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Bird Watching with The Lodge at Chaa Creek in Belize

By 10/25/2018 3 minutes

Our latest outing for our "A Day in a Birder's Life" series took us to The Lodge at Chaa Creek, recently named as the Hotel of the Year in Belize by the Belize Tourism Board. We were invited for an overnight stay so that we could join their birding tour early in the morning. They provided transportation from downtown San Ignacio to their property, which sits on a 400 acre reserve along the banks of the Macal river about 20 minutes from town.

Our driver, Dennis, parked the van and helped us with our luggage. He guided us to the front desk where we met Ms. Lydia and Christopher. Christopher had brought out a neat presentation of four glasses of sorrel juice and mint-infused wet towels that were rolled on a wooden display tray. Each of us got to taste the sweet notes of the juice and feel the iciness of the towels as it rejuvenated our energy after the fifteen-minute car ride from San Ignacio Town.

Refreshed, we were guided to our cabins where we were going to stay for the night. On the way there, we were also shown the different buildings and amenities that the surrounding area had. This would include their signature saltwater pool, the conference room/temporary bar, and their restaurant and dining area. The premises was lovely.

We got to enjoy nature in harmony of the establishment. Ms. Lydia mentioned that "Chaa Creek didn’t go green…they started that way." None of nature’s creations were intentionally removed or demolished in order to build any of the structures on the premises. Amazing! 

Soon, nightfall hit us and we had to prepare for the next day. Although we wanted to stay up late little longer to enjoy the pool, we had to discipline ourselves to go to bed and to get up bright and early for our birding tour with Mr. Miguel. We were instructed by the concierge to meet with our guide at 6:00 a.m. in the conference room; and, we did just that.
The sun had barely risen, skies were still foggy and the atmosphere was still a bit chilly from the night wind. The only thing that we needed to be fully prepared, was a warm cup of coffee – preferably with milk and half spoon of sugar. After getting our energy boost, we were prepared to hike the trails of Chaa Creek.

After meeting with Miguel and receiving our birding gear, which included the Chaa Creek Nature Reserve Bird Guide that had a map printed on the back, some handy binoculars, and a scope, we were ready to start the birding adventure.

We begun near the pool, spotting a couple of birds that were perched on the tree branches. From the pool, we moved along the paved pathway that led to the entrance and parking lot. At the parking lot, we were able to see several other birds like the social fly catcher.

Although bird watching has become a fun activity for me, I still can’t manage to spot any birds on my own. I don't know if it's my blurred vision, or my lack of direction to pinpoint where the bird chirps and sounds are coming from. 
As we continued on our Birding Tour, each time our guide or Nico spotted a bird or I simply saw someone pointing, I’d dash to the best location and lift the binoculars to my eyes to see which specie of avifauna it was. Some of the birds that we spotted would include Plain Chachalacas, Black-headed trogons, Golden-fronted Woodpeckers and a Tropical Pewee to name a few.

We hiked the Chaa Creek trails until we were led back to the area where the restaurant and cabins were. On a couple of the palm trees, there were two cute little Collared Aracari Toucans nestled in a bunch of red fruits that grew out of the tree. They enjoyed these fruits before they flew off to a bigger tree in the distance. We were also able to spot a Keel-billed Toucan! Even though I knew what the National Bird of Belize looked like, I was still excited to see this beautiful bird and its colorful beak – it is Belizing.com’s mascot, after all.

I hurried to our guide so he could show me where this bird was. Sadly, I moved a little too slow and it had already flown away. -*Insert sad face here*- Mr. Miguel consoled my disappointment with a sight of two killer-sized iguanas chilling on a tree branch. These iguanas seemed like they thought they were birds too, perching on the branch and absorbing the sun’s warmth!

Overall, we spotted around forty species of birds on our trip. Birding with The Lodge at Chaa Creek was a wonderful experience. Not only did we get to go birding in their expansive 400-acre private nature reserve, we also had the opportunity of visiting their natural history center and butterfly farm. To get there, we had to climb around a hundred steps through a pathway of trees and other local plants. This was a great way to end our day at The Lodge at Chaa Creek!

A sincere thank you to The Lodge at Chaa Creek and all its employees who were so helpful and hospitable to us! It was a very successful and fun bird watching tour with Mr. Miguel. Our overnight stay and the food was beyond amazing! If you ever want to be wildly civilized, take a visit to The Lodge at Chaa Creek and let’s do some birding in Belize!

