Road Scholar : Home
Birding the Mayan Ruins of the Yucatan from the Caribbean to Palenque

Program Number: 3713RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/2/2015 - 3/14/2015; 2/24/2016 - 3/7/2016; 11/2/2016 - 11/14/2016; 11/16/2016 - 11/28/2016; 1/11/2017 - 1/23/2017; 1/24/2017 - 2/5/2017; 2/7/2017 - 2/19/2017; 2/14/2017 - 2/26/2017; 2/21/2017 - 3/5/2017; 3/7/2017 - 3/19/2017; 3/28/2017 - 4/9/2017;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Mexico
Price starting at: $2,885.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Birding Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 35; 12 Breakfasts, 11 Lunches, 12 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Low Salt; Low Fat; Gluten Free    

Combine exceptional birding with the exploration of four of the most fascinating cities in the Mayan world: Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Uxmal; Calakmul, and Palenque. With your binoculars, explore the environmentally diverse Yucatan and its 500-plus bird species. Immerse yourself in the history, tradition and ancient mysteries that define this fabled land.


• Observe the spectacular ruins at Chichen Itza.
• Enjoy birding on the Rio Lagartos Lagoon and the Usumacinta Marshes.
• Explore the 1.9 million-acre Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

Activity Particulars

Hiking up to three miles daily. Uneven steps at some ruins.

This program has a maximum group size of 12. So you can get the most out of your experience, all of our birding programs have a maximum participant-to-instructor ratio of 14:1.

Itinerary Summary

Arrival Cancun, 1 night; coach to Chichén Itzá, 2 nights; coach to Uxmal, 2 nights; coach to Xpujil, 2 nights; coach to Palenque, 2 nights; coach to Bonampak, 1 night; coach to Palenque, 1 night; coach to Villahermosa, 1 night, departure.

Arrival Cancun
1 night
Coach to Chichen Itza
2 nights

The Mayan city of Chichen Itza is a designated World Heritage Site for its revolutionary style of structures. The region also has a variety of tropical birds. Experts provide a bio-geographical overview of Yucatan flora and fauna and the importance of natural phenomena in the lives of the Ancient Maya.

Coach to Uxmal
2 nights
Coach to Xpujil
2 nights

Journey to Rio Lagartos Biosphere Reserve to observe flamingos. Explore the ecology of Uxmal in search of endemics. Observe birds among the ruins of Hochob and Xpujil. The 1.9 million-acre Calakmul Biosphere Reserve houses the largest pyramid in the Mayan world and an exceptional diversity of bird species.

Coach to Palenque
2 nights
Coach to Bonampak
1 night
Coach to Palenque
1 night

The 1.9 million-acre Calakmul Biosphere Reserve houses the largest pyramid in the Mayan world and an exceptional diversity of bird species. Admire the unusual color frescoes at Bonampak and walk among the ruins of Yaxchilan to uncover its history and bird life. Explore the marshes, forests and river banks in search of the local species in these diverse habitats.

Coach to Villahermosa
1 night
Independent departure

Continue to explore the humid lowlands and the Usumacinta Marshes with its impressive numbers of water birds not found on the drier Yucatan Peninsula.


The oldest of the land’s found by Europeans in the New World, Mexico has endured a rough history at the hands of Cortes and subsequent invaders. Despite a turbulent past, the country maintains its relaxed and inviting charm with a mix of modern and traditional from its industrious cities to its captivating wildernesses.

