In this Region: West Mexico
Textured, vibrant, and bold, Mexico embodies diversity in a way few other destinations can. An exploration of even a small part of this country reveals endless layers of richness, in its people, its culture, its landscapes, and its wildlife. We have been taking tour groups to Mexico for over 30 years and it still ranks among our favorite destinations.
With over 1,000 species of birds recorded in Mexico, its country list exceeds that of the United States and is on a par with such birding meccas as Costa Rica and Panama. But unlike the latter two countries, Mexico is a hotbed of evolution, home to more endemic species than any other country on the North American continent. Large and spectacular birds can be seen side by side with a myriad of smaller, colorful ones. Such species as Thick-billed and Lilac-crowned parrots, Yucatan Jay, Black-throated Magpie-Jay, Aztec Thrush, Orange-breasted and Rosita's buntings, and Red-headed Tanager provide a sampling of the country’s special birds.
As no one tour comes close to delivering the full suite of Mexican birdlife, we have designed a program of trips that provide representation of the most biologically and geographically distinct parts of Mexico. And because Mexico is also home to fabulous plant communities, colorful indigenous cultures, and spectacular Mayan ruins, our program of tours delivers a broad spectrum of travel experiences that serve to enhance your birding.
In the northwest, our Barranca del Cobre, or Copper Canyon, tour offers an intimate look at the vast network of canyons that rival our own Grand Canyon in splendor. Eared Quetzal, Happy Wren, Striped Sparrow, and Yellow-winged Cacique are Mexican endemic birds headlining the terrific birding to be enjoyed in the Pacific lowlands and Sierra Madre highlands. For many, the primary attraction of this tour is the exciting train ride through the forested mountains, home of the indigenous Tarahumara people.
Our Short West Mexico tours provide an ideal introduction to the richness of western Mexico. Based at a private guest ranch available exclusively to VENT, participants spend their time tracking down most of the special birds of far western Mexico. Time on the ranch and field trips away from it produce an impressive collection of hummingbirds, warblers, tanagers, orioles and much more in less than a week of birding. These tours are now among our most popular in Mexico.
Whale-watching off Baja California is the focus of our Baja California: Among the Great Whales cruise. For this special departure, VENT and Lindblad Expeditions team up for a marvelous opportunity to experience whale-watching and birding amid the nearshore waters of the Baja Peninsula. This trip is timed for the calving season of the gray whales, providing one of the world's great wildlife spectacles, but participants on this trip are guaranteed sightings of a host of other whales, dolphins, sea lions, and seabirds.
Our signature El Triunfo tour is perhaps our most adventurous trip. Participants journey to southern Chiapas and the cathedral-like cloud forest of the El Triunfo Biosphere Preserve for a week-and-a-half of camping, birding, and hiking. No other place in Mexico offers as exciting and memorable a way to experience the wildlife of such a pristine ecosystem. Resplendent Quetzal, Blue-throated Motmot, White-faced Quail-Dove, Wine-throated Hummingbird, and many other highland species are typical of the exciting birdlife encountered on this tour. The presence of the Horned Guan, a species only very rarely seen by birders, elevates the trip from merely great to extraordinary. El Triunfo is also defined by its high diversity of plant communities.
The unique bio-geographic region that is the Yucatan Peninsula is characterized by sprawling freshwater marshes, coastal wetlands, extensive thornscrub, and lush tropical forests. Because some of the most beautiful and impressive Mayan ruins in existence are also found here, our Yucatan tours combine birding with visits to a number of the region's most significant historical sites. Through the years, our itineraries have variously included visits to the renowned sites of Uxmal, Tulum, and Palenque. The outstanding birdlife of the Yucatan always produces many lowland species of birds not occurring in other parts of Mexico. Motmots, hummingbirds, trogons, cotingas, puffbirds, hummingbirds, tanagers, and orioles are all found in profusion, providing the perfect combination of birding and history.
The cherished cultural gem that is Oaxaca annually hosts at least one VENT tour. Tour participants consistently rank this trip among the most satisfying and finest of VENT tours, where history, culture, and great birding are all offered in abundance. Birding areas are frequently located next to great cultural sites, such as at Teotitlán and the ruins of Yagul, Mitla, and Monte Alban. This tour is attractive both to casual birders with little experience south of the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as to widely traveled birders searching for hard-to-find endemics. Those traveling with a non-birding partner will also find this trip a good option.
Most recently, we have added a tour to the biologically rich and easily accessible regions of northeast Mexico just across the border from Texas. This tour provides a perfect introduction to the joys of tropical birding.