Learn More
/ Person
Departs From:
Orange Walk Town
Bird Watching Belize Tour Early morning river expedition or walking tour Whether you are a beginner and want to see a great variety of tropical birds, or an experienced birder with ... morea checklist of target sightings, throughout our property and the New River you will find birding packages to suit your preference.

During your Belize vacation and across various habitats you can see many of the 500+ birds that have been recorded here.
/ Group
Departs From:
Belmopan City
Belize is known for so many wonderful things- wildlife, cave systems, exotic rainforests- but a fascination with the birds of Belize has become one of the TOP nature-based activities ... moreon demand. The Belizean rainforest and savannahs contain some of the most exotic & colorful birds of Central America. With over 500 known bird species, you will have ample opportunities to see these beautiful creatures during your 4 nights stay at Caves Branch.

Explore the countryside with this unique Belize vacation package created specifically for birding enthusiasts who want more nature-based activities that focus on a growing attraction in Belize. Venture out on each of the daily activities in search of some of the unique winged creatures including the national bird of Belize- the Keel-billed Toucan or the exotic Mot-Mot bird the noisy Toucanets. Capture a Black-headed trogon and be enthralled with the natural beauty and distinct sounds. Learn about conservation efforts in Belize to save and protect some of the most endangered native species. This birding package can be done alone OR can be combined with a beach destination as the grand finale to an amazing vacation in Belize!

Caves Branch Tropical Feathers- Bird Watching Package

6 nights in a lovely Jungle Cabana

Daily buffet breakfast, lunch on tours, and buffet dinner enjoyed family style

Unlimited local beers, local rum mixed drinks, juices, sodas, coffee, tea, and water

4 Full Day Guided Birding Tours + 1 Additional Full Day Adventure Tour of Choice
**Surcharges apply for Tikal Maya Ruins tour, ATM Cave, Diving, Snorkelling, River of Caves 7 Mile Tour combined w/ Ziplining

Jungle Safari After Dark Tour (approx. 2 hours) which leaves right after dinner time

Roundtrip shuttle service to & from Belize City (includes international or municipal airports)

All Taxes Included
/ Person
Departs From:
This tour begins just before daybreak with a drive through Sittee River where the lush vegetation attracts many species of birds in Belize. Be sure to keep your eyes open and your ... morebinoculars handy as you are bound to encounter spectacular plumage, stirring calls, and the steady drumming of a hummingbird’s wings.

Some of the tropical birds often spotted in the area are keel-billed toucans, fork-tailed flycatchers, tropical kingbirds, Amazon kingfishers, blue crowed mot-mot, and harpy eagles.
/ Adult
Departs From:
Belize City
View some Belize of the most beautiful birds in the tropical wetland; Birding-by-Boat Cruise At The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary is the perfect location for Birds in Belize. This ... moreincredible wetland ecosystem is the largest of its kind in northern Belize and is 30 miles north of Belize City. Mother Nature has designed this huge lagoon just for birds. It’s home to most of Belize's 574 species of birds found in the country, including One the largest flying Bird in the Americas Jabiru Stork, different species of Birds Like egrets and herons, and even the magnificent Northern Jacana just to name a few. But birds aren’t the only animals you can see on this cruise. On this cruise will have a high possibility To see Morlet crocodiles, green as well as spiny tail iguanas, and even howler monkeys.
/ Person
Day 1: AIRPORT/CRYSTAL PARADISE You will be met at the airport by your Belizean bird guide and transferred to your jungle lodge accommodations. Optional stop to visit the Belize Zoo ... more(entrance fee not included, US$15/pp). We check into our accommodations at Crystal Paradise after a short orientation.
O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. /D

Day 2: MACAL RIVER CANOEING – morning or afternoon
Canoeing on the Macal River. While canoeing we have the chance to see Neotropic Cormorants, Mangrove Swallows, Kingfishers, Gray-necked Wood-rails and other wildlife that frequent the riverbanks such as iguanas sunning themselves on the rocks and trees.
O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

We will make an afternoon visit to El Pilar, a Maya site, and flora/fauna reserve. It is excellent for birding, and hiking, and provides an insight into Belize’s sub-tropical forests. We will make stops along the way to view such birds as the Collared Manakins and Honeycreepers an array of flycatchers etc. We will then return to our accommodations after witnessing a Belizean sunset.
O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

Day 4: Mountain Pine Ridge/Rio on Pools/Rio Frio Caves
The Cayo District’s principal town of San Ignacio is the gateway to some of Belize’s most precious ecological gems. After breakfast at the hotel, we will experience the wonders of Mountain Pine Ridge.

