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Birding Adventure (8 days)

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Honduras: Birding Adventure (8 days)

HondurasKeelBilled

This Honduran birding adventure focuses on the areas Lake Yojoa and the famous Pico Bonito Lodge near the North Coast with the opportunity to include the Copan Valley in Western Honduras and the island of Roatan.

Our first stop is to investigate the areas around Lake Yojoa, the largest natural lake in Honduras located in the valley with Santa Barbara National Park rising to the north, and Cerro Azul Meambar National Park towering above the south. Here we include visits to Luna del Puente, a productive coffee and cacao plantation and private reserve as well as Santa Barbara National Park and the Honduran Emerald Reserve. 

On the North Coast, we visit Pico Bonito National Park where a continuous forest encompasses over 250,000 acres that rises from sea level to nearly 8,000 feet. The range of vegetation and habitat types include broad-leaf rainforest, deciduous forest, pine forest, mangrove, sandy beaches, cloud forests, and so many other ecological zones. That diversity in ecosystems also explains the huge variety of birds – over 500 species in this area to date. This exquisite backdrop is complimented by a stay at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, a small boutique luxury eco-lodge with its own 400 private acres. This lodge combines the adventure of the outdoors, the beauty of the rainforest, and the personal service of a boutique hotel. Birding on the grounds and along the extensive trail system can yield species counts of up to 350.  The ideal birding months are February to May and again in November. 


2018 Departure (8 days)

Dates: April 6 - 13 (3 spaces remaining)

Tour cost per person from San Pedro Sula: $ 2,525 USD / $ 3,195 CAD

April 3 - 6: Pre trip to Copan (archaeology and birding): $ 1,355 USD / $ 1,735 CAD

April 13 - 16 Post trip extensionare to the island of Roatan (snorkeling and relaxing): $ 770 USD / $ 925 CAD 

Year round Pico Bonito Birding trips (7 days)

Weekly 7 / 6 night day birding trips offered to Pico Bonito offered from November to April 
See itinerary at the bottom of the page
7 Day Pico Bonito package from San Pedro Sula: $ 1,835 USD / $ 2,240 CAD 


Itinerary

April 6 Arrive San Pedro Sula   
We will be met on arrival at the San Pedro Sula airport and transfered to Lake Yojoa.  2 nights accommodation at Panacam Mountain Resort.  Enroute to Panacam we will bird in Santa Elena Forest.  

April 7 Luna del Puente / Cerro Azul Meambar Blue Mountain National Park, Lake Yojoa (B,L,D)
This morning, we wake up early to bird in the private nature reserve of EcoFinca Luna del Puente.  This productive area will also allow us an opportunity to see local organic coffee and cacao.   Afternoon return to Panacam and bird in the high altitude forests of our cozy mountain hotel inside the Cerro Azul Meambar Blue Mountain National Park. Optional late afternoon hike to a nearby waterfall. 

April 8 Birding in Santa Bárbara NP (B,L)
Early this morning, we drive up into the mountains of Santa Bárbara National Park. Upon arrival we enjoy breakfast with one of the local families and learn a bit their efforts to protect the land and natural environment amid coffee producing land-use demands. After breakfast, we will discover why this area is one of the most rewarding birding hotspot in Honduras. We start looking for birds such as the Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Hawk, Green-throated Mountaingem, Slatecolored Solitaire, Rusty Sparrow, Collared Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Foliage-Gleaners, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, White-naped Brush-Finch, Spot-breasted Wren etc. After a delicious local lunch, we head to the shores of the Lake and stay  2 nights Honduyate Marine Resort.  Our luggage will be shifted to the hotel for our arrival. 

April 9 Birding in Honduran Emerald Reserve (B,L)
Few know that there is very dry forest and shrub close to Lake Yojoa too, and that it harbours a steady population of Honduras’ one endemic — the Honduran Emerald. We leave early this morning to avoid the heat of the day, and look not only for this beautifully colored hummer, but also for other interesting species such as Elegant Trogon, Green Jay, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Scrub Euphonia and others. After lunch, we go to the opposite side of the lake, where local fishermen take us out on the canal in their rowing boats — by far the best way to explore the wetlands in search for crakes, rails, herons, ducks etc.

April 10 Pico Bonito Lodge (B,L,D)
Early morning birding and then transfer to Pico Bonito Lodge, near the town of La Ceiba.  Afternoon to enjoy the grounds of the lodge. 3 nights accommodation.

