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Join us for a relaxing week of birding and exploring the incredible diversity of southern Sonora and the beautiful colonial city of Alamos. This trip is a great way to experience a truly interesting and exotic area at a nice, relaxed pace!

For this trip we’ve chosen to cut down on driving and take a short flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Sonora’s capital city, Hermosillo. From here it’s not far to the Sea of Cortez, where we start our birding off with a spectacular show of wintering birds of the shore and sea. Enjoy some fresh seafood and sublime sunsets to kick start your birding vacation. In the Alamos area, we enjoy five nights at El Pedregal, a nature lodge owned by your guides. Here, we encounter the mixing of habitats, formed by the transition zone between the southern limits of the Sonoran Desert and the furthest northern reaches of the tropics. Learn about the Sinaloa thorn forest and the dry tropical deciduous forest, two of the most botanically rich and most highly endangered habitats in the world. This trip into northern Mexico is sure to impress you with amazing habitat diversity and cultural riches, all within a day’s drive of the U.S. border!

While the emphasis of this trip is bird watching, we take time to explore the rich human history of the area, too. We explore an old mining town, visit a couple of restored haciendas, get some insight into indigenous Mayo Indian culture and tour the historically significant and beautiful town of Alamos. The heart of Alamos has been elevated to National Historic Monument status and is also a “Pueblo Magico” of Mexico, because of its rich history and Spanish colonial architectural.

In the environs of Alamos we can see an amazing array of birds, and many of the northwest Mexican endemic birds are visible right from the comfort of our hotel! Some of the birds possible on this trip are Blue Mockingbird, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Russet-crowned Motmot, Purplish-backed Jay, Elegant Quail, Lilac-crowned and White-fronted Parrots, Five-striped Sparrow, Mexican Parrotlet, Elegant Trogon, Crane Hawk, Common Black Hawk, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, White-fronted Parrot, Rose-throated Becard, Happy and Sinaloa Wren, Rufous-bellied Chachalaca, and many others. The species list for the area approaches 250 birds; we should encounter upwards of 200 on this trip.

Our accommodations are very comfortable. The first two nights of the trip we stay at a very nice seaside hotel in San Carlos where every room has a view of the Sea of Cortez. In Alamos, we stay at the unique and beautiful El Pedregal Nature Lodge. Luxurious adobe casitas and the inviting central lodge are set on 20 acres of intact tropical deciduous forest right at the edge of Alamos. El Pedregal is known for its fine hospitality and delicious food. It is a beautiful and relaxing place to spend our time here. The final night is spent at a comfortable business hotel in Hermosillo to position us for flights back to Phoenix the following day.

This is a fantastic trip for the beginning birder; it offers the chance to really study a high number of northern migrant birds, as well as an interesting array of tropical birds at their northern limit. The experienced birder is sure to be happy with the high number of northwest Mexican endemics in the Alamos area.

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Sinaloa thorn forest, dry tropical deciduous forest, tropical deciduous habitat, and Sea of Cortez riparian zones and shorelines
  • Experience flocks of shorebirds by the thousands on the edge of the Sea of Cortez
  • Marvel at vast estuaries at peak time for passing shorebirds
  • Catch the spring migration push along shorelines, rivers and mountains
  • See stunning Mexican specialties like the Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Purplish-backed Jay, Crane Hawk Rose-throated Becard, and Plain-capped Star-throat
  • Enjoy local foods prepared with care, from fresh seafood to Mexican specialty dishes of the region
  • Tour the beautiful historic town of Alamos, a Mexican “Pueblo Magico”

Trip Itinerary

Wed., April 14: Gather in Phoenix, Arizona


Welcome to Arizona! Arrive today in Phoenix, where we’ve booked a convenient airport hotel to be ready for our flight the following day. If you prefer to drive to Hermosillo and meet up with the group there, we can adjust your invoice to omit this night. Past groups got weary of driving, so this trip we are trying the flight as a solution to that. For those here tonight, we plan an informal gathering.
Accommodations near the airport, Phoenix (D)

Thurs., April 15: Flight to Hermosillo | Scenic Drive to the Sea of Cortez


While flight times are not available at the time of writing for this itinerary, we plan to book a morning flight, with lunch at a fun spot in Hermosillo. For those driving direct to Hermosillo, we can meet up here by Noon. Our local guide joins the group and off we go!

