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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary


Wednesday 26 March to Saturday 5 April 2025
Tikal Extension to Thursday 10 April
with Roland Rumm as leader
April 2026
Tikal Extension
with Roland Rumm as leader

Price: $5,490* (03/2025)

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A Horned Guan vocalizes from the canopy on San Pedro Volcano. Photo: Luke SietzA Horned Guan vocalizes from the canopy on San Pedro Volcano. Photo: Luke Sietz
  • A Horned Guan vocalizes from the canopy on San Pedro Volcano.

    A Horned Guan vocalizes from the canopy on San Pedro Volcano. Photo: Luke Sietz

  • Turquoise-browed Motmot is one of several motmots possible on the tour.

    Turquoise-browed Motmot is one of several motmots possible on the tour. Photo: Luke Seitz

  • The stunning colors of Ocellated Turkey in this close-up

    The stunning colors of Ocellated Turkey in this close-up Photo: Luke Seitz

  • The striking and unique Pink-headed Warbler is surely a highlight of this tour.

    The striking and unique Pink-headed Warbler is surely a highlight of this tour. Photo: Luke Seitz

  • Goldman's Warbler, a distinctive relative of Yellow-rumped Warbler, is found only in Guatemala.

    Goldman's Warbler, a distinctive relative of Yellow-rumped Warbler, is found only in Guatemala.

Just a three-hour flight from the US, the highlands of Guatemala’s Pacific slope are famous worldwide for holding a host of regional endemics. The improbable-looking Pink-headed Warbler might top the list, but it’s hardly outdone by other gems like Blue-throated Motmot, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo. With an expected split happening soon, one more species will soon be added to the list of specialties: nearly a Guatemalan endemic, the incomparable Goldman’s Warbler. Less well known are the great concentrations of boreal migrants—especially wood warblers—that share these cool montane forests with the vast selection of Central American specialties. Though our tour specifically targets the resident endemics, we’ll also take time to enjoy fully the diversity of the region’s birdlife.

Our Tikal Extension takes us even further back in time and into tropical lowland habitats with a completely new suite of birds. Watching Ocellated Turkeys, parrots, and perhaps even the local pair of Orange-breasted Falcons among the ruins of one of the greatest cities ever built in the New World is a treasured experience.

Day 1: Participants will be met on arrival in Guatemala City for transfer to our hotel in Antigua, often described as the most beautiful city in all of Central America. Our first introductory meeting will be at dinner at our hotel, followed by a night in Antigua.

Day 2: We’ll load up early and make the hour-long drive to Finca El Zapote, on the south slopes of Volcán de Fuego. Here, we’ll have a wonderful breakfast in the garden with our first Guatemalan birds surrounding us: Orange-fronted and Pacific Parakeets might be zipping around, Rufous-naped Wrens should be bouncing conspicuously through the trees, Turquoise-browed Motmot could perch conspicuously, and flocks of migrant warblers will mingle with Yellow-winged Tanagers and Red-legged Honeycreepers. We’ll have the full morning to explore the finca, paying special attention to the understory for Tody Motmot, Bushy-crested Jay, and whatever else might catch our eye. After lunch, we’ll continue driving towards Los Tarrales, our exciting birding destination for the next few days.

Days 3-4: We’ll have two full days to explore Los Tarrales, a private nature reserve that encompasses a wide elevation range and lots of special birds. We’ll try to cover as much habitat as possible, exploring the trails around the lodge for lower-elevation species like White-bellied Chachalaca, Turquoise-browed Motmot, Orange-fronted, Orange-chinned, and Pacific Parakeets, Long-billed Starthroat, Barred Antshrike, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Masked Tityra, Long-tailed Manakin, and White-winged Tanager. Tody Motmot is a distinct possibility, although it’s gotten more difficult to see here in recent years. The higher elevations of Los Tarrales are often productive for some of the hardest specialties of the region, including Azure-rumped Tanager, Bar-winged Oriole, and Emerald-chinned Hummingbird. Nights at Los Tarrales.

Day 5: We’ll make an early departure from Los Tarrales and drive to the south shore of Lake Atitlan, where we’ll have a full morning to look for various specialties. There are multiple birding options here, and we’ll decide on an exact plan based on what we’ve already seen at Los Tarrales. We’ll likely take a hike on a narrow forest trail that has produced goodies like Gray-collared Becard, Bar-winged Oriole, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and Blue-crowned Chlorophonia in the past. We’ll then take a boat across Lake Atitlán (a wonderful experience!) and have lunch at a lakeside hotel near Panajachel, before a three- to five-hour drive to the town of San Marcos. Night in San Marcos.