April 11 Pico Bonito - Cuero y Salado mangroves (B,L,D)
A morning guided visit the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, and getting there is half the fun. We have a unique experience of boarding the only still-functioning train in Honduras – the oldest railroad in Honduras dating to 1910. It dates to the times of the ‘Banana republic’ and was indeed used to transport bananas. What remains now is are two rickety little wagons racing over crooked rails with excellent birding opportunities along the way. Explore this extraordinary wetland reserve by motorboat. Mangrove-lined lagoons, tropical hardwoods, and small canals wind through the refuge providing incredible sightings of caiman, white-faced capuchin, howler monkeys, and with any luck manatee as well as numerous species of birds. Return to Pico Bonito for lunch. Afternoon on own. Note: if you wish to explore the trails surround the property, you should be in reasonable physical condition since there are some steep inclines and uneven surfaces. There is a good lookout platform for those wanting a shorter walk. After dinner, you may wish to join in a guided night hike of the lodge.

April 12 Pico Bonito - Rio Santiago Nature Resort (B,L,D)
Morning birding on the lodge premises on lower and upper slope trails including several birding towers that overlook forest and river habitats.  In the afternoon visit Rio Santiago known as the “Hummingbird Capital of Honduras". Up to 22 different species of hummingbirds have been recorded here.  

April 13 Pico Bonito - San Pedro Sula (or La Cieba if post tour to Bay Islands) (B)
Early morning birding and breakfast before your transfer to the airport for your onward journey.


Copán Pre-trip

This 3-night trip was created as a pre-tour to the 8-day trip. It will bring you to the stunning Maya sites of Copán, a must-see for every visitor to Honduras who is interested in history, archaeology, or culture in general. Besides that, the historical sites in Copán also offer good birding, with some toppers such as Red-throated Parakeets, Elegant Trogons, Scarlet Macaws, etc.                 

April 3 Pickup at San Pedro Sula airport Transfer to Copán (L,D)
We will be waiting for you at the international airport of San Pedro Sula. In about 4.5 hours, we drive to Copán, a small town in west Honduras, close to the Guatemalan border. If there is still some daylight left when we arrive, we can bring a short visit to the Copán River and look for kingfishers, seedeaters. 3 nights Hotel Clarion. Alternatively bird on the property.

April 4 Visit to the Mayan archaeological sites of Copán (B,L,D)
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Copán Ruínas offers a grand combination of Mayan history and a beautiful natural setting including easily viewed Scarlet Macaws. Although not the largest Mayan city, Copán was the principal Mayan cultural center during the 400 years when the city was at the peak of its development. It was far ahead of other larger Mayan cities in its development of sculpture, astronomy, and hieroglyphic writing. We will have a guided tour through the ruins by a knowledgeable local specialist. The Mayan city of Copán as it exists today is composed of a main complex of ruins with several secondary complexes encircling it. The main complex consists of the Acropolis and important plazas. Among the five plazas are the Ceremonial Plaza, with an impressive stadium opening onto a mound with numerous richly sculptured monoliths and altars; the Hieroglyphic Stairway Plaza, with a monumental stairway at its eastern end that is one of the outstanding structures of Mayan culture. On the risers of this 100m wide stairway are more than 1,800 individual glyphs which constitute the longest known Mayan inscription. The Eastern Plaza rises a considerable height above the valley floor. On its western side is a stairway sculptured with figures of jaguars originally inlaid with black obsidian.

The world’s largest archaeological cut runs through the Acropolis. In the walls of the cut, it is possible to distinguish floor levels of previous plazas and covered water outlets. The construction of the Great Plaza and the Acropolis reflects a prodigious amount of effort because of the size of its levelled and originally paved expanse of three hectares and the latter because of the enormous volume of its elevated mass, which rises some 30 meters from the ground (http://whc.unesco.org/).

Copán lies in a fertile valley traversed by the Copán river, boarded by hills covered in dry pine and mixed forests. After a delicious lunch in Hacienda San Lucas, we are ready for our afternoon nature walk. We may see White-fronted Parrots, Green Kingfishers, Rufousnaped Wrens, Lesser Ground-Cuckoos, the lovely White-throated MagpieJays, Elegant Trogons and more. After a full day of archaeology and nature, we will enjoy excellent Honduran cuisine of Copán’s many cozy restaurants!

April 5 Magdalena Valley, La Ruta Laguna (B,L,D)
This morning we will depart up to the hills surrounding the Copan Valley along the route to La Laguna.  
 Today it is one of the nicest mid-elevation forests in the area. A bird and nature walk will reveal a bounty of local birds, butterflies and orchids.We will be making several stops along the way.  Some of the species we will be looking for includes Barred Parakeet, Violet Sabrewing, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Collared Trogon, Mountain Elaenia, Tawnythroated and Scaly-throated leaftossers, Spectacled Foliage-gleaner, Northern Nightingale and Rufous-browed wrens, Slate-colored Solitaire, Elegant euphonias, Rufous-browed peppershrike, Olive warbler and many other warblers and vireos as well as various orioles.  The area around Copan is sometimes referred to as "land of the orioles".   Shortly before lunch we will head to Hacienda san Lucas, a pleasure for the palate and eye, for the food is excellent - Honduras with a twist - and the Hacienda is set in the hills overlooking the Copan Valley.  We will take a short bird-walk around the gardens, or you can opt to relax in the garden, enjoying the view and birds passing by. In the afternoon we return to our lodge. Optional birding to a new area of Copán archaeological park. 

