Tropical Bird Pics – Collared Aracari at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

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Aracari at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

Sometimes it is easy to get great bird photos at Lower Dover Field Station in Western Belize.  Today was one of those days…

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Bird Pictures from Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

It seems a family of 5 Social Toucanette’s has been flying around the hotel grounds at Lower Dover. Recently it has been common to see multiple Aracari’s perched on the nearby papaya trees, eating when the fruit is ripe.

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Social Toucanette family at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

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Tropical birds eating at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

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Jungle papaya fest for some lucky birds

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Free lunch, serve yourself at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

Today we noticed the same group of birds feasting on a bee’s nest and got these amazing bird photographs with a point and shoot camera! No tripod even… The Cannon PowerShot SX 260 HS camera is something special!

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Two collared aracari on cedar tree in Belize

It also helps that these birds seem to care less about the photographer and more about the sweet treats that nature provides. I was about 20 feet away, sitting on the ground, when most of these shots were taken.

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Each of the five toucan cousins took turns feasting on what seemed to be honey inside the woodpecker’s hole in a cedar tree. The birds would eat as much as it could for about 30 seconds before flying away due to constant stinging. One gulp of honey, two beak swipes at the attacking bees, rinse, repeat.

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Aracari eating bees from a nest

Occasionally the bird would even catch a bee, and seemingly eat it in one bite! Other times I could see the bees trying to sting the bird through the camera’s zoom finder, only to have the Aracari feast on its brother or sister one second later.

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Aracari with bee in beak at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge

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The colors and lighting were perfect for these bird photos but the camera sure did help. I would suggest anyone looking for an upgrade to look into this model. Only 25% of these photos were minimally altered with photoshop for color and tone.

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Staring contest with a bird

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Anyone that is looking to do some serious birdwatching in Belize would be silly to not stop at Lower Dover in Unitedville.  Occasionally the Aracari are so docile they decide to pose for camera shots in the palm of your hand!

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These jungle birds seem as if they are here to stay, and there is plenty of food on Lower Dover’s 100 acre property to make sure it remains that way.  Our eco-lodge is located between Little Barton Creek and Big Barton Creek, along the Belize River, an ideal location for birders. The numerous fruit trees,  85 acres of jungle, and multiple water sources attract more birds than just the Aracari as you can in Lower Dover’s top bird pictures from last year.

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Cheap Vacation in Belize – AdventureTravel by Bus from Caye Caulker to Western Belize

Belize Local Bus to Belize City

Belize Local Bus to Belize City

For tourists looking to travel affordable in Central America, Belize is often surprisingly expensive. Occasionally there are vacation deals from Canada or the U.S. offered through Delta, United, or American Airlines into Belize City International Airport. Most often European travelers will find Cancun to be the cheapest and most direct option. The “Mundo Maya” travel route also helps to avoid visa conflicts with America. Regional airfare is quite expensive to Belize. Connections from Flores, Guatemala (Tropic Air) and San Salvador, El Salvador (Taca) often run in the hundreds of dollars.

Tropic Air in Belize

Tropic Air in Belize

Therefore if you plan on a cheap tropical vacation, its best to first try flying into Cancun. Also, Chetumal on the Mexico/Belize border, has airport that occasionally runs airfare deals from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Montreal, and Ottawa, Canada. From Cancun, Playa, and Tulum, Mexico it is possible to travel to Belize City directly by overnight bus.

ADO Ticket Stand at Cancun Airport

ADO Ticket Stand at Cancun Airport

The ADO bus service from downtown Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum has become very popular and occasionally sells out. It is possible to travel to Chetumal regularly from Playa or Cancun if you do not catch the late night bus (10pm Cancun first stop). Buy your overnight bus ticket at the Cancun airport up to 3 days in advance to secure your seat. ADO does not offer refunds on tickets for missed buses so make sure you plan enough time to board.

ADO Bus from Cancun Terminal direct to Belize City

ADO Bus from Cancun Terminal direct to Belize City

We have a story bout the overnight ADO bus ride to Belize City from Cancun here.

