December 5 - 15, 2017 and January 5 - 15, 2018
The state of Oaxaca is wonderfully diverse in flora and fauna, history, culture, cuisine, and scenery. Our tour is designed to provide us optimum exposure to this richness at a comfortable pace while enjoying unique lodging experiences, great natural history and birds, and fascinating cultural experiences. I've had the good fortune to have been traveling in Oaxaca for about fifteen years, and it remains my favorite travel destination.
While in the city of Oaxaca we stay at the charming Hotel Azucenas, a wonderful place with an intimate atmosphere located in a nice neighborhood. From this comfortable home base, we visit Teotitlan del Valle, a Zapotec town well known for its fine weavings, as well as the impressive ruins of Monte Alban. Among the many species possible in these areas are white-throated towhee, Boucard's wren, Oaxaca and bridled sparrows, pileated flycatcher, slaty and dwarf vireos, dusky and beautiful hummingbirds, dwarf vireo, blue mockingbird, ocellated thrasher, white-tailed hawk, grey-breasted woodpecker, black-vented oriole, elegant euphonia, and many others.
To the north, in the Sierra Juarez, we'll enjoy rich Madrean forest with spectacularly large agaves and numerous flowering plants. We'll have opportunities to find the endemic dwarf jay as well as gray-barred wren, golden-browed and red warblers, spot-crowned woodcreeper, collared towhee, chestnut-capped and rufous-capped brush-finches, amethyst-throated and blue-throated hummingbirds, mountain trogon, russet nightingale-thrush, and gray-breasted wood-wren. We'll also enjoy a superb lunch at a mountain restaurant that serves the best chiles rellenos I've ever had.
From Oaxaca City we travel south to the Sierra Miahuatlan where we'll spend a night at a hotel on a mountain ridge surrounded by pine forest and many flowering plants that attract many hummingbirds as well as cinnamon-bellied flowerpiercer. One of my favorite cloud forest trees, "arbol de las manitas", can be a bird magnet. In the past, it's nectar-laden flowers have attracted four species of oriole, Aztec thrush, blue-mockingbird, yellow-bellied sapsucker, gray-silky, and many warblers and tanagers (including flame-colored).
We then traverse a spectacular transect as we descend from the high mountains to the Pacific coast. We spend time in the pines and oaks and make stops in the broadleaf evergreen forest of the coffee growing area. Along the way, we've had good luck in finding bumblebee and blue-capped hummingbirds, chestnut-capped brush finch, slaty vireo, red-headed tanager, long-billed starthroat, common chlorospingus, golden vireo, fan-tailed and golden-crowned warblers, eye-ringed flatbill, emerald toucanet, Audubon's oriole, and many more.
On the Pacific coast, we stay at the lovely and unique Rancho Cerro Largo where white-throated magpie jay, banded and rufous-naped wrens, russet-crowned motmot, lesser ground cuckoo, orange-breasted bunting, red-breasted chat, and citreoline trogon can be found on or near the lodge grounds. In the nearby forest we often find these same birds and more, including Colima and ferruginous pygmy-owls, happy wren, painted and blue buntings, yellow-winged cacique, golden-cheeked woodpecker, olive sparrow, Nutting's flycatcher, golden vireo, white-lored gnatcatcher, and many others. Out over the Pacific, we see red-billed tropicbirds and brown boobies soaring with magnificent frigatebirds.
In the Puerto Escondido area we visit the mouth of the Rio Colotepec, which is wonderfully rich in waders, shorebirds, waterfowl, pelicans, and terns, and also Laguna Manialtepec, a mangrove-lined lagoon where we've seen bare-throated tiger and boat-billed herons, common black hawk, Northern jacana, up to four species of kingfisher, mangrove vireo, mangrove swallow, and ruddy-breasted seedeater along with uncommon birds such as mangrove cuckoo, aplomado falcon, and gray-necked wood-rail.
Our journey combines exciting birding, rich natural history, outstanding food, the warm hospitality of the people of Oaxaca, and a suite of memorable cultural experiences. These include a visit with one of the master Zapotec weavers, a tour of the ancient ruins of Monte Alban, a visit to the Oaxaca Cultural Museum, a tour of Finca El Pacifico (a bird-rich, shade grown, organic coffee plantation), and the trip highlight, a day of culture, cuisine, and ethnobotany with the staff of Seasons of My Heart Cooking School.
Detailed itinerary and references available upon request.
Bumblebee Hummingbird by Wendy