While on a trip to Guatemala earlier this year sponsored by INGUAT (the Guatemalan tourism board), I had the opportunity to visit a biological station that I had never heard of before called Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas. I was expecting the typical, more rustic accommodations that tend to come along with staying at biological stations, but I was in for a huge surprise when we arrived.
After a long drive (mostly due to making stops for birding along the way), our group arrived at the small village of Paso Caballos. This village is the jumping-off point for a short 20 minute boat ride to Las Guacamayas. We piled ourselves and all of our gear onto the boat and headed towards the lodge, again birding along the way.
As we approached the dock, it was evident that this wasn’t your typical biological station. The grounds and rooms were absolutely beautiful. We might have been in the middle of the jungle, but we certainly weren’t going to be roughing it!
After we settled in and had lunch, we got back in the boat to explore some of the rivers around the station. It didn’t take long before we were finding some awesome birds! A couple of Sungrebes swam under the mangroves and then crossed the river, giving us great views. As we were taking photos of them, our guide found my target bird for the trip, Agami Heron! Over the next 30 minutes, we paddled in close and took dozens of photos of this rarely seen and beautiful species. By the time we finished with the Agami Heron, it was getting dark and we returned to the lodge for the evening.
The next morning, we ate an early breakfast before getting back in the boat. This time our destination was the trail that leads to El Perú archaeological site. The actual archaeological site is several miles down the trail. Because of this distance and how fantastic the birding is along the early parts of the trail, birders rarely make it to the archaeological site itself. This area is one of the very few remaining nesting sites for Scarlet Macaw left in Guatemala, and the macaws put on a nice show for us while we were there. Other highlights along this trail included Gray-headed Kite, White-whiskered Puffbird, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, White-collared Manakin, and Yellow-billed Cacique. We returned to the lodge just in time to pack our bags, have some lunch, and make it back to Flores for our flights home.
White-whiskered Puffbird ©Rob Ripma
You can learn more about the Estación Biológica Las Guacamayas on their website. I highly encourage you to consider this wonderful location next time you are looking for an exciting tropical birding destination!