Why bird watchers keep choosing this Belize Resort
Despite being such a small country, Belize contains a vast variety of bird species many avid birders travel thousands of miles to witness. More than 600 species of these feathered friends call Belize home, one of them most notably being Belize’s own National Bird: the Keel-Billed Toucan. The Caribbean country is also famously known for the Jabiru Stork, the largest bird in the Americas, which stands at five feet tall with an 8-foot wingspan! While you can spot many vibrant, tropical species throughout the year, October draws in a fair amount of expert watchers as the seasonal migratory raptors find their way to the Central American country. In fact, Belize hosts an annual birding festival every year in October to bring together those passionate for the nature-enveloped hobby.
Though this year’s festival was canceled due to the pandemic, you can still go out and spot elusive species in various parts of the country, like the Stygian Owl or Solitary Eagle. However, there is one place in Belize that birders keep coming back to time and again, both for birds and the nature-first initiatives of a certain eco-resort: Hidden Valley Inn in the Mountain Pine Ridge.
Mountain Pine Ridge: A Birder’s Paradise
Located about an hour away from the town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District, Hidden Valley Inn is tucked within the jungles of the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. A sprawling 7,200 acres, the property holds gushing waterfalls, great hiking trails and a plethora of wildlife unlike anywhere else. This hidden gem continues to be at the forefront of marrying nature with convenience. The resort’s location being directly within the reserve makes it ideal for outdoor activities, one of which includes bird watching, a sport Belize is rapidly being recognized for internationally. Venturing to Pine Ridge – as the locals call it – will force you to keep your eyes peeled as you’re bound to encounter motmots, brown jays, hummingbirds, and more flitting from pine tree to pine tree. For a truly unforgettable experience, make your way to King Vulture Falls lookout, which is just a short drive away from the Inn. Once your Hidden Valley naturalist guide has led you down to the lookout area, train your trusty binoculars to the top of the waterfalls across from the valley. Here, guests have reported spotting the renowned King Vulture’s nests, right at the top of the plummeting cascades named after them!
If you’re looking for an even more brag-worthy target spot, Hidden Valley Inn is home to the famed Orange-Breasted Falcon. The species was almost completely extinct, but now there are a reported 30 pairs near the area. If you’re really lucky you just might see their bright orange chest and strong talons as they soar next to Thousand-Foot-Falls.
A perfect bird-watching day at Hidden Valley Inn
When staying at Hidden Valley Inn, it’s evident from the get-go they understand the passion and patience that goes into bird-watching. There are about 150 species on the property alone, and the Inn offers a morning bird tour to help you locate at least a good amount of these exotic raptors. The tour usually begins at dawn, or 6 a.m., where your knowledgeable guide walks you through the property supplying a scope and some binoculars. The experience lasts about an hour or two, depending on how adamant you are about spotting that Stygian Owl. You’ll not only come across bright Red-lored Parrots, colorful Green Jays and Rufous Capped Warbler, but you’ll also be immersed in the nature that is Mountain Pine Ridge with all the walking. Through the Inn’s lush coffee grove and trails of tiger-bush fern, the bird-watching experience will simply prove to be a stellar bonus.