Cancun: Centrally located hotel. Chichen Itza: Resort hotel. Uxmal: Comfortable hotel. Uxmal: Comfortable hotel located near ruins. Xpujil: Eco-friendly resort. Palenque: Charming hotel with thatched cabanas. Bonampak: Comfortable hotel. Villahermosa: Comfortable hotel.
Meals and Lodgings
   Courtyard Marriott Cancun
  Cancun, Mexico 1 night
   Hotel Mayaland - Chichen Itza
  Chichen Itza, Mexico 2 nights
   Uxmal Resort Maya
  Uxmal, Mexico 2 nights
   Chicanna Ecovillage Resort
  Xpujil, Mexico 2 nights
   Hotel Villas Kin-Ha
  Palenque, Mexico 2 nights
   Cabańas Valle Escondido
  Bonampak, Mexico 1 night
   Hotel Villas Kin-Ha
  Palenque, Mexico 1 night
   Hyatt Regency Villahermosa
  Villahermosa, Mexico 1 night
 Courtyard Marriott Cancun
Type: Hotel
  Description: This new hotel provides guests with excellent service, spacious rooms and open public areas. One of the most important highlights of this property is its location, only 5 minutes from Cancun International Airport. Courtyard by Marriott Cancun offers a free shuttle to its beach club, and also to Cancun's downtown area.
  Contact info: Bvl. Luis Donaldo Colosio Km. 12.5 Lte. 1 SMZA.301
Quintana Roo,   Mexico
phone: +52 -998-2872200
  Room amenities: High speed internet access, desk, a large LCD TV, and air-conditioning.
  Facility amenities: The hotel has an excellent restaurant serving a variety of delicious dishes. El Henequen resembles an old elegant ''Hacienda'' from the Yucatan Peninsula. The hotel also features a swimming pool.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Subject to availability. Please contact your program provider, Holbrook Travel, at 1-800-866-7111 or for information on availability and rates.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM

 Hotel Mayaland - Chichen Itza
Type: Resort
  Description: Mayaland was the first hotel built at Chichen Itza (in 1923) and, with its superb location amidst the temples, the first within an ancient site in the world. In its way, it's as much a landmark as the pyramids that tower above it. Mayaland is a creation of Old Yucatan, built and operated by its original owners and their descendants in a style reminiscent of the hacienda nobility of a century ago. Its air of genteel hospitality and old-fashioned charm is a legacy enhanced by the addition of every amenity. The grounds are alive with birdsong and butterflies, and all the exotic fruits and flowers of tropical Yucatan. Over 100 acres of gardens surround the main house. The main building was designed by Sylvanus G. Morley, the head of the Carnegie expedition that rebuilt Chichen Itza in the 1920's. Its Hacienda style main corridor faces the Mayan Observatory. The Mayaland Hotel is an experience in itself; one that will enrich your stay at Chichen Itza.
  Contact info: Near Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza,   Mexico
phone: +8002354079
  Room amenities: Spacious air-conditioned rooms with ceiling fans, satellite TV, mini bars, bathroom hand-tiled in ceramic, marble and stone, tubs, breezy private balconies.
  Facility amenities: Pools, four restaurants, convention hall, masseuse, craft shop, tennis courts, interconnected paths, over five kilometers of trails, golf cart service.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Uxmal Resort Maya
Type: Resort
  Description: Located just three minutes from Uxmal Archaeological site, this resort has incredible views of the ruins among the natural beauty of the jungle.
  Ship Information: N/A
  Contact info: Carretera Merida - Campeche KM 78
Campeche,  Yucatán Mexico
phone: +52 -999-9300390
  Room amenities: A/C, TV, laptop size safe, desk, phone, blackout curtains, coffee machine, bottled water, hair dryer, en suite bathroom, free wi-fi access, complimentary toiletries.
  Facility amenities: 82 rooms, pool, poolside bar, bar/lounge, laundry service, free wi-fi, elevator, pool table, rooftop terrace, tennis court.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Chicanna Ecovillage Resort
Type: Resort
  Description: Eco-friendly property located approximately 5 miles from the town of Xpuhil. The accommodations are carefully designed to make use of natural methods of ventilation, making air conditioning obsolete. Solar power is used to heat water for the resort and its guests. Attractive gardens and trails offer guests a tranquil setting in which to enjoy their downtime between excursions to nearby archaeological sites.
  Contact info: Carretera Escarcega-Chetumal Km 144
Xpujil,   Mexico
phone: +52 (981) 8119192
  Room amenities: Private bathrooms with hot and cold water, ceiling fan, and a balcony with garden view.
  Facility amenities: Two restaurants, swimming pool, gardens, trails, and internet access.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Hotel Villas Kin-Ha
Type: Hotel
  Description: Located in the lush jungle near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palenque, the site is characterized by sculptural art and elegant architecture. Relax and be pampered in the spa with a massage or aromatherapy. Enjoy the water slide and pool before the karaoke bar in the evening.
  Ship Information: N/A
  Contact info: Palenque Ruins Road
2.7 KM, SN, SC
Palenque,  Chiapas Mexico
phone: +01-916-345-0954
  Room amenities: A/C, TV, complimentary toiletries, bottle water.
  Facility amenities: Two pools, bar/lounge, free wi-fi, restaurant, spa, business center.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Cabańas Valle Escondido
Type: Hotel
  Contact info: 000000000
Piedras Negras,   Mexico
phone: +00000000000
  Room amenities: Double occupancy rooms with private baths.
  Smoking allowed: Yes

