Belize Best Birding Sites
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. Spanish Lookout is accessed by a beautiful drive through rolling hills. Several different habitats in the area makes 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. We will stop at the Mennonites Western dairies for some homemade ice cream. Join us on one of our many Belize birding tours
What to Bring: binoculars, camera and money for lunch as we stop at a buffet restaurant within the Belize Mennonite community.
Inland Blue Hole National Park & St. Herman’s Cave
Blue Hole National Park is a 575-acre protected area located along the southern Highway near Belize’s capital city of Belmopan. The park boasts many outstanding features, including Blue Hole, a magnificent sink hole and its surrounding cave system. The Blue Hole is actually a short but deep stretch of underground rivers whose course is revealed by collapse of a limestone cavern. It flows on the surface for about 55 yards before disappearing beneath another rock face. This is a wonderful place for bird watching and swimming in Belize.
There are a number of trails to hike within the park. Some of the unusual birds known to this area include White Hawk, Spotted-Wood Quail, Crested Guans, Lovely Cotinga, Keel-Billed Toucans, Red-Legged Honey Creepers, Ornage Billed Sparrows Green- backed Sparrows, Olive-backed Sparrows, Nightingale Wrens, White- collared Manakins, Great Antshrikes,Slaty-Tailed Trogons just to name a few. We can easily spend half to a full day here end the trip with a refreshing dip in the pools. A number of stairs descend to this small spring. Its cool, turquoise waters, surrounded by dense forest, overhung with mosses, vines and ferns are the perfect spot for a cool and relaxing dip.
St. Herman’s Cave is part of Blue Hole National Park. It is a short hike from the parking area/visitor center to the cave entrance. Upon entering, visitors go down steps that were originally cut by the Maya. Once inside, people can clamber over rocks and splash through the water, while admiring stunning cave formations created over a millennium ago. After exploring the cave, there is the option to hike a 2 ½ mile interpretive trail with observations that leads over the cave. For Belize birding tours we recommend early morning departures.
El Pilar (Half Day)
EL Pilar is a 100 acre Middle Pre-Classic and Late Classic Mayan site which is currently being excavated by the University of California. Continuing work at the site occurs between February and June. The site is situated 12 miles northwest of San Ignacio in the Cayo District. The rare abundance of natural water sources in this vicinity is possibly the origin of the name El Pilar (“pila” being Spanish for watering basin).
A particularly intriguing feature is a causeway that extends from the eastern part of the ruins across the country border into Guatemala. Thus far, 12 pyramids and 25 plazas have been found at El Pilar. This is triple the number found in nearby sites such as Xunantunich and Cahal Pech. The site was occupied between (500 BC) and (1000 AD) periods. A variety of residential structures were discovered during excavations, in addition to elite household compounds and ceremonial structures.
In contrast to other nearby sites, El Pilar remains virtually the same way today as when it was discovered. Most structures are in the early stages of excavation. Currently there are five trail systems at El Pilar, three archeological and two primarily nature trail intended to provide insight into the agro-forestry of the ancient Maya. This provides the visitor with a sense of what the site looked like before archeologists began their research on the area. The site and its surrounding vegetation make a perfect birding destination.
Mountain Pine Ridge (2/3 to Full Day)
Even with its recent bout of forest devastation due to the Southern Pine Beetles, the attractions of Mountain Pine Ridge are still captivating and worth a visit. The reserve is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country such as Big Rock Falls, Hidden Valley Falls, and Butterfly Falls. The Rio On Pools is a popular place for swimming, relaxing, sliding around in the cascades and little falls, or simply admiring the granite rock formations dating back 300 million years.
The Rio Frio Caves, a large cavern with openings on both sides, has a creek flowing and echoing through the cave. This 300 sq. mile reserve consists of mostly pine trees shrubs, grasses and sedges. Home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country such as Big Rock Falls, Hidden Valley Falls, and Butterfly Falls. The Rio On Pools is a popular place for swimming, relaxing, sliding around in the cascade and little falls or simply admiring the granite rock formations dating back to some 300 million years. The Rio Frio Caves, a large cavern with openings on both sides, has a creek flowing and echoing through the cave.
What to Bring: Camera, binoculars, drinking water, insect repellent, and plenty of sunscreen. Wearing shorts and hiking boots is fine; bringing along swimwear, water shoes or sandals is recommended as you may want to go for a dip at the falls or pools.