Why Summer Belize? Because the rainforest biodiversity is strongest in the wet or “green” season! While you may miss some winter migrants, you find the forest replete with life, as many fascinating large insects like katydids, beetles, mantids, and butterflies emerge. Birds respond to this abundance and are active, busy feeding on the flourish of insects. Yes, it will rain—you are in a rainforest. But between this season’s dramatic and often short showers the sun pops out and with it, life revs up. In-the-know birders watching their budget also know this is a great time for good savings.

We offer Belize journeys throughout the year—it’s a close and exotic destination clients rave about. In just a few hours you are watching toucans and parrots fly, and hearing trogons alluring calls. From Lamanai Outpost Lodge we take several boat trips, finding endangered Morelet's Crocodile, iguanas, and basilisk lizards, up to five species of kingfishers, Boat-billed Heron, Gray-necked Wood-Rail, and occasionally a rarity like an Agami Heron. At night, with the aid of spotlights, we look for several species of bats, Yucatan Nightjar, Yucatan Poorwill, and Northern Potoo. At Black Rock Lodge we gaze out at pristine forest and down to the Macal River, keeping our eyes peeled for a pair of Orange-breasted Falcon that frequent here … you’ve arrived at a birding paradise.

Join us to explore Belize’s biological treasures and cultural roots. We emphasize birding, but also examine natural history and Maya heritage while having some simple, relaxing fun. We enjoy extended time at each lodge to ease travel and soak in the special attributes that give them such fine reputations. Colorful resident birds make birding each day extraordinary and fun!

Tour Highlights

  • Treat yourself to a real vacation at two of the best eco-lodges in the Neotropics
  • Enjoy three nights at the beautiful Lamanai Outpost Lodge, just a stroll away from impressive Maya ruins
  • Bird the forest canopy from above, atop two stunning Maya temples
  • Explore bird-rich lagoons by boat to find Snail Kite and colorful wading birds
  • Traverse the trails of Black Rock Lodge in search of trogons, parrots, toucans, and more
  • Wake to the noisy chorus of tinamous, forest-falcons, and motmots, right outside your door

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Mon., July 14      Arrivals | Black Rock Lodge

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.

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)

Tues., July 15        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 by citizen science effort knowledge of the region. We plan to participate too! Often greeting us in the morning are Crimson-collared and Yellow-winged Tanager, 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 of the garden flowers.

After taking advantage of the early super-charged bird activity on the grounds, we enjoy a full breakfast, choosing what you’d like to have from the breakfast menu, and never leaving the beautiful view as you dine. On the towering cliffs behind the lodge, a resident pair of Orange-breasted Falcon have occurred for many years. Vaux’s Swifts patrol the sky.

After breakfast you can have a 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 Trogon, White-necked Puffbird, and more. The lodge has an extensive trail system.

This afternoon have some fun, for those that wish, we take 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)

Wed., July 16      Spanish Lookout | Aguacate Lagoon

We leave early at day-break for a full-day adventure, to return around 4:00 PM. We drive to the Mennonite village of Spanish Lookout. In this agricultural area we find Tropical Kingbird, Vermilion and Social Flycatchers, Great Kiskadee, Morelet’s Seedeater, and Tropical Mockingbird, and Black Vultures 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.
Accommodations at Black Rock Lodge (B,L,D)

Thurs., July 17      Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve

Today we drive up into pine habitat, in search of Brown and Green Jays, orioles, and raucous groups of Plain Chachalaca which, alongside Acorn, Pale-billed and Golden-olive Woodpeckers forage in the nearby pines. With luck we also find Melodious Blackbird, Green Jay, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Masked Tityra, and Slaty-tailed Trogon as well as several hummingbirds, including Azure-crowned and White-necked Jacobin. While some of the United States’ Sky Island species breed to the north and return here to winter, we keep an eye out for lingering Greater Pewee, Grace’s Warbler, and Hepatic Tanager. Also possible are Rufous-capped Warbler, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Gray-crowned Yellowthroat, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, and Dusky-capped Flycatcher. Always we keep an eye to the sky for sightings of King Vulture overhead.
Accommodations at Black Rock Lodge (B,L,D)