Bring along your walking shoes, swimwear, and adventurous mind for a full day of activity. The reserve is teaming with hills and valleys, rivers and falls, swimming holes and caves, all surrounded by the majestic beauty of Pine Forests. Our main stops will be at the Rio Frio Caves, Rio on Pools, and weather and road conditions permitting, you’ll get a chance to see the 1000 ft. Hidden Valley Waterfalls. Bring along your binoculars, as there is much to see in the line of exotic flora and fauna, endemic only to this extremely rugged, but beautiful part of the county. Lunch is included before returning back to Crystal Paradise Resort. O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

Day 5: Spanish Lookout & Laguna Aguacate
A 45-minute drive north of Crystal Paradise through rolling green hills brings you to Spanish Lookout, a modern-day Mennonite settlement reminiscent of Pennsylvania farmlands. Several different habitats in the area make it a favorable birding destination. The area consists of Savannah, open farmland, and subtropical forest around the lake. In the open land and pastures, it is easy to find Vermillion Flycatchers, Fork-tailed Flycatchers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, White-Tailed Kites and Hawks, Laughing Falcons, Meadowlarks, Swallows, Herons, Jabiru storks just to name a few. Aguacate Lagoon Reserve is located about 20 minutes beyond the community and provides a birdwatcher’s paradise. In the forest around the lake common sighting may include Jacamars, Trogons, Puff-birds, Crested Guans, and Great Curassows. Other birds may include Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Night Herons, rails, and Crakes. O/N Crystal Paradise Resort. B/L/D

After breakfast, you will be transferred to Belize City/Belize Airport.B/

** itinerary is subject to change once here due to weather conditions or unforeseen events***
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
INLAND BLUE HOLE BIRDWATCHING Belize is a birdwatcher’s paradise! As many as 587 birds have been recorded in Belize and, of these, approximately 20 percent are migrants from North ... moreAmerica. Every year new species are documented. Eight new records were accepted in 2007, including the Crested Caracara, Canada Goose, and Spot-breasted Oriole. For those interested in exploring the diversity and beauty of the avifauna of the diverse habitats MayaWalk expert birdwatching guides will point out tiny iridescent hummingbirds, impressive raptors, and various migratory and endemic songbirds. One of the best places to go on a Belize birding tour is St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park, a beautiful protected area along the scenic Hummingbird Highway.

This small park covers 575 acres and has two natural features open for touring, St. Herman’s Cave: a beautiful crystalline cave in the limestone hills, and the Blue Hole: a clear sinkhole filled with turquoise waters, perfect for a swim. A series of lovely hiking trails over various landscapes take visitors into the jungle where the foliage, tropical flowers, and rainforest canopy are the feeding and nesting grounds for hundreds of species of birds. For those interested in finding out more about the amazingly diverse avifauna of Belize we recommend purchasing Birds of Belize (University of Texas Press) by H. Lee Jones, illustrated by Dana Gardner-- a must-have for serious birders. Published in 2003, this is the first complete guide to the identification of all the birds of Belize and it is beautifully illustrated and complete with habitat information. Our birding guides will be equipped with binoculars and a spotting scope to make the most of your birding experience. Enjoy the serene trails of the park and end the day with a lovely swim in the Blue Hole.
/ Person
Departs From:
San Ignacio Town
An opportunity to view some of Belize's most beautiful birds. There are close to 600 species of birds, including approximately 20 to 25% migrants. Cayo District is an excellent place ... morefor bird watching with locations such as El Pillar, Mountain Ridge, Spanish Lookout, etc. In addition for avid bird watchers, packages can be customized to include other excellent locations in other parts of the country such as the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, Lamanai, Blue Hole National Park, Baboon Sanctuary, Jaguar Reserve, Guanacaste National Park, and Gra Gra Lagoon and other locations. Bird-watching tours can also be combined with other tours for eg Mayan sites and nature walks.
In this episode we speak with Dorian Rivero, owner of Private Belize Adventure and tour guide of over 20 years, to discuss what activities are available to visitors in and around Belize ... moreCity. Take a virtual walk-through of cave tubing destination Nohoch Che’en as well as the Mayan ruins of Altun Ha.
Guest Name:
Dorian Rivero

Angela Wu

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