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Guatemala NEW! Highlands & Horned Guan

An 11-day birdwatching tour to Guatemala

Guatemala has many attractions, but it says something about a country when even its currency is named after its national bird - the exquisite Resplendent Quetzal! Indeed, as a birding destination, this beautiful and incredibly scenic Central American destination is right up there with the best of them. Our tour concentrates on the central highlands to the west of Guatemala City, visiting the best locations and lodges for a wonderful range of speciality birds. Join us as we seek the enigmatic Horned Guan, fabulous Pink-headed Warbler, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, Lovely Cotinga and rare Azure-rumped Tanager - not to mention a feast of colourful hummingbirds, warblers and tanagers - plus the quetzal, of course! And you have a trip where birds, landscape and people all come together to make a superb tour.

Tour Dates

2018

  • Available

Leaders
Fernando Enrique

Max Group Size: 10
Duration: 11 Days

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Cost: £3395

inc return flights London Heathrow-Guatemala City

Deposit: £500

Single Supp: £235
Land Only: £2795

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Pink headed Warbler FE Guatemala 0317 IMG 2856 resized

The range-restricted and improbable looking Pink-headed Warbler is a key species to look for in Guatemala © Fernando Enrique, Limosa

Guatemala is a beautiful and relatively compact Central American country with a great deal to offer the visiting naturalist. Its birds are brilliant, colourful and diverse. From the fabulous, bright green-and-red Resplendant Quetzal - the quetzal is even the unit of currency in Guatemala (not the actual bird, of course – that would be silly!), to the fantastic Pink-headed Warbler and rare Horned Guan – the latter with newly discovered populations allowing easier access for groups to see this amazing beast!

Our exciting new tour commences at Guatemala City and focuses mainly on the species-rich highlands of the Pacific Slope to the west. We'll explore cool high-elevation pine-oak forests; a spectacular volcanic lake ringed by volcanoes; shade-grown coffee plantations; hot, dry thorn-forest; and temperate cloudforests - each with their own unique set of birds.

Our birding begins around the old Spanish colonial city of Antigua, with a visit to some superb hummingbird feeders. The regionally endemic Green-throated Mountaingem, recently split Rivoli’s Hummingbird and localised Rufous Sabrewing (endemic to the mountains of the Pacific Slope) are among many that await.

In the upper reaches of the pine-oak and cloud forests here, the trees can be full of birds: everything from Grey Silky-flycatchers to Rufous-collared Thrushes, while more difficult-to-find specialities include the spectacular Mountain Trogon and striking Hooded Grosbeak - both always high on the list of desired species.

Each hill we visit seems to have its own subtly different avifauna. Sought-after regional highland endemics include the fabulous Pink-headed Warbler - one of the star birds on this tour - Rufous-browed Wren, Blue-throated Motmot and Black-capped Siskin. There's also a plethora of colourful Nearctic migrants to enjoy, with Townsend's, Hermit and Red-faced Warblers occurring here alongside the resident Slate-throated Redstart, and Crescent-chested and Olive Warblers.

Horned Guan is one of the key 'target species' and we have a couple of chances to find this endangered and highly localised bird. As big as a turkey, the adult male Horned Guan is notable for the 3cm scarlet ‘horn’ projecting straight up from its crown. This species is legendary for the difficulty in finding it in the cloudforests above 1650 metres (5400ft) - but our guides have recently discovered a more easily accessible site, so we have our fingers crossed!

In Guatemala, the diversity of montane birding is such that every day will bring new species: Crested Guan, White-bellied Chachalaca, cobalt-backed Long-tailed Manakins, the tricky Tody Motmot, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, the unusual looking Prevost's Ground Sparrow,  rare Azure-rumped Tanager... and many, many more!

To round off an exciting tour, we travel back east, beyond Guatemala City, contrasting the arid Motagua Valley with the moist cloudforests of the Biotopo del Quetzal.

Motagua is the hottest and driest region of Guatemala, and the dry forest here is both very different to anything else we'll see on our tour and complete with its own special birds. The lovely Turquoise-browed Motmot is one of the most conspicuous residents and Rufous Hummingbird, White-throated Magpie-jay and Rufous-naped Wren also occur in the valley.

For our grand finale we visit La Reserva del Quetzal, seeking the smart Azure-hooded Jay, Chesnut-headed Oropendola and, of course, the exquisite Resplendent Quetzal - widely regarded as one of the world's most beautiful birds. We also have a chance of finding the rare Golden-cheeked Warbler, a migrant which breeds sparingly in Texas and passes the winter here.

