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VERY popular in 2022, see a different side of Belize! We’ve carefully selected three top birding lodges with excellent local guides that join us as we visit important conservation areas in some of the less-well-known parts of Belize. Whether this is a first time visit or a return trip to see more of Belize, we know this trip will excite you.
We start off with four nights at Black Rock Lodge, a fabulous retreat on the shores of the wild Macal River, impressively framed by massive limestone cliffs of the pine-ridge plateau behind it, home to rare Orange-breasted Falcon and elusive Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle. As we explore from here we may see King Vulture, possibly Stygian Owl, and a host of signature pine-habitat species. If you’re interested in Maya history, choose a day to visit Caracol, one of the top Maya sites in the region, which is also replete with birds. Explore the Belize Botanical Garden and between there and Pook’s Hill Lodge, stop at one of the best places for hummingbirds in the country: Green Hills Butterfly Ranch. At Pook’s Hill, Central American Howler Monkeys greet us and the plaza of Maya ruins is a great place for owling on a night walk. From here we follow the scenic Hummingbird Highway to the coast, with a stop at Hopkins wetland—a great place to find marsh species. Steven Choco, the premier guide of the region, joins us here and then takes us to his “home patch” in Belize’s southeastern corner, tucked between the beach and remnant mountains cut by turquoise colored streams. We have our final four nights at Tanager Rainforest Lodge. Watch for Bare-crowned Antbird on the grounds, and a host of other exciting species, all found between delicious meals that feature local cuisine.
Believe us when we say our guides are excited about this combination and can’t wait to share the rich Maya Biosphere ecoregion with you.
- “Everything was so smooth, I felt taken care of, lovely accommodations. Our guides eyes caught every bird movement in our vicinity and their knowledge of where the birds were was extensive. Highlights: Euphonia! Scarlet Macaws sitting and on the wing! Howler Monkeys! Motmots! Meeting new people, making friends! Being in Belize!”— Liz Wharton, 2023 Traveler
- “It was great to not be concerned with anything but spotting birds and choosing daily menu options. We were truly well taken care of from airport pickup to airport drop off.” — Barbara Jording, 2023 Traveler
- “Warm, fun, educational, delightful companions and birding guides, birds of every shape and color. There’s no place I’d rather be than Belize!” — Kathleen Pasierb, 2023 Traveler
- Enjoy four nights at Black Rock lodge along the Macal River, a perfect base to explore the local forests and the first of our Maya ruins
- Opt to canoe or tube to the Belize Botanic Gardens, 45 acres of tropical wonder
- Bird the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve and watch for Orange-breasted Falcon
- Get up close and personal with hummingbirds at Green Hills Butterfly Ranch
- Take a night walk to look for owls at Pook’s Hill, then wake up to howls of Central American Howler Monkey
- Enjoy a beach lunch and time at Hopkins wetlands
- Explore and bird with top local guide, Steven Choco, from Tanager Rainforest Lodge; Steve has been the prestigious National Tour Guide of the Year award winner from the Belize Tourism Board
- Fly back to the Belize International airport on a quick charter flight with views of the Maya Reef
Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.
Wed., Nov. 8: Arrivals in Belize | Night Birding
Welcome to Belize! It’s hard to believe that just a short two-hour flight from a USA gateway puts you right into the tropical zone. Breathe deep—you are HERE and your vacation starts now. Please plan to arrive by 2:00 PM.
We head out from the airport to reach Black Rock Lodge late in the day. On the way, we keep our binoculars handy, scanning fencerows and utility lines for the first birds of the trip. Expect to see Tropical Kingbird, Vermilion and Social Flycatchers, Great Kiskadee, White-collared Seedeater, and Tropical Mockingbird, with Lesser Yellow-headed and Black Vultures soaring overhead. We also keep our eyes open for wading birds in the roadside wetlands and farm ponds as we move into the countryside, watching for Tricolored and Little Blue Herons, Wood Stork, and possibly a Roseate Spoonbill.
We want to arrive at the lodge in time for you to take in the marvelous late-day feeding frenzy on feeders below the veranda. Our route is about a 2.5 hour drive in total, the last seven miles on a country back road (yes, bumps—that is what keeps the area pristine and wild!). Black Rock’s style is casucal, in keeping with the local culture. Its setting is dramatic, above the winding Macal River. Views from the dining area down to the river and out to extensive forested ridges of Don Elijio Panti National Park, a 13,000-acre swath of luxurious rainforest, are sublime. Settle in, scan the sky for raptors, and enjoy the relaxed vibe! The wonderful staff here help to make you immediately feel at home.
After dinner, we drive a short way out into a more open area to look for Northern Potoo and perhaps some of the resident owls.
Accommodations at Black Rock Lodge (D)
Thurs., Nov. 9: Local Birding | A Chance to Canoe | Belize Botanical Gardens
Join the lodge’s keen birding guide for an early morning bird walk starting at 6:30 AM. Guides and guests avidly note their sightings on eBird, contributing knowledge of this region through citizen science efforts. We plan to participate too! Often greeting us in the morning are Crimson-collared and Yellow-winged Tanagers, Black-headed and Grayish Saltators, Red-legged Honeycreeper, and other species of mixed flocks. Barred Antshrike and Spot-breasted Wren call as Rufous-tailed Hummingbird monitor nectar at the garden flowers.
