Steve Dougill is leading a trip to Veracruz, Mexico for the raptor migration!
Event Type: Social Event
Open to Non-members: Yes
Members Price: $0
Non-members Price: $0
Start Time: 10/04/2024 07:00 AM
End Time: 10/13/2024 09:00 PM
Location: Boca del Río
Boca del Río Ver.,
October 4 to 13 , 2024
10 days with 10 people and two guides
Day 1 starts in evening for welcome meal
Day 10 includes breakfast and then travel home day
Apart from focusing on birds we are also introducing you to the local birding community,
ProNatura and their projects, a beautiful part of rural Mexico, and a huge cross section of the
local habitats .... It is one of the endemic hotspots in the Americas!
This is timed for the maximum variety of species and the huge raptor migration. At this time we
will be hitting the peak of the Broad-wing Hawks, and large numbers of Swainson's too. There
will be a few Mississippi Kites and if we are lucky a Swallow tail kite or two. Others include
Gray, zone tails, short tail and both black hawks. Many neotropical migrants will be passing
through and some species establishing their wintering territories allowing us to see many
species that breed both in the West and Eastern US in addition to the many endemic Mexican
species and other birds common south of the border. We will visit many of the varied habitats
and their associated bird communities in the Veracruz area ranging from dry lowland thorn scrub
and coastal communities to Pine forests at 10,000ft in the thin air of the volcanoes.... and some
beautiful mud elevation must forests.
We are partnering with the local non-profit in Mexico and all the profit (above food, lodging,
transportation and local guide) goes towards their bird and conservation programs.
You can watch Steve's presentation from last year on the River of Raptors on our YouTube channel here.
Unfortunately the cost of Mexico and Central America continues to go up with high rates of
inflation. In addition the Peso has gained a third of its value in a little over a year. The cost is
based on current exchange rates. If the Mexican Peso loses strength against the US dollar, the
price of the tour will come down. It is likely to come down by $200-300.
$3500 (likely to drop to $3200) double occupancy
$3,800 (likely to drop to $3500) single occupancy.
From the brief research I've done, this price is quite a bit lower than other tours. This is
because I take no fee but pass on the tour at cost. In the three previous tours, we have always
recorded significantly more species than other groups thanks to the locations we go to and the
amazing local guide. This year, Chivez will be the main guide. He is a fantastic birder who is a
real character. I have birded with him on a trip to Oaxaca and on a previous Veracruz tour.
All inclusive for meals, hotels, transportation, pickup and drop off at airport, entrance fees,
community fees, boat fees. It even includes modest alcohol consumption.
Does not include personal items, travel to Mexico or travel insurance or tips for the local
Mexican guide and driver
About 1/2 of the cost of the tour goes directly to ProNatura to fund their river of raptors program.
The other part pays for hotels and food and the local guides.
Almost all people arrive a day early. The guides will be present to bird the day before locally.
The hotel is right on the coast and it's fun birding the hotel grounds and beach. To arrange an
extra night at hotel and hotel pickup the cost is $100. You will also be expected to pay for your
meals during this extra time.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Relaxed birding is appropriate for all levels of birding experience from the newbies to
experienced. Short hikes on easy trails ... out of the sun for most of the walks. Chairs available
at the hawk count locations. Typically breakfast about 6am, on the road by 06.45 and bird until
lunch. Lunch is in restaurants for an hour or so and then bird in the afternoon.... Depends on
location but most days we will be back by 6pm. Because there are two guides we can easily
accommodate a slower pace and those who wish to spend more time taking photos. Also,
expect great food. You may need to go on a diet before the trip
Mexico has had a bad rap concerning safety, especially with the Cartels. While certain regions
are extremely dangerous we will be traveling in a very SAFE region which is very rural. There
has been no recent history of any cartel activity in this region and the local communities are
extremely friendly and hospitable.
Apart from birds there will be many opportunities to interact with the local villagers in the rural
communities as well as staff members of ProNatura. We will share a meal with the raptor
counting staff at their house in the small pueblo of Chichicaxle. You have the opportunity to visit
the famous anthropology museum in Xalapa (entrance and guide provided in the registration
fee). We will also visit some ancient indigenous sites close to the coast. Of course, if you want,
individuals can skip and carry on birding.
