Essential Santa Marta Birding Tour in Colombia
During this 9-day Birdwatching Santa Marta Tour, you will have the opportunity to visit the amazing Via Parque Salamanca where the Caribbean meets the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta.
With broad sandy sea shores, waterfront tidal ponds and swamps, this rich biological system is home to dozen of types of seabirds, plovers and other ocean related fowl species, including migratory and resident. You will likewise have the extraordinary chance to visit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the tallest seaside mountain range on earth and the centre of the universe, as the relatives of the Tayrona pre-Colombian culture accept.
The Sierra Nevada evolved isolated from the Andes generating extraordinary scenarios of endemism and rarity. From snowed-capped mountains to the Caribbean Sea, this particular mountain embraces different habitats and ecosystems from humid and dry forests to mountain forest, páramos and high altitude grasslands. As a rarity to this altitude desert habitats can be found. This mountain is also home to the Kogis, Wiwas and Arsarios communities that survived the Spanish conquer with strong ties to mother nature.
El Dorado Reserve is named after the legendary city of gold with an elevation between 3,000-8,500 ft. Over 350 species of birds can be found including endemic species such as Santa Marta Parakeet, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Antpitta, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Santa Marta Warbler and Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner.
Below the lodge, we could also find additional endemic species such as Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Black-backed Thornbill, Santa Marta Woodstar, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Rusty-breasted Antipitta, White-lored Warbler, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Brush-finch and White-tailed Starfrontlet.
With a vast altitudinal gradient, lots of birds have been recorded at The Dorado Lodge, and it is very well run since it is designed to target the international birders and it is catered to their needs.
Santa Marta Birding Tour Highlights includes
- Opportunity to see between 350 to 400 birds during this birding tour in the Santa Marta Mountains, including around 20 endemic
- Visit Important Birding Areas (IBA's) including the Parque Isla de Salamanca, Flamencos Sanctuary and Tayrona Natural Park, home to dozen of species of seabirds, plovers and other coastal-line bird species and migratory birds
- The area includes the highest coastal peak in the world
- Staying in excellent birding and ecolodges
If you'd like to try an alternative tour, please have a look at the Colombian Wild Orchids Tour
Alternative Tour Name: South American & Santa Marta Tour
Depending on when you arrive at the Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport of Barranquilla, we can offer to pick up from the airport or alternatively from your choice of accommodation prior to the start of the tour.
In the morning we take the main road towards Riohacha, capital of the Guajira department, crossing Via Parque Isla de Salamanca, more than 135,000 acres of extensive sandy beaches, coastal lagoons, mangroves and marshes, between the Caribbean Sea and the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta.
This Important Bird and Biodiversity Area –IBA- is home to dozen of species of seabirds, plovers and other coastal-line bird species, including migratory and resident. We also have the opportunity to watch several species associated with dry forests and mangroves, including the endemics Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, the near-endemic Chestnut Piculet and other species like Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Red-Rumped Woodpecker, Bicolored Conebill, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Panama Flycatcher, Pied Water-Tyrant, and Black-crested Antshrike, among other species of the almost 200 species registered at this site.
Along the road, we make several stops to watch the Stripe-backed Wren, Russet-throated Puffbird, Brown-throated Parakeet, and other species associated with aquatic and littoral ecosystems. We continue stopping along the way to watch and photograph the variety of aquatic birds in their ecosystems.
Continuing to the northeast, we get to La Guajira peninsula where the weather is dryer and we see some species that can only be seen in Colombia and Venezuela. In the afternoon, we visit some scrub areas and subxerophitic (semi-desert) to start our search of objective birds. (List outlined further below). After birding, we head back to the hotel.
Early in the morning we visit the desert and dry forest ecosystems looking for representative birds like the near endemics White-whiskered Spinetail, Chestnut Piculet, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, Glaucous Tanager, Tocuyo Sparrow, Buffy Hummingbird and the Red-billed Emerald. Other specialties are Vermilion Cardinal, Orinocan Saltator, Green-rumped Parrotlet, and the White-fringed Antwren, among others. We will be checking some lagoons and wetlands according to the season where we expect to see species like Scarlet Ibis, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, Black Skimmer, wintering shorebirds, gulls, terns, and the beautiful American Flamingos in the Camarones lagoon.
After visiting semi-desert areas, dry forest and the Flamencos Sanctuary, we head towards the Tayrona Natural Park. In the ofternoon we look for Lance-tailed Manakin, White-bellied Antbird, and Buff-breasted Wren. We then spend the night near Tayrona Park.
