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Exclusive Araucana Colombia Birding Lodge Tour - 8 Days

Exclusive Araucana Colombia Birding Lodge Tour

Birdwatching Lodge Tour in Colombia

The lodge is owned and operated by Colombia Birdwatch, designed specifically for birders and nature lovers with all the comforts of a world-class lodge. Additionally, meals are served farm-to-table from an expansive organic garden and more than 200 species of birds have been recorded in what is already touted as the best Colombia birding lodge.

For those who enjoy bird photography, Araucana Lodge, along with many of the reserves along the route, has excellent feeder setups that provide some of the best photographic opportunities in Colombia. The tour starts in the KM 18 and San Antonio Cloud Forest, which provide an excellent introduction to birding in the Colombian Andes. More than 100 years ago, Frank Chapman, of the American Museum of Natural History, spent some time researching the bird diversity of this forest, which concluded in the first detailed bird survey for Colombia. The birding in the area is amazing, with mixed-species flocks of Multicolored, Purplish-mantled, Scrub and Golden-naped Tanagers foraging alongside Scaled Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias and Golden-headed and Crested Quetzal.

Apart from a visit to an active Andean Cockof- the-rock lek and a feeding station for a brand new species of Antpitta, this tour dips into the humid forests of the Pacific lowlands in the San Cipriano Reserve, where the habitat and the species differ dramatically from those in the Andean Cloud forests.

The next stop is the Anchicaya Valley, in one of the most biodiverse national parks in the planet: Farallones NP. Found along The Old Buenaventura Road, which descends from the western Andes to the Pacific Ocean, the area is one of Colombia’s newest destinations to open up to birding and is AMAZING. The road provides a mind-boggling diversity of birds and is such that it inspired Steve Hilty to start work on Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia. This was the first ornithological field guide for South America and inspired a myriad of ornithologists in the continent.

Would you be interested in potentially creating your own Colombia birdwatching experience? Check out Colombia Birdwatch: Custom Bird Watching Tours to find out more.

Day 1
Day 1 - Arrive in Cali

Guests will be picked up at the airport and driven to the Araucana Colombia birding lodge in a private vehicle.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 2
Day 2 - KM 18

Today we spend the morning around the famous El 18, located on an 1800m (5,900ft) pass 18km (11 miles) northwest of Cali along the road that connects Cali with the port city of Buenaventura. Birding can be very productive here and we will look for four endemics – Chestnut Wood-Quail, Colombian Chachalaca, Grayish Piculet and the spectacular Multicolored Tanager.

This area is a tanager paradise, where we have a good chance to see Purplish-mantled, Summer, Beryl-spangled, Flame-rumped, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, and Golden-naped tanagers as well as Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.

We also hope to be dazzled by an impressive show of hummingbirds at a private house along the same road, including the beautifully ornate Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Rackettail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Green Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin. Brown Violetear and Tawny-bellied Hermit.

In addition, birding the forest can produce many near-endemics such as Scrub Tanager, Purple-throated Woodstar, Nariño Tapaculo, Purplishmantled Tanager and Yellow-headed Manakin.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 3
Day 3 - San Antonio Forest and Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek

We will spend the morning birding in the pristine cloud forest of San Antonio Forest. Here we will hope to see striking birds such as Green-and-black Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted and Blue-naped Chlorophonia, the inconspicuous Golden-headed Quetzal, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streaked Xenops, and the noisy, inquisitive Crimson-rumped Toucanet.

We will also listen and search for species with interesting calls and songs, such as the hawk-like whistle of the Scaled Fruiteater, warbling song of Black-billed Peppershrike, and beautiful flute-like song of Andean Solitaire.

Other species we may find are Chestnut-breasted Wren, Greenish Puffleg, Montane Woodcreeper, Scale-crested Pygmytyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.

At 2 pm we will visit an active Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek for some close-up views of this magnificent bird’s display. A 25-minute hike will take us down a steep trail to their lek near the river. After the lek we will make our way back to the birding lodge.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 4
Day 4 - San Cipriano

The day starts with a 1.5 hour drive to Zaragosa, our entry point into the humid forests of the San Cipriano Reserve. There are no roads into the reserve, so access is via a pleasant ride on “brujitas”, which are motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails that have been ingenuously engineered by the locals.

In the heart of the Choco Bioregion, the area is known for being one of the most biodiverse on the planet, but also one of the wettest. Some of the birds that are possible include Choco Toucan, Stripe-billed Aracari, Black-tipped Cotinga (NE), Rose-faced (NE) and Blue-headed Parrots, Spot-crowned and Fivecolored Barbet (NE), Broad-billed Motmot and Purple- throated Fruitcrow and Tawny-crested Tanager.

