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11 Days Culture and Nature Birding Tour in Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez Department, Guatemala

Birding Tour Guatemala

Come to Guatemala, one of the best Central American birdwatching destinations, and join this birdwatching tour with Birding Expeditions! Learn the rich culture, explore Guatemala's nature, and spot interesting endemic species of birds flying around you. You will also visit some important sites in local towns and villages. The tour will allow you to live a cultural experience while discovering the fantastic birds in nature.

Overview

  • Minimum group size: A private safari
  • Main wildlife to be viewed: Hummingbird, warbler, motmot, wren, redstart, vireo, tanager, sabrewing, quail, dove, chlorophonia, oriole, euphonia, toucanet, guan, sparrow, mountaingem, eagle, parakeet, quetzal, macaw, hawks, heron, kingfisher, limpkin, parrot, wood rail, jacana, turkey, falcon, owl, cotinga, jay, catbird, curassow, trogon, toucan, woodpecker, and oropendola.
  • Starting point and ending point: Antigua Guatemala and Guatemala City

Highlights

  • 11 birdwatching
  • Reserve and park entrance fees
  • Chances to spot pink-headed warbler, blue-throated motmot, and more
  • Entrance fees for Los Tarrales, Mirador Rey Tepepul, Finca El Pilar, and Tikal
  • 4x4 ground transportation and boat transportation for Lake Atitlán and Las Guacamayas
  • 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches, and 3 dinners
  • 10 nights' accommodation
  • Airport transfers

Styles


9 activity days
Airport transfer included: La Aurora International Airport
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Accommodation

During this tour, you will be accommodated at various accommodations including Hotel Meson de María or similar for two nights, an accommodation in Santiago Atitlán for three nights, Hotel Isla de Flores or similar for one night, Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas for two nights, Jungle Lodge for one night, and Radisson Hotel And Suites Guatemala City for one night.

Program

Day 1: Arrival

Meet and greet will be at the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) and transportation to Antigua Guatemala.

  • Meals: None
  • Accommodation: Hotel Meson de María or similar in Antigua Guatemala

Day 2: Finca El Pilar / Antigua Guatemala walking tour

One of the main attractions in El Pilar farm is in the zone of hummingbird’s feeders where it is possible to spot a wide variety of hummingbird’s species that inhabit the area feeding itself at the same time which represents a great opportunity for birdwatchers. At noon, return to Antigua Guatemala to have lunch in a local restaurant in Antigua Guatemala.

At 14:00, you will start the thrilling cultural tour of Antigua Guatemala, visiting the magnificent churches, ruins, and museums that combined with the old-cobbled streets keep the stories and legends of those colonial times that undoubtedly you will enjoy and which will make your morning unforgettable. You will be visiting the most important areas of Antigua Guatemala like La Merced Church, Central Park, the Santa Catalina Arch on the 5th Avenue, and much more.

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: Hotel Meson de María or similar in Antigua Guatemala

Day 3: Tecpán Guatemala / Chichicastenango Market / Santiago Atitlán

At 06:00, depart from Antigua Guatemala toward Tecpán area. Have breakfast in Tecpán. Take a birdwatching tour in Tecpán Reserve where you will find interesting endemic species of the North Central American highlands like pink-headed warbler, blue-throated motmot, rufous-browed wren, garnet-throated hummingbird, and amethyst-throated hummingbird. During migratory (winter) season, you will find Townsend’s, Wilson's, black-and-white, and red-faced warblers together with the resident slate-throated redstart, pink-headed, crescent-chested, and olive warbler, as well as Hutton's vireo.

After breakfast, you begin your trip towards the heart of the Guatemalan Highland, driving through incredibly colorful landscapes: indigenous people wearing their typical suits that shepherd their sheep and dairy cows, hillsides planted with vegetables and flowers, towns that have captured the history in the paintings and crafts made by local artists (one and a half hours).

Here you will enjoy the multicolored market and their traditions. The magic that surrounds the ancient, indigenous commercial process in a mixture of flower scents and incense turn the event into a magical moment. Also, you will visit the sacred hill of Pascual Abaj and the cemetery. Take an afternoon transfer to Panajachel and boat transfer to Santiago Atitlán.

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: In Santiago Atitlán

Day 4: Los Tarrales Natural Reserve day tour

It is time for coffee and transfer to Los Tarrales Natural Reserve for an hour. At your arrival, you will be transferred to La Isla area at Volcán Atitlán in the quest of azure-rumped tanager, rufous sabrewing, emerald-chinned hummingbird, tody motmot, quails, and doves among other species of the highlands. Have breakfast at the place (boxed breakfast). You will have lunch and transfer back to Lake Atitlán.