After taking advantage of the early super-charged bird activity on the grounds, we enjoy a full breakfast, never leaving the beautiful view as you dine. On the towering cliffs behind the lodge, a resident pair of Orange-breasted Falcon have lived for many years. Above, Vaux’s Swift patrol the sky.
After breakfast we have the chance to continue birding the area; watch for some of the showy rainforest species such as Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, and parrots of several species including Red-lored, White-fronted, and Mealy. More secretive on trails through the forest, we scan for Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Pheasant Cuckoo, Tody Motmot, Gartered and Black-headed Trogons, White-necked Puffbird, and more. The lodge has an extensive trail system.
This afternoon have some (optional) fun, taking time to tube or canoe on the Macal River down to another lodge, from which we visit the Belize Botanical Garden. Located on the banks of the Macal River in the Maya Mountains, the gardens host 45 acres of tropical wonder. Orchids, palms, cycads, and edibles abound. Watch for Common Tody-Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, and both Sulphur-bellied and Royal Flycatchers. It’s a great place for birds and butterflies too!
We return to watch sunset with a view and enjoy dinner.
Accommodations at Black Rock Lodge (B,L,D)
Fri., Nov. 10: Local Hotspots | Spanish Lookout | Aguacate Lagoon
We head off on a birding adventure this morning, stopping at a few of the guide’s favorite places. After a few stops, we drive on to the Mennonite village of Spanish Lookout. In this agricultural area we find Tropical Kingbird, Vermilion and Social Flycatchers, Great Kiskadee, Morelet’s Seedeater, Tropical Mockingbird, and Black Vulture soaring overhead. Blue-gray and Yellow-winged Tanagers, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Ground-Dove, Roadside Hawk, Olive-throated Parakeet, Red-lored Parrot, Blue Bunting, Barred Forest-Falcon, Rose-throated Becard, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Black-cowled Oriole are other possible species.
Just twenty minutes down the road is one of the best birding hotspots in all of Belize: Aguacate Lagoon. This is a private wetland preserve of nearly 300 acres. We look for a variety of herons and egrets, resident Laughing Falcon, and other species. The lagoon is named for the many avocado trees that grow here now, planted in the early 1960s by Mennonite farmers.
Throughout our day we hope for mammal sightings, too—possible are White-nosed Coatimundi, Kinkajou, Deppe’s Squirrel, and Yucatan Black Howler Monkey. We return late in the day to relax, watch birds come in to roost, and then enjoy dinner at the lodge.
Accommodations at Black Rock Lodge (B,L,D)
Sat., Nov. 11: Local Birding or Caracol Mayan Ceremonial Center
Participants have their choice of two activities today. We will confirm which you prefer before departure.
Option One: Hike & Bird from the Lodge
There are many species close to the lodge and we find them on a bit steep but productive trail with our local guides. Species we look for include Blue-gray and Yellow-winged Tanagers, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Ground Dove, Roadside Hawk, Olive-throated Parakeet, Red-lored Parrot, Blue Bunting, Barred Forest-Falcon, Rose-throated Becard, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Black-cowled Oriole (just to name a few!). Enjoy some time to photograph at the feeders or along the river; walk the gardens and trails.
Option Two: Caracol Maya Ceremonial Center
This is a long, but incredible day. It’s also conditional on the road being dry enough to get to the ruins, since the road can be impassible if wet. After coffee and a quick bite this morning, we leave to reach Caracol during the cool of the day—the best time for birding and exploration of the site. En route we move from the well-drained granitic soils that favor pines to limestone substrates that give rise to broad-leafed forest, resulting in a significant change in avifauna. The birding on the drive is excellent, and we could have looks at Keel-billed Toucan, Ocellated Turkey, and possibly Laughing Falcon as we descend into the lower woodlands. At the river that divides the Mountain Pine Ridge from the rest of the Maya Mountains, we may even have a chance to glimpse the rare Scarlet Macaw.
Caracol is a famous Maya site within the remote Chiquibul National Park that rivals Guatemala’s Tikal in size and scope. Although loggers discovered the site in 1938, only in the last three decades has it been restored and opened to visitors. Walking the area today, we find a marvelous blend of nature and history, with lush broad-leafed forests intertwining and surrounding five plazas, numerous stelae, pyramids, hieroglyphics, and an astronomy observatory. Particularly stunning is the temple of Caana, or “Sky Palace”; at nearly 140 feet, it is one of the tallest known Maya structures. The Mayas here were at the peak of their influence during the latter part of the Classic Period, approximately 400 – 850 A.D. We explore both forest trails and Maya ruins, learning about the latest discoveries at Caracol, quite likely the city from which Guatemala’s Tikal was conquered in 562 A.D.
The birding at Caracol is extraordinary and we hope to see Montezuma Oropendola, several parrots (including White-crowned, Brown-headed, and Red-lored), all three species of Belizean motmots (Lesson’s, Tody, and the rare Keel-billed), Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Collared Aracari, and the colorful Crimson-collared Tanager. The area also supports Great Curassow and Crested Guan. The exceedingly rare Lovely Cotinga, perhaps Belize’s most colorful songbird, is occasionally observed here, and scarce raptors like Ornate and Black Hawk-Eagles have also been reported at Caracol.
