Birdwatching Lodge Tour in Colombia
This tour is based out of one of Colombia’s newest and most exclusive birding lodges, which combines very comfortable accommodation with some of the best birding sites in Colombia, and involves less time spent traveling in a vehicle moving form place to place. The Araucana Lodge (www.araucanalodge.com) was opened in January 2019 and is strategically located, having easy access to different habitats in close proximity to ensure a great bird list while staying in the same luxurious lodge very night. 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 along side 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.
If you are interested in a longer tour that visits teh westren and central Andes you can check out our 14-day tour at https://www.blueskywildlife.com/tour/andes-birding-colombia/
Guests will be picked up at the airport and driven to the Araucana Colombia birding lodge in a private vehicle.
Lodging: Araucana Lodge
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Airfare to Colombia
- Items of Personal Nature
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.
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.
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!
This tour is run as a private tour and pricing is based on number of people on the tour.
Yes, all airport transfers are included.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, we can.
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).
The tour can be rescheduled within 1 year (no additional fees).
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.
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
Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia by Miles Mcmullan. R + N Editors, 2018. Birds of Colombia by Fernando Ayerbe Quinones. WCS, 2019.