HONDURAS - February 2017

February 1 - 8, 2017

The Lodge at Pico Bonito

  - La Ceiba, Honduras

After hearing so many positive recommendations from birding friends about The Lodge at Pico Bonito (the “Lodge”) in Honduras, Nancy and I took the plunge and booked a trip for 7 nights in early February.

Untitled photo
Untitled photo

We arrived at the airport in San Pedro Sula at about noon on Wednesday, February 1. We were greeted at baggage claim by Elmer Escoto, a native Honduran who is an expert guide at the Lodge. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive from the airport to the Lodge on good roads.
We had previously met Elmer and James Adams at a number of birding festivals in the US. James is part of the management and is instrumental in the development and marketing of the Lodge. Elmer was our guide and friend throughout our stay.

  • James Adams

    James Adams

  • Elmer Escoto

    Elmer Escoto

The Lodge cabins were very clean and comfortable, food at the restaurant (breakfast, lunch and dinner) was excellent, the service and staff were wonderful and accommodating, and the guides are truly professional. The Lodge really maintains its reputation as being the eco-lodge many other eco-lodges in Central America are compared to. Weather during our stay was quite good although very humid with temperatures in the low 80s and brief rain most afternoons.

  • The Lodge at Pico Bonito, Honduras
  • The Lodge at Pico Bonito, Honduras


   Day 1:  Hike and bird around the Lodge
   Day 2:  Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge
   Day 3:  Rio Santiago Nature Resort
   Day 4:  Lancetilla Botanical Garden and Research Center
   Day 5:  Hike and bird around the Lodge
   Day 6:  Rio Santiago Nature Resort

Day 1:   First full day, Thursday, we spent hiking around the Lodge. Beautiful landscaping directly around the cabins and buildings and lush rainforest trails beyond. The birding at the Lodge is great. Number of birds was very dense and variety of birds was surprising, from Common Tody Flycatchers to Montezuma Oropendolas. From the restaurant porch 7 species of hummingbirds were seen continuously at the feeders during the day. We saw more mammals and reptiles here than at most other locations we have visited in Central and South American countries.

  • The Lodge at Pico Bonito, Honduras
  • The Lodge at Pico Bonito
  • Slaty-tailed Trogon  (female)

Day 2:   Elmer, Nancy, and I rode in a van with a Lodge-provided driver to La Union, a small town west of La Ceiba, about a 45 minute drive. We were told we would be taking a "train" from La Union to Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge, about a 30 minute train ride. The "train" was not what I expected. It was built by a banana company in 1912 to haul bananas. It's just a very funny little shuttle thing that they keep operational and is used by the locals and tourists to get to and from the preserve. We covered the 9 km (5.6 miles) to Cuero y Salado in about 30 minutes so I figure it is moving along at about 10 miles/hr, and believe me you wouldn't want it going any faster.

  • Cuero y Salado Bullet Train

    Cuero y Salado Bullet Train

  • Untitled photo
  • Bullet Train tracks

    Bullet Train tracks

At Cuero y Salado we met a terrific guide with his boat and cruised a number of mangrove canals. It was very birdy along the banks with herons, anhingas, hawks, rails, jacanas, parrots, kingfishers, and much more. Elmer also pointed out a porcupine in its tree hole, bats, crocodiles and monkeys, including a pregnant female. Great excursion. Like all the morning excursions, we returned to the Lodge in time for lunch, a short rest, and at 3:00 pm Elmer met us for another hike and birding around the Lodge.

Day 3:   Sunday we drove about 20 miles east to Rio Santiago Nature Resort, an eco-lodge with a large number of hummingbird feeders and excellent birding trails. It’s a nice lodge but very remote with a tough road from the highway. Spectacled Owl, Brown Violet-ear and Buff-bellied Hummingbirds, Rufus-winged Woodpecker, and Northern Barred Woodcreeper were a few choice birds of the day.

  • Rio Santiago Nature Resort, Honduras
  • Spectacled Owl
  • Crowned Woodnymph

Day 4:  We hiked and birded around the road leading to the visitor's center of the Lancetilla Botanical Garden and Research Center, about 1 hour from the Lodge. Ruddy Crake, Common Tody-Flycatcher, White-collared Manakin, American Pygmy Kingfisher, and Scrub Euphonia were a few highlights of the day.

  • Lancetilla Botanical Garden & Research Center
  • Common Tody-Flycatcher

Day 5:   We enjoyed a relaxing day hiking around the Lodge grounds. The Lodge has excellent trails through thick, mountainous rainforests between two rivers. This was our “do or die” day to hunt down the male Lovely Cotinga. It’s an uncommon bird throughout most of Central America, very hard to find but the Lovely Cotinga is the signature bird of the Lodge. On this day we headed at 6 am for the canopy tower near our cabin and, sure enough, in the distance we saw a number of Lovely Cotingas. Elmer quickly took us to a clearing near the entrance to the Lodge where at least a dozen Lovely Cotingas were feeding. Others interesting birds spotted this day were Keel-billed Motmot, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Bright-rumped Attila, Long-billed Gnatwren, and, of course, the Lovely Cotinga. Good birding day.

  • Lovely Cotinga
  • The Lodge at Pico Bonito
  • Lovely Cotinga

Day 6:   We enjoyed hiking around the Rio Santiago Nature Resort so much we went for a second time. A strange thing happened this time - I locked myself in the bathroom of the resort. At first I thought our stay in Honduras may be longer than planned but I texted Nancy for help and with my trusty pocket knife I was able to unscrew the jammed lock and escape (with a little additional help from the staff). Major birds spotted were Northern Bentbill, Gartered Trogan, Slaty-tailed Trogan, Royal Flycatcher, and Rufus Mourner.

  • Rio Santiago Nature Resort, Honduras
  • Royal Flycatcher

Nancy and I both highly recommend a visit to the Lodge at Pico Bonito. Wonderful accommodations, good food, first class service at the restaurant, and clean cabins. Wildlife, especially the birds, are just super.

The birding with Elmer Escoto could not have been better. His knowledge of birds, other animals, and plants seemed endless. If you make plans for a visit to the Lodge, you should ask for Elmer as your guide.

To view all photos, please click the galleries below.

To view our bird checklist while at the Lodge at Pico Bonito, please click here or image below.

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