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Guatemaly bound

February 4, 2010
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By the time this posts on Thursday I’ll be winging my way south.  To Houston, where I’ll connect to a flight heading to the burgeoning ecotourism destination of Guatemala.  I’ll be attending the Guatemala Birdwatching Encounter, sponsored by the Guatemala Tourism Office as well as several other international NGOs.  Of all the things that hosting this blog has facilitated for me, this is undoubtedly the coolest.  I’m incredibly excited to be involved in this opportunity.  The purpose of the trip is to advertise Guatemala as a birding destination, and I look forward to comparing it to the only other neotropic birding destination I’ve had the pleasure to experience, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica is sort of the 500 lb gorilla of Central American ecotourism destinations. Some time ago, the government of that nation decided to actively market their natural resources in a sustainable manner by publicizing the country’s wildlife and, in particular, the fine birding to be had there. In effect, the made their forests a commodity beyond the extractables they offered, which was obviously a great thing not only for Costa Rica’s native species, but the neotropic migrants that spend the winter there.  To see other Central American countries looking to Costa Rica as a guide for their own ecotourism industries is undoubtedly a boon for all involved.  Guatemala brings in crucial foreign tourism money, the birders get a great opportunity for some hot neotropical birding, and there’s an impetus to protect the birds that people are coming to see.   It’s win-win-win.

And Guatemala certainly has the birds for it.  The area where I’ll be staying, in the southern part of the country near Lake Atitlan is an area of high endemism.  The mountains here and just over the border in southwest Mexico host drool-inducing birds like Horned Guan and Azure-rumped Tanager, both of which I look forward to taking in, not to mention the colorful regulars from across Central America.  And although I won’t be visiting it this time, Tikal in the north is notable for being both a great example of a primary rainforest, but also a cultural site of global importance.  As Guatemala continues to build an ecotourism infrastructure increasing numbers of both competent guides and comfortable eco-lodges, I’m certain you’ll be hearing more about it the future.

So for the readers of this hear blog, I hope you like your birds colorful and your superlatives exaggerated because that’s what you’re going to be getting for the next couple weeks. But don’t worry, I won’t just leave you with some boring canned post while you’re gone.  I’ve got something fun worked up for tomorrow from a perspective that hasn’t been covered here much.

Anywho, I’ll see you all next week!

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7 Comments
  1. February 4, 2010 7:49 am

    No, I like it brown, gray, and subtle. Which means you’ll have to post a cleansing House Sparrow special after the trip.

    Haaaaa, joking!

    Well, Nate mate, all the very best, get there safe, stay safe there and get back safe and in between, get those birds!! All of them!
    Happy birding trails, especially up the volcano…
    😉

  2. February 4, 2010 8:56 am

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip; hope you get lots of pictures! You are fortunate indeed to have the chance to contribute to something good while doing something so enjoyable.

  3. February 4, 2010 9:12 am

    Best of luck for a safe and mind-blowing trip. I’ve got to get there someday myself, but for the time being, I (and I’m sure others) will have to do it vicariously through you. Looking forward to the posts and pics!

  4. February 4, 2010 9:22 am

    Exceptional opportunity. Have fun, enjoy your visit, and come back safely so you can share the magic with us!

  5. February 4, 2010 10:18 am

    Have fun!

  6. February 4, 2010 1:29 pm

    Have a great trip – I hope you’ve got plenty of batteries to drain and flash cards to fill up! Can’t wait to see the results of your trip.
    -Mike

  7. February 4, 2010 11:46 pm

    Hey Nate, I hope things turn out great for you. I am still basking in the glow of my 160+ bird count for my trip to Harlingen and you have to not only one up me but blow my game out of the water. If things are as cool as you say, I may have to look up an old high school classmate who lives down there!

    Have fun and keep the camera close by!!
    Dave

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