Belize

La Milpa, Crooked Tree & Hidden Valley

A 12-day, small group birdwatching tour to Belize

Wake up to the brilliant birding destination that is Belize!... Lying just to the south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and to the east of Guatemala, our birding tour to Belize will introduce you to a compact, English-speaking Central American country that’s blessed with pristine forests, wetlands and coasts - and home to around 600 species of birds. With Ocellated Turkey, Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Great Curassow, King Vulture, Orange-breasted Falcon and Stygian Owl among many specialities to be found, join our Central America specialist Fernando Enrique for a bird tour to Belize that combines good accommodation with outstanding tropical birding.

Tour Dates & Prices

Wed 10th March 2021

Sun 21st March 2021

  • Spaces

Tour Cost: 12 Days from £4795* inc return flights from London Heathrow

Deposit: £600Single Supp: £445*Land Only: £4095*Group Size: 8Leaders:  Fernando Enrique & local guides

* 2020 tour costs shown. Please note costs for our 2021 tour TBA (available summer 2020)

What's Included?

  • Limosa Tour Leader
  • Expert English-speaking Belizean bird tour guide
  • Return flights - London Heathrow-Miami-Belize City, with British Airways/American Airlines
  • 10 nights accommodation (9 nights in Belize, plus 1 night Miami), staying at good hotels and lodges
  • All main meals - and drinking water provided
  • Minibus transport
  • Boat trip at Crooked Tree
  • All excursions, local guides, entry fees and permits
  • All tour-based tips (including local guides, drivers, lodges) and taxes
  • Map & Limosa Checklist of birds

Cost Excludes

Insurance, drinks, airport snacks/meals & other items of a personal nature. ESTA for transiting the USA (ca. US $14; view or download our Tour Info Pack for details)

View or Download Tour Info Pack

Notes

The Land Only cost is the price you will pay if you choose to arrange your own flights.

Tour Highlights

  • Beautiful and unspoiled Central American country that’s bursting with great birding
  • 3 nights at La Milpa: Ocellated Turkey, Crested Guan, Great Tinamou, Great Curassow
  • 2 nights at Crooked Tree: Sungrebe, Jabiru, Agami Heron, American Pygmy Kingfisher
  • 3 nights at Hidden Valley: King Vulture, Solitary Eagle, Black-and-White Hawk Eagle
  • Chance of finding Stygian Owl and the rare Orange-breasted Falcon
  • Comfortable and characterful lodgings - friendly people, good food and some great coffee!
  • Visit to the remarkable Maya ruins at La Milpa
  • Small group tour - maximum of 8 participants
  • Expertly led by Limosa’s Fernando Enrique and an English-speaking Belizean bird tour guide

Outline Itinerary

  • We fly from London Heathrow-Miami. Night at a Miami Airport hotel

  • Morning flight Miami to Belize City. After lunch, a two-hour drive carries us west to Rio Bravo. La Milpa Lodge (3 nts)

  • La Milpa EcoLodge and Rio Bravo

  • We travel east via Blue Creek to Crooked Tree.Bird’s Eye View Lodge, Crooked Tree (2 nts)

  • Full day Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, including boat trip

  • We head south to Mountain Pine Ridge, via Green Hills Butterfly Ranch. Hidden Valley Inn (3 nts)

  • Two full days birding the forest and waterfalls of Mountain Pine Ridge

  • Morning birding at Hidden Valley, afternoon drive to Belize City. Night Black Orchid Resort

  • We catch a late morning flight from Belize City to Miami, with onward connection to London

  • Morning arrival London Heathrow

Overview
Itinerary
Trip Info
Ocellated turkey Guatemala Benedicto Grijalva Birding Expeditions.jpg
A little warty but still beautiful, the amazing Ocellated Turkey still struts its wacky stuff at Rio Bravo © Benedicto Grijalva

Belize is situated on the Caribbean coast of northern Central America and covers an area about the size of Wales. Lying well off the beaten tourist trail, to the south of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and to the east of Guatemala, this tiny, 'rectangular' country extends for just 175 miles from north-south and a mere 62 miles from east-west.

