Red-lored Parrots are frequently seen around Chan Chich. Photo: Anthony Collerton
The vast jungle of northwestern Belize stretches unbroken into Mexico to the north and Guatemala to the west and encompasses the largest tract of contiguous forest north of the Amazon. Within this wilderness lies arguably the finest lodge in all of Central America. Founded in 1988, Chan Chich Lodge is situated on the main plaza of an ancient Mayan ceremonial site and lies within a private reserve where hunting has been prohibited for many years. The abundance and diversity of wildlife at Chan Chich is difficult to imagine. A typical assemblage of birds seen as we enjoy breakfast or lunch on the verandah might include Ocellated Turkey, Mealy, Red-lored and Brown-hooded Parrots, Stripe-throated and Long-billed Hermits, Scaly-breasted and Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Yellow-olive and Ochre-bellied Flycatchers, Red-capped and White-collared Manakins, Blue-gray and Yellow-winged Tanagers, Yellow-throated and Olive-backed Euphonias, White-collared Seedeater and Montezuma Oropendola! More gthan 350 species of birds have been recorded at Chan Chich, and the area also supports the largest population of the five cat species in all of Belize. Yucatan Black Howlers roar from treetops surrounding the lodge, and troops of Spider Monkeys are seen regularly. A relaxed naturalist could have a wonderful experience without ever leaving the main clearing!
This is, frankly, an expensive tour. However we know of no other place where accommodation and food of such high standard are in such close proximity to superb habitat. We’ll spend a week at this magical place, exploring the extensive trail system, making the occasional trip to outlying areas and enjoying the amenities of a first-class lodge.
Day 1: The tour begins at 5:30 PM in Belize City. Night near Belize City.
Days 2-7: An early morning flight on day 2 will take us to Gallon Jug, followed by a short drive to Chan Chich. Much of our time at Chan Chich will be spent slowly exploring the nearly nine miles of well-maintained trails that radiate out from the lodge. The trails traverse a variety of habitats from lush rainforest along the River and Logger’s Trails and Sylvester Village Road to scrubbier forest along the Bajo Trail and the road to Xaxe Venic. Quiet pools along Chan Chich Creek often provide convenient afternoon bathing spots for an astonishing array of birds and flowering trees near the suspension bridge attract virtually all the local hummingbird species. Near Norman’s Temple, Back Plaza and King’s Tomb, the unexcavated ruins hidden under a blanket of tropical hardwood forest create an oddly hilly environment, prime habitat for motmots and puffbirds. Along with a wide array of common forest species, we’ll make an effort to see the specialties of the area including Agami Heron, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Great Curassow, Purple-crowned Fairy, Tody Motmot, Scaly-throated Leaftosser, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Plain Antvireo, Yucatan Flycatcher, White-bellied Wren and Gray-throated Chat.
“Rich is excellent company. His vast knowledge and enthusiasm for every bird, bug, and creature made all our excursions interesting and fun. The staff of our very comfortable accommodation was very friendly and helpful, too. From the moment we met Rich at the airport, everything went smoothly—every detail had been thought of.”
- Joan and Bill Murdoch
Our days will usually be broken up into a series of short outings, with a mid-day or late afternoon siesta. For those who wish to take more time away from the group, there will be ample opportunity to take a longer break by the pool or take a walk on your own or with a local guide.
In addition to the trail system surrounding the lodge, we’ll make several driving excursions in search of species scarce or absent at Chan Chich. One morning we’ll head to the Escarpment where, along with a magnificent vista of unbroken forest along the Guatemala border, we may see raptors such as Swallow-tailed and Double-toothed Kites, Ornate Hawk-Eagle and White Hawk at eye level as they ride updrafts off the ridge. On another morning we’ll visit Laguna Seca, a small wetland where we’ll look for Pinnated Bittern, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, Sungrebe and Northern Jacana. As we pass through the open country at Gallon Jug, we’ll likely see such species as King Vulture, Pale-vented Pigeon, Fork-tailed Flycatcher and Thick-billed Seedfinch. We’ll also take a two-hour night drive to Gallon Jug to look for owls, nightjars, potoos and mammals. In the past, we’ve seen Mountain Lion and Jaguar on these night excursions although we would need to be extremely lucky to duplicate those experiences. Nights at Chan Chich Lodge.
Day 8: After spending a final morning at Chan Chich, we’ll take a late morning flight back to Belize City where the tour concludes.
Updated: 30 July 2010
- 2014 Tour Price : $3,950
- Single Occupancy Supplement : $840
* Tour invoices paid by check carry a modest discount. Details here.
This tour is limited to eight participants with one leader.