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Join us on January 5, 2023, for a unique adventure we call the Honduras Butterfly Festival and Conservation Tour. This tour is the perfect blend of beautiful tropical butterflies and a worthwhile conservation cause. This event will consist of six teams, each led by an expert who knows Neotropical butterflies, in a friendly competition to see which group records the most species. Proceeds from the event will be utilized to publish the future Guide to the Butterflies of Honduras. Robert Gallardo and Olivia Diaz have been working diligently on this photographic guide since 2016. They have been instrumental in bringing the country list up to 1,250 species, including discovering the country’s first three endemics. Your participation in the Honduras Butterfly Conservation Tour will directly contribute to completing this massive conservation project. 
 
Explore the Lake area as we visit different sites, including Cerro Azul Meambar N.P, Bio Parque Paradise, and Emerald Valley, in search of colorful butterflies, hummingbirds, and showstoppers like the Keel-billed Motmot. 
 
We will visit numerous sites around the species-rich Lake Yojoa basin, which harbors the highest indices of biodiversity in the country. A memorable experience will include visiting the flower-filled gardens at Emerald Valley, a property that alone has nearly 700 species.

The timing of the Honduras Butterfly Conservation Tour coincides with the blooming cycle of the Blue Mistflower when the Foundation typically runs its annual Emerald Valley Butterfly Festival. Emerald Valley and Bio Parque Paradise have several gardens filled with these ‘magical’ plants whose aroma brings butterflies down from the surrounding canopy and species that typically inhabit the forest interior. During past events, participants have recorded nearly 300 species and always include those considered ‘rare.’

Be sure to join us for this worthwhile event and support local conservationists.

Trip Highlights:

▪ Opportunity to observe nearly 300 species

▪ Be able to photographic butterflies up-close

▪ Support the publication of the Honduran butterfly guide

▪ Enjoy the company of numerous butterfly experts

▪ Visit Emerald Valley, home to nearly 700 species

▪ Attend informative presentations

 
Tour Dates: January 5-11 2023 with an optional extension to Pico Bonito Lodge January 11-14, 2023
Registration Deadline: December 5, 2022

Trip Highlights:

▪ Opportunity to observe nearly 300 species

▪ Be able to photographic butterflies up-close

▪ Support the publication of the Honduran butterfly guide

▪ Enjoy the company of numerous butterfly experts

▪ Visit Emerald Valley, home to nearly 700 species

▪ Attend informative presentations

Itineraries

Day 1

Date : January 5, 2023

Jan. 5-Arrival of participants-travel to Lake Yojoa.

Everyone will arrive at the San Pedro Sula airport. Depending on the number of participants and arrival times, we may have multiple buses departing to Lake Yojoa. The drive is approximately 1 ½ hour, and the scenery will change from an agricultural setting to the green hillsides as Lake Yojoa is approached.

The Hotel Brisas del Lago sits on a knoll overlooking the Lake along the north shore. Cerro Azul Meambar National Park lies to the east, and Santa Barbara National Park looms along the western flank. Each room has a view facing this beautiful backdrop. The accommodations are basic but comfortable. After everyone arrives, we will have a welcome cocktail then dinner. After dinner, the event organizers will give a trip orientation and announce the groups of teams.

Day 2

Date : January 6, 2023

Jan. 6-PANACAM or Bio Parque Paradise

Today the adventure begins. After breakfast, everyone will depart for the days’ destination. Depending on the size of the entire group, the teams may be sent to two sites: Cerro Azul Meambar and Bio Parque Paradise. This is to ensure that there is ample space for everyone in which to look for and photograph butterflies.

Meambar National Park harbors a lush mid-elevation rainforest. There are numerous trails to explore and a canopy tower near the parking lot. During the past two butterfly festivals, rare species of metalmarks, hairstreaks, and some brushfoots were observed from the tower, including a country record Euselasia metalmark. There are also ample Porterweed gardens where various skippers, sulfur, and swallowtails can be found. One species which does not occur at the other sites visited during this event is the lovely Rusted Clearwing-Satyr (Cithaerias pireta) which readily occurs along most trails inside the forest. Lunch will be at PANACAM.

