Tailor-made Colombia Bird Watching Tour
Colombia Birdwatch offers Custom Bird Watching Tours that allow you to travel at your own rhythm with your choice of birding destinations and as much flexibility as you wish. A birding tour in Colombia is a creative and exclusive experience for those who enjoy a highly individualised service. With more than 1,950 species, Colombia has more species of birds than any other country.
"We saw almost 500 species including over 50 endemics/near endemics and over 60 hummingbirds. Apart from the essential early starts each day, the birding was relaxed and leisurely to suit our particular group, the organisation was superb and the guides adapted the itinerary to our needs; had we wanted a more intense experience and our guides were capable of finding us many more species." - Alan and Eleanor Hine
Custom Colombia Bird Watching Tours are tailored to your desired departure date, length of the journey, special interests, dietary needs, physical fitness level, budget and, of course, ornithological interests. This Colombia birding tour features private transportation and a tour leader who accompanies you throughout your entire stay. They will set up your tour and send you a detailed itinerary with no commitment necessary.
Colombia is tropical yet also has ample elevation changes due to the Andes, as well as both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. This variety of habitats ensures an abundance of nearly 2,000 bird species, which is almost 20% of the world’s total in just 1% of the landmass. New species are still being discovered and new records are often announced. Colombia is experiencing a historical transformation politically, making it one of the safest travel destinations in Latin America. Colombians are eager to show off the biological, cultural, ethnic and gastronomic diversity the country has to offer.
Colombia Birdwatch is an efficient and reliable company, offering the highest level of detail and service from start to finish. They are ecstatic to announce the grand opening of Araucana Lodge (www.araucanalodge.com), a brand new birding lodge designed specifically for birders and with easy access to some of the best birding sites in Colombia.
The map below shows the awe-inspiring number of birding locations that Colombia Birdwatch offers throughout the entire country for your Custom Bird Watching Tour. Colombia Birdwatch has included a sample photo tour as an indication of the opportunities available, but the idea is to customise any tour to fit your needs and interests.
If you are interested in a tour of Santa Marta, Perija, and the Caribbean in Colombia, please click here.
Please enquiry directly for solo traveller pricing, also available.
Alternative Tour Name: Tailored Birding Trips in Colombia
Guests will be picked up at the airport and driven to the Araucana Lodge.
Lodging: Hotel Araucana Lodge
Today we spend the morning around the famous El 18, located on an 1,800m (5,900ft) pass 11 miles (18km) 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 and we have a good chance of seeing 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 and Speckled Hummingbirds and White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear and Tawny-bellied Hermit.
In addition, while birding in the forest we might also see near-endemics such as Scrub Tanager, Purple-throated Woodstar, Nariño Tapaculo, Purplish-mantled Tanager and Yellow-headed Manakin.
After lunch at the lodge we take a one hour drive to the edge of the Farallones National Park to a private reserve. Here we will visit an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek for some close-up views of this magnificent bird’s display. This 20-minute hike will take us down a steep trail to their lek near the river, and we return to the vehicle on the same trail.
Lodging: Hotel Araucana Lodge
Surrounded by well-preserved cloud forest, La Minga Lodge is located within the Rio Bitaco forest reserve. There is a 1.8 mile (3km) private road leading to the house with superb birding - more than 300 species have been observed here.
Birds we might see include: 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, like 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 Pygmy-tyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.
The bird feeders in the house and garden are set up for photography. Up to 17 species of hummingbird and up to 30 species of colourful tanagers, flowerpiercers, and honeycreepers can be observed and easily photographed.
Lodging: Araucana Lodge
Perhaps Colombia’s most famous birding location, the Anchicaya watershed is located along the edge of the Farallones National Park, one of the most diverse parks on the planet. The birding begins just 40 minutes from the hotel via a paved road that can reveal many of the Choco endemics found in this diverse locality.
