In the hustle and bustle of the modern world, even our vacations can turn into non-stop hectic races to get from one place to another, to see as many sights as possible, or to check off as many birds as we can on our life list. Few of us, it seems, ever get the chance to simply be and to enjoy each moment as it comes. We at Whitehawk would like to offer our guests an opportunity to change all that. Therefore, we are designing a series of “ornitherapy” tours – tours that combine a more relaxed outlook on birding with other therapeutic activities such as Yoga and meditation.
One of the best locations for an ornitherapy tour is the small Caribbean nation of Belize. A small country nestled between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean Sea, Belize is a land of bright green mangroves and turquoise blue seas; lush tropical jungles and exotic wildlife. Due to its location along key migration routes and its rich biodiversity and varying habitats, Belize is, without a doubt, a birder’s paradise. However, it is also a paradise for anyone interested in hiking, in the exploration of ancient cultures, in wilderness and wildlife observation, and in simple relaxation.
This 8 day excursion will be slightly different from a typical birding tour. We will take our time to truly enjoy the beauty and wonder of the birds we do see and will spend some time observing their behavior and learning more about them. Along the way, we will visit breathtaking waterfalls, roaring rivers and winding jungle trails. We will have a chance to see some rare birds such as Orange-breasted Falcon, King Vulture, and Violaceous Sabrewing, and will look for harder to see species such as Stygian Owl, Black and White Hawk Eagle.
Additionally, a certified Yoga instructor will be present throughout this trip to provide private Yoga classes as requested, as well as optional group classes in the afternoons, when birds and other wildlife are less active. All Yoga activities are included in the price of the tour. For those with a long-standing Yoga practice, or for those who are interested in experiencing Yoga for the first time, all-levels classes will be offered that fit everyone’s needs.
Finally, there will be plenty of time for you to explore the forested trails and nearby Mayan ruins, swim in the cool blue pools of the river, or relax in a beautiful setting, perhaps sipping a cool drink beneath the shade of rainforest trees.
Throughout our journey, we will be staying in some of the most luxurious resorts in the most beautiful settings in the country. Most of them are nestled inside a forest or along a river’s edge – ideal spots for immersion in nature, birding, relaxation, and Yoga!
Day 1 and 2
From the Belize City International Airport, we will make our way to Black Rock. Situated above the Macal River, and at the base of large limestone cliffs, the Black Rock Lodge is a spectacular place to begin our journey. We will spend two days here watching birds, swimming or exploring a nearby cave. Those who are interested may also practice Yoga on a platform overlooking the river, with the sights and sounds of the Belizean forest around us. Bird feeders surround the open patio overlooking the river and many species, like White Hawk, Black Hawk Eagle and Orange-breasted Falcon, can be seen - often without leaving the observation deck.For the more adventurous, opportunities exist to follow a steep uphill trail for a spectacular view of the river below and its extant forest, or to rent a kayak and discover the forest’s river trails.
Day 3 to 5
After a breakfast overlooking the Macal River, we will head to the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve. This area is an unique region in Central America, full of beautiful contrasts - ridges covered with pine trees that descend into broadleaf forests, and small streams that turn into thundering waterfalls.
It is also one of the best places to see raptors such as the Laughing Falcon, Grey Hawk, Orange-breasted Falcon, Stygian Owl and, with some luck, Black and White Hawk-Eagle and Solitary Eagle. Additionally, the Hidden Valley Inn Lodge, where we will be staying, boasts three beautiful Yoga platforms, all constructed of natural materials and nestled deep in the forest, near flowing streams.
Over our three-day stay in the Mountain Pine Ridge we will go in search of the region’s specialities including Violaceous Sabrewing, Rusty Sparrow, Grace’s Warbler, Black-headed Siskin, Rufous-capped Warbler or Green Jay among other species. We will visit some areas of stunning natural beautiful such as Butterfly Falls and King Vulture Falls, one of the best places to see the King Vulture and home to a breeding pair of Orange-breasted Falcons. We will also visit 1000 Foot Falls, the tallest waterfall in Central America, and a great place to see White-collared Swift. From here, there will be options to visit Caracol, the largest ancient Mayan city in Belize. Over these three days, you will also have the option to enjoy a private Yoga session, or participate in a group class, walk the extensive trail system, take a dip in a natural pool, or relax beside one of the many waterfalls found in the area.
Day 6 and 7
After a final walk along the trails that the Mountain Pine Ridge has to offer, we will enjoy a wonderful breakfast, after which we will head for Caye Caulker, a tiny coral island in the Caribbean Sea. This charming island is a wonderful location to see passerines in migration and shorebirds such as: Wilson’s Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Long-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Yellow Warbler or Cerulean Warbler, among many other species.
In the evening, we will offer optional Yoga classes, or you may continue to search for birds on your list, or relax and watch the sunset while sipping a Pina Colada and kicking back in a hammock beneath the palm trees. The second day of our stay we will take a boat ride out to snorkel the world’s second largest barrier reef! Here, we may come face to face with Manta Rays, turtles, and dozens of different species of fish.
This morning, we will have another opportunity to search for somes bird species we may have missed, or to take an early morning Yoga class, or a swim in the Caribbean sea. After breakfast, we will take the boat across to Belize City, where we will drop you off at the airport and our journey will conclude.