Day 6: We have a full day to explore the area around San Marcos. Our primary target in the morning will be one of the jewels of the birding world: Resplendent Quetzal. With some luck, we hope to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary male with his elongated uppertail coverts. The northern populations are vocally, visually, and genetically distinct from the birds in Costa Rica and Panama, a potential split that adds intrigue to an already intriguing bird! After lunch at a local house (with Rufous and Violet Sabrewings!), we’ll have a short break back at our hotel and continue our afternoon birding at slightly higher elevations. Here, we hope to run across birds like Pink-headed Warbler, White-naped Brushfinch, and perhaps Black Thrush. Night in San Marcos.

Day 7: We have another morning to explore San Marcos before heading further west towards Sibinal. This exciting area is relatively little-birded and we’re sure to have a fun morning of birding, with possibilities including Azure-rumped Tanager, Green-throated Mountain-gem, Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Brown-capped Vireo, Flame-colored Tanager, Hooded Grosbeak, and Blue-crowned Chlorophonia. If we’re really lucky, we might even find the scarce Black-crested Coquette. After lunch in San Marcos, we’ll drive a couple hours and wind up in the small town of Sibinal. We’ll try to arrive in time for some rest before dinner in preparation for the following morning. Night in Sibinal.

Day 8: We’ll have an early breakfast (04:30) and head to a trail on the slopes of Volcán Tacaná. Our primary target today is the enigmatic Horned Guan, which is usually but not always present – depending on recent weather conditions, we may or may not encounter the fruiting trees favored by the guan. This is a very steep hike, and we’ll be close to 10,000 feet in elevation, but it’s much shorter and easier than the other available options for Horned Guan. We’ll take it slow, birding on the way. The forest here is beautiful, full of Pink-headed Warblers, Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds, and Blue-throated Motmots. Other enticing possibilities include Yellow Grosbeak (the ultra-saturated Guatemalan (sub)species) and maybe even Black-capped Siskin. We’ll spend a full morning on the trail, followed by a simple and delicious lunch at the house of our local guide. Our afternoon plan will depend on what birds we see in the morning. We’ll be back in Sibinal for a relatively early dinner and much-needed sleep!

Day 9: Our second morning around Sibinal will be spent birding some nearby roadsides, which are thick with Pink-headed Warblers and could harbor Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo. We’ll try to clean up some of the highland species we’re still missing, perhaps including the uncommon and shy Black-throated Jay or the skulky Rufous-browed Wren. Black-capped Siskin is another target in this area. We’ll have an early lunch at a local village, and then load up for another long drive. This time, we’re heading for the town of Huehuetenango, a drive that will likely take around five hours. Night in Huehuetenango.

Day 10: Our morning will begin with bundling in all our layers, as this will surely be the chilliest day of the tour. We’ll drive to Todos Santos Cuchumatan, the best spot in the world to see the stunning Goldman’s Warbler. Once considered a subspecies of Yellow-rumped Warbler, this bird has recently been shown to have substantially different genetics. To the birder, it’s different in just about every other way too: appearance, voice, size, shape, and range! The Goldman’s is found only in Guatemala, and even here it is restricted to high-elevation areas with junipers and pines. Surely seeing this beauty will be one of the highlights of the tour. We have a full day to explore this incredible plateau, with lunch at a cozy local restaurant. Other interesting possibilities up here include Ocellated and Singing Quails, Garnet-throated Hummingbird, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, Rock Wren, Olive Warbler, Pink-headed Warbler, siskins (the strange perplexus subspecies of Pine Siskin occurs here, as well as the rarer Black-capped), and the Guatemalan subspecies of Yellow-eyed Junco and Northern Flicker (both probable splits). Night in Huehuetenango.

Day 11: Today is mostly a travel day. We’ll drive approximately two hours from Huehuetenango to Xela, where we’ll hop on a short internal flight back to Guatemala City. We should arrive around mid-day, and we’ll head straight to a farewell lunch to celebrate our time in the Guatemala highlands! We end the main tour at the airport with drop-offs for evening flights home, or transfers to your hotel for an optional extra night in the city.