All in all, Guatemala today makes for a fabulous birding destination, offering much improved accommodation and tourist infrastructure, a rich cultural heritage, fine landscapes and a wealth of special birds - not to mention some of the best coffee in the world to wake up to! Our February tour combines all this to bring you a memorable Central American holiday, one that's jam-packed with exciting and very special birds!

Our tour will be led by popular Limosa guide Fernando Enrique, returning for his 7th visit to Guatemala. He is a fluent English and Spanish-speaker and reccied this tour for us in March 2017. Having also studied birds in Guatemala (as well as neighbouring Belize), his love and enthusiasm for this beautiful country and its brilliant wildlife is sure to inspire you!

Horned Guan1 resized

No prizes for guessing how the amazing Horned Guan got its name! © Guatemala Birding Expeditions

Day 1
FLY LONDON-GUATEMALA CITY & TRANSFER TO ANTIGUA

Our birdwatching tour to Guatemala begins with a morning flight from London Heathrow to Madrid, where Limosa guide Fernando Enrique will join us for the onward connection direct to Guatemala City. Arriving in the late afternoon, we will be met by our Guatemalan local guide and drive west (about an hour) to Antigua, where we stay for two nights.

The small colonial city of Antigua is situated 1500m (5000ft) above sea level, and ringed by inactive volcanoes. Our hotel here comprises three lovingly restored Spanish colonial residences - one of which, the 300-year-old Casa de Los Leones, is a national historic monument - and perfectly captures the essence of old-world Antigua. The rooms are uniquely decorated, featuring original artwork, hand-painted ceilings, fireplaces and furniture hand-carved by local craftsmen.

After a delicious evening meal at the hotel, we'll get an early night so as to be ready for an early start tomorrow. Night Posada de Don Rodrigo

Day 2 
FINCA EL PILAR

After an early breakfast this morning, we'll head straight to the hummingbird feeders at nearby Finca El Pilar, just 20 minutes drive from our hotel. This splendid private estate ranges from 1600m to 2400m (5250-7870ft) above sea level and protects a variety of bird-rich habitats - from dry forest in the lower section, up through moist pine-oak woodland to cloudforest at higher elevations.

El Pilar's hummingbird feeders are located at the start of the trail and are notable for five key species attending: Rufous Sabrewing (which is endemic to the Pacific Slope mountains of Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala and El Salvador) and the recently-split Rivoli’s (formerly Magnificent), Azure-crowned, Berylline and Blue-tailed Hummingbirds. The regionally endemic Green-throated Mountaingem is also frequently seen along with White-eared Hummingbird, Green Violet-ear and the impressive - and large - Violet Sabrewing.

Having taken our fill of 'hummers', we travel on to the upper reaches at El Pilar. The clearing near the top can be alive with Grey Silky-flycatchers, Rufous-collared Thrushes, Black-headed Siskins and many more - though we may not linger here for too long as the montane oak forests host even more species! The beautiful Mountain Trogon will be high on our list of specialities to look for, as will the equally appealing - and difficult! - Hooded Grosbeak. Other good birds include the always elusive Singing Quail, Black-capped Swallow, Bushy-crested Jay, Bar-winged and Black-vented Orioles and the ‘hot’ Flame-coloured Tanager.

An exciting and bird-filled day is assured before we must head back down to Antigua for dinner. Night Posada de Don Rodrigo

DAY 3
RINCÓN SUIZO & QUETZALTENANGO

Leaving Antigua first thing, we travel northwest (about an hour) to Tecpan. Just to the north of the city of Tecpán, Rincón Suizo is a restaurant along the Panamerican Highway, at an elevation of 2500m (8200 ft) - and our first port of call today. We will spend the morning birding near here... after first enjoying breakfast at the restaurant.

Nestling behind the restaurant is a small mountain forest reserve of pine, cypress, oak and alder. Less exotic and exuberant than the humid cloud forests on the Guatemalan Atlantic Slope, the forest at Rincón Suizo may remind visitors of North American or European woodlands, but the birds are very different! Trails offer access to a site that's home to a number of sought-after northern Central American highland endemics.

High on the list is the fantastic Pink-headed Warbler, but specialities also include Green-throated Mountain Gem, Blue-throated Motmot and Rufous-browed Wren. Like many tropical forests, at times birding here can seem quiet - but sooner or later we will come across one of the mobile mixed feeding flocks. Joining the resident forest species then can be an assortment of Nearctic migrants, including Townsend's, Wilson's, Black-and-white, Hermit and Red-faced Warblers along with the resident Slate-throated Redstart, crest-like Hutton's Vireo and Crescent-chested and Olive Warblers, too.

