Honduras 2017

Friday 1st December – Saturday 09th December

Lovely-Cotinga-by-James-AdamsOn this fantastic tour to Honduras we will have a great opportunity to see many of the country's special birds as well as stay at one of the world's very best wildlife lodges. Our stay at The Lodge at Pico Bonito, nestled at the foot of Pico Bonito National Park combines fantastic food and luxury accommodation with amazing birding. Boasting 423 species within 20 minutes of the lodge, the grounds themselves offer possibly the best place anywhere to see the incredible Lovely Cotinga and the much sought after Keel-billed Motmot. Three observation towers offer superb viewing and photography opportunities for birds in the forest canopy. The Lodge's 400 acre property together with Pico Bonito National Park offers incredible landscapes, pristine rainforest, rugged mountain ranges, and fantastic birding. The nearby Cuero y Salado Manatee Refuge encompass eight distinct ecosystems, and we will take a leisurely boat trip amongst the mangroves in search of species such as Boat-billed Heron, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Agami Heron and Sungrebe. Another day trip will take us to the dry scrub habitat of the Rio Aguan Valley on the other side of the mountains which offers the best chance to see Honduras only endemic species the endangered Honduran Emerald. As an added bonus anyone wanting to stay on at our luxury birding lodge a visit to the Cayos Cochinos Marine Biological Reserve offers the chance to snorkel amongst numerous tropical fish and corals in the second largest reef system in the world. Or maybe you just prefer to enjoy the ambiance of a deserted tropical island. Aside from the fabulous Pico Bonito we will also spend several days visting different areas and habitats where we could see species such as Blue-throated Motmot and Resplendent Quetzal.

Targets:
  
  • Honduran Emerald
  • Lovely Cotinga
  • Lesser Roadrunner
  • Tody Motmot
  • Agami Heron
  • Keel-billed Motmot
  • Sungrebe
  • Bushy-crested Jay
  • Blue-throated Motmot
  • Resplendent Quetzal
  • Golden-cheeked Warbler
  • Painted Redstart
  • Stub-tailed Spadebill 
  • Fulvous Owl
  • Wine-throated Hummingbird
  • Crested Quial-Dove
  • White-bellied Emerald
  • Red-capped Manakin      
  • Altamira Oriole
  • Boat-billed Heron
  • White-breasted Hawk
  • Garnet-throated Hummingbird
  • Red-faced Warbler
  • Blue-crowned Chlorophonia
 
 
Day 1   Arrival - Honduras - 01st Dec
Plan on arriving in the morning of 01st Dec at San Pedro Sula International Airport in northwest Honduras (Airport code: SAP). After meeting our guide, we’ll transfer to the lovely Lodge at Pico Bonito a naturalist’s paradise nestled against the rain forested peaks of Pico Bonito National Park. An afternoon arrival at The Lodge will afford us time for some birding of the Lodge grounds and orientation before dinner.

Days 2 - 5   The Lodge at Pico Bonito
Honduran-Emerald by Steve BirdOur first day will be spent birding from the front deck of the restaurant overlooking lush gardens where hummingbirds come to both flowers and nectar feeders that are put out, and then around the grounds and along the close trails amidst tropical, secondary and gallery forest and plantations. There will be plenty to see and highlights and target species we will look for Blue-crowned Motmot, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Tody Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Black-cowled Oriole, Masked and Black-crowned Tityras, Black-headed, Violaceous, Collared and Slaty-tailed Trogons, Royal Flycatcher, Green, Shining and Red-Legged Honeycreepers, Yellow-winged Tanager and 16 species of Hummingbirds including Blue-throated Sapphire, Violet Sabrewing, Crowned Woodnymph, Purple-crowned Fairy, Stripe-tailed Hummingbird, Brown Violet-ear, Green Violet-ear, White-bellied Emerald and White-necked Jacobin. If trees are fruiting in the gardens we are in for a real treat as these will attract the stunning and coveted Lovely Cotinga, if not then we can usually see the bird from one of the three observation towers set around the grounds and overlooking the Rio Coloradito. After lunch in the afternoon we will ascend with our guide along The Lodge’s loop trail system in search of the more forest-dwelling birds that this paradise has to offer. In addition to the Toucan tower at the trail head, this route offers an elevated ridge platform, which overlooks the Rio Coloradito and surrounding forested slopes. Some of the forest species are shy and tricky to see but we will endeavour to find such exciting birds as Tody Motmot, Keel-billed Motmot, White-collared and Red-capped Manakins, Gray-headed Piprites, Great Curassow, Crested and Highland Guan, Black-eared Wood-Quail, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Little Tinamou, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Keel-billed, Emerald and Yellow-eared Toucanets, Collared Aracari, a host of flycatcher species, and many of the trogon, woodpecker, woodcreeper, tanager and oriole species on the lodge’s 420+ bird list. In addition to superb viewing from the lodge’s towers, this route passes several overlooks so we will be on the lookout for raptor species which may include King Vulture, Collared Forest-Falcon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle and White Hawk. After a fantastic day, we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner at The Lodge. 