Those continuing on the extension will take a short flight to Flores for the night.

Tikal Extension

Day 12: We’ll start the morning quite early near the town of Santa Ana, an area of open savannah and scrub. Before the heat sets in, we’ll make a special effort to find Black Catbird, a Yucatán specialty. The supporting cast might include Vermilion Flycatcher, Black-throated Bobwhite, Olive Sparrow, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Botteri’s Sparrow, and Gray-crowned Yellowthroat. Depending on the weather, we’ll also probably spend some time at a local reserve called Ixpanpajul, which harbors a good mix of forest species (often including Keel-billed Toucan, Black-headed Trogon, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, White-breasted Wood-Wren, and Blue Bunting).

We’ll have lunch and a mid-day break at our hotel before heading back out again. We’ll probably check some nearby marshes (by foot or by boat!) that can be loaded with Purple Gallinules, Northern Jacanas, Neotropic Cormorants, and perhaps even Least or Pinnated Bitterns.

Day 13: An early morning will see us driving to Yaxha, a short distance southeast of Tikal. Named for its proximity to the sparkling turquoise waters of the nearby lagoons, Yaxha (“Yax” = green, “Ha” = water) was occupied for some 1500 years up to about the year 900. The impressive ruins of the Maya city are aligned along an arrow-straight axis nearly a mile long and culminate in the monumental buildings of the Eastern Acropolis. The fine forest surrounding the site abounds with tropical birds, including the dramatic Pale-billed Woodpecker and a variety of colorful parrots, trogons, toucans, hummingbirds, and tanagers. We have a good chance at Yucatan Flycatcher, and perhaps Gray-throated Chat or Blue Bunting. We’ll keep an eye out overhead for King Vulture, and the resident Bat Falcon is likely to greet us too. We’ll have lunch near Yaxha and head to Tikal in the early afternoon to check into our hotel. We’ll have an optional evening outing bird around the hotel grounds and parking lot of Tikal, which is often loaded with parrots, Russet-naped Wood-Rail, Ocellated Turkey, and more! Night at Tikal.

Day 14: Guatemala’s first national park, Tikal, is, simply put, one of a kind; a combination of nature and culture without parallel. Orange-breasted Falcons nest on breathtaking pyramids, and Ocellated Turkeys wander around unconcernedly just as they likely did in the days of the classical Maya. We also have a good chance of seeing Crested Guan and another of the prizes among the cracids, Great Curassow, which is relatively confiding (but still uncommon) under the protected conditions of the national park.

We’ll make the most of our full day here, departing at 4:30am and walking into the park to experience sunrise atop one of the pyramids. This can be a great way to listen to the forest come alive at dawn, with parrots (White-crowned, White-fronted, Red-lored, and Mealy) flying around, Keel-billed Toucans and Brown Jays in the canopy, Ridgway’s Rough-winged Swallow and Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift overhead, raptors in the distance, and usually a surprise or two! Among the many other possibilities are Russet-naped Wood-Rail, White-bellied Emerald, Slaty-tailed, Gartered, and Black-headed Trogons, Tody Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Keel-billed Toucan, several species of woodcreeper including Tawny-winged, Ruddy, and Northern Barred, Northern Bentbill, Stub-tailed Spadebill, Eye-ringed Flatbill, Royal Flycatcher, White-bellied and Spot-breasted Wrens, White-collared Manakin, Black-throated Shrike-Tanager, Olive-backed Euphonia, and Montezuma Oropendola. We’ll probably see well over 100 species in total! Night in Tikal.

Day 15: We’ll spend another morning around Tikal, perhaps focusing on some secondary forest nearby for more localized specialties like Gray-throated Chat, Yucatan Flycatcher, Mangrove Vireo, and Rose-throated Tanager. Depending on flight schedules, we’ll head back to Flores at some point in the afternoon, stopping for lunch and birding along the way. We’ll fly back to Guatemala City in the afternoon or evening and enjoy a scrumptious farewell dinner before our departures home. Night in Guatemala City.

Day 16: The extension ends with transfers to the airport for flights home.

Created: 21 July 2023


  • 2025 Tour Price : $5,490
  • Single Occupancy Supplement : $290
  • Tikal Extension : $2,090
  • Extension Single Occupancy Supplement : $340


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Questions? Tour Manager: Stephanie Schaefer. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

Maximum group size 6 with one leader and 8 with two leaders.

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