Belize Birding (9n/10d)

The Stygian Owl is one of the more rare bird species to be found at the Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary

The Stygian Owl is one of the more rare bird species to be found at the Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary

Day 1, Transfer to Toledo (D) (Unguided flight)
Upon your arrival at Belize International Airport you will be met to a representative of Viaventure to help you check in for the connecting flight to Punta Gorda where you will be met by a representative of the lodge for your transfer. Lodge at Big Falls 4N.

Day 2, Bird watching & Agua Caliente Wildlife Sanctuary (B,L,D) (Guided)
Early in the morning guests will enjoy a bird walk alon the river bank and through the orchard and meadows around the Lodge. After breakfast guests will spend the day in broadleaf forest habitats and visiting the Agua Caliente Wildlife Sanctuary. The Aguacaliente Wildlife Sanctuary is critical for the preservation of biodiversity in Belize and the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor. The AWS consists of 5,492 acres of land and water. It encompasses a central wetland area, which consists of three freshwater lagoons, two hot springs, and several streams running in and out of the lagoons. The lagoons are a feeding area for hundreds of waterfowl including wood storks, endangered jabiru storks, black-bellied whistling ducks, sandpipers, and others. Some of these birds live year-round in the Sanctuary and others use it as a transmigration point on their seasonal journeys through the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.  Over 150 species have so far been identified in the AWS, including each of the five kingfishers found in Belize, black-necked stilts, boat-billed herons, roseate spoonbills, and an assortment of manakins, grebes, egrets, and others. (See provided checklist for more information.) The forest and savanna areas of the AWS provide habitat for a wide variety of rare animals, including gibnuts, black howler monkeys, white-tailed deer, kinkajous, and endangered tapirs and jaguars. The AWS also contains two swamp forest and grassland ecosystems which are found nowhere else in Belize. Due to its rich biodiversity and unique ecological characteristics, the National Protected Areas Policy and System Plan of Belize recently ranked the AWS first in biophysical value nationally.

Day 3, Coastal Mangrove Forest & High Forest (B,L,D) (Guide HD)
Guests will leave the lodge early in the morning with their guide for the birding in the coastal mangrove forest. Guests will have breakfast in a local restaurant before they will drive to high forest to continue birding. Afternoon is free to relax at the lodge.

Day 4, Mountain Pine Ridge Area (B) (Unguided)
In the morning guests will be transferred to the airstrip in Punta Gorda for the flight to Belize City. Upon their arrival guests will be met by their driver for their transfer to their hotel in Mountain Pine Ridge area. Hidden Valley, 3N. Hidden Valley Inn, a luxury hotel with only 12 cottages, is located on a 7200 acre private reserve in the Mountain Pine Ridge area of Belize. Hummingbirds, Green Jay, Blue-Crowned Mot-Mot, Golden Hooded Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, Montezumas Oropendula, Keel-Billed Toucan and Crested Guan are just a few of the species you may encounter in the area. Highlights for birders include Orange Breasted Falcon, King Vulture, Stygian Owl, Laughing Falcon, Grace’s Warbler, Lovely Cotinga, Tody Motmot and many more. Also – the cliffs around the Hidden Valley Inn’s property are one of the very few nesting sites for the endangered Orange Breasted Falcon. (See also bird checklist for more information). In 2003 the Peregrine Fund took a female falcon chick back to Panama where they have started a breeding program in an effort to save the species from extinction. In 2004,some eggs were taken from Belize to Panama and incubated. One female and two males were brought back to Belize. Hidden Valley Inn co-sponsored the release of these males, the first ever, Orange breasted Falcons born in captivity. See the full photo story.  The Peregrine Fund has also released four Harpy Eagles in the Chiquibul Forest near Caracol, some of which have been relocated to Rio Bravo. One Harpy Eagle was also donated to the Belize Zoo as it could not be released. Another extremely rare bird found on the property is the Stygian Owl. These uncommon owls are mostly restricted to Pine and Pine Oak woodlands. Rick Romero, Hidden Valley Inn’s resident bird guide has been monitoring the 9 daytime roosts on the property and hopes to learn more about the owl’s habits. Throughout the 2004/2005 birding season, every birding group that visited the resort saw this elusive nocturnal owl.

Day 5, Bird watching (B) (Guided)
Guests will enjoy a collective early morning and a late afternoon birding tour in the private reserve surrounding Hidden Valley Inn. The rest of the day is free to relax at the hotel.

Day 6, Bird watching (B) (Guided)
Guests will enjoy a collective early morning and a late afternoon birding tour in the private reserve surrounding Hidden Valley Inn. The rest of the day is free to relax at the hotel.

Day 7, Transfer to Lamanai Lodge (B,D) (Unguided)
In the morning guests will be transferred to Belize City for the collective road/river transfer to Lamanai. Lamanai Lodge 3N

Day 8 & 9, Bird watching & Wildlife activities (B,L,D) (Guided)
Enjoy 2 full days of birding and/or wildlife activities arranged directly by the lodge. All meals are included and guests can pick from a selection of tours each day which are operated on a collective basis. Crocodile Encounter, Birding Expeditions, Native Fishing, Lamanai Maya Ruins, Breakfast on the River Howler Trek, Airboat Safari, Maya Medicine Trail, Sunrise Canoe Excursion, Cultural Immersion: The Mennonites, Snook and Tarpon Fishing, Jungle Dawn, Starlight Canoeing, Spotlight Safari, Cultural Immersion: The Milpa, Sunrise at Crab Catcher Lagoon Sunset Cocktail Cruise, Crocodile Nest Search, Night Walk, Irish Creek at Dawn. With almost 400 species documented within a 3 mile radius, Lamanai Outpost Lodge is definitely Belize’s premier birding location. Habitats range from vast wetlands and broadleaf forest to pine savannah and all are easily accessible by boat, trails, vehicle or canoe. Our guides will tailor your activities to access your target species in an environment where 200+ species in 3 days is far from unusual. Our Spotlight Safari provides an amazing opportunity to see roosting waders, nocturnals and some of the more elusive diurnal species up close and personal. Regular sightings include the Northern Potoo, Yucatan Nightjar, Common Pauraque and Nighthawk, Grey-necked Wood Rail, Sungrebe and Agami Heron.

Day 10, Transfer out (B) (Unguided Transfer)
Guests will be transferred by land/river to Belize International Airport in plenty of time for their flight out of the country.

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