“Nice and easy” birding in Honduras: a laid-back, easy-walking tour of natural Honduras
This trip is tailored for people who love nature and birds, but not long hours of hiking or difficult trails. You will be experience natural Honduras in easily accessible places, from decks, from boats, or from the bus. While the trip will not be physically demanding, it will take you to many different places, visit many different habitats, and see lots of different birds, plants and other animals. There will be some minor walking here and there, and sometimes there may be several options you can choose from, depending on your interests and on how fit our tired you feel.
Please bear in mind that, while the tour is not physically demanding, Honduras is not a “disabled friendly” country, in the sense that you cannot expect ramps or elevators or special wheelchair accessible features. This trip is perfect if you want to explore the nature and culture of Honduras without exerting yourself too much, but you should be able to do some minimal walking. Should you have any questions or doubts about the feasibility of this trip for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us; we will be happy to give you all the information you could possibly need to help you decide and give you a wonderful experience.
After picking you up at the international airport of Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital, we drive to Marcala, a small city in the central highlands of the La Paz department. We stay in a hotel near the city, surrounded by pine and mixed broadleaf forest. Depending on your time of arrival, there may still be a little bit of daylight left to go and explore the hotel grounds and look for birds such as Black-vented Oriole, Red Crossbill, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Whiskered Screech-Owl, Common Black Hawk, Ruddy Crake, Blue-crowned Motmot, Eastern Meadowlark, Great Horned Owl, Fulvous Owl and many more.
Or, if you feel tired after a long day of traveling, there is also the option of staying in the hotel for relaxation, meditation and yoga on the beautiful grounds of our hotel.
Today we spend all day in the Opatoro and Guajiquiro highlands. We drive through patches of farmland, coffee plantations, pine-oak forest and cloud forest, making many stops along the way in search of some northern Central-American specialties such as the Blue-throated Motmot, Rufous-collared Thrush, Flame-colored Tanager, Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird, Highland Guan or Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer.
We take a field breakfast with us, and on the way, we will visit a local family that will prepare us a simple but delicious lunch based on local ingredients. This is a nice chance to see how they live, talk about how ecotourism could influence their lives, learn about the use of local plants and other ingredients, observe (or try!) traditional cooking, and basically have a wonderful time with these warm and welcoming people. After completing our trip in the afternoon, we head back to Marcala for dinner.
We leave very early for the Lake Yojoa area, home to the biggest variety of bird species in Honduras. Along the way, we stop at the El Consejero private reserve near La Esperanza. In cooperation with the owners of the reserve, we have created a hummingbird garden here that attracts many highland hummers such as Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Magnificent Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird (during migration), White-eared Hummingbird, Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird etc. It also a good place to see Bushy-crested and Steller’s Jays and several other higher altitude species. The hummingbird garden is a project that Beaks and Peaks supports to help the family gain some extra income and to encourage them to keep protecting the property that has in the meantime been recognized by the government as a private reserve!
We have lunch at a restaurant on the Lake which offers splendid view over the lake and the surrounding wetlands and marshes. Over here, we have the opportunity to spot waterbirds such as Pied-billed Grebes, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Bare-throated Tiger-Herons, Ringed Kingfishers, Snail Kites, Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures and so on.
After lunch we drive up to our hotel PANACAM Lodge. Once we are settled, we have time for afternoon birding around the Lodge in search for the Black-crested Coquette, Barred Forest-Falcon, Collared Araçari, Keel-billed Motmot, Blue-crowned Motmot, Masked Tityra, Crimson- collared Tanager, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, White-throated Thrush, Long-billed Hermit, Violet Sabrewing and more.
Early in the morning, we head down to the lake, where we board the little rowboats the local fishermen use to take us out on the canal and the lake. This is a great way to explore the wetlands around the lake and look for Pinnated Bitterns, Bare-throated Tiger-Herons, Black-crowned Tityras, Green-backed Sparrows, Rufous-breasted Spinetails, Least Grebes, Tanagers, Warblers, White-tailed Kites, Snail Kites, Ospreys, Gray-necked Wood-Rails and many more. Also, the boatmen will be happy to explain you everything about life along the lake or tell you all the legends and stories that circulate about the life IN the lake!
