For most people, the words “Caribbean coast” conjure up images of turquoise waters, white sand beaches, coconut trees, margaritas and a hammock beneath a shining sun. The truth is that this image is not far from reality. The Caribbean is a paradise for the senses and for bird lovers, things just keep getting better and better.
The Caribbean coast of Belize and its islands are filled with enough resident birds to keep even the most avid birder busy, including the Wood Stork, Jabiru, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Tricolored Heron, Magnificent Frigatebird, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Black-collared Hawk, Wilson’s Plover, White-crowned Pigeon, Cinnamon Hummingbird and Caribbean Elaenia. But during migration, when a large number of North American songbirds return to their breeding grounds, this normally tranquil setting bustles with life.
Of course, Belize has more to offer than just its stunning, bird-filled coast. So to round out our trip, we will complete our journey with a visit to the Mountain Pine Ridge, a forested paradise where we will add many interesting species to our list: King Vulture, Orange-breasted Falcon, Black and White Hawk-eagle, Sytgian Owl, Azure-crowned Hummingbird or Rufous-capped Warbler.
Along the way, we will stay in some of the nicest hotels the region has to offer and we will enjoy excellent local cuisine with a touch of Caribbean flavor.
Guide: Yeray Seminario
Single room supplement: 450 US$
Length: 6 days
Maximum number of participants: 8
Lodging: Comfortable hotels, among the best in the region
Food: Excellent, with a touch of Caribbean flavor
Weather: Cool in the mornings and evenings, hot and humid at mid-day
Dificulty: Low. Short walks on mostly level surfaces throughout most of the trip.
Our departure point will be from the Belize City International Airport. Only 40 minutes away is Crooked Tree, one of the best places to see birds in all of the country. It is a RAMSAR site, and home to some amazing birds such as the Jabiru, which is more than a meter and half tall, the Wood Stork, Anhinga, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and the American Pygmy Kingfisher among many other species. The large lagoon, which is the centerpiece of the reserve, is full of birds and is an excellent start for our trip. Overnight in Crooked Tree
Taking advantage of the morning light, we will head out early to observe some birds at our leisure. This is the best place in Belize to see some Yucatan Peninsula specialties: the threatened Yellow-crowned Amazon, Yucatan Woodpecker or Yucatan Jay. After lunch and a well-deserved rest, we will head to the Mountain Pine Ridge. This unique region in Central America is full of beautiful contrasts - ridges covered with pine trees that descend into broad-leaf 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, Black Hawk-Eagle, Orange-breasted Falcon, Stygian Owl and, with some luck, Black and White Hawk-Eagle and Solitary Eagle.
On our second day in the Mountain Pine Ridge we will go in search of the region’s specialities including Violaceous Sabrewing, Rusty Sparrow, Grace’s Warbler, Black-hooded 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 Falcon. We will also visit 1000 Foot Falls, the tallest waterfall in Central America, and a great place to see White-collared Swift. You will also have some free time with the option to enjoy the plethora of trails, waterfalls, and swimming holes on your own.
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 morning we will take a walk around Caye Caulker looking for impressive species such as: Common Black Hawk, White-crowned Pigeon, Cinnamon Hummingbird and Caribbean Elaenia, among many others. After breakfast we will take a boat ride to enjoy a day of snorkeling, something that can’t be missed since Belize has the second largest barrier reef in the world! In the marine reserves of Ray Alley and Hol Chan we’ll swim alongside Barracudas, Nurse Sharks, Southern Stingrays, and Green and Loggerhead Turtles. There is also a chance we may spot a Manatee! We’ll enjoy the sunset while watching Osprey diving for fish and the rampant low flight of the Magnificent Frigatebird.
In the morning we will continue exploring this small coral island, which surely will bring us new migrant and resident species. After breakfast, we will take a boat back to Belize City where we will head to the airport. Here is where our trip will conclude.