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Blue-throated Motmot. Photo by Gina Nichol.FABULOUS GUATEMALA!

November 24 - December 9, 2018

Spectacular birding, stunning scenery, wonderful accommodation, Mayan ruins, and fantastic wildlife! Don't miss it!

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Guatemala is truly something special. This small, little known country has it all - stunning scenery, friendly people, superb food, wonderful accommodations and some fantastic wildlife, not to mention the incredible Mayan ruins of Tikal. Located in the heart of Central America, Guatemala encompasses a wide variety of ecosystems from both Southern Mexico and Central America. More than 720 bird species have been reported in Guatemala with at least 370 of them known to breed. To say we were surprised and delighted with our inaugural visit is a complete understatement, we were simply blown away by every aspect of this wonderful country.

Pink-headed Warbler. Photo by Steve Bird.Having traveled throughout Central and South America, we have to say to everyone, "You MUST go to Guatemala!".   For birders, Pink-headed Warblers are not only fabulous to look at they are actually quite easy to find in the right habitat. We've added a fairly easy quest for the soon to be split Goldman's Warbler and we will also look for mythical Horned Guan. Our guides have now found a new spot where a walk 2 - 3 hours will take you to the prime location to see the Horned Guan allowing a very good chance of seeing this extraordinary bird. (Most other tours involve a 4 hour each way hike!)


Other key species include Blue-throated Motmot, Resplendent Quetzal, Lesser Roadrunner, Belted Flycatcher, Scarlet Macaw, Ocellated Turkey, Yucatan Poorwill, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Azure-rumped Tanager, Gray-throated Chat, Hooded Grosbeak and Orange-breasted Falcon which can be seen perched on the Mayan ruins at Tikal National Park. Mammals include Black Howler Monkeys and Central American Spider Monkey plus Tayra and a host of cats such as Ocelot, Margay and even Jaguar. Morelet's Crocodile can be seen in some of the rivers and butterflies, dragonflies and a wealth of flora abound.

Guatemala offers a world full of contrasts, colonial cities, jungles, volcanoes, archaeological sites and most of all exceptional birding.

Join us to discover what we now consider one of the most beautiful countries in Central America and the next birding hotspot - Guatemala!

Photos above: Blue-throated Motmot by Gina Nichol;
Pink-headed Warbler and Tikal by Steve Bird.

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ITINERARY (Subject to change depending on weather and birds!)

Day 1:
Arrive Guatemala City, transfer to Antigua. Night Antigua.
Plan on arriving today at the International Airport La Aurora, Guatemala (Airport code: GUA) where you will then be transferred to the wonderful ancient city of Antigua. The official tour will then start with dinner tonight, where we will be entertained by folkloric dance and marimba music. If you wish to have a more relaxed start and spend a day looking around this fascinating and very safe city,we suggest arriving a day earlier. Please advise and we can arrange this.  Night in Antigua, Guatemala (D)

Day 2: Finca El Pilar and Antigua. Night Antigua.
This morning we will explore the hills that surround this beautiful city where, on a clear day, thirteen volcanoes can be visible through the early morning mist. Our brief introduction to the bird life in this area could include Bushy-crested Jay, Rusty Sparrow, Elegant Euphonia, Gray Silky-Flycatcher, Black-vented Oriole, Golden-olive Woodpecker and even Black-headed Siskin.

After a superb breakfast we will move on to Finca El Pilar, a private reserve where we are likely to see a few new species including Black-capped Swallows, Slate-throated Redstart and on the hummingbird feeders we can find Rufous Sabrewing, Berylline Hummingbird, White-eared Hummingbird and Magnificent Hummingbird. A short walk on the trails in the forest may reveal Western Tanager, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, White-naped and Chestnut-capped Brush-Finches among others. We will then return to Antigua for lunch. For those that wish, we will have a thrilling cultural tour of Antigua visiting the magnificent churches, ruins and museums that combined with the old cobbled streets provide stories and legends of the colonial times that you will undoubtedly enjoy and which will make your morning unforgettable. We will be visiting the most important areas of Antigua like La Merced Church, Central Park, the Santa Catalina Martir famous Arch of the 5th Avenue, and much more. For those that do not want to see this wonderful city we will arrange one of our guides to revisit El Pilar to see what other species you can find. Dinner will be in a local restaurant in Antigua.  Night in Antigua (B,L,D)

