CAYAYA BIRDING was founded by Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño in 2003. They are active field ornithologists in Guatemala since the 1990ies and enjoy organizing and leading birding tours in Guatemala.
Knut and Claudia have been supporting ornithology, birding, and conservation throughout the country since more than 20 years. They produced the first fully referenced annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala, published in 2007 by Lynx Edicions (Annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala). Most of their research was carried out and published under the umbrella of PROEVAL RAXMU Bird Monitoring Program. They coordinated the identification of Important Bird Areas (IBA) in Guatemala under the umbrella of BirdLife International and the Ornithological Society of Guatemala. They have been supporting the development of birding sites in Guatemala such as Los Tarrales, Sibinal, and Sierra Los Cuchumatanes, through professional advise, teaching local birding guides, and publicity (web sites, printed publications). They help to promote birding as hobby among Guatemalans through citizen science initiatives such as Christmas Birds Counts.
I was born in 1973 and raised in Chemnitz, Germany, where my interest in nature was awakened by my dad when I was about 10 years old. Watching and learning about birds, later also bats, dragonflies, grasshoppers, plants, and others became a passion. As teenager I joined the Saxon Ornithologist's Association, where I was involved in a research and conservation project for local populations of Eurasian Jackdaw (Corvus monedula). I graduated as an engineer in Landscape Management and Nature Conservation at University of Applied Sciences, Eberswalde, Germany, where I wrote my thesis about the avifauna of a cloud forest site in Guatemala which I surveyed for a year. I have been living in Guatemala since 1997. When not designing and leading birding tours in Guatemala, I'm in the field finding out new things about special birds, teaching local guides, supporting the development of birding lodges and areas, finding new and exciting birding hotspots, and supporting conservation initiatives. My ornithological research is focused on distribution, natural history, and conservation, resulting in numerous papers in ornithological journals and magazines, book chapters, and an annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala (Lynx Edicions). I served as country coordinator for the compilation of noteworthy bird records in Guatemala, published in the journal "North American Birds" (American Birding Association) from 2004 to 2015, and as data reviewer of Guatemala bird records in eBird from 2008 to 2015.
I was born in 1974 and grew up in Guatemala City. I traveled from a young age with my family in Guatemala and Mexico, visiting many Mayan ruins for the first time and appreciating the differences among cultures. Studies of chemistry and biology at San Carlos University in Guatemala led my way to the natural world. My interest in ornithology began when I meet a local team of field technicians studying birds in Tikal. Because birding was not yet a popular hobby in Guatemala in the 1990's and there were only a few ornithology courses at the university, I spent a lot of time studying bird identification on my own. I was introduced to bird monitoring techniques in the field with Guatemalans who had specialized on bird research in the Maya Project with the Peregrine Fund (in the Maya Biosphere Reserve). My thesis research focused on the avifauna of Laguna Lachuá National Park, a rainforest area where birds have never been surveyed before. I have been involved in bird research in several areas throughout Guatemala since 1996, resulting in numerous publications on the distribution, natural history, and conservation of birds in Guatemala, including an annotated checklist of the birds of Guatemala (Lynx Edicions). I have also been involved in environmental education and citizen science initiatives in several areas, and under the umbrella of BirdLife International I co-coordinated the identification of the country's Important Bird Areas. I have been leading birding tours in Guatemala since 1999. When not organizing and leading trips, I love taking photos of birds and nature and I support the development of private and community tourism initiatives, teach local birding guides, and explore new birding hotspots.
What birders say who traveled with us:
"Guatemala with CAYAYA BIRDING - far from the longest bird-list I've ever had, nor perhaps equalling the great wild-life spectacles of East Africa, but this was one of the very best birding trips I've ever been on. The leader is key on any sort of wild-life trip and I make no apology for the emphasis that I place on this area. We picked up all the "marquee" species and had many extra surprise bonus birds. All this is because Knut Eisermann has to be one of the world's very top bird leaders. His ability as a bird-finder must be unrivaled and he has the unique ability to get scope views of rainforest rarities. This alone makes a huge difference. He also has an unrivaled knowledge of the country's avifauna and has an extensive array of contacts, including local guides, to smooth the finding of rarities. Our list of owls, photographed as well as seen, was amazing. A bird leader also needs lots of "softer" skills and once more Knut excels - multi-lingual, resourceful, and with an excellent sense of humour. It really was like going birding with an old friend. There was always flexibility and a Plan B if necessary. To literally wet your appetite, the food and accommodation were absolutely superb. If you are thinking of a bird trip to Guatemala, and you should, then I'm afraid that there is no alternative to CAYAYA BIRDING."
Mike Thompson, United Kingdom (2019)
"A great trip with a brilliant guide. Knut Eisermann was both fun to be with and excellent at getting us onto all the birds."
David Crawshaw, United Kingdom (2919)
"Thank you Knut and Claudia for one of the best birding trips I have been on, well considered and organised itinerary led by a highly knowledgeable and likeable guide who quickly located birds in the scope. Great birds, scenery, accommodation and coffee, I couldn't recommend CAYAYA BIRDING highly enough."