Fri., July 18      Lamanai Outpost Lodge

We leave Black Rock after breakfast this morning if we have time, we stop to bird 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 have lunch at the dock before our FUN boat transfer to Lamanai. We boat we should see Mangrove Swallow, Amazon and Green Kingfishers, Limpkin, Northern Jacana, Plumbeous Kite, and, with luck, a Black-collared Hawk or a huge Jabiru. Be ready with a windbreaker, camera, and binoculars. We arrive in time to settle into our casitas and enjoy a little late-afternoon birding by the lodge before dinner.

Lamanai (Mayan for “submerged crocodile”), is located at the edge of a 28-mile spring-fed lagoon and offers rainforest, Maya ruins, pine savannahs, freshwater marshes, and open water habitats, all within walking distance. Over 400 species have been counted here, including Thicket Tinamou, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Jabiru Stork, King Vulture, Zone-tailed Hawk, Ruddy Crake, White-fronted Parrot, Squirrel Cuckoo, and Northern Bentbill. Also seen are otters, manatees, monkeys, and crocodiles. There is even the chance of seeing signs of Jaguar activity nearby.

Forest trails and Maya ruins are easily accessed at Lamanai; birds and butterflies always seem to be at arm’s length. Lesson’s Motmot, Bat Falcon, and the tiny Tody Motmot all like this area. Just a short stroll from the lodge stands the Temple of the Jaguar and the High Temple, two of about 700 Maya structures at Lamanai that were hidden under a blanket of earth and vegetation until their excavation began in 1974. These ruins date back two millennia. Climbing the temples requires a bit of effort, but the reward is great: a bird’s-eye view over the forest canopy.
Accommodations at Lamanai Outpost Lodge (D)

Sat., July 19 & Sun., July 20    Two Full Days at Fabulous Lamanai Outpost Lodge

Whether you’re well-traveled in Central America or visiting for the first time, there is much to hold your attention at Lamanai. Birds and monkeys busy themselves around the cabins; nearly 200 species of butterflies flit through the area, colorful dragonflies and damselflies buzz by, lizards ranging in size from tiny geckoes to five-foot-long iguanas lounge around, and of course, numerous herbs, shrubs, and trees attract wild tropical wonder.

One of the most interesting phenomena, and one we are likely to encounter at Lamanai and Black Rock Lodge, is an army ant march. Birds of many families attend these marches, eating the insects, frogs, lizards, and other organisms flushed by the foraging ants. Standing quietly at the margin of an ant swarm, we get close looks at faithful ant followers, including Gray-headed Tanager, Red-throated Ant-Tanager, and a number of woodcreepers, including Tawny-winged and Northern Barred. Other possibilities are White-whiskered Puffbird, several flycatchers, and more. Even birds of prey like the dainty Barred Forest-Falcon follow ant swarms—all so absorbed in the sea of insect life that they ignore our fascinated observation.

Relax at meals, so delightful at Lamanai, where open-air dining lets you be immersed in nature; local foods and tropical fruits abound!
Accommodations at Lamanai Outpost Lodge (B,L,D, both days)

Sun., July 21    Departures   

We enjoy a final breakfast before a group transfer back to the airport. (B)

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Jabiru Stork

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Purple Gallinule

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Black Howler Monkey

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Lamanai Ruins

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Keel-billed Toucan

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Squirrel Cuckoo

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai


  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    River by Lamanai

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Red-legged Honeycreeper

  • Birding Belize, Bird Watching Belize, Bird Watching Central America, Neotropical Birds, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Wildlife Photography, Ecotourism, Specialty Birds, Endemic Birds, Birding Hotspot, Lamanai

    Great Potoo

  • Ocelot, Belize, Central America, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Belize Wildlife

    Ocelot by Don Cooper

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the tour is $TBD DBL / $TBD SGL; ground transportation within Belize; professional guide services; park, preserve, and other activity fees; lodge tips; 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.