The area is teeming with antbirds, with chances to see Ocellated, Jet, Stub-tailed and Bicolored Antbirds. With the high humidity and heat, it is best to have bagged species such as Pacific and Checkerthroated Antwrens, Pacific Flatbill, Cinnamon Becard, Thicket Antpitta, Black-chested Puffbird, Whiteringed Flycatcher, Blue-black Grosebeak, and Bluecrowned and Golden-collared Manakin before lunch.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 5
Day 5 - Upper Anchicaya

Perhaps Colombia’s most famous birding location, the Anchicaya watershed is located in the Farallones National Park, one of the most diverse parks on the planet.

The birding begins just 30 minutes from the hotel via a paved road that can offer many of the Choco endemics that this megadiverse locality has to offer.

The day will be spent birding along the upper portion of the road. We will devote some time to the El Descanso area, where Rufous-throated, Glistening-green and Silver-throated Tanagers are known to occur.

A day of birding on the road will surely yield many highly prized species, including the endemic Crested Ant-tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, White-whiskered Puffbird, Uniform Treehunter, Sooty-headed Wren, Green Thorntail and Empress Brilliant.

One of the main targets will be Toucan Barbet, which sports five different colours elegantly but still manages to have a tough demeanour.

We will search the skies for Barred Hawk, Ornate Hawk-eagle and Swallow-tailed Kites, whilst keeping an eye out for the attractive Ornate Flycatcher feeding on low branches.

Another mega target will be the recently described Pisones Tapaculo.

A full day of birding ends when we return for another comfortable night at Araucana Colombia birding Lodge.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 6
Day 6 - Lower Anchicaya

We will take a whole day to explore the pristine forests of the lower Anchicaya road for species such as Choco Trogon, Great Curassow, Lita Woodpecker and Baudo Guan. The tanagers can be quite a treat, with chances for Scarlet-and white, Golden-chested, Flame-faced, Scru, Blue-whiskered, Gray-and-gold, and Scarlet-browed Tanagers among many others.

The road is lengthy so this will be the longest day of driving we will have, but there are plenty of opportunities to seek out goodies such as Choco Woodpecker (NE), Long-tailed Tyrant, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Lanceolated Monklet, Bay Wren, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Collared Aracari and colonies of Russet-backed Oropendolas.

This location also provides habitat for many species such as Choco Tapaculo, Dusky Pigeon, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Club-winged Manakin, Indigo Flowerpiercer and White-tailed Hillstar.

Some of our targets will include White-whiskered Puffbird, Barred Puffbird, Spot-crowned Barbet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, White-tailed Trogon and Black-cheeked Woodpecker.

After a long day of birding we will make our way back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 7
Day 7 - San Antonio Forest and Araucana Lodge

We will again spend the morning birding in the San Antonio Forest. It will be a chance to pick up any of the birds on our list that were missed on our trip to the Forest on Day 3.

After lunch, we will return to the Araucana Colombia birding lodge for an afternoon in search of species such as Parker’s Antbird, Grayish Piculet, Apical Flycatcher, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Bar-crested Antshrike, Spectacled Parrotlet Scaled Antpitta, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Colombian Chachalaca and Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Day 8
Day 8 - Departure

Guest will be taken by private transport to the airport. For those who wish, we can arrange more birding for you in other regions of Colombia.

Colombian Chachalaca
Baudo Guan
Chestnut Wood-Quail
Lyre-tailed Nightjar
Tooth-billed Hummingbird
Violet-tailed Sylph
White-tailed Hillstar
Blue-headed Sapphire
Crested Quetzal
Five-colored Barbet
Toucan Barbet
Choco Toucan
Grayish Piculet
Lita Woodpecker
Golden-olive Woodpecker
Cinnamon Woodpecker
Spectacled Parrotlet
Rose-faced Parrot
Bar-crested Antshrike
Pacific Antwren
Choco Tapaculo
Nariño Tapaculo
Tatama Tapaculo
Brown-billed Scythebill
Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner
Uniform Treehunter
Slaty Spinetail
Choco Tyrannulet
Ornate Flycatcher
Handsome Flycatcher
Apical Flycatcher
Orange-breasted Fruiteater
Scaled Fruiteater
Andean Cock-of-the-rock
Black-tipped Cotinga
Club-winged Manakin
White-headed Wren
Sooty-headed Wren
Long-billed Gnatwren
Andean Solitaire
Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush
Golden-chested Tanager
Purplish-mantled Tanager
Fawn-breasted Tanager
Glistening-green Tanager
Multicolored Tanager
Golden-naped Tanager
Gray-and-gold Tanager
Scrub Tanager
Flame-faced Tanager
Blue-whiskered Tanager
Silver-throated Tanager
Scarlet-thighed Dacnis
Crested Ant-Tanager

What is included?

