RICA BIRDING EXPEDITION
(with birding guide)
Mexico ~ Belize ~ Guatemala
Honduras ~ Nicaragua ~ El Salvador
Birding Costa Rica is only half the
Driving there from Texas is the other half !
How would you like to find Northern Potoo on an evening boat trip on the New River, ... Pheasant Cuckoo lurking in the jungles at Tikal, ... Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow at the Maya ruins at Copan, ... Green-breasted Mountain-Gem hovering at El Tigre and ... Pacific Parakeet living contentedly in the crater walls of Volcán Masaya? And that’s even before we get to Costa Rica!
We’ve got an exciting itinerary that includes birding in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Here are some highlights of a birding trip so filled with adventure we can’t begin to list it all.
Tikal, of course! No visit to the country would be complete without birding this famous site. The easiest jungle in the world to watch Ocellated Turkeys, it is also a great place to find Orange-breasted Falcon. We’ll spend three nights camped right in the national park giving us plenty of time for excellent birding in amongst the Maya ruins, the same place where Survivor Guatemala was filmed.
Quite a contrast from the Peten region of Tikal, our next stop is at Rio Dulce where we will take a river boat to Livingston on the Caribbean coast.
At Amatitian, we’re on the Pacific side of Guatemala and visiting Sierra de Tecpán, a highland pine-oak forest, for Black-capped Swallow, Rufous-collared Thrush and Pink-headed Warbler. Lago de Atitlán is a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by volcanoes, including Volcán Atitlán where we seek out Horned Guan, Sparkling-tailed Woodstar and Flame-colored Tanager. On the way back from birding at Santa Cruz del Quiché, a hilltop Maya site, we can stop at Chichicastenango, said to be the most colorful native market in North and Central America. Won’t the shoppers be delighted from this break in birding!
Our first stop is Copan, the famous Maya site, and a good birding spot as well. Scanning through the bird list for common species here, the Yellow-backed, Streak-backed and Spot-breasted orioles are good targets, as well as Chestnut-headed Oropendola and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch. Next, we’ll camp at 3400 ft. beside the largest natural lake in Honduras, Lago de Yojoa, and where we will have our best chance to see Spotted Rails and Olivaceous Piculets. At the cloud forest at La Tigra one of our targets, and an endemic to northern Central America, is Bushy-crested Jay which is common at this park. Other good birds here are Blue-and-white Mockingbird, Rufous-browed Wrens and Great Swallow-tailed Swifts.
Our 4-night stop at Granada will give us access to humid forests, coffee plantations and high slope grasslands in the volcanic mountains, including visits to Volcán Mombacho, Volcán Masaya and the nature reserve at El Chocoyero.
Most curious are the chocoyos de amor, or love parakeets, the local name for Pacific Parakeets. Sometimes thousands of parakeets can cloud the sky and cover the rocks near the waterfall.
At Bahia del Sol we will be near the Pacific beach and in good proximity to three birding sites. Species we can expect here are Orange-fronted and Orange-chinned Parakeets, Blue-throated (Sapphire) Goldentail, and Rufous-naped Wren. A particularly good find – and common – at Rio Jiboa is Crested (Spot-bellied) Bobwhite. We could also pad our trip lists with the many shorebird species found here.
We’ll only make one birding stop in this small country, since we spend 48 days here on one of our other birding tours and have plenty of other worthy spots farther south in Central America. Our stop will be a favorite, though, especially when we take a starlight boat trip on the New River, after visiting the Maya ruins at Lamanai.
On our way south, we’ll stop to bird at the Toltec ruins at El Tajín and the Maya site at Palenque, but mostly we’re passing through quickly to get to the tropics. On our return north, we’ll spend an extra day at Tapachula, the southernmost city in Mexico and just across the border from Guatemala. This is about the only place to find White-bellied Chachalaca in Mexico. Giant Wren is another great bird we can find here. We’ll make one other birding stop along the way, at Catemaco, which has always been a favorite site on our Yucatán caravans. Our few birding stops in Mexico will tempt you to try one of our other birding caravans for a comprehensive view of that county’s birds.
The highlight of our tour, of course. Although small in land area, it packs in over 830 bird species and in our 25 days in Costa Rica we expect a rich sampling. We will explore many habitats, with an emphasis on the highland areas that offer the best of endemics and other Central America specialties.
Our entry is in the Pacific northwest corner of Costa Rica where we have several dry forest sites to choose from for birding, notably Lomas Barbudal Reserve and Santa Rosa National Park. We’ll target Pacific Screech-Owl, Mangrove Black-Hawk and Hoffman’s Woodpecker here.
Most of our Costa Rica camping will be at a campground near San Jose and from here we will radiate to birding sites a half-hour to two hours away and also visit farther sites through overnight stays at comfortable lodges and hotels. Here are the sites we can visit from San Jose:
From another campsite at San Isidro we can reach sites in southern Costa Rica, such as
For even more exciting birding, our overnight stays are planned for the Caribbean lowlands of La Selva and Selva Verde, for the luxuriant cloud forest at Monteverde and emerald green rain forest at Santa Elena, and for the pre-montane rain forest on the Caribbean slope at Tucurrique. We were so impressed with San Geraldo de Dota during a 2006 pre-tour, that we've decided to add an overnight stay there.
As you may have readily noted, we are covering a diverse set of habitats, from seashore to volcanic peaks, from dry forests to wet jungles, and both Atlantic and Pacific slope highlands and lowlands. Translated into bird species, our trip list should be simply amazing and doubtless much longer than those of your birding friends who only spend a week or so birding just a few tropical spots. This certainly is destined to be a memorable adventure.
SPECIAL: This is an exclusive caravan, limited to only ten customer rigs (plus one or two extras to allow for later cancellations) and less than half the size of most caravans. Based on customer surveys we are restricting the size of our group. This gives the distinct advantage of easier caravan travel and parking, and more flexibility on side trips and accommodations at great birding spots not available to traditional caravan sizes. Greater attention from the birding guides, the social directors and the staff significantly enhances the value of this specialized caravan trip.