Veracruz Mexico – River of Raptors Tour
- Join HMANA for the hawk-watching experience of a lifetime! Our tour is planned during the peak of fall migration, when daily counts may number over 200,000 raptors including Broad-winged and Swainson’s Hawks.
Each fall season an average of four and a half million hawks of nearly 30 species, including greater than two million Broad-winged Hawks, are recorded from two count sites in central Veracruz, Mexico. Along with mind-boggling numbers of other migrant bird species – Wood Storks, Anhingas, White Pelicans, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers among them – these raptors are funneled into a 15-mile-wide bottleneck between the mountains and the Gulf of Mexico. Counts in recent years have confirmed that Veracruz is host to the most concentrated raptor migration in the world and receives over 90% of the world population of Swainson’s and Broad-winged hawks, and Mississippi Kites.
The tour will highlight the high diversity and number of raptor and non-raptor migrants (including dragonflies and butterflies – which number over one million per day!), as well as the conservation of these species that is being led by Pronatura-Veracruz. We will also focus on some of the region’s specialty bird species including up to 25 endemics. There will be time for stops at archaeological sites such as Cortez’ first Spanish colony, and cultural immersion, including excellent local food, throughout the tour.
Participant numbers are limited to ensure a quality experience for everyone.
Phil Brown, HMANA Tour Guide
Eduardo Martinez, Pronatura Biologist
Tour cost includes:
- Expert local/bilingual guide and expert HMANA guide
- All ground transportation and an experienced local driver
- All meals in Mexico, and snacks and water daily
- Lodging in comfortable rooms
- All admission fees including boat rides
- Expert instruction in hawk identification
- Special introduction to raptor conservation programs in Mexico
- A contribution to Pronatura Veracruz’s raptor conservation program
Airfare is not included.
Minimum 6 participants required.
The tour begins and ends in Veracruz. The round-trip airfare to Veracruz will vary with city of origin but is estimated at $600-800 per person.
Alcoholic beverages and items of a personal nature are also not included.
Please read HMANA’s Tour Refund Policy before making your payment.
For more information or to reserve your spot, contact Julie Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept 29, Travel Day/Arrival to Veracruz city.
Fly to Houston for a group gathering at the airport (in case tour members are coming from different places) before continuing to Veracruz City. Arrive at Veracruz City Airport to meet local guides and travel by van to hotel Bienvenido in Cardel.
Sept 30, La Mancha, Cardel and Cempoala.
First birding morning in Veracruz will consist of a light walk on the road to the La Mancha lagoon for our first taste of the local birds that may include Black-headed Saltator, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Great Kiskadee, Social Flycatcher, Buff-bellied Hummingbird as well as migrant songbirds and shorebirds at the lagoon and neighboring beach. Late morning we will travel back to Cardel for our first day of hawk watching at one of Pronatura’s two hawkwatch sites on the rooftop of the same Hotel Bienvenido. Lunch and then late afternoon visit to Cempoala ruins, a pre-Columbian settlement of the Totanac culture. Dinner in local restaurant or at hotel.
Oct 1, Juan Angel beach and La Antigua.
Our destination of this day will be Juan Angel beach were we will be looking for Altamira Oriol, Scrub Euphonia, Aplomado Falcon, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Blue Black Grassquit plus shorebirds at the mount of the river. Back for lunch in Cardel and more hawk watching. In late afternoon we will travel to the small city of La Antigua to visit the ancient house of Hernan Cortez and other historical places. Then a boat ride just over La Antigua River to find Ringed and Amazon Kingfishers, Rose-throated Becard, Red-faced Pigeon, Common Black Hawk and more shorebirds and water birds. Dinner at local seafood restaurant on the river shore.
Oct 2, Villa Rica beach and Chichicaxtle.
