Honduras & Guatemala Birding Expedition - Birdwatching Tour

Honduras & Guatemala Birding Expedition

This is a 15 days birding adventure to discover the best destinations inside Guatemala and Honduras, unique and essential bird areas that inhabit a wide variety of endemic tropical birds.

Overview

  • Highlights: La Ceiba – Rio Aguan Valley – Quetzal Biotope – Dry Scrub Forest – Finca El Pilar – Tecpan – Todos Santos Cuchumatanes – Los Tarrales – Quetzaltenango – Paquisis Volcano – Lake Atitlan
  • Activities: Bird watching – Archaeology – Nature and Wildlife
  • Difficulty: Moderate-High
  • Holiday Type: Tailor-made
  • You will visit: Guatemala & Honduras
  • Trip Style: Independent birders – Couples – Small Groups
  • Comfort level: Standard – Luxury
  • Transportation: Minibus – Boat – SUV
  • Length: 16 Days / 15 Nights
  • Physical demand: Trip may include activities like walks, hikes and boat rides
  • Group size: Minimum 1
  • Pick up / Drop off locations: International Airport San Pedro Sula – La Aurora International Airport

Itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival at San Pedro Sula (SAP) International Airport – Transfer to Rio Santiago Nature Resort (3 hours’ drive)

Pick-up and ground transfer to Rio Santiago Nature Resort, a unique reserve that inhabits some of the Honduras specialties. Afternoon arrival will afford us time to unpack, refresh and enjoy some light birding of the Lodge grounds before dinner.

Dinner at Rio Santiago Nature Resort.

Day 2 - Hummingbirds of Rio Santiago

Rio Santiago Nature Resort is a 150-acre private preserve. Its secluded, rainforest location and impressive numbers of hummingbird feeders have earned it the name of “hummingbird capital of Honduras.” Throughout most of the year, Santiago’s trails and main garden areas abound with bewildering numbers of some of Honduras’ most well-known hummingbird species.

Band-tailed Barbtroat (Threnetes ruckeri), Violet-crowned-Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica), Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), Brown Violet-ear (Colibri delphinae), Scaly-breasted Hummingbird (Phaeochroa cuvierii), Cinnamon Hummingbird (Amazilia rutila), Violet Sabrewing (Campylopterus hemileucurus), Stripe-throated Hermit, (Phaetornis striigularis), White-bellied Emerald (Amazilia candidad), and Long-billed Hermit  (Phaetornis longirostris), Stripe-tailed Hummingbird (Eupherusia eximia), to mention some of the abundant hummingbird species that frequent Santiago’s feeders.

Also, the spectacular Keel-billed Motmot (Electron carinatum), Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda), and Sunbittern (Eurypyga helias) are frequently seen along with Red-capped Manakin (Ceratopipra mentalis) and White-collared Manakin (Manacus candei), along with Santiago’s trail system.

Lunch/Dinner at Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Day 3 - Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge

Cuero y Salado Sanctuary is named for the Cuero and Salado Rivers which here meet the ocean, The Refuge comprises over 35,000 acres of coastal rivers, lagoons, mangroves, and forests, that are home to diverse wildlife including; West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus), American Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus), Spider and White-faced Monkeys (Cebus capucinus), Lesser Anteaters (Tamandua tetradactyla) and a variety of birds exceeding 350 species.

We will meet our guide early for breakfast, and depart for the refuge by 6:30. Access to this remote area is via a small motorized train, which takes us along an old track through bird-rich open grassland, marshes and cultivation areas.

Once at the Refuge, we will explore the various aquatic and forest habitats from a small, motorboat.

Sungrebe (Heliornis fulica), Russet- naped Wood-Rail (Aramides albiventris), Jabiru Stork (Jabiru mycteria), Agami Heron (Agamia agami), Tri-colored Heron (Egretta tricolor), Boat-billed Heron (Cochlearius cochlearius), Yellow-crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea), Bare-throated Tiger-Heron (Tigrisoma mexicanum),  American-Pigmy Kingfisher (Chloroceryle aenea), Laughing Falcon (Herpetotheres cachinnans), and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus), are but a few potential highlights of a visit to Cuero y Salado.

We return to the Resort after our birding tour, we will have a late lunch and the afternoon for an additional birding from the Lodge’s gardens.

Dinner at Rio Santiago Nature Resort.