After lunch, we head to the southern tip of the lake, an area known as La Ensenada or Pito Solo. We follow a road that is bordered with tall trees that attract many warblers and other small birds. Behind the line of trees are the wetlands and the lake, where we can find Tricolored Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, and if we are very lucky maybe even Masked Duck or Spotted Rail.
Lake Yojoa and the surrounding area are recognized by the United Nations as a RAMSAR site. That means that in theory, the wetlands that we are visiting today are of international importance and should be protected and conserved. According to the UN, this area contains a total of 13 wetland types and unique ecosystems for Honduras, such as evergreen low mountain forest and the highest karst mountain in Central America. Among the most notable species are two endemic salamanders as well as a giant anteater. All three are threatened species. The site also hosts 169 fern species, 71 aquatic and emergent plants (that is over 85% of the national total!), and 29 freshwater fish species. It is also the only site in Honduras where the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilus), the Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), the Snail Kite (Rostrhamus sociabilis), and all kingfishers have been recorded.
The introduction of exotic species, deforestation and the advance of the land-and-cattle frontier are some of the most pressing problems in this site (ramsar.org). Unfortunately, the Honduran government does not have the means nor the knowledge and skill to enforce existing legislation stipulating the importance and the conservation status of the place. You will notice that during our visit: large parts have been cleared to make room for corn and beans, and cattle is grazing everywhere, destroying vegetation and compacting the soil.
We hope that thanks to the increasing interest from the government in birdwatching as a tourism segment, and by bringing more and more environmentally minded visitors to the area (and maybe even try to have some of the local instances responsible for the protection of the lake join us for a while), we can renew attention for this unique but highly vulnerable site, and encourage our institutions to take action before it is too late.
Today takes us to Honduras’ north coast, and more specifically to the Hummingbird Paradise of Rio Santiago at the foot of Pico Bonito National Park. Flowering plants and dozens of feeders around the restaurant area of the resort attract hundreds of hummingbirds. More than 20 different hummingbird species have been recorded here, including White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violet-Ear, Crowned Woodnymph, Blue-throated Goldentail, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Long-billed Hermit, Black-crested Coquette etcetera!
For those who can tear themselves away from the friendly lounge, we will offer an optional night walk on a forest trail to get a different feeling of the rainforest, and maybe encounter some interesting frogs or snakes!
Another day of birding and nature viewing from a boat, this time in the beautiful mangroves of Cuero y Salado.
The area was once part of the farming grounds of the Standard Fruit Company and contained a large coconut plantation, plus various other fruit trees. It was declared a wildlife reserve in the mid 1980s, mostly to protect the endangered Manatee population, but also the rapidly declining red mangrove (which was used for tanning leather). It has since become a safe haven not only for the (rarely seen) Manatees, but also for many other wildlife species. And it is an important stop for a lot of migratory birds!
In the heydays of the Standard Fruit Company, railroads were the only regular and reliable means of transportation on the Honduran north coast. Today, railroads have disappeared from the national territory. That is, all but one, because the only remainder of the national railway system—and the only way to access the Cuero y Salado refuge—is in an old “banana train” that dates to those days.
When we reach the visitors’ center in the small community of Salado Barra, we board a “lancha” that will take us onto the rivers and canals through the mangroves in search of tropical estuarian wildlife. One of the prettiest herons on earth – the Agami Heron – and the tiny American Pygmy Kingfisher might be seen here today. Add to that White-necked Puffbirds, Boat-billed Herons, Sungrebes and Caimans, Iguanas, Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Capuchins and even an occasional Manatee (depending on the season) and you will understand that this is an incredibly rich area for any nature lover.
After a delicious lunch of the “catch of the day” prepared by local families living in the reserve, we head to the airport of La Ceiba where we take the afternoon flight to Guanaja, the Green island of the Caribbean.
What better than spotting some of the Caribbean’s specialty birds from your lazy chair or hammock, against the backdrop of white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and waving palm trees?