After our picnic lunch we head back to Black Rock Lodge, stopping along the way at the Rio Frio Cave with its quiet pools and impressive formations. The shaded forest trails leading to the cave offer the chance to observe seldom seen understory species like Orange-billed Sparrow and White-throated Robin, as well as both Red-throated and Red-crowned Ant Tanagers (not often seen together) and possibly Plain Xenops, a tiny acrobatic species that gleans insects from the underside of leaves.
Upon our return to the lodge, we relax or stroll the lodge grounds for the rest of the afternoon, and then meet up with the rest of the group to review our bird list for the day before enjoying another excellent dinner.
Accommodations at Black Rock Lodge (B,L,D)
Sun., Nov. 12: Green Hills Butterfly Ranch | Pine Ridge | Pook’s Hill Lodge
We depart early today with our gear, headed for the next great lodge in our series—Pook’s Hill. Our first stop though is at the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch, where we see a host of hummingbirds at close range. Species include White-necked Jacobin, Long-billed Hermit, Green-breasted Mango, Canivet’s Emerald, and possibly both Wedge-tailed and Violet Sabrewings. We also find a host of other birds in the lush gardens.
We then venture up onto a higher elevation plateau that holds extensive Caribbean pine stands. Yellow-backed and Yellow-tailed Orioles, Acorn and Golden-olive Woodpeckers, Green Jay, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Masked Tityra, Slaty-tailed Trogon, and Plain Chachalaca, as well as several hummingbirds, including Azure-crowned, can be found here. Neotropical migrants overwinter here, too (including ”southwestern” birds such as Greater Pewee, Grace’s Warbler, and Hepatic Tanager), and some or all of these should be active when we arrive. Watch for King Vulture overhead.
In this area we may find Rufous-capped Warbler, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Collared and Black-headed Trogons, Pale-vented and Scaled Pigeons, various woodcreepers, and noisy flocks of Lesser Greenlet.
We enjoy a picnic lunch, and mid-afternoon head on to Pook’s Hill, about an hour and a half away. Settle in to this delightful lodge, built with respect to the Maya ruins that are on the grounds. Lush plantings bring in a variety of birds and tonight we have a chance to head out for some owling, an easy walk from the lodge.
Pook’s Hill Lodge is a private reserve. Set in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, it borders two other reserves and gives us access to a new set of species. Thatched cabañas with private baths and a main lodge fill a small clearing in the forest; the lodge has a bar and a lantern-lit dining room. A creek flows through this ancient Maya site, while trails traverse the surrounding forest and clearings.
Accommodations at Pook’s Hill Lodge (B,L,D)
Mon., Nov. 13: Pook’s Hill Private Reserve Birding
Start the day with optional early morning birding, seeking iconic tropical motmots, trogons, and toucans. At breakfast, admire a host of hummingbirds just off the veranda.
We spend the full day close to home, exploring a system of lodge trails. The Pook’s Hill Reserve acts as a buffer zone to the 6,700-acre Tapir Mountain Reserve, which extends to the southwest of the lodge and forms part of a wildlife corridor that continues to the Toledo District in the south of Belize. This semi-deciduous broadleaf tropical forest has not been logged since the time of the Mayas.
Birds here are varied, from soaring White Hawk to secretive forest floor birds like Dusky Antbird and Black-faced Antthrush. We should find White-collared and Red-capped Manakins and hummingbirds galore (including the stunning Purple-crowned Fairy and territorial Long-billed Hermit). Rufous-tailed Jacamar nest on the property, and Lineated and Pale-billed Woodpeckers can be found. Mammals include Collared Peccary, White-nosed Coati, and possibly Northern Tamandua, a type of anteater. Camera traps have even recorded Tapir and Ocelot!
After a lovely dinner we seek a resident and very tolerant pair of Spectacled Owls (optional).
Accommodations at Pook’s Hill Lodge (B,L,D)
Tues., Nov. 14: Blue Hole National Park | Hopkins Wetlands | Tanager Rainforest Lodge
We depart Pook’s Hill after breakfast, making our way down the scenic Hummingbird Highway to the coastal town of Hopkins. We have a long drive, so expect a full day with birding stops. This gives us a chance to see the fascinating geography of Belize. We plan on lunch and birding along the way as we head further south.
After 90 minutes, our first stop is St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, a picturesque location in the mountains featuring quiet trails and a tranquil forested pool. Birding here offers chances for colorful Yellow-throated and Olive-backed Euphonias, Orange-billed Sparrow, Spot-breasted Wren, Black-faced Grosbeak, Crested Guan, and Barred Antshrike. The park is also home to the Nightingale Wren (a seldom seen species with an ethereal song that may enrich our walk through this verdant forest), and White Hawk are commonly seen here. It’s even possible to find the endemic subspecies Ridgway’s Rough-winged Swallow.
We enjoy a beach lunch on the Caribbean in a shade ramada and watch for Osprey, gulls, and terns as we dine.
We also check out wading birds at the nearby Hopkins wetlands where we look for White Ibis, possible Roseate Spoonbill, a variety of herons, Clapper Rail, and shorebirds.
