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Reviewed December 31, 2019

We met Ismael Arellano Ciau of Ichi Tours at our eco-lodge in the town of Ek Balam. He arrived at 6:00 am sharp, as we had agreed, and took us just about 5 minutes away to a place called Chan Mul. And the magic began!

Ismael was totally prepared. He brought us coffee and rolls which became the backdrop for our first sightings of the early morning. He often recognized birds by sound. When he heard a "friend" in the distance, he used their recorded call on the Merlin Bird app to start a dialogue.

I am an experienced birder from a great location in northern California. I've spent time with ornithologists in the USA, Australia, Ecuador, and a number of spots around Mexico. Ismael was as good as they come - lovely man, great birder, fun to be with. We saw 36 species between 6:15 and 9:00 am.

1. Masked tityra
2. Scrub euphonia
3. Squirrel cuckoo
4. Turquoise brown motmot
5. Ivory billed wood creeper
6. Yellow lored parrot
7. Northern parula
8. Olive throated parakeet
9. Green Jay
10. Yucatan Jay
11. Tropical king bird
12. Social fly catcher
13. Blue gray gnat catcher
14. Magnolia warbler
15. Rose-breasted grosbeak
16. Blue black grassquit
17. Common crowned dove
18. Rose-throated becard
19. Altimira Oriole
20. Great tailed grackle
21. Carnivet emerald hummingbird
22. Buff-bellied hummingbird
23. Ruby-throated hummingbird
24. Black-headed saltater
25. Red-throated ant Tanager
26. Black-cowled oriole
27. Little blue heron (saw this another day)
28. Tri colored heron (another day)
29. Buff bellied hummingbird
30. Yellow-throated vireo
31. Yucatan flycatcher
32. Yellow olive flycatcher
33. Black-throated green warbler
34. Wedge-tailed sabrewing hummingbird
35. Vaux's swift
36. Zone tailed hawk
37. Least flycatcher
38. Orange oriole

Date of experience: December 2019
1  Thank 743ak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 16, 2019 via mobile

We went on a morning tour around 30mins outside of Valladolid. So nice to find a local guide with a genuine passion for the wildlife in his local area. Very good at identifying birds and used bird calls to call certain species in closer for my photography. Can thoroughly recommend look no further. Thanks!!

Date of experience: December 2019
Thank 155jaket
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 11, 2019

Based on a recommendation, we booked Ichi for a private birdwatching tour starting from Merida. It was very easy to communicate details and logistics, and we started the day with our rental car at 5 AM. First Ichi took us to an abandoned Hacienda to see the sunrise over the low coastal forest and then we started to look for birds. We saw so many species that there were too many to list here, and Ichi is extremely knowledgeable about local birds and their names in English, and we did learn a lot from him. Ichi was very passionate about finding more birds and sharing his favorite species with us. We had some amazing moments, like seeing a large raptor that had caught a snake, evoking the scene from the Mexican flag. We then continued to the coast to see different species. After a relaxing lunch break we continued to see more birds and then returned to Merida. Even on the drive back we stopped in various locations and saw more birds. It was a great day and not only did we see an enormous amount of bird species as part of an overall amazing experience, we felt that we have made a friend. We visit Merida regularly and looking forward to going birding with Ichi again on our next trip.

Date of experience: December 2019
Thank salsaretreat
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 3, 2019

We asked for a birding group tour and Ichi (as he called himself) planed for us an amazing adventure. We spent four days in a tight schedule covering lots of species of birds from different environments and some of the most iconic places around Valladolid.

Foremost he is a really kind human being and a really responsible tour guide. He wake up before everyone and was usually the last one to go to bed. For example, one night after most people were tired and decided to go to sleep; me, two friends and Ichi went for a birding night trip where we found several owls. We came back at around 1 am and we had to wake up at 4:30 because we were leaving at 5:00 to drive for another spot and he had prepared us coffee already.

He has plenty of birding experience, so you don't need to worry about that regardless of your level. He can help you search, find and identify the birds of Yucatan's peninsula with ease. For example, that same night where we went birding this happened:

We were looking for owls and while walking we heard the call from a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl. We stayed still for about 5 minutes, trying to grasp another sound of the bird without success when he suddenly murmured "there it is!", focused his lamp to one of the trees and there it was.

I didn't heard a thing. I couldn't get my head around that. It was all dark (we had turn off the lights) and all I could hear was some distant insects. I was paying a lot of attention trying to narrow the search area because we didn't know the tree where it was (when it called we weren't that close). Let alone correctly identify the bird from the sound, I mean I didn't catch any "glimpse" of the sound, nothing. He later said he heard the beat of the wings when he arrived to the new tree.

We were 1m appart. I couldn't believe how good his birding skills were. I am by no means a birding expert but no novice either, not even my really skillful friend heard the bird moving. And I mention all this because I think birding at night is so much harder because of the lack of light but he was great either way. At the end we found other birds that night like Northern Potoo or Nyctidromus albicollis and it was great but I won't forget that eppisode with the owl.

Some birding destinations were in iconic mayan places. We visited Ek-Balam and I was really amazed. Ek Balam was a city that was inhabited and ruled by religious people (from what I understood from the trip). It was like a "spiritual city" of the mayan empire and secluded from the rest of the world. You can see that by its architecture. And it's really nice to be part of that while birding.

I don't remember the exact species count at the end of the trip but it was easily over one hundred, with 35 or so being lifers. Overall I really recommend it. If you are passionate about birds you should really go with him.

Date of experience: February 2019
1  Thank mitoforma
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ismael C, Propietario at Ichi Tours, responded to this reviewResponded December 5, 2019

My dear Charles Prudman,

Wow I read and read your review and thanks to this you still allow me to relive this great outing we had, it was really an extraordinary expedition, I can not forget that starry sky with the talk of the constellations of the good friend Humberto, the Owl was not a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, rather a hard bird, was the Middle American Screch-Owl, I hope this 2020 is the opportunity to return and live new adventures and meet more birds of the Mayan jungle.

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Reviewed November 30, 2019

Ichi is a warm heart, a great story teller and an expert birder; can’t go wrong with him.
You will experience the excitement as if it were the first time you see the most common of common birds because Ichi loves all, he will tell you a Mayan legend about certain birds or he will describe them for you to pay attention to every detail with en expertise but mostly with a genuine love; very generous and happy, a great soul of the Mayab.

Date of experience: December 2018
Thank MaleSolis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ismael C, Propietario at Ichi Tours, responded to this reviewResponded December 3, 2019
Google Translation

Malena eres una persona increíble, gracias por tu preferencia y confianza en elegir nuestros servicios a lo largo de este tiempo, espero estés preparada para toda la serie de exploraciones y expediciones que lanzaremos en este 2020, te mando un cordial y cálido saludo.

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