Guanaja is your dream island getaway, and it offers great birding too! Here, you will see species that you cannot ever get on the Honduran mainland: Yucatan Woodpeckers, Canivet’s Emerald, Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Yucatan Vireo, Yellow-naped Parrot, White-crowned Pigeon. During migration Guanaja is an important stopover. That means that in that period, a whole series of interesting warblers, flycatchers, and shorebirds can be seen here. It is also one of the locations in Honduras where various new country records have been documented in recent years! And there are of course plenty of iguanas, smaller lizards and other wildlife to thrill the nature lover.
When our tummies start to grumble, we go for a succulent lunch in restaurant Manatí. Our recommendation is obviously freshly caught fish (are we on a Caribbean island or what?) but there are also several other options to choose from. This is life: great food in a relaxed and cheerful atmosphere. Enjoy!
After a relaxed day of birding and Caribbean vibe, we head back to the mainland on the afternoon flight. When we reach our hotel for the night, we enjoy our final dinner together. We hope that you enjoyed the trip, saw many beautiful birds, experienced natural Honduras, and had a great time. You will have exhilarating stories to tell back home.
We will bring you to San Pedro Sula airport in time for your flight.
Some top bird species we are likely to see on this tour: Whiskered Screech-Owl, Ruddy Crake, Blue-crowned Motmot, Eastern Meadowlark, Great Horned Owl, Fulvous Owl, Blue-throated Motmot, Rufous-collared Thrush, Flame-colored Tanager, Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird, Highland Guan, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Bare-throated Tiger-Herons, Snail Kites, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violet-Ear, Crowned Woodnymph, Blue-throated Goldentail, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Long-billed Hermit, Black-crested Coquette, Agami Heron, American Pygmy Kingfisher, White-necked Puffbird, Boat-billed Heron, Sungrebe, Yucatan Woodpecker, Canivet’s Emerald, Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Yucatan Vireo, Yellow-naped Parrot, White-crowned Pigeon…
We may also see Caimans, Iguanas, Golden-mantled Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, White-faced Capuchins…
What is included?
- 7 hotel nights in double occupancy (for a single room, a 300USD single supplement applies)
- 3 meals per day starting with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on day 8 including non-alcoholic beverages
- In-country transportation throughout the tour in private van/bus and return flight La Ceiba <> Guanaja
- All guiding fees: 1 bilingual Beaks and Peaks specialist guide throughout the tour, local guides
- All entrance fees to the parks and reserves mentioned
- All activities as described
What is not included?
- Airfare to/from Honduras
- Exit/departure tax (usually included in your airfare)
- Alcoholic beverages
- Additional snacks, souvenirs, laundry, and other personal purchases.
Beaks and Peaks is an ethically and ecologically responsible birding and adventure tour company based in Gracias Lempira, Honduras. Sustainability, authenticity and diversity are the core values our company is built on. In combining the extensive knowledge and experience of Honduras’ very best guides and naturalists with the hospitality and authenticity of the local communities we strive to create a successful, productive partnership that benefits all. Living here we have in-depth knowledge of local politics, economics and culture. We are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the country and the society we live in. In the first place we aim at showing you those strengths: the unspoilt natural beauty, the charming local people, the stunning flora and fauna. But we also need to protect that natural beauty and aim at bettering the lives of the people. We therefore try to involve local communities, businesses and guides into our tours where possible and we support several projects which we believe will contribute to raising the standard of living and protecting our natural resources. Beaks and Peaks does not just offer tours. We seek to offer experiences — unique, authentic, unforgettable experiences. We want to create memories you will want to share with your friends, colleagues and family back home. And in doing so we hope strive to change the world… your world, our world, our people’s world. Honduras is a beautiful, remarkably diverse country that has an extraordinary range of experiences to offer to the adventurous traveler, from discovering the amazing avifauna or visiting spectacular mountains and forests to exploring the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and having a taste of the true Hondureño culture. We at Beaks and Peaks make it our mission to reveal Honduras’ stunning, vibrant true colors to adventurous travelers. And what better way to experience this beauty than by spotting colorful exotic birds, hiking through virgin cloud forests or listening to the enthralling stories of the local people?