As we search eagerly through the restless flocks for the much-wanted Pink-headed Warbler, the likes of Spot-crowned Woodcreeper and Brown Creeper are likely to come our way – the latter a southern form that may yet be split. With careful searching, we might also discover a colourful Chestnut-sided Shrike-vireo within the troupe as well as Bushtits passing through the forest - sometimes in flocks of more than 30 birds.

While walking the trails we may cross a Tufted Flycatcher territory and these can sometimes be joined by Pine, Buff-breasted and Hammond’s Flycatchers, along with Greater Pewee and the local races of Plumbeous Vireo and Mountain Trogon. Lowering our gaze to the understorey, sharp eyes might detect a furtive Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush, the bright and rusty cheeked Golden-browed Warbler or a smart Chestnut-capped Brushfinch.

Amongst a plethora of possible hummingbirds zapping about the forest, the White-eared Hummingbird is frequently found, to be joined by Amethyst-throated and Rivoli’s, while the stunning Garnet-throated Hummingbird also occurs. In open areas we will seek Yellow-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee and the endemic, dapper and strikingly bibbed Rufous-collared Thrush. If we are very lucky and with our eyes to the skies, we may spot the elusive White-breasted Hawk, soaring overhead with the local race of Red-tailed Hawk.

Reluctantly tearing ourselves away from Rincón Suizo and continuing west, our destination this evening is Las Cumbres, an enchanting Posada Rural in the province of Quetzaltenango. We’ll pause along the way to take lunch at a local restaurant, then in the afternoon explore one of the many trails near our hotel.

Situated at an elevation of almost 2000m (6500ft), the fine mix of montane and tropical forest around the hotel is excellent for Nearctic migrants such as warblers, vireos and tanagers. It’s also a picturesque and relaxing spot, affording great views of the surrounding mountains that are also home to the endangered Horned Guan. Night Las Cumbres

DAYS 4 - 5
FUENTES GEORGINAS & FINCA LOS TARRALES

With the Horned Guan firmly in our sights, we set off early this morning, leaving the hotel before sunrise (06:30am) and driving a short distance west to Fuentes Georginas. This hot spring resort is not only popular with the locals, but the pristine cloudforest here is also well preserved and offers our first real chance to find the near-mythical Horned Guan. Although the chances of seeing one here are smaller than in the San Pedro area later in our tour, birds have been present recently so it's well worth a look!

Even if we don’t manage to find the elusive guan, this place hosts an extraordinary array of cloudforest birds - with many of them easily seen around the car park or after a short walk along the road. Highland Guan, Amethyst-throated and Garnet-throated Hummingbirds, Mexican Violetear, Blue-throated Motmot, Ruddy-capped Nightingale-thrush and Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer are among mouth-watering possibilities, along with a fine collection of warblers including Olive, Crescent-chested, Hermit, Townsend’s and Pink-headed.

Having enjoyed at least some of these amazing birds, we'll return to the hotel for a late breakfast before looping first south and then east to reach our next destination: Finca Los Tarrales.

Los Tarrales is a birder's paradise - if you had to pick just one place to bird in Guatemala, this would be it! More than 350 bird species have been recorded from this superb private protected area, where primary rainforest and cloudforest is interspersed with coffee and flower plantations on the southern slope of the Atitlán volcano.

The economy of this enlightened finca is based on shade grown coffee and ecotourism. While it's important to support and encourage that, one of the great things about staying at Los Tarrales is that this place is very 'authentic'. The guest accommodation is rather modest, although clean and very comfortable, and you'll see the families working on the finca on their way to the coffee plantations. The homemade cooking is among the best we'll have anywhere in Guatemala; the scenery is spectacular - you can see the Atitlan Volcano from the lodge... and there are birds everywhere. Indeed, it's not unusual to see 100 species here before lunchtime!

At Los Tarrales, we will bird from a number of accessible trails that run through the excellent forest, seeking out species that are restricted in Guatemala to the Pacific Slope. Pacific, Orange-chinned and yellow-spectacled Orange-fronted Parakeets, Rufous Sabrewing, Blue-tailed Hummingbird and the cobalt-backed Long-tailed Manakin will all be high on the list - and we have a great chance of seeing the rare and range-restricted Azure-rumped Tanager here, too!

