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Birding route in Guatemala

13 days / 12 nights
Type Tour
Private tour
Guatemala City

Guatemala is the finest birding destination in northern Central America, and it is an easy country to travel in. Our 13-day Guatemala birding tour is of course focused on birds but also provides the opportunity to travel through a country with an incredible history from the Mayan civilization through to the Spanish colonial times. The highlands of Guatemala’s Pacific slope are famous worldwide for holding a host of regional endemics.

Short Breaks
  • Description

    The improbable-looking Pink-headed Warbler might top the list, but it’s hardly outdone by other gems like Blue-throated Motmot, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo. We will have the chance to visit the amazing Tikal National Park in Petén, one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the Maya civilization and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    Day 1 Welcome to Guatemala Hotel - Antigua Guatemala
    Day 2 Los Tarrales Hotel - Lodge
    Day 3 Los Tarrales Hotel - Lodge
    Day 4 Santiago Atitlan Hotel - Santiago
    Day 5 San Pedro Volcano Hotel - Santiago
    Day 6 Sierra de los Cuchumatanes Hotel - Huehuetenango
    Day 7 Todos Santos Hotel - Xela
    Day 8 San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta Hotel - Tecpán
    Day 8 San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta Hotel - Tecpán
    Day 9 Caleras Chichavac Hotel - Antigua Guatemala
    Day 10 El Pilar Hotel - Tikal
    Day 11 Tikal Park Hotel - Tikal
    Day 12 Tikal Park Hotel - Guatemala City
    Day 13 Guatemala Out


    All meals
    Private vehicle
    Flight Flores – Guatemala
      Trip Staff
    Birdwatching specialized tour guide full time, drivers, boat crew
    Hotel (11 nights)

    Included activities:

    • Los Tarrales
    • Santiago Atitlán
    • Sierra de los Cuchumatanes
    • Quetzal Refuge
    • Caleras Chichavac
    • El Pilar
    • Tikal Park
    Admissions at the parks
    According itinerary

    Does not Includes:

    Lunches and Dinners
    Gratuities to guides, drivers, porters
    Telephone calls
    Exit fees
    Travel insurance.

    To bring

    Comfortable clothes, sunscreen and sunglasses.

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 Arrive to Guatemala – Antigua Guatemala D

    Meeting upon arrival, transfer to your hotel in the colonial city of Antigua Guatemala. (1hr) the country’s original capital, declared a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. No birding is planned for today.

    Meals Included: Dinner
    Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo or Similar

    Day 2 Los Tarrales B L D

    An early morning departure will be required to transfer to the Los Tarrales Natural Reserve, where we spend two nights. It is one of Guatemala’s premier birding areas, located 130km west of Guatemala City, on the south slope of the Atitlan Volcano. It boasts a bird list of 400 species due to the elevational range the reserve covers, from 160 ft. (500 m.) at the lodge itself, to 11500 ft. (3500 m.) at the peak of the volcano, comprising three different biomes where the volcano abuts the Pacific lowlands

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
    Accommodations: Finca Los Tarrales

    Day 3 Los Tarrales B

    On this day our focus will be the foothill forests above the lodge itself, at around 3300-4000 ft. (1000-1200 m.). We will take 4 x 4 vehicles to get into the forest, where key target birds like Azure-rumped Tanager, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, and Bar-winged Oriole await. Raptors are also represented by the magnificent Ornate Hawk-Eagle and Black Hawk-Eagle, so we will keep our eyes to the skies for them. We will also check areas of bamboo for the erratic Blue Seedeater and incredible Long-tailed Manakin. After a busy morning, we’ll return to the lodge for lunch, then bird another forest trail in the afternoon, depending on what we are still looking for. At night, for the keen, we can go in search of Common Parauque, and Mottled and Black-and-white Owls.

    Meals Included: Breakfast
    Accommodations: Finca Los Tarrales

    Day 4 Los Tarrales to Atitlan Lake B L

    Most of the day will be spent birding again around Los Tarrales, targeting whatever we are still looking for. After lunch in Los Tarrales, we’ll drive about two hours to Lake Atitlan, checking for waterbirds on the journey, which can include Least and Pied-billed Grebes, Belted Kingfisher, and others. Two nights will be spent in a hotel overlooking the lake. We’ll get to the hotel fairly early to prepare us for the tough hike the next day.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    Accommodations: Posada de Santiago

