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Belize culinary tripExplore the culture and food of the Toledo District in southern Belize with 3 nights at the Chaab’il B’e Lodge. 

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Belize bird weeks at La Milpa Conservation Area and Chaab’il B’e Lodge with premier Belizean bird guides. 

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Belize Bird tourJoin us for the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in Belize, 8 days/7 nights

 

 


2019 Departure Dates & Costs

Date: December 31, 2019 to January 7, 2020
Cost: $1,840 USD per person double occupancy from Belize City (includes 7 nights stay, all meals as indicated, guide fees, tours, road transfers from and back to Belize City and between lodges).  Read more about Birding in Belize on our Blog...

https://toursexplore.com/central-america-blog/central-america/great-apps-for-birding


Itinerary

December 31
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary BelizePick up at the airport on arrival. Transfer to Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area. This sizable reserve in North-western Belize is home to several Yucatan specialties such as the Ocellated Turkey, Rose-throated Tanager and Yucatan Flycatcher. We will bird along the way as time allows. Check in and orientation upon arrival at the lodge. Dinner and La Milpa. Night stay at La Milpa Eco-Lodge and Research Station. Pre-count meeting at Chan Chich Lodge to determine birding logistics for tomorrow’s Gallon Jug bird count.

January 1
Today we are conducting the annual Gallon Jug bird count, over a 15-mile circle. At different points throughout the day, we will be criss-crossing several different habitats in this massive private reserve. We will be on the lookout for Hummingbirds and honeycreepers, tanagers and trogons, cuckoos and flycatchers. At the end of the day, we will tally our results for the final count results. It will be a full day of birding and driving but certainly rewarding. All meals and night stay at La Milpa Eco-Lodge

January 2
Today we explore the massive Rio Bravo Conservation Area. This is the only large tract of forest left in North-western Belize. It connects the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala and the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. A large chunk of the Maya Forest! Several miles of roads and bird-packed trails await you. Here we search for Crested Guan, Great Curassow and the rare Crested Eagle. Don’t be surprised at the Red Brocket Deer and Ocellated Turkeys strolling between your cabin and the bar. All meals and Night stay at La Milpa Eco-Lodge. A Night Safari will be available in case you are interested in trying your luck for the elusive Jaguar.

January 3
Final morning of birding around Rio Bravo. After breakfast, we will explore a few trails looking for Yucatan specialties and some forest raptors. We move on to Chaab’il B’e Lodge in Toledo today and our next bird count destination. On our drive out, we will stop and scan the rice fields once more for Jabirus. As we travel, we will stop at several spots to stretch a bit and do some birding where we have opportunities to see the critically endangered Yellow-headed Parrot, Aplomado Falcon White-tailed Hawk and Lesser Yellow-Headed Vulture. Lunch at The Ranch in Santa Cruz en route to Toledo. After arriving at Chaab’il B’e, we will have a relaxed evening. After dinner a night walk on grounds will be available for those interested. Our target species for tonight are Mottled Owl, Common Pauraque and Striped Owl. Dinner and night stay at Chaab’il B’e Lodge

January 4
Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary BelizeSunrise birding available on grounds from 6am till breakfast. Golden-hooded Tanager, Passerini’s Tanager and Collared Araçaris are found throughout the property. After breakfast, we will head to the “Dump” wetlands. This area is good for several good species such as Gray-breasted Crake, White-throated Flycatcher and Aplomado Falcon. Next, we will visit the ancient Maya City of Lubaantun. At this site, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Gartered Trogon, and Rufous-tailed Jacamar are all possible. Many species of Warblers and Forest Flycatchers are also possible. In the afternoon, we will stop by two large freshwater ponds where Teals and other waterfowl can be found. After a stop back at the lodge to freshen up, we will be on our way to our cultural dinner experience and will also bird the Joe Taylor Creek area where Maroon Creole is located. Breakfast at Chaab’il B’e, Packed Lunch, Dinner at Maroon Creole Fire Hearth Cooking. Night stay at Chaab’il B’e Lodge. Pre-Count Meeting in PG Town for tomorrow’s bird count.

