Belize birding tour

March 22–31, 2024

From vibrant rainforests to dry shrublands, lush pine forests to serene wetlands, Belize offers an array of habitats that nurture a rich diversity of bird species. Nestled at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula, between Mexico and Guatemala and bordered by the Caribbean Sea, this tropical paradise forms a crucial part of the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. Venture into Belize’s rainforests, shrublands, pine forests, and wetlands to witness the majestic Scarlet Macaw, elusive Agami Heron, raucous Yucatan Jay, and enigmatic Royal Flycatcher with the ABA and Authentic Travel Belize!

Day 1 22 March 2024 Arrival Belize City
Day 2 23 March 2024 Shipstern Conservation Area and Sarteneja
Day 3 24 March 2024 Shipstern Conservation Area
Day 4 25 March 2024 Transfer to Rio Bravo Conservation Area
Day 5 26 March 2024 Rio Bravo Conservation Area
Day 6 27 March 2024 Transfer to Mountain Pine Ridge
Day 7 28 March 2024 Las Cuevas Research Station
Day 8 29 March 2024 Transfer to Crooked Tree
Day 9 30 March 2024 Lamanai
Day 10 31 March 2024 Departure Belize city

Specialty birds:

Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Woodpecker, Black Catbird, White-crowned Pigeon, Rose-throated Tanager, Gray-throated Chat, White-bellied Wren, Orange Oriole, Northern Potoo, Yucatan Poorwill, Mottled Owl, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Yucatan Flycatcher, Caribbean Dove, Yellow-lored Parrot, Green-backed Sparrow, White-browed Gnatcatcher, Gray-collared Becard, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Reddish Egret, Yucatan Vireo, Black-throated Bobwhite, Ocellated Turkey, Little Tinamou, Thicket Tinamou, Gray-headed Kite Ruddy Quail-Dove, Gray-chested Dove, Lesson’s Motmot, Ruddy Woodcreeper, Northern Bentbill, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Royal Flycatcher, Tropical Pewee, Black-throated Shrike-Tanager, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Rufous Piha, Aplomado Falcon, Bat Falcon, White-tailed Hawk, Scarlet Macaw, Orange-billed Sparrow, Grace’s Warbler, Rusty Sparrow, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Olive Sparrow, Boat-billed Heron, Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Agami Heron, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite, Sungrebe, Jabiru, Striped Cuckoo, Yellow-headed Parrot, Green Jay, Mangrove Vireo, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Vermillion Flycatcher, Northern Jaçana…

Mammals:

Central American Agouti, Kinkajou, Coati…

Landscape, scenery, habitats:

lowland rainforest, pine forest, grassland, wetland, dry forest…

Culture, history:

Maya archeological site of Lamanai

Dates: March 22-31, 2024

Number of days and nights: 10 days / 9 nights

Start and end point:

  • Starting: 22 March 2024, Belize City (BZE)
  • Finishing: 31 March 2024, Belize City (BZE)

Hotels:

  • Shipstern
  • La Milpa Ecolodge
  • Pine Ridge Lodge
  • Bird’s Eye View Lodge

Group size:

  • Minimum number of participants: 8
  • Maximum number of participants: 20

Guides and ABA staff: 1 Belizean lead guide and 1 ABA staff for up to 14 participants, 2 guides and 2 ABA staff for 14 to 20 participants

Focus:

  • Birds
  • General wildlife
  • Culture & history

Birding pace: Medium – High

Photography opportunities: Medium (it is not specifically a photography tour!)

Physical difficulty: Medium: Though not technically difficult, walks can last for several hours, sometimes on forest and mountain trails. This trip is not wheelchair accessible.

Price:

  • $4,200 per person in double occupancy (twin or double)
  • $400 single supplement

Included:

  • 9 hotel nights
  • 3 meals per day from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 10
  • All in-country private transportation to and from sites visited and transportation from airport to hotel and day 1 and from hotel to airport on day 10
  • All guiding fees for tour leaders and local guides
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • All activities as described in the itinerary

Not included:

  • Transportation to and from Belize (we start and end in BLZ)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Purchases of personal nature, including (but not limited to) laundry service, room service, phone calls, toiletries, souvenirs etc.
  • No insurance is included. We do strongly recommend you get your own travel, cancellation, and medical insurance
  • Extensions of the trip due to circumstances out of our control
  • Any tips you would like to offer tour leaders, guides, drivers, porters, wait staff, housekeeping etc. for outstanding service

Optional add-ons:

If you want to arrive before March 22, 2024, or leave after March 31, 2024, we can book extra hotel nights in Belize City for you, at an additional fee. You can indicate this in your booking form.

Terms and conditions:

aba.org/terms-conditions

Booking and secure payment:

22 March 2024: Arrival Belize City airport

Arrival at Philip Goldson International Airport, transfer to Shipstern with light birding along the way for Yucatan Jays and Yucatan Woodpecker. Before dinner, gather around the dining area for a full orientation while enjoying some refreshments. 