Day 3: Tecpan and Quetzaltenango
Mountain Trogon (Photo: Gina Nichol)Today we have an early start as we depart Antigua and head toward Tecpan area. We will stop for another superb breakfast near to the Tecpan Private Reserve after which we will take a walk on its forested trails.  Here we hope to see some of the more interesting species associated with the highlands of north Central American. Pride of place will undoubtedly go to the unforgettable Pink-headed Warbler, while other species possible here include Blue-throated Motmot, Mountain Trogon (Photo: Gina Nichol), Rufous-browed Wren, Hooded Grosbeak, Rufous-collared Robin, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and the Guatemala race of Hairy Woodpecker, Steller's Jay. Flowering shrubs here offer nectar to Garnet-throated or Amethyst-throated Hummingbird. During migratory (winter) season, you will find Townsend’s Warblers plus Wilson's, Black-and-white, and Red-faced Warblers here together with the resident Slate-throated Redstart, Pink-headed, Crescent-chested and Olive Warbler, as well as Hutton's Vireo.



Day 4: Fuentes Georginas / Todos Santos Cuchumatanes
At dawn we will be bird watching in the very humid sub-tropical forest at Fuentes Georginas, a popular hot spring resort in Zunil, a small town just southeast of Quetzaltenango. At 7,800 feet, the area features highland specialties as well as special hummingbirds and other species. Birding along the entrance road, we hope to spot Wine-throated and Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer, Mexican Violetear (Formerly Green Violetear), Unicolored Jay, Brown-backed Solitaire, and if we are lucky, Guatemalan Pygmy Owl.

Wine-throated Hummingbird by Steve Bird.

After breakfast, we will travel to Todos Santos, a region with a unique landscape in Guatemala combining sub-alpine meadows, rocky areas and slow-growing vegetation. It is one of the oldest areas geologically, has the highest mountain formations of Central America and is also one of the areas with the greatest biological diversity and endemism in the country. Here a number of endangered species of flora and fauna can be seen like Guatemalan Fir (Abies guatemalensis), Hartweg's Pine (Pinus hartwegii), Huitum (Juniperus standleyii), Maya Mouse (Peromyscus mayensis), and Cuchumatanes Salamander (Dendrotriton chujorum). Birds here include Goldman's Warbler, an isolated, resident subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler (likely to be split soon) that is almost entirely restricted to Guatemala. There are also local subspecies of Savannah Sparrow and Pine Siskin as well as Rufous-collared Robin, Eastern Meadowlark, Yellow-eyed Junco, Spotted Towhee, Ocellated Quail, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Steller's Jay. Common hummingbirds here include Broad-tailed, White-eared, and Magnificent. As time allows we will do some birding in the area and then settle into our accommodation for the night. (B,L,D)

Photo: Wine-throated Hummingbird by Steve Bird.

Day 5: Todos Santos Cuchumatanes / Los Tarrales

This morning we will visit Todos Santos National Park in the quest of Goldman’s Warbler, a resident here and fairly easy to find. Goldman's Warbler, with its yellow throat and black breast has been part of the Audubon’s Warbler group among the Yellow-rumped Warbler complex but recent studies will likely result in it being given full species status soon and it is destined to become Guatemala's first endemic bird species.

Goldman’s Warbler. Photo by Steve Bird.

Goldman’s Warbler. Photo by Steve Bird.

Later in the morning, we will travel to Los Tarrales Reserve for two nights. (B,L,D)

Day 6: Los Tarrales Reserve. Night Los Tarrales
Los Tarrales Reserve represents one of the most important areas for conservation in Guatemala.  It protects pristine forest around the upper slopes of Atitlan Volcano, as well as cloud forest and at lower levels, broad-leaved forest and coffee plantations. Our first morning will see us take an early coffee or tea and then transfer to an area where we will look for the rare and endangered Azure-rumped Cinnamon Hummingbird (Photo: Steve Bird)Tanager, a species restricted to just a tiny area in Guatemala and Mexico. Here we may see other species such as Rufous Sabrewing, Emerald-chinned Hummingbird, Blue-tailed Hummingbird, White-bellied Hummingbird, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, White-throated Thrush and Red-legged Honeycreeper.