January 5
Today we will be conducting the annual Toledo Christmas bird count. Toledo’s count is led by Dr. Lee Jones who assigns teams and we cover the entire district. Come of the premier bird guides in Belize usually come South to bird this CBC and participants get to benefit from their volunteerism for this big day. All meals and night stay at Chaab’il B’e Lodge.

January 6
After coffee we will bird the grounds again for any final birds we missed on previous days. While having breakfast we will tally final numbers on our list. You will then have time to pack for your transfer to Bird’s Eye View Lodge and the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary. We will traverse a large area but will stop along the way to bird. With stops the drive will take about 3.5 hours. Lunch will be at Cheers Restaurant where you can eat and look at Vermillion Flycatchers and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds. Next is Crooked Tree, a massive Ramsar site which provides home and wintering grounds for millions of waders. Relax and settle in for a bit. A sunset boat ride awaits you on the Crooked Tree lagoon. After several miles of great birding along the lagoon and connecting creeks, we watch the sunset with a cold Belikin Beer in hand. Cheers! Dinner and night stay at Bird’s Eye View Lodge.

January 7
After coffee, we jump into the boat again for a sunrise boat trip down the lagoon. Whatever we missed yesterday evening, we are likely to get today. Keep an eye out for the massive Jabiru, Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kites and the secretive Agami Heron. We return to the lodge just in time for breakfast when we will do our final tally on our lists. After packing, we start driving out of Crooked Tree to the International Airport. Around the village, we have time for the abundant Warblers, Tanagers and Saltators.

TWC Silk Cayes MEvans photoIn cooperation with a Belize Dive Center, we offer you a 3 night scuba diving package which includes some of the best dive sites in the MesoAmerican Reef.

 

 


2019 Departure dates & costs

Daily departures year-round based on 2 persons
Tour cost: from Belize City tba

We can provide air or shuttle service Belize City to Placencia, depending on your starting point. Ask for pricing. For more information read our blog....

https://toursexplore.com/central-america-blog/central-america/diving-the-meso-american-barrier-reef


Diving with turtles S Mccall photo

ITINERARY IN BRIEF:

Day 1: Arrival transfer to Placencia (self-drive options)
Day 2: Dive Day (L). 2 tank dives
Day 3: Dive Day (L). 2 tank dives
Day 4: Departure

Caribbean scuba diving at its finest! Travel to Placencia, a fishing village and beach resort located on the southern tip of the Placencia Peninsula in southeastern Belize. Depending on weather conditions and the experience of the group, you will have a wide selection of dive and scuba options during your trip. 

The pristine waters with unique coral formations and abundant marine life makes Glovers reef a popular spot. Glover’s Reef is a UNESCO’s world heritage site and a marine reserve with a variety dive sites. Glovers is the most remote of the atolls with loads of dive sites. The famous Blue Hole was immortalized by Jacques Cousteau and is on almost every hard core diver’s bucket list.  The dives at Lighthouse Atoll always get rave reviews, particularly at Half Moon Caye, home to a tropical rookery for marine birds. And then, South Water Caye Marine Reserve on the barrier reef showcases some of the best marine and reef environments for diving.

Barrier reef dive sites at South Water Caye include a myriad of interesting walls and canyons with spur and grove formations and very healthy corals. The outer reef walls are one of the best places to see spotted eagle rays.  Nearby Grand Channel, featuring a cut in the Belize barrier reef, in the same marine reserve is a cut in the Belize barrier reef.  This wall dive includes a variety of entrancing underwater spur and groove along with sand channel terrain in addition to the cut. Eagle rays, southern sting rays, turtles, moray eels and barracuda are commonly seen.  There are a myriad of dive sites at both South Water Caye and Grand Channel and you could return for a second day and do another 3 tank dive and think you were at a new dive destination!

