Located on the nexus of two continents and two oceans, Central America is one of mother nature’s great bottlenecks. Honduras may still be a little known destination, but thanks to its privileged position at the heart of that isthmus and its interesting geography, it has all the trumps to become the next big ecotourism destination: varied habitats, welcoming people, good infrastructure, and of course plenty of birds. Join the ABA for an off-the-beaten-track Honduras birding tour!
Our trip will take us to a variety of National Parks and Wildlife Reserves, and we will visit two excellent local conservation and ecotourism projects: Ecofinca Luna del Puente and El Hogar del Quetzal Private Reserves. Some of the top specialties we will be looking for include Honduran Emerald—the country’s one endemic bird species—Keel-billed Motmot, Resplendent Quetzal, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Blue-throated Motmot, Fulvous Owl, and more.
We will also have the opportunity to meet with members of local bird clubs, share with local families, hear about Lenca culture in the highlands, learn about coffee growing and processing—coffee is the number 1 export product of Honduras and determines much of everyday life—and enjoy an evening of Garífuna music and dance on the Caribbean coast.
02/21/2023: Arrival at Palmerola International Airport and transfer to Tegucigalpa
Your birding tour leaders will pick you up at XPL airport for the start of our Honduras birding tour. Please make sure to arrive before 2pm, because we still have a 2.5h drive ahead of us to get to our hotel. After settling in, we will enjoy our first dinner in Honduras, get to know your guides and the other participants, and go over the planning for the next days.
02/22/2023: La Tigra National Park
No Honduras birding tour would be complete without a visit to Tigra National Park. Honduras’ oldest National Park (established in 1980) is located at about 1h from capital of Tegucigalpa. The park offers great birding and a wide array of hummingbirds such as the Green-breasted Mountain-Gem, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Mexican Violetear and Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird. But we won’t only look out for hummers, there are obviously other interesting species we might encounter too, including the Emerald Toucanet, Singing Quail, Resplendent Quetzal, Mountain Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Barred Forest-Falcon, Mountain Elaenia, Rufous-browed Wren, Slate-colored Solitaire and many more.
02/23/2023: Ojojona or Zamorano and transfer to Marcala
This morning we go birding around Ojojona, a beautiful little village south of Tegucigalpa. The pine forests interspersed with fields of flowering “pie de niño” and “red salvia” here attract lots of hummingbirds, and if we are lucky, we may even see the elusive Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird or Slender Sheartail! There will also be Olive Warblers, Rufous-browed Peppershrikes, Bushy-crested Jays, Buff-breasted Flycatchers, Ocellated Quail, Crested Bobwhite and many other species to observe.
Afterwards, we drive to Marcala, in the central highlands of the La Paz department. If we arrive before nightfall, we will go birding around our hotel, which offers great habitat for high altitude pine species such as the Black-vented and Yellow-backed Oriole, Red Crossbill, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Common Black Hawk, Blue-crowned Motmot, Eastern Meadowlark, and there is a pond where we could see a few shorebird species, and Ruddy Crakes. If you are not too tired after all of that, we can go owling after dinner, looking for Great Horned Owl, Whiskered Screech-Owl, and Fulvous Owl.
02/24/2023: El Jilguero Reserve and Guajiquiro
All of today we spend in the Opatoro and Guajiquiro highlands. We drive through patches of farmland, coffee plantations, pine-oak forest and cloud forest in search of some northern Central-American specialties such as the Blue-throated Motmot, Green-throated Mountaingem, Black-throated Jay, Rufous-collared Thrush, Fulvous Owl and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, Flame-colored Tanager, White-faced Quail-Dove, Highland Guan, Mountain Trogon etcetera.
This Honduras birding tour also gives you the opportunity to share with local communities. Today, for example, we will have lunch in one of the mountain villages, and meet with a cooperative of Lenca women (Lenca are one of the Indigenous peoples of Honduras) who will give us a demonstration of the traditional pottery making process.
After lunch and the visit to the village, we make our way back down the mountain towards Marcala, making time for some more birding stops along the way.
02/25/2023: Las Queseras and transfer to Yojoa
We are up for an early morning of birding in the dry forest of Las Queseras reserve. We’ll be on the lookout for Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Lesser Roadrunner, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Elegant Trogon, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, and more.
Shortly before lunch, we will meet with members of the local birding Club, Los Jilgueros, who will share some of their experiences with birding in Honduras, and talk about the various projects they are implementing.
After lunch, we briefly return to our hotel to pick up our luggage, and start our drive to Lake Yojoa.
02/26/2023: Hogar del Quetzal Private Reserve
This morning, we will visit the private reserve ‘Hogar del Quetzal’ (home of the Quetzal). Owner Leonel Chávez has been protecting a beautiful patch of forest, planting thousands of trees in the avocado family to preserve and improve the habitat for the Resplendent Quetzal. He has personally built several beautiful trails that will take you right up into the cloud forest. The trails are narrow and can at times be steep and slippery, but we will take our time, and your guides will gladly give you a hand where necessary.
It is entirely worth the rather strenuous hike, though, as we will get a chance of excellent views of the Resplendent Quetzal, and a variety of other cloud forest species such as Pheasant Cuckoo, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Hawk, Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge, Slate-colored Solitaire, Rusty Sparrow, Collared Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Chestnut-capped and White-naped Brushfinch, Spot-breasted Wren, etcetera.
We then enjoy a quiet afternoon, either birding around our hotel, or enjoying some well-deserved rest.
