With Stuart Elsom as leader. Nestled in-between Guatemala and Nicaragua, Honduras is a Central American country with Caribbean Sea coastlines to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south (via the Gulf of Fonseca). From a birding perspective it is home to a wide range of spectacular and range-restricted species, including Resplendent Quetzal, Lovely Cotinga, Keel-billed Motmot, Wine-throated Hummingbird, and the endemic Honduran Emerald. It boasts an avifauna of over 700 species and is a key wintering ground for many North American migrants including striking birds such as Golden-winged and Townsend’s Warblers.
Day 1: The tour begins with a flight from London to Honduras.
Days 2-3: In the jungle, close to the border with Guatemala, lays the ancient Mayan ceremonial site of Copán which has stone-carved hieroglyphics and stelae - impressive tall stone monuments. The ruined city and surrounding valley were occupied for more than two thousand years and were part of one of the most powerful Maya states. This will be our base for the first two nights and is in itself a very photogenic location. It is also perhaps one of the best places to observe and photograph the national bird of Honduras, the hugely spectacular Scarlet Macaw. The nearby forests and nature trail system leading into the main acropolis will provide us with our first views of the ruins as well as some very productive photographic opportunities. As we walk through the archeological site, we will have wonderful opportunities to photograph some very sought-after birds, including Blue-crowned Motmot, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Great Kiskadee, and Montezuma Oropendola.
Days 4-8: Moving north-east to Pico Bonito Lodge for 5 nights allows us to explore the wildlife-rich habitats situated at the foot of the Pico Bonito National Park, which covers some 270,000 acres of little explored Caribbean tropical wet forest and cloud forest.
With its numerous feeding stations, two nearby observation towers, and surrounding trails, Pico Bonito offers exceptional photographic opportunities. We’ll watch carefully from the platforms for the lodge’s signature species, the striking Lovely Cotinga, whose males are an electric blue with deep dark purple on the throat and chest. This bird was so revered by the Aztecs and Mayans that the species’ iridescent blue feathers were often given as gifts to tribal leaders.
The lodge itself plays host to over 300 species of bird with one of the main attractions being the sixteen species of hummingbird visiting the feeders and flowers found around the lodge grounds. In excess of 420 species have been recorded within just 20 minutes of the lodge. The 400-acre private reserve in which the lodge is situated is alive with tityras, motmots, trogons, honeycreepers, flycatchers and hummingbirds. All of these families will feature prominently in our photographic record, with other magnificent birds such as Keel-billed Toucan, Great Curassow and Royal Flycatcher also all possible.
Other species could include Gray-headed and Gray-chested Doves, Black-headed, Slaty-tailed, and possibly Black-throated Trogons, Chestnut-colored and Black-cheeked Woodpeckers, Rufous Mourners, White-collared and Red-capped Manakins, Spot-breasted Wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Tropical Gnatcatcher, and Golden-hooded Tanager. We’ll keep a careful eye on the sky for various raptors, possibly including the superb White Hawk and King Vulture. Nearby Salado Wildlife Refuge should reveal Agami Heron, Jabiru and Sungrebe amongst a profusion of wetland birds, as well as Black Howler Monkey, White-faced Monkey, Lesser Anteater and Central American Coati.
We’ll also hope to photograph the country’s endemic hummingbird, Honduran Emerald, during a visit to the tropical dry forest south of Pico Bonito National Park, where we should also see Lesser Roadrunner, Lesser Ground-cuckoo and Salvin’s Emerald, amongst many others.
Day 9: We leave Pico Bonito and drive back to Tegucigalpa Airport in time to connect with our flights back to London where the tour ends on Day 10.