Night at Shipstern

23 March 2024: Shipstern Conservation Area and Sarteneja

Sunrise birding around CSFI grounds before breakfast. After, we visit Sarteneja Village and Airstrip Road for Black Catbird, White-crowned Pigeon, Rose-throated Tanager, Gray-throated Chat, White-bellied Wren and Orange Oriole. This is the best location for all these species, so we will spend most of the morning looking for them along several roads and trails. This area is part of the dry Yucatan Peninsula with low canopy forest and warm temperatures, so we will be sure to take a break and retreat to the cool room during the peak heat hours. In the afternoon, we will cover more trails nearby looking for Woodcreepers, Pigeons and Trogons. Owling will be available for species such as Northern Potoo, Yucatan Poorwill and Mottled Owl. 

Night at Shipstern.

24 March 2024: Shipstern Conservation Area

Sunrise birding around CSFI grounds. After breakfast we will bird along the Main Road, some forest Lagoons and nearby forest trails for Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Yucatan Flycatcher, Caribbean Dove, Yellow-lored Parrot and Green-backed Sparrow. In the late afternoon, we will bird the rest of the Shipstern Nature Reserve. Along these forest roads leading to the sea, we will be looking for White-browed Gnatcatcher, Gray-collared Becard, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Reddish Egret and Yucatan Vireo. After dinner, we have a second night drive. 

Night at Shipstern.

25 March 2024: Transfer to Rio Bravo Conservation Area

Early morning, we give our final attempt at any species we missed the prior days. After breakfast, we will pack and start heading to the Rio Bravo Conservation Area, a massive reserve which connects with Guatemala and Mexico to form the Selva Maya or Maya Forest, the largest tract of forest north of the Amazon. If time allows, we will stop along the Blue Creek Rice fields in search of Black-throated Bobwhite. The forest road leading to the eco-lodge is a good area for Ocellated Turkey. After checking in, we will take a short rest before walking around the grounds looking for Euphonias and Tanagers as well as several Woodcreepers. 

Night at La Milpa Eco-Lodge.

26 March 2024: Rio Bravo Conservation Area

Today we will roam the vast forest roads and trails of the reserve in search of Little Tinamou and Thicket Tinamou. This area is also a good area for Gray-headed Kite, Ruddy Quail-Dove, Gray-chested Dove and Lesson’s Motmot. Around the archaeological site, we will search for Ruddy Woodcreeper, Northern Bentbill, Stub-tailed Spadebill and Royal Flycatcher. Around the main grounds Tropical Pewee, Black-throated Shrike-Tanager, Green-backed Sparrow, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing and Rufous Piha are also possible. We will have a shorter day today for you to enjoy the grounds on your own in the afternoon.

Night at La Milpa Eco-Lodge

27 March 2024: Transfer to Mountain Pine Ridge

Sunrise bird walk around lodge grounds before breakfast. After breakfast, we will start heading south towards the Mountain Pine Ridge. We will traverse the southern portion of the Rio Bravo Reserve followed by the Belize Maya Forest. Upon exiting the Reserve, the open grasslands and farming areas also provide habitat for several species of Raptors such as Aplomado Falcon, White-tailed Hawk and Bat Falcon. We arrive late afternoon at Mountain Pine Ridge to spend the night. 

Night at Pine Ridge Lodge.

28 March 2024: Las Cuevas Research Station

Today we will have an early breakfast and head south towards Las Cuevas Research Station and the massive Chiquibul Forest. Here we explore the subtropical broadleaf forest, but also touch a bit of the subtropical pine forest of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Possibilities on this day include Scarlet Macaws and Orange-billed Sparrows, but also Grace’s Warbler and Rusty Sparrow among others. 

Night at Pine Ridge Lodge.

29 March 2024: Transfer to Crooked Tree

Early birding before breakfast. After breakfast we will pack and start heading to Crooked Tree. This massive wetland is a Ramsar site where thousands of waders and shorebirds gather to fuel up during their northbound migration. Along the way we will try for Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Grace’s Warbler, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, and Olive Sparrow. You will have some off time in the early afternoon, before boarding our skiff for a sunset birding by boat. On this boat ride we will be looking for Boat-billed Herons, Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Agami Heron, Black-collared Hawk and Snail Kites, plus over a dozen waders, waterfowl and the elusive Sungrebe. As the sun sets, we enjoy a beer while the Jabirus and Wood storks look for a roosting spot. 

Night at Bird’s Eye View Lodge.

30 March 2024: Lamanai

Quick birding and breakfast before heading to the beautiful and mysterious Maya city of Lamanai. After a short ride, we board a boat on the New River which will take us upstream to this ancient city. Along the way, we keep vigilant for Jabirus, Snail Kites and Black-collared Hawk. Once at the archaeological site, we keep searching for Trogons, Toucans and Woodcreepers among the temples. We return on the same route back to Crooked Tree. 

Night at Bird’s Eye View Lodge.

31 March 2024: Departure from Belize City

We spend our last morning around the lodge and nearby trails looking for Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Yellow-headed Parrot, and Striped Cuckoo. The Savannahs and wetlands behind the village are excellent for Yucatan Jays, Green Jays, Mangrove Vireo, and an occasional Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. We will return to the lodge for breakfast and relax a bit before packing and getting ready to head back to the airport. On the way out, Vermilion Flycatchers and Northern Jacanas are still possible, and a Jabiru might still surprise us. 

Drop off at Belize City airport.