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Belize: Birdathon 2019

Belize Birdathon 2019 at Chaab’il B’e Lodge with premier Belizean bird guide Roni Martinez. 

With the Maya, Creole, Garifuna and East Indian cultures along with the explosion of the cacao industry, the Toledo District in southern Belize offers a cultural experience different than anywhere else in the country. It is also a superb birding location. Nestled along Jacinto Creek in the shadow of the Maya Mountains, Chaab’il B’e Lodge will be your home base. It is perfectly situated to experience all the adventures Southern Belize has to offer. Chaab’il B’e means “good trail” in Q’eqchi’ Maya.


2019 Departure Dates & Costs

Feb. 4 - 11, 2019
April 11 - 18, 2019
Trip cost: 1,895 USD per person, based on twin share
$ 100 USD donation is included to the Belize Bird Conservancy


Belize may be small country but it well endowed with wild landscapes, diversity of wildlife and interesting cultures both present and past.  It is an English-speaking hideaway tucked under Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula with Guatemala to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east.  Visiting here is like a step back in time because the unhurried pace of life  and natural conditions and cultural charm.  The coastal strip is a mosaic of mangroves, salt and freshwater lagoons, sandy beaches and meandering rivers. To the south and west rises the forested Maya mountain range. More than 65 per cent of the area of the country is still forested providing habitat for over 500 species of birds, as well as many mammals, reptiles and butterflies. Belize also includes numerous offshore islands that stretch along an almost continuous barrier reef off the coast. This reef system is the longest in the Western Hemisphere.  The country is also home to hundreds of ancient Maya sites. Some have been excavated and are open to visitors but many others lie hidden in the jungle. Several indigenous cultures welcome visitors to experience Belizean hospitality, natural and cultural heritage.

Bird guide: Roni Martinez, born in Belize, has worked as a natural history guide since 2004.  He began his career serving as the Conservation Officer in the Mountain Pine Ridge area. While there, his passion for birds and other wildlife deepened. In 2014, he left his position to pursue a wider career in birding and wildlife conservation, working with an array of  researchers and conservation NGOs who share the same vision. Among his achievements, he co-founded the Scarlet Six Biomonitoring Team in to protect the last remnant population of Scarlet Macaws in Belize, is President of the Belize Raptor Research Institute, and has been proactive in efforts to conserve biodiversity in Belize.

Itinerary

Days 1 – 4 LA MILPA RESEARCH CENTRE
The La Milpa Research Centre is nestled deep in the forests of northwestern Belize and is part Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area.  Rio Bravo is host to a wide variety of habitats including Pine forest, Secondary palm/broadleaf forest, marsh and freshwater lagoon. This diversity helps protect over 70 mammal species and 392 bird species.   Twenty-two vegetation types are encompassed by the boundaries of the conservation area, and support 230 tree species.

The research Centre is just 3 miles from the La Milpa Archaeological. This and sixty other archaeological sites found on the Rio Bravo have contributed to a rich base for archaeological research. Guests visiting the La Milpa Lodge experience firsthand the rich history of the Maya Civilization and in 1996, the site received international recognition when a royal Maya tomb was found and a male skeleton adorned with a jeweled necklace was unearthed on its grounds.  We will stay in thatched- roof cabanas with private baths. (Comfortable and tastefully decorated dormitory are also available with 5 berths per room and shared bathrooms). Birding and hiking the nature trails are the order of the days at La Milpa. Avid birders can likely compile a list of more than 150 species during the three days. Time permitting, we will visit a nearby Mestizo and Mennonite village for a taste of Belizean culture.

Days 4 – 7  CHAAB’ ILB’E LODGE
With the Maya, Creole, Garifuna and East Indian cultures along with the explosion of the cacao industry, the Teledo District in southern Belize offers a cultural experience different than anywhere else in the country. It is also a superb birding location. Nestled along Jacinto Creek in the shadow of the Maya Mountains, Chaab’il B’e Lodge will be your home base. It is perfectly situated to experience all the adventures Southern Belize has to offer. Chaab’il B’e means “good trail” in Q’eqchi’ Maya.

The Teledo District in southern Belize offers a cultural experience different than anywhere else in the country. It is also a superb birding location. Nestled along Jacinto Creek in the shadow of the Maya Mountains, Chaab’il B’e Lodge will be your home base. It is perfectly situated to experience all the adventures Southern Belize has to off

er. With the Maya, Creole, Garifuna and East Indian cultures along with the explosion of the cacao industry, Chaab’il B’e means “good trail” in Q’eqchi’ Maya.

For the February departure, we are planning a number of day trips in the area, conservation talks and presentations in the evenings, and birding at all the local hotspots. For the official April trip, we also feature a 24 hour Birdathon. Birding will take place on the Chaab’il B’e property and in a 5 mile radius of the lodge which includes the Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary.Birders will awake to the noise of flocks of parrots, chachalacas, and Montezuma Oropendolas. Keel-billed Toucans and Collared Araceris, and several species of trogons are common on the property. You will hear the clicking of the White-collared Manakins and follow the sound to watch their display. There property’s birding checklist includes over 200 species.

Chaab’il B’e Lodge has 20 acres of private forest with 3 of those acres maintained in gardens. In addition to the heliconias, gingers, and orchids endemic to Southern Belize, the gardens are full of local flowering and fruit bearing trees which attract birds year around. One birder couple said, “We don’t have to leave the property. We can just sit by this one tree and complete our list.”

For those who would rather not sit by one tree, there are trails throughout the property and many off-property sites and habitats to visit. Explore the cultural and eco-adventure activities of the Toledo District. Inland, experience caves, ziplining, and cacao or spice farm tours. Next, hit the water for kayaking, fly fishing or snorkeling and diving a World Heritage site. After your adventures, enjoy great food, hospitality and pleasingly rustic yet oh so comfortable accommodations.

Photo by R. Alvarez

 

Options are also available to visit the nearby ruins of Lubaantun and Mim LI Punit. The Lubaantun Ruins are the largest Maya site in Southern Belize. A late classic ceremonial center dated to 700-900 AD this site consists of eleven large structures tower above five main plazas and three ball courts. Nim Li Punit is one of the smaller Maya sites well known for the large amount of stele found here. Inheriting its name from the carving of a figure wearing a large headdress, Nim Li Punit means “the big hat” in the the Maya Kekchi language.

Day 7: TRANSFER TO BIRDS EYE LODGE (B,L,D)
Leaving Southern Belize and head to Crooked Tree Lagoon. Two nights at Bird’s Eye Lodge, located on the edge of the small rural village of Crooked Tree. Afternoon boat trip. 

Day 8:  CROOKED TREE LAGOON (B)
Morning birding at the Crooked Tree Bird Sanctuary which is a vast wetland where waterbirds of many species concentrate during the dry season and are easily seen. We will see a range of waterbirds including egrets, ibises and possibly the Jabiru Stork. We will also have a boating tour to experience the area, and search for birds from a different vantage point.  Continue to the Belize airport for departure. 

 

(Photos by R. Alvarez, J. Kamstra and C. Evans)


Additional Information

Package includes:

•         7 nights accommodation & meals
•         Local bird guide
•         River trip, daily transfers to bird hotspots, entry fees to ruins site and national park
•         Round trip road transfer to Belize International airport
•         Tax & service charge
•         Birdathons help raise money for the Belize Bird Conservancy and your tour cost includes a $100 USD contribution to BBC