We can do tank dives at the barrier reef at Silk Cayes followed by a short but encounter filled snorkel before returning to Placencia. Silk or Queen Cayes is another Marine Reserve near Gladden Spit with a wall that goes down forever! The post dive snorkel is just inside the barrier reef where the local fisherman clean their catch – almost guaranteed to snorkel with huge turtles, southern sting rays, eagle rays, and nurse sharks. Great chance for a nose to nose photo op with the great big turtle.


Village of Placencia BelizeScuba Dive package includes:

  • Accommodation for 3 nights Paradise Resort or similar
  • 4 dives over 2 days with lunch included on dive days
  • Dives include boat transfer to the outer reefs, tanks, weights, licensed guide, park entrance fee, lunch and taxes
  • Well maintained equipment is available for rent

Caye Caulker BelizeThis private Belize journey departs any day year round for 2 or more persons with our local nature specialist.

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Belize Nature and Art Tour Macal River With renowned wildlife artist Paul Harpley and Ecologist James Kamstra

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White throated Capuchin A AriasA unique opportunity to combine Southern Costa Rica and Northern Panama.

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Costa Rica, art tour Paul HarpleyAn in-depth exploration into two of Costa Rica’s most diverse and unique ecosystems:

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Emerald Toucanet, photo by A Arias Costa Rica birds of

Costa Rica bird tour. Natural History organizations, Junior Naturalist clubs, extended families, photographers are invited to call us to set up your own exclusive itinerary escorted by our fully qualified local ornithologists.

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Mawamba Tortugeruo Tour Costa Rica

Costa Rica 3 - 5 day adventures that can be taken individually or combined to visit Tortuguero Park, Arenal Volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest or the remote South Pacific beach region.

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Hummingbird Costa RicaHighlights include Arenal Volcano, Rio Celeste, Monteverde, Manuel Antonio, Chirripó.

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Costa Rica

 Experience the natural beauty of Costa Rica's Forest Reserves and the splendid Coastal wonders. Small groups departing on a daily basis.

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Havana CubaSurrounded by incomparable beauty, explore the culture and natural splendour of Western Cuba.

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Cuba

A Cuban natural and cultural journey overland from Havana to Santiago coupled with an opportunity to connect to Cuban ways of life.

 

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AntiguaVisit the colonial city of Antigua, travel by boat along Lake Atitlan, take in the sights of the Chichicastenango market and experience the famous Tikal National Park.

 

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Trip includes travel to five Central American nations including - Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

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Golden hooded tanagerThis Honduran adventure focuses on the bio-diverse rich areas of Lake Yojoa and the famous Pico Bonito National Park near the North Coast along with Archaeology and birding in the Copán Valley. Options to visit the Bay islands (Roatan, Utila or Guanaja). 

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HondurasKeelBilled

Honduras is a mountainous country with a wide range of vegetation and habitat types: rainforest, deciduous forest, pine forest, mangrove, sandy beaches (pearly white on the north coast, volcanic black in the south), cloud forests, and so many other ecological zones. That diversity in ecosystems also explains the huge variety of birds - 776 species to date.  Join a small group of avid bird-watchers to experience Honduras.



2019 Departures (12 days)
November 6 - 17

2020 Departures
January 29 - February 9

Tour cost per person from Tegucigalpa: $ 3,650 USD


Honduras is sandwiched between Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. It has a long coastline in the north, on the Caribbean Sea, and a small piece on the Pacific coast in the south, the Gulf of Fonseca. The capital is Tegucigalpa, and the other major city San Pedro Sula also welcomes international flights.  Since Honduras has not yet been discovered by big crowds, there are still many unspoilt natural places.