We then head south following the coast, and plan to arrive at The Lodge at Big Falls by mid-afternoon. Settle in for four nights from this outstanding location. The Lodge at Big Falls is located on the forested banks of the Rio Grande River (inflatable tubes make swimming fun and are provided for leisure time). This is one of the very best birding lodges in Belize, with attractive grounds, a swimming pool, and locally-influenced accommodations with thatched roofs that include hardwood interiors, sparkling bathrooms, comfortable furnishings, and fully screened windows.
Before dinner, we may spot Russet-naped Wood-Rail and scampering agouti on the open lawns fronting the main lodge building, which has a breezy, covered porch, Wi-Fi access, and comfortable seating—perfect for relaxing with an afternoon drink or morning coffee, while watching Rufous-tailed Hummingbird at the feeders or pondering your bird list.
The Lodge at Big Falls offers outstanding birding right on site, and it’s possible to spot species like Gartered Trogon, Yellow-billed Cacique, Gray-headed and Golden-hooded Tanagers, Grayish Saltator, and Red-throated Ant-Tanager literally steps from your door. Specialties like shy Bare-crowned Antbird and Rufous-breasted Spinetail (the most northerly species of this largely South American group) are regularly recorded within earshot of the main lodge, while the immediately adjacent Rio Grande River provides habitat for four of Belize’s five kingfishers (Green, Amazon, Belted, and Ringed), which can be seen without leaving the property.
This evening we discuss activities for the coming days, go over our species list, and listen to the eerie calls of Common Pauraque as the sun sets. Over the next three days we have the chance to bird and explore in a range of habitats, from savanna grasslands and coastal forests and mangroves, to interior forests and swamps.
Accommodations at The Lodge at Big Falls (B,L,D)
Wed., Nov. 15: Morning Lodge Birding | Afternoon Birding Excursion
With such excellent birding right on our doorstep, it’s hard to resist getting up at the crack of dawn. Coffee is ready ahead of breakfast, and a walk around the compound is sure to be productive. Our guide, Steven Choco, takes us on two early morning bird walks. This morning we plan to bird the lodge property, which sits on thirty acres on a long meander of the Rio Grande and includes riparian, secondary growth forest, disused agricultural land, orchard, and meadow habitats. Species we search for include Black-faced Antthrush, Barred Antshrike, Great Antshrike, Bare-crowned Antbird, Black-and-white Owl, Crimson-collared Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Black-crowned Tityra, Pale-billed Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, and Stub-tailed Spadebill.
After an excellent breakfast, we stay with Steven Choco for more birding on the lodge grounds. Then, in the late morning we head out with a packed lunch. All of the field trips from the lodge are within a thirty-minute drive, meaning less time in vehicles and more time outdoors. Depending on what’s being seen at the time of our visit, we may head to Blue Creek Village or a similar site (Forest Home), both featuring mature broadleaf and gallery tropical forests with riparian understory habitats.
Birding at both sites can be excellent, with important species in field and forest edge habitats include Striped Cuckoo, Bronzed and Giant Cowbirds, Plain-breasted Ground Dove, Blue-black Grassquit, Scaly-breasted Hummingbird, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, and Scrub Euphonia. The gorgeous Crimson-collared Tanager and closely related Passerini’s Tanager (the latter a specialty for southern Belize) are also both found along the road into Blue Creek (as well as on the lodge grounds). Less common raptors like Gray-headed and Double-toothed Kites are occasionally seen here, together with the common Roadside Hawk.
Birding mature forests in these areas can yield a number of intriguing mid-canopy and understory species, including Lesson’s Motmot, Little and Great Tinamou, Collared Trogon, White-breasted Wood Wren, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Red-capped Manakin, Black-crowned Antshrike, and the seldom seen Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher. Along the forest margins we look for Collared Aracari, as well as White-whiskered Puffbird and Rufous-tailed Jacamar, the latter species typically sitting motionless for extended periods as they wait for large insect prey.
We may venture down to Punta Gorda to check out the shore or bird at a friend’s lodge where flowering gardens attract a different mix of species. Then back for drinks on the deck and a great dinner, artfully prepared.
Accommodations at The Lodge at Big Falls (B,L,D)
Thurs., Nov. 16: Blue Creek or Guide’s Choice | Sunset at the Dump Rice Fields
Steve is such a master birder, and we like to allow him some choices to make the most of the moment. We may choose Blue Creek, a great hike with some primary forest and attendant elusive species; or, we may rise early to leave for birding among mature forest about two miles from the coast at Punta Gorda. The area is home to a troop of Yucatan Black Howler Monkeys that we have a good chance of seeing and hearing in the forest canopy. There are local pocket wetlands where we look for Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, and other egrets as well as roosting Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
We return to Big Falls for lunch at Pearleen’s restaurant. This is Caribbean food like you’ve never seen, almost reason to book the trip! We may visit a local spice farm during the mid-day quiet hours, a fascinating operation with tropical spices grown from around the world.
Before sunset we have the option to visit what is known as the “Dump Rice Field,” an expanse of rice paddies and swamps located a short drive from the lodge. The road passing through sits on an elevated causeway, with side tracks leading into the marshy areas. Key species here include Sora, Ruddy and Uniform Crake, Purple Gallinule, White-throated Flycatcher, Least Bittern, Short-tailed Hawk, Limpkin, and Common Tody-Flycatcher. Dinner this evening is at the lodge.