As a former British colony (and known as British Honduras until 1973), Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America. Thanks to its low human population (fewer than 400,000 people) and an enlightened approach to conservation, more than 60% of its territory is still covered by tropical forest. Although its potential as an idyllic and unspoiled birding destination is only just being recognised, it was in Belize that, in 1989, the founding project of the World Land Trust created The Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, which now covers more than 250,000 acres... And it is here that we begin our cracking 'three-part' tour!

La Milpa sits amid some of the very best habitat at Rio Bravo and we spend our first three nights in Belize at this comfortable and welcoming ecolodge. While the grounds themselves can be alive with birds - offering a heady mix of both resident and Neotropical species - more than 400 species have been recorded from the Rio Bravo reserve. Here, Ruddy Woodcreepers forage the mossy tree trunks and diminutive Red-capped Manakins dance in the shafts of sunlight as we seek out vibrant Blue Buntings, Bright-rumped Attila and an array of trogons including Black-headed, Gartered and Slaty-tailed. Orchard and Black-cowled Orioles feast on fruits placed out on the bird feeders, where they may be joined by striking, red-bellied Grey-throated Chats, Keel-billed Toucans and Collared Aracaris.

Among a raft of specialities at Rio Bravo, we'll be hoping to find 'the Big Four': the iridescent Ocellated Turkey and the red-throated Crested Guan, the timid Great Tinamou and the strutting Great Curassow. Overhead, we'll keep watch for the mighty King Vulture and lithe Swallow-tailed Kite, White Hawk and Great Black Hawk, while nearby La Milpa archaeological site is also well known for its Black and Ornate Hawk Eagles.

From La Milpa we head back east, where our second stop - the lovely Bird’s Eye View Lodge - overlooks one of the top wetland sites in all Belize: the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary.

A haven for waterbirds of all shapes and sizes, from Purple Gallinule, Limpkin and Northern Jacana to Snail Kite and the immense Jabiru, one particular highlight of our stay at Crooked Tree will be a boat trip onto the lagoons in search of Sungrebe, Agami Heron, Wood Stork and the day-roosting Boat-billed Heron.

Bat Falcon, Yellow-headed Amazon, Common Tody-flycatcher and the eye-catching Vermilion Flycatcher might also come our way at Crooked Tree, while the reserve's extensive pine savanna habitat holds Green-breasted Mango, Canivet’s Emerald and Buff-bellied Hummingbird, plus Yucatan Woodpecker, Yucatan Flycatcher and Yucatan Jay (all three being regional endemics), and three endemic subspecies of sparrow: Botteri’s, Chipping and Grasshopper.

Completing a trio of excellent lodges, we loop southwest of Belize City into the picturesque highland area of Mountain Pine Ridge. Our accommodation here - Hidden Valley Inn - has its own private reserve with a great trail system set amidst the open Caribbean pine habitat and scattered pockets of tropical broadleaf forest.

This is yet another superb area for birds, best known for its 'Famous Five' of Solitary Eagle, Black-and-White Hawk Eagle, King Vulture, Orange-breasted Falcon and Stygian Owl. But Enid Blyton's 'hit list' apart, our walks through the grounds should also find us lively Yellow-backed and Yellow-tailed Orioles, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Melodious Blackbird, Green Jay, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl and Masked Tityra. Azure-crowned Hummingbirds are among several species of hummer to visit the lodge's feeders and flowers, where in March they may be found alongside colourful Neotropical migrants such as the yellow-throated Grace’s Warbler and brick-red Hepatic Tanager.

Belize may not be the most straightforward of destinations to travel to, but the rewards are immense, for this tiny, forested country remains one of the best-protected and most important birdwatching destinations in Central America.

Limosa guide Fernando Enrique has spent more than six months birding in Belize and Petén (in neighbouring Guatemala), which share the same avifauna. He will be assisted throughout the tour by an experienced Belizean bird tour guide.