Our day on the Anchicaya road will allow time to enjoy the upper portion of the road and some well-kept feeders at our breakfast spot where Rufous-throated, Glistening-green and Silver-throated Tanagers are sometimes seen.
The road will surely yield many highly prized species such as Golden-collared Honeycreeper, White-whiskered Puffbird, Uniform Treehunter, Sooty-headed Wren, Green Thorntail and White-tailed Hillstar.
One of our main targets is Toucan Barbet, sporting five different colours while still having 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 target species is the recently described Pisones Tapaculo. The road can be extremely productive and rarely disappoints.
Lodging: Araucana Lodge
The morning is spent photographing birds at the Araucana Lodge feeder stations and surrounding forest. Species that visit the feeders include: Long-billed Starthroat, White-lined Tanager, Blue-headed Sapphire, Red-headed Barbet, Golden Tanager, Yellow-backed Oriole, Linneated Woodpecker and many more. The afternoon is spent driving to the colonial city of Buga.
Lodging: Hotel Guadalajara de Buga
We will start early today, arriving at this wetland gem after just a 10 minute drive. It is one of the only remaining wetlands in the Cauca Valley and is teeming with birds, making it one of Colombia’s best wetland birding locations. Here we will search the marshes and lagoons that line the Cauca River for aquatic species such as Cocoi Heron, Black-necked Stilt and Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-ducks. Other interesting species we might spot include the endemics Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet, Jet Antbird, Blackish Rail, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird and Horned Screamer.
We will have lunch on our way to the National Grape Park, located near the town of La Union. At the park we visit an Aloe plantation, whose flowers are the predominant source of nectar for Ruby Topaz Hummingbirds.
Lodging: Tinamu Lodge
We will spend all morning at Tinamu Lodge, with species such as Bay-headed Tanager, Gray-headed Tanager and Guira Tanager visiting the feeders. Fifteen species of hummingbirds have been recorded in the area, and with luck the group will have visitors such as Long-Billed Starthroat, White-vented Plumeleteer and Western Emerald.
In the afternoon we will drive up the mountain to spend two nights at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, at 3,353m (11,000 ft). Here we can relax in its mineral-rich, medicinal hot springs and enjoy scenic views of the central Andes.
Lodging: Termales del Ruiz
Today we will explore Los Nevados National Park, located on the highest part of the Colombian central Andes. We will wind through patches of forest that open up to Paramo, an ecosystem of tropical grasslands above the treeline, toward the picturesque 5,300m (17,400 ft) volcano Nevado del Ruiz. The scenery in Paramo is magical and surreal, with velvety Frailejon plants adding to this effect. Frailejon plants belong to the Espeletia genus and are endemic to Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
The tour reaches elevations of up to 3,950m (13,000ft), so it will be cold. Here the goal is to find species adapted to these high elevations like the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and the near endemic Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, both of which sometimes forage on the ground.
We might also see: Viridian Metaltail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, the beautiful Golden-crowned Tanager, near endemic Black-backed Bush-Tanager, and Glossy Flowerpiercer. We may find a variety of seedeaters in the Paramo, including Plumbeous Sierra-Finch and Paramo and Plain-colored Seedeaters.
The afternoon is spent at the feeder stations in the spectacular grounds of Hotel Termales del Ruiz, with chances for Sword-billed Hummingbird, Black-thighed Puffleg and Great Sapphirewing.
Lodging: Hotel Termales del Ruiz
The target of the morning is one of the most stunning antpittas on the planet: Crescent-faced Antpitta. The Hacienda El Bosque provides a great opportunity to photograph this rare bird. More common visitors are Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan and Barred Fruiteater.
In the afternoon we travel to Manizales for the night.
Lodging: Hotel Varuna
The Rio Blanco Reserve is owned by Aguas de Manizales, the local water company, and is situated along an altitudinal gradient. This means it includes a wide variety of ecosystems. We could possibly spot five antpitta species at feeders located within a short hike from the lodge, including the endemic and endangered Brown-banded, and the elusive Bicolored, