MEXICO: Birds & Whale Sharks of the Yucatan Peninsula

Dates: Saturday 7th – Wednesday 18th JULY 2018 (Cancun to Cancun)
Tour Price:
per person plus flight

Estimated Flight Price:
London to Cancun approx. £550 return

Conservation Donation from Wise Birding: Approx. 1% of tour price per person (£30pp) 
Deposit £500 per person
Minimum Number required for trip to run: 6 people
Maximum Group Size: 9 people
4 nights Puerto Morelos, 2 nights Campeche, 1 night Uxmal, 1 night Rio Lagartos, 3 nights near Cancun

Key Birds:
Thicket Tinamou, Great Curassow, Ocellated Turkey, Black-throated Bobwhite, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Barred Forest-Falcon, Ruddy Crake, Rufous-Necked Wood-Rail, Spotted Rail, Yucatan Parrot, Yucatan Poorwill, Yucatan Nigtjar, Vermiculated Screech-Owl, Black Catbird, Yucatan Woodpecker, Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Vireo, Mexican Antthrush, Orange Oriole and many more!

Other Key Wildlife:
Whale Shark, Green Turtle, Morelet’s Crocodile, Manatee, Pygmy Racoon, White-nosed Coati, Yucatan Black Howler & Yucatan Spider Monkey

Conservation work that you will directly contribute to by joining this holiday:
Donations from this tour will go to our central conservation fund. More details on the projects we support can be found on our Conservation Projects page.


The Yucatan Peninsula is an expansive limestone Peninsula that extends northward into the Gulf of Mexico and eastward into the Caribbean Sea. The area has around 548 bird species and as many as 16 regional endemics making it a really superb birding destination. Our itinerary takes us to a great variety of the best birding habitats, including mangrove estuaries, dry tropical forest, dense lowland jungle and of course the endless turquoise seas where we will spend the last two days of our tour looking for and an option to swim with the graceful Whale Shark!
This is a fairly relaxed birding tour where we will have plenty of time to visit  some of the magnificent archeological ruins and enjoy unique regional cuisine and explore the world of the Mayan culture, which is still very much part of the Yucatan Peninsula. The beauty of this tour is that many of the best preserved birding habitats are found alongside some of the most spectacular ruins in the New World!
We are very pleased to have highly respected bird artist and great birder, Mike Langman leading this trip. Mike has visited Mexico a number of times and cannot wait to return!

Chichen-ItzaSites that we will visit on this tour include:
Toth Reserve in Puerto Morelos, Rio Lagartos, Ek-Balam, Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Calakmul, Campeche, Hormiguero, Kohunlich, Coba, Punta Laguna, Monkey Reseve, Muyil,
Sian Ka´an Biosphere Reserve and Cozumel.

Yucatan-JayDAY 1
Arrive Cancun
On arrival, we will transfer to Puerto Morelos, just 35 Km south of the city of Cancun where we spend the next four nights.
Overnight Puerto Morelos

Central Vallarta & Motmot Resreve
We will spend the early morning birding the Central Vallarta, Cenote Road in Puerto Morelos before returning for a late breakfast. This area has a number of key birds that we hope to find including Yellow-lored Parrot, Yucatan Nightjar, Wedge-tailed Sabrewing, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Motmot, Yucatan Woodpecker, Stub-Craketailed Spadebill, Yucatan Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard, Green Jay, Spot-breasted Wren, Collared Trogon and White-winged Tanager. After breakfast we will visit the Motmot Reserve for more birding and return for lunch at our hotel. The afternoon will be at leisure. Overnight Puerto Morelos

Bright-rumped-AtilaDAY 3
Coba Lake & Punta Laguna
Today we will explore Coba Lake and Punta Laguna, Monkey Reserve. Coba Lake is usually very productive with a good selection of waterbirds such as Least Grebe, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Hooded Oriole, Limpkin, Black-headed Trogon, Common Yellowthroat and Melodious Blackbird. It is also a good place to see Ruddy Crake and there are good turtle-edit5numbers of Morelet’s Crocodile and a chance of Yucatan Spider Monkey. By exploring the forest trails we hope to find the beautiful Rose-throated Tanager and other commoner forest species.
Overnight Puerto Morelos

Cozumel Island
This morning we will drive to Playa del Carmen and take the ferry to Cozumel Island. Here we will spend most of the morning and early afternoon birding this great area before returning to our hotel by late afternoon. Our White-nosed-Coatifocus shall be the the two island endemics, Cozumel Emerald and Cozumel Vireo. Mammal interest here is also good with the endemic race White-nosed Coati and Pygmy Racoon present on the island. Of course, there are plenty of other birds to be found here and we will try and see as much as possible! Other targets species include White-crowned Pigeon, Caribbean Dove, Caribbean Elaenia, Western Spindalis, Black Catbird and Yucatan Vireo to name just a few. Overnight Puerto Morelos