Having arrived at Los Tarrales in time for lunch (Day 4), we'll then check the feeders for White-bellied Chachalacas before heading out for our first look at birds in the surrounding forests and plantations. The tricky Rufous-breasted Spinetail and Spot-breasted Wren will no doubt occupy some of our time this afternoon, while at a small plantation, a pair of stunning red-billed Blue-throated Sapphires sometimes set up territory – the male often calling and performing from small sticks. As the day draws on, the likes of Lineated Woodpecker, Collared Aracari, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper and White-winged Tanager will come our way and we should see Yellow-naped Amazon, too.

For our second day here, we'll spend the whole time at Los Tarrales, leaving our lodgings 30 minutes before sunrise so as to be at the right spot in the half-light of pre-dawn to await the Highland Guans displaying. As the light slowly improves we should be treated to better views before they slope off to be replaced by Crested Guans and White-bellied Chachalacas. Nearby, we will search for the tricky Tody Motmot and with patience will hope for ‘scope views of this wonderful little bird! Concealed within the local trees, our guides might also find a day-roosting Mottled Owl before we head back to the finca for a well-deserved breakfast.

Replete, the rest of our morning will be spent looking for the many other avian specialities Los Tarrales has to offer. It's an immense property, one that encompasses a large portion of the Atitlan Volcano from the lower grounds around the base, all the way up to the top.

There should be a great assortment of hummingbirds about, with Green-breasted Mango, White-bellied Emerald, Long-billed Starthroat and Emerald-chinned Hummingbird among many delights in store. The brilliant orange Spot-breasted Oriole is often about, as we try for the rather less showy White-faced and Ruddy Quail-doves, Rufous-breasted Spinetail and the delectable Prevost's Ground Sparrow. As the day warms, the skies above Los Tarrales are home to large raptors such as Black and Ornate Hawk-eagles and the impressive King Vulture.

After lunch (and a short siesta for those that want it), we'll pick up a new trail, hoping for views of the shy White-throated Thrush and keeping a sharp eye out for the diminutive Northern Bentbill and Worm-eating Warbler. Returning before dusk, we can again try for Highland Guan and, as we wait for them to appear, groups of Yellow-naped Amazons may pass over to roost and neat Prevost's and White-eared Ground Sparrows may be picked out on the ground.

Night birds at Los Tarreles include the stunning Black-and-white and Mottled Owls, and there's often a Common Pauraque about, hawking for moths. The strange Northern Potoo sometimes appears and can give great views, while other nocturnal creatures we can try spotlighting for after dark include Kinkajou, Possum and several interesting amphibians. Two nights Los Tarrales

DAYS 6 & 7
LOS TARRALES TO LAKE ATITLÁN & THE SAN PEDRO VOLCANO

Bidding a reluctant farewell to Los Tarrales, we transfer the short distance north (about an hour) to Santiago Atitlán, where we'll spend the next two nights at the superb Posada de Santiago, on the shore of Lake Atitlán - ringed by volcanoes and often described as the world's most beautiful lake. The cloudforests that cloak the immense Atitlán and San Pedro volcanoes which rise up from the lake are the best place to look for Horned Guan - and we'll make a special effort to find this spectacular bird first thing tomorrow!

Prior to that little adventure however, and after settling into our comfortable lodgings beside Lake Atitlán, we'll spend a leisurely afternoon birding the hotel grounds, enjoying the many ‘garden’ birds. The hummingbird feeders here can be buzzing with Azure-crowned and Berylline Hummingbirds! With a big day in store tomorrow for those wishing to try for Horned Guan, we'll take an early dinner and bed tonight.

The rare and endangered Horned Guan is a relic of the Cracidae family that persists today only in small fragments of its previous range. Its sole habitat is limited to cloudforests above 1650 metres (5400ft). As big as a turkey, adult males have a 3cm scarlet ‘horn’ projecting straight up from the top of the head.

Horned Guans are active first thing in the morning so a very early start (optional for those who wish to take part) will be essential on Day 7 if we are to have any real chance of seeing one. Our adventure begins with a boat trip across the emerald and blue waters of Lake Atitlán (from Santiago Atitlán to San Cristobal La Laguna), it being much quicker to take a boat than to drive around the shore. The boat trip takes only 20 minutes or so, but is both beautiful and scenic for the caldera lake is surrounded by dramatic volcanoes which soar to 3000m (9800ft).

Birders have two bites of the Horned Guan cherry at San Pedro: one at a relatively easy 'new site' discovered nearby; the other at a traditional area high on the slopes on Volcan San Pedro. As luck would have it, the 'new site' has recently proved to be the best place to find the guan - and has the added attraction that the walk to this area is both shorter (about an hour) and much less arduous than the very steep hike to reach the 'old site' on San Pedro.