 Hyatt Regency Villahermosa
Type: Hotel
  Description: Only ten minutes from central Villahermosa and 20 minutes from Villahermosa Airport, the hotel is directly across from Tomás Garrido Park and near La Venta Park Museum.
  Contact info: Ave. Juarez #106, Col. Linda Vista
Villahermosa,  86040 Mexico
phone: +52 993 310 1234
  Room amenities: Separate sitting area Enhanced work desk lighting Marble bath Iron/ironing board 24-hour room service Coffee maker Cable/satellite TV channels Individual air conditioning control In-room safe Morning newspaper Telephone Internet
  Facility amenities: Gardens, pool, conference center, spa, sports bar
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights after: Prices subject to change Additional nights subject to hotel availability.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
All-day arrivals at the Cancun International Airport in Cancun, Mexico. Hotel check-in begins at 3 p.m. You will be staying at Courtyard Marriott Cancun that night.
  End of Program:
Departures from the Carlos Rovirosa Pérez International Airport in Villahermosa, Mexico. Hotel check-out by 11 a.m. You will be staying at Hyatt Regency Villahermosa the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Tourist card required--cost is normally included in the international tickets. For more information, please contact the Embassy of Mexico in Washington, DC Tel: (202) 728-1600 or
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
To Start of Program
  Location:  Cancun
  Transportation to site: The Courtyard Marriot Cancun offers a complimentary airport shuttle service from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. To request a pick-up, participants must contact the hotel at (998) 287-2200 or from any Telmex public phone call 01800 0203373. Taxi services and shuttle vans are available at the airport for the transfer to the hotel. A taxi kiosk is available in the arrivals hall of the airport where travelers may purchase private or group transfer tickets to area hotels. For more information please visit the Cancun International Airport's website:
  From End of Program
  Location:  Villahermosa
  Transportation from site: Taxis are available for hire at the hotel. Participants planning on using this service should ask for assistance at the hotel's front desk.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Depart the U.S./Arrivals in Cancun, Mexico.
(Monday, March 2)
 Arrive To: Arrive at the Cancun International Airport in Cancun, Mexico.

Transfer to the hotel and check-in, followed by time at leisure.

Please note that this is an international travel day; no program activities are scheduled on this day. Hotel check-in usually begins at 3PM.

Program orientation will be at 6:00 pm, so we suggest arriving no later than 4:00 PM.

Group transfers will be arranged based on flight times. We will have the information available approximately 5 weeks before departure. If your arrival time is not the same as group arrivals, you can use the hotel's shuttle service from the airport.
 Dinner: Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: Program orientation at the hotel at 6:00 PM followed by Welcome Dinner.

Meet your group leader and fellow Road Scholar participants during a welcome and introduction session at the hotel at 6 pm. We will review the up-to-date daily schedule and any changes, discuss responsibilities, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have.

Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Accommodations: Courtyard Marriott Cancun
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Chichen Itzá -
Birding at Punta Laguna Nature Reserve.

(Tuesday, March 3)

Note: Please be aware that program activities and scheduled times could change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Bus drive from Cancun to Punta Laguna Nature Reserve takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.

 Breakfast: Early morning birding at the hotel grounds followed by breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: After breakfast transfer to Punta Laguna Nature Reserve (also known as Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh) for birding on forest trails.

Otoch Ma’ax Yetel Kooh (meaning House of the Spider Monkey and Puma) is the crowning achievement of Punta Laguna’s community-based efforts to protect and preserve the forest and archaeological sites in the area. The reserve, a designated RAMSAR site, covers an area of 5,367 hectares that encompasses sub-evergreen forest, flooded forest, lagoons, archaeological sites, and cenotes. Although the nature sanctuary is best known for protecting hundreds of black-handed spider monkeys and a lesser number of howler monkeys, it also provides a safe haven for all nature of native wildlife and flora. Bird species found at this site include Keel-billed Toucans, Collared Aracaris, White-fronted Amazons, Yellow-lored Parrot (endemic), Black-and-white Owls (rare), Ocellated Turkeys (endemic), Great Curassows, Thicket Tinamou, Collared Forest Falcon, Ruddy Crake, Spotted Rail, Turquoise-browed Motmots, and Northern Royal Flycatcher. Migrants common to the area include American Yellow Warblers, American Redstarts, Northern Parulas, Hooded Warblers, and Black-and-white Warblers.

Depart for Chichen Itzá.
 Lunch: At local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Arrive at hotel and check-in.
Enjoy birding around the hotel garden and trails.

Pre-dinner lecture: Overview of the Maya Civilization.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Mayaland - Chichen Itza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Chichen Itzá -
Birding Boat Ride in Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve and visit salt flats.

(Wednesday, March 4)

Note: Elevation at Rio Lagartos: Sea level. Bus drive from Chichen Itzá to Rio Lagartos takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours.

 Breakfast: Early morning birding at lodge grounds followed by breakfast.
 Morning: After breakfast field trip to the Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve. Birdwatch during a boat ride in the reserve's wetlands. Be on the look-out for American Flamingos, Muscovy Ducks, Wood Storks, and Peregrine Falcons, Bare-throated Tiger Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Lesser Roadrunner, and the endemic Yucatan Wren.

This important RAMSAR site is located approximately 167 miles from Merida. There is great diversity of plant and animal life in the area which includes 523 registered plant species, 335 bird species (179 are resident, 142 are migratory, and 14 are resident migrants), 95 reptile and amphibian species, 71 registered fish species, and 58 mammal species listed as endangered. The reserve's most famous resident is the colorful American Flamingo which can be seen nesting in the El Cuyo basin. Other bird families commonly spotted in the reserve include: herons, storks, kingfishers, cormorants, coots, rails, and gallinules.
 Lunch: At local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Continue birding at the salt flats at Rio Lagartos before returning to the hotel in the late afternoon.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Mayaland - Chichen Itza
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Uxmal -
Birding at Chichen Itzá Ruins/Swimming in a Cenote.

(Thursday, March 5)

Note: Elevation at Chichen Itzá: 88 ft. Bus drive from Chichen Itzá to Ik Kil cenote takes approximately 5 minutes. Ride from Ik Kil cenote to Merida Uxmal takes approximately 2 hours.

 Breakfast: Early morning birding at the hotel grounds.

Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to the Chichen Itzá ruins and site lecture.

The once powerful city of Chichen Itzá is located in the north-central region of the Yucatan Peninsula. It centers upon two unusually large cenotes, the Xtoloc that provided water for the city and the Sacred Cenote used for religious practices.