We hope that you will join us for what promises to be a fabulous inaugural Limosa tour to Belize!

Gartered Trogon (Trogon caligatus) Belize Benedicto Grijalva-2.jpg
The gorgeous Gartered Trogon is the most common of five possible trogons in Belize © Benedicto Grijalva

Day 1
FLY LONDON TO MIAMI
Our birdwatching tour to Belize begins with a British Airways morning flight from London Heathrow to Miami. Late afternoon arrival in Florida and transfer to a comfortable airport hotel for dinner and overnight. Night Miami

[Note: there are no direct flights to Belize from the UK or Europe, so all outbound journeys involve an overnight stay at a hotel somewhere en route, either in Mexico or the USA. Based on current airline schedules, travelling via Miami offers by far the best option and timings.]

Day 2
FLY MIAMI-BELIZE CITY, DRIVE TO LA MILPA

After breakfast at our Miami hotel, we take the courtesy bus back to the airport and catch the American Airlines mid-morning flight (2 hours 17 minutes) southwest to Belize. Thanks to the time difference, we land in Belize City at pretty much the same time of morning as we left Miami!

We'll be met on arrival in Belize City by our local guide and set off on an easy, 2-hour drive from the capital, heading northwest towards the Rio Bravo and stopping for lunch and our first roadside birds along the way. Our journey will take us through a mix of farmland, savanna and forest patches, watching for elegant Fork-tailed Flycatchers perched on the fencelines, and birds of prey such as Roadside, Grey and Short-tailed Hawks, and Aplomado and Laughing Falcons.

Our destination this afternoon is La Milpa Ecolodge and Research Centre, where we stay for three nights. Situated in the northwestern part of the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area, the lodge is only three miles from La Milpa Archaeological Site, the third largest Maya ruin in Belize.

The Rio Bravo reserve is the largest conservation area in Belize - comprising 4% of the country's total land area - and is well protected from the logging that threatens so many of the world's tropical forests. Rio Bravo is known especially for its ‘big four' birds: Great Tinamou, Crested Guan, Great Curassow and the gaudy Ocellated Turkey, species that have been wiped out in other parts of Belize and elsewhere in Central and South America.

After settling in at the lodge, there may be time to enjoy a stroll around the grounds before dinner, getting to know some of the diverse bird families of the Central American tropics, such as motmots, manakins, tanagers, toucans, trogons and woodcreepers.

Food at La Milpa is good and, after our evening meal tonight, those with energy to spare may wish to join us for a first 'night walk', with chances of Common Pauraque, American Barn Owl or perhaps a Mottled Owl. The range-restricted Yucatan Poorwill can also be seen here. Night La Milpa Ecolodge

Days 3 - 4
LA MILPA CONSERVATION CENTRE

We have two full days to enjoy the wealth of wildlife at Rio Bravo. More than 400 species of birds have already been recorded here and it is quite possible to see up to 100 species in a day!

Our mornings will start early as bird activity is usually at its greatest during the first two or three hours of daylight.

Walking the grounds, we search the heady mix of resident species and Neotropical migrants - many with names as evocative as they look: Crane Hawk, Ruddy Woodcreeper, Red-capped Manakin, Olive-backed Euphonia, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Bright-rumped Attila, Blue Bunting and Black-headed, Gartered and Slaty-tailed Trogons. We should also see Orchard and Black-cowled Orioles, Melodious Blackbird, the eye-catching red-bellied Grey-throated Chat (recently discovered to be closely related to the cardinals), Brown Jay, Vaux’s Swift, Montezuma Oropendola and Grey-headed Tanager. Near the restaurant, we might also encounter noisy Plain Chachalacas along with Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, White-crowned and Brown-hooded Parrots, Olive-throated (Aztec) Parakeet, Red-billed Pigeon, Clay-coloured Thrush, Hooded Oriole and Northern Waterthrush.