After (hopefully!) having seen the Horned Guan well at the new site, we have a chance to pick up a few more of the volcano's special birds. Wine-throated Hummingbird, the diminutive and highly localised Belted Flycatcher, Rufous-browed Wren and perhaps even orange-bellied Elegant Euphonia - all are possible up here.

As we descend again, in drier areas lower down we have a great opportunity to find the tricky Blue-and-white Mockingbird (looking not unlike an outsize Black-throated Blue Warbler) before catching the boat back across Lake Atitlán and relaxing after a well-deserved lunch back at our lovely hotel.

For anyone who doesn't wish to participate in the early morning excursion for the guan, our hotel is located on the shore of Lake Atitlán, with the most amazing views you can imagine. The cabins are very comfortable and food at the hotel's restaurant is excellent. But perhaps the best thing (from a birdwatcher’s point of view) is the amazing diversity of birds to be found on the grounds. On his last visit, Fernando spent one afternoon birding here and saw more than 70 species! Two nights at Posada de Santiago

DAY 8
LAKE ATITLÁN TO MOTAGUA

Departing Santiago and the Lake Atitlán region after breakfast today, we travel east, fringing the outskirts of Guatemala City on our way to the Motagua Valley. We'll break our journey with a stop for lunch at Guatemala City and also to visit a local reserve there in search of Buffy-crowned Wood Partridge and other highland specialties.

Continuing east, we'll aim to arrive at our next hotel, in the hot, dry Motagua Valley around 5.00pm, with time to enjoy a little late afternoon birding around the hotel. The habitat here will be totally new to us - and so too will be the birds! Night Hotel Camino Largo

DAY 9
MOTAGUA VALLEY – BIOTOPO DEL QUETZAL & CENTRAL HIGHLANDS

The central valley of the Motagua River is the hottest and driest region of Guatemala - and indeed, is the driest area in Central America. Located on the lee side of the Sierra de las Minas Mountains, very little precipitation reaches the Motagua Valley, with just enough rain falling to allow sparse thorn scrub and dry forest with a 3-5m tall canopy. Characteristic plants include spiny shrubs, cactus (including tall columns), acacias and Guayacan trees.

Making the most of the lower temperatures first thing, we'll set off early this morning to visit the dry forest reserve at Estación Biologica Heloderma. As the sun begins to rise and bird activity increases, we'll await the arrival our first feeding flock. White-lored Gnatcatchers, argumentative Northern Beardless Tyrannulets, Nutting’s Flycatcher, Streak-backed Oriole and the gorgeous Varied Bunting are among likely component species.

Taking tracks down by the river, we may spot a fleet-footed Lesser Roadrunner darting across the road, while the more verdant riverine forests hold Squirrel Cuckoo, Cinnamon Hummingbird and a good selection of northern migrants, such as American Redstart and Northern Parula.

Of the many bird species that make Motagua's thorn scrub and dry forest their home, we shall be watching for Spot-bellied Bobwhite, Russet-crowned Motmot, Lesser Ground-cuckoo, Plain-capped Starthroat and Stripe-headed Sparrow. The handsome Turquoise-browed Motmot is one of the most conspicuous valley residents and we can also hope to find Altamira and Spot-breasted Orioles, Rufous Hummingbird, White-throated Magpie-jay and Rufous-naped Wren. Checking the skies might reward us with a Black Hawk-eagle or a passing White-fronted Amazon.

From here, we travel on to the Reserva Natural Privada Rio Escondido, home to the rare and endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler which overwinters here and migrates north to Texas where it breeds. We will enjoy lunch on the reserve before travelling the short distance (12km) to our next hotel, on the northeast slope of the Biotopo del Quetzal.

We stay at Ram Tzul, a rustic eco-lodge that was set up to help fund and preserve the habitat of Guatemala's National Bird - the Resplendent Quetzal. The lodge enjoys panoramic views to pristine cloud forest. We'll aim to arrive here in time to spend the late afternoon walking the grounds and check out the commoner bird species in the mountains. Night Ram Tzul

DAY 10
BIOTOPO DEL QUETZAL, RETURN TO GUATEMALA CITY & FLY LONDON

It's our final day in Guatemala so we'll set off early to explore La Reserva del Quetzal in the Biotopo del Quetzal, a vast swathe of cloud forest that safeguards the threatened habitat of the quetzal. Only a small section of this reserve is open to visitors, with access via two trails that begin at the Visitor Centre and follow a circuit through the forest.

