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  1. #1
    haziz's Avatar
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    Belize trip December.

    I am planning a birding trip to Belize in December (Chan Chich lodge for a week, flights are through Belize City). I am with a birding group and therefore will have limited opportunity for photography at Chan Chich. With photography my main focus is landscapes. I am not interested in bird photography. I thought of adding a day or two exra. Various options I thought of:

    1. Bird an extra day in Chan Chich or Belize City (easiest option, I am heavily into birding).

    2. Arrive a day early and photograph at Altun Ha. How easy is it to drive myself to Altun Ha or should I take a guide.

    3. Arrive 2 days early and then fly to Tikal in Guatemala. Some companies apparently run Tikal trips from Belize City.

    4. Photograph at Lamanai. I am not sure about geting there from either Chan Chich or Belize City.

    Other questions:

    Lightweight 4x5 camera (my main format) with 3 compact lenses and quickloads or for ease a compact medium format rangefinder plus two lenses? Remember this is primarily a birding trip and I don't want to lug along too much gear. Or should I ditch both and horror of horrors take my Canon 20D?

    Any feedback or input regarding photography or logistics appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Sincerely,

    Hany.

  2. #2
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I can help you with the Lamanai bit. At that time of year, since it will be in the dry season, you have multiple choices. I went there in February, and we got a rental 4x4 to drive up from Belize City. You take the main highway ( I think it is Highway 1) to Orange Walk, then hang a left and go halfway back toward Belize City on this other road. It will take you through the Mennonite farming communities. You can also get a float plane to take you to Lamanai, or you can take the really slow route and go by boat. Lamanai is wonderful - there are tons of opportunities for photographing temples and other archaeological relics, some really fantastic trees in the jungle, and all kinds of birds, flowers, and even Howler monkeys. It will be worth the effort (and it will be a considerable effort, with some risk) to get your 4x5 to the top of one of the temples that has been excavated at Lamanai - the platform at the very top is extremely small, but gives you a panoramic treetop view of the surrounding jungle. Also worth looking for at Lamanai is the ruins of the old british sugar mill. A strangler fig has grown out of the top and through the big iron gear wheels, and one of the beams has the name of a New Orleans foundry cast into it.

    If you are going for primarily landscape, you might be better off with the Medium format rangefinder. It will be easier to carry around if you are going to climb any of the temples.

  3. #3

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    I can't help directly, but I am going to Guatemala next year and have given a lot of thought to what equipment to use. My primary format is 4x5 and I really wanted to take a lightweight kit, but I decided to go with a Mamiya 6 and 3 lenses instead. The thought of hiking through the rainforest and climbing ruins made me come to my senses. The Mamiya is relatively small, lightweight,easy to carry and I won't need a tripod for every shot. Plus the thought of spending much time under a darkcloth in the heat and humidity made the choice an easy one. Now if I could only figure out what bag to use...

    Richard Wasserman

  4. #4

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    Chan Chich is a great spot for birding, but tough to enjoy with a LF camera. It`s a jungle out there ... Landscape photography in Lamanai and around Orange Walk is better suited for LF. If you are a hard core birder, take an extra day (or three) at Chan Chich and instead of your 4x5, take the advice from previous posters and go with MF or you other equipment.
    Chan Chich is a trip for tropical raptors, with bat falcons nesting on the hotel site and forest falcons hunting along the trails in the back. December is the best season, as you get the resident birds + all the migrants. A good flash is a must with your telephoto. Enjoy your trip. If you need more information or you decide to visit Tikal, send me a PM.

    Peter
    Photos are made four inches behind the camera



 

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