The forests in and around the impressive archaeological complex are home to a variety of wildlife. Target species include the, Rose-throated Becard, Masked Tityra, Black-crowned Tityra, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Boat-billed flycatcher, Cave Swallow, Scrub Euphonia, Yellow-throated Euphonia, and Social Flycatcher. Endemic bird species include the Yucatan Jay, Yucatan Woodpecker and the Yellow-lored Parrot. This is also a good area to spot migrant songbirds that winter in the region.

Continue your field trip with a visit to Cenote Ik Kil for swimming and a site lecture. Site Lecture: Cenotes and the Spiritual Life of the Mayas.

While here, take the opportunity to look for White-fronted Parrots, Cave Swallows, Grey-breasted Martins, and Masked Tityras--species known to frequent the woodlands and fields surrounding Ik Kil.
 Lunch: At the cenote.
 Afternoon: Time at leisure.

Transfer to Uxmal.

City of Uxmal lies amidst a vast expanse of tropical deciduous forest. Uxmal flourished at a slightly earlier period than Chichén, probably from A.D. 800-1000, and was built in a style known as Puuc architecture.

Arrive at the hotel and check-in.

Lecture: Introduction to Birding in the Yucatan.
 Dinner: At hotel.
 Evening: Participants who would like to experience the Light & Sound show at Uxmal, can do so tonight at an additional cost. Arrangements can be made through the hotel.
Accommodations: Uxmal Resort Maya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Uxmal -
Birding at Uxmal Ruins & San Simon Road

(Friday, March 6)

Note: Elevation at Uxmal: 186 ft.

 Breakfast: Early morning birding at the hotel grounds.

Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Uxmal.

Uxmal, located in the Puuc region of Yucatan was one of the largest Mayan cities in the Classic Period between 600-1000 A.D. During this period, it was the capital of a vast territory on the peninsula. Uxmal's architecture was executed in the Puuc style, with elaborate and finely hewn stone mosaics that can be seen gracing many of the buildings. Notable buildings include the famous Pyramid of the Wizard, the Quandrangle of Nuns, and the House of the Turtles. Since water is scarce in the area, the Mayas designed a series of limestone-lined reservoirs and cisterns to catch water during the dry season. Images of the rain god Chac feature prominently at Uxmal.

Here we hope to spot some species such as the Yucatan Flycatcher (endemic), White-browed Wren, Ridgway’s Rough-winged Swallow, and the colorful Grey-throated Chat.
 Lunch: At local restaurant and return to hotel.
 Afternoon: This afternoon continue birding on San Simon road looking for the Yucatan Flycatcher, Lesser Roadrunner, Crane Hawk, and both Turquoise-browed and Blue-crowned Motmots.

 Dinner: At hotel.
 Evening: After dinner birding on San Simon road looking for owls and other nocturnal species such as the Vermiculated Screech Owl, Northern Potoo, Yucatan Nightjar (endemic) and Yucatan Poorwill (endemic).
Accommodations: Uxmal Resort Maya
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Xpujil -
Birding the Hochob ruins.

(Saturday, March 7)

Note: Elevation at Xpujil: 750 ft, Elevation at Hochob: 98 ft. Bus drive from Uxmal to Xpujil will be approximately 5 hours with several stops in between.

 Breakfast: At hotel.
 Morning: Depart for Xpujil via Hochob ruins.
Field trip to Hochob Ruins.
Bird watching among the ruins.

Hochob is a small yet interesting Mayan archaeological site that is an excellent example of the Chenes architectural style, which flourished from about AD 100 to 1000. Mayan structures featuring the masked facade are a regional architectural style found in southern Campeche. Located an hour south of Uxmal, it rests high on a hill overlooking the surrounding valleys. The principle structure is fronted by a stylized mask, whose doorway represents the open mouth of Itzámná, the creator god, and above it the eyes bulge and fangs are bared on either side of the base. These sites in general do not contain large, mountainous structures like Chichen Itzá or Tikal. Chenes sites have smaller courtyards and ceremonial platforms that are encased in intense geometric relief carvings.
 Lunch: At local restaurant.
 Afternoon: After lunch, continue with the transfer to Xpujil.