The reserve offers good opportunities to see birds of mid-elevation cloud forest, but our main focus will be on finding the smart Azure-hooded Jay, Chesnut-headed Oropendola and of course, the exquisite Resplendent Quetzal. Though it is indeed spectacular with its long tail and bright emerald-green colouration, this species can also be elusive! But as we wait a fine supporting cast comes in the form of Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Spotted and Black-headed Nightingale Thrushes, Tawny-throated Leaftosser, Slate-coloured Solitaire, Common Bush Tanager and Blue-crowned Chlorophonia. We have another chance here of seeing Golden-cheeked Warbler.

Leaving La Reserva del Quetzal mid-morning, sadly we must return to the hotel to collect our bags and depart for Guatemala City. We'll stop to enjoy a farewell lunch along the way, before continuing on to the airport. Our flight home departs Guatemala City early this evening, travelling overnight to Madrid.

DAY 11
ARRIVE LONDON

Afternoon arrival at Madrid and onward connection to London, where our birdwatching tour to Guatemala concludes late this afternoon.

Black vented Oriole Guatemala Benedicto Grijalva Birding Expeditions resized

Wowser! Black-vented Oriole © Benedicto Grijalva, Guatemala Birding Expeditions

What To Expect

In Guatemala during late February and early March, sunrise is around 6.15am and sunset around 6.15pm. We will be making early starts on this tour, which is the norm for birding tours in the tropics where the daylight hours are relatively short and where bird activity is at its peak early and late in the day. For certain key species it is essential to be out in the field at first light so we can hear the birds singing and calling as the day starts up - in some instances, this may be our only chance to find some species, so we will naturally want to make the most of this opportunity.

Much of our birding in Guatemala will be in tropical forest. Very little of the coutry is flat, so we’ll mostly be walking on hill trails, birding from tracks and trails with occasional steeper sections. Where possible, we aim to drive uphill and bird as we walk back down. It will be warm to hot, humid at times (though often cooler and more refreshing at altitude), and we may be on our feet for up to several hours at a stretch watching for birds - you may find it handy to carry a lightweight collapsible stool.

Overall, the tour is not a strenuous one (see also Walking, below), but you should be prepared for early starts in order to enjoy the best of the day's birding before the heat and humidity builds and activity starts to wane. After a lull during the hot middle part of the day (there will be afternoon rests after lunch some days), the birding tends to pick up again from mid-afternoon and you should be ready for some long field days as we are likely to be out until near dusk on more or less a daily basis. Our guides will be able to advise you locally about the day's events - and if you prefer to opt out of a particular activity or walk, please don’t be afraid to ask them.

Tropical to temperate climate, according to altitude. Our February-March tours run during Guatemala’s ‘dry season’ but note rainfall can (and does!) of course occur year-round in the mountains and rainforests! It can be cool and misty in the mountains and cloud forest, especially early in the day. It's generally hotter and sunnier on the Pacific Slope (Los Tarrales) and in the Caribbean Lowlands (Motagua Valley), with temperatures typically in the range of 10-30C (50-86F).

Birds

240-280 species

Mammals

10-20 species. Forest mammals can be tricky but possibilities include White-tailed Deer, Red Brocket Deer, Collared Peccary, Central American Agouti, Kinkajou and the enigmatic Cacomistle, a poorly known relative of the Raccoon. Jaguar and Puma still roam the most remote areas but are unlikely to be seen.

Accommodation

9 nights accommodation in Guatemala, staying at a varied selection of comfortable, characterful and conveniently located hotels, lodges and fincas (private estates), as described in the detailed Tour Itinerary. All rooms have private facilities. 

Meals

All main meals (and with drinking water provided during the day) are included in the tour price, commencing with dinner on arrival in Guatemala on Day 1 and concluding with lunch there on Day 10.

Food is good to excellent throughout, and very tasty. Most restaurants offer a good selection of traditional Guatemalan dishes - such as Pepian (meat, vegetable and spice stew, the national dish of Guatemala); Jocon (chicken in tomatillo sauce); Guatemalan enchiladas and Kaq’ik (Guatemalan spicy turkey broth)... all served with tortillas!

Walking

Our tour concentrates mainly on the central highlands to the west of Guatemala City. Most of our walks here are short and easy (moderate for Horned Guan), but Guatemala is a mountainous country in places so we will often be walking up or down trails. You should expect some trails to be steeper in parts - but we take all our walks slowly, with frequent stops to rest and bird. Walking poles and/or lightweight collapsible stools can be handy.