  • All Lodging (Double Occupancy)
  • Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
  • All Meals From Dinner on Day 1 to Breakfast on Day 8
  • Snacks Throughout the Trip
  • Entrances to Parks and Reserves
  • Local Guides
  • Internal Terrestrial Transport From Airport Pickup to
  • Airport Drop-off

What is not included?

  • Insurance
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Airfare to Colombia
  • Laundry
  • Items of Personal Nature
  • Tips
Wildlife Reviews
5 stars
- based on 3  reviews
  1. Short stay but brilliant!
    Paul Wakefield / Helen Cowcher10 Feb 2019







    Helen and I were only at Araucana Lodge for 3 days but it was a brilliant experience, not just for the birding which was excellent, but to see what Chris, Vivian and their whole team are doing to enhance the amazing potential that Colombia has to offer. We were one of the first couples to stay at their new lodge, which when it's finished very soon, will be spectacular. It's already looking terrific and has been designed with such care and attention to the their environment. The rooms are huge and spacious, very comfortable with fabulous views over the property. All the staff are great and our guide Giancarlo Ventolini was the best - having not only sharp eyes and hearing - but the knowledge to answer any question we had on, not just the local area, but all of Colombia. Helen did a lot of research beforehand regarding the best place to bird, and it certainly paid off. It is such a relaxed atmosphere at Araucana, and everyone has a really professional attitude but with good humour and friendliness.
  2. Fantastic Trip!
    Gordon Beebe12 Jan 2014







    My wife and I joined a small group led by Chris Calonje, along with Jose Luna, to the southwest of Colombia in 2014. We explored areas around Cali, Anchicaya, Sonso Lagoon, Otun Quimbaya, Rio Blanco, and Nevado de Ruiz. The trip was excellent, and all of our needs were amply taken care of. Both Chris and Jose are great birders, helping us find many species at each location. They knew several local property owners, who were very welcoming in having the group explore areas that we would otherwise not have been able to see, including a Cock-of-the-Rock lek. In addition to birding, we got to visit some intriguing gardens and nature reserves, and to appreciate the great strides being made in Colombia towards promoting eco-tourism and protection of the country's fabulous biodiversity. We also attended a street dance in Cali, the likes of which I had not seen before, as well as walking tours in Manizales and Cali. If you have never been to Colombia before, like us, or want to see more of the wildlife there, I highly recommend Chris as your guide.
  3. Birding with Colombia Birdwatch
    Dan van den Broek01 Mar 2013







    We had a great time birding with the guides at Colombia Birdwatch. We visited Km18, Rio Blanco and Santa Marta. We are returning with two more Audubon Society Groups in March 2018.

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Why book with Colombia Birdwatch?

We stand out from the rest because, as locals, we can provide better value and our familiarity with Colombia, its avian diversity, customs, culture and gastronomy is unsurpassed. It is our privileged local access that will make your experience exclusive and unforgettable, and we thrive to support the local communities we visit. We are an efficient and reliable company, offering the highest level of detail and service from start to finish.

What sort of accommodation and vehicles do you supply?

This tour is based at the stylish, world-class Araucana Colombia Birding Lodge (www.araucanalodge.com), which we own and operate. The lodge offers farm-to-table meals and was designed specifically to meet the needs of nature travellers, with all the comforts you can imagine. It's a place where you are treated like family. Most of the tour will be done in either a 7 pax Hyundai van or a 17 pax Volkswagen or Mercedes van (depending on number of people on tour). Some sites require use of 4x4 vehicles, in which case we use a Renault Duster or Toyota Land Cruiser or, in some cases Jeep Willys are used.

What forms of travel are involved on this tour?

This tour only involves ground transportation, be it in a van or a smaller 4X4 vehicle. In the San Cipriano Nature Reserve riding on train rails on a motorcycle-powered carts called a “bruijta” makes for an exhilarating experience!

What are your group sizes?

This tour is run as a private tour and pricing is based on number of people on the tour.

Do you arrange airport pick up/drop off?

Yes, all airport transfers are included.

Do you ever change the tour leader or itinerary? If so, what sort of notice do you give?

We rarely have to change the tour leader, but sometimes unforeseeable things happen. If we do, we will give you as much notice as we can.