The name Xpujil means "Place of the Cattails" in the language of the Mayas. The site was officially discovered in 1938 by members of the fourth Carnegie Expedition to Campeche. The expedition's success was accomplished with the help of a local scout who gathered information about different archaeological sites in the area by talking to chicle farmers. This interesting site is just a few miles west of the town of Xpujil, and is part of a larger group of ruins in an area called Rio Bec. Xpujil is unusual in that it has three towers instead of the usual two found in the Rio Bec area and it resembles the tall structures found in the Peten area of Guatemala. The highly ornamented towers have roof combs and false stairways with carved jaguar heads.

Arrive in Xpujil and check-in at the hotel.

Before getting ready for dinner, enjoy some birding on the hotel grounds. Keep your eyes open for Crested Guans and Great Curassows.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Chicanna Ecovillage Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Xpujil -
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve.

(Sunday, March 8)

Note: Elevation at Calakmul Biosphere Reserve: Sea level. Bus drive from Chicanna Ecovillage Resort to Calakmul takes approximately 2 hours. Remaining drive totals 2 hours with stops in between.

 Breakfast: At hotel.
 Morning: Morning transfer to Calakmul.
Birding field trip in Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and site lecture on the architecture of the ruins.

The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is home to many endangered mammals and an impressive 350 species of birds. It is part of the largest extension of tropical forest outside the Amazon basin. The top of the great pyramid in the archaeological complex offers a good vantage point to look for soaring raptors such as Hook-billed and Gray-headed Kites, Hawk-Eagles and the magnificent King Vulture, the symbol of Calakmul. Other possibilities are endemic species such as the Ocellated Turkey and Rose-throated Tanager, as well as rare and endangered birds such as Great Curassow and Crested Guan.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch.
 Afternoon: Return to Xpujil.

Time at leisure.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Chicanna Ecovillage Resort
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Palenque -
Birding in the Becan Ruins.

(Monday, March 9)

Note: Elevation at Becan: 900 ft. Bus drive from Chicanna Ecovillage to Becan takes approximately 2 hours. Remaining drive time is 4.5 hours with stops in between.

 Breakfast: At hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Becan.
Birding field trip in the Becan ruins and site lecture.

Becan was once the political, economic, and religious center of the area known today as Rio Bec. The ruins are situated about 4 miles west of the town of Xpuhil. One distinguishing characteristic of Becan is the presence of moats and protective walls around the city; a feature not commonly found in Mayan cities. The pyramids and temples in Becan were built in clusters around 3 main plazas, and also include a small but well preserved ball court. Some buildings still have remnants of the detailed facades that once graced their walls, giving us insight into what the city must have looked like in its heyday.

Transfer to Palenque.
 Lunch: En route.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Palenque and check-in at the hotel.
Lecture: Pacal's Tomb.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Villas Kin-Ha
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Palenque -
Early Morning Birding/Palenque Ruins/Birding at Misol-Há Waterfalls.

(Tuesday, March 10)

Note: Elevation at Palenque: 500 ft. Bus drive from Palenque to Misol- Há takes approximately 30 minutes.

 Breakfast: Early morning birding.

Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Field trip to Palenque with a site lecture.

Vast, mysterious and enchanting, the ruined city of Palenque is considered one of the loveliest archaeological sites in the world. It is nestled amidst steep and thickly forested hills, and frequently shrouded in lacy mist. Though much of the surrounding area has been cleared over the centuries for farming, Palenque still offers excellent birding opportunities with a host of additional species not to be found in the drier forests of Calakmul. Here we will search for Keel-billed Toucans, Bat Falcons, Green Honeycreepers, Red-lored Parrots, Montezuma Oropendolas, Rufous-tailed Hummingbirds, Masked Tityras, Red-throated Ant-Tanagers, Lineated Woodpeckers, Pale-billed Woodpeckers, and Barred Falcons.