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Res. & Muyil Ruins
Today, we leave Puerto Morelos and head for Muyil, Sian Ka´an Biosphere Reserve where we will look for various specialities such as Collared Aracari, White-breasted Wood-wren, Long-billed Gnatwren, Green-backed Sparrow, Scrub Euphonia, Red-throated Ant-Tanager and Grey-throated Chat and Yellow-breasted Chats. Later in the morning we will visit the impressive Muyil ruins which are also an excellent birding site before we continue our journey towards Calakmul-RuinsIxpujil, Campeche. Overnight Chicanna Hotel, Campeche

Calakmul Ruins
Today we visit one of the largest and best known of the Mayan sites. The ancient city of Calakmul played a key role in the history of this region for more than twelve centuries and is characterized by well-preserved structures providing a vivid picture of life in an ancient Maya capital. It is set deep in the tropical forest of the Tierras Bajas, close to the Guatemalan border. ThWoodcreepere birding is great here as we should enjoy a great day surrounded by breathtaking ruins and superb birds. Bat Falcons can often be seen hunting from the tops of the pyramids whilst the wonderful bird sounds from the nearby forest add to the atmosphere. Further exploration of the forest trails should reveal many new species and may include Ocellated Turkey, Great Curassow, Thicket Tinamou and Crested Guan. Army ant swarms are a feature of the forest trails and if we find a productive swarm, then the birds should follow! Species that follow the swarms may include Mexican Antthrush, Barred Woodcreeper, Green-backed Sparrow and Grey-breasted Chat. Other new species could include, White-fronted Parrot, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Bright-rumped Attila, Brown Jay and Yucatan Jays. Overnight Chicanna Hotel, Campeche

Calakmul Ruins
We will spend another morning birding around the superb Calakmul Ruins and if we haven’t already seen them, we can look for Yucatan Spider Monkey and Yucatan Black Howler. We then continue our journey to Uxmal.
Overnight Hotel Uxmal, Maya Resort 

Uxmal Ruins
We shall spend the morning birding the hotel gardens as they can be very productive at the start of the day. We will then visit the famous Uxmal Ruins where hundreds of pairs of Cave Swallows nest and it is often a reliable spot to see the impressive Turquoise-browed Motmot. The nearby forest also holds a good selection of Yucatan specialities including Yucatan Flycatcher, Yucatan Bobwhite, White-browed Wren and Blue Bunting. We then then continue to Rio Lagartos.
Overnight Rio Tabasco Hotel, Rio Lagartos

Rio Lagartos
Today we will take a boat trip through the mangroves around Rio Lagartos where we will look for numerous wetland species which should allow some great photographic opportunities. We will explore a wide variety of wetland habitats consisting of coastal lagoons and mangrove swamps. Target species we will be looking for today include American Flamingo, Black-bellied Whistling-duck, Least Grebe, American White Pelican,  Anhinga, Bare-throated Tiger-heron, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron and Boat-billed Herons, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Purple Gallinule, Yucatan Wren, Mangrove Cuckoo, Snail Kite, Zone-tailed Hawk, American Pygmy Kingfisher, Black-necked Stilt, Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers, Laughing Gull, Royal Tern and Black Skimmer. There is also a chance of Manatee whilst we travel by boat. After lunch we will return to Cancun. Overnight Nr Cancun

Whale-Shark-SWimDAYS 10 -11
Whale Shark Boat Trips
During the following two days we shall head out to sea to look for Whale Sharks and there will also be the opportunity to swim with these graceful creatures. At this time of year these giants of the fish world can be found less than an hour offshore from the coast near Cancun. Our boat trips will depart early in the morning and spend around 6-7 hours at sea within the Whale Shark area before returning in the afternoon to spend the rest of the day relaxing. Overnight Nr Cancun

DAY 12
Transfer to airport
After breakfast we will head for Cancun airport where our tour concludes.

Leaders: Luis Ku and Mike Langman
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin en-suite rooms, all meals, all entrance fees, ground transport, boat trips, whale shark trips and services of leaders.
NOT Included in cost: International airfare, travel insurance, drinks other than water, any airport/visa fees and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: Medium quality Lodges and hotels with full-board
Single Supplement: Approx. £199
Max. Group Size: 9
Transport: Minibus
Difficulty: Due to the high midday temperatures and humidity there will be time off during the afternoons to rest. Basic fitness is all that is required as the Yucatan is generally very flat and forest trails are good.
Climate: High humidity with temperatures in the high 20 degrees centigrade
Meeting Point: Cancun airport, Mexico
Tour End: Cancun airport, Mexico
Suggested Airlines: British Airways
Note: This is a flexible itinerary which may need to be adjusted in relation to arrival and departure times, weather conditions and other related factors.