April 6 Transfer to Lake Yojoa (8h)
Today there will be a long drive, with an early start, to join the rest of the group that will be arriving at San Pedro Sula airport for the main tour.


Bay Islands Post-trip:  The Island of Roatan

April 13: Arrival (D)
Flight from La Ceiba. You will be greeted at the islands’ airport and step onboard a small craft for a short boat ride to your guesthouse. Enjoy the remainder of the day becoming acquainted with your hosts and surroundings. 3 nights accommodation at Paya Bay Resort

April 14: beach retreat (B,D)
S
wim in the crystal clear ocean at the beachfront.  Snorkeling or diving is available. Seaside dinner included

April 15: Snorkeling (B,L)
A full day guided day snorkeling and exploring the beautiful reefs off the local cays. We´ll take a short boat-ride to an offshore caye. Relax under the palm trees or swim amongst Eagle Rays and Queen Ange
l fish in the azure blue waters of the tropical reefs where sea and bird life is plentiful. Southwest Cay is one of the best places to see the resident Mangrove Warbler (Yellow). Picnic lunch included.

April 16: Return to San Pedro Sula (B)
Enjoy one last breakfast and then be transferred to the island airport for your return flight to San Pedro Sula airport for the connecting flight home.

Pico Bonito Birding Trips (7 days)
All meals, guiding and transfers included

Day 1: Arrive San Pedro airport and transfer to Lodge at Pico Bonito An early evening arrival at The Lodge at Pico Bonito usually affords us time to get to know the Lodges grounds and do some light birding before dinner.

Day 2: Our first day at The Lodge at Pico Bonito will begin at 6:00 AM, with an early breakfast on the spacious, front deck of The Lodges Itzama Restaurant. For the next several hours our guide will lead us throughout the grounds, spotting numerous bird species that are common in the early hours. A climb to the top of the “Toucan Tower” observation platform, offers a birds eye view of the forest canopy that can include heart-stopping views of the coveted Lovely Cotinga. Throughout the morning we will bird areas of tropical, secondary and gallery forest and plantations areas along the Rio Coloradito. Along this route, diversity is the rule and examples of sightings include Lovely Cotinga; Masked and Black-crowned Tityras; Blue crowned and Turquoise-browed Motmots; Tody Motmot; Keel-billed Toucan; Collared Aracari; Ferruginous Pigmy Owl; Black-cowled Oriole; Black-headed, Violaceous, Collared and Slaty-tailed Trogons; Royal Flycatcher; Green, Shining and Red-Legged Honeycreepers; and 16 species of Hummingbirds including Crowned Woodnymph, Blue-throated Sapphire, Violet Sabrewing, Purple-crowned Fairy, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Brown Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear and White-necked Jacobin. Lunch at The Lodge at Pico Bonito In the afternoon, after lunch and a light siesta, well ascend with our guide along The Lodges loop trail system in search of the more forest interior birds this rain forest paradise has to offer. In addition to the Toucan tower at the trails beginning, this route offers an elevated ridge platform, which overlooks the Rio Coloradito and surrounding forested slopes. Well also visit observation Tower #3 along the way, set amidst an area of bird rich secondary forest and overgrown plantation. White-collared and Red-capped Manakins occur at various locations here and the Greyheaded Piprites may be seen as well. Both Keel-billed and Tody Motmots are frequently encountered along this route. Other species here include the Great Curassow, Crested Guan, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Keel-billed, Emerald and Yellow-eared Toucanettes, Collared Aracari, a host of Flycatcher species, including the Royal Flycatcher, and many of the Trogon, Woodpecker, Woodcreeper, Tanager and Oriole species on The Lodges 420+ bird list. In addition to superb viewing from The Lodges towers, this route passes several overlooks along the Rio Coloradito and sightings of many Raptor species can be made here. Great and Northern Potoo are common here as well.