Fiona Ireland, United Kingdom (2019)
"A much anticipated return to this wonderful country after a several year break. A huge thanks to Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño, for yet another absolutely fantastic trip. The whole thing meticulously planned and operated. Exceptionally knowledgeable, focused, patient and kind, the CAYAYA BIRDING team are the natural choice for birdwatching in Guatemala. Already planning our next visit!"
Harry Barnard, United Kingdom and Costa Rica. (2019)
"The whole arrangement was excellent with a good mix of habitats, ensuring that we ended up with a very nice trip list (386 species, of which 13 were heard only). Knut Eisermann was a splendid guide, very keen to find our targets and with excellent knowledge of all the birds occurring in Guatemala. A slightly unexpected bonus was his special interest in owls, which meant that owling was an almost nightly exercise. Our final trip list included nine species of owls and they were all seen!" Tomas Hedmark, Sweden (2019)
"Four of us went to Guatemala in the hope of photographing the regional endemics. Thanks to Knut's expertise, we saw and photographed almost all on our wish list. I would recommend CAYAYA BIRDING company for anyone birding or pursuing serious photography in Guatemala. Knut Eisermann not only knows the birds and how to find them, but is an accomplished photographer himself, so he knows just what a photographer needs when in the field. We can't wait to come back." Richard Greenspun, Florida, USA (2019)
"I was part of a four person bird photography tour of Guatemala. Knut Eisermann was the best guide I have ever toured with. He was quick to find target birds and as we were a photography group was comfortable spending extra time allowing us to get the photographs we desired. He was very quick to get the traget birds in the scope which helped us locate the birds to shoot. The highlight was a tour to find the Horned Guan, which we did. This is one trip that I will remember for a lifetime. Thanks to Claudia for all of the hard work in coordinating our group." Gary Wong, Florida, USA. (2019)
"Knut is a fantastic guide - he is friendly, knowledgeable, gentle, accommodating, and patient. He always had a big smile, never complained and was so nice to the Guatemalans including them in his guiding business and helping them to appreciate and protect their special and beautiful environment. He is one of my all time top guides in the world that I have had the pleasure of meeting and traveling with. " Kathryn Young, Florida, USA. (2019)
"Five days in the company of Knut Eisermann birding the hills and valleys of the countryside surrounding Antigua, Guatemala was an absolute delight. Knut is as much an ornithologist, with a special interest in owls, as he is a birder and this made the trip extra special. I am a serial guide user in the Americas and Knut is up there with the best of them." Kevin Buckley, New Jersey, USA (2018)
"I had the pleasure of birding the highlands with Knut Eisermann for a week in August with two friends. Besides seeing some mega birds - Horned Guan, Pink-headed Warbler, and Belted Flycatcher for example - I was really impressed by the amazing scenery, delicious cuisine and comfortable accomodations. I hope to book another trip with CAYAYA BIRDING again soon!" Michael C. Duffy, New York, USA. (2018)
"I was able to organize a 10 day trip with Claudia Avendaño for an 11 person group I was leading for Atlanta Audubon. We had a spectacular time! We were able to visit the western highlands as well as the lowland forests at Tikal National Park. In addition to finding life birds and seeing amazing places, this trip had a special focus on shade grown coffee and the Wood Thrush. CAYAYA BIRDING did a great job helping us create a customized itinerary that balanced birding, culture, conservation, and educational opportunities. Claudia was skillful at noticing the needs and desires of each particular group member and adjusting accordingly. She was well prepared and researched and understood what our group desired. The lodging, transportation, and local guides all met or exceeded expectations. I cannot recommend CAYAYA BIRDING and Claudia Avendaño enough and absolutely plan on birding with them again in the future. We were able to see 275 species in 10 days and everyone left happy and healthy." Adam Betuel, Atlanta Audubon Society (2018)
"Knut Eisermann provided my son and I with a wonderful week of birdwatching in Guatemala. He is warm, friendly and fun! His birding skills are second to none. We had a wonderful time and I can't say enough good things about our time with him." Michael Robinson, Washington, USA (2018)
"Just had my second, brilliant trip with Knut Eisermann and CAYAYA BIRDING. Honestly, can't think of how it could have been improved on. Knut and Claudia Avendaño think of every single detail to make sure that everything goes smoothly and that, as a guest, you have the best possible birding experience. Knut is great company and is deeply knowledgeable. We found all the birds we went looking for, and I was lucky enough to get good chances for photos of each species. Spent part of our time together discussing our next trip together ... can't wait. Really recommend CAYAYA BIRDING, with no hesitation whatsoever ... wonderful way to experience a great birding country." Kevin Bartlett, Buenos Aires, Argentina. (June 2018)
"We had an extremely good trip. Everything was organized with an incredible attention to detail; we saw a huge amount without feeling rushed; and the food and accommodation were far better than we had expected. Knut Eisermann is an excellent guide with an incredible knowledge of the birds, wildlife and culture of his adopted home. He is also very pleasant company in the field. Very highly recommended." Graham Tebb, Vienna, Austria. (2018)