This Honduras’ Birding Highlights trip takes you through three of the four quarters of the country. We start our tour in La Tigra National Park, where the cloud forest offers excellent mountain birding along wide and fairly easy trails. This is the home of some key species such as the Wine-throated Hummingbird, Green-breasted Mountain-Gem, Singing Quail or White-faced Quail-Dove. The impressive mountains of Celaque National Park, characterized mainly by pine- oak forest, dry forest and cloud forest support motmots, hummingbirds, antbirds and toucans, the elusive Ocellated Quail and the endemic Honduran Emerald!Quetzal W Orellan

Rising majestically above beautiful Lake Yojoa in central Honduras are two of the country’s more impressive mountain ranges: Montaña Santa Barbara and Cerro Azul Meámbar. Here the combination of limestone and volcanic landscapes surrounding the lake supports a rich diversity of habitat types — including freshwater wetlands, pine-oak forest, lowland rainforest and cloud forest — and a corresponding diversity of plants and animals. Some species of interest we can find here are the Keel-billed Motmot, Prevost ground-Sparrow, Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, Barred and Collared Forest-Falcons, Collared Araçari, Blue-crowned Motmot, Masked Tityra, Crimson-collared Tanager, Northern Barred Woodcreeper.

The north-facing coast is characterized by long beaches interspersed with rocky headlands, coastal wetlands and mangroves and the coastal mountain ranges of Nombre de Dios and Pico Bonito National Park. The extensive rainforest of these mountains harbors a wealth of top species including the Shining Honeycreeper, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Long-billed Hermit, Crowned Woodnymph, Rufous Mourner, Black-and-White Owl, Purple-crowned Fairy or Tody Motmot, whereas the mangroves are home to specialties such as American Pygmy Kingfisher, White-necked Puffbird, or Agami Heron.


Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival at Tegucigalpa airport and birding around the hotel
Photo by Beaks and PeaksThe tour begins with afternoon birding around Hotel Los Gloriales. Here we can find higher elevation species such as the Blue-and-white Mockingbird, White-eared Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Motmot, White-breasted Hawk and more. After nightfall, we enjoy chatting and getting to know each other during a hearty welcome dinner.

Day 2: Birding in La Tigra NP
La Tigra National Park offers great birding and a wide array of hummingbirds such as the Wine-throated Hummingbird, Greenbreasted Mountain-gem, Green Violet-Ear and Sparkling-tailed Woodstar. But we won’t only look out for hummers, there are obviously other interesting species we might encounter too, including the Emerald Toucanet, Singing Quail, Resplendent Quetzal, Mountain Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Barred Forest-Falcon, Mountain Elaenia, Rufous-browed Wren, Slate-colored Solitaire and many more.

Day 3:  Birding around Cerro de Hula and transfer to Gracias
This morning we go birding around Cerro de Hula, an area south of Tegucigalpa which is mostly known because of the windfarms. However, there are also some excellent birding spots around. The pine forests interspersed with fields of flowering “pie de niño” and “red salvia” here attract lots of hummingbirds, and if we are lucky we may even see the elusive Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird or Slender Sheartail! There will also be Olive Warblers, Rufous-browed Peppershrikes, Bushy-crested Jays, Buff-breasted Flycatchers, Ocellated Quail, Crested Bobwhite and many other species to observe.

Afterwards, we drive to the small colonial town of Gracias, Lempira, situated at the foot of Parque Nacional Celaque, which boasts the highest peak of Honduras. Our hotel is located amidst pine forest, woodland and coffee plantations. In this bird-rich area, we are likely to encounter species such as the Mesoamerican endemic Bushy-Crested Jay, Laughing Falcon, Turquoise-browed Motmot, some resident warblers such as the Common Yellowthroat and Rufous-capped Warbler, and other birds like the Altamira Oriole, Black- headed Saltator, Mountain Trogon, Flame-colored Tanager and Yellow-backed Oriole.

Day 4: Birding at Honduran Emerald and Ocellated Quail locations
The region is also home to many other drier-country birds, amongst others the Elegant Trogon, Striped Cuckoo, Turquoise-browed Motmot and many more. Along the Río Grande, we will also see some water birds such as Green Herons, Black Phoebes, different Kingfisher species etc. In the afternoon, we drive up into Celaque National Park to get one of our targets birds: the elusive Ocellated Quail. 