We will then enjoy breakfast and then explore one of the coffee plantations where Prevost's Ground-Sparrows are regular and with luck we could see Buffy-crowned Wood-Partridge. This a great spot to look for raptors and we would hope to see King Vulture, Black Hawk-Eagle, White Hawk and Laughing Falcon.  While Pacific Parakeets fly overhead, birds such as Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Long-billed Gnatwren, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Western Tanager and Painted Bunting can all be seen.

Returning to the lodge for lunch we will take a little time to look around the cabins where we can see Cinnamon Hummingbird (Photo: Steve Bird), White-throated Magpie-Jay, and possibly roosting Mottled Owls. We will then spend the afternoon walking a short trail nearby where we will look for species such as White-bellied Chachalaca, Yellow-naped Parrot, Rufous-breasted Spinetail, Rufous-naped Wren, Blue-throated Goldentail, White-eared Ground Sparrow and Long-tailed Manakin. Night Los Tarrales (B,L,D)

Day 7: Los Tarrales to Lake Atitlan. Night Posada Santiago
White-winged Tanager (Photo: Steve Bird)This morning we will bird around several areas within walking distance from our cabins. In an area of woodland and bamboo, we will search for the tint Tody Motmot and we will check the fruiting trees for tanagers and hummingbirds, as well as Pacific, Orange-chinned and Orange-fronted Parakeets. A walk to a nearby pond could find us Green Kingfisher and Least Grebe, while the forest holds species such as Northern Potoo, Black-and-white Owl, Turquoise-browed and Blue-crowned Motmot, Yellow-winged and White-winged Tanager (Photo: Steve Bird), Yellow-throated and Scrub Euphonia, Spot-breasted, Altamira, and Baltimore Orioles, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Black-headed Saltator, Melodious Blackbird, Ivory-billed Woodcreeper and much more. In fact, Los Tarrales has recorded more than 350 species of birds and is also a haven for mammals, butterflies and dragonflies.

After lunch we will transfer to Lake Atitlan where we should have some time for birding in the late afternoon. Our wonderful accommodation set beside the picturesque Lake Atitlan makes a superb base to explore this area and just around the gardens we can see Painted Buntings and a host of wintering North American migrants. Night at Posada Santiago (B,L,D)

Day 8: Volcan San Pedro. Night Posada Santiago
Note: Today's tour to look for Horned Guan requires a reasonable amount of effort and fitness as you will need to hike a steep trail for between 2 - 3 hours to reach the site. For those not wishing to do this hike you will bird the lower elevations with one of our guides.

Horned Guan (Photo: Steve Bird)Today we will take a boxed breakfast and lunch in preparation for our quest to see the mythical Horned Guan. It should take around two hours to reach our birding spot (for reasonably fit persons) and then we will look for the Horned Guan (Photo: Steve Bird). Our guides have a 100% success rate at this new site to date. We could be back by lunchtime, but in case it takes longer we are bringing a boxed lunch.

So, the first thing after coffee in the morning we will take a boat ride toward San Pedro La Laguna and continue by pickup truck the beginning of our trail. Note that this is a new site found by our guides and eliminates an all-day trek to the place where most people try and see the Guan. This is probably the easiest and most reliable site to see this rare and mythical bird.

We will climb the hill to reach our site looking for other interesting species such as Prevost’s Ground-Sparrow, Amethyst-throated Hummingbird, Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Slender Sheartail, Rufous Sabrewing, Violet Sabrewing, Bushy-crested Jay, Olive-sided Towhee, Chestnut-sided Shrike-vireo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Mountain Trogon, Bar-winged Oriole and Ocellated Quail among others.

At the higher altitude where the Horned Guan can be found we can also see Black-throated Jay, while our return journey puts us in the habitat for the rarely seen Belted Flycatcher. Depending on our return time we may have time for some local birding around the lake edge or hotel gardens.
Night Hotel Posada Santiago (B,L,D)

Day 9: Rey Tepepul – El Rancho
This morning we will be bird watching on the western slopes of Atitlan Volcano at Rey Tepepul. This subtropical humid forest at an altitude of 1800 metres gives us a chance to see the Resplendent Quetzal, as well as other species such as Yellow-naped Parrot, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Elegant Euphonia, Bar-winged Oriole, Crested Guan, Emerald Toucanet, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, Hooded Grosbeak, White-eared Ground Sparrow, Green-throated Mountain-Gem, Pacific Parakeet, and Rusty Sparrow. Mid morning we leave this wonderful area and make a couple of stops near the shore of Lake Atitlan where we could see some waterbirds, herons and swallows. We may even be lucky with finding the dainty Slender Sheartail or Sparkling-tailed Woodstar. We will then continuing on our drive through Guatemala City and on to the town of El Rancho. Lodging at Hotel Camino Largo (B,L,D)

