The name of our company was inspired by the Rio Usumacinta or “Sacred Monkey River”. The ancient Maya used this east-west flowing river as a transportation route for moving all matter of goods between the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Since this river forms a geographical foundation to the Yucatan and winds through the heart of the Maya world, we felt that it is the perfect name for our tour company.
Although we started our first trips in the Yucatan, we have now branched out to include Guatemala, Panama, Coast Rica and Oaxaca. Join us as we take you to various and beautiful locations in these unique, diverse and historic regions of tropical America
At Sacred Monkey Tours, our primary goal is to provide you, the participant with an experience that will be unique, memorable and most of all fun! Because Mexico and Central America is such a wonderful place, it will be a pleasure to be your guides. We will strive to provide you with a comfortable, safe and easygoing tour. Tour size will be limited to 12 participants. We will be attentive to your needs and are passionate about the quality of your adventure. Being in tune with the environment we trust that you will enjoy the many wonderful natural experiences that this region has to offer. Come along for a great birding and cultural adventure!
KEITH HANSEN has been watching birds, since the age of ten. His passion for all things natural has taken him far and wide. While he lives full time in northern California much of his interest in birds lies in the Neotropics. Keith has led birding tours to various countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Ecuador. Keith has a gallery in Bolinas where he produces his art. He is currently illustrating a book entitled, “A Field Guide to the Birds of the Sierra Nevada”.
PATRICIA BRICEÑO is a native of Yucatán, México. She is a fiber artist who lives in Bolinas California.
As you know, in the tropics there is truly a wealth of life. With this in mind we, as leaders, will do our best to make sure that you get to see and enjoy as many creatures as possible and to answer any questions that you might have. We will be responsive to the beginning birder as well as satisfying the experts. Tour leaders will have spotting scopes and all appropriate field guides. Typically, we will rise predawn to maximize our time in the field. In the tropics, the “golden hour”, around sunrise, is when most creatures are active. Typically, we will be naturalizing in the field until around noon when we will then stop for a well-deserved lunch. After that, where possible, we will try to make time for those who want to relax, wander about or continue birding. Some times this will be the opportunity to drive to our next birding spot. On evenings when possible and for those who still have the energy, we will take spotlights to look for night creatures. Each evening we will update our trip checklist.
WHAT THE COST OF OUR TRIPS INCLUDE
Sacred Monkey Tour responsibilities officially begin when we pick you up at the Airport on Day 1 and end when we return you there on the final day. The trip begins with the introductory dinner on the evening of Day 1.
TRANSPORTATION. All in-country transportation is covered beginning when we pick you up at the Airport until we return you there. This includes Taxi transportation to and from the airport. In addition it includes any travel by boat.
LODGING. Lodging choices have been made to keep you as comfortable & well taken care of as possible. All lodging is covered for the nights of Day one, through the last night. If you would like a single room supplement there will be an additional cost of $250.00. For those traveling on their own and sharing a room, we will attempt to pair you with a compatible roommate.
MEALS. All meals from the evening of Day 1, through the morning of the last day, will be covered including breakfast, lunch, dinner snacks and water. All efforts will be made to see that your meals will be provided in a timely manner, are wholesome and prepared in a way to meet proper safety standards. Water will be kept in the van at all times.
ENTRY FEES. Entry fees to any and all archaeological sites & nature preserves will be included.
TOUR LEADING. All tour leading and guiding throughout the trip, including any possible additional guides and drivers will be covered.
TIPPING. General tipping is covered for all meals, porters and additional guides. If, however you feel that you’ve received above average service from a porter, food giver, hotel staff or Sacred Monkey Tour leaders, you are welcome to tip.
INSURANCE. For peace of mind we recommend that you carry insurance coverage and if necessary purchase the appropriate additional coverage.
HEALTH. Participants should be in good health. Although not a rigorous trip by some standards, we will be visiting locations that may have uneven terrain, loose footing, some hills and warm and humid conditions. There will be a first-aid kit kept in the van at all times. If you have any personal conditions that require medical consideration, please report when you make your reservations.
NOTE. There are no hidden costs.
WHAT THE COST OF OUR TRIP DOES NOT INCLUDE. Your personal flight & transportation to and from our trips destination, Passport & Visa fees, any immunization one might need, excess baggage fees, telephone calls, laundry and room service, personally purchased snacks, alcoholic beverages, or anything of a purely personal nature.
RESERVATION, DEPOSIT, FINAL PAYMENT, CANCELLATION & REFUNDS.
Reservations will be confirmed when we receive a deposit of $1000.00 per person and a completed reservation form. The final payment for the remaining amount owed, will be due no later than 45 days before the departure date. Cancellations will be honored, less a cancellation fee of $200.00 per person. Refunds will then be honored if cancelation is made 90 days prior to trip departure.
