I am lucky to have been to many awesome birding locations, and for the hungry birder there are few experiences to match a trip to the Neotropics – species diversity can be unparalleled, landscapes can be jawdroppingly dramatic, and the cities jawdroppingly scary. Therein lies the problem. Unless you are comfortable and confident as an independent traveler, the only palatable choice is to take a guide which for most can be prohibitively expensive. As a result, many don’t get the chance to experience the Neotropics and are missing out on one of the great birding experiences of a lifetime – which is why I think Belize should get more press than it does. Aside from the well photographed Blue Hole, barrier reef and Mayan ruins (which, incidentally are incredible) Belize has some excellent birding options that are easily and safely accessible.
Belize is only 180 miles long, has a handful of highways that are easily drivable (even for those from the more polite driving cultures), is English speaking and is easily accessible from a number of international airports. We flew from Houston to Belize City direct in 2.5hrs, picked up our rental car and took off to our first destination – we had booked 4 nights at DuPlooys Jungle Lodge in the Cayo District, which included a side trip to Tikal in Guatemala, followed by 2 days at La Milpa Field Station in the Orange Walk district and 3 nights on Ambergris Caye. Over the next 9 days we would see 181 species, 44 lifers, ride horseback to Mayan ruins at Xunantunich, Canoe up the Macal river, stay at a superb Biological Field station and snorkel with turtles and sharks on the Belize Reef. Belize is a fantastic introduction to the Neotropics and is safe, easy to navigate, friendly and inexpensive. Above all it is birdy, very birdy!
Check our photos on the image gallery, and a full trip report will be posted in the next few weeks. Check back often!