Day 10: El Rancho – Biotopo del Quetzal
This morning we will check a nearby area searching a very fragile and threatened biome characterized by dry scrub, cactus and thorn plants. Some of the species we will be looking for include Lesser Roadrunner, Russet-crowned Motmot, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Elegant Trogon, White-lored Gnatcatcher, Streak-backed Oriole, Altamira Oriole, Nutting’s and Ash-throated Flycatchers, Stripe-headed Sparrow, Canivet's Emerald and Hammond's Flycatcher. Leaving this arid area we will head for lunch and then drive to Biotopo del Quetzal. Here we will check an area for wintering North American warblers with our main target being the stunning Golden-cheeked Warbler. Lodging at RamTzul Private reserve (B,L,D)


Day 11: Tues 04th – Biotopo del Quetzal – Flores
In the morning we will try to spot the fabulous Resplendent Quetzal from the nearby Los Ranchitos Reserve. This beautiful place often has Quetzals right beside the dining area and on a good day you can be sipping coffee while watching one of the most beautiful birds in the world. Feeders attract Unicolored Jays while the surrounding forest plays host to numerous species including Highland Guan, Slate-colored Solitaire, Collared Trogon, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, Tufted Flycatcher, Yellowish Flycatcher, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Eye-ringed Flatbill and Azure-hooded Jays. We then have a long drive which will take most of the day stopping for lunch along the way to reach Flores where we stay for the night. This very pleasant town is actually on an island on lake Petén Itzá and is joined by a causeway.
Here we will have dinner in a local restaurant.  Lodging in a hotel in Flores (B,L,D)

Day 12: Flores to Guacamayas Biological Station
Field StationAfter breakfast we leave Flores for a trip of approximately three hours birding along the way. The whole road proposes great birding opportunities where we can see a wide range of species in open areas, secondary forest and ponds. Several very special birds will be sought including Yucatan Woodpecker (which our guide found while we were there in March 2016). Other species include Agami Heron, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lesser Nighthawk, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, and Vermilion Flycatcher.  Among the wetlands and marshes, we could see Least Bittern, Pinnated Bittern, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Purple Gallinule, Northern Jacana and Limpkin, plus Snail Kite, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture, Osprey, White-tailed Kite, White-fronted Parrot, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and White-collared Seedeater.

We will arrive at the community of Paso Caballos, here we will board a boat that will carry us through the San Pedro River towards Las Guacamayas Biological Station (20 minutes). Birding along this beautiful calm river will give us opportunities for many species including Herons, Kingfishers, Limpkin, Parrots, Gray-necked Wood-rail, and much more.

On our arrival, we will be received by the EBG staff and they will give an introduction on the wildlife of the station, plus solid waste management, research programs, conservation and social projection. You would possibly expect a research station to be rather basic, but this wonderful place much more! It is pure luxury in the jungle - a wonderful lodge with superb accommodation and excellent food.

After lunch we will take the first of several boat trips visiting even quieter sections of the nearby rivers. This is a great place to see the sought after Agami Heron as well as Sungrebe and a host of other water loving birds. The localized Morelet's Crocodile exists here and with luck we will see this and many other forms of wildlife. For those who are more adventurous, we also plan a night excursion by boat to the Sacluc after dinner. Here we have more chances of the Crocodile plus other night creatures such as Boat-billed Heron, Owls and Potoos and maybe even Baird's Tapir.  Night Guacamayas Biological Station (B,L,D) 
Agami Heron (Photo: Steve Bird)

Day 13: Guacamayas Biological Station
After an early morning coffee we will board our boat for a birding tour towards the archaeological site El Peru, where we will visit the most important nesting area of the Scarlet Macaw in Guatemala. Other interesting birds in this area include the beautiful Ocellated Turkey, Bat Falcon, Black-and-White Owl, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Lovely Cotinga, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing at the feeders! (Photo: Steve Bird), Rose-Wedge-tailed Sabrewing at the feeders! (Photo: Steve Bird),throated Tanager; Green-backed Sparrow, White-whiskered Puffbird, White-collared Manakin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and even Geoffroy's Spider Monkey.