We hope that this information gives you a good picture of what Sacred Monkey Tours is all about and what you might expect from one of our tours. Please, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
Contact info. Keith Hansen, P.O. Box 332, Bolinas, CA. 94924. 415-868-0402
TO GIVE YOU A FEELING FOR ONE OF OUR TOURS WE HAVE INCLUDED THE ITINERARY FROM OUR TRIP TO OAXACA:
February 26th to March 9th 2010
OAXACA. Most veteran travelers to Mexico find themselves returning to Oaxaca time and again. Three large and fertile, high-elevation (4500-5000′) valleys intersect at the Monte Alban ruins, on a hill overlooking the city of Oaxaca. With a gentle and amiable climate, many and various peoples have occupied the valleys and surrounding mountains for thousands of years, converging on Oaxaca to exchange crafts and foods (maize, or corn, originated from these valleys). As a result, Oaxaca presents a rich and colorful tapestry of culture, art, history, and fine cuisine unmatched anywhere else in Mexico, if not the Western Hemisphere.
Relative to its small size, Mexico has the highest diversity of avian endemism of any country in the world, and an astounding 772 species of birds have been recorded in the centrally located state of Oaxaca (see complete list here), surpassing the list of breeding birds recorded in the entire United States. Located at the meeting of several bioregions, Oaxaca offers a rich mosaic of montane, desert, cloud-forest, thorn-forest, estuarine, and oceanic habitats. During this 12-day trip we will explore these varied habitats in search of Oaxaca’s spectacular avian and wildlife diversity. And when not out birding we will take in the rich culture of Ciudad Oaxaca visiting ruins, gardens, markets and museums. In addition we will offer a hands-on cooking class. For all of those who would like to join us, we will visit culinary chef Susana Trilling for an introduction to Oaxacan food. Susana owns “Seasons of my Heart Cooking School”. While in the city we will be based at Casa Colonial, a unique, small Mexican courtyard-style hotel that provides not just charming accommodations but a quiet, lushly vegetated, and birdy oasis, and a complete library on the history of central Mexico. Casa Colonial is located within easy walking distance of Oaxaca’s famous central zocalo and its surrounding markets, museums, and cultural venues.
For Days 1-7 (26 Feb-4 Mar 2010) we will be based in Ciudad Oaxaca. A typical day will begin with an early morning of birding among the many various habitats within easy reach of the city, followed by a traditional and delicious Mexican comida and short siesta. Afternoons will be spent visiting markets and cultural sites, with emphasis on those located in open or forested areas inhabited by birds, and we’ll typically be back in the field for the last hour or two of daylight.
Specific birding locations around Ciudad Oaxaca include the open brush and forest around the ruins at Monte Alban and Yagul, the pine-oak and cloud forests of Cerro San Felipe, the deserts of Teotitlán del Valle, and the varied habitats along Rte 175 north of the city. We also plan for a morning of bird-banding at a Research Station participating in the Institute for Bird Population’s MoSI Program. We will seek many Oaxacan avian specialties, including Dwarf and Slaty Vireos, Elegant Euphonias, Ocellated Thrashers, Boucard’s Wrens, Oaxaca and Bridled Sparrows, Dwarf Jays, Great Swallow-tailed Swifts, Aztec and Black Thrushes, Mountain and Elegant Trogons, Cinnamon-bellied Flowerpiercers, Red, Rufous-capped, and Crescent-chested Warblers, Chestnut-sided Shrike-Vireos, and Beautiful, Dusky, Garnet-throated, Berylline, and Amethyst-throated Hummingbirds. Various raptor species will be dotting the sky and we will see a host of North American migrant species in their winter quarters.
For Days 8-11 (5-8 March 2010) we will take a four-day drive over the Sierra Madre del Sur to the scenic Pacific coastal village of Puerto Angel. The first night of this excursion will be spent at San Jose del Pacifico, a town situated in the Pacific highlands, surrounded by pine forests. The next day we will then head to the coastal town of Puerto Angel near which we will take boat tours up a mangrove river, where numerous Herons, Egrets Gulls and Terns can be observed at ease, and to a seabird rock off shore to look for Boobies, Tropicbirds and Tubenoses (Shearwaters and Storm-Petrels), as well as Dolphins, Sea Turtles and Manta Rays. We will spend the night in Puerto Angel and after a morning of coastal birding, we will head to the famous Isthmus of Tehuantepec. After an entertaining night in Tehuantepec (famous for its colorful “Tehuanas”, matriarchs of the city who perform all of the trading and run the town), we will bird our way back to Oaxaca via scenic route on Rte. 190 which will take us through different habitats. Many specialties not found around Ciudad Oaxaca occur along this route, including Golden Vireo, Blue-capped and Green-fronted Hummingbirds, Red-headed Tanager, White-faced Quail-Dove, Lesser Ground-Cuckoo, Russet-crowned Motmot, White-throated Magpie-Jay, Yellow-winged Cacique, Sumacrest’s (Cinnamon-tailed) Sparrow, Red-breasted Chat, Lilac-crowned Parrot, and Orange-breasted Bunting.
For Days 11-12 (8-9 Mar 2010) we will be back in Ciudad Oaxaca. We will build in a little free time here, so that participants can have the chance to taste a bit of the vibrant Ciudad Oaxaca on their own. The tour will end on March 9th, at which time we will be transporting participants to the airport or to other locations in Oaxaca for those wishing to extend their stay.