January 20-25, 2018; February 10-15, 2018
The lush hills of southern Belize are blanketed by rain forest and teeming with colorful birdlife. Join guide and research biologist H. Lee Jones on an eight-person avian adventure based out of Copal Tree Lodge. Fix your binoculars on native and migratory bird species including toucans, raptors, kingfishers, trogans, euphonias, hummingbirds, herons, manikins, and parrots. More than 200 species have been spotted here in a single day.
Land in Punta Gorda, where a representative from Copal Tree Lodge will meet you for the transfer to the lodge. Retreat to your suite and get acclimated to the sights and sounds of the jungle surroundings. While relaxing on your private veranda, spot toucans swooping between branches and listen for the cries of howler monkeys. If you’d like, set out on a birding walk with your expert guide for an introduction to many species that can be spotted in the jungle canopy and along the edge of the Rio Grande. Watch for the rare ornate hawk eagle, which nests in the lodge’s giant ceiba trees.
Delve into the legacy of the Maya in southern Belize, visiting fascinating archaeological sites that double as top birding spots. Join a local guide at the hilltop Nim Li Punit, notable for its 26 stelae (sculpted monuments), and the nearby ruins of Lubaantun, which flourished in the eighth and ninth centuries. A mysterious crystal skull was discovered here in the 1920s.
Visit the village of Blue Creek, tucked amid a network of mystical caves and waterfalls that flutter with myriad tropical bird species. Experience a traditional lunch in the home of a Maya family and try your hand at making corn tortillas. Alternatively, spend your morning learning to make chocolate from bean to bar at Copal Tree Lodge, and follow it up with a coffee “cupping” or tasting—complimentary activities offered exclusively to National Geographic guests.
Rise early and head to the small Maya village of Red Bank, in the nearby district of Stann Creek, which attracts a dazzling array of birds throughout the year. Huge numbers of the flashy scarlet macaws gather here from mid-January to March to feed on ripe fruits—and they are most active in the early hours of the day. Then look for yellow-headed parrots and other birds in the unique coastal pine savannas of southern Belize.
Explore nearby Punta Gorda, about six miles away, with a local guide. A diverse range of jungle and waterbirds converge in this sleepy coastal town and its surroundings, situated between pristine rain forest and the Bay of Honduras Marine Reserve.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.