Naturalist Journeys, LLC - Small Group Birding and Natural History Tours

Honduras Birding Tour Amid Mayan Ruins at Copan
Birding and Nature Tours with Naturalist Journeys
March 16-23, 2013, can be combined with Honduras: Mountains, Valleys & Cloudforest trip March 22-29

Press Release Nov. 30, 2012:
Honduras Nature Tour to Feature Birding amidst Mayan Ruins, Announces Naturalist Journeys - full press release here!

 

It was a fabulous trip. Robert is amazing, he not only knows the birds by sight and sound, he can imitate their calls. He is a very good and patient leader and his plans for a national Honduran bird society are excellent and worth supporting. The Copan ruins are the most interesting I've seen; the partial excavations with huge kapok trees still atop the biggest ruins, the intricately carved stelae, and the rich tropical forest all around set them apart from the great Mayan ruins of Mexico. And the birding is simply fabulous."
     - Trip participant, Barbara Massey, Oregon

Copan PlazaDiscover Honduras, a fascinating country with abundant lakes, lush mountains, and pristine beaches.  More than 740 species of birds occur here – including the endemic Honduran Emerald and the stunning Resplendent Quetzal.  The country also hosts mammals such as jaguars, monkeys, tapirs, and peccaries.  Honduras is perhaps best known for the ruins of Copan, the “Paris of the Mayan world” where we will spend our time exploring the nature and culture in depth. Our journey highlights rich archaeological gems, various wildlife reserves and this beautiful country’s friendly, relaxing culture.

Enjoy mid-elevation forests of Copan, the Mayan sites of Copan and Las Sepulturas. Expect a rainbow of birds:  Magpie-Jays, White-crowned Parrots, Blue-crowned Motmots, Azure-crowned Hummingbirds, Collared Trogons, Flame-colored Tanagers, Orange-fronted Parakeets, and more (see our guide Robert Gallardo’s website www.birdsofhonduras.com for details!)

Gray-necked Wood RailDuring the main itinerary of Copan we will stay at La Casa de Café, a cozy B&B right at the edge of town that overlooks the west end of the valley.

This year we pair Copan with one of our favorite birding areas, the diverse habitats around scenic Lago de Yojoa. From a lovely lodge along the lakeshore, we visit national parks, an archaeological site, and several key birding locations.

Please note that if you wish to stay on after your tour, we can also help you book time at Pico Bonito or the Bay Islands if you wish to explore a bit more or enjoy some rest and relaxation.

Orchid

ITINERARY


Copan Ball CourtSat., March 16 Arrival in San Pedro Sula, Honduras / Travel to Copan
Plan to arrive in San Pedro Sula by 2PM.  If you need to arrive a night early, we can recommend a hotel for you.  From San Pedro Sula, we have a scenic three-hour drive to the Copan area during which our guide, Robert Gallardo, interprets geography and aspects of rural Honduran life.  Upon arrival in Copan, settle in to our accommodations before our welcome dinner. 
Accommodations at Casa de Café (D)

Sun., March 17 Full day at Copan Archaeological Site
After breakfast at the hotel, immerse yourself in Mayan culture at the magnificent Copan ruins.  The elaborate artistry of the stelae and altars we encounter in this once-sprawling Mayan city is amazing.  Many were carved during Copan’s golden age (711-736 A.D.).  One of the highlights is the Hieroglyphic Stairway, which preserves the longest written record of Mayan history and describes the lineage of 16 rulers. 

Copan StelaeOne of the delights of Copan is that it is not fully excavated, including some of the structures we hike through as we bird along the Copan Ruins nature trail.  Abundant nature gives one a feeling of how life may have been at the time. Amid the ruins, we hope to see White-throated Magpie Jays, Rufous-naped Wrens, Green Parakeets, Cinnamon Hummingbirds, Turquoise-browed Motmots, and Rufous-browed Peppershrikes in the lush vegetation. 