Photo by Beaks and Peaks

Day 5: Birding in Celaque NP & transfer to La Esperanza
This morning we walk the lower elevation trails of Celaque National Park. We will be looking out for Chestnut-capped and White-naped Brushfinch, Brown-backed and Slatecolored Solitaire, Green-throated Mountaingem, White-eared Hummingbird, Olivaceous Woodcreeper etc. We then head to La Esperanza, or rather to the twin cities of La Esperanza and La Intibucá. La Esperanza is the newer capital of the Intibucá department with a mainly ladino population, whereas Intibucá used to be a small which indigenous Lenca community. However, due to expansion of the cities over time, the two are now merged and sheer impossible to tell apart. La Esperanza-Intibucá is the highest city in Honduras, offering a cool – or in winter even cold – climate. Depending on our time of arrival, we may bird a little around the hotel, or take some time for relaxing.

Day 6: Birding in El Consejero private reserve & transfer to Lake Yojoa
Close to La Esperanza, in Yamaranguila, we are working with the local Bu family in a small ecotourism project. This very humble family has created a hummingbird garden, which alrea
dy attracts 8 different types of highland hummingbirds. We will see Magnificent Hummingbird, White-eared Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird etc. We may even see Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird on their feeders. And during migration this is a stop for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds coming from the United States. Other species of interest here are Rufous-collared Robin, Bushy-crested Jay, Steller’s Jay, White-naped Brushfinch or Band-tailed Pigeon. After our morning birding, we drive to Lake Yojoa, home to the biggest variety of bird species in Honduras. We have lunch at a restaurant on the Lake which offers splendid view over the lake and the surrounding wetlands and marshes. Over here we can spot water birds such as Pale-billed Grebes, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Bare-throated Tiger- Herons, Ringed Kingfishers, Snail Kites, Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures and so on. After lunch, we drive up to our hotel PANACAM Lodge. Once we are settled, we have time for afternoon birding around the Lodge in search for the Black-crested Coquette, Barred Forest- Falcon, Collared Araçari, Keel-billed Motmot, Blue-crowned Motmot, Masked Tityra, Crimson- collared Tanager, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, White-throated Thrush, Long-billed Hermit, Violet Sabrewing and more.

Day 7: Birding in Santa Barbara NP and visit to La Fuente de Vida project
This morning we drive up to Santa Bárbara National Park and visit the La Fuente de Vida ecotourism project. The communities up here are trying to protect a beautiful parch of forest for the future. They have decided to make the change from exclusive coffee growing to providing sustainable tourism services. They have for example built a series of beautiful trails that offer excellent birdwatching opportunities.

Very early in the morning, we drive up to the community. That should take us about an hour. Upon arrival we enjoy breakfast with one of the local families and after that we start looking for birds such as the Prevost- ground Sparrow, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Resplendent Quetzal, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, White-breasted Hawk, Green- throated MountainGem, Buffy-crowned Woodpartridge, Slate-colored Solitaire, Rusty Sparrow, Collared Trogon, Spotted Woodcreeper, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Scaly- throated Foliage-Gleaner, Buff-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Black-headed Nightingale- Thrush, Chestnut-capped BrushFinch, White-naped Brushfinch, Spot-breasted Wren, etcetera.

Day 8: Birding in Lake Yojoa wetlands and transfer to Pico Bonito NP
Today we do some early morning birding around the Lake, searching for more great species such as the Masked Duck, Least Bittern, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Blackcrowned Tityra, Green-backed Sparrow, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Grey-breasted Crake and others. We then have a long drive ahead of us, all the way to Pico Bonito on Honduras’ north coast, in the Nombre de Dios mountains. Upon arrival, it will be time for dinner and a good night’s sleep so we are fit again the next morning for yet more birding at our last destination.

