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15 Day Highlands and Mayan World Birding Tour in Guatemala
This listing has no upcoming availability. Check out these similar experiences

This listing has no upcoming availability. Check out these similar experiences


Wildlife Tour Guatemala

Birding Expeditions invites you to join their birdwatching tour in Guatemala. This tour is a mixture of the best birdwatching destinations in Guatemala, including the best locations to appreciate endemic bird species. During this tour, you will visit Guatemala’s center highlands (mountain forest) and Petén (tropical rainforest) in Guatemala’s lowlands.

Key information

  • Private safari
  • Starting point: Antigua
  • Ending point: Guatemala City
  • Park fees are included.

Highlights

  • 20 birdwatching activities
  • Chances to spot quest ocellated quail, blue-throated motmot, and more
  • Tecpán, Todos Santos Cuchamatán, and Fuentes Georginas entrance fees
  • Entrance fees for Los Tarrales, Mirador Rey Tepepul, Las Guacamayas, and Tikal
  • 4x4 ground transportation and round-trip local flight from Guatemala City to Flores
  • Boat transportation for Lake Atitlán and Las Guacamayas
  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, and 12 dinners
  • 14 nights' accommodation

Styles


13 activity days
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Accommodation

During this tour, you will be accommodated at various accommodations including El Meson de Maria or similar in Antigua Guatemala for the first and second nights, Hotel Ruinas Resort in Huehuetenango for your third night, Las Cumbres or similar in Quetzaltenango for your fourth night, Los Tarrales Natural Reserve eco-lodge in Los Tarrales Nature Reserve for your fifth and sixth nights, Posada de Santiago Atitlán in Santiago Atitlán for your seventh and eighth nights, Hotel Isla de Flores or similar in Flores for your ninth night, Las Guacamayas Biological Station in Flores for your tenth and eleventh nights, Jungle Lodge in Tikal for your twelfth and thirteenth nights, and Radisson Hotel And Suites Guatemala City in Guatemala City for your fourteenth night.

Program

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Antigua Guatemala

You will meet and greet at the La Aurora International Airport (GUA) and be transported to Antigua Guatemala.

  • Meals: none
  • Two nights of lodging at El Meson de Maria or similar in Antigua Guatemala

Day 2: Finca El Pilar - Antigua Guatemala

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

At 07:00, you will be transferred to Volcán de Agua slopes in the quest to see ocellated quail, lesser roadrunner, blue-throated motmot, white-eared ground sparrow, and rusty sparrow.

Afterwards, you will be transferred to San Cristóbal El Alto for birding and breakfast at a local restaurant with the breathtaking views to the volcanoes. Then, you will be transferred to Finca El Pilar for birding in the hummingbird feeders and around the farm.

Day 3: Tecpan - Huehuetenango

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

At 06:00, you will depart from Antigua Guatemala toward Tecpán Guatemala area, where you will have breakfast. Then, you will have 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, and 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. Then, you will be transferred to Huehuetenango in the afternoon.

  • One night of lodging at Hotel Ruinas Resort

Day 4: Todos Santos Cuchumatán - Quetzaltenango

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

Todos Santos Cuchumatán is a region with a unique landscape in Guatemala, which combines sub-alpine meadows, rocky areas, and slow-growing vegetation due to climatic conditions and altitude (3,850 meters). It is one of the geologically oldest areas and has the highest mountain formations of Central America.

This is one of the areas with the greatest biological diversity and endemism in the country, where a number of endangered species of flora and fauna can be seen like Guatemalan fir (Abies guatemalensis), Hartweg's pine (Pinus hartwegii), Huitum (Juniperus standleyi), Maya mouse (Peromyscus mayensis), and Cuchumatanes salamander (dendrotriton chujorum), among others.

Avian species related to this area are goldman’s warbler, which will be the first endemic species of Guatemala, black-capped siskin, golden-crowned kinglet, broad-tailed hummingbird, common raven, and Savannah sparrow.

You will have a morning transfer to Municipal Todos Santos Cuchumatán Regional Park (for two hours) in the quest of goldman’s warbler. This species will be your first endemic species and is located in a small area in Huehuetenango and easy to spot in this park. An afternoon transfer will take you to Quetzaltenango. After checking in for birding at Fuentes Georginas, you will target fulvous owl and Mexican whip-poor-will.