Accommodations at The Lodge at Big Falls (B,L,D)
Fri., Nov. 17: Nim Li Punit | San Felipe Hills
After grabbing coffee, juice, and a roll, our early morning birding outing today with Steven Choco focuses on the Nim Li Punit Maya site, located just six miles from the lodge. Nim Li Punit, which is Kekchi Maya for “Big Hat,” dates from the Maya Classic Period that flourished from the 5th through the 8th Century AD, and consists of three distinct plazas and several step-pyramids. In 2015, the second largest carved jade artifact in Belize was discovered here. The site itself is set high in mature forest with fantastic views east across the coastal plain to the cays in the Gulf of Honduras.
The area offers some very good birding, including several woodpeckers (Lineated, Pale-billed, Smoky-brown, and potentially Chestnut-colored) and woodcreepers (Streak-headed, Wedge-billed, and Ivory-billed), as well as various migrant warblers and vireos. Other possible highlights include White-crowned Parrot, Keel-billed Toucan, White-throated Thrush, Hook-billed Kite, Red-legged and Green Honeycreeper, Bat Falcon, Yellow-bellied Tyrannulet, Blue Grosbeak, Montezuma Oropendola, and Rose-throated Becard.
We return for a proper breakfast, and then head out for the San Felipe Hills, a karst landscape about 12 miles from the lodge. Our goal is to bird across an orange grove (Belizean orchards are not the manicured settings we’re used to at home, and can be great for birding), and eventually arrive at the karst limestone foothills of San Felipe that rise to a height of around four hundred feet. As the ground slopes upwards, we enter a broadleaf forest. We look for some of the most difficult to locate species in Belize, including Tody Motmot, Rufous Piha, Rufous Mourner, Northern Schiffornis, Nightingale Wren, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, White-winged Becard, Tawny-crowned Greenlet, and Northern Barred Woodcreeper.
As the day heats up, we head to Ixcacao Maya Belizean Chocolate a small twenty-year old business run by Juan and Abelina Cho. We have lunch there with a chocolate themed main course and a selection of beautiful vegetable dishes from their own gardens. We also have a chance to try a variety of chocolate flavors such as chocolate with salt, chili, cardamom, ginger, and coconut and learn about the chocolate making process. We return to the lodge for a break—swimming or kayaking, or perhaps a good book and a hammock on your veranda.
We gather on the lodge’s porch this evening to update bird lists and review the day, and after dusk we may get lucky and hear (or even see) one or more of the resident Black-and-white Owl, which previously nested on the lodge grounds (and were recorded here in 2017 and 2018). We should also see Common Pauraque and Lesser Nighthawk flitting across the dusky sky before we head inside. Dinners at Big Falls are excellent, often featuring fresh seafood and Belizean beef, with local fruits and vegetables—a perfect end to the day and the tour.
Accommodations at The Lodge at Big Falls (B,L,D)
Sat., Nov. 18: Departures
Our adventure comes to an end today. This morning we drive the 30 minutes to Punta Gorda and board a Tropic Air flight back to Belize City. To ensure a smooth connection, please plan your international flight to depart after 1:00 PM today. (B)
Walkway at Pook's Hill Lodge, courtesy of Pook's Hill Lodge
Jabiru Stork by Bryan Calk
Tanager Rainforest Lodge, courtesy of Tanager Rainforest Lodge
Tanager Rainforest Lodge Bedroom, courtesy of Tanager Rainforest Lodge
Gartered Trogon by Bryan Calk
White-collared Manakin by Bryan Calk
Pool at Tanager Rainforest Lodge, courtesy of Tanager Rainforest Lodge
Tanager Rainforest Lodge
Blue Bunting by Bryan Calk
Tanager Rainforest Lodge Dining Room, courtesy of Tanager Rainforest Lodge
Caracol Mayan Ruins
Cost of the Journey
Cost of the main tour is $4490 DBL / $5180 SGL per person, based on double occupancy, from Belize City. Cost includes: all accommodations; all meals as stated in the itinerary; group airport transfers; ground transportation within Belize; domestic flight at the end of the journey; professional guide services; park, preserve, and other activity fees; and miscellaneous program expenses. Tour price does not include: roundtrip airfare to and from Belize City or items of a personal nature such as laundry, porterage, telephone charges, or alcoholic beverages. Gratuities for your local lodge guides in Belize are not included, these are at your discretion, but highly appreciated and recommended.
Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.
Arrival and Departure Airport: Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City
Arrival Details: Plan to arrive November 8, no later than 2:00 PM
Departure Details: Plan November 18 flights after 1:00 PM After breakfast, we have a morning flight back to Belize City. Travel Tip: You may wish to arrive a day early and rest up from your travels. While there are a few things to do in Belize City, most attractions are located about an hour away and would require a taxi or hiring a guide. The Belize Zoo is home to only native wildlife that have been abandoned, orphaned, or injured. It’s a great way to see almost 50 species of native animals. Does exploring an ancient Mayan city seem appealing? Then head about 30 miles north of Belize City to Altun Ha, an important archaeological zone that covers about 5 square miles. If you’re looking for something right in town, you can explore the rich culture and history at the Museum of Belize.