Day 3: Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge Cuero is named for the Cuero and Salado Rivers which here meet the ocean, the Refuge comprises over 35,000 acres of rivers, lagoons, mangroves, and forests that are home to diverse wildlife and a variety of birds exceeding 350 species. Well meet our guide early for breakfast, and depart for the refuge by 6:30am. Access into this wilderness is via a small motorized train, which takes us along a century old track through bird-rich ranchlands, marshlands and plantation areas, ultimately arriving at the mouth of the Salado River and the Refuge itself. Birding from the train is always fun and exciting, as the conductor is eager to stop and point out species of interest along the way. Depending on season, a variety of raptors, wading birds and edge-habitat species abound along the railway. Once at the Refuge, we will explore the various aquatic and forest habitats from a small, motorized skiff. Our guides and boat handlers are superbly trained spotters and when needed, prefer to silence our boats motor and quietly paddle in for a better look. Agami Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Jabiru Stork, Pigmy Kingfisher, Gray-necked Wood Rail, Sungrebe, Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Gray-necked Wood Rail, and Sungrebe are but a few potential highlights of a visit to Cuero y Salado. During the right season (Feb. – March), we may also have the opportunity to visit an established Boat-billed Heron rookery, consisting of several hundred pairs of these broad billed, wide eyed, bill clapping mangrove inhabitants. Other wildlife commonly seen here include: Black Howler Monkeys, White-faced Monkeys, Lesser Anteater, Central American Coati, Raccoon, Green Iguana, American Crocodile, and Spectacled Caiman. Lunch at The Lodge, and afternoon to relax, visit the butterfly farm, or birding from the decks or gardens. After dinner, well be guided around the Lodges gardens and plantation areas where Mottled Owl, Vermiculated Screech Owl, Black and White Owl, and both Great and Northern Pootoo may be found.

Day 4: Well begin this full day of birding the unique dry forest habitat of the Rio Aguan Valley. The target of our search, the beautiful but critically endangered Honduran Emerald survives only in remaining pockets of tropical dry forest to the south of Pico Bonito National Park. Descending the “rain shadow”, or southern side of the Park, cloud forested peaks and pine studded slopes give way to an arid, almost desert-like plain, once dominated by tropical thorn or dry forest. Although endangered, the Honduran Emerald is considered common within its habitat. As such, regardless of season, our chances of seeing the Honduran Emerald are very good. Our ride into “Emerald country” can be equally exciting, as a surprising number of bird species inhabit dry forest. Along the way, well also visit localized wet areas within this arid region. These sites can be magnets for wading birds and other species. Well go after species such as; Double-striped Thick-knee, Lesser Roadrunner, Lesser Groundcuckoo, Beardless Tyrannulet, White-lored Gnatcatcher, White-throated Magpie-jay, Banded Wren, White-bellied Wren, and Stripe-headed Sparrow, and Salvins Emerald among others. Well enjoy lunch in the nearby ranching town of Olanchito, and return to The Lodge by 4:00 PM.

Day 5: Santiago Nature Resort is a 15 acre private preserve located 30 kilometers west. Its secluded, rain forest location and impressive numbers of hummingbird feeders has earned it the name of “hummingbird capital of Honduras”. Throughout most of the year, Santiagos trails and main garden areas abound with bewildering numbers of some of Honduras most well-known hummingbird species. Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Brown Violet-ear, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Violet Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph, Stripe-throated Hermit, Long-billed Hermit, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, White-bellied Emerald, and Scaly-breasted Hummingbird are among those species that frequent Santiagos feeders. Black-crested Coquette can also be seen on Santiagos main trail. In addition, both the spectacular Keel-billed Motmot and Rufous-tailed Jacamar are frequently seen along with Red-capped and White-collared Manakins along Santiagos trail system. Lunch/Dinner at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, followed by a Night Walk for owls, Potoos, Red-eyed Treefrogs, and other nocturnal wildlife!

Day 6: Well meet our guide for breakfast, and depart for The Lancetilla Botanical Gardens by 5:30AM. Set amidst a coastal valley flanked by low, rainforested hills, The United Fruit Company founded Lancetilla as a station where tropical fruit and wood trees were studied for commercial value. The Gardens were founded in 1925, and some of that work continues. However, this diverse tropical treasure, composed of a mosaic of forest and edge habitats, is today best known for its superb birding. Honduras’ annual Christmas Bird Count is held at Lancetilla, and every December, bird watchers flock to confirm, and add to the Gardens growing list of colorful, tropical species. The current bird list reads like a whos who of tropical birds, and includes Motmots and Manakins, Woodcreepers and Warblers, Woodpeckers, Toucans, Tanagers, and scores of others. Thanks to this diversity; a typical day of birding here could yield: Little Tinamou, Common Black Hawk, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Ruddy Crake, White-fronted Parrot, Red-lored Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo, Black-headed Trogon, ViolaceousTrogon, Collared Trogon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Blue-crowned Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Great Antshrike, Barred Antshrike, Long-billed Gnatwren, and a host of other resident and migrant species. Well complete our morning at Lancetilla with lunch in the beach-side town of Tela, and return to The Lodge by late afternoon. Enjoy your last evening and dinner at the lodge.

Day 7: Breakfast and depart The Lodge at Pico Bonito for San Pedro Sula International Airport.