Day 9: Birding in Rio Santiago Nature Resort
We get up early in the morning to hike the beautiful trails of Rio Santiago Nature Resort. Here, we will have the chance of seeing some stunners such as White Hawk, Olive-backed Euphonia, Golden-hooded Tanager, Keelbilled Toucan, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Black-crested Coquette, Spectacled Owl, Tawny-winged Woodcreeper, Royal Flycatcher, Sunbittern and many more. After our hike, we spend the rest of the day ‘lazy birding’ around the dining area. That doesn’t mean, however, that you won’t see plenty of birds. Rio Santiago is also known as Honduras’ ‘Hummingbird Paradise’. Up to 22 different species of hummingbirds have been recorded here, and many of them come to the feeders at the restaurant: White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violet-Ear, Crowned Woodnymph, Blue-throated Goldentail, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Long-IMG 9240billed Hermit.

Day 10: Birding in Cuero y Salado mangroves
On the schedule today is a visit to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge. We board the only train that is still functioning in Honduras – it dates to the times of the ‘Banana republic’ and was indeed used to transport bananas. What remains now is are two rickety little wagons racing over crooked rails. Lots of fun. And excellent birding opportunities along the way: Glossy Ibis, Bat Falcon, Ferruginous Pygmy Owl, Black-cowled Oriole, Crested Caracara. At the visitors’ center, we board a motorboat that will take us onto the rivers and canals of the Cuero y Salado Mangroves. Top species that we will try to get good looks at here include Agami Heron, White-necked Puffbird, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Black-crowned Antshrike and more. Lunch will be prepared by a local family upon our return from the boat ride.

Day 11: Birding at Pico Bonito National Park
In this setting, we enjoy yet another splendid birding day, as the area offers an incredibly varied array of bird species such as Brown-hooded, White-fronted and White-crowned Parrots, Little and Great Tinamous, Grey-chested Doves, Olive-throated Parakeets, Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Wedge-billed and Cocoa Woodcreepers, Paltry Tyrannulets, Guatemalan Screech-Owls, Great Potoos, Violetheaded Hummingbirds, Purple-crowned Fairies, Slaty-tailed, Gartered and Collared Trogons, Red-capped Manakins, White- and Grey-breasted Wood-Wrens, White-throated Thrushes, Olive-backed Euphonias, Kentucky Warblers, Giant Cowbirds, Red-throated and Red- crowned Ant-Tanager, Keel-billed Motmot, Green Shrike-Vireos and Black-faced Grosbeaks. And those are just a few examples.

Day 12: Transfer to San Pedro Sula Airport
Your trip unfortunately has come to an end (unless you opted for the 3-day post-tour to Copán) and we will drive you to San Pedro Sula international airport in time for your flight. We hope you enjoyed the tour and wish you a safe journey home. And who knows… hasta la próxima?


What our clients say...

"Catherine, just as you said, we were impressed with Katinka as a birding guide. She really worked hard to get us all the birds we wanted. We came home with over 320 species of birds. All of the lodges were great and we never felt threatened at any time... We would recommend her as a guide in an instant, one of the best we have ever had. We even got one bird that was way out of range having never been seen in that part of the country. I would recommend this itinerary to anyone who wants to go to Central America to bird but they would need to be reminded that a lot of the hikes are strenuous because of how mountainout the terrain is. We had 47 lifers with great second looks and pictures of other birds we have only seen once before. D. was thrilled since we saw 5 owl species, 4 new and 25 species of hummingbirds, 12 new and got some great pictures. The train trip was a hoot especially seeing the kids go to and from school using this little piece of history. All in all it was a very good trip and we are glad we took it. Thanks for your excellent advice." - O & D Peter, March 2019 (12 day trip)

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Discover the Panama Canal’s natural attributes and experience a partial Panama Canal transit; visit the new Agua Clara Locks of the Panama Canal Expansion; share a unique experience with indigenous people; admire Frank

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