Everyone will reunite at H. Las Brisas for dinner at the end of the day. Teams can meet and go over the day’s sightings. There will be a presentation on the Butterflies of Honduras by Robert Gallardo in the evening.

Day 3

Date : January 7, 2023

Jan. 7-Bio Parque Paradise or PANACAM

After breakfast, all groups will depart for the day’s activities. If the entire group was split up between two sites yesterday, then each group will visit the other site today.

Bio Parque consists of a sizeable shade-grown coffee plantation, gardens, and natural forest covering nearly 300 acres. It has been surveyed intensely for several years and has revealed an incredibly rich suite of species. However, one group, the hairstreaks, stands out above them all. Eighty species (nearly ½ of all lycaenids recorded in Honduras) have been documented there, including many representing country records.

Robert and Olivia have been working with the owner of Bio Parque by providing Mistflower plants which have proven to bring in a large variety of butterflies, some of which have not been documented elsewhere around Lake Yojoa. The action from the 2021 festival centered around several large blooming plants and was phenomenal. However, multiple trails can be explored, and the shade coffee plantation harbors many species not observed on the mistflowers.

At the end of the day, everyone returns to the hotel for dinner, reviews photos, and enjoys another presentation.

Day 4

Date : January 8, 2023

Jan. 8-Emerald Valley

Today all teams will go to Emerald Valley, which should be a significant highlight for the trip. The property consists of 50 acres of lush mid-elevation rainforest where the cries of the birds and the fluttering of butterfly’s wings resound as the predominant ‘white noise.’

Robert and Olivia have been building and expanding the flower gardens for many years, and the results have paid off. The ‘discovery’ of the mistflower plant itself on the property was entirely accidental, but after realizing its true potential, they began an active campaign on transplanting and even propagating them. As a result, the multiple mistflower gardens, Lantana, Zinnia, Porterweed, and other native flowering plants, have produced a butterfly phenomenon that may be unmatched anywhere. Clouds of butterflies descend upon the gardens from the canopy and exit the forest interior to dine in the gardens.

Several years ago, Robert found a metalmark that looked different than anything he was familiar with from the genus Emesis. He was able to obtain a female and a male. Lepidopterists carried out DNA and genitalia work, and sure enough, it was an undescribed species. It was published in the June 2021 issue of Tropical Lepidoptera and was named Eleanor’s Emesis (Emesis eleanorae) in honor of his mother.

You can observe so many colorful and common species there that it is impossible to list them here. Literally, with each passing minute, the composition of species changes in the gardens, and after having completed one ‘loop,’ many different species will have shown up. We will see many species of longwings, sulfur, and a bewildering array of skippers. One of the favorites is the Phanus, commonly called a ‘Ghost Skipper,’ replete with transparent windows. We spend three days at Emerald Valley seeing a wide variety of the colorful, more common species, but we also hope to see some of the country’s rarities.

We return to the hotel, have dinner and see another presentation.

Day 5

Date : January 9, 2023

Jan. 9-Emerald Valley

Everyone returns to Emerald Valley for a second day. We will undoubtedly see many familiar species observed yesterday, but we will also see some new ‘faces.’

The Porterweed flowers attract numerous sulphurs, many of which do not stop to nectar on the mistflowers. Rotting bananas placed at different spots along the trails also attract beauties such as the stunning Blue Morpho, Crackers, satyrs, Owl’s-eyes, and Tiger Beauty. Participants often fill up entire memory cards, so be sure to bring an extra one or two. One can easily spend the remainder of winter days going through the photos taken during the event.

We return to the hotel.

Day 6

Date : January 10, 2023

Jan. 10-Emerald Valley

On the final day of the event and competition, we return once again to Emerald Valley. Three days may seem like a lot of time to spend at a single location, but when considering that new species arrive each day, three days may seem like too few!

