back BACK

Pitta Nature Tours
Mexico: Chiapas

In southern Mexico, the state of Chiapas and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is the meeting place of avifauna between the north and south where more than 40 endemic and near endemic species occur, and the state boasts a list of nearly 700 birds.

Upcoming Tour Date(s)

January 12-22, 2023

8 of 8 Spaces Remaining

January 2026 Dates TBD

8 of 8 Spaces Available

Itinerary

Itinerary subject to change due to weather, birding conditions, and other factors out of our control.

Day 1 - Arrive in Tabasco Thursday, January 12

Upon arrival at Carlos Rovirosa Pérez International Airport in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico, our local team will be waiting for you outside of customs. All attendees need to plan on arriving no later than 4:00 PM on January 12. If you plan to arrive before the 12th we will work with you to arrange pickups and transfers. Since we won't be staying in Villahermosa, as soon as we have gathered the group, we'll grab a quick bite to eat before transferring about 2 hours to Palenque.

Night in Palenque

Day 2 - Palenque and Laguna de Catazajá Friday, January 13

This morning we rise early for owling and birding between the town of Palenque and Palenque National Park. Palenque is a medium-sized site, smaller than Chichen Itza, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb, and bas-relief carvings that the Mayas produced. Much of the history of Palenque has been reconstructed from reading the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the many monuments. By 2005, the discovered area covered up to 1 square mile, but it is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.

This introduction to birding in the state of Chiapas is reminiscent of birding locations further south in Central America. Hummingbirds, Motmots, Toucans, Tanagers, and Parrots of numerous varieties can be found here, as the park boasts a list of more than 300 species. Violet Sabrewing, White Hawk, Chestnut-colored Woodpecker, Golden-hooded Tanager, and Thick-billed Seed-Finch represent just a few of the dozens of species we’ll see this morning. Overwintering wood-warblers from North America are commonplace, with more than a dozen species possible.

After lunch, we’ll head north to Laguna de Catazajá, where we’ll board boats and pick up a wealth of waterbirds like Northern Jacana, Bare-throated Tiger-Heron, and Amazon, Ringed, and American Pygmy-Kingfisher.

Night in Palenque

Day 3 - Bonampak Saturday, January 14

Today will be a long day. Rising early, we’ve got a 2-hr drive before sunrise to reach the Bonampak archeological site. Where’s we’ll spend the satire morning birding. While the ruins here are quite small compared to other sites in the state, the bird list exceeds 300 species and should provide an existing morning of tropical birding. With any luck, we might find Black Hawk-Eagle, White-whiskered Puffbird, any number of woodcreepers, flycatchers, tanagers, and wrens. Hummingbirds are also plentiful here while other rare jungle goodies like Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Black-throated Shrike-Tanager, Slaty-tailed Trogon, and Scaly-throated Leaftosser are possible. Here in the southern portion of the state, the birdlife more closely resembles that of Costa Rica, than elsewhere in Mexico.

In the afternoon we’ll check in to our hotel and relax until dinner. In the evening we’ll put some serious effort into nocturnal birds like Great Potoo, Northern Potoo, Black-and-white Owl, Crested Owl, Mottled Owl, Middle American Screech-Owl, and Central American Pygmy-Owl.

Night in Frontera Corazal

Day 4 - Yaxchilán Sunday, January 15

This morning we’ll visit Yaxchilán, an archeological site. With any luck, this morning will provide one of the biggest bird lists of the tour. Spotted Wood-Quail, Great Tinamou, and Little Tinamou may be heard bellowing in the understory. Purple-crowned Fairy and Stripe-throated Hermit may be seen feeding on the tropical flowers. Rufous-tailed Jacamar is expected, so hopefully, we can nail down a good look, while we enjoy the woodpeckers, toucans, and parrots. Great Antshrike, Dot-winged Antwren, Dusky Antbird, Cinnamon Becard, Royal Flycatcher, Bright-rumped Attila, and White-whiskered Puffbird are just some of the possibilities. A real prize here would be the incredible Ornate Hawk-Eagle, a show-stopping bird not soon to be forgotten.

After lunch, we’ll travel 2 hours south to the edge of the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. We’ll be spending 2-nights here at a lodge, allowing us to bask in the jungle, in one of the most remote regions of Mexico.

Night at Hotel Ecolodge Ara Macao Las Guacamayas

Day 5 - Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve Monday, January 16

We’ll spend the entire day around the lodge and reserve. Much of the birding here will be based on what the local guides have staked out, what we have the best opportunities to find, and what specialty birds we expect to have. Scarlet Macaw, Crested Guan, Great Curassow, Muscovy Duck, Crane Hawk, Unicolored Jay, Sungrebe, and more than 300 species are possible here. With the full day exploring the jungle, the river, and a few staked out species we should have a memorable time here.