  • Lodging at Las Cumbres or similar in Quetzaltenango

Day 5: Fuentes Georginas - Los Tarrales Natural Reserve

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

You will have a morning birdwatching session in the very humid sub-tropical forest at Fuentes Georginas. In addition to being a great birding destination, Fuentes Georginas is a hot spring with developed pools. Here, you will hope to spot wine-throated and garnet-throated hummingbird, cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer, and ruddy-capped nightingale-thrush. Then, a mid-day transfer will take you to Los Tarrales Natural Reserve, where you will have an afternoon birdwatching around the lodge.

  • Two nights of lodging at Los Tarrales Natural Reserve eco-lodge

Day 6: Los Tarrales Natural Reserve

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

It is time for coffee and transfer 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. A boxed breakfast will be served at the place.

Also, you will have an afternoon birding tour around Aldea La Laguneta. This area offers a good opportunity to find out species such as white-bellied chachalaca, yellow-naped parrot, and rufous-breasted spinetail among others.

Day 7: Los Tarrales Natural Reserve to Santiago Atitlán

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

It is time for coffee and transfer to La Rinconada area, where it is possible to find species such as long-tailed manakin, cinnamon hummingbird, and rufous-naped wren among others. Then, a mid-day transfer will take you to Lake Atitlán to Santiago Atitlán. You will have a birdwatching session around the lake in the afternoon.

  • Two nights of lodging at Posada de Santiago Atitlán

Day 8: Volcán San Pedro - Santiago Atitlan

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

Today, you will have a boat ride toward San Pedro La Laguna, where you will climb Volcán San Pedro in the quest of horned guan and other interesting species such as Prevost’s ground-sparrow, amethyst-throated hummingbird, slender sheartail, rufous sabrewing, violet sabrewing, bushy-crested jay, olive-sided towhee, chesnut-sided shrike-vireo, rufous-browed peppershrike, mountain trogon, bar-winged oriole, and ocellated quail among others. Moreover, your lunch will be served en-route (boxed lunch).

Day 9: Mirador Rey Tepepul to Flores

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

You will have a morning birdwatching session at Mirador Rey Tepepul. This park is located in Santiago Atitlán, in the western slopes of Volcán Atitlán. This reserve has an altitude of 1,800 meters above sea level and there is a sub-tropical 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. At 17:15, you will fly to Flores and meet and greet at the airport, and be transferred to your hotel.

  • One night of lodging at Hotel Isla de Flores or similar in Flores

Day 10: Las Guacamayas Biological Station

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

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 macaw, toucans, blue herons, parakeets, and many more.

After breakfast, you will 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 others.

Then, you will arrive at the community of Paso Caballos. Here, you will board a boat that will carry you through the San Pedro River towards Las Guacamayas Biological Station (approximately 20 minutes). Birding on route, here you can find out species such as herons, kingfishers, limpkin, parrots, grey-necked wood rail, northern jacana, and many more.

Upon arrival, you will be received by the Las Guacamayas Biological Station's staff and they will give an introduction on the activities of the station, solid waste management, research programs, conservation, and social projection. Afterward, you have lunch and at 15:00, you will have a birding tour around the base station ending 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.

  • Two nights of lodging at Las Guacamayas Biological Station

Day 11: El Perú - Las Guacamayas Biological Station

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

At 05:00, you will have time for a coffee (breakfast en-route). Then, you will board the boat for a birding tour through the archaeological site El Perú, where you will visit the most important nesting area of the scarlet macaw (ara macaw) 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. Then, you will have afternoon birdwatching around the Las Guacamayas Biological Station.

Day 12: Tikal National Park

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

You will have an early birdwatching session around the river and the lodge. A mid-morning transfer will take you to Tikal National Park with a stop in Flores Island for lunch. There will also be a sunset tour at Tikal National Park.