The walk to look for Horned Guan at San Pedro Volcano (Day 7) is more strenuous. We will depart very early and will be visiting Cerro Paquisis, the 'new site' for this species (the walk up to which is relatively easy compared to the relentless three-hour slog uphill to the 'old site', which we will not be attempting on our tour).

The walk to Cerro Paquisis takes over an hour along a path that is well maintained by local foresters, but with lots of steps. We'll take this at our own pace, pausing to rest as often as necessary. At the top, there is a plateau where the cloud forest begins. This limit between the montane forest and the cloud forest is very birdy - with Wine-throated Hummingbird among specialities to watch for - and we'll regroup here before seeking the guan.

Though it is the 'dry season' rainforest trails can nonetheless be uneven, muddy and/or slippery underfoot at times, so sturdy waterproof walking shoes or lightweight boots with good grip are recommended for this tour.

Maximum elevation this tour: 3000m.

Travel

There are no direct flights from the UK to Guatemala, so we fly with British Airways / Iberia from London Heathrow to Guatemala City with a change of planes in Madrid.

Ground Transport  We travel by comfortable bus or minibus with air-conditioning and local drivers that our agents have worked with for many years.

At Los Tarrales, an early start is essential in order to be at the right spot at first light to look for Highland Guan. We'll leave the lodge 30 minutes before sunrise and use two 4x4 vehicles to cover the nearly 2 miles (15-20 mins) drive into the reserve. After seeing the guans, we'll drive back down again, this time stopping along the way to enjoy some more birding.

A very early start is essential for the optional Horned Guan trip at San Pedro Volcano, which begins with a 20-minute boat ride across Lake Atitlan (from Santiago Atitlan to San Pedro La Laguna). Here, modified pick-up trucks will be waiting to transfer us from the lake to the start of the volcano trail. It’s a fun ride - the trucks have space to sit or stand up (there is a rail to hold and seats) while enjoying the beautiful landscape. Note that it can feel cold early in the morning, so layer up with warm clothing that can be peeled off as the day begins to warm.

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Privacy Policy

This website is owned and operated by Limosa Holidays ("Limosa Holidays", "our", "we" or "us"). Limosa Holidays is the controller of all personal information collected on this website. Limosa Holidays believe strongly in protecting the privacy of all website users ("you", "yours") and this notice sets out how we use your personal data. By registering on this site, you consent to the collection, use and transfer of your personal information under the terms of this privacy policy.

What data ("personal information") do we gather from you?

We gather personal information such as first and last names, telephone number and email addresses that you provide voluntarily when you fill in appropriate sections of our website. For example when you complete our contact us section, you provide us with personal information which we hold and use for the purposes set out in the next section.

Use of your personal information

Our main aim in gathering your personal information is to provide you with a customised service. If you fill your details in our contact us section we use your personal information in order that we can contact you and respond to any questions and needs that you may have. We use your personal information so that we can carry out your requests. We may also use aggregate personal information and statistics for the purposes of monitoring website usage in order to help us develop the website and our services and may provide such aggregate personal information to third parties. These statistics will not include any data that can be used to identify any individual. If, at some time in the future, we wish to use your personal data in ways other than those set out in this privacy notice, then we will notify you about this and seek your permission to do so.

Sharing of personal information

We may share personal information within the Limosa Holidays family ("Limosa Holidays Family"); by this expression, we mean the Limosa Holidays group and each and any of its associates. The Limosa Holidays Family will process your personal information in accordance with this privacy policy and all privacy and communications legislation. Those selected companies are those that provide technical assistance and support and perform other functions to support our marketing activities. All selected companies may have access to personal information if needed to perform such functions, but will only be permitted by us to use such personal information for the purpose of performing that function (which may include one to which you have expressly given your consent) and not for any other purpose.

We do not currently envisage our wishing to transfer personal information about you outside of the European Economic Area, but in the unlikely event we should wish to do so in future, we will only do so to the extent that it is permitted under all privacy and communications legislation applicable within England and Ireland. Of course if we need your specific and express consent to do this, we will obtain it before transferring any personal information. In all cases, any use of your personal information by the Limosa Holidays Family which has been instigated by us (as opposed, for example, to a promotional partner), will comply with this privacy policy.