The lodge's several hummingbird feeders and a fruit table are often very busy - and give super photo opportunities. White-bellied Emerald, Purple-crowned Fairy, White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird and Wedge-tailed Sabrewing visit regularly to drink the sugar water, and we should see Red-legged and Green Honeycreepers, Yellow-throated Euphonia and White-collared Seedeater attending the fruit.

We’ll devote plenty of time to exploring open areas and forest trails at La Milpa, where the trees resound to a chorus of calling birds, mammals, insects and amphibians. Forest mammals are invariably tricky to find, but here we should see both the gangling Central American Spider Monkey and the robust and aptly-named Mexican Black Howler Monkey.

Trees along forest edges are a great place to find woodpeckers and, at La Milpa, these include Black-cheeked and Golden-fronted, Smoky-brown, the red-crested Golden-olive, and the huge Lineated and Pale-billed Woodpeckers... But the real star here is the Chestnut-coloured Woodpecker, arguably the fanciest of all Central American woodpeckers! Also to be found rooting about the trunks and vines are Strong-billed and Ivory-billed Woodcreepers (oh to call out, “I’ve found an Ivory-billed!...”).

As the daytime temperatures begin to rise, we will look to the skies as raptor activity increases. Again, the variety of species to be found at La Milpa is excellent, due largely to the fact that prey species are more common because of a lack of hunting. Overhead, we could well pick out a circling King Vulture or a sublime gathering of graceful Swallow-tailed Kites circling above the trees. Smaller White-tailed and Plumbeous Kites also occur, along with a number of ‘hawks’ include White and Short-tailed as well as Great Black Hawk. Less common and infrequently seen are both Black and Ornate Hawk Eagles.

There is so much in the way of birdlife here that it's easy to overlook the abundance of butterflies and insects. The absence of prey at Rio Bravo also gives us an outside chance of seeing a cat - or more likely finding ‘signs’ of their presence. Though Ocelot and Jaguar occur, unsurprisingly, sightings are incredibly rare!

On one afternoon, we'll pay a visit to the nearby archaeological site of ‘La Milpa’ – though if you prefer, you can also take time off to relax about the lodge. Thought to have once been a home to more than 40,000 people, this remarkable ruin is one of the largest Maya sites, yet even today lies mostly undiscovered and unexcavated.

By happy coincidence, La Milpa archaeological site is also well known as one of the top locations in Belize for raptors. We have chances of seeing both Black and Ornate Hawk Eagles circling overhead - though we would be very lucky indeed to come across the impressive and more rarely observed Crested Eagle in search of its favourite ‘snack’... Spider Monkeys!

Each evening, we'll return to our lodgings for a delicious dinner, after which those that wish can once again walk the grounds at night, enjoying the sounds of the forest, the brilliant night sky and stars overhead - and further opportunities of nocturnal birds such as Mottled Owl or Yucatan Poorwill. Two further nights La Milpa

Days 5-6
TO CROOKED TREE VIA BLUE CREEK

After enjoying some final early morning birding at La Milpa, we gather our bags and depart for our second venue: the lovely Bird’s Eye View Lodge at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, in central Belize.

Within 30 minutes, however, we will stop to check the Blue Creek ricefields for wetland birds. The beautifully patterned Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Green Kingfisher and migrant waders are likely here as flocks of Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teals swirl about the paddies. The open habitat is also attractive to Fork-tailed and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, and perhaps we'll spot the smart White-tailed Hawk sat on a post.

After lunch, we complete the 90-minute drive east to reach Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, where our comfortable lodgings for two nights overlook one of the reserve's famous lagoons. Crooked Tree is one of the top birding sites in Belize and its 16,400 acres - including more than 3,000 acres of freshwater lakes and swamps - are home to a wealth of wetland birds, most notably the immense Jabiru Stork, which should be nesting here in March.

Although water levels vary from year to year depending on February rains, wetland birds will be our main target at Crooked Tree. There is a superb pond right behind our lodge, where the likes of Rufous-naped Wood Rail, Limpkin, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Anhinga and Roseate Spoonbill can often be found; Caspian and Gull-billed Terns feed on the plentiful fish and Snail Kites swoop to pluck apple snails from the shallow waters. The curious Boat-billed Heron is one of up to 12 species of heron we could also see at Crooked Tree and kingfishers include the huge and noisy Ringed Kingfisher and the tiny American Pygmy Kingfisher.

