The perfect mix of incredible scenery, Mayan culture and 720 bird species
Almost all of our clients let us have their feedback after they get back from their travels. Sometimes this is a detailed trip report or it can be just a few words. Whatever it is, we love to receive feedback, as it helps us to keep standards high and experiences perfect for future travellers. Over half of our bookings come from repeat clients or by word of mouth, a statistic we are very proud of. Here, you can find some of the reasons why.
We all very much enjoyed the trip and would like to thank the MotMot staff who arranged such a varied experience for us and who gave us help and advic..
We all very much enjoyed the trip and would like to thank the MotMot staff who arranged such a varied experience for us and who gave us help and advice before the trip.
We hope that the following comments and observations will provide some useful feedback.
The holiday was well organised and enjoyable and everyone kept well. The food was excellent throughout and the staff in the various places we stayed looked after us well and ensured we drank only bottled or filtered water.
The standard of the accommodation was on the whole very good. The guides were very knowledgeable about local wildlife, especially birds and also very informative about the culture and most had good English. The drivers were excellent and both guides and drivers were extremely helpful and attentive to our needs. The wildlife guides were very good at spotting birds and at quickly focussing their telescopes on their findings. They all made sure wherever possible that everyone in the group saw the birds. The only slight criticism was the tendency of some guides to play phone recordings of bird calls too frequently and too loudly. The use of phones by some guides to record sightings of birds and send them to us was very useful. We liked the Guatemalan sense of humour, probably because it was similar to our own.
The flights all went well. Security when in transit through the USA was prolonged, but this was anticipated.
Hotel Meson de Maria in Antigua was comfortable and convenient with a nice ambiance. The local guide was excellent and gave us just the right amount of information.
Finca Los Tarrales was excellently situated and comfortable with good local guides and an abundance of birds and other wildlife.
Casa del Mundo in Lake Atitlan was adequate with nice views of the lake but walks around and from the hotel were restricted and the communal layout of the outside seating areas made it feel crowded. The boat ride across the lake to the hotel was very rough and bumpy owing to windy conditions, so was not ideal for anyone prone to back problems. The other boat trips from Casa del Mundo were less rough and we all sat on the spare life vests which cushioned the bumps. The rooms were reached only after a steep climb involving many steps up from the jetty and so would be unsuitable for people with mobility issues. The evening meal was served communally on one large table and so was very noisy. Although it was comfortable, we felt on balance that this was the least suitable accommodation of the six for us.
We found the visits to the market and seeing the textile production fascinating.
Nitun Eco-lodge. We travelled by car as the lake was too rough for a boat crossing and were the only residents there which was very nice. The lodge was beautifully designed in a superb location with excellent hosts and beautiful food. There were humming bird feeders around the open air restaurant which was an added attraction. One drawback was the large number of steps up from the jetty which were very slippery after rain. We were warned very carefully about them by the hosts, but these could cause problems for people with mobility issues. The showers themselves worked well, but the design made getting in and especially getting out quite hazardous. We mentioned this to the hosts who are already addressing the problem.
Black Rock Lodge. I think we enjoyed this one the most. The situation is spectacular and the accommodation and food were very good. The guides were excellent and there were plenty of great birds and other wildlife to see. The manager even came to find us so that we could see a rare raptor which a guide had spotted. .
Singing Sands. Again a very nice location, very different from the rest with good food, and great snorkelling on Laughing Bird Caye. In our opinion the design of the rooms could be improved as there was no self-contained bath room /toilet, the open plan toilet being located behind a low wall behind the bed which would not suit everyone.
We hope these comments are helpful. One final comment. At the Belize border, we saw a notice which stated that absolutely no alcohol or food was to be brought in. Perhaps people need to be warned of this. We had finished all our whisky by then and as the price of whisky in Belize was very high we went on to sample the Rum!
Again, many thanks for organising such an enjoyable, diverse and fascinating trip.
Leo and Angela Batten and Richard and Julia Porter – November 2017
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Loved the trip to Guatemala and Belize! Generally excellent itinerary – fantastic range of different habitats. There are some moments that will st..
Loved the trip to Guatemala and Belize! Generally excellent itinerary – fantastic range of different habitats. There are some moments that will stay with me for a long time including Night Jars flying directly at us, King Vultures alongside a waterfall and an aerial display from Ospreys which I could happily have watched for ages. Passionate guides, very knowledgeable, patient with my failure to identify repeat birds and expert with the scope! I have returned with a keen desire to do more.
The following might be useful – they are observations not complaints.
Personally I could have done without the visit to the market – suffered rather than enjoyed, because of the crowds. Was asked if I had a head torch for an evening walk in Tikal – would have taken one if I had been advised to do so. Had an ordinary torch – that bordered on essential in some of the lodges. If / when I do a second trip I shall be more aware of the amount of standing required – it caught me out on a couple of days.
The journey back was disrupted – Delta explained the original delay leaving Belize but assured me that I would make the connection at Atlanta – I didn’t believe them and was correct. However, I arrived home only three hours later than expected and my baggage arrived at 10.30 that night. All part of the travelling experience – I’ve certainly had worse.
Thanks so much for putting the itinerary together – Diana Hayden – Feb 2017
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We have just returned from an amazing 19 night tour of Guatemala and we are very grateful to Vivianne of MotMot Travel for arranging such a super expe..