Early morning visit to Villa Rica, a little coastal village where Hernan Cortez first made contact with the Totonacs to look for White-fronted and Yellow-headed Parrots, Laughing Falcon, Crested Cararaca, White-bellied Whistling Duck and many migrant songbirds and shorebirds at the nearby lagoon. Then a quick visit to the Quiahuixtlan archeological site on the side of a hill overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Lunch in Cardel and afternoon visit to the River of Raptors main hawk watching site, Chichicaxtle. We will then travel to Xalapa city for dinner and to enjoy some birding in the highlands of Veracruz.
Oct 3, Xalapa and Xico.
Our first birding walk in Xalapa will be at the Macuiltepetl Ecological Park that surrounds an extinct volcano in the middle of the city. In the beautiful cloud forest there we will search for the Blue Mockingbird, Blue-crowned Motmot, Golden-crowned Warbler, Slate-throated Redstart and Green Jays. Many migratory warblers also can be found in the area. Around noon we will visit the Anthropological Museum of Xalapa where some of the best displays in the world from the Olmec and Totonacan cultures can be seen. Some local cuisine for lunch and then a late afternoon visit to Texolo waterfalls in the nearby town of Xico where White-collared and Chesnut-collared Swifts come to roost at sunset and try to avoid to be caught by Bat Falcons. Dinner in Coatepec, a town well known for its excellent coffee.
Oct 4, Veracruz highlands and Chichicaxtle.
This day we will travel even higher in the mountains, first to oak-pine forest to find Red Warbler, Crescent-chested and Golden-browed Warblers, White-eared Hummingbird and other pine forest birds and then to some desert habitats in the high plateau below the Cofre de Perote volcano to search for Striped Sparrow, Blue-throated and Lucifer’s Hummingbirds and more. Lunch in our way back to enjoy late day migration in Chichicaxtle and then re-check at the Bienvenido Hotel.
Oct 5, El Mirador.
El Mirador is an old hacienda dating back to the late 1800’s. In the morning we will go to the hacienda’s coffee plantation that is mixed with patches of the original rainforest that is characteristic of the area. Keel-billed Toucan and Collared Arasari are resident here as well as Collared and Garthered Trogons. Mid morning picnic style brunch surrounded by birds and forest and on to look for Ivory-billed and Olivaceous Woodcreppers and much more. Then lunch in the Hacienda and one last stop at the hawk watch site in Chichicaxtle before heading to overnight in Veracruz City.
Oct 6, Las Barrancas.
This day we travel south to the grasslands and wetlands of Alvarado where, on the road to Las Barrancas we will search for Double-striped Thick Knees, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Pinnated Bittern, Snail Kite, Yellow-headed Vulture, Mangrove Swallow and other marsh birds. Lunch at a seafood restaurant in the fishermen town of Arbolillo, then back to Veracruz City for a free afternoon so you can walk the zocalo and malecon and shop for souvenirs. Dinner at a very traditional restaurant near our hotel.
Oct 7, Airport and departure.
Tour members will be transported to the airport in time for their flight.
Veracruz Tour Guides
Phil Brown has been guiding tours for HMANA since 2012 including Costa Rica, South Florida twice, Whitefish Point, and Veracruz in 2016. He has also been involved with HMANA MeetUps and is currently the Chair of the Tours Committee. He also leads tours for a variety of other organizations and companies, including Merlin Wildlife Tours. Phil works as the Director of Land Management for New Hampshire Audubon, where he is focused on bird conservation, land stewardship, and natural history education. He has served as Site Coordinator for the Pack Monadnock Raptor Observatory in Peterborough, NH for 10 years. Phil resides in Hancock, New Hampshire with his wife, Julie Brown of HMANA, and their two children.
In Veracruz, the group will be joined by a bilingual ornithologist, Eduardo Martinez, past coordinator of the River of Raptors hawk count and banding efforts. Eduardo has extensive birding and guiding experience and happily shares his abundant natural and cultural knowledge with our tours. Trip logistics will be coordinated by Pronatura Veracruz and their staff.