Seizing the opportunity to enjoy a pre-breakfast birdwalk about the lodge, we should soon add a good selection of 'landlubbers', too. Bat Falcon, Yellow-headed Amazon (of the local subspecies belizensis), Common Tody-flycatcher and the brilliant Vermilion Flycatcher are all possible, while further exploration of Crooked Tree's pine savanna habitat is likely to reward us with the energetic Green-breasted Mango, Canivet’s Emerald and Buff-bellied Hummingbird, along with Acorn Woodpecker, Yucatan Woodpecker, Yucatan Flycatcher and Yucatan Jay (all three being regional endemics), wintering Grace’s Warbler and the colourful Red-legged Honeycreeper - plus three endemic subspecies of sparrow: Botteri’s, Chipping and Grasshopper.

During our stay, we'll enjoy an easy boat ride out onto one of the lagoons - a wonderful way to get close to some of the more secretive swamp dwelling species. One of our main targets here is the sleek but furtive Sungrebe, hoping to spot one as it paddles by with its 'dazzle camouflage' feet, picking insects from branches overhanging the water. We'll also be watching keenly for the elusive Agami Heron and maybe a Wood Stork or a shy Boat-billed Heron asleep at its daytime roost. The lagoons can be alive with Purple and Common Gallinules, Snail Kites, Limpkins and lime-winged Northern Jacanas, and we should spot Black-collared Hawk along the way as well as a nice variety of waterfowl and shorebirds.

After dinner, we have an opportunity to make another exciting night foray in search of Yucatan Poorwill, Northern Potoo and owls. Two nights at Bird’s Eye View Lodge, Crooked Tree

Day 7
CROOKED TREE TO MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE

We'll be out early to check out the abundant birdlife on the Western Lagoon as well as the edge of Crooked Tree village, where we could find more savanna inhabitants such as Black-throated Bobwhite and Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, plus flycatchers, warblers and sparrows.

We bid farewell to Crooked Tree after breakfast and head south towards our next destination, Mountain Pine Ridge. But before we get there, we’ll make a small detour along the way to visit the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch.

Besides the incredible butterflies at Green Hills, we'll keep watch on the ranch's hummingbird feeders, which attract as many as 12 different species of 'hummer'. Those most likely to be seen include Ruby-throated, Rufous-tailed and Scaly-breasted Hummingbirds, Long-billed Hermit, Green-breasted Mango, White-necked Jacobin, White-bellied Emerald, Wedge-tailed and Violet Sabrewings and Purple-crowned Fairy. But there is also a chance of seeing Stripe-throated Hermit and the fork-tailed Canivet’s Emerald. This area can also be good for the spectacular Keel-billed Toucan and soaring, 'paddle-winged' Hook-billed and Grey-headed Kites as well as King, Black and Turkey Vultures.

Reluctantly tearing ourselves away, we continue on to our destination, approaching the striking 2,000ft escarpment of the Mountain Pine Ridge - a picturesque highland area of south-central Belize - from the north. Our accommodation for three nights here is the Hidden Valley Inn, a luxury hotel with just 12 cottage style rooms, located on a 7,200-acre private reserve. Offering quality accommodation and fine food, this excellent eco-resort also boasts an extensive trail system amidst the open Caribbean pine habitat with scattered pockets of tropical broadleaf forest - all rich in birds and wildlife. Night Hidden Valley Inn

Days 8-9
MOUNTAIN PINE RIDGE

Mountain Pine Ridge is another superb area for birds. Although the Hidden Valley estate here is perhaps most famous in birding circles for its ‘Big Five' - namely King Vulture, Solitary Eagle, Black-and-White Hawk Eagle, Orange-breasted Falcon and Stygian Owl - any walk through the lodge’s own private reserve will quickly reveal an abundance of resident birds. Expect anything from Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Masked Tityra, Melodious Blackbird and lively Yellow-backed and Yellow-tailed Orioles through to Acorn and Golden-olive Woodpeckers picking at the bark of the nearby pines, Neotropical migrants such as Hepatic Tanager and the yellow-throated Grace’s Warbler, and hummingbirds including Azure-crowned and White-necked Jacobin.