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: In Santiago Atitlán

Day 5: Boat lake tour

This morning, you will take a scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlán for 30 minutes to the village of San Juan La Laguna where you can visit the women’s textile cooperative to see hand weaving and the natural dye process. Visit the studios / homes of the celebrated naïf painters, and then continue to the village of Santiago. After lunch (not included) you will continue your tour to the village visiting the Mayan God Maximón and learn about the textiles, spiritualism, and beliefs of the Tz'utujil Maya.

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: In Santiago Atitlán

Day 6: Mirador Rey Tepepul / flight to Flores

You will have a morning birdwatching at Mirador Rey Tepepul. This park is located in Santiago Atitlán, in western slopes of the Volcán Atitlán. This reserve has an altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level and there is a subtropical humid forest. This kind of forest is common at the foot of Guatemala's Pacific slope, with an average annual rainfall of 1,500 millimeters.

Some bird species you can spot here are blue-crowned chlorophonia, azure-rumped tanager, slender sheartail hummingbird, bar-winged oriole, elegant euphonia, crested guan, emerald toucanet, chestnut-sided shrike-vireo, white-eared ground sparrow, green-throated mountaingem, rusty sparrow, black hawk-eagle, Pacific parakeet, and eventually quetzal.

At 11:00, you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your local flight to Flores. Next, at 17:15, take a flight to Flores, meet and greet at the airport and transfer to your hotel,

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: Hotel Isla de Flores or similar in Flores

Day 7: Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

Enjoy this fascinating birding tour in the scarlet macaw's sanctuary and prepare to discover the natural world of more than 260 species of resident’s birds. With an abundant wildlife such as spider monkeys and howler monkeys (saraguate), occasionally tapirs, crocodiles, and a great variety of birds. Among those, Birding Expeditions can mention the scarlet macaws, toucans, blue herons, parakeets, and many more.

After breakfast, leave Flores for a trip of approximately three hours. The whole road proposes great birding opportunity where you can watch some birds in open areas, secondary forest and ponds, such as flycatchers, hawks, herons, and kingfishers among other.

On the arrival to the community of Paso Caballos, here you will board a boat that will carry you through the San Pedro River towards Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas for approximately 20 minutes. Birding on the route, here you can find out species such as herons, kingfishers, limpkins, parrots, grey-necked wood rail, northern jacana, and many more.

On your arrival, you will be received by the Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas staff and they will give an introduction on the activities of the station, solid waste management, research programs, conservation, and social projection. Have lunch at 15:00. The birding tour around the base station ends at Las Guacamayas lookout.

There is a nighttime aquatic excursion. You can explore the stream Rio Sacluc. Birding Expeditions' experienced guide will accompany you on this tour. With the support of a flashlight, the guide will illuminate the nighttime creatures that live here, including the crocodile petenero (Crocodylus moreletii), bats, birds, and more.

  • Meals: American breakfast, lunch, and dinner (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

Day 8: El Perú archaeological site / biological station

At 05:00, it is time for a coffee (breakfast on route). You will board your boat for a birding tour through the archaeological site of El Perú, where you will visit the most important nesting area of the scarlet macaw (Ara macao) in Guatemala and you can find interesting species such as ocellated turkey, bat falcon, scarlet macaw, black-and-white owl, ornate hawk-eagle, lovely cotinga, rose-throated tanager, and green-backed sparrow, among others. The afternoon birdwatching will be around the biological station.

  • Meals: American breakfast, lunch, and dinner (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas

Day 9: Tikal National Park

Go for an early birdwatching around the river and the lodge. You will have a midmorning transfer to Tikal National Park with a stop in Flores Island to have lunch. Have a sunset tour at Tikal National Park.

  • Meals: American breakfast, lunch, and dinner (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: Jungle Lodge

Day 10: Tikal National Park full day tour / Guatemala City

Take an early birdwatching tour within Tikal National Park. Tikal is part of the nucleus areas of the Maya Biosphere Reserve with a high level of conservation activities and research.

The monuments and remnants of the ancient Maya culture located in the middle of luscious jungles, are ideal places for birdwatching where you will find interesting species such as ocellated turkey, orange-breasted falcon, Yucatan jay, black catbird, rose-throated tanager, great curassow, white-fronted parrot, southern mealy parrot, crested eagle, slaty-tailed trogon, keel-billed toucan, chestnut-colored woodpecker, sulphur-bellied flycatcher, white-bellied wren, Montezuma oropendola, and many hummingbirds among others. During migratory season, flocks of warblers, tanagers, and others make this destination a fantastic tropical paradise.

