BIRDING & RAFTING MOSKÍTIA
At the far north-east of the country lies La Moskítia – a vast, relatively unexplored region characterized by extensive and extremely diverse rainforests, impressive mountains and tumultuous rivers. This is a region for the adventurous, because, while the birding is among the best in the country, you do have to work to get the best out of it. The combination of hiking, rafting and tent camping makes this a demanding but exhilarating trip.
La Moskítia is little visited by tourists but this challenging trip provides great rewards for those prepared to venture forth. This is not just a bird trip. It is also a rafting adventure of a lifetime that provides a wealth of opportunities to view the greatest diversity of plants and animals in Honduras in a spectacular landscape. If you are going to find birds new to Honduras, this is one of the most likely places.
This trip starts in the cattle ranches of the Olancho highlands, and after a day of hiking into the forest, we board our rafts, navigating the Río Plátano’s class II-IV rapids with opportunities to bird and watch wildlife along the way and around the camp sites, until eventually we emerge onto the vast coastal lagoons. As you would expect, a trip that takes in a diversity of habitats from dry uplands, riverine rainforest, extensive coastal lake systems and Caribbean coastline is going to turn up a very impressive list of birds and you will have an adventure that you won’t forget as well.
Special birds that we will be keeping an eye out for in this region include the Snowcap Hummingbird, Streak-Chested Antpitta, Ocellated Antbird, Rufous-winged Tanager, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Snowy Cotinga, Scarlet Macaw, Great-Green Macaw and more. Tapirs are also usually seen on this trip and even jaguars and sloths are not out of the question.
June 21 to July 2, 2017 (option*)
*min. 4 participants are needed to guarantee departure (and max. 8)
Pick up at San Pedro Sula airport and transfer to La Ceiba
Drive to Catacamas, Olancho
Hike to the Río Plátano’s headwaters
Rafting the Río Plátano to Las Marías
Canoe ride to Raistá
Crossing the lagoon in a watertaxi to Palacios, then transfer by pickup to La Ceiba
Transfer to San Pedro Sula airport
Rafting the Río Plátano, with views on Pico Dama
Day 1 | Pick up at San Pedro Sula airport and transfer to La Ceiba
No time to waste in San Pedro Sula, the birds are waiting! We will pick you up at the airport and take you directly to the coastal town of La Ceiba where we will settle into a comfortable hotel for dinner and briefings before we set off on this epic adventure.
Day 2 | Drive to Catacamas, Olancho
This morning we are joined by the rafting team to take us into the cowboy country of Olancho. It’s a long day’s drive, but we are heading for one of the most remote parts of Honduras after all! Fortunately our camp and dinner will be waiting for us when we arrive at our destination for the night.
Day 3 | Hike to the Río Plátano’s headwaters
After we break camp and the mules are packed, we set off on foot, firstly through farming country before suddenly being engulfed by the mighty forest of Reserva Biológica Tawahka. This hike is a challenge and is usually muddy but many good birds along the way make it worth the effort. Our camp this night is at the headwaters of the Rio Plátano – the river that will take us to the Caribbean coast over the next 7 days.
Key birds to keep an eye out for during this hike are the Rufous Motmot, Yellow-eared Toucanet, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Spotted Antbird, Rufous Piha, White-ruffed Manakin, Snowcap and more.
A challenging but rewarding hike
Day 4-9 | Rafting the Río Plátano to Las Marías
After rafting lessons and safety briefings we immediately take on the challenge of the rapids of the Rio Plátano. Expect your heart to be pumping as you respond to calls of “right back” and “forward” from your expert rafting guides. There are no passengers on this trip – everyone has to pull their weight! And expect to be wet from the outset! Fortunately there are interludes between the rapids to give you time to catch your breath, rest your arms and take in the scenery.
At the end of an exhausting but exciting day we establish a river-side camp where our guides will prepare a well-earned dinner. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the process of setting up and breaking camp as this will be the routine for the next few days, and the more you can help the more efficient our trip will be. You are definitely one of a team on this trip, both on and off the water!
At dawn we plunge into the rapids once again for several more days of adventure, pausing along the way to catch our breath as well as observe birds and other wildlife. A stop for a short hike will take us into the forest to examine an archeological site and cave, evidence that what appears to us to be a remote part of the world has been home to local people for thousands of years.
As we reach the impressive gorges of “El Subterráneo”, we negotiate class III and IV rapids and several portages. As we progress downstream at the other end of the canyon, exciting rapids alternate with patches of quieter water. Our chances of seeing wildlife rise as the distances between rapids increase, allowing more time to take in the views and bring cameras out of their waterproof bags so that you can capture the macaws and toucans that commonly pass overhead. Here we will also find ancient, mysterious petroglyphs carved on the rocks by unknown jungle settlers. We will also start to encounter the local Mískito people as we pass through their riverside villages. We will spend one night in the Pech and Mískito village of Las Marías de Río Plátano, where a local family will accommodate and feed us at their hostel.
During our this rafting and tent camping trip, we will be on the lookout for some top species such as: Rufous Piha, Snowy Cotinga, White-ruffed Manakin, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Green Kingfisher, King Vulture, Great Green Macaw, Slaty Spinetail, Rufescent Tiger-Heron , Scarlet Macaw, White-fronted Nunbird, Black-and-white Hawk-Eagle, Ocellated Antbird, Shining Honeycreeper, Slaty-breasted Tinamou, Black Hawk-Eagle, Scaled Pigeon, Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Snowcap, Spotted Antbird, Streak-chested Antpitta, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Violet-headed Hummingbird.
Rapids on the Río Plátano
Day 10 | Canoe ride to Raistá
Today, in order to make more rapid progress through the lower reaches of the Plátano, we exchange our rafts for a motorized dug-out canoe made from a single mahogany trunk. We continue through Mískito territory as we approach the mouth of the river in the company of our Pech and Mískito guides. We traverse marshes and mangroves following an old canal made by early settlers to connect the river with the Ibans Lagoon. Finally we arrive at Tampatín where we will spend the night. In the afternoon we will have plenty of time to visit Mískito villages and explore the beach where we can add a host of sea and shore birds to our already impressive list of sightings.
Day 11 | Crossing the lagoon in a water taxi to Palacios, then transfer by pickup to La Ceiba
We take a very early start in a water-taxi across the vast coastal lagoons as the sun rises over our shoulders. At Pueblo Nuevo we will take a 4x4 collective truck that will drive along the coast (literally along the beach!) to Tocoa. From Tocoa we continue to La Ceiba by Bus. Here we will enjoy our last meal together, reflect on an amazing adventure and fall into a comfortable bed.
Day 12 | Transfer to San Pedro Sula airport
Unfortunately your trip is coming to an end as we make our way back to San Pedro Sula. We hope you had an excellent trip and an impressive bird list.