    Day 5 San Pedro Volcano B L D

    Spend the day in San Juan La Laguna area on the western shore of Lake Atitlan, another new site to bird tourism. Seek out the rare and gorgeous Belted Flycatcher along the lower slopes of San Pedro volcano. You may also come across the Lesser Roadrunner and other dry forest species such as Prevost's Ground-Sparrow. Participants in excellent shape can try the hike to the volcano to find the Horned Guan. This hike is very difficult, strenuous, and not for everyone - nor is it a guarantee to see the rare guan.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Optional Activity: Boat tour or Parque Mirador del Rey Tepepul 
    Accommodations: Posada de Santiago

    Day 6 Sierra de los Cuchumatanes B L D

    We’ll have a relaxed morning to recover from the previous day. After breakfast, we’ll travel north to the Sierra de Los Cuchumatanes. The journey will take much of the day, although this will be broken up with a very important stop at Puerta del Cielo National Park, our first spot for some of the main targets of the trip, including Black-capped Siskin and the amazing Pink-headed Warbler. At the end of the day, we’ll arrive at Unicornio Azul Lodge, and there will be an optional owling session to search for one of the most difficult Neotropical owl species, the Unspotted Saw-Whet Owl.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodations: Unicornio Azul

    Day 7 Todos Santos B L D

    Today we will use 4×4 vehicles to go after one of Guatemala’s most localized birds, the stunning black-and-gold Goldman’s Warbler. This species was recently split from Yellow-rumped Warbler, but bears little resemblance to it. It is confined to specific areas at high elevations in this park, where the pine-oak forests give way to open grasslands, known as páramo. While searching for our principal target, we will also have a chance to find the rare Ocellated Quail and more widespread species like Crescent-chested Warbler, Broad-tailed Hummingbird and local forms (future splits?) of Yellow-eyed Junco, Red Crossbill, and Northern Flicker. After lunch, we will drive to San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodations: Xela

    Day 8 San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta - Tecpán B L D

    We will visit a nearby reserve for another very special bird this morning, the emerald-and-scarlet Resplendent Quetzal, which haunts the oak-dominated cloudforest. Along with the quetzal, we hope to see Highland Guan, Slate-colored Solitaire, Black-throated and Unicolored Jays, and Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush. In the afternoon, we’ll have a long drive to Tecpan, where we spend one night.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodations: Tecpan

    Day 9 Caleras Chichavac B L D

    Our birding for the morning will again focus on highland birds, where specialties like Pink-headed Warbler, Hooded Grosbeak, Black-throated Jay, Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Blue-throated Motmot, and Mountain Trogon are all possible. After lunch, we’ll drive to Antigua Guatemala; depending on when we arrive, there may be time to visit a private reserve for a first chance at Rufous Sabrewing, and there will be optional night building to look for Fulvous Owl.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodations: Posada de Don Rodrigo or Similar

    Day 10 El Pilar B L D

    In the morning we shall visit El Pilar Reserve, with pine-oak forest at lower elevations than sites that we visited earlier in the tour. Two of our main targets will be Wine-throated Hummingbird and Bushy-crested Jay, but a long list of other birds is possible in the area, like the near endemic Black-capped Swallow, Black and Rufous-collared Thrushes, Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Blue-throated Motmot, Yellow-throated Brushfinch, and a host of stunning warblers, like Red-faced, Golden-cheeked, and Hermit Warblers, and Slate-throated Redstart. After lunch, we transfer to the airport in Guatemala City and fly to Flores International Airport, the gateway to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. The steamy lowland rainforest will be totally different from the mountainous regions of the first part of the tour. We’ll spend two nights at a lodge in Tikal.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodations: Jungle Lodge

    Day 11 Tikal Park B L D

    Tikal is perhaps most famous for its dramatic Mayan ruins, but it is also a superb spot for tropical birds. We will set out very early in order to watch the sunrise over this impressive ancient site, and then start seeing birds and animals shortly thereafter (Howler Monkeys are often among the first!). Amazing species like Ocellated Turkey, Great Curassow, Rose-throated Tanager, Keel-billed Toucan, White-necked Puffbird, Yucatan Jay, Slaty-tailed Trogon, White-collared Manakin, Gray-throated Chat, Orange-breasted Falcon, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Gray-headed Kite, and White Hawk can all be seen in and around the complex, and there will also be time to enjoy the cultural aspects too.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Accommodations: Jungle Lodge

    Day 12 Tikal Park

    After another morning of birding in Tikal, we will take an afternoon flight back to Guatemala City, where we spend the last night of the tour.

    Day 13 Guatemala - OUT

    This morning our driver will transfer guests to the airport in plenty of time to catch your international flight onwards.

    End Services!