Keel-billed-Motmot-by-Steve BirdOn one of our days here we will begin very early with breakfast at the lodge and departure by 4:30 AM. It is critical that we travel to reach a unique area of habitat in the morning to find the beautiful but critically endangered Honduran Emerald, Honduras only endemic bird species which survives only in a few remaining pockets of tropical dry forest to the south of Pico Bonito National Park. This arid, almost desert-like flat land was once dominated by tropical thorn or dry forest, and now protected it offers refuge and protection to this tiny hummingbird and the very special species of cactus that grows here. As the sun rises, our ride into “Emerald country” should get interesting as a surprising number of bird species that inhabit this dry forest can be seen from stops along the road. These include Altamira Oriole, Double-striped Thick-Knee, Lesser Roadrunner, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, White-lored Gnatcatcher, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Banded Wren, White-bellied Wren, Stripe-headed Sparrow and Salvin’s Emerald. Stops at some localized wet areas in this arid region could produce Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Green Kingfisher and more. Once we reach the reserve in the Rio Aguan Valley, we will walk a short distance to the prime habitat for Honduran Emerald. It shouldn’t be long before we spot this little gem feeding on cactus flowers and all being well we should get good views of this rare bird. We’ll then have lunch in the nearby ranching town of Olanchito, and return to Pico Bonito Lodge by 4:00 PM. If you prefer not to go on this unique day excursion you can of course spend the day around our wonderful lodge.
 
Another area we will visit after a more leisurely breakfast we make a short drive toward the coast and the Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. Named for the Cuero and Salado Rivers which meet the Caribbean here, the Refuge comprises over 35,000 acres of rivers, lagoons, mangroves, and forests that are home to a diverse and varied Lesser-Roadrunner by Steve Birdset of wildlife including in excess of 350 species of birds. After arriving at the tiny train station we take a small motorized train on a 20 minute narrow rail ride along a century-old track through bird-rich farmlands, marshlands and a plantation areas until we ultimately arrive at the mouth of the Salado River and the Refuge itself. Along the way we look for White-tailed Kite, White Ibis, Common Black-Hawk, Laughing Falcon and the huge Jabiru. Once we reach the reserve we will explore the various mangrove and forest habitats from a small motorized boat. When needed we will silence our boat’s motor and quietly paddle in for a better looks at the wildlife we find.  There are many possibilities here including the secretive and very attractive Agami Heron, Boat-billed Heron, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Tri-coloured Heron, Jabiru, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Gray-necked Wood Rail, Sungrebe, Laughing Falcon, Bat Falcon, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Gray-necked Wood Rail, Mangrove Cuckoo and Western Slaty Antshrike. This area contains three species of mangroves and aside of the birds we can also search for Tamandua, Mantled Howler Monkey, White-faced Capuchin, Green Iguana, Black Caiman and American Crocodile. There is a population of the West Indian Manatee, but they usually reside on the other side of the reserve. After our special time amongst the mangroves we will return to the Lodge. In the early evening we can search the lodge grounds for Guatemalan Screech-Owl, Mottled Owl and Black-and-white Owl, and sometimes even a Great Potoo. Overnight Pico Bonito. 
  
