Guatemala City, Guatemala
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Guatemala harbors about 720 species of birds, yet is one of the smallest countries in the world, covering about 42,000 square miles. Its habitat diversity is exemplified from seacoast on both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, to volcanic peaks reaching 13,000 feet. With this range lies a diversity of habitat resulting in seven biome regions and accordingly a wide diversity of fauna and flora. Its birds include temperate zone migrant species, Central American resident species, and Guatemalan endemics. Complementing Guatemala’s avifauna is a suite of tropical forest mammals, amphibians and reptiles. Join Wild Planet Nature Tours on this natural history and cultural tour.
Day 1: Arrive in historic Guatemala City anytime today, founded around the end of the 18th Century. The city sits in the valley known as Valle de la Ermita, and maintains almost a quarter of the country’s population. Here you will be met by your WPNT guides and local K’uk Tours staff (see http://www.kuktours.com/ and firstname.lastname@example.org). We will transfer to the Hotel Biltmore Express and enjoy a welcome dinner together.
Day 2: Meet in the hotel for breakfast this morning and then leave via airplane to Flores. We will then be transferred to El Remate, a small village situated between Flores and Tikal National Park, where will have an overview of our itinerary while drinking a cup of coffee. We will spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon in the protected area called Cerro Cahui where we can observe species such as Northern Jacana, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, herons, shorebirds, a whole range of lowland rainforest birds like toucans, trogons, wrens, and ant birds.We will have a late lunch in the Restaurant of the Hotel Camino Real and then spend time seeing how the people of the region work with fine wood to make amazing crafts like masks or Mayan statues.
Day 3: After an early breakfast we’ll begin our excursion within the spectacular ruins of Tikal. Tikal National Park is located within the evergreen tropical rain forest, and was an enormous Mayan City. Over 3000 structures remain and include monuments and Pyramids. The tallest pyramids reaching about 140 feet. Lunch will be at the El Meson within the park’s boundaries. By day’s end we will return to our hotel for dinner and a well deserved rest. Some of our best chances for viewing tropical forest mammals will occur in the next two days. These include Spider Monkey, Black Howler Monkey, Agouti, White-nosed Coati, Gray Fox, and Red Brocket Deer. If we’re lucky, Tayra occurs around the forest edge, and Kinkajou may be found at night. Additionally, two species of tree squirrels and numerous bat species are often associated with ruins.
Day 4: After another early breakfast we will travel to Yaxha. Yaxha is another Mayan City of great archeological value. This park, however, is larger and more remote than Tikal. Fewer people visit Yaxha as it is situated deep in the jungle and is surrounded by lakes. We will have chances of seeing Spider Monkeys and crocodiles. By mid-day we will have lunch at El Sombrero Lodge deep within the confines of the jungle. After lunch we will transfer to the airport and return to Guatemala City for dinner at Los Ranchos, and another night at the Biltmore Express Hotel.
Day 5: After breakfast we will travel to Los Andes. Los Andes is situated high in the mountains of southwestern Guatemala. It is a working coffee plantation and part of Guatemala’s private nature preserve system. It is also in the heart of Guatemala’s active volcano chain. This preserve was one of the first cloud forests dedicated to the protection of the Resplendent Quetzal – a bird we hope to see on this trip. Some of the first research of this species was conducted here by well known researcher Anne La Bastille. Other birds we hope to see or hear include: Highland Guan, Black Hawk-Eagle, Bat Falcon, and Blue-crowned Motmot.
We will stay and enjoy all of our meals at Los Andes.
Day 6: Today will be spent searching new areas in Los Andes for species we may have missed the previous day. We will stay in Los Andes for one last evening.
Day 7: After breakfast at Los Andes, we will travel to the Pacific coast. The coast is known for its volcanic black sand beaches that can become extremely hot to walk on without shoes. Here we will have a short time to relax and will scour the beach for shorebirds and seabirds that are coasting by. We will have lunch along the canal of Chiquimulla. After lunch we will travel to Monterrico, a popular beach and home to sea turtles and iguana preserves. We will stay at the Hotel Dos Mundos this evening.
