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






Day 7 - Sunday, March 15: Aguan Valley and the Honduran Emerald Reserve
After two days with a water component, and the lush surrounds of the Lodge, today will seem like a different country. We’ll travel out to the Aguan Valley, which is very dry and somewhat similar to the dry scrub we encountered near Copán, though this is a specific habitat – dry thorn scrub – which supports its own suite of species, in addition to more wide-spread dry habitat birds. It’s a long drive, about three hours, so we’ll head off very early, and have breakfast along the way. This is very much a birding day, covering some of the same kinds of keel-billed motmot. photo by James Adams / the lodge at pico bonitobirds – a second chance for some, eg Lesser Roadrunner – as along the lower parts of La Laguna Road, and is aiming specifically for both the only Honduran endemic bird, the Honduran Emerald, and the rare and restricted White-lored Gnatcatcher. So less dedicated birders can choose to stay at the lodge, enjoying the grounds and getting some low-key wildlife watching and photography in, or walking to Mermaid Falls or Rio Coloradito for a swim, and some nice photo (and bird) opportunities. Before we reach the Reserve we’ll be scanning roadside scrub for the locally breeding Altamira Oriole – we’lhonduran emeraldl have seen some of the nests used earlier in the year – Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Tropical Mockingbird, Bronzed Cowbirds and others that may turn up. Once at the Reserve we’ll walk along the fence line track, heading to areas with the Emerald’s preferred food plant, a tiny-flowered cactus. The Honduran Emerald is considered the rarest and most endangered hummingbird known, with an estimated population of about 400-600 birds and total available habitat of about 20,000 fragmented acres (one fire could knock out 80-90% of the known population). However, the emerald is not difficult to find in the Reserve if its food plant is flowering, and you know what to look for and where to do so. (Although the photo here shows the Emerald in shade, in sunlight it long gorget is a beautiful light sky blue, quite unusual.) In addition to the Honduran Emerald we expect to see Salvin’s Emerald, and will be searching for White-lored Gnatcatcher and White-bellied Wren, two other thorn scrub specialists. traditional Honduran ovenLesser Road-runner is also possible, as well as a suite of other dry country birds, including the ground-cuckoo searched for near Copán, White-throated Magpie-jay, Hook-billed Kite, White-fronted Parrot, White-tipped Dove, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Brown-crested Flycatcher and Ferruginous Pygmy-owl. Although there is not much in the way of mammals here, our scouting trip did turn up a glimpsed White-tailed Deer, which although the Honduran National Fauna is this deer, it is very rare across the country – its status is part of an awareness program to help protect it. We do expect to see the large, blackish Spiny-tailed Iguana - always a great sight. After a morning at the Reserve, and the birding nearby, we’ll take a welcome lunch in a nearby small farm, with our food cooked by the family, in a traditional outdoor clay oven and fireplace, and served on their dining table. Though simple, the food is very good and traditional. We then head back to the Lodge, and a free late afternoon.

Day 8 – Monday, March 16: Lancetilla Botanical Gardens
A day that everyone will enjoy today. Less than an hour from the Lodge is Lancetilla Botanical Garden & Research Center. Founded in 1926 to study plantains, today its goal is tomontezuma oropendula conserve and preserve the flora and fauna of Honduras, and its Wilson Popenoe Arboretum
green honeycreeper. photo by James Adams / the lodge at pico bonitohas the largest collection of Asian fruit plants in Mesoamerica, with over 630 species, plus many others from other continents. Its role as a research center and germplasm bank for these, Honduran and other Central American plants is of international significance. Orchids and many other tropical ornamental plants are also represented. The Gardens is considered to be the second largest tropical botanical garden in the world. In addition to the Arboretum the gardens includes the Biological Reserve, some 3000 acres of which 85% is untouchedcollared aracari. photo by James Adams / the lodge at pico bonito secondary forest. The entire gardens covers over 4000 acres. Both puma and ocelot can be found in the Reserve, as well as monkeys, deer and other mammals, and 250 species of birds have been recorded in the grounds. So whether your interest is birds, photography, flora in general, indoor and orchids, fruit-bearing plants or research, this morning has you covered. Naturally we’ll start off early to be at the gardens for the most active time for birds, and it’s also before other visitors arrive later in the morning. This morning should be color and noise tropical birding, with many tanagers (including purple-crowned woodnymphbeautiful Passerini’s and Crimson-collared), euphonias, parrots, ant-shrikes, several species of trogons, motmots, hummingbirds, squirrel cuckoos (and squirrels!), hawks and pigeons: the whole forest and
forest edge tropical birding experience. Birders and photographers will be very busy. We have no hard timetable for today, as long apurple-crowned woodnymphs everyone is enjoying themselves, and the birds active, we’ll stay. Eventually though we’ll leave, have lunch at a small local seafood cafe on the beach and return to the lodge for siesta time. Late afternoon we venture out again, once more something everyone will enjoy. At a 3-cabin lodge and small restaurant in the foothills of the Park the staff maintain about 150 small hummingbird feeders in shrubs and around the buildings. The area is therefore alive with birds, as one guide describes it “they’re like bugs in there.” Up to 15 species have been seen here, and many feed at distances of less six or seven feet from us. There are chairs it sit in, in the shade, while enjoying the spectacle, and you can even buy a beer or other drink while you are watching and photographing. Not a bad way to end the day.         (B,L,D)


Day 9 - Tuesday, March 17: The Lodge at Pico Bonito
We have a free day to explore the lodge grounds and immediate area and the part of Pico Bonito National red-capped manakinPark reached via the Loop Trail. We envisage participants mostly following their red-eyed tree frogown interests today, and ou r guide will also be available. This is a day for taking a second walk on the trails, spending time in the Toucan Tower, staking out the hummingbirds around the gardens for more photos, or perhaps taking the trail down to the river. Depending on how long we spent yesterday at Lancetilla we may switch Rio Santiago to today. Some might like to go back to Cayos Cochinos for more snorkelng, or diving, or returning to one of the areas previously visited, such as Lancetilla or Cuero y Salado. So if you missed the Keel-billed Motmot or the views were less than desired, or you want to sit at the Red-capped Manakins' lek area for photos, this is the day for it. Tonight we do final checklist update then enjoy a farewell dinner with our by now new friends.


Day 10– Wednesday, March 18: Pico Bonito/San Pedro Sula/US
We depart the Lodge after breakfast for San Pedro Sula and our flights back to the US, arriving mid to late afternoon. After passing through immigration and customs continue to your home city
.         (B)


B: Breakfast; L: Lunch; D: Dinner; S: Snack



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