We start birding in earnest this afternoon, hitting some hotspots for desert and coastal species along the way to our lodgings on the Sea of Cortez.
Accommodations at Hotel Sea of Cortez Beach Club or similar (B,L,D)

Fri., April 16: Sea of Cortez | San Carlos Birding


We have the full day to explore areas around the Sea of Cortez where the sheer number of birds is amazing. We bird at the water’s edge looking for Gull-billed Tern, Mangrove Swallow, Roseate Spoonbill, Mangrove Warbler, and much more. We also experience dozens of species of shorebirds with numbers in the tens of thousands.

There are estuaries to survey, and salt flats to wander—find the mangrove variety of Yellow Warbler, stunning Roseate Spoonbill, Yellow-footed Gull and more. Desert vegetation surrounding these areas lets us add a number of species. We also know this is your vacation—enjoy the beach, and a very fun evening of dining.
Accommodations at Hotel Sea of Cortez Beach Club or similar (B,L,D)

Sat., April 17: Rio Mayo | Alamos


This morning, we enjoy a seaside breakfast in San Carlos before heading to Alamos, with a stop to bird the Rio Mayo in Navojoa. This area is home to huge numbers of tropical residents, as well as migrant birds. We should find Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Least Grebe, and the recent colonizer, Northern Jacana.

You will certainly enjoy the colonial city of Alamos! Coming from the Rio Mayo, as we turn inland get closer to our destination, tall cacti and Palo Verde and Ironwood trees give way to trees of the Tropical Dry Forest.

Colonial Alamos is rich in history, noted as the base for the start of the large Coronado expedition in 1540 and established as a village in 1685. Wealth from Mexico’s silver production influenced the architecture and city. Notable buildings include private mansions, an elaborate city hall, the church of La Purisma Concepcion and La Capilla. Cobblestone streets and the Plaza de Armas are part of the charm.

We arrive at El Pedregal, our nature lodge on a 20-acre oasis in the city, for lunch in the palapa! After a short afternoon break and settling into our casitas, we do some birding close to town and enjoy a delicious dinner back at El Pedregal. Being based from one location for our time in Alamos is one of the great features of this tour, allowing you to settle in and feel at home.
Accommodations at El Pedregal (B,L,D)

Sun., April 18: Aduana Arroyo | La Aduana | Walking & Driving Tour of Alamos


Today, we take a short 15-minute drive out to the Aduana Arroyo for birding in cut over tropical deciduous habitat and agricultural fields. We have a good chance of seeing some of the region’s signature birds like Black- throated Magpie-Jay, Purplish-backed Jay, and both Happy and Sinaloa Wrens. A favorite species that brings to mind the tropics is the Squirrel Cuckoo.

We continue with a quick tour of the site of the former mining town of La Aduana, where we’ll visit the historic church (1585) and woman’s artisans cooperative.

Enjoy lunch and a siesta back at El Pedregal, where you can take a break or relax at the feeders in the shade. Our afternoon activity includes a driving and walking tour of Alamos, followed by a great Mexican buffet dinner at the Mirador Restaurant.
Accommodations at El Pedregal (B,L,D)

Mon., April 19: Mentidero Arroyo | Cuchujaqui River


This morning we explore the Mentidero Arroyo, a 30-minute drive from Alamos. The Mentidero is a tributary of the beautiful Cuchujaqui River, a tropical river drainage within a federal Natural Protected Area. Our Mentidero day often yields good looks at a number of the area specialties, including many species very difficult to see in the states, but are more abundant here. Five-striped Sparrow, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Elegant Quail, Green Kingfisher, Common Black Hawk, Crane Hawk, and Plain-capped Star-throat are possible species.

We spend the entire morning walking in both the Mentidero arroyo and along the Cuchujaqui River, enjoying the birds as well as the plants and other wildlife. This outing requires a fair bit of walking at a slow pace over what at times can be sandy and/or rocky terrain.

As usual, lunch is back at El Pedregal, followed by some relaxing siesta time. This afternoon, we bird around the lodge, then enjoy a dinner at another of our favorite restaurants in town.
Accommodations at El Pedregal (B,L,D)

Tues., April 20: Alamos


What would a birding trip be without visiting a sewage pond! This morning we make our way to some effluent ponds on the southeast edge of Alamos, 30 minutes away, where in the green oasis, we look for Black-vented Oriole, Russet-crowned Motmot, Elegant Trogon, White-fronted Parrot, Rose-throated Becard, and Rufous-bellied Chachalaca. The perennial water found in this area makes for a fantastic array of bird life and should offer dozens of species.

Today we sample lunch at a favorite restaurant and then return for a siesta at the lodge.

In the afternoon, we have some time to visit town, for those who like to shop and wander around. Alamos is considered to be the colonial gem of the Sierra Madres, and is given the distinction of a “Pueblo Magico” by the Mexican government in recognition of the historic charm that is such a strong part of visiting Alamos. There is an excellent museum in town, too. Pro-Natura, the major Mexican conservation organization, has offices in the city and we hope to hear from them during our visit about some of their programs and successes in creating biological corridors in the region.