After dinner, we will be guided around the Lodge’s gardens and plantation areas where Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata), Mottled Owl (Ciccaba virgata), Black-and-White Owl, Vermiculated Screech-Owl (Megascops Guatemala), Northern potoo (Nyctibius jamaicensis), and Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis) may be found.

Also, the reserve is an exciting location for amphibian and another tropical species.

Day 4 - Rio Aguan Valley and the Endemic Honduran Emerald

We will begin this full day birding expedition in Honduras, visiting the dry forest habitat with an early breakfast at the Resort, and departure will be by 4:30 AM.

The target bird in this birding tour is the unique but critically vulnerable Honduran Emerald Hummingbird that survives only in remaining areas of dry forest located at the south of Pico-Bonito Reserve.

Although endangered, the Honduran Emerald Hummingbird is considered very common within its habitat. As such, regardless of season, our chances of seeing the Honduran Emerald are excellent.

Our ride into this biome can be equally exciting because of the surprising number of bird species that inhabit the dry forest habitat. Along the way, we will also visit localized wet areas within this arid region.

These spots can be a paradise for wading birds and another species. We’ll go in the quest of species such as; Double-striped Thick-knee (Burhinus bistriatus), Lesser Roadrunner (Geococcyx velox), Lesser Ground-cuckoo (Morococcyx erythropygus), Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet (Camptostoma imberbe), White-lored Gnatcatcher (Polioptila albiloris), White-throated Magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa), Banded Wren (Thryophilus pleurostictus), White-bellied Wren (Uropsila leucogastra), and Stripe-headed Sparrow (Peucaea ruficauda), and Salvin’s Emerald (Chlorostilbon salvin), among others.

We will enjoy lunch in the nearby ranching town of Olanchito, and return to the Resort by 4:00 PM.

Dinner at Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Day 5 - Depart towards Guatemalan Border/ El Rancho

Breakfast at Rio Santiago Nature Resort, Depart towards Guatemalan Border/ El Rancho

Day 6 - Dry Scrub Forest / Quetzal Biotope

Morning birdwatching at Heloderma Reserve (Chaparral or Thorn Dry Scrub Biome)

This natural reserve is located within the municipality of El Jicaro in the province of El Progreso and protects a very fragile and threatened biome in Guatemala.

The Heloderma Nature Reserve is located in the central valley of Guatemala, between 700 and 1000 meters above sea level, with an average of 600 mm of annual rainfall; It is characterized by the abundance of cactus and thorny plants.

Some birds associated with this ecosystem are: Lesser Roadrunner (Geococcyx velox), Russet-crowned Motmot (Momotus mexicanus), White-lored Gnatcatcher (Polioptila albiloris), Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus), Lesser Ground-Cuckoo (Morococcyx erythropygus), Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus), Stripe-headed Sparrow (Peucaea ruficauda), Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens), Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis), and Turquoise-browed Motmot (Eumomota superciliosa).

Midday transfer to El Quetzal Biotope for birdwatching in the afternoon.

1 night of lodging at Posada Montaña del Quetzal.

Day 7 - Biotopo del Quetzal / Antigua Guatemala

Morning bird watching at Ranchitos del Quetzal and try to spot the Quetzal and another interesting species.

After lunch transfer to Antigua Guatemala.

Some of the birds that you can spot at this destination are:

Resplendent Quetzal, Highland Guan, Unicolored Jay, White-faced Quail-Dove, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, among others.

Day 8 - Finca El Pilar / Antigua

Morning transfer to Finca El Pilar on an excellent birdwatching

Lunch in a local restaurant in Antigua

14:00 hrs., We will begin our walking cultural tour of Antigua, an enjoyable trip through outstanding churches and Cathedrals, ruins and museums that combined with the aged stoned streets keep the tales and legends of those colonial days, a fantastic journey through the past and present of Antigua Guatemala, that undoubtedly you will enjoy and which will make your morning unforgettable. We will be visiting the most important areas of Antigua like Central Park, La Merced, Santa Catalina Arch, and much more.

Some of the birds that you can spot at this destination are:

Rufous Sabrewing, Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Bushy-crested Jay, Hooded Grosbeak, Elegant Euphonia, Singing Quail, Golden-crowned Warbler, Bar-winged Oriole, among others.

Day 9 - Tecpan / Todos Santos Cuchumatanes

6:00 am. Departure from Antigua Guatemala toward Tecpan area

Breakfast in Tecpan

Bird watching tour In a Private Reserve located in Tecpan, Guatemala, here you will find remarkable and unique endemic species of the Central Highlands of Guatemala (2,286 meters above sea level) like Blue-throated Motmot (Aspatha gularis), Pink-headed Warbler (Cardellina versicolor), and Rufous-browed Wren (Troglodytes rufociliatus).