Resplendent QuetzalDays 6 - 7   Pico Bonito - Las Gloriales 
Today we head off towards La Tigra National Park. Once here we will be able to look for many of the country’s higher-elevation species such as White-breasted Hawk, Red-throated Parakeet, Plain Chachalaca, Mountain Trogon, Bushy-crested and Black-throated Jays, Emerald Toucanet, Spotted, Strong-billed, and possibly Black-banded Woodcreepers, Rufous-collared, Black, and Mountain Thrushes, Mountain Elaenia, Rufous-browed Wren, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, Yellow-backed Oriole, and a good variety of hummingbirds such as Wine-throated, Garnet-throated, Amethyst-throated and Green-breasted Mountain-Gem. We also have the opportunity to see one of the world’s most beautiful birds the Resplendent Quetzal. The next day will have us visit La Tigra National Park in search of Blue-and-white Mockingbird and the rarest of the motmots the Blue-throated Motmot. We will also have chances for many more species including Green-breasted Mango, Rose-throated Becard, Red-faced Warbler, Gray-breasted Wren, Grace’s Warbler, Olive Warbler and even Golden-cheeked Warbler. This evening we will have an optional trip to go and look for Fulvous Owl. Other exciting species we encounter in this area include Flame-coloured Tanager, Bushy-crested Jay, Slate-coloured Solitaire, Chestnut-capped Brush-Finch, Painted Redstart, Elegant Euphonia and Blue-crowned Chlorophonia amongst others.
2 Nights Las Gloriales.
 
Days 8 - 9  Las Gloriales - Panacam 
After our final morning here we will drive northwest to Panacam Lodge birding along the way. Lake Yojoa should provide a wealth of waterbirds such as Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Snail Kite, Limpkins, Northern Jacanas and both Ruddy and Gray-Black-crested-Coquette-by-Steve Birdbreasted Crakes call frequently from the reeds. The surrounding scrub may produce species such as White-collared Manakin, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, Green-backed Sparrow, Olivaceous Piculet, Rufous-naped Wren, Black-crested Coquette, Violet Sabrewing and White-bellied Emerald. The next day will see us search the grounds and fields below the lodge where we hope to find Collared Aracaris and Keel-billed Motmots, along with Blue-crowned Motmots, Masked Tityras, Crimson-collared Tanagers, Collared Trogon and both Northern Barred and Wedge-billed Woodcreepers. Both Barred and Collared Forest-Falcons are possible although more likely heard than seen, while nearby trails offer good chances for a wide variety of other species such as Royal Flycatcher and possibly Black-faced Antthrush and Scaled Antpitta. Sungrebe can often be found at a nearby reservoir, and the boardwalk at the Los Naranjos archaeological site offers excellent birding, where we might see both Plumbeous and Mississippi Kites, Laughing Falcon, Gartered Trogon, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, White-throated Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, and a variety of wintering North American migrants.
2 nights Panacam Lodge.
 
Day 10  Panacam  - Airport and End of Tour - 10th Dec
Today we will head back to San Pedro Sula International Airport in time for our international departures and end of this fabulous tour.
 
Leaders: Local Guides
 
Ground Price: £2195.00  - Honduras / Honduras

Single Supplement: £430.00
 
Airfare: £600.00 -  £1000.00 (Approx) - UK/UK depending on time booked, route and airline.
Deposit: £500.00

Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 with maximum 10.

Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms en-suite, all meals, ground transport throughout, boat trip, all entrance fees, and services of leaders.

Not included: International airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: All lodges are of an excellent or good standard and offer en-suite rooms. 

Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with regular birding walks along roads and well marked trails. There are early morning options and pre-breakfast excursions, followed by morning and afternoon sessions. The weather is generally good to warm, even hot with possibilities of rain in the afternoons. Be prepared for all eventualities.

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