Travel Details

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 July 14, no later than 2:00 PM

Departure Details: Plan July 21 flights after 12:30 PM

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. Another option in town is the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.


Southern Belize

Map for Belize: Green Season

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

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 is in good condition and 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 (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 (BZE)

Plan your flight for after 12:30 pm.

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

At the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays in Belize of this tour's duration, however, it is always wise to check for changes 60-90 days before your tour departs. 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.

Vaccinations: The 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for Belize, or you may contact them by phone at 800-CDC-INFO (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.). 

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. 

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 referrals from your hotel or 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. 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.

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. And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

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!

Spending Money

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-socket.com.


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 Read more

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.

Travel Insurance

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 RescueWorld 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 clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com 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 Read more

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 shorts, by all means bring some.  Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are easy to launder.  Loose clothing discourages insects and is very cool. 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
  • Binoculars
  • 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 Read more

These books are, of course, optional, but recommended to help you get the most out of your trip.

Top Picks

Birds of Belize

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

Lonely Planet Belize 8

General Reading

A Natural History of Belize: Inside the Maya Forest

Maya Nature, an Introduction to the Ecosystems, Plants and Animals of the Mayan World

Field Guides

Birds of Belize

A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America

Birds of Mexico and Central America

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Birds of Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeast Mexico

A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America

A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Maya World: The Lowlands of Mexico, Northern

Wildlife & Nature

Belize: Reefs, Rainforests and Mayan Ruins

Belize and Northern Guatemala

Birds of Tropical America: A Watcher's Introduction to Behavior, Breeding, and Diversity

The New Neotropical Companion

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Tropics

Nature of the Rainforest: Costa Rica and Beyond

The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest Canopy

Life Above the Jungle Floor

History & Culture

Frommer’s Belize 

Moon Handbooks, Belize

Understanding Belize, a Historical Guide

Insight Guides, Belize

Guatemala, and Belize

Belize in Focus; A Guide to the People, Politics and Culture

Chilies to Chocolate: Foods the Americas Gave the World

The Lords of Tikal

Tikal, An Illustrated History of the Ancient Mayan Capital

Time Among the Maya

Lost Cities of the Maya

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 +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more


Encyclopedic Overviews


Mennonites in Belize

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Belize Audubon Society

Belize total country bird list with status

Birds of Belize – iNaturalist

Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve Sightings – eBird.org

Keel-billed Toucan (national bird of Belize) profile

List of Butterfly species from Wikipedia

Hummingbirds of Belize

Yucatán Black Howler Monkey

Jaguar Species profile by Belize Zoo

“The Struggle to Protect a Vital Jaguar Corridor” – Article, National Geographic

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Belize Botanic Gardens

Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Organization

Convention on Biological Diversity – Belize

Belize Zoo

Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve Fauna

Geology & Geography

Geology of Belize

Geography of Belize

History & Culture

Culture of Belize

Belizean Cuisine

Maya Civilization

Lamanai - Mayan Archeological Site

Lamanai - Jaguar Temple and High Temple

Helpful Travel Websites

Philip SW Goldson International Airport (BZE)

National Passport Information Center

Homeland Security Real ID Act

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

ATM Locator

Foreign Exchange Rates

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information – Belize

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories - Belize

Travel Health Pro (UK) - Belize

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Belize

Electricity and Plugs - Belize

Date, Time, and Holidays - Belize

Photo credits: Banner: Collared Aracari by Greg Smith; Keel-billed Toucan by Narca Moore-Craig; Red-legged Honeycreeper (NJ Stock), Howler Monkey (NJ Stock) Thumbnails: Gartered Trogon (NJ Stock), Blue-and-gray Tanager (NJ Stock), Emerald Toucanet (NJ Stock), Ocellated Turkey (Peg Abbott), King Vulture (NJ Stock), Ringed Kingfisher (NJ Stock), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (NJ Stock), Montezuma Oropendola (NJ Stock)


Like what we do?

Sign up for our weekly eNews to stay up to date!

Get to know our favorite destinations each week. We promise no spam.

No Thanks