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This tour visits the best locations on the Yucatan Peninsula for bird photography and some of the Mayan ruins.  The bird photography highlights include American Flamingos during courting season at Rio Lagartos, Ocellated Turkeys and eye level rain forest photography from ruins at Calakmul, photography of many endemics such as Black-throated Bobwhite, Yucatan Woodpecker, Jay, Wren and Gnatcatcher, beautiful birds such as Turquoise-browed Motmots and Orange Oriole as well as many American Wood Warblers which are getting ready to migrate north.  This is the dry season and part of the tour we will be utilizing water drips and water holes which attract the birds well this time of year.  The ruins include Uxmal and Calakmul.  Note: Tripods are not allowed into the ruins on the couple of days we visit ruins.  Afternoons are hot so we start early in the morning and take a good afternoon break before going back out again in the mid to late afternoon. Yucatan is the safest region in Mexico and Merida is considered one of the safest cities in Latin America.

Maximum Number of photographers: 6 plus nonphotographer spouses/companions.

Cost and Logistics

$5,950 with a $900 single supplement, $5,400 nonphotographer spouse/companion.  Cost includes all in country transportation starting and ending in Merida, Mexico,  lodging, meals, entrance fees, guiding, instruction and drinking water.  It does not include airfare to reach Mexico, other drinks and items of a personal nature such as tips and laundry.  The arrival and departure city is Merida, Mexico.  There are a lot more flights to Cancun than Merida so if anyone wants to fly into Cancun, we will arrange hotel and transportation to Merida from Cancun (added to trip cost but transportation split by customers needing it).  Accommodation is mostly 3 star hotels, comfortable but not luxurious. 


April 15th – Arrival to Merida airport, transfer to a nice hotel near the airport.  If time afternoon bird photography in the garden.  Hotel: Merida

April 16th – Morning visit to a local water hole which attracts Yucatan Woodpecker, Yucatan Jay, Orioles, Turquoise-browed Motmots and other bird species.  Then check out and head to a nice hotel near the Uxmal ruins.  In the afternoon we will photograph at a local water drip.  The hotel we stay at is good for Grey-throated Chat as well as a host of North American Wood Warblers.  Hotel: Uxmal

April 17th – This morning, we will look for Yucatan Parrot, Blue Bunting and other species near the entrance to the Uxmal ruins, then as soon as they open, we will enter the ruins.  Both Turquoise-browed Motmots and Cave Swallows breed in the actual ruins and there are numerous Spiny-tailed Iguanas sunning themselves at the ruins.  We will return to the hotel for lunch and break.  Then in the afternoon we will again do drip photography near the hotel.  Hotel: Uxmal

April 18th – This morning, we will visit another waterhole and do some bird photography along a road which is very good for Black-throated Bobwhite, Black Catbird, Gartered Trogon and many other species.  In the afternoon we will likely be after American Wood Warblers again on the grounds of the hotel.  Hotel: Uxmal

April 20th – A bit of bird photography near the lodge then we will start our transfer from the dry forest of Western Yucatan to the rain forest of the Southern Yucatan.  The bird photography on our hotel grounds is very good and we will try some night photography this evening possibilities includer Mottled, Middle-American Screech, and Black-and-white Owls, Northern Potoo, Yucatan Nightjar, and Common Pauraque.  Hotel:  Xpujl

April 21st – We spend the full day today at the Calakuml ruins.  These spectacular ruins are in the rain forest.  We will ascend some of the pyramids and get eye level and then go above the canopy.  Five species of monkeys are possible here including groups of Spider Monkey.  On the ground the amazing Ocellated Turkey is common and tame allowing for beautiful closeups.  Many exciting species are possible here including Great Curassow, Royal Flycatcher, Crested Guan as well as raptors.  We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon.  Hotel: Xpujil

April 22nd – We will spend the morning photographing near the lodge, then check out and head to our next location, Felipe Carillo Puerto.  After checking in to our hotel we will visit a small lake.  This is a good spot for a couple of Trogons, Black-headed and Collared as well as Singing Quail, Canivet’s Emerald and Collared Aracari.  Hotel: Felipe Carillo Puerto. 

April 23rd – We will do bird photography on a track near town today which is good for Rose-throated Tanager, Yucatan Parrot, Yucatan Flycatcher, Keel-billed Toucan and other species then we check out and head to Rio Lagartos.  Rio Lagartos is the breeding location for thousands of American Flamingos.  This afternoon we will photograph our first flamingos but also photograph some Mexican endemics including the beautiful Mexican Sheartail, Yucatan Wren and Yucatan Gnatcatcher.  Hotel: Rio Lagartos

April 24th – Today we will have both morning and afternoon boat trips to photograph the large concentrations of American Flamingos, at this time of year we have a good chance of photographing courting behavior.  In addition to the flamingos, we should photograph a variety of other interesting birds on the boat trips, possibilities include Boat-billed Heron, Mangrove Cuckoo, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Kingfishers and Rufous-necked and Rufous-naped Wood Rails in addition to many others.   Hotel: Rio Lagartos

April 25th – We will have another morning photographing the Sheartail as well as other specialties such as Lesser Roadrunner, King Vulture and the Yucatan endemics.  After lunch we will check out and return to our nice hotel near Merida airport.  We will have another afternoon visit to a local waterhole for Motmots, Yucatan Jays and Woodpeckers as well as Orioles.  Hotel: Merida

April 26th – You can fly out anytime or we can arrange return transportation to Cancun for you.  For those who have time we will do a bit of morning bird photography in the garden, likely species include Cinnamon Hummingbird, Social Flycatcher and others. 


Nate Chappell

Nate Chappell is one of the top bird and wildlife photographers leading photography tours and workshops. He is an expert at most aspects of avian photography including flight photography, using flash and multi-flash for hummingbirds. Nate enjoys teaching bird and wildlife photography and he is known for being able to simplify complicated topics. His photography is currently represented by several top stock agencies including Minden Pictures, VIREO and Birdimagency.

Jose Avendaño

Jose Avendaño is a full time photography and birding tour leader from Cusco, Peru. In addition to being a very good photographer and excellent birder, Jose is accredited as a cultural guide as well. Jose is known for his excellent sense of humor.

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