In the afternoon we will have a guided tour at the main archaeological site and museum. A local archaeologist joins us here to give in-depth interpretation of the site. Enjoy a gracious dinner in town tonight.
Today's walking conditions - easy, some rock steps. 
Accommodations in Copan. (B,L,D)

Mon., March 18 Miramundo Highlands
This morning we venture by four-wheel drive to higher elevation forests in the Miramundo Highlands where we hope to see Barred Parakeets, Collared Trogons, Violet Forest walksSabrewings, Emerald Toucanets, Blue-crowned Motmots, Golden-olive Woodpeckers,and Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers.  We stop along the way and look for a blooming yellow passionvine, Passiflora citrina, which was discovered in western Honduras in the early 1980`s. We explore a rich, pre-montane broad leaf forest that continues to yield new orchid and bird species for the Copan area.  Enjoy a lunch and learn about coffee production at Miramundo coffee plantation, and return to the hotel for a siesta in the heat of the day. Tonight is a free night; sample the local cuisine at your choice of restaurants in town.    
Today`s walking conditions - moderate to slightly difficult.
Accommodations in Copan. (B,L)

Black-crested CoquetteTues., March 19 Laguna San Francisco Route / Las Sepulturas 
After breakfast, we begin the day birding and exploring the La Laguna – San Francisco route.  This route passes through a variety of farmland, scrub, mixed woodland and highland pine-oak forests, and we can see many species in this area; as many as 80 species have been seen in one day!  We will alternate driving and walking as the birding and scenery unfold.  One of the highlights often seen along this route is a good number of beautiful Elegant Euphonias which feed on fruiting mistletoe. If we’re lucky we may also find a Sparkling-tailed Woodstar, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia or Black-crested Coquette.   

Elegant EuphoniaWe'll have lunch in the field before going to the archaeological ruins of Las Sepulturas, situated a mile from the main acropolis of Copan.  This important, likely residential area for nobles and the wealthy has fascinating tombs, courtyards, hieroglyphic writings and buildings as well as evidence of a non-Mayan culture, perhaps indicating the presence of traders or other important heads of State. It is a lush site, and birds we may see today include Yellow-green Vireos, Rufous-capped Warblers, Northern Beardless Tyrannulets and Streak-backed Orioles.

Enjoy dinner tonight at a gracious hacienda with fabulous views all around!
Today`s walking conditions - fairly easy, dirt road.
Accommodations in Copan. (B,L,D)

OrchidWed., March 20, 2013 Lago de Yojoa
After breakfast at our hotel, we'll depart for the scenic Lake Yojoa.  This will get us to our hotel El Cortijo early so we can spend a relaxing afternoon there and bird on the grounds. The property itself is only a few acres, but has over 150 species on it!  It is filled with tanagers, woodcreepers, hummingbirds and the ever so cute Olivaceous Piculet, not to mention all the birds seen along the marsh.

Lago de Yojoa is the country’s largest natural lake which covers some 50 square miles and actually sits in a volcanic depression. The towering Santa Barbara N.P. covers some 30,000 acres and sits to the west of the Lake and is comprised mostly of pine/oak and broadleaf forest habitats.  Cerro Azul Meambar N.P. sits to the east, covers over 40,000 Golden-hooded Tanageracres, and is comprised of almost entirely mid-elevation to sub-montane rain forests.  Around the Lake itself there occurs seasonally flooded forest, open waters and wetlands containing a variety of plant vegetation. 

The various forested habitats and the wetlands combined make this one of the most avian rich areas in the country and contain well over 460 species. 

We will be spending three nights at El Cortijo which sits right along the lakeshore at 2,200 ft.; we can expect cool nights and warm days.  While at the Lake we will bird Cerro Azul Meambar N.P. and along the entrance road where we hope to encounter some of the following birds:  Green Jays, Mottled Owls, Keel-billed Motmots, Long-billed Starthroats, Striped Cuckoos, Barred Woodcreepers, Crimson-collared Tanagers, Keel-billed ToucanWhite-collared Manakins, Stub-tailed Spadebills, Prevost`s Ground-Sparrows and Blue-crowned Chlorophonias. Really close to the visitor center is the best place in Honduras to see the tiny, yet amazing Black-crested Coquette, which our guide Robert compares to a miniature Samurai warrior fully equipped with a head dress and body armor!  

Down by the lakeshore at various places we will be looking for Snail Kites, Bare-throated Tiger-Herons, Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, wild Muscovy Ducks, Ruddy Crakes, Spotted Rails, Green-breasted Mangos, Rufous-breasted Spinetails, Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Rufous-and-white Wrens, Tropical Parulas and Red-legged Honeycreepers. 
Accommodations at El Cortijo (D)                                                                     

Yojoa park signThurs., March 21 Full day at Cerro Azul Meambar N.P.
Today we will spend the entire day at Meambar N.P.  The lush mid-elevation rainforest teems with birdlife and typically at this time of year there are fruiting wild figs.  They can attract a large assortment of birdlife including toucans, tanagers, honeycreepers, trogons, Crested Guans and Blue-crowned Chlorophonias.  We will hike one or two or the park’s trails, depending on the time available and people’s capabilities.  Inside the forest we should be able to see a variety of Glasswing butterflies and some swallowtails.  The forest is also filled with a wide variety of native orchids and if we’re lucky we’ll find some in bloom.  
Today`s walking conditions - easy to moderately difficult. Some steep trail with steps.
Accommodations at El Cortijo (B,L,D)

