With diverse ecosystems and more than a third of its terrestrial landmass made up of protected areas, Belize is every birdwatcher’s dream come true. Train your eyes on the canopies of the rainforest to catch a glimpse of a crimson collared tanager’s stunning red and black plumage. Or venture out into the wetlands for a sighting of the majestic jabiru stork. From colorful toucans and stunning birds of prey like the orange breasted falcon to the rare scarlet macaw and the inconspicuous keel billed mot mot, there are more than 500 species of birds that live in or visit this small Central American paradise. If you’re looking forward to a vacation that’s centered on birding while you’re in Belize, here are some resorts offering an extra memorable stay.
Chan Chich Lodge
Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of lush Maya forest, one can expect nothing less than close encounters with nature at northern Belize’s Chan Chich Lodge. And that certainly includes a multitude of bird species. From the very moment of your arrival, you’ll find yourself greeted by ocellated turkeys, whether they’re taking a stroll near the lodge’s main building or resting up in the trees.
Meander onto one of the many trails that dot the property. Or, get a guide and take a safari truck further out into the forest. With some luck, you might catch a glimpse of the Lovely Cotinga, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Agami Heron, or Rose-throated Tanager. But you’re sure to encounter hummingbirds, toucans, and parrots. Plus, as an added bonus, get to encounter some of Belize’s other stunning wildlife like the white lipped peccary, the Baird’s tapir, and even elusive cats like the jaguar. In total, more than 370 species of birds have been spotted at Chan Chich Lodge.
Learn more about birding in Belize with Chan Chich here.
Copal Tree Lodge
Nestled in the jungles of Belize’s Toledo district, Muy’Ono Resorts’ Copal Tree Lodge blends luxury and nature seamlessly. With the jade green Rio Grande river and verdant Maya Mountains as your backyard, here you can enjoy as much birding as you’d like and then end the day off by luxuriating in lush accommodations. Bird watching experiences, many of which occur right on site (the lodge is nestled inside 12,000 acres of rainforest preserve), include an intro to birding morning walk, a half-day tour, and a day trip to Red Bank Village for (seasonal) scarlet macaw watching.
Whether you opt to enjoy in a kayak, on foot, or in a land cruiser, native and migratory bird species including toucans, raptors, kingfishers, trogons, euphonias, hummingbirds, herons, manikins, and parrots await. More than 200 species of birds have been spotted in a single day at Copal Tree Lodge. And thanks to knowledgable guides like Emmanuel Chan (who trained under the renowned author of Birds of Belize), there’s never a dull birding excursion.
If you’d like the full experience, you can book a 5-night all-inclusive birding package here.
San Ignacio Resort Hotel
With your binoculars fixed upwards, you let out a small whisper of joy as you catch a flash of red alongside dazzling yellows and greens. It’s Belize’s national bird – the keel billed toucan, and several of them at that. Their calls fill the early morning air. With such fascinating sightings, it’s easy to forget that the San Ignacio Resort Hotel sits right inside a small town. With green forests right on site and 119 bird species documented, this Cayo district resort has well-earned its nickname of “the only jungle in town.”
Get up at the break of dawn for a snack and some coffee. Then descend into the forest that lies on the banks of the Macal river for a morning of birdwatching with your knowledgable guide. Birding in Belize at San Ignacio Resort Hotel is certainly a treat, and one that birders of all ages (and skill sets) can enjoy. Spot colourful birds like the Blue Tanager, Blue Crowned Mot Mot, Warblers, Woodpeckers, Aracari Toucan and more. In addition to onsite bird watching, guests can also book tours to the Agauacate Lagoon or the Crested Caracara Private Reserve.
Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort
Explore Belize’s coastal forests, jungles, and savannahs with a birding tour at Hamanasi Adventure & Dive Resort. This regenerative resort in Hopkins village puts the “eco” in eco-conscious (and they have a stunning property teeming with biodiversity to prove it). Hamanasi is nestled between the coast and the mainland. This unique location will afford the avid birder an array of easily accessible and diverse habitats for birding in Belize.
Birding tours start at just US $90 per person. They include tropical birding tours as well as the seasonal scarlet macaw tour. Right on site, you can enjoy being woken up to the sound of Chachalacas. Take a stroll along the beach to spot coastal birds like Pelicans, Sandpipers, Laughing Gulls and Frigate birds.
Learn more about Hamanasi’s Belize Birding Tours and view their bird gallery here.
More About Birding in Belize
Whether you’re a novice or a full on ornithologist, birding in Belize is sure to be a treat. This small but diverse nation has a lot to offer in terms of wildlife encounters. So much so, that it’s fairly easy to be a backyard birder, too.
Apart from the above listed resorts, these are some of the best locations for birding in Belize. Check out these hotspots on your own or book a tour with nearby guides:
- The Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary
- The Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
- Half Moon Caye Natural Monument
- Chiquibul National Park
- Aguacate Lagoon
Featured Photo: A Black-Headed Trogon by EyeLoveBirds from Vancouver, Canada, via Wikimedia Commons