In the morning we will be birding along the Don Diego River where we will be able to see the near endemics Black-backed Antshrike, Russet-throated Puffbird, Caribbean Hornero and White-whiskered Spinetail. Other specialties of the area are: Black Hawk-Eagle, White-necked Puffbird, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Golden-olive woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-olive flycatcher, Ochre-faced (Yellow-breasted) flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rufous-and-white Wren, Black-chested Jay, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Brown-capped Vireo, Whooping Motmot, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren and Yellow Oriole.
After a delicious lunch by the river made with local ingredients, we sail by boat observing birds on both sides of the river until we reach the Caribbean coast, an ideal place to contemplate the beauty of the landscape of the highest coastal mountain on the planet, enjoying birds like Mangrove Swallow, Royal Tern, Brown Pelican, Collared Aracari and many more species associated with dry forest and seashore ecosystems. After birding, we continue with a transfer to our hotel in Minca.
During the morning we will be birding at Minca, in the coffee plantation area that conserves a rich diversity of native trees used as shade for the coffee plants. This ecosystem is used as “stopover” for dozens of boreal migratory species between October and April.
We get on 4x4 trucks making stops along the way, searching for endemics like Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Sabrewing, Santa Marta Woodstar and the near endemic Black-headed Tanager. Other specialties would be Bay-headed Tanager and Groove-billed Toucanet.
Around mid-day, we arrive at El Dorado ecolodge, where we can get near the feeding sites with bananas, hummingbird feeders and compost piles to watch the endemics Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Sierra Nevada Brush-Finch and the near endemic Black-fronted Wood-Quail among other interesting species like Band-tailed Guan, and Blue-naped Chlorophonia.
Because of its isolation from the Andean mountain and its very interesting and unique geographic configuration, this place in particular has some of the highest records on endemic species and subspecies of the world, which makes this place really interesting for birdwatchers. At El Dorado area and San Lorenzo ridge, we will be looking for the endemics Santa Marta Parakeet, Yellow-crowned Redstart, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Rusty-headed Spinetail, White-lored Warbler, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Streak-capped Spinetail, and Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager.
On these two days of birdwatching, we will also be looking for the endemic subspecies of Cinnamon Flycatcher, Black-hooded Thrush, Blue-capped Tanager, Golden-breasted Fruiteater and Santa Marta Toucanet among others. Other species worth to mention are the near endemic White-tipped Quetzal and other specialties like Groove-billed Toucanet, the Rusty-breasted Antpitta, and the Rufous Antpitta.
In the morning, we will look for additional species not registered during our trip at El Dorado Reserve. Afterwards, we head towards Minca making some stops on the way to check even more species along the way. We expect the near endemics Golden-winged Sparrow, Black-backed Antshrike, and other interesting species like Golden-fronted Greenlet, Rufous-breasted Wren, Scaly-breasted Wren, as well as the Scaled Piculet, and Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant among others.
Once we get to our hotel, we rest and spend some time watching the hummingbirds and other species that visit the place.
Overnight in Minca.
After breakfast, we will transfer from the hotel to the airport in Santa Marta, and end of tour. Alternatively, you are welcome to continue experiencing Colombia through one of our customized tours.
During the trip, some of the birds that we expect to see, are: different species of seabirds, plovers and other coastal-line bird species, including migratory and resident. Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Chestnut Piculet, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Red-Rumped Woodpecker, Bicolored Conebill, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Panama Flycatcher, Pied Water-Tyrant, Black-crested Antshrike, Stripe-backed Wren, Russet-throated Puffbird, Brown-throated Parakeet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Chestnut Piculet, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, Glaucous Tanager, Tocuyo Sparrow, Buffy Hummingbird, Red-billed Emerald, Vermilion Cardinal, Orinocan Saltator, Green-rumped Parrotlet, White-fringed Antwren, Scarlet Ibis, White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret, Black Skimmer, wintering shorebirds, gulls, terns, American Flamingo, Lance-tailed Manakin, White-bellied Antbird, Buff-breasted Wren, Black-backed Antshrike, Russet-throated Puffbird, Caribbean Hornero, White-whiskered Spinetail, Black Hawk-Eagle, White-necked Puffbird, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Golden-olive woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-olive flycatcher, Ochre-faced (Yellow-breasted) flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Rufous-and-white Wren, Black-chested Jay, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Brown-capped Vireo, Whooping Motmot, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Yellow Oriole, Mangrove Swallow, Royal Tern, Brown Pelican, Collared Aracari, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Sabrewing, Santa Marta Woodstar, Black-headed Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Groove-billed Toucanet, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Santa Marta Screech-owl, Sierra Nevada Brush-Finch, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Band-tailed Guan, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Santa Marta Parakeet, Yellow-crowned Redstart, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Rusty-headed Spinetail, White-lored Warbler, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Streak-capped Spinetail, Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Black-hooded Thrush, Blue-capped Tanager, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Santa Marta Toucanet, White-tipped Quetzal, Groove-billed Toucanet, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Rufous Antpitta, Golden-winged Sparrow, Black-backed Antshrike, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Rufous-breasted Wren, Scaly-breasted Wren, Scaled Piculet, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant
What is included?
