked Tree

    Day 12 - Crooked Tree

    Day 13 - Return Home

     

    ITINERARY

     

    Day 1 ARRIVAL & Drive to Rio Bravo Conservation Area
    After going through customs we will load our van and begin our adventure driving the Northern Highway to the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. Approximate driving time without stops is 2.5 hours.

     

    The RBCA covers 5% of Belize’s land area and is a privately held wildlife sanctuary and research area within the tropical dry forest region. The La Milpa Station, named for the ancient Mayan ruins found on the site, offers great food a excellent accommodations.

     

    NOTE: Though most birds we pass will be new to everyone, we will stop only for birds that are less common so as to spend less time on the road and more quality time birding! Dinner our Lodge.

    After dinner we will have a short group discussion and an orientation to Belize before turning-in to rest before an early rise.

     

    Day 2 Rio Bravo
    Pre-breakfast birding will offer an orchestra of bird song. We will bird the grounds around the lodge until breakfast is served. After a quick breakfast served family style we will continue our birding through the grounds and seldom used entry road.

     

    Lunch (as with all our meals) will be at La Milpa and will be followed by a brief siesta in the heat of the day. However, butterflies in the area can be fantastic at this time of day!

     

    Birding the property around Rio Bravo is a great experience from dawn to dusk, and beyond, offering a multitude of species. Collared Forest Falcons, Ocellated Turkeys, Northern Potoos and a multitude of tanagers, honeycreepers and hummingbirds may be seen.

     

    Night spotlighting may offer Spectacled Owl, Mottled Owl, Black-and-White Owl and a number of roosting passerines. We have also seen Jaguar, Margay, Kinkajou, Tapir and other mammals!

     

    Day 3 Rio Bravo
    Today’s birding will take us to the La Milpa ruins where the forest remains little disturbed and the birding is often interrupted by Black Howler Monkeys and Spider Monkeys! We always hope for an ant swarm here to bring in a number of tanagers and woodcreepers. More spotlighting will extend our day!

     

    Day 4 drive to DUPLOOY’S JUNGLE LODGE
    After breakfast we will depart for DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge with birding stops along the way.

     

    Lunch will be at a local favorite, Cheers, on the Western Highway near Belmopan. Continuing on we will arrive at our lodge in time for some birding and exploration before dark.

     

    DuPlooy’s sits on the hillside above the Macal River in the northern end of the Maya Mountains. Over 200 species of birds are possible on the property and the Lodge is one of the rare places in Central America where you can observe all three species of Toucan in one morning. In addition, Orange-breasted Falcons and White Hawks may be seen soaring above the river.

     

    Day 5 DuPlooy’s Jungle Lodge (or similar)
    Today will be spent exploring the property around DuPlooy’s.
    Many opportunities for birding and photography abound on the trails and the entrance road to the lodge. All meals will be at the lodge.

     

    Day 6 DUPLOOY’S JUNGLE LODGE
    Today, dependent upon weather and road conditions, we will have options to explore the Mountain Pine Ridge or other similar habitats. We will take a boxed lunch so we will not need to return until dinner!

     

    Day 7 Drive to Tikal, Guatemala / Tikal Inn
    Tikal departures—you will need to be prepared for customs entry into Guatemala, including changing any Belize or US dollars to the Guatemalan Quetzal. When we arrive at the border we will be inundated with “money changers.” Glenn will handle the negotiations for changing any money if you desire. Most vendors in Tikal will accept US dollars, but not Belize dollars. It is a good idea to change a little money for souvenirs, snacks, drinks, etc.

     

    Money changing is separate from customs, which will be our next step, so please keep US$25 or BZ$50 available for customs! This is a quick process on the Belize side... keep passport ready!

     

    The next stop will be in Guatemala and will be US$5 “tourist fee”. We will also be required to fill out a customs form, have a pen handy along with your passport. Please stay together during the customs exchanges and border crossing while Glenn handles the issues with the bus connection. The bus will meet us on the other side of the gate after we enter Guatemala. We will arrive at Tikal in time for dinner.

     

    Day 8 & 9 Tikal National Park / Tikal Inn
    Tikal is the best known of the Mayan Cities. The temples tower high over the forest canopy. The birding in this forest can be phenomenal!