During migratory (wintertime) season you will find resident bird species together with the flocks of migratory.

Midday transfer to Todos Santos Cuchumatanes, there will be few birding spots along the way.

Some of the birds that you can spot at this destination are:

Goldman’s Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, Ocellated Quail, Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl, Spotted Towhee, Black-capped Siskin, Ocellated Quail, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pink-headed Warbler, Olive Warbler, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, among others.

Day 10 - Todos Santos Cuchumatanes / Quetzaltenango

Morning transfer to Todos Santos National Park in the quest of Goldman’s Warbler (Setophaga c. goldmani), this species will be our first endemic species and is in a small area in Huehuetenango and easy to spot in this park

Midday transfer to Quetzaltenango and birdwatching in the afternoon at Los Vados area

Some of the birds that you can spot at this destination are:

Goldman’s Warbler, Yellow-eyed Junco, Ocellated Quail, Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl, Spotted Towhee, Black-capped Siskin, Ocellated Quail, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Pink-headed Warbler, Olive Warbler, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, among others.

Day 11 - Fuentes Georginas / Los Tarrales Private Reserve

Morning birdwatching in the very humid sub-tropical forest at Fuentes Georginas, additionally of being a great birdwatching hot spot, Fuentes Georginas is a hot spring with several pools, lodging and restaurant area.

Here we hope to spot Wine-throated Hummingbird (Atthis ellioti), and Garnet-throated Hummingbird (Lamprolaima rhami), Cinnamon-bellied Flower piercer (Diglossa baritula), Mexican violetear (Colibri thalassinus), (Former Green violetear), Guatemalan Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium gnoma (g. cobanense), and occasionally the elusive Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus)

After lunch transfer to Los Tarrales Private Reserve and birdwatching around the lodge in the afternoon

Day 12 - Los Tarrales Reserve

Time for Coffee and transfer to Vesuvio area in the quest of Cabanis’s tanager (Tangara cabanisi), Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo (Vireolanius melitophrys), Emerald-chinned Hummingbird (Abeillia abeillei), Rufous Sabrewing (Campylopterus rufus), Quails and doves among other bird species of Guatemala’s highlands. Breakfast at the place (boxed breakfast).

Lunch

Afternoon birding tour around La Laguneta, this area offers good opportunity to find out species such as Yellow-naped Parrot, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, and White-bellied Chachalaca among others.

Dinner and lodging at Los Tarrales Reserve

Day 13 - Los Tarrales / Lake Atitlan

Time for coffee and transfer to La Rinconada area where is possible to find species such as Tody Motmot (Hylomanes momotula), White-eared Ground-Sparrow (Melozone leucotis), Long-tailed Manaking (Chiroxiphia linearis), Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow (Melozone biarcuata), among others.  Breakfast at the place (boxed breakfast).

Midday transfer to Lake Atitlan and afternoon birdwatching around the lodge

Day 14 - Volcan San Pedro / Lake Atitlan

Early boat ride toward San Pedro La Laguna where we will climb San Pedro Volcano in the quest of Horned Guan (Oreophasis derbianus), and other interesting species such as Belted Flycatcher (Xenotriccus callizonus), Mountain Trogon (Trogon mexicanus), Chestnut-sided Shrike-vireo, Slender Sheartail (Doricha enicura), Amethyst-throated Hummingbird (Lampornis amethystinus), Black-throated Jay (Cyanolyca pumilo), Bushy-crested Jay (Cyanocorax melanocyaneus), Rufous Sabrewing (Campylopterus rufus), Blue-and-white Mockingbird (Melanotis hypoleucus),  Bar-winged Oriole (Icterus maculialatus), and Ocellated Quail (Cyrtonyx ocellatus), among others.

Lunch will be served on the route (boxed lunch).

Day 15 - Tepepul / Guatemala City

Morning birdwatching around Rey Tepepul Park and afternoon transfer to Guatemala City.

Some of the birds that you can spot at this destination are:

Resplendent Quetzal, Azure-rumped Tanager, Black Thrush, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, Elegant Euphonia, Mountain Elaenia, Rusty Sparrow, White-faced Ground-Sparrow, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, among others.

Day 16 - Back Home

End of your birding expedition in the country of eternal spring

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