South America Natural Adventures
nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Peru, Colombia, Galapagos, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Belize, and Antarctica
BIRDING FOR CONSERVATION SPECIAL TOUR
NOVEMBER 4 - 13, 2016
TIM APPLETON (BRITISH BIRD FAIR), RICHARD CROSSLEY (CROSSLEY GUIDES), JEFFREY GORDON (ABA), BILL THOMPSON 111 (BIRDWATCHER'S DIGEST) & ADAM RILEY (ROCKJUMPER TOURS)
ALEX ALVARADO (HONDURAN BIRDS)
ELMER ESCOTO (THE LODGE AT PICO BONITO)
JOSE SANTOS CALDERON (THE LODGE AT PICPICO BONITO)
ESDRAS LOPEZ (FREELANCE BIRDING GUIDE)
WILLIAM ORELLANA (BEAKS AND PEAKS)
Objective: A relaxed Honduras birding contest wherein 5 teams of 10 participants will each be led by an international team leader, and one expert Honduran birding guide. Teams will bird a rich diversity of tropical habitats through 3 main locations in Honduras. Teams and locations will be rotated to maximize enjoyment. Team recording the greatest number of species will win a $20,000 award to the Honduran/international birding conservation projects of that team’s choice. Winning teams 2, 3, 4, and 5 will draw from additional prizes benefitting birding and conservation in Honduras.
Locations visited: Pico Bonito National Park, Cerro Azul National Park/Lake Yojoa (Panacam Lodge), Copan (Hotel Marina)
This is going to be an amazing tour visiting the best birding places in Honduras, and staying at excellent accommodations. A rare combination of great leaders and exceptional guides will make this a stand-out tour even for those who have been to Honduras or other Central American countries before, and a major eye-opener for those who haven't. I have spent a good amount of time in the field with Tim, Bill, Alex, Elmer and Jose and know them all to be great birders and wonderful companions both in the field and back at the lodge.
With the restricted number of participants and such a luminous cadre of leaders and guides, plus the destination itself, this tour, or rather birding for conservation program, will fill up quickly. Great destination, great birds, great leaders and guides, excellent accommodations (I've stayed at them all) plus the opportunity to help bird conservation both in Honduras and in another location of the Team Leader's choice.
Honduras is fast becoming one of our favorite destinations I'm looking forward to my third trip down there in 13 months, in June 2014, then returning again in March for our third group tour. We remain focused on two prime areas, the coastal northern rainforests of Pico Bonito National Park and nearby coast, and the famous Copán RuinasMayan temple area in the west, which is much drier country and also at higher altitude, where we will be getting up to about 3000ft on one day. The Lodge at Pico Bonito is probably the best place in the country to access wildlife, including birds, mammals and reptiles, due to its location at Pico Bonito National Park and proximity to the mangroves and waterways of Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. Of the regularly occuring 720 regularly occuring species of birds in Honduras 423 have been seen within 20 minutes of the lodge, and the number is growing. Our itinerary for our 2015 tour can be seen here: Honduras: Birds & Wildlife of Rainforest, Ruins & Reef. The tour is March 9 to 18, and is limited to just ten participants. Once again Andrew Haffenden will be accompanying the tour, and we'll be using our favorite guides Alex for Copán Ruinas and Elmer in Pico Bonito and surrounds.
Our first tour to Honduras in December 2014 was a great success, so much so that the group prior to departure wanted to add a few days, which we did. We're keeping the March tour to our standard 10 day length, unless once again we get general approval to make it longer. Of course we can arrange for participants to stay extra time at Pico Bonito, or arrive early into Copán Ruinas, without the whole group participating.
While the wonderful and accessible bird life of Honduras is an important element of the tour - Laguna Road is pretty much mainly birding and photographing them, as is the day to the Honduran Emerald Reserve - this is not a pure birding trip, fast-paced and concentrating on the maximum number of species. We'll still get close to the same number of species as a birding tour to the same areas, though. Our June 2014 central mountains 8 day tour saw 94% of the non-migratory species - which are not present in June - as one of the main birding companies' 10 day March tour, despite our not going to either the bird-rich coast or the drier habitats around Copan. So our easier pace with more time to revisit areas and have time for you own interests suits those with a more general interest in birds and wildlife, who will find both the pace and wider emphases of our tour suited to the non-listing birder, and bird photgraphers. However, all but the most avid list-only birders will come home with a satisfyingly large list, complete with country and regional endemics and sought-after rarities.
Guides truly make a trip, and ours are exceptional. Alexander Alvarado is the foremost bird guide in Honduras, so much so that the President of Honduras flew him to Tegucigalpa from his home near Copán Ruinas to discuss his discovery of several additional areas with the endemic Honduran Emerald, the rarest hummingbird in the world. In addition to birds Alexander has a wealth of knowledge about natural history and cultural history of Honduras, which he shares freely with our guests. He has also been instrumental for many years in rehabilitating and releasing Scarlet Macaws at the Copán ruins, and meeting some of these birds will be a treat while we are there. In addition to Alex during our time at the Ruins we will be led by an expert guide trained and certified in the history and culture of the ruins and Maya people.
If knowledge combined with an ebullient and happy personality makes for you the ideal guide - it pretty much does for us - then Elmer at Pico Bonito is the guide for you. Once again an expert birder with a wide range of additional knowledge, his happy and easy-going, but proefessional style make him a delight to spend time with. Nothing is too much for him, and like Alex, his goal is for you to have the best experience possible, and they both work tirelessly to achieve this. Both Elmer and Alex are the sort of guides who become friends, and past clients can vouch for this. When Elmer is not watching birds and other land-based wildlife, he can be found as often as possible snorkeling the coral reefs in the Cayos Cochinos archipelago, not far offshore from La Ceiba. He's usually the last one into the boat on our trips out there.