     

    After breakfast each morning we will enter the park, along with a Guatemalan guide to explore this incredible area through its many trails. There is also a roadway from our lodge, an old runway actually, that leads to several ponds, around which we have found Pheasant Cuckoo and other rarely seen species. In the evening many birds and other wildlife come to the ponds to drink and bath.

     

    Lunches will be at local restaurants, dinner at our lodge.

     

    Day 10 drive to Crooked Tree / Crooked Tree Lodge
    The Crooked Tree Sanctuary is part of the village of Crooked Tree. This village, named for an old Bullet Tree that is no longer standing, is on an island in the fresh-water Crooked Tree Lagoon. This inland waterway is the drainage for the surrounding savanna area of northern Belize, and is a “magnet” for birds of many species throughout the year.

     

    Day 11 Crooked Tree Sanctuary / Crooked Tree Lodge
    Rise early for pre-breakfast birding. After breakfast we will board our boat to explore the Crooked Tree Lagoon and Spanish Creek in search of crocodiles, howler monkeys and, of course, many birds! The lagoons, streams and surrounding marsh all drain into Black Creek, and eventually into the Belize River. The vegetation along the creek is relatively low, affording some excellent views of the wildlife.

     

    After lunch back at the lodge, we will take a short rest before we explore the upper end of the island of Crooked Tree, a pine/oak savanna home to many hard-to-find species such as Yellow-lored Parrot and Yucatan Jay.

     

    Dinner at the lodge. After dinner we will have a group discussion and list updating, and of course, time to relax and enjoy the moonrise over Crooked Tree Lagoon. This is also a great area for stargazing!

     

    Day 12 Crooked Tree Sanctuary / Crooked Tree Lodge
    Rise early for pre-breakfast birding. After breakfast we will explore the village looking for endemics and other species we may have missed. Returning to the lodge for lunch we will have a short siesta before boarding the boat for a trip into the northern end of the lagoon.

     

    Day 13 RETURN HOME
    After Breakfast we will drive back to the Belize International Airport for our flights home. (Lunch is available for purchase in the airport’s restaurant.)

     

  • Accommodations
  • Birding Areas and Accommodations

    Black Rock Lodge (or similar)
    Black Rock Lodge sits on the hillside above the Macal River in the northern end of the Maya Mountains. Their electricity for the riverfront cabins is supplied by a custom hybrid system consisting of micro-hydro and solar power.

     

    Over 200 species of birds are possible on Black Rock’s property and the Lodge is one of the rare places in Central America where you can observe all three species of Toucan in one morning. In addition, Orange-breasted Falcons and White Hawks may be seen soaring above the river.

     

    Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary - Crooked Tree Lodge OR Birds Eye View Lodge
    Both lodges are set along the Crooked Tree Lagoon on the edge of the Creole settlement of Crooked Tree Village. This town of about 900 people offers incredible wildlife viewing as well as a very friendly atmosphere. Smiling faces will greet us everywhere in the village. The lodges offer private rooms or cabanas with en-suite bath and their own dining room to serve our guests. The down-home treatement at each lodge, including delicious Creole style meals and desserts are always a hit!

     

    La Milpa Lodge / Rio Bravo Conservation Area
    La Milpa Lodge lies in the heart of the tropical dry forest of the Rio Bravo Conservation Area. This huge, 300,000 acre swatch of land encompasses 5% of Belize’s land area! The lodge rooms are spacious with en suite bathrooms and hot showers. We prepared meals are served family style in the main building.

     

    Tikal, Guatemala / Tikal Inn
    The Mayan ruins of Tikal are probably the best known of all the ancient cities of the Americas. Its tall structures, used in the movie Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, stand mysteriously amid the amazing rainforest, inviting our exploration. We will have a local Guatemalan guide with us as we explore the ruins for the first time. Howler Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys and Coatimundi are everywhere, as are many other species of mammals and, of course, birds! The lodge is very comfortable, with a quiet luxury (and a pool). Breakfast and dinner will be at the lodge, while lunch will be at the park’s restaurant. All facilities are in easy walking distance from the Park entrance.

  • Additional Info
  • Birds of BelizeRecommended Field Guide:

    Birds of Belize

    (University of Texas Press, 2003)

    by H. Lee Jones