We have two full days here, not only to enjoy the home-grown Hidden Valley coffee, but a couple of early morning strolls about the lodge. The raucous cries of Plain Chachalacas will soon let us know daybreak has arrived, and Brown and Green Jays are often very active in the morning. Feeding stations attract Ruddy Ground Dove, Grey-headed Pigeon and Clay-coloured Thrush.

Following a delicious breakfast at the lodge, we set off to explore some of Hidden Valley’s trails. The open pine and scrub vegetation will be pretty lively first thing as we search for the big Scarlet Macaw and chunky Red-lored Amazon, Laughing Falcon, Lovely Cotinga, Northern Nightingale-wren, Greater Pewee, the wintering Eastern Bluebird, Rusty Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, Grey-crowned Yellowthroat... and more!

The hardwood forest below our accommodation is well worth a look and careful checking here should reveal both Collared and Black-headed Trogons, and Pale-vented and Scaled Pigeons, along with Lesser Greenlet and Tawny-winged and various other woodcreepers. Keeping an eye out overhead as the morning warms up, raptors above the forest are likely to include small groups of Plumbeous and Swallow-tailed Kites.

In the afternoon we head to Rio Frio Cave in search of Lesson’s Motmot, Orange-billed Sparrow and Golden-crowned Warbler. Nearby, we pay a visit to the Thousand-foot Falls - Central America’s highest waterfalls - and the King Vulture Falls. Rusty Sparrow and jinking Black-headed Siskins are regularly found here, and we also have chances of the difficult-to-see Solitary Eagle and Black-and-white Hawk Eagle.

From a viewing area here we will scan for the even rarer Orange-breasted Falcon, occurring here right at the northernmost limit of its range. The King Vulture Falls is a regular roosting area for... yep, you've guessed it!... King Vulture, an imposing bird in all respects: appearance, wingspan and weight! We will try to get close views as they return from cruising on the thermals high above the escarpment.

After dinner, we will venture outside again in search of the last of the Hidden Valley 'Big Five’ as we listen and look for the mysterious Stygian Owl - one of the rarest of all Central American owls. Two further nights at Hidden Valley Inn

Day 10
HIDDEN VALLEY & RETURN TO BELIZE CITY

We have one last chance this morning to enjoy a walk about the grounds of Hidden Valley Inn, watching the busy procession of hummingbirds, orioles and tanagers and looking out for any passing migrants heading back north to breed.

After an early lunch, we drop back down to the lowlands and travel east to our final overnight stop, beside the Belize River, just to the west of Belize City. If time allows, we may stop en route at the Monkey Bay Wildlife Sanctuary to check for Blue Seedeater - a bamboo specialist - plus Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Collared Araçari and a nice selection of tanagers. Night at the Black Orchid Resort, near Belize City

Days 11-12
FLY BELIZE CITY-MIAMI-LONDON

After breakfast, we make the 35-minute transfer back to Belize City airport. Our American Airlines flight departs for Miami late morning on Day 11.

On arrival in Miami this afternoon, we transit to our onward British Airways flight back to London, where we arrive on the morning of Day 12 and our birding tour to Belize concludes.

Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens) Belize Benedicto Grijalva-2.jpg
The red-throated Crested Guan is one of ‘The Big Four’ to be looked for in the highland forests at La Milpa © Benedicto Grijalva

WHAT TO EXPECT
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. In March, the daylength is almost exactly 12 hours with sunrise in Belize around 6.00am and sunset around 6.00pm.