Hotel Recommendations: The Black Orchid Resort is about 20 minutes from the airport and they can arrange transfers. There is a restaurant on site and hotel staff can assist with booking outings. You can also relax on site and bird along the river. On the start date of the tour, drivers from the Black Rock Lodge can pick you up here so you do not have to go back to the airport. If you want to explore even more, you can consider 2-3 nights at the delightful Lamanai Outpost Lodge , accessed by boat.
Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.
- March 2014
- February 2016
- January 2017 (w/Cave Creek Ranch)
- February 2017 (Private Tour)
- February 2017
- January 2018
- March 2018
- January 2019
- March 2019
- January 2020
- February 2020
- March 2020
- July 2021
- October 2021
- November 2021 (Birds & Beaches)
- December 2021
- January 2022
- March 2022
- November 2022
- January 2023
- February 2023 (3 Lodge Tour)
- March 2023
James P. Smith
James brings some twenty five years of guiding experience to Naturalist Journeys. Originally from Sheffield in the United Kingdom, he discovered a love for guiding in Israel in 1995 where he helped establish the Kibbutz Lotan Center for Birdwatching in the Southern Arava Valley. Since then, he’s led hundreds of tours throughout the Northern Hemisphere for a number of UK-based tour companies. His trips to Israel and North America are especially close to his heart but he’s also led or co-led tours to Mexico (Veracruz), The Gambia, Kenya, Iceland, Scottish Highlands, Spanish Pyrenees, Central/Southern France, Greece (Lesvos), and India (Goa). An accomplished illustrator, James placed runner-up in the British Birds “Bird Illustrator of the Year” competition in 1992 and went on to have his work published in numerous birding magazines and journals. He also co-authored the two volume set A Guide to the Birding Hotspots of Israel (Published in 2000 by the Israel Ornithological Center and the S.P.N.I.). He returns to Israel every year to lead trips and remains an active member of the Israel Rarities and Distribution Committee. When not leading tours he can be found at home in Western Massachusetts with his wife Susannah and their young son Matan.
Other trips with James P. Smith
South Texas Birding & NatureDecember 2 - 10, 2023
Trinidad & Tobago: Incredible Birds & Wildlife FULLJanuary 19 - 28, 2024
Belize: Three Great Lodges Full! Check out our Best of Belize tour in FebruaryFebruary 1 - 11, 2024
Belize: Three Great Lodges Full! Check out our Best of Belize tour in FebruaryMarch 6 - 16, 2024
Lesvos, Greece: Migration!April 20 - 27, 2024
Lesvos, Greece: Migration!April 28 - May 5, 2024
Summer in Costa RicaJuly 17 - 24, 2024
- South Texas Birding & Nature
Essential Information +
This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!
Ahead of your tour:
- Make sure your passport will be valid at least three months after the date of your scheduled return to the U.S. No Visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays less than 30 days in Belize. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassy of Belize’s website for guidelines.
- Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Belize and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “Health and Inoculations” section below.
- Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
- Plan your international flight reservations to arrive into and depart from Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
- Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry- on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.
Arrival into Belize City, Philip S. W. Goldson International (BZE)
Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of our Belize operator. As a backup, contact our office (these numbers are on your emergency contact list).
We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure, and once we have all travelers completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information, so they can plan this. It is imperative that we have your correct TRAVEL information; we appreciate if you email us a copy of your flight reservation. They will check internet for your updated flight information.
Please plan to arrive into Philip Goldson International Airport in Belize City no later than 2:00 pm. Upon arrival and entering the terminal building, you will come to Immigration and then Baggage Claim and then the Customs Area.
- For Immigration, get into one of the lines for Visitors and have a copy of your hotel emergency contact list so when they ask where you are going, you have the data handy. Take a photo of this on your phone if easier for you ahead of the tour and know where you are going. After your passport has been stamped for entry, you will enter the luggage claim area.
- For baggage, have your claim stubs handy, many countries want to see these as you exit.
- For Customs, you will notice that there are two routes to exit through customs with your claimed luggage. For most of you, the exit marked “Green Line” will be your way out of the terminal. However, if you have anything to declare at customs, you must follow the “Red Line”. The “Green Line” bypasses the customs procedure to save you time. It is not always open; in which case you go through the normal “Red Line”.
Your guide will meet you upon arrival to baggage claim, and bring you to the first night hotel.
The local representative, or the front desk of your first night hotel, will have a packet with your itinerary, local information, and any schedule announcements you may need. Our guide for the journey will provide you with an overview of your trip at an orientation meeting the first night of the trip, or the first breakfast following, depending on client arrival times.Please make yourself at home at your first night hotel– the front desk staff will assist you.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Departures from Belize City, Philip S. W. Goldson International (BZE)
You have to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return, so we do not advise booking early morning flights; after 1pm is recommended.
We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day. The departure fee is now typically built into your airline fare.
Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.
Passports, Visas & Documents
You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for three months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact the Belize embassy website for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information- Pages/Belize.html
It is always smart to check for policy changes 60-90 days before tour departs but at the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays of this tour's duration. You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.