Fri., March 22 Full day around Lake Yojoa
We will devote most of the day to birding the rich lake basin at several sites.  We will Cloud Foresthave an early breakfast and then will drive to the nearby Los Naranjos archaeological site.  This site was thought to be of Lencan origin and in actuality very little excavation has been done, but there is a small museum with some pottery on display.  The area, however, is filled with birds in a beautiful seasonal flood forest.  There is a gravel trail as well as an elevated boardwalk where we will walk in search of Rufous-and-white Wrens, Sungrebes, Muscovy Ducks, Bare-throated Tiger-Herons, Striped Cuckoos, Barred Antshrikes, Red-lored Parrots, Rufous-breasted Spinetails, White-throated Flycatchers, Ivory-billed Woodcreepers and a host of migrant wood-warblers.

After the archaeological site visit, we have lunch on the patio of a lakeside restaurant overlooking the lake.  Here we will see a plethora of wetland birds which include grebes, ducks, herons and bitterns.  We will also see graceful Snail Kites which have a stronghold in this basin.  There is also a small and local population of Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures here.  We will spend the rest of the afternoon birding our hotel grounds.
Today`s walking conditions - easy, flat trails. 
ccommodations at Meambar (B,L,D)

Sat., March 23, 2013 Departures
Or, continue with Week Two – The Other Honduras: Mountains, Valleys and Cloudforest National Parks  (save $200 when booking the two weeks together)
This morning we can bird watch around the hotel grounds for a bit before departing. Those coming in for just Week Two may join us here, and soon after breakfast we will pack up and head toward Tegucigalpa and the start of a grand adventure exploring the Other Honduras (see March 23-29 Itinerary).

Those departing today will have a transfer back to San Pedro Sula for flights out after 11AM.  (B) 

Honduras map
Green = route of Week One

Purple = route of Week Two

Caligo Moth

 

PLAN AHEAD!
Protect yourself with Allianz Travel Insurance (formerly Access America).

Offset your Carbon Footprint. Show us the receipt and we'll take 50% - up to $50.00 - of your carbon offset fee off your final payment.

COST OF THE JOURNEY
Cost of the 7-day journey, $2250.00 per person from San Pedro Sula, is based on double occupancy and includes: all accommodations, most meals as specified in the itinerary (all but four dinners on free evenings), group airport transfers, transportation in Honduras, park and preserve entrance fees, professional guides, and miscellaneous program costs.

This cost is based on a minimum of 6 persons; if there are fewer than 8, a small group surcharge (typically $200-400.00) may apply. It does not include items of a personal nature such as beverages from the bar, porterage, laundry, phone calls, or gift items. We also recommend a gratuity for our local drivers and guides; the amount is left to your discretion. Single supplement is $190.00.

TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS
Honduras is served by a number of major airlines, including American Airlines, Continental, COPA, TACA, AeroCaribe, and Iberia. Gateway cities include, but are not limited to, Miami, Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Plan to arrive no later than 2:00 pm on or before March 16th; schedule departing flights after 11:00 am if departing after Week One without the extension (we provide a transfer back to the airport your final morning from Lago Yojoa).

Naturalist Journeys, LLC is an equal opportunity service provider and committed to the goal of ensuring equal opportunity for all in employment and program delivery.

PHOTO CREDITS:
Keel-billed Toucan, Tony Beck - www3.sympatico.ca/beck.tony/; Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-fronted Owl Butterfly, Gray-necked Wood Rail, Golden-hooded Tanager, Elegant Euphonia, Black-crested Coquette, and two Orchid images, Robert Gallardo; all other photos by Peg Abbott.

Naturalist Journeys LLC, a top birding and nature tour company, offers specialty small group travel to many of the best nature destinations worldwide. Naturalist Journeys’ expert guides have decades of experience leading guided nature and birding tours as well as travel photography tours, all with a focus on responsible travel and eco-tourism. Naturalist Journeys also offer Utah hiking adventure tours and adventure travel in national parks and wildlife reserves ranging from in-depth Alaska wildlife tours to guided Texas and Florida birding tours. Costa Rica nature and birding tours are among our top-rated as are our Panama nature tours and African wildlife safari tours. Our many repeat clients enjoy dependable and diverse holidays on Galapagos nature tours, Arctic and Antarctica nature cruises, and birding and wildlife tours from Arizona to the Amazon and beyond.