Occasionally, with your permission and depending on the purpose for and context in which you gave that permission, we will send to you by e-mail or SMS text message marketing information and news. This may include our sending to you marketing information for the products or services of a promotional partner on that partner's behalf. However, in every case, if you do not elect to receive such communications or if you elect to discontinue receiving them, then we will not send or will cease sending them to you. Also, we reserve the right to use or disclose any personal information as needed to satisfy any law, regulation or legal request, to protect the integrity of the site, to fulfil your requests, or to cooperate in any law enforcement or regulatory investigation. Save for this, we do not sell, transfer or disclose personal information we have collected from you in connection with our web site activities, to third parties outside the Limosa Holidays Family.

Please note that if we are, in turn, a promotional partner of an unrelated company (for example where we are not asking you to submit any personal information to us but are simply providing personal information on our site) and a link exists to that other company's web site where one must visit to take part in that company's promotion, offer or other activity, then the privacy policy of that other company will apply instead of ours.

Whilst we make every effort only to tie-in with reputable companies which have a similar high regard for your privacy, you should make sure you are aware of what their privacy policies say, as we are not responsible for the policies and practices of other companies, including those of other members of the Limosa Holidays Family. If, in the future, a third party acquires Limosa Holidays or substantially all of its assets (whether by merger, acquisition, reorganisation or otherwise) customer data, including personal information, may well be one of the transferred assets.

Cookies

A cookie is an alphanumeric identifier which asks permission to be placed on your hard drive through your web browser when you visit our Site. Once you agree (or your browser agrees automatically if you have set it up in that way) it enables our own system to recognise you when you visit our Site to track the pages you looked at while visiting our Site and therefore to improve our Site and tailor the service to you. Cookies allow web applications to respond to you as an individual. The web application can tailor its operations to your needs likes and dislikes by gathering and remembering information about your preferences. For example, when you visit an electronic store such as ours a cookie makes it easier to shop by allowing you to place things into a shopping basket; the basket itself is not a cookie; the cookie is placed on your hard drive and keeps track of your basket versus others in use at the same time. We only use this information for statistical analysis purposes and then the data is removed from the system. Denial of a traffic log cookie may prevent you from using the Site. Overall, cookies help us provide you with a better Site by enabling us to monitor which pages you find useful and which you do not. A cookie in no way gives us access to your computer or any information about you other than the data you choose to share with us. This practice is strictly enforced. We know that people have concerns about cookies but we believe that the benefit that you and we gain from their proper use is worthwhile.

You may set up your web browser (Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator) to notify you of cookie placement requests or decline cookies completely (although you acknowledge that declining them may prevent you from being able to use the Site properly or at all). You can delete the files that contain cookies - those files are stored as part of your Internet browser. To remove cookies from your web browser or to obtain further details on cookies including information on persistent and session cookies please go to www.allaboutcookies.org/manage-cookies/.

This website uses Google Analytics which adds it's own cookies and is vital for our marketing and the continual improvement of the website. As such please read the Google Analytics privacy policy [www.google.com/analytics/learn/privacy.html].

Protection of your personal information and retention

The internet is not a secure medium and Limosa Holidays cannot absolutely guarantee the security of your personal information provided over the internet. However we have put in place various security measures as set out below. The Limosa Holidays website and associated databases are protected by certified firewalls in order to protect your personal information from access by unauthorised persons and against unlawful processing. The website uses the latest technology with full backups. We also keep your personal information confidential. All outgoing and incoming email is scanned for viruses.

We also keep your personal information confidential. We will retain your personal information for a reasonable period or as long as the law requires.

Accessing and updating

You are entitled to see the personal information held about you and you may ask us to make any necessary changes to ensure that it is accurate and kept up to date. If you wish to do this, please contact us by using the methods listed below. We are entitled by law to charge a fee of £10 to meet our costs in providing you with details of the personal information we hold about you.

If at any time, you would like to correct the personal information we have about you or if you would like to change your preferences for contacts from us or other members of the Limosa Holidays Family, you can let us know by contacting us by using the methods listed below.

Changes to our privacy policy

From time to time, it may be necessary for us to change this privacy policy, so we suggest that you check here periodically.

Links

This website contains links to other websites. Please note that we are not responsible for the privacy policies of such other websites and we advise you to read the privacy policies of each website you visit which collects personal data.

Questions or complaints: contact us

We reiterate that by submitting your personal information to us you consent to the use of that personal information as set out in this privacy policy. If you have any questions, concerns, comments or complaints about this privacy policy and/or our collection or use of personal information, or if you wish us to stop processing your personal information for any particular purpose or purposes, then please contact us on [email protected] or telephone us on +44 (0)1692 580 623.

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