As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep hard and digital backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a hard copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), the airline barcode on your luggage. This will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary – we hope everyone will always keep travel documents close so that losing them will not be an issue.
General Health & Inoculations Information - Be Prepared!
We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency.
Anti-malarial drugs are not required for any area that you visit. There are occasional reports of Dengue Fever in lower elevation areas, for which there is no vaccine. Dengue fever, Zika, and other diseases are contacted by mosquito bites so be sure to use mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin. At the time of writing, the risk of malaria is perceived to be low in Belize. The best precaution is to dress with long sleeves and spray up. More information can be found at redplanet.travel/mdtravelhealth/destinations/belize.
Vaccinations: Please bring your up-to-date vaccination records with you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4- 6 weeks before departing on your trip. A helpful resource for planning is the CDC's website for Belize (USA) or by phone (800) CDC-INFO or (800) 232-4636.
Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage. Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.
Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).
We generally follow the published itinerary but do network with other guides and may make changes if we hear of great bird sightings or a new opportunity. The joy of our travel is tremendous flexibility, and we make every effort to do the things you particularly want to do. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of the trip is moderate, with some early morning departures, extensive field time and now some options for hikes. It is also easy to take it at a vacation pace! You can pace yourself within our typically active schedule.
Weather & Climate
The climate in Belize is tropical, and in general, the weather during your stay should be humid with warm to hot temperatures (75-90°F) in the lowlands, but can cool off into the high 50°Fs to mid-60°Fs in the early morning and evenings. The hot and rainy season ranges from June-October, while November-February have slightly cooler temperatures (though still warm and tropical!) with tapering rainfall. February-May begin with the dry season, that eases into the hotter and wetter summer months. Be sure to remember your rain gear, as the rain, at times, may be quite intense - a light rain jacket or poncho is good and YES do bring an umbrella. Boat tours when there is cloud cover can be cool. Your raincoat can double as a layer to combine with a light jacket possibly some evenings.
Annoyances & Hazards
Mosquitoes can occur in the forests; therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. At grassland or farm locations you will encounter chiggers, if so, spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks, this helps a lot. When back, be sure to shower and air out your clothing. Chiggers are a part of lowland and mid-elevation habitats throughout Central and South America. Your guide should have a good read on if it has been wet enough that they are active. There can also be poisonous snakes and insects, though encountering them is rare. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember the sun is strong and be prepared with proper protection.
Food & Drinks
Menus at lodges and restaurants are varied, sustainably based on the wonderful local ingredients available, and delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. As with any case when traveling we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages. This is the best way to avoid any unwanted problems. Ask for recommendations from your hotel or refer to a guidebook such as Frommers. Meals reflect the contributions of American, European, Spanish, and local cuisines.
The CDC considers tap water in Belize not safe to drink. Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; if convenient we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles.
Packing, Clothing & Laundry
Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. Again, the climate is warm to hot, so you will be comfortable in lightweight clothing.
Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot; you just do not need much to cope with tropical life! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out your hopeful things to take and then do a serious paring down please! Hair dryers are available at most Lodges.
TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!
The official currency in Belize is the Belizean Dollar. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com, or your bank. U.S. dollars in good condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency. If you have U.S. dollars, then there is no need to exchange currency before your trip since it is accepted at almost any business. If you would like local currency, you won’t need to exchange much money since you can use U.S. dollars at most places. You will be able to change money after your arrival at banks or hotels, though ATM machines are available in Belize City at the airport. Out of the airport they are infrequently available.
When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey.
Major credit cards are accepted in Belize. We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.
Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.
Tipping is optional and completely at your discretion. If you would like to show our appreciation to your guides, lodge and hotel staff or anyone associated with this tour, it is entirely appropriate. Know that they appreciate anything you care to give and of course you can do more if you wish! Lodges normally have a box for tips that the staff share, and hotels you would just tip the maids as you do at home. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services.
Here is a standard suggestion for tipping on birding trips:
- Birding tour guide: US $10.00 - $15.00 per day per guest
Note: If there is more than one guide, this can be split among them, so that is a total, per person, per day
- Tour driver if different from guide: US $5.00 - $7.00 per person/day
- Lodge staff: US $6.00 - $10.00 per day per guest
- Transfer (airport shuttle) driver: US $2.00 - $3.00 per person
- Hotel & international airport bellmen: US $1.00 per suitcase
You may wish to bring small gifts for local people that you meet and enjoy (this is totally optional!). T-shirts, school supplies like pens and small notebooks, inexpensive watches and baseball caps are always popular. Your guides can pass along school supplies to a local school if you bring them. They also love any nature books/coloring books.
Cell Phones & Internet Service
If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be turn on your
phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one). Renting an international phone may also be an option.
If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.
Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.
Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.
Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.
The standard in Belize is the same as in the United States and Canada: 110 volts AC (60 cycles). Plugs are set up in the same style. However, three-pronged outlets can be scarce and existing three-prong outlets may feature even-sized flat blade plugs, so it's helpful to bring along adapters for both two- and three-prong outlets. For more information: www.power-plugs- sockets.com/belize
Belize does not observe daylight savings time and is on the same time as our Central Zone in the U.S. A great website if you want to tell someone to check ahead of calling you is www.timeanddate.com.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!