Next, you will also have a midday archaeological tour. Take an afternoon transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight to Guatemala City. Have a meet and greet in Guatemala City and transfer to your hotel.

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)
  • Accommodation: Radisson Hotel and Suites Guatemala City

Day 11: Back home

Have breakfast and transfer to La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in time to catch your international flight back home! This is the end of Birding Expeditions' services.

Included excursions

  • A cultural tour of Antigua Guatemala
  • A scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlán to San Juan La Laguna
  • A trip towards the heart of the Guatemalan Highland
  • Midday archaeological tour on day ten

Location

Guatemala

Guatemala is the northernmost country in Central America. The country is limited by Yucatán Peninsula to the north; with Belize, Caribbean Sea, Honduras, and El Salvador to the east; with Chiapas to the west, and the Pacific Ocean to the south.

The territory has an extension of 108,889 square kilometers and can be divided into three regions, the Petén lowlands in the northern part of the country. This is a flat land barely higher than sea level formed by limestone substrate. In the middle of the country, there is a system of mountains and volcanoes with peaks up to 4,220 meters above sea level. The land in the coastal plains in southern Guatemala are lowlands with volcanic soil.

There are 740 bird species recorded in the country with at least 35 of them with a geographic restriction from southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and part of El Salvador. These species are related to very important regions that have been declared endemic bird areas: the North Central American Pacific Slope and the North Central American Highlands.

Guatemalan birds are represented by five species considered near endemic of the country, which means that they are only found in Guatemala and the Mexican state of Chiapas. In the North Central American Pacific Slope, the representative bird is azure-rumped tanager. Birds related to the North Central American Highlands are horned guan, belted flycatcher, pink-headed warbler, and black-capped siskin.

Also, there are around forty species which can only be found in Central America and Guatemala is the perfect place to watch the better populations of them and you do not have to visit another place in the region.

Moreover, there are dramatic statistics of violence in Guatemala. All of them are parameters for the major urban cities. However, the quantities of violent events in the field are just a few. Birding Expeditions company has a perfect safety record in tour development.

Finca El Pilar

Finca El Pilar is a small paradise located in the mountain forest of Guatemala and just 10 minutes away from the center of Antigua Guatemala. It has an infrastructure of trails for birdwatching, which spread through the organic plantations of coffee, mountain forest, and cloud forest as well. The vegetation of this reserve is mainly constituted by coffee, pine, and oaks. It settles at an altitudinal range from 1,710 to 9,500 feet above sea level.

Los Tarrales Natural Reserve

Los Tarrales Natural Reserve is an important area for conservation in Guatemala and is located 125 kilometers from Guatemala City (two and half hours) and an hour from Panajachel. It is a natural private reserve situated in the southeast area of the Volcán Atitlán, from 615 to 2,600 meters above sea level. This condition allows having a great variety of species and biomes in the same place. It is home to the endemic and endangered horned guan (Oreophasis derbianus) and the azure-rumped tanager (Tangara cabanisi).

Food

You will be served drinks for your breakfasts only.

Guatemalan coffee

Most birdwatchers love to start the journey with the best available cup of coffee. Guatemala has a great variety of coffee for those who really appreciate the value of a good coffee. The birdwatching activities in Guatemala will be also a sensorial experience for flavors and smells, starting with the coffee.

Nobody who ever have been in the country can leave without a good coffee pound. The Guatemalan coffee is very appreciated in the world and the nationally produced coffee is used to give the flavor and smell to most of the international commercial coffee in the world. Wherever you go, you will find an important production of coffee. The policulture coffee shade (different native trees used as shade) are also the second more important habitat for birds in the country after the natural forest. There are many studies about the contribution of coffee shade to bird conservation in different aspects.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Coffee

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

What's included

  • 11 birdwatching activities
  • A cultural tour of Antigua Guatemala
  • A scenic boat ride across Lake Atitlán to San Juan La Laguna
  • A trip towards the heart of the Guatemalan Highland
  • Midday archaeological tour on day ten
  • Reserve and park entrance fees
  • Services of culture / nature-specialized tour guide from day 2 to 10
  • Services of local guides at the private reserves
  • Round trip local flight from Guatemala City to Flores via Transportes Aéreos Guatemaltecos
  • Boat transportation for Lake Atitlán and Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas
  • 4x4 ground transportation where needed
  • 9 lunches and 3 dinners (without drinks)
  • 10 nights' accommodation
  • 10 breakfasts
  • Hotel taxes

What's not included

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport departure tax (20 GTQ per person each way, about 3 USD)
  • Beverages
  • Telephone calls, laundry, or any other items of personal nature
  • Tips to drivers and guides
  • Non-specified services

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 25% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 45 days before arrival.

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