Do you charge a single supplement? Can you accommodate a third person/family?

Yes, the single supplement for this tour is $300. We can most definitely cover a third person/family member and can offer a discount for triple occupancy.

Do you include meals?

Yes, all meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on Day 8 are included. We also include snacks and bottled water throughout the trip.

When is the best time to travel and why?

This tour is great year-round. Rain can occur at any time in the Colombian Andes (somewhat heavier in April/May and Sept to early Nov), so participants should expect some rain, regardless of the time of the trip. However, this generally does not impact the quality of the birding.

Do you need a minimum fitness level to join this tour?

We expect our travellers to be able to walk 1 – 3 miles daily. For this tour we most do our birding on lightly travelled roads with support vehicles nearby. The exception is in the San Cipriano locality, and there is one hike to the Andean-cock-of-the-rock lek that takes about 20 minutes each way, with steep terrain.

Would this tour be appropriate for someone with limited mobility?

Yes, in many cases we can offer a different option to the San Cipriano and Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek locations for a person with limited mobility.

What will be the level of connectivity or WiFi access during this tour?

There is wi-fi in all our hotels and lodges except for Otun Quimbaya. Please keep in mind that wi-fi is only available in common areas in some places and that in more rural areas the connection is not always 100% reliable.

How do you support local communities during this tour?

Colombia Birdwatch supports the local communities we visit in many ways. First, it is our policy to always hire local guides when available and make use of the services provided by the locals (meals, transportation, feeder sites, etc). Secondly, we support various programs and work closely with partners (Audubon Society, Procolombia, Chamber of Commerce, Cali Valle Bureau) in the areas we visit to promote bird tourism and to provide outreach and training in the local communities we visit. We also work closely with Fundacion Ecotonos to promote the conservation of the Bosque de San Antonio in the vicinity of the Araucana Lodge.

What are the terms for this tour and how do I pay?

A deposit of $1,000 USD (non-refundable) per person is due to confirm the trip on booking, and full payment is due 60 days prior to the start date of the tour. You can pay by wire transfer to our bank in the United States or by Credit Card (3% fee).

What happens if something happens and I cannot make the tour dates?

The tour can be rescheduled within 1 year (no additional fees).

What happens if I have to cancel my tour?

If you cancel before final payment is due a cancellation fee of your deposit will be charged. If you cancel after final payment is due there is no refund but you can reschedule the tour within a year.

What should I pack for this tour?

Packing List: Please note that this is a general packing list and is not all-inclusive. REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE Documents and Money: • Passport • Cash and credit cards • Airline tickets or E-ticket confirmation Clothing: • Waterproof rain jacket • Sweater or medium weight jacket • Three pairs of pants/trousers, at least one lightweight, plus cool long pants and shorts • Four long-sleeved shirts • Four T-shirts • Ten pairs of underwear • Ten pair of socks • Pajamas • 1 pair of waterproof boots and 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes. • Shade hat and 1 bandanna • Bathing suit Toiletries: • Toiletries and washcloth • Personal first aid kit • Prescription drugs • Lip balm with sunscreen • Sunscreen • Soap for hand washing and universal sink stopper • Insect repellent (Chiggers, no-seeums and mosquitoes) and anti-itch ointment Gear: • Pack/rucksack - for rain gear and water on walks • Plastic bags to put wet gear in, in case of rain • Sunglasses and extra prescription glasses • Water bottle - to refill throughout the trip • Camera • Binoculars • Alarm clock • Flashlight and extra batteries Optional: • Sandals • Field guides • Map • Spanish dictionary • Writing materials, paper, and pens • Laundry bag and a few clothes pegs

Can you recommend any articles and/or books to read before this tour?

Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia by Miles Mcmullan. R + N Editors, 2018. Birds of Colombia by Fernando Ayerbe Quinones. WCS, 2019.

You can send your enquiry via the form below.

8 Days

Price & Availability

USD1,795 / per person
Based on twin/double room
Group Discount Available
Group Discount Guide
Refer to Group Discount Terms
This tour is operated by: Colombia Birdwatch
4.92 based on 28 reviews

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Operator Review Summary

4.92 Based on 28 reviews

Tour Facts

  • Western Andes and Pacific Slope
  • On Request
  • Multi-Day Tour
  • Birds
  • 2-8
  • 8 days
  • Year Round
  • Moderate
  • English, Spanish
  • Alfonso Bonilla Aragon in Cali (CLO)
  • Alfonso Bonilla Aragon in Cali (CLO)
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