Cancun Bus Terminal

Cancun Bus Terminal

If you are traveling straight to the Belizean cayes from Mexico it is possible to connect to a water taxi from Chetumal. Here is a link to how this is done. It is also possible to by pass mainland Belize entirely by catching the San Juan or The Línea Dorada / Mundo Maya bus from the Swing bridge water taxi terminal in Belize City. This bus goes right to Flores, but then you end up missing the wild nature of Western Belize. NOT SUGGESTED !

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Baby toucan at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Hostel

Wild Tapir at Lower Dover!

Wild Tapir at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge in Little Barton Creek!

It is really a shame many tourists only see San Pedro or Caye Caulker when visiting Belize. The country has much to offer beyond the constant party on the cayes. There is something for everyone, and taking public transportation is easy enough in Belize.

Bus back to Belize from the Benque Border Crossing in Belize.

Bus back to Belize from the Benque Border Crossing in Belize.

Renting a car makes sense 75% of the time if traveling to Belize on a family vacation. Remember that Crystal Auto Rentals at the Belize International Airport is the only company that will rent a car traveling across the western border into Guatemala to visit Tikal.

Crystal Auto Rental- Belize

Crystal Auto Rental- Belize

Backpacking is easy in Belize because of the public transportation, but also because many pickup trucks make hitchhiking possible, especially if traveling alone or with one other person. It is not uncommon to see locals standing at speed bumps hoping to catch a ride before they pay the already cheap bus fare. Rides from Belize City to Belmopan on the express bus (to Dangriga, Belmopan, or Benque) cost $5BZE per person and take about an hour. Express service to Belmopan happens at least every hour, often every half hour or even less during the early morning “rush” hour.

Road map of Belize

Road map of Belize

Once in Belmopan it is possible to find multiple banks with international ATM machines. It is also possible to eat cheap and good local Belizean food at the market. The market happens on Friday and is worth visiting if traveling through. Internet cafes and photo services are all readily available, along with passport services at many countries foreign embassies.

Belize immigration is located on the road immediately across from the Department of Archaeology if you are trying to extend your tourist visa for another 30 days. The cost for a visa extension is $50BZE for the first 6 months and $100 BZE after, should you decide to stay!

Lower Dover is Located only 1/2 Mile from Mile 59 on the Western Highway

Lower Dover is Located only 1/2 Mile from Mile 59 on the Western Highway

When looking for a place to stay, Lower Dover Field Station and Jungle Lodge in Unitedville offers affordable private cabanas and hostel bunks on 100 acres of jungle, farm, and unexcavated Maya monuments. It is possible to reach us by local bus because we are only a 5 minute walk to the highway. Make sure you are not on an express bus to Benque and let the bus porter know you want to get off at Lower Dover sign in Unitedville.

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Guests looking to experience the top tour in western Belize, ATM Cave, would be advised to stay at Lower Dover because tours depart a full hour later from here than many lodges near San Ignacio, the drop off is also an hour earlier…less time in the tour van and more time in the jungle.

Mayan Skull in ATM Cave - Cayo, District - Belize

Mayan Skull in ATM Cave – Cayo, District – Belize

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Swimming into ATM CAVE Belize Adventure

Swimming into ATM CAVE Belize Adventure

ATM Cave Entrance in Western Belize

ATM Cave Entrance in Western Belize

Guests looking to just relax and enjoy nature will enjoy our multiple hiking trails linking the Maya ruins to the Belize River and our medicinal plant loop.  Every paid guest to Lower Dover gets a free 2 hour guided tour of the plants and known Maya history at the site and surrounding area.  Bring your camera because you never know what you will see! Or sit back on a hammock with a Belikin and let the birds come to you!

Iguana seen hiking on jungle trails at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

Iguana seen hiking on jungle trails at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

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Jungle pictures from Belize nature hike - Christy Brinnehl

Jungle pictures from Belize nature hike – Christy Brinnehl

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Male and Female Collared Aracari

Male and Female Collared Aracari on Papaya at Lower Dover Belize Jungle Lodge