Night at Hotel Ecolodge Ara Macao Las Guacamayas

Day 6 - Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve Tuesday, January 17

We’ll spend the morning trying to fill in any gaps we may have on a list that should be well over 200 species at this point. After lunch we’ll transfer to Lagunas de Montebello National Park. If time allows we’ll attempt to get out and look for a few specialty birds here in the later afternoon. After dark we’ll focus our attention on the nocturnal creatures here, specifically the Bearded Screech-Owl.

Night in Lagunas de Montebello

Day 7 - Montebello National Park Wednesday, January 18

This morning we’ll enjoy the stunning views, and stunning birds of this area which may be highlighted by any number of the following birds: Band-backed Wren, Common Chlorospingus, Rufous-collared Robin, Azure-crowned Hummingbird, White-naped Brushfinch, Highland Guan, Brown-backed Solitaire, Blue-throated Motmot, Northern Emerald-Toucanet, Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush, Green-throated Mountain-gem, and Slaty-breasted Tinamou. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as our morning should produce numerous new birds for the tour.

After lunch, buckle up—we’ve got a 3-hour drive to our destination for the night. As usual, if time permits we will do some light birding before dark to see if we can track down a few of the highland specialties here, namely the Pink-headed Warbler, but also various Mountain-gems, Hooded Grosbeak, Golden-browed Warbler, Black-capped Siskin, Wine-throated Hummingbird, Singing Quail, Black-throated Jay, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, and Gray Silky-flycatcher.

Night in San Cristobal

Day 8 - Parque Ecoturístico Montetik Thursday, January 19

We’ll spend the morning birding the mountains around town again, making sure we get incredible looks at Pink-headed Warbler, but also seeking out other specialties like Mountain Trogon, Tufted Flycatcher, Black-capped Swallow, Pine Flycatcher, and Olive Warbler. The transition to montane forest also provides an abundance of species more typical of the mountain west like Steller’s Jay, Western Tanager, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Hairy Woodpecker, and Spotted Towhee. In the afternoon we’ll make the 90-minute drive to the state capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez

Night in Tuxtla Gutiérrez

Day 9 - Sumidero Canyon National Park Friday, January 20

In the morning we visit the dramatic Sumidero Canyon National Park, where the Grijalva River exits from the central valley of Chiapas on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. We’ll spend the day in this superb area, whose birds include Lesser Roadrunner, a variety of hummingbirds, Belted Flycatcher, Blue-and-white Mockingbird, Red-breasted Chat, Yellow Grosbeak, Blue (Cabanis’s) Seedeater, and Bar-winged Oriole. We’ll also try to make a side trip nearby for the local Nava’s Wren.

In the afternoon we will visit the world-famous Tuxtla Gutiérrez zoo, where many of the birds and mammals roam freely in native forest: Great Curassows wander the trails and spider monkeys swing overhead. In order to try and squeak out a few more endemics, we’ll take a late drive to Santa Isabel for the night.

Night in Santa Isabel

Day 10 - The Pacific Slope Saturday, January 21

This morning we’ll focus our effort on the pacific slopes with a very specific target bird—the gorgeous Rose-bellied Bunting. This species is a highlight on any tour and well worth the extra days of this tour. After lunch we’ll shift to the lowlands around Puerto Arista where a number of endemic are possible. Between today and the following morning we’ll try our best to pick up Giant Wren, White-bellied Chachalaca, Pacific Parakeet, Blue-crowned Chlorophonia, West Mexican Chachalaca, Orange-breasted Bunting, Rufous Sabrewing, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireo, and Emerald-chinned Hummingbird-—all endemic or near endemic that are close enough to Tuxtla to put in the effort.

Night in Tonalá

Day 11 - Pacific Lowlands & End of Tour Sunday, January 22

The last morning of our tour that has seen us travel from the central jungles to the southern rainforest, the pacific highlands, and the pacific coast will wrap up as we clean up any species we think we might have a chance at getting. The focus will be on those lowland endemics we still need. After lunch, we’ll travel 2-hours back to Tuxtla Gutiérrez where we will wrap the tour at the airport.

End of Tour!

2023 Pricing

Single Room

You’ll have your own, private room for the duration of the tour.

$4,299 per person
Book Now  
2026 Pricing

Pricing for 2026 will be updated after our 2023 tour. Due to inflation and adjustments in itinerary, tour prices generally go up slightly every year to cover new costs. Providing an incredible experience year in and year out is our number one priority, and in general price changes are minimal at about 1-2% annually.

What's Included & What to Expect

What to Expect on Your Tour

Upon arrival at Carlos Rovirosa Pérez International Airport in Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico, our local team will be waiting for you outside of customs. All attendees need to plan on arriving no later than 4:00 PM on January 12. If you plan to arrive before the 12th we will work with you to arrange pickups and transfers. Since we won't be staying in Villahermosa, as soon as we have gathered the group, we'll grab a quick bite to eat before transferring about 2 hours to Palenque.