"I just returned from a very productive birding trip down to Guatemala with my primary focus being warblers. I had a target list and managed to find all of them thanks to the expert guiding from Knut Eisermann. I let them know exactly what species I was looking for and they planned an itinerary that would give us the best chances of finding them. I would highly recommend them as they know where the birds are, get you on them and tailor the tour to whatever you want to find. Although Knut is originally from Germany he has been down in Guatemala for 20 years so knows the country very well and I always like providing business to local guides when I travel." Larry Therrien, Massachusetts, USA. (2018)
"We spent two weeks in Guatemala to see the specialty birds of the region. It was the right decision to ask CAYAYA BIRDING to organize our tour. Knut Eisermann was a perfect guide knowing all the birds, the secret places and the culture of the people. He involves local guides which helps finding the birds and supporting the communities. We did see all the special birds of the region we were hoping for plus several real rarities like Unspotted Saw-whet Owl. Being impressed by the incredible landscape, the friendliness of the people, the Mayan historical sites and the many birds, we will come back to Guatemala and we will definitely contact CAYAYA BIRDING again to organize our next trip." Jochen Baurmeister Frauke Jordt, Pennsylvania, USA, and Frankfurt, Germany. (2017)
"Knut Eisermann took a friend and I in search of rare species. Even though we weren't able to reach one area due to road closures, Knut was able to quickly come up with alternate locations and great birds. He is a very personable and skilled guide that i would recommend to anyone wanting to bird Guatemala. Also he is a very safe driver." Ken Havard, Canada. (October 2017)
"Claudia Avendaño was very professional and knowledgeable. Her English was impeccable, and I felt very comfortable spending the day with her. She was lightening quick with her spotting scope, and as a result I was able to see many birds I never would have seen without her assistance. She was a good listener and answered all my questions. I was impressed with her keen ear for the birds. I would highly recommend CAYAYA BIRDING tours to any bird lover. It is worth every penny!" Tina Collins, USA. (June 2017)
"The trip was absolutely the best. I have been on many guided trips to a number of countries, but none were more well organized and thought out than yours." Dennis Shirley, Utah, USA (May 2017)
"CAYAYA BIRDING are the Guatemala experts. For expert guiding, logistics planning and knowing where the birds are, you can't beat the team of Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño! Thanks for a great trip, guys!!" Mark Conrad, Arizona, USA (May 2017)
"We were very pleased with our trip. Very much appreciated the expertise of Claudia Avendaño, who demonstrated extensive knowledge of birds, habitats, and ecology. Everything from our timely pickup, birding, meals together, and transportation was pleasant and professional. Claudia was very patient with our desires to take photos, and linger at various spots. She was an expert in quickly locating and drawing a bead on numerous species." Bryan & Judy Hollinger, USA. (May 2017)
"It was a delightful trip from beginning to end. Communication was clear in the planning stages and throughout the entire trip. And, most especially, Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño were 'over-the-top' birders! We loved their total friendliness and cheerfulness and their skills at hearing, seeing and identifying Guatemalan birds was amazing." Ann and John Reichhardt, Colorado, USA. (February 2013)
"My experience in Guatemala could not have been better. Knut Eisermann is a very accomplished guide who knows the birds beyond field guide information." Mark Lockwood, Alpine, TX, USA. (April 2014), senior author of The TOS Handbook of Texas Birds.
"Claudia Avendaño and Knut Eisermann organized a one week custom tour for Pacific slope bird specialties and the cultural attractions of colonial Antigua and Lake Atitlán. Knut was an outstanding guide and personable companion. His knowledge of the birds is encyclopedic, and his sharp eyes and perseverance were greatly appreciated." Robert Orenstein, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. (December 2007)
"CAYAYA BIRDING is outstanding: they not only offer world-class guides, but remarkably comfortable accommodation. They have taken care to ensure good relations with the communities they visit, which means you will not only see a long list of endemics and rarities, but also learn a lot about Guatemala's cultural diversity." Matthew Koch, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (June 2015)
"Our guide, Knut Eisermann was excellent! I was impressed by his bird knowledge, phenomenal eyes and ears, and on how well he took care of us. He was charming at all times, attuned to all of our needs both birdwise and otherwise, and extremely patient and considerate. He is lightning-fast on getting a bird in the scope! He is also a very safe driver. We had a delightful time. Claudia Avendaño was very prompt on her responses to all of our queries. Her pre-trip information was comprehensive and very clear. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in birding Guatemala contact them first."
Lorna L. Engleman, MD, and Dodge Engleman, MD, San Antonio, TX. (December 2014), Co-authors of: A bird-finding guide to Panama.
"Birding with Knut Eisermann and Claudia Avendaño is a double benefit. Not only do you get the best birding experience and expertise, but you are also supporting conservation and habitat/ecological awareness efforts through their programs with locals. Teach the local people about birds, employ them as paid citizen scientists, increase awareness about caring for the earth and support the local economy." Ruth Stewart, Vermont, USA. (March 2012)
"We found Knut Eisermann an extremely knowledgable, enthusiastic, patient and attentive leader. He knows the birds, the locations, the people. He involves local guides that he trained himself wherever possible - we were impressed by this. His sense of humour is also an asset." Ian D. Harrison, Aberaeron, UK. (April 2013)More testimonials ...