Back for lunch and a little relaxation we will then go out later and check for birds around the lodge and the nearby lookout tower which offers superb views of the forest canopy. Some of the birds we could encounter include Great Curassow, Yucatan Flycatcher, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Blue Bunting, and Red-capped Manakins. Tonight we might have another option for a night time boat trip. Night Las Guacamayas Biological Station (B,L,D)

Day 14: Guacamayas Biological Station to Tikal.
An early morning boat trip on the San Pedro River to see what we can find, followed by breakfast after which we will transfer to Tikal National Park, stopping en route at Flores for lunch. Tikal is the largest excavated site in the American continent and contains some of the most fascinating archaeological remains of the ancient Maya civilization. Declared a world heritage site in 1979 it comprises 576 square miles of lush jungle surrounding one of the most impressive Mayan ruins you could ever see. Birding around our lodge and the surrounding forest can be very rewarding and we will be making our first excursion into the park to see these amazing ruins at sunset, something few other tourists ever see. Night at Tikal. (B,L,D)

Day 15: Tikal National Park.
Ocellated Turkey (Photo: Steve Bird)This morning we will visit the National Park early when wildlife and bird activity at at their best. The monuments, remnants of the ancient Maya culture located in the middle of luscious jungles are ideal places for bird watching  Here we hope to find interesting species such as Ocellated Turkey (Photo: Steve Bird), Orange-breasted Falcon which can often be seen perched high on one of the monuments, Yucatan Jay, Black Catbird, Rose-throated Tanager, Great Curassow, White-fronted Parrot, Mealy Parrot, Crested Eagle, Slaty-tailed Trogon, Black-headed Trogon, Gartered Trogon, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Ivory-billed and Tawny-winged Woodcreepers, White-bellied Wren, Northern Schiffornis, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Montezuma Oropendola, Green-backed Sparrow among many others. Wintering flocks of warblers, tanagers and others makes this destination a fantastic tropical paradise. After breakfast we will have a proper Archaeological tour of this site and then in the afternoon evening we can look for some tricky birds such as Yucatan Poorwill and Gray-throated Chat. In the evening we also have the chance to spot some of the parks more elusive mammals such as Ocelot, Margay, and even Jaguar! Night Tikal (B,L,D)

Day 16: Tikal National Park to Guatemala City

This morning we will fly back to Guatemala City for late afternoon departures from GUA. 

LEADERS: This tour will be led by the best local guides in Guatemala.   Gina Nichol and Steve Bird will also be leading with 8 or more clients.

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November 24 - December 9, 2018
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Main Tour:
$4495.00 per person/double occupancy from Guatemala City, Guatemala based on minimum of 8 persons. Single supplement is an additional $465.00 per person. Note: Singles with private baths may not be available during one night of this tour.

Deposit: $500.00 per person. Tour deposits can be paid by check or credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise when you have made payment. 

Included in cost: Accommodation in /double twin rooms, all meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 16, group airport/hotel transfers, ground transport throughout including 4x4 where necessary, and boat trips as per itinerary, bottled water, all taxes, entrance fees to National Parks as mentioned in the itinerary, and bilingual professional guides.

Not included: International flight, domestic flight for Tikal (Approx. $250.00), passport fees, departure tax, insurance, drinks, laundry, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Note: The tour price is based on a minimum of 8 passengers.  If there are less than 8, a small group supplement may be charged. Steve Bird and Gina Nichol will accompany this tour with 8 or more passengers.

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, contact to hold your space! Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit within two weeks to secure your place. Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   
>Download & print the Registration Form. 

Contact to reserve your space! Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit within two weeks to secure your place.

Final payment is due July 24, 2018. Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees). Please inquire.


Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.


Cancellations and Refunds: All cancellations must be made in writing. In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur. There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour.

Insurance: Sunrise Birding, LLC recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. Travel protection plans can include coverage for Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Emergency Medical and Emergency Evacuation/Repatriation, Trip Delay, Baggage Delay and more.

For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 07-0025.

The product descriptions provided here are only brief summaries. The full coverage terms and details, including limitations and exclusions, are contained in the insurance policy. Travelex CA Agency License #0D10209. All products listed are underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company. 11.17 E7N

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at 
Phone: 203.453.6724

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