  • Two nights of lodging at Jungle Lodge

Day 13: Full day at Tikal National Park

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

Today, you will start with 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, remnants of the ancient Maya culture located in the middle of luscious jungles, are ideal places for birdwatching. It is where you will find interesting species such as ocellated turkey, orange-breasted falcon, Yucatan jay, black batbird, rose-throated tanager, great curassow, white-fronted parrot, 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. You will have a mid-day archaeological tour.

Day 14: Tikal National Park - Guatemala City

  • Meals: American breakfast and lunch (without drinks)

This morning is your second day to enjoy Tikal National Park. A mid-day transfer will take you to El Remate. This village is located in the shore of the Lake Petén Itzá. You will have lunch and have a birding tour around the lake. Afterward, an afternoon transfer will take you to Mundo Maya International Airport (FRS) to take a flight back to Guatemala City. You will then meet and greet in Guatemala City and be transferred to your hotel. Dinner will be on your own.

  • One night of lodging at Radisson Hotel And Suites Guatemala City

Day 15: Back home!

After breakfast, you will be transferred to La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in time to catch your international flight back home! This is the end of Birding Expeditions' services.

Notes: The tour to Volcán San Pedro on day eight requires a high effort. You can change this activity for a lake tour by motorboat. Also, to minimize any possible negative event, Birding Expeditions uses mostly natural private reserves, as private properties provide an excellent safety level for the visitor.

Birdwatching

The birds are organisms very sensitive to air temperature. In the lowlands, the bird activity starts earlier because the temperature becomes comfortable for birds at sunrise. In the highlands, the activity of birds starts one or two hours before the dawn, because of the low temperatures. The dawn comes at the same hour in the whole country but the clouds did not allow the heat from the sun to get into the forest at the highlands. In this dynamic, the activity in the lowlands stops earlier because one hour before noon, the heat is very high. In highlands, the activity extends toward noon because the birds take advantage of any possible sun ray.

In Guatemala, the winter solstice is December 21st, (year's longest day) and the sun rises at 05:30 (average). This way, in the migratory season, this should be the standard hour for planning the start of a day in a trip in the neotropical migratory season.

Flock composition

The most exciting behavior in the neotropics during the migratory season is the multispecific flock integration. The warblers coming from the north in the migratory season search for food with many other local species taking advantage of the group as a way to increase the success in the hunting.

In the highlands, a greater pewee or a similar flycatcher moves and announces the presence of a flock. Immediately behind, in the canopy are the wilson, towsends and red-faced warblers. The slate-throated and painted redstarts always flying and displaying around. The worm-eating warbler always in leaves at tips of the branches and the pink-headed warbler in the understory.

In the lowlands, the show is different. The cerulean warbler and other neotropical in the canopy, the towsend and wilson warbler, and many others in the intermediate stratum. The black-and-white warbler always in the trunks and the flycatchers flying in the understory. The ant-tanagers surround the flock and some woodcreeper always come with the flock.

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 kilo-square meters 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 are 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 only can 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. Guatemala has a strong cultural background as well. So, it is possible to live experiences with more than 20 different Mayan cultures in a 400 miles trip crossing the countryside to side, complementing the natural experience and making the shopping a lifetime activity.

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.

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 oneself at the same time which represents a great opportunity for birdwatchers.

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 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

Things to do (optional)

Guatemalan handicraft can be recognized everywhere around the world. Complementary to the nature observation, visitors can buy an incredible handicraft variety as souvenirs.

What's included

  • 20 birdwatching activities
  • Tecpán reserve, Municipal Todos Santos Cuchamatán, and Fuentes Georginas entrance fees
  • Entrance fees for Los Tarrales Natural Reserve and Mirador Rey Tepepul
  • Las Guacamayas Biological Station and Tikal National Park entrance fees
  • Birdwatching-specialized tour guide from day 2 to 14
  • 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 Las Guacamayas Biological Station
  • 4x4 ground transportation where needed
  • 13 lunches and 12 dinners (without drinks)
  • 14 nights' accommodation
  • 14 breakfasts
  • Check list
  • Hotel taxes

What's not included

  • International flights
  • Service of tour leader
  • Travel insurance
  • Airport departure tax (Q20 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

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

Please book your flight to arrive at La Aurora International Airport (GUA).

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 30 days before arrival.

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