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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

     

    2017 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

     

    Full Itinerary (the order in which we visit each location may vary)

    Day 1 - Arrive Belize
    Crooked Tree Sanctuary
    Arrival in Belize, board our custom birding bus and depart for Crooked Tree and Paradise Inn (birding along the way), arriving for dinner. A brief orientation to Belize after dinner.

    Day 2 - Crooked Tree Sanctuary
    We will explore the Crooked Tree Lagoon and Spanish Creek by boat in search of the many species of birds which inhabit this beautiful sanctuary. With low canopy logwood, turtlebone, provision tree and mangrove, good views of Yellow-tailed Oriole, Mangrove Vireo and Rufous-browed Peppershrike are very possible. The endangered Black Howler Monkey and Morelets Crocodile are also found here. After lunch back at Paradise Inn, we will explore the upper end of the island, a pine-oak savanna. Yellow-lored (Yucatan) Parrot, Yucatan Woodpecker and Yucatan Jay can be found in this open habitat.

    Day 3 - Crooked Tree Sanctuary
    Today we will boat up the New River to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. We will see many bird species along the water’s edge (Jabiru, Norther Jacana, Black-collared hawk) as well as along the trails of the gallery forest surrounding Lamanai. The ruins of Lamanai are some of the best examples of the Mayan civilization. It was the last stronghold of this ancient civilization of which we know relatively little about. Here we have found Slaty-tailed and Collared Trogons, Double-toothed Kite, and Brown-hooded Parrot.

    Day 4 - On the road south to Cockscomb Basin
    After breakfast we will depart for southern Belize, and Pelican Beach Resort, with many birding stops along the way, including the Monkey Bay Sanctuary (a private preserve) and Blue Hole National Park.

    Day 5 - Cockscomb Basin
    Morning birding around the lodge and entrance road. Hummingbirds, honeycreepers, woodpeckers and orioles abound here. In the afternoon we will explore some of the surrounding areas such as Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve. After dinner we will go spotlighting along the entrance road for Common Paraque, Black-and-white Owl, Mottled Owl and Crested Guans as well as mammals like Kinkajou and Ocelot.

    Day 6 - Cockscomb Basin
    Visiting the mangroves south of the lodge will offer opportunities for coastal specialties including: Yucatan Vireo, Yellow (Mangrove) Warbler, Rufous-necked Wood Rail, Common Black Hawk and Cinnamon Hummingbird. Additional birding locations will be visited to add to our list!

    Day 7 - On the road to the Mountain Pine Ridge
    The Mountain Pine Ridge is an unexpected tropical ecosystem of pine trees and granite-lined streams, surrounded by moist, broad-leaf rainforest. With many birding stops along the way, we will arrive at Five Sisters Lodge in time for dinner.

    Day 8 - Mountain Pine Ridge
    Rise before the sun so we can quickly get on the road to the Mayan Ruins of Caracol. This is the largest known city in the Mayan world, and is surrounded by incredible birding and wildlife opportunities. This is the best area in Central America to find the Keel-billed Motmot, and is also the location of an Wildside Tours Harpy Eagle sighting! Breakfast and lunch at Caracol. Return to the lodge in time for some relaxation before dinner.

    Day 9 - Mountain Pine Ridge
    Today we will explore the trails and roads around the Rio Frio Cave and the Rio On as well as the Hidden Valley Falls, where a pair of Orange-breasted Falcons nest each year. This is also a good area for Emerald Toucanet, King Vultures and so much more. An afternoon swim in the cool waters of the Rio On—sliding down the smooth granite waterfalls is a blast!

    Day 10 Departure to USA or Departure to Tikal extension
    Load the vans after breakfast for departure to the airport and flights back to the USA.
    Or continue on to the optional extension to Tikal.

    Tikal Extension (optional)

    Day 10 - On the road to Tikal, Guatemala / Tikal Inn
    Load the vans for departure to Guatemala after breakfast. Arrive in Tikal for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we will explore the areas surrounding Tikal National Park.

    Day 11 Guatemala / Tikal Inn
    After breakfast we will enter the park and explore the ruins finding new birds along the many trails in the park. The ruins are an amazing site to see, and the birding is phenomenal!

    Day 12 Guatemala / Tikal Inn
    After breakfast we will enter the park to explore more of the trails around the ruins.

    Day 13 Back to Belize Crooked Tree/Paradise Inn
    Depart after breakfast, arriving at Clarissa Falls Lodge in time for lunch. We will have some leisurely birding and an opportunity to swim in the Maya Mopan River before dinner.

    Day 14 Departure to USA
    Pre-breakfast birdwalk. Load the vans for departure after breakfast to the airport for flights to the USA.

    NOTE: Final schedule may vary slightly

     

  • Accommodations
  • Birding Areas and Accommodations

    Black Rock Lodge
    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