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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Belize

Tour Information

Note: The information presented here is an abbreviated version of our formal General Information for Tours to Belize. Its purpose is solely to give readers a sense of what might be involved if they take this tour. Although we do our best to make sure that what follows here is completely accurate, it should not be used as a replacement for the formal document which will be sent to all tour registrants, and whose contents supersedes any information contained here.

ENTERING BELIZE: Your passport, as a general rule, should be valid for at least six months after the date the tour ends. US, Canadian and British citizens do not need a visa to visit Belize. Citizens of other countries may require visas. You should contact the Belize embassy for more details: Embassy of Belize, 2535 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20008, tel: (202) 332 9636, fax: (202) 332 6888 (also deals with inquiries from Canada).

There may be a departure tax of about USD $32.50 to be paid at the airport when you leave (though this is now often included in the airfare).

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Belize.html, and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Belize at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/bh.html.

HEALTH: The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list. Specific vaccinations and proof thereof may be required to enter the country.For entry and exit information please visit the U.S. State Department’s website. We strongly recommend contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure.

No specific inoculations are necessary, although up-to-date tetanus protection is a good idea. There is a very low risk of malaria in the rural areas of Belize. Please check with your doctor or local health department as to advisability of your taking a malaria preventative. You might also want to discuss with your doctor the need for vaccinations for typhoid and hepatitis A, as there is some risk of these diseases in Belize (as in most developing countries). Special medications may be unavailable so bring enough to cover your needs for the entire trip.

We have found that with proper eating habits, intestinal problems can be largely avoided. In most of Belize, it is unwise to drink untreated water, although bottled water and soft drinks are reliable and available everywhere we go.

Don’t forget that the tropical sun can be very intense, particularly on the Caribbean coast. Please bring adequate protection from the sun, including a sun hat and a strong sunscreen of at least SPF15 rating. We recommend, as well, wearing long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Biting insects can be locally numerous, but are rarely a problem in the dry season. Careful application of repellant provides good protection and the leader will advise you when it will be necessary. We recommend using insect repellents with a high concentration of DEET. Care must be taken, however, to avoid getting the DEET repellent on optical equipment as DEET dissolves rubber and plastic and can damage coated lenses. Camping supply stores and outfitters carry some reasonably effective alternatives that contain natural products and aren’t corrosive.
Several species of poisonous snakes are present in Belize though we rarely encounter them. Watching where you step and keeping to well-cleared paths should prevent any problems. 

PACE OF THE TOUR: As on most tours to the Neotropics, early starts are important for seeing and hearing the birds while mid-day is best for watching butterflies. This is countered by the option for an afternoon siesta and only 12 hours of daylight, so late nights are not a problem. Although this is not a particularly strenuous tour, much of the time spent birding will be spent on foot so bear this in mind if you have difficulty walking. There will be at least one boat trip that won’t require walking. The terrain is flat to somewhat hilly and most trails are quite clear while others have rocks or exposed roots. Breakfasts are usually at 5:30 a.m. at our accommodation. Lunches are either in the field or at the lodge. Dinners are at the lodge.

ACCOMMODATIONS: Bird’s Eye View Lodge is situated on the shores of Crooked Tree Lagoon and has comfortable air-conditioned rooms with private bathroom facilities. A large upstairs deck provides a stunning view of the Crooked Tree Lagoon which is often teeming with birds. La Milpa Ecolodge and Research Center on the Rio Bravo is located only three miles from the third largest archaeological site in Belize, the La Milpa Mayan Site, and offers comfortable, though somewhat rustic, accommodations under a beautiful thatched roof. Each room offers hot water, a private bathroom, and fans for keeping cool. Black Rock Lodge is nestled in diverse foothill forest along the edge of the Macal River and runs almost entirely on solar and hydro power. All rooms are beautifully constructed and offer breathtaking views of the canyon and river below. The food at Black Rock Lodge is exquisite, and most of the produce is grown on their organic farm (which is also a great place for birds so). Their herd of goats provides fresh milk and cheese and their free roaming chickens provide eggs. Other food resources are locally sourced. Bocawina Lodge offers comfortable, standard rooms with a lovely view of Mayflower’s Antelope Waterfall.

Wifi is available at all the lodges but may be very slow in some locations.

FOOD: WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. While our restaurants and ground agents make every effort to insure the comfort of all participants, we cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Many restaurants offer set menus and are unable to accommodate all special requests within a group. Thus, participants with significant food allergies or special dietary needs should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot, regretfully, be accommodated. Our tours are carefully scheduled to insure the best possible birding experience. Meal times can generally not be adjusted; any participant who needs to eat earlier or later than the times scheduled for the group should bring supplemental food with them. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

LANGUAGE: The official language of Belize is English, though Spanish is widely used, and both languages are spoken countrywide. In coastal areas one may encounter Creole, a mixture of broken English, Carib and Spanish.

CURRENCY: The currency of Belize is the Belizean dollar, with an exchange rate of about two Belizean dollars equal to one U.S. dollar. U.S. dollars can be used everywhere in Belize. U.S. dollar traveler’s checks and credit cards are accepted most places.

CLIMATE: Although March is the dry season, we could encounter rain (rarely heavy or prolonged) almost anywhere, so a light rain jacket or traveling umbrella is advised. Daytime temperatures usually range from 70-90° F dropping into the 50s and 60s (F). The general nature of the climate is humid.

ELECTRICITY: Same as in the US (no need for adapters or converters). There is 24-hour electricity at all of our accommodations.

DRESS: Comfortable, light-weight clothing is appropriate, with a light sweater for evening wear.

VEHICLES: Travel will be by mini-van or small bus.

SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc.  While in the field or traveling, use of a smokeless alternative such as nicotine gum is requested. Please do not smoke at short stops while traveling. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group and leave ample time between smoking and getting back into the vehicle. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail. The leader reserves the right to modify this policy if the situation warrants it.

GENERAL INFORMATION AND CONDITIONS OF WINGS TOURS: Please take a moment to read the WINGS General Information and Conditions. This section contains important information about how we conduct tours, e.g., what is included in the tour price, refund and cancellation policies, pace of the tours, and other information that will help you prepare for the tour.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete General Information for Tours to Guatemala will be sent to each registrant on receipt of booking. Final information with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses, etc., will be mailed about three weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary.

Created: 15 July 2019