And for those who prefer birding, we also offer an outing. This evening, we enjoy a delicious and bountiful Sonoran feast at El Pedregal!
Accommodations at El Pedregal (B,L,D)

Wed., April 21: Alamos to Hermosillo


It’s very hard to tear yourself away from Alamos! After breakfast, we retrace our route, stopping at some additional shorebird or desert areas based on what is moving through the area and species we still hope to see. Lunch will be in the Guaymas. Arriving to Hermosillo in the afternoon, we cap off our tour with a visit to Hermosillo’s manmade wetlands (aka, sewage ponds) where a surprisingly rich array of birds can be found.

Celebrate our trip, tally up the final bird list and be ready to recount our many highlights.
Accommodations in the Holiday Inn, Hermosillo (B,L,D)

Thurs., April 22: Flight to Phoenix | Departures


Breakfast is included with our hotel. We will choose a flight back in the morning to Phoenix and will announce times once we can firm those up, our intent is to let you continue flights home this day.

  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Alamos, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Black Phoebe, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Black-necked Stilt, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Blue Mockingbird, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Alamos, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • El Pedregal, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Sea of Cortez, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Organ Pipe Cactus, Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys
  • Mexico, Mexico Birding Tour, Mexico Nature Tour, Alamos, Naturalist Journeys

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the tour: $3690 DBL / $4295 SGL + Phoenix flight, based on double occupancy from Phoenix, AZ. Estimated flight cost $350 pp. This price includes eight nights’ accommodations, all meals as noted in the itinerary, purified water, airport transfers, ground transportation in vans, professional guide services, park and other entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Not included is round-trip airfare to Hermosillo, personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, and gratuities for luggage handling or other services. Guide gratuities are at your discretion.

Travel Details

The airport is in the USA; we use Phoenix Sky Harbor International (PHX). Plan to arrive no later than 5:00 PM on April 14th. You can alternately meet up with us in Hermosillo by driving or taking an alternate flight from another city if available. Departures from Phoenix can be planned for the afternoon of April 22—we will announce the flight time Hermosillo to PHX as soon as we have the new schedules.

Items of Note

Accommodations In Hermosillo, we stay at the comfortable business hotel, Holiday Inn. In Alamos, we stay at El Pedregal Nature Lodge. The adobe casitas are wonderfully comfortable, with great beds, linens, art, and amenities. The casitas are connected by trails to each other and to the main lodge. For more information visit: http://www.elpedregalmexico.com/. In San Carlos, we stay right at the seaside Sea of Cortez Beach Club or similar. The variety of places we stay gives you a good overall feel for the wonderful and varied culture of Mexico and its warm hospitality.

Pace: Moderate, with full days of birding and walks on quiet roads and trails. A typical walk is less than two miles and often we have a series of walks at different spots that are a half-mile each, several times a day. DINING: Casual, a mix of local restaurants and both restaurant and picnic lunches.

Map for Alamos, Mexico

Photo credits: Banner Photo: Roseate Spoonbills by Betty Andres; Group by Peg Abbott; Russet-crowned Motmot by Peg Abbott; San Miguel River by Peg Abbott; Elegant Trogon by Tom Dove; Green Kingfisher by Peg Abbott; Common Black Hawk by Greg Smith; Black-thoated Magpie Jay by David McKay; Brown Booby by Peg Abbott; Osprey by Bud Ferguson; Gambel's Quail, Naturalist Journeys Stock; Black-vented Oriole by Robert Gallardo; Desert Scenic, NJ Stock; Green Kingfisher, Tom Dove; El Pedregal, courtesy El Pedregal; Elegant Trogon, Peg Abbott; Rose-throated Becard, Tom Dove; Roseate Spoonbill, Betty Andres; Sea of Cortez Walk, NJ Stock; Desert Sunset, NJ Stock; Fishermen, Peg Abbott; Local with Dog, Peg Abbott; Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Peg Abbott; Group Shopping, Peg Abbott; Group, Peg Abbott; Steeple, David McKay; Black Phoebe, Peg Abbott; Black-necked Stilts, Peg Abbott; Blue Mockingbird, Peg Abbott; Scenic with Cross, Peg Abbott; Group at Dinner, Peg Abbott; Alamos Door, Peg Abbott; El Pedregal Pool, Peg Abbott; Sea of Cortez Scenic; Peg Abbott; Organ Pipe Cactus, Peg Abbott; Dog, Peg Abbott.

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