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
Honduras is a surprise. While not as well known to most travelers as Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua or Guatemala, other than a fleeting glimpse by Caribbean cruisers who may have stopped at Roatan, it offers much in a small space, and is less than three hours from the gate cities of Houston, Atlanta and Miami. Like the surrounding Central American countries it has a wide suite of birds and mammals, but also excellent Maya ruins, second only to Tikal. And like Tikal, a visit to Copán can combine intriguing and spectacular archeology with excellent tropical birding. For our Honduras tour we’ve chosen just two central locations for 10 day/9 night tour, so there is only one change of hotel. Experienced travelers understand just what an unusual pleasure that is. Yet we’ll be spending time at Copán, birding and looking for wildlife in habitats including dry thorn scrub, low open forests and fields, lowland rainforest, upland pine/oak forest and rainforest, mangroves and even a coral cay and reef. There are few places where this variety can be included in a tour that uses just six business days.
In the small colonial town of Copán Ruinas we stay on the outskirts of town, where there are beautiful sunrises over the valley and hills, and walking trails through forest on the grounds. We’re only minutes to the ruins, but also just minutes from the town center, well preserved and pleasant for walking about. Our other hotel is The Lodge at Pico Bonito, surrounded by rainforest and set on 400 acres of extensive grounds and rainforest, with miles of walking trails through varied habitats. It also has three elevated observation towers, and one trail leads into the adjacent Pico Bonito National Park. It is a designated Small Luxury Hotel of the World, and Audubon Magazine called it a birder’s paradise. With a bird list of 250 species and growing, large, comfortable cabins complete with robes, slippers and other luxuries (including air conditioning), excellent food and a low key ambience, we’d have to agree with both labels.
We’ve chosen early March for our second tour with this itinerary, as the cool weather has a greater variety of wildlife – many birds move to higher elevations during summer to avoid the heat - and various fruiting trees around the lodge attract many birds including the well-named Lovely Cotinga. Avoiding the heat also makes our own traveling more comfortable. In addition to the local species, in March many of our own neotropical migrants are part of the avian scene, and are often far more common than the few opportunities most US birders have to see these jewels. It’s a great opportunity to practice IDing them, especially as some are in their more difficult non-breeding plumage. But birding is not all we’ll be doing; we’ll be looking for mammals and reptiles as well, including at night, the only time some mammals can be seen. We’ve also structured the tour and the pace in consideration of our photographing travelers, so there is plenty of time – and usually repeat opportunities – to wait for those special photo opportunities. Though we’ll be seeing plenty of birds, including specialties and Honduras’ only endemic, this is not an ever-moving tick-it-off-and-move-on tour, but one designed to see, get to know and enjoy the fauna, flora and Maya history of Honduras.
the photos except the daytime veranda image were taken by Andrew Haffenden,
James Adams at The Lodge at Pico Bonito and Alexander Alvarado, our
guide at Copán. All three are non-professional photographers
getting photos along the way, so they represent what participants
can expect to see. Thanks
James and Alexander.
The veranda was taken by Roy Toft.
1 – Monday March 9: US/San Pedro Sula/ Copán Ruinas
2 – Tuesday, March 10: Las Sepulturas and Copán