Our birding in Belize will be a mix of tropical forest as well as lowland wetlands. In the highland areas we’ll mostly be walking in lodge grounds or on hill trails. It will be warm-hot and humid at times (though often feels cooler and refreshing at altitude), and we may be 'on our feet' for up to several hours at a stretch watching for birds - some participants 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 time for afternoon rests after lunch some days), the birding tends to pick up again from mid-afternoon so 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 - if you prefer to opt out of a particular activity or walk, please do ask them.

Belize enjoys a subtropical climate. March is the middle of the ‘dry season’ here and rainfall is unlikely. It will be hot and humid in lowland and coastal areas, with temperatures in March ranging between 74°F (23°C) at night and 83°F (28°C) during the day. Slightly cooler (5ºC cooler) in the mornings with lower humidity in the hills, but becoming hot later in the day.

Good to excellent photographic opportunities in more open habitats, at feeders around the lodges and at wetland sites. More difficult in the forest due to low light levels.

BIRDS
240-280 species

MAMMALS
10-20 species. Forest mammals are invariably tricky to find but possibilities include Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey, Neotropical Otter, White-tailed and Red Brocket Deer, Collared Peccary, Baird’s Tapir (very rare), Central American Agouti, Kinkajou and the enigmatic Cacomistle, a poorly known relative of the Raccoon.

[Jaguar, Ocelot and Puma still roam the most remote areas of Belize but are most unlikely to be seen.]

ACCOMMODATION
10 nights accommodation (9 nights in Belize plus 1 night Miami), staying at comfortable, characterful and conveniently located hotels and lodges. All rooms have private facilities.

In Miami, we overnight at a good quality airport hotel.

The cabins at La Milpa EcoLodge are clean and comfortable, and the lodge has great food and excellent staff and guides. Note that wifi is sporadic here and only available in the bar and restaurant area. Electricity is available around the clock, but you will need a torch to navigate the paths after dark.

Bird’s Eye View Lodge at the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is equally good, with comfortable accommodation close to a lake.

Hidden Valley Inn on the Mountain Pine Ridge also provides excellent accommodation, food and home-grown coffee.

Our last night will be at the convenient Black Orchid Resort close to Belize City, just 30 minutes from the airport.

MEALS
All main meals (and with drinking water provided during the day) are included in the tour price, commencing with dinner on arrival in Miami on Day 1 and concluding with breakfast in Belize on Day 11. Food throughout is good, appetising and very tasty.

WALKING
Both Rio Bravo (ca. 4-240m /13-790ft above sea level) and Crooked Tree are situated at low elevation.

Hidden Valley Inn, on Mountain Pine Ridge, is located at an altitude of c600m (2000ft); none of the trails here go much higher than that and maximum elevation on this tour will be c700m (2300ft). The inn is located on a plateau and most of the trails around it are very easy walking. However, please note we may sometimes be walking uphill or down dale, so you should expect some trails to be steeper in parts.

We take all our walks slowly, with frequent stops to rest and bird, but some participants may find a walking pole and/or a lightweight collapsible stool useful.

Although March is the 'dry season' in Belize, forest trails can nonetheless be uneven, muddy and/or slippery underfoot at times. Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or lightweight boots with good grip recommended for this tour. times. Sturdy waterproof walking shoes or lightweight boots with good grip recommended for this tour.

TRAVEL
Belize lies off the beaten tourist trail. There are no direct flights to Belize City from the UK or Europe, which means all routes involve an overnight stay at a hotel somewhere en route - either in Mexico or the USA (ESTA required).

Based on current airline schedules, travelling via Miami offers by far the best option and the most comfortable timings. Unless schedules change, on this tour we will fly from London Heathrow to Miami (Florida) with British Airways and take dinner and overnight at a Miami Airport hotel.

Next morning, we catch an onward flight (2 hrs 17 mins) from Miami to Belize City with American Airlines. The return routing is the same, but without the need to overnight in Miami.

In Belize, we travel by comfortable small bus or minibus with air-conditioning and local driver. 4WD vehicle/s where necessary.

BOAT TRIPS
At Crooked Tree we’ll take an organised boat trip on one of the larger lakes.

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