- Private ground transportation services from day 1 to day 9 in vans or 4x4 trucks
- All meals from breakfast on day 2 to breakfast on day 9
- Open menu at restaurants, snacks and water during the whole trip
- First drink is included with main meals (local beer, soda, juice or water)
- Double accommodation as described in the program
- Entrance fees and permits to natural reserves
- Expert guide during the entire itinerary
- Private driver during the entire trip
- Scope and pointing light
- Checklist of the potential species of the trip
- National travel insurance
What is not included?
- International and domestic flights, and taxes
- Personal equipment
- Laundry service
- Medical expenses
- Alcoholic drinks
- Phone calls
- Other activities and services
- International travel insurance
At Jaguarundi Travel we are experts on sustainable, responsible ecotourism. Communities benefit, biodiversity is conserved, and all aspects of culture are respected. We offer creative travel experiences greatly superior to large tour operators. Our travellers stay in small hotels, farms and reserves where they are safe and comfortable. We ensure an unforgettable trip and the best possible service. We have, over time, built strong working relationships with many diverse communities. By working together, a first-class tourist product has been developed. These communities are also involved in education, conservation and the rescue and preservation of biological, historical and cultural elements. PRINCIPLES Our principles are present in all our plans and journeys: Grounding. We are grounded in the culture, the people and the communities of Colombia. We meet, share and learn from the indigenous peoples, peasants and Afro-Colombians. We celebrate their music, rituals, ancient cultures, food and traditions. Respect for nature. We learn from biodiversity and are committed to conservation of our rich biological heritage. We marvel at the flora, fauna and landscapes through birdwatching, photography, diving and visiting our national parks and private reserves. Maximum security. Our drivers and vehicles, as well as our guides and support staff, are highly skilled and know the routes and local dynamics on any itinerary. Our standards of comfort are excellent and food is always delicious, healthy and safe, and prepared according to our clients’ dietary requirements.
It is required to pay 100% at least one month prior to the departure date, via wire transfer. The information for payment will be sent to the travellers once they decide to choose our services. If the tour is private, if there is an extra service, if a pre-tour is added, or if the tour is extended, alternative payment options are available. Please contact us for further information.
Early breakfast, transfer to area of interest, nature experience, lunch, nature experience continues, return back to hotel or lodge, species checklist review and briefing for the following day, and dinner.
Jaguarundi Travel nature tours are suitable for children, and travellers are requested to contact the company to discuss further details.
Credit cards are useful in the main Colombian cities, however it is necessary to travel with some cash. ATMs are usually available during the trip.
Jaguarundi Travel nature and wildlife tours is a company that is always willing to help and fulfill the interests of the travellers. We have multiple options to choose from and we are always ready to include other areas and create the itineraries according with our travellers' needs and interests.
We want our customers to enjoy the most that Colombia has to offer – its history, culture, biological richness and breathtaking landscapes. When travelling with us, regardless of the age or experience, all our itineraries are designed with comfort in mind. Everyone can discover and be thrilled by this country’s sheer beauty. Colombia, a country with many rivers and mountain ranges, has extensive highways and roads, some paved, others rugged, rutted and challenging. In some of our Journeys you might take domestic flights, travel on dirt roads and by boat. These modes of transportation allow the traveller to witness the astonishing biodiversity, the rivers, the rainforest, the mountain tops and the many climatic changes. Detailed itineraries delivered to our clients in advance outline the journey, the accommodation, travel arrangements and meal plans. While travel in Colombia can be considered an adventure, we provide the most comfortable and easiest route to a destination. We do not advertise as an adventure agency but we can and do accommodate travellers seeking new and remote areas away from cities. Sometimes on tour, you need to wake up early and travel overland to remote areas. Our staff arranges for food delivery and carries all luggage and equipment. Again, with comfort in mind, we book boutique hotels in major cities and excellent guest houses in remote locations. Also, our staff is always available to answer any questions you might have about an itinerary before you start packing.
Good, healthy, food is of prime importance for travellers and to us as well. So we ensure that all food is of the highest quality, even when our tours take us to remote parts of the country. In urban areas, we work with food services and restaurants that always meet national sanitary standards. Depending on location, we turn to reliable, high quality suppliers. Sometimes we supply our own cooks. We guarantee clean kitchens and the use of potable water for cooking at all times. Dietary restrictions and special needs diets will be accommodated. Vegetarians and vegans are also welcomed.