Day 8: After breakfast, we will travel by canoe up the canal and into the coastal mangrove swamps. Here we will search for herons, egrets, and waterfowl. We also hope to see the infamous Four-eyed fish. While touring the canal, we will be within the realm of four of Guatemala’s towering volcanoes (Pacaya, Agua, Fuego, and Acatenango).
We will transfer from Monterrico to Antigua City this afternoon. Antigua is one of Guatemala’s most beautiful historic cities. Founded during the 16th Century, this Spanish colonial city boasts of magnificent Baroque architecture. Antigua has a long history of being destroyed by earth quakes and volcanoes. Yet, each time it has been rebuilt. Evidence of this destruction and reconstruction is evident throughout the city. We will have dinner and spend the night at Port Antigua.
Day 9: After an early breakfast, we will travel a short distance to Finca el Pilar. This is another private nature preserve dedicated to conservation, yet a portion of the land is used for gravel and rock production.
At the lower elevations the owners have established a Hummingbird viewing area and provide numerous feeders and pools for many species of hummingbirds, including the Violet Sabrewing, Emerald-chinned, Azure-crowned, and the endemic Cinnamon Hummingbird, among others. Additionally, the garden setting provides habitat for numerous species of birds.
After an initial visit here we will travel up in elevation and move into the cloud forest. Here we will look for Barred Forest Falcon, Black-capped Siskin, and Hooded Grosbeak.By day’s end we will travel back to our hotel for dinner.
Day 10: After breakfast we will again venture to Finca el pilar for another try at several species of hummingbirds and mountain endemics. A late lunch will be in downtown Antigua Posado de Don Rodrigo. After lunch you are free to shop for the afternoon and return to the hotel when you please. Antigua has many outstanding shops for gifts, trinkets, and clothing. Everything is within walking distance from hotel. Our farewell dinner will be at la Fonda de la Calle Real.The night will be spent at Hotel Porta Antigua.
Day 11: Participants can depart at anytime for their flight home. Arrangements can be made for your transfer to the Airport in Guatemala City, or you are welcome to depart on your own.
EXPECTED WEATHER & EQUIPMENT:
The weather in Guatemala in late February and early March usually ranges from 60 to 80 degrees F. The months of February and March tend to be very dry. Some warm clothes are a must for early mornings or potentially cool and rainy weather, but generally the weather will be pleasantly warm. It is advisable to bring several layers of clothing for the range of conditions we could experience, i.e. waterproof jacket and boots, in case of rain; sun hat and lightweight cotton or polypropylene shirts and light pants are advised. Many people prefer the zip-type long/short pants for cooler mornings and warm afternoons for sun protection. Sunscreen, sunglasses, binoculars, a scope, and bug spray are also important. Bring a camera if you wish.
You should pack a pair of binoculars that are in good repair, along with a belt pack or daypack (good for carrying books, sunscreen, extra film, etc.). As a precaution, it is a good idea to pack your binoculars, a change of clothing, toiletry items, medications, your passport, and travel documents in your airline carry-on bag. Your trip leaders will have a spotting scope, but if you have one and wish to bring it, please feel free to do so. Other items you should bring include an alarm clock, sunscreen, and mosquito repellent.
TOUR REGISTRATION & COSTS:
Tour size will be limited to eight participants.
The fee for the tour is $4200 per person double occupancy. The price includes all meals from dinner on the 1st evening to a farewell dinner on the 10th day, lodging as stated in the itinerary, ground and air transportation during the tour, usual and customary gratuities, and guide services provided by the tour guides and local guides. The tour fee does not include airfare from your home to Guatemala City or return, airport departure taxes, alcoholic beverages, special gratuities, phone calls, laundry or items of personal nature.
The single supplement for this tour is $375. You will be charged a single supplement if you desire single accommodations.
Registration closes 30 days prior to tour departure.
To register for this tour, please complete our Tour Registration Form and read/sign our Agreements Form and return both with a deposit of $300 per person to the address on the form. Full payment of the tour fee is due 30 days prior to tour departure.