Transfer to Misol-Há.
 Lunch: Lunch at Misol-Há.
 Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy an afternoon birding around the Misol-Há waterfall.

The beautiful waterfall of Misol-Há is located approximately 13 miles south of Palenque. Steady streams of water cascade from the cliff’s edge and spill into a deep pool 98 feet below. The craggy rock face, rushing water, and tropical vegetation help to conceal a deep cave that leads to a subterranean pool. The entrance to the cave, located behind the falls, can be reached by following a trail along the base of the cliff.

Return to the hotel.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Villas Kin-Ha
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Bonampak -
Birding in Bonampak Ruins.

(Wednesday, March 11)

Note: Elevation at Bonampak: 1,020 ft. Bus drive from Palenque to Bonampak takes approximately 2 hours. Bus drive from Bonampak to Valle Escondido takes approximately 45 minutes.

 Breakfast: Early morning birding around the hotel.
Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Begin transfer to Bonampak.

Field trip: exploring and birding Bonampak Ruins.
Site lecture: The History of the Pack Murals.

Look for Gray-headed Kites, White-wiskered Puffbirds, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatchers, and Cinnamon Becards.

The ruins of Bonampak were still being used for ceremonial purposes by Lacandon Indians when archaeologists explored the site in 1946. The city was built in the Early Classic Period and has a small plaza, surrounded by groups of smaller buildings. The most remarkable feature of this site is the presence of colorful frescoes depicting war and sacrificial ceremonies. These paintings were a shock to the academic world, since until then most believed the Maya were peaceful people.
 Lunch: Picnic lunch.
 Afternoon: After lunch continue to Lacanja community for more birding.

Transfer to hotel and check-in.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Cabańas Valle Escondido
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Palenque -
Birding in the Ruins of Yaxchilan.

(Thursday, March 12)

Note: Elevation at Yaxchilan: 435 ft. Bus drive from Valle Escondido to Yaxchilan takes approximately 1.5 hours. Bus drive from Yaxchilan to Palenque takes approximately 2.5 hours.

 Breakfast: Early morning bird walk.
Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Boat ride to Yaxchilan with birding at the site.

The ancient Mayan city hides in the midst of a lush rainforest on the banks of the Usumacinta River, and is only accessible by boat. Yaxchilan was once a powerful city in the region and controlled many lesser communities nearby. It is probably best known for the quality and beauty of the sculptures found throughout the city on stelae, altars, lintels and murals. A remarkable feature of many monument sculptures depicting bloodletting rituals, is the presence of women as the main figures; something virtually unheard of in Mayan monument art.

Target bird species include Rufous-breasted Spinetails, Striped Cuckoos, Great Black-Hawks, White Hawks, and Double-toothed Kites.
 Lunch: At local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Transfer to Palenque.

Arrive in Palenque and check-in at hotel.

Time at leisure.
 Dinner: At hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Villas Kin-Ha
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Villahermosa -
Birding at Aluxes Ecoparque/Usamacinta Marshes.

(Friday, March 13)

Note: Elevation at Villahermosa: Sea level. Bus drive from Palenque to Villahermosa takes approximately 2 hours.

 Breakfast: Early morning bird walk at Aluxes Ecoparque.
A not for profit non-governmental organization dedicated to the mission of conservation and wildlife rescue projects. Aluxes Ecoparque also works with universities and researchers to develop conservation projects such as biological corridors, the restoration of ecopark forest and wetlands, and studying the area bats of Palenque. Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Transfer to Villahermosa.
Birding field trip to Usamacinta Marshes.

The Usumacinta mangroves, and the flooded areas that surround them, are considered to be some of the most important wetlands in the country. The warm and humid climate, combined with rich soil and the availability of water (especially during the rainy summer months), all help to support a variety of plant and wildlife in the area. The wetlands are home to over 370 species of plants, 279 species of birds, 60 species of fish, 85 species of reptiles, 26 species of amphibians, and over 130 species of mammals. Ducks, waders, raptors and shorebirds are commonly seen in the area.