We have just returned from an amazing 19 night tour of Guatemala and we are very grateful to Vivianne of MotMot Travel for arranging such a super experience.
On our arrival at Guatemala City Airport we were given a warm welcome from Melvin, our guide, and Edwin, our driver and while en route to Antigua, we were enthralled to see Volcan Fuego erupting spectacularly! We were assured life and property were not in danger from this volcanic eruption and so we could enjoy the show.
Our accommodation ranged from an historic hotel in Antigua, a mountain cottage, a lakeside cabin, a cloud forest cottage, a riverside cabin, a room in a private reserve, a picturesque island hotel to a modern international hotel in Guatemala City. Our accommodation had been carefully chosen for comfort, location and friendly staff. Our meals were taken either in the hotels or in picturesque restaurants with most having outstanding vistas! Our first breakfast was at Finca El Pillar after excellent birding. We ate on the terrace overlooking Antigua which lay in the valley floor below while Volcan Fuego smoked away and birds flew past! What a way to start our birding holiday!!
While in Antigua we had time to absorb some of the rich culture of this Spanish colonial city as well as visit the surrounding area including having lunch at the Santiago Zamora Cooperative where we enjoyed a chicken Pepian and learnt the history of how and why the cooperative had been established.
Melvin is an excellent bird guide and we totalled 315 different species including many endemics and migrants. The Resplendent Quetzal gave us a fine show in the Reserve and then again in a tree right outside our cottage! We were privileged to view the Black Cat Bird and Yucatan Woodpecker at Las Guacamayas, both rare and only occasionally seen.
The locations of Quetzaltenango and the hot springs at Fuentes Georginas are breath taking while the birdlife doesn’t fail to impress.
Las Guacamayas Biological Station, where we stayed in beautifully appointed cabins overlooking the river, gave us unparalleled views of a pair of Scarlet Macaws with one emerging from the nest in a hollowed-out tree. Meals were varied and very well prepared and presented. Our final breakfast al fresco overlooking the river while humming birds flew past was truly memorable. A troop of Howler Monkeys bade us farewell as we travelled along the river to the village where our vehicle was waiting to return us to Flores.
Lake Atitlan was amazing. Early one morning we stood on a look-out above the lake to see steam rising from the dormant volcanic crater that hosts the lake! Here a pair of Elegant Euphonia flew to a bush at our eye-level.
Los Tarrales Nature Reserve is a treat where we saw mammals such as the Kinkajou, White-tailed Deer and Central American Agouti and many diverse bird species including the Azure-rumped Tanager, Tody Motmot and White-bellied Chacalaca. The accommodation at Los Tarrales is very comfortable and the food and fruit juices are delicious.
Tikal National Park is awe-inspiring in the majesty and building prowess of the ancient Mayans. Melvin is extremely knowledgeable about the Mayan culture and he certainly brought the monuments to life. We stayed at Tikal Inn where in the evening flocks of Montezuma Oropendolas descend noisily on the trees by the rooms to roost and thankfully they sleep all through the night!! Squirrels and Coatis were frequently seen as were Spider Monkeys.
Our last birding day in Guatemala was at the Mayan site of Yaxha where on our way to the Red Hand Temple, Melvin crouched down and pointed into the thicket where we watched a Bright-rumped Attila struggling with a small vine snake. The Attila had already killed the snake before we saw it, but the bird needed traction to tear the head off the snake. We watched the Attila jumping about with the snake in its mouth and then suddenly it flew away. The three of us crept into the thicket to where we had last seen the bird and there we found a decapitated snake with its tail tied in a knot around a thin branch of a bush! The experience was really amazing and fortunately Jeff captured the action on video so we know our eyes had not been deceiving us!
Yaxha did not disappoint us either in its grandeur amidst beautiful scenery or with the animal and birdlife. A Grey Fox appeared from the ruins and walked past us quite nonchalantly.
At the entrance to Yaxha National Park where entrance fees are paid, do buy some locally made biscuits which are so yummy!
We had our last delicious lunch in a quaint thatched restaurant on the way to the airport for our flight to Guatemala City. Even at the airport our bird watching continued as we saw several Gray-breasted Martins on a wire by the entrance door to the airport.
Melvin made sure we understood the peculiar security arrangements, where to pay our security tax and the way to the Departure Lounge. It was sad to say farewell to Melvin and Edwin who had made our holiday so interesting, rewarding and enjoyable. We would also like to thank our expert local guides who were Arun at El Pillar, Lester at Los Tarrales and Giovanni at Las Guacamayas. We first met Benedicto and Lily of Martsam Travel, who were our Guatemalan land agents at Rutland Bird Fair last year and it was lovely of Lily to phone us during our transfer from Guatemala City airport to welcome us to her country and we met Benedicto again in Las Tarrales where we enjoyed discussing with him the wildlife we had already seen.
Back in Guatemala City our transfer to the Radisson was waiting for us. Our night’s stay here was comfortable and the transfer the next day to the airport was quick and efficient.
Again we would like to thank everyone involved in making our holiday so memorable and enjoyable and we look forward to a return visit to Guatemala in the near future.
(The bird list for this holiday appears in ‘Trip Reports’)
Jeff & Jill Lansdell - Feb 2017READ FULL REPORT