Fly to Veracruz (VER) International airport. The only direct flight from the US is United from
Houston. Otherwise, most flights will need a connection in Mexico City. Typically baggage will
be checked all the way through and after passport control follow signs for transfers. Mexico City
terminal has various zones where the gates are located. If flying air mexico be prepared to pay
extra on way home to check bags all the way to your destination (about $25)
Standards are certainly less posh than in the US. Even 4 star hotels will have a few minor
quirks where water from the shower may come onto the floor etc .... Still, all hotels have AC,
power outlets, are safe and clean, and have WIFI. We have a laundry service we can use half
way through the tour. The hotels in the mountains do not have AC as it is not needed there. All
hotels are comfortable and safe.
15 seater sprinter van with Driver, USB charges and AC. Everyone has a window seat. Water
jug in back to fill water bottles
Main guide / fixer will be a Pronatura staff member who speaks English and is excellent with the
birds. I will also act as a guide / fixer.
We visit all the main habitats in the area: mangrove lagoons, coastal grassland, sand dunes, dry
tropical lowland forests, hawk watch locations, mid elevation mountain forest, upper cloud
forest, high elevation pine forest, and dry transvolcanic belt desert. Birds are different in all
The lowlands are hot and humid ... In the 80’s during the day. Sometimes there is a cold front
where temps will drop into the 70’s. In the higher elevations expect the early mornings to be a
little chilly so bring a puffy and a sweater. It can be in the upper 40’s when we start and will
reach upper 60’s and 70’s later in the day. Expect some rain. I suggest bringing an umbrella.
In many cases we are able to adapt, and visit different locations based on rain. In 2022 we only
had a single rain day on each tour which did not affect the birding at all.
These are from two tours I led in 2022
This tour supports the nonprofit PRONATURA who runs the hawk count, educational programs,
bird banding and motus projects in the area.
There are mosquitoes in some areas but they are not bad. Bring long sleeved shirts and
repellent. Dengue sometimes shows up but we will be in doors in the evenings. In 2022 both
tours had a couple of participants show mild stomach issues. Nothing serious.
ELECTRICITY and internet
Normal US system. Not all hotels have the three prong socket though (for laptops) so it's useful
to have a converter for those situations. All hotels have WiFi... Some places are better than
Yes you need a valid passport. It needs to be valid for the entire travel period and have two
blank pages. It does NOT need to be valid for 6 months after trip.
Hawk watch: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L177
Close to hw: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L10982273
Barrancas area: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L3810212
Xalapa area: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L1613371
Las Minas: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L272502
Los humeros road: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L272413
YouTube zoom presentation: https://youtu.be/V_zpjf1meNs
It is likely that the schedule may change a little when we are in the lowlands as we will go
where the raptor migration is hot. This is a very brief itinerary. Look at the e-bird lists and my
trip reports to really get an idea of the birds.
Day 1 (Friday October 4). Arrive and pick up from airport. All meet for a supper (Boca del Rio)
Day 2. Las Barrancas grasslands and coastal lagoons with boat trip through mangroves (Boca
Day 3. Hawk Watch, afternoon boat trip at Antigua (Puente National)
Day 4. Hawk Watch, coastal area and dunes (Puente National)
Day 5. Quiahuiztlán, Mirimar and drive to Xalapa (Xalapa)
Day 6. Cofre de Perote (high elevation) and trans volcanic plane of los Humeros (Xalapa)
Day 7. las Minas and Parque Ecológico Macuiltépetl (mid elevation forest) (Xalapa)
Day 8 local wild park in Xalapa in am. Xico waterfall in pm (Coatapec)
Day 9 Breakfast and morning at Coffee Plantation. Afternoon hawk watch (Boca del Rio)
Day 10 (Sunday 13 October). Breakfast and ride to the airport.
Steve Dougill worked for Pronatura as a counter in 2019. He led two tours to Veracruz in 2022
and one in 2023. As a bird evangelist he has worked and birded all over the world but calls Las
Vegas home now where he is a wildlife biologist
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