Transportation

Throughout the tour, we will travel in a comfortable 15-person Transit Van. There is lots of room to stretch out with your gear and not feel like a sardine in a tin.  Throughout the tour, we'll switch up seating arrangements so everyone gets a different view day-to-day.  

Ice-cold water is available whenever you need from the back of the van.

Accomodations

Accommodations are typically basic but comfortable and often the best local option available where we're birding.

Photography

Birding 1st, Photography 2nd. This is a birding tour, with the focus on getting as many birds as possible, although casual photographers in the group will find some birds for photography. There may be some feeders on this tour, but most photography is on the fly as it and will always take second place to making sure everyone sees the bird. None-the-less there will be plenty of photo opportunities on this tour.

Meals

Most mornings we leave early and will stop at a convenience store for you to purchase coffee and snacks. Most days we eat two large meals. Usually a late morning meal after the best birding hours are over--oten at local villages with delicious cuisine--and then dinner at a normal hour at some of our local favorite restauraunts. Typical Mexican fare is the norm and you will eat some of hte best tacos you've ever had while on this tour! On the rare occasion we may have an early breakfast at our hotel then lunch after our morning birding.

Pace

Generally, this tour follows a rather relaxed but steady pace. Quite often we will spend a longer amount of time birding a single location, often walking or driving short distances then spending a good deal of time observing. Therefore we will spend a greater amount of time in the field, but the actual pace will be fairly relaxed. There are several long drives between major locations that will provide chances to relax while we travel. Also, with around 12 hours of daylight, the days aren't too long and with limited nocturnal birding, evenings typically provide a nice chance to relax as well.

Difficulty

The combination of pace, terrain, climate, and observability make this tour fairly easy for just about anyone. There will be a fair amount of walking day-to-day (up to several miles at most), but it is mostly on well-maintained roads, tracks, or trails that are generally flat. A number of locations provide birding that is also generally pretty easy with open views of the canopy, or forest edges where birds may perch in the open.

Weather and Temperature

Chiapas is warm year round. High temperatures range form the mid-70's to the low-90's. Night tiem temps at some of the higher elevation sites will dip into the 50's, and rain is possible this time of year about 1 in every 3 days. So we generally do expect rain, but it should be limited.

Insects, Snakes, and Predators

Oh my!  Malaria-carrying Mosquitoes can be found at all of the locations we will be visiting near the Guatemala border, so we highly recommend anti-malarials, protective clothing, and repellent.  There are various other biting insects, spiders, snakes, etc, but nothing of any serious concern.

Travel Requirements

A valid passport or passport card is required for all U.S. citizens traveling beyond the Mexican border zone. Passports or passport cards are required for U.S. citizens 16 and older to re-enter the U.S. Mexican immigration may not accept washed, mutilated, or otherwise damaged passports, and require their carriers to return to the United States.

Tourist cards are required for this tour. Tourist cards are available on line before you travel, on the plane, and at the airport in Cancun. Travelers must keep their card with them at all times, since immigration federal officers have the right ask visitors to provide proof of their legal status at any time. Travelers without the proper documentation have occasionally been detained. It is also important to have passport and tourist card photocopies in case the originals are lost or stolen.

U.S. citizens must return their tourist card when they depart Mexico. Visitors who are unable to present their card may encounter significant delays and be asked to file a police report, pay fines, and obtain an exit visa.

Endemic Bird Highlights

  • West Mexican Chachalaca
  • Long-tailed Sabrewing
  • Red-breasted Chat
  • Rose-bellied Bunting
  • Orange-breasted Bunting
  • Giant Wren
  • Nava’s Wren
  • + 21 Chiapas Near Endemics
  • + 15 Mexican Near Endemics

Non-bird Highlights

  • Palenque
  • Bonampak
  • Yaxchilán
  • Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve
  • Montebello National Park
  • Sumidero Canyon National Park
  • Parque Ecoturístico Montetik
  • Tuxtla Gutiérrez Zoo

What's Included

  • Professional Guide Service
  • All Ground Transportation
  • 10-nights Accomodations
  • 2-3 Meals/day with Soft Drinks
  • Water for Refreshment
  • Spotting Scope while Birding
  • Birds—we’ll find some birds
  • Some Flammtastic Tour Swag
  • Delightful Conversation about Birds
  • A Thoroughly Enjoyable Time!
We also include SFW dad jokes, witty bird puns, and the occasional commentary on things non-bird related!

What's Not Included

  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Binoculars
  • Cameras and Lenses
  • Personal Flashlights/Headlamps
  • Bug Spray
  • Jackets or Sweaters
  • Shoes and Socks
  • Room Service & Additional Food
  • Laundry
  • Phone Calls
  • Tips to Guides & Porters
  • Flights or Transportation to Mexico

Still have questions? Ready to book a tour? Either way tapping the buttons below will put you in touch with us!

Mailing List

Sign up for our mailing list so you never miss an update, get our latest tour news, and exclusive deals on new products and tours!