Pace & Protocols +
Pace of the Tour & What to Expect
You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.
Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.
The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.
We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.
Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role
Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.
Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.
As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.
Photo Release & Sharing
We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.
By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.
You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global Rescue, World Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.
Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.
Packing List +
Please Pack Lightly!
Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage. Be sure your name and address are printed on the inside of the bag as well as on the luggage tag. Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, identification, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. Your carry-on bag must be able to fit under the seat, or it will be taken away by airline staff and put with the regular luggage. You will want a daypack for field trips, so this is the ideal carry-on. We recommend that you check with your airline a week or so before your departure regarding luggage weight and size restrictions.
In general, the weather during your stay should be warm to hot (75-90°F) in the lowlands, but at least 20° cooler in the early morning and evening. Check your favorite weather website closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.
Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation. But if you like to wear them, you can bring shorts. Choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. A light jacket should be enough in the cooler evenings and on boat rides. Water shoes are great when on the boats.
Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended, and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.
Clothing & Gear
- Lightweight long pants, 2 pair
- Lightweight long sleeve shirts – 2 or 3
- Shorts (optional)
- T-shirts or equivalent (1 per every other day recommended – remember you may buy some there!)
- Personal underclothing
- Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry
- Comfortable walking/hiking shoes such as tennis shoes
- Lightweight hiking boots. Please note that forest trails will be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – good tread and support are essential!
- Sandals for evenings, travel days, and for wearing on boats (optional, TEVA style are great)
- Lightweight raincoat or poncho
- Lightweight jacket, fleece fabric is ideal
- Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes or a skirt, sundress, etc.)
- Bathing suit
- Hat with broad brim
- Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty. They even make them with a gel inside for several hours of cooling)
- Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets
Equipment & Miscellaneous
- Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
- Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
- A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
- As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the ID and entry stamp pages.
- Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
- Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
- Walking stick – we find that many travelers appreciate a walking stick on trails, sporting goods stores carry collapsible models that pack easily in your suitcase (optional)
- Small flashlight with fresh batteries. Please note that if you like to read at night, lighting in other countries is often poor in the rooms, and you may want to bring a booklight, headlamp, or flashlight for this purpose.
- Alarm clock
- Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
- Sunglasses with neck strap
- Insect repellent (something containing DEET, and sulphur powder or other for chiggers (try a garden store)
- Toiletry articles
- Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
- Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
- Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
- Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
- Field guides (optional)
- Sink plug (often not available, a flat universal one is easiest to use)
- Washcloth (again, available some places and not at others)
- Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
- Earplugs – in urban and even rural areas barking dogs and traffic noise can be annoying
Rechargeable power bank (optional)
- Snorkeling gear if at a beach lodge (available on sight as a rental, additional cost. If a regular snorkeler, you will want to bring your own mask and snorkel, perhaps rent fins)
- Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)
WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!
Medical & First Aid
- Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
- Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions)
- Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments (Imodium or Lomotil, antihistamine cream or tablets, eye drops, etc.)
- Copy of eyeglass prescription, copy of medical prescriptions, and any medical alerts
- Heath insurance and vaccination information (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
- Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
- Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
- Antibacterial hand soap or hand sanitizer, small vial
Suggested Reading List +
These books are, of course, optional, but recommended to help you get the most out of your trip.
Merlin App – Belize Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Belize
Wildlife & Nature
History & Culture
There is a good selection of books available for sale at visitors’ centers, and your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.
Useful Links +
Nature, Wildlife & Biology
Audubon - Birding and Ecotourism in Belize
Belize total country bird list with status
Birds of Belize –iNaturalist
Endemics of Belize
Hopkins Wetlands Sightings
List of Butterfly species from Wikipedia
Hummingbirds of Belize
Yucatán Black Howler Monkey
Blue Hole National Park
Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve Fauna
Pook’s Hill Reserve
Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Organization
Convention on Biological Diversity – Belize
Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center
National Geographic article – “The Struggle to Protect a Vital Jaguar Corridor”
Government biodiversity report - Extensive and Technical
Geology & Geography
Geology of Belize
Geography of Belize
History & Culture
History of Belize
Culture of Belize
Belize Country Profile – BBC News
National Geographic Article “Who Were The Maya?: Decoding The Ancient Civilization’s Secrets”
Helpful Travel Websites
Philip SW Goldson International Airport (BZE)
National Passport Information Center
Homeland Security Real ID Act
Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
Foreign Exchange Rates
U.S. Department of State International Travel Information – Belize
Canada Travel and Tourism - Belize
Travel Health Pro (UK) - Belize
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) - Belize
Electricity and Plugs - Belize
Date, Time, and Holidays - Belize
Photo credits: Banners: Black Howler Monkey (Peg Abbott), Keel-billed Toucan (Bryan Calk), Black Rock Lodge View (courtesy of Black Rock Lodge), Montezuma Oropendola, Margay Thumbnails: King Vulture, Hummingbird (Bryan Calk), Ocellated Turkeys (Bryan Calk), Scarlet Macaw, Red-legged Honeycreeper (Bryan Calk), Northern Jacana (Bryan Calk)< Northern Tamandua, Boat-billed Heron (Bryan Calk)