Mexico: Southern

A short and exciting tour through Chiapas and Oaxaca in search of the stunning Rose-bellied Bunting, Dwarf Jay, Bearded Screech Owl, Bumblebee Hummingbird, Giant and Nava´s Wrens, Red and Pink-headed Warblers and more!

Next dates

25 October - 5 November 2024

Tour length: 12 days

Group size limit: 7


Daniel Aldana and local leader René Valdés

Spaces available

Day 1: Flight arrivals into Oaxaca city by noon for overnight in town. If we have time, we will go birding to some nearby spots for a first taste of Oaxaca birding.

Day 2: Full day birding at Teotitlán del Valle and other localities nearby such as Yagul archaeological site, where we will be searching for endemic Bridled and Oaxaca Sparrows on the oak scrub valley. Other targets in the area include Gray-breasted Woodpecker, Beautiful and Dusky Hummingbirds, Boucard’s Wren, Ocellated Thrasher, West Mexican Chachalaca, Blue Mockingbird and White-throated Towhee. Many other more widespread species are possible, including Gray Silky Flycatcher and Painted Redstart. Overnight in Oaxaca.

Day 3: We will spend all day birding on the humid pine-oak forest near La Cumbre, arguably the best place in the world to see the endemic Dwarf Jay. These small jays usually move around with flocks of noisy Gray-barred Wrens and Steller’s Jays, and we have very good chances of seeing them. Pre-dawn birding might produce Fulvous Owl. Other birds in the area include  Northern (Mountain) Pygmy-Owl, Mountain Trogon, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, stunning Red, Olive and Golden-browed Warblers, Russet Nightingale-Thrush, Rufous-capped Brush-Finch and Collared Towhee. Overnight in Oaxaca.

Day 4: Early morning birding, visiting one of the most impressive ruins in all of the Americas, the Zapotec capital of Monte Albán, where we will search for Pileated Flycatcher and both Slaty and Golden Vireos, as well as Rock and Canyon Wrens.  Later we will drive west of Oaxaca towards San José del Pacifico, in the Sierra Madre del Sur. We might arrive in time for some initial exploration of the area, searching for the rare White-throated Jay and Hooded Yellowthroat. Stunning and incredibly tiny Bumblebee Hummingbirds usually display in the garden of our accommodation, which also host Garnet-throated Hummingbird. Overnight in cabins at San Jose del Pacifico.

Day 5: We will spend all morning birding around San Jose del Pacifico, searching for the jay and the yellowthroat. In the process we will see a nice selection of other species too. Later we will head downslope, stopping en route to search for Blue-capped Hummingbird,  “Wagler’s” Northern Emerald-Toucanet and Red-headed Tanager. Overnight in Huatulco.

Day 6: In the morning we will make a short but very enjoyable pelagic trip offshore Huatulco. Black-vented, Galapagos, Pink-footed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Tahiti Petrel, Black and Least Storm Petrels, Red-necked Phalarope, Nazca Booby, Sabine´s Gull, etc… are all possible. Nowadays, the chances of seeing the critically endangered Townsend´s Shearwater are sadly slim. Back by noon. After lunch will be birding in the dry thorn forest and lowlands of Huatulco, staying until dark to look for Northern Potoo and maybe some owls.

Day 7: Early morning birding around Huatulco, searching for Citreoline Trogon, Turquoise-crowned Hummingbird and Red-breasted Chat, amongst others. More widespread species such as Colima Pygmy-Owl, Cinnamon Hummingbird, Golden-cheeked Woodpecker, Happy and Rufous-naped Wrens, Rufous-backed Thrush, Spot-breasted Oriole and Blue Bunting are all possible. Afterwards we will drive towards our next destination, stopping en route to search for the rare Cinnamon-tailed Sparrow. Late afternoon arrival to La Esmeralda. Overnight in cabins.

Day 8: Birding La Esmeralda all morning, searching for the unique, very local and highly charismatic Nava’s Wren, restricted to limestone outcrops within primary lowland forest in a tiny area of Mexico. Long-tailed Sabrewing is another target here, and many other more widespread species are possible as well. In the afternoon we will drive to Arriaga, Chiapas, hopefully arriving there with enough time to search for the stunning Rose-bellied (or Rosita´s) Bunting, one of the most beautiful species in latin America, and our prime target here. We should get very good looks at it, while equally fantastic Orange-breasted Buntings usually occur alongside. Green-fronted Hummingbird and Banded Wren are also possibilities here. The rare Greater Swallow-tailed Swift is sometimes seen here in the late afternoon. Overnight in Arriaga.

Day 9: In the early morning we will drive to Puerto Arista area to search for Giant Wren and White-bellied Chachalaca. In the afternoon we will drive towards Tuxtla Gutierrez, making another stop en route to look at Rose-bellied Buntings if needed. Overnight at Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Day 10: Birding the scenic gorge of Sumidero Canyon all morning, looking for Bar-winged Oriole, Belted Flycatcher, Canivet’s Emerald, Azure-crowned Hummingbird and Blue-and-white Mockingbird. After lunch we might visit El Ocote Biosphere Preserve in case we still needed Nava´s Wren or Long-tailed Sabrewing. Later we will drive towards the city of San Cristobal, where we will spend the night.

Day 11: Birding the mountain forest above San Cristobal all day, where the stunning Pink-headed Warbler will be our main target. Other possibilities include Wine-throated Hummingbird, Amethyst-throated Mountain-gem, Black-capped Swallow, Mountain and Black Thrushes, Rufous-collared Robin, Yellow-backed Oriole, Rufous-browed Wren, wintering Golden-cheeked Warbler, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercer and Black-throated and Uniform Jays. Owling in the evening can produce Unspotted Saw-whet Owl, if lucky, as well as the rare Bearded Screech Owl.

Day 12: Early morning birding either around San Cristobal or Sumidero Canyon, depending on remaining target species. Flight departures from Tuxtla Gutierrez in the afternoon. NOTE:  An extension to the Yucatan Peninsula or Veracruz (Los Tuxtlas mountains) is easy to arrange. Let us know at the time of booking if you’re interested!

Tour details

Cost: $ 4,700
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 350

Accommodation: TBC

Walking difficulty: Mostly easy, but we might take a few longer walks for a couple of hours at birding pace.

Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.