Wild Latitudes


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Birding, Natural History, and Mayan Ruins

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The Central American nation of Belize is smaller than all but four U.S. states, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in remarkable diversity. On this trip, we will explore vast wetlands by boat, travel deep into the rainforest, explore ancient Mayan cities, and snorkel on the second largest coral reef in the world!

Belize has an incredible diversity of birds, boasting nearly 600 species. Some highlights include the Snail Kite, Jabiru, Keel-billed Toucans, and multiple species of motmots, parrots, trogons, and hummingbirds. Belize is also rich in mammalian life, with Yucatan Black Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Kinkajous, Agoutis, and Tapirs.

We’ll also explore three different ancient Mayan cities throughout the tour: Altun Ha, Lamanai, and Tikal. The latter is widely regarded as the most impressive Mayan city today. Located just across the border in Guatemala, this vast city is a cultural marvel and a birder’s delight!

The final two days of the trip will be spent back in Belize on Caye Caulker, surrounded by the sparkling blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. A snorkeling trip to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef will get us up-close-and-personal with the vibrant marine life, including corals, urchins, colorful tropical fish, and harmless nurse sharks and rays. The island also has unique birds such as Magnificent Frigatebirds, Brown Boobies, Yucatan Vireos, and Bananaquits. Once we get to Caye Caulker, we’re on island time, so there will be plenty of time for you to enjoy the island however you see fit!

Tour Highlights

 Visit three sets of Mayan ruins to see and even climb the massive, awe-inspiring temples.

 Experience a spectacular diversity of birds in the many habitats Belize has to offer, from rainforests to wetlands to coastline.

 Snorkel with nurse sharks, rays, and countless colorful fish on the second largest coral reef in the world.

 Relax on the beach under palms on the beautiful Caribbean island of Caye Caulker.

Crooked TreeCaye CaulkerSanIgnacioCaribbean SeaBelizeCityTikalBELIZEN

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1

Arrive in Belize City, make introductions, and drive to the lagoon island community of Crooked Tree. We’ll have some time to bird the grounds before dinner at the lodge.

Day 2

In the morning we’ll explore the lagoon by boat with chances to see birds such as the Snail Kite, Jabiru, and American Pygmy Kingfisher. Later we’ll bird the upland part of Crooked Tree, looking for the beautiful Yucatan Jay, before finishing the day at the famous Mayan site of Altun Ha.

Day 3

We’ll travel down the New River by boat, birding as we go, to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. Once we arrive, there will be time to bird as a group, as well as to explore the ruins on your own.

Day 4

After breakfast, we’ll head to the Community Baboon Sanctuary, where we will learn about the citizen-driven conservation effort focusing on the local Yucatan Black Howler Monkeys. We’ll also make a stop at the Belize Zoo, which features entirely native Belizean animals, before settling in at our next lodge.

Day 5

We will start the day by walking the bird-rich grounds of the lodge, hoping for colorful species such as the Keel-billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, and Lesson’s Motmot. We’ll then visit a nearby butterfly garden, where the flowers and feeders lure in an abundance of hummingbirds. In the afternoon, we’ll explore open, agricultural habitat with many raptors and flycatchers.

Day 6

We’ll bird the lodge again in the morning, and then cross the border into Guatemala as we travel to the ancient Mayan city of Tikal.

Days 7-8

Two full days to explore and bird Tikal, both as a group and individually. The birding here features a wide range of antbirds, trogons, euphonias, and much more.

Day 9

Back into Belize where we’ll head to the coast to catch a water ferry to the island of Caye Caulker. There will be time in the evening to check out the many shops, restaurants, and pubs that the town has to offer.

Day 10

In the morning, we’ll head out to the reef for a snorkeling adventure featuring nurse sharks, rays, corals, and a wide variety of colorful fish. The afternoon will be yours to relax on the island or go birding with the group. The island is home to some specialty birds such as the Yucatan Vireo, Black Catbird, and Bananaquit.

Day 11

Back to the mainland where we’ll say our final goodbyes before heading home.

PRICE of TOUR: $4,195

DEPOSIT: $2,100

SINGLE SUPP.: $1,130

START DATE: Jan 10 - 20, 2024

DURATION: 11 days

GROUP SIZE: Up to 14

TRIP FOCUS: Birds, Wildlife, and Mayan Ruins


  • Double-occupancy lodging
  • Ground and water transportation
  • Breakfasts and lunches
  • Excursions and park fees
  • Guiding services

Get the brochure for this tour

The PDF brochure includes:

  • A detailed itinerary
  • Tour Map
  • Registration Info


Chris Payne grew up in rural Pennsylvania with two naturalists for parents, so he has been immersed in the natural world his entire life. Once he discovered the world of birds, he was hooked. After graduating with a degree in biology, he pieced together bird-related field work for several years before returning to school to work on an M.S. in biology. Leading nature tours is the best of both worlds for Chris: getting to work in nature surrounded by birds, but more importantly, getting to share that passion with others.

Rebecca Payne has always been avidly curious about the natural world. What started out as exploring the backyard of her childhood home led to an interest in exotic animals. While completing her B.A. in Zoo and Wildlife Biology, she was surrounded by teachers and mentors who nurtured her love for all things birds and birding. For several years, Rebecca worked in zoos across the country as an aviculturist, participating in breeding programs for endangered species, bird shows, and public outreach. Through these experiences, she discovered that her true passion lies in teaching others and fostering meaningful connections between people and wildlife. Rebecca has enjoyed many fulfilling teaching roles, from New Jersey Audubon’s Cape May Bird Observatory, to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, to Pennsylvania State Parks. All the while, she has had her binoculars in hand, using birds and avian ecology to bring people closer to nature.

If you love nature travel, you’re in good hands with us

How We Travel

We gauge the success of a tour on how well it was enjoyed by all. Providing a rich, rewarding experience for each individual is our top priority. Our tours generally have an easy pace so that everyone gets to experience all a region has to offer.

We create a friendly, non-competitive atmosphere that encourages tour participants to help each other in the field. Just as safety and comfort are cornerstones of our tours, so are humor and the simple joy of learning. The good cheer and camaraderie on our tours often inspire post-trip get-togethers and new, life-long friendships.

Our Focus

We’re crazy about birds, but they are only part of the story.

Our tours offer a holistic experience by taking the time to appreciate all of the animals we encounter– including mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and insects. They all interact and play vital roles in their ecosystems. We also take time on our tours to explore the plants and geology of the regions we visit.

Fostering a deeper understanding of new cultures is one of our goals. On your tour, you’ll taste exotic cuisine and hear local music. You’ll have time to peruse the market, stroll through villages, and share stories with the people you meet.

Protecting the Wild

Ecotourism is a powerful tool for protecting the wild regions of the world. For example, parts of Uganda are now devoted to the conservation of the Mountain Gorilla. Though still endangered, ecotourism has pulled this species back from the precipice of extinction.

We aim to make a positive conservation impact wherever we travel. We often use local guides and stay in small, locally-owned lodges. On every trip, we donate to a local conservation organization that works to protect a native species or ecosystem. When you travel with Wild Latitudes you are helping to protect wild places and the amazing species that call them home.

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