FALL IN THE NEOTROPICS
Are these the finest birding
locations on the planet?
Neotropical birding means birding in parts of Mexico, the Caribbean, South and Central America, an area where there are more species of birds than anywhere else in the world. From the southernmost parts of Mexico, through Central America to Brazil, Ecuador and beyond, the visitor can expect to find an amazing range of colorful, fascinating and often highly localized species.
Much of the area used to be problematic from the view of security and access, but that has all changed. Now countries like Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Brazil boast some of the world's finest eco-lodges and safe, secure habitats for birds and birders alike.
Why is birding in the Neotropics so special? The incredible diversity of species is amazing, from hummingbirds and tanagers to a vast array of antbirds, flycatchers, and woodcreepers, not to speak of parrots, jacamars, motmots, toucans, barbets, puffbirds, manakins, cotingas, and oropendolas. However often you go there, there is always more to see. Every locality offers more bird species in a given area than you are likely to find almost anywhere else on the planet. Each country has its own species mix available nowhere else.
Belize is an English-speaking country with an enormous diversity of birds, plants and wildlife. It has some of the most beautiful reefs in the world, vast rainforests, meandering tropical rivers and ancient Mayan ruins. You'll experience all of these wonders of Belize in the greatest comfort.
This trip will emphasize tropical birds and the natural history of the tropical forests. Lamanai Outpost runs first-rate research programs in archeaology, ornithology and natural history. Chan Chich Lodge's fine food and luxurious ambiance have made it Belize's premier eco-lodge. Finally, we will enjoy prime bird watching at the luxurious Hidden Valley Inn in the Mountain Pine Ridge area.
The Best of Belize: Lamanai Outpost, Chan Chich and Hidden Valley Inn: Three places available.
(photo: Tad Boniecki)
The birder in Ecuador can find more than 1700 species of birds, many of them amongst the most colorful in the world. Ecuador's Amazon basin alone boasts more than 600 species. Nowhere else can provide such species diversity in such a small land area, for Ecuador is a tiny country, roughly equal in size to the U.S. state of Colorado.
It also has a fairly well-developed road system offering easy access to the best birding areas. Last, but not least, recent years have seen a steady increase in the availability of good-quality eco-lodges. We expect to see many of the range-restricted species of Ecuador, since we visit both slopes of the Andes and the Amazon Basin. The Sacha canopy walk offers views that are truly spectacular and the stay at Sacha includes a boat trip up the Napo River to the famous parrot lick.
We have a superb local guide in Juan Carlos Calvachi. He was a protégé of Paul Greenfield, co-author of Birds of Ecuador, and led many trips with him. He now has his own guiding business and is one of the most accomplished guides in Ecuador, speaking fluent English.
Ecuador: East & West Slopes of The Andes: A few places left
(photo: Alexander Yates
Southern Ecuador: The Jocotoco Antpitta and Tumbesian Endemics: Sorry. 2013 Tour Full.
We aren't going here until the spring, but it's worth mentioning Honduras too. It lies at the cusp of northern and southern Central America. As such, it draws species from both areas. It also has sea coast on both the Caribbean and the Pacific and several mountain ranges rising to more than 7000 feet. Habitats range from coastal mangrove to cloud forest. As a consequence, over 700 bird species have been recorded there.
Our primary destination for this trip is the world-class Pico Bonito Lodge bordering the Pico Bonito National Park. It's only ten years old and is a member of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World." The cabins are nicely appointed and air-conditioned with decks overlooking the grounds. Primary rainforest extends from the lodge all the way up to the mountain peaks. The lodge itself sits in an oasis of lush plantings and rainforest. The food is served at a restaurant on grounds and is very good. There’s a pool for cooling off after a hot day of hiking. Birds are abundant around the lodge and cabins.
You can also add a trip to the Central Highlands and Lake Yojoa, around Naranjos National Park in Pena Blanca, followed by a drive to Marcala and stay at the Finca Rosael. We’ll bird the Las Trancas Nature Reserve, where we hope to find the rarest of the motmots: Blue-throated Motmot. If we are lucky enough to find this bird, we might be able to find all the motmots of Central America on this trip. Honduras is the only country that has all seven of them.
(photo: Dominic Sherony
Honduras: World-class Birding at Pico Bonito National Park: Places available
High Lonesome BirdTours