02/27/2023: Lake Yojoa and transfer to Panacam
Today we do our early morning birding around the Lake. Local fishermen will take us out in their rowboats on the canal and the lake, where we will search for species such as the Pinnated Bittern, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Limpkin, and the tiny Yellow-breasted Crake.
We then transfer to Panacam Lodge, up in Cerro Azul Meámbar National Park. The grounds around the lodge are a great place to look for Keel-billed Motmot, Black-crested Coquette, Collared Araçari, Lesson’s Motmot, Masked Tityra, Long-billed Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Tody Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan and so much more.
02/28/203: Ecofinca Luna del Puente Private Nature Reserve
This morning, we go to one of the most diverse birding locations: Eco-Finca Luna del Puente is a coffee, cocoa and citrus farm, and a private nature reserve. Its main objective is protecting the environment by raising awareness of biodiversity and applying sustainable agroforestry practices. The finca has also created some excellent birdwatching trails, which we are more than happy to explore. We will be on the lookout for Northern Potoo, Green Jay, Blue-throated Goldentail, Tody Motmot, White-collared Manakin, White-faced Ground-Sparrow, Yellow-billed Cacique, Northern Bentbill, and more.
As the owner of the Finca, Cecilia, is also an excellent cook, we enjoy a traditional Honduran típico breakfast and lunch here (and some of their delicious, home-grown coffee!) After lunch, we take a tour of the cacao farm, and learn all about the artesanal production of chocolate (and other cacao-based products)!
03/01/2023: El Cajón
On our Honduras birding tour program today, a very special bird: the Honduran Emerald, Honduras’ one endemic bird! We’ll visit El Cajón, a large hydroelectric reservoir surrounded by dry scrub forest. The Honduran Emerald population here is the most recent one to be discovered (less than 10 years ago), but has proven to be the most reliable one to get good views of this gorgeous hummingbird. Owner of El Rancho restaurant and Lodge Alex has managed to get the bird to visit the feeders in his garden. And if it’s not there, he knows all the nearby spots in the forest to get it.
Other birds to look out for here are Berylline Hummingbird, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Lesser Roadrunner, Elegant Trogon, White-necked Puffbird, and more.
We’ll also enjoy a delicious ‘parrillada’ at El Rancho before we return to Panacam for afternoon birding or resting.
03/02/2023: Cerro Azul Meámbar National Park and transfer to Pico Bonito
This morning, we will be birding around Panacam Lodge itself. The gardens, observation towers and trails are excellent spots to see Keel-billed Motmot, White-collared Manakin, Tody Motmot, Royal flycatcher, Blue-black Grosbeak, Black-crested Coquette, Collared Araçari, Lesson’s Motmot, Masked Tityra, Long-billed Hermit, Violet Sabrewing, Keel-billed Toucan and so much more.
After lunch, we transfer to the Caribbean coast, to Pico Bonito Lodge near La Ceiba. For many, Pico Bonito is an absolute must-see when going on a Honduras birding tour. We will arrive late afternoon, and will likely have some time to bird the gardens, which are teeming with Blue-gray and Golden-hooded tanagers, Red-legged, Green and Shining honeycreepers, Olive-backed, Scrub, Yellow-throated, and White-vented Euphonias, Collared Araçaris, Keel-billed Toucans, etc.
03/03/2023: Pico Bonito Lodge
Pico Bonito Lodge combines the adventure of the outdoors, the beauty of the rainforest, and the personal service of a boutique hotel. In this luxurious setting, we enjoy yet another splendid birding day, as the area offers an incredibly varied array of bird species such as Brown-hooded, White-fronted and White-crowned Parrot, Little and Great Tinamou, Wedge-billed and Cocoa Woodcreeper, Middle-American Screech-Owl, Great Potoo, Purple-crowned Fairy, Slaty-tailed, Gartered and Collared Trogon, Red-capped Manakin, Olive-backed Euphonia, Keel-billed Motmot. And those are just a few examples. Depending on the group’s interest and fitness, we will focus on the gardens and lower elevations, or hike up the forest trails. Either way, we’ll get a ton of new species for our lists.
03/04/2023: Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
On the schedule today is a visit to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. We board the only train that is still functioning in Honduras – 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. Lots of fun. And excellent birding opportunities along the way: Glossy Ibis, Bat Falcon, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Black-cowled Oriole, Crested Caracara.
At the visitors’ center, we board a motorboat that will take us onto the rivers and canals of the Cuero y Salado Mangroves. Top species that we will try to get good looks at here include Agami Heron, White-necked Puffbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Black-crowned Antshrike and more.
We then have time for more afternoon birding around the Lodge’s gardens.
03/05/2023: Lancetilla Botanical Garden and transfer to Tela
We make a very early start today to reach the Botanical Garden of Tela, Lancetilla – named after a type of spiny palm that grows so abundantly in this area. Both the gardens and forest reserve here are excellent birding spots, and we will keep our eyes peeled for Great Antshrike, Black-cowled Oriole, Red-capped Manakin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Crimson-collared Tanager, Northern Schiffornis, etc.
After lunch, we will go out birding at Miami beach, a Garífuna village and a great location for shorebirds, gulls and terns. Laguna de los Micos on the other side usually yields Boat-billed Herons, Snowy, Cattle, and Great egrets, Belted, Amazon and Ringed Kingfishers, and more.
In the evening, we enjoy the final dinner of this Honduras birding tour, and are treated to an evening of Garífuna music on the beach.
03/06/2023: Transfer to Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport for departure
We make our way to the Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP) in San Pedro Sula for our return flights home.