We scan the gardens, trails, and surrounding forests for rare or uncommon species. Each year participants find anywhere from one to four species representing property records which is always an exciting occurrence. Around noon the air is warm enough, and hairstreaks often descend into the mistflower gardens. The Silver-banded Hairstreak is always a favorite to see. If we’re lucky, Bitter Vine and Boraginaceae shrubs are blooming, which attract a whole different suite of species.

We finish the event with a delicious BBQ and closing words. Finally, we say ‘goodbye’ to Emerald Valley and return to the hotel.

Day 7

Date : January 11, 2023

Jan. 11-Departures-Extension to Lodge at Pico Bonito

We pack and drive back to San Pedro Sula for international departures this morning. Those continuing for the extension will be taking a different route.

The prices include the following:
  • Guiding services 
  • Entry fees into private properties, museums & butterfly festival 
  • All planned meals and tips at restaurants
  • Hotel nights on the itinerary 
  • In-country transportation.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages, refillable water bottle, and purified water
  • Donation toward the publication of the butterfly guide.
The prices do not include the following:
  • International flights.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Phone calls, laundry, or other items of a personal nature.
  • Tips or gratuities at hotels or for your guides.
  • Additional bottles of water (very little recycling is done here!).
  • Covid tests.
  • Laundry or other items of a personal nature.

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  • Pricing Name
    Start
    End
    Group (Min-Max)
    Pricing
     
  • Pricing Name Honduras Butterfly Festival
    Start Thursday May 26, 2022
    End Thursday May 26, 2022
    1 - 60 Pax
     

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The airport is Ramón Villeda Morales International (SAP)-San Pedro Sula
For the main tour please plan your arrival flight into San Pedro Sula no later than 2:00pm. If you are not planning to attend the Copan extension please plan your departure flight from San Pedro Sula no earlier than 12:00pm.
For the Copan extension please plan your departure flight from San Pedro Sula no earlier than 12:00pm.
Assistance can be provided for those needing to arrange a hotel stay in San Pedro Sula upon arrival or before departing.

The local currency is the “Lempira”, named after a legendary Lencan warrior who fought the Spanish until his treasonous demise. The current exchange rate is approximately Lempira 24.5 to U.S. 1 Dollar. Money can be exchanged at the airport upon arrival.

Each client is solely responsible for bringing an ample supply of their personal meds, if taken. On occasion, however, if someone forgets their meds we can often find something nearly identical in local pharmacies. Each client is also recommended to purchase some trip insurance plan. Each client will also be asked to fill out and send both a release of liability and health form. We will be travelling in areas where malaria is uncommon, but known to occur. Each client is therefore responsible to decide if they will take anti-malarial medicine.

Campbell, Jonathan A. 1998. Amphibians and Reptiles of Northern Guatemala, the Yucatan, and Belize. Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

DeVries, Philip. 1987. The Butterflies of Costa Rica and their Natural History. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, New Jersey.

Fash, William L., E. Wyllys Andrews, and T. Kam Manahan. 2005. “Political Decentralization, Dynastic Collapse, and the Early Postclassic in the Urban Center of Copán, Honduras”. Boulder: Univ. of Press Colorado.

Gallardo, Robert. 2014. Guide to the Birds of Honduras. Mountain Gem Tours. Available in the U.S. through Buteo Books.

Glassberg, Jeffrey. A Swift Guide to the Butterflies of Mexico and Central America.

Kelly, Joyce. 1996. An archaeological guide to northern Central America: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Univ. of Oklahoma Press.
Reid, Fiona A. 1997. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and southeast Mexico. New York. Oxford Univ. Press.

Average highs range in the low to mid 80s, however, it can be cool in the evenings and mornings. This is typically a drier time of year but it wouldn't hurt to be prepared for the occasional rain shower. Skies are generally clear, but we have experienced times of fog as weather systems move through the area.