Birds of interest in this area include Aplomado Falcons, White-tailed Hawks, Black-collared Hawks, Jabiru, Blue-winged Teals, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.
 Lunch: En route.
 Afternoon: Arrive in Villahermosa and check-in at the hotel.

Time at leisure.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner.
Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Villahermosa
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Depart from Villahermosa.
Arrive in the U.S.

(Saturday, March 14)

Note: Bus drive from the hotel to the airport takes approximately 15 minutes.

 Depart From: Transfer to the Carlos Rovirosa Perez International Airport in Villahermosa for flights to the U.S.

Note: Participants can keep their hotel rooms until check-out time on this day. Except for breakfast, all other meals are on your own on this day.

This concludes the program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar adventure! When you get home, remember to stay in touch via the Road Scholar Social Network; share memories, pictures, and comments about your recent travels.
 Breakfast: At hotel (depending on flight departure time).
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Birder's Mexico

Author: Roland H. Wauer

Description: A personal, informative account of travels in Mexico. It's a wonderful intro-duction to the natural history of this diverse country, including the northern deserts, Baja California, Oaxaca, Palenque and the Yucatan.

Birds of Mexico & Central America, Princeton Illustrated Checklists

Author: Ber Van Perlo

Description: An admirably compact, comprehensive guide featuring color plates.

A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America

Author: Stephen Howell, Sophie Webb

Description: Serious birders will want this definitive guide to the 1,070 bird species. It may be awkward to carry but it covers, in detail, all the birds you will see in the region.

Moon Handbook Yucatan Peninsula

Author: Lisa and Gary Prado Chandler

Description: A compact, comprehensive travel guide with an excellent overview of the natu-ral history and culture of the region, including Yucatan but also Chiapas, Ta-basco, Campeche and Quintana Roo.

South Mexico Map

Author: ITMB

Description: A double-sided map covering Mexico from Mexico City to Merida at a scale of 1:1:350,000.

Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish

Author: Joseph Keenan

Description: Idioms, common mistakes in word usage, and other helpful advice on tackling spoken Spanish. You'll need some foundation to take full advantage of this book – but even a complete novice will appreciate the author's playful sense of humor.

Lonely Planet Yucatan

Author: Ray Bartlett & Daniel Schechter

Archaeological Guide to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

Author: Joyce Kelly

Lost Cities of the Maya

Author: Claude Baudez, Sydney Picasso

Description: This lavish little pocket encyclopedia of archaeological discovery features hundreds of color photographs and illustrations, including Catherwood's original engravings.

Maya Art and Architecture

Author: Mary Ellen Miller

Description: An illustrated overview of the art and architecture of the Maya, making use of the latest discoveries at Tikal, Copan and Palenque to demonstrate the range of Maya artistic influence. With 200 illustrations, 50 in color, including site plans, maps, strikingly rendered reconstructions and color photographs of key temples and buildings.

Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide

Author: Louise H. Emmons & François Feer

Description: This beautifully illustrated field guide contains all you need to know about rainforest mammals in Central and South America. It has color plates, range maps and detailed descriptions of each animal, including information about their biology, behavior and natural habitats.

The American Egypt: A Record of Travel in the Yucatan

Author: Channing Arnold & F. J. Frost

Time Among the Maya, Travels in Belize, Guatemala, & Mexico

Author: Ronald Wright

Tropical Nature

Author: Adrian Forsyth, Ken Miyata

Description: A lively, lucid portrait of the tropics as seen by two uncommonly observant and thoughtful field biologists. Its 17 marvelous essays introduce the habitats, ecology, plants and animals of the Central and South American rainforest

You can't find a better value than Road Scholar.

As a not-for-profit organization, we are dedicated to providing all-inclusive educational programs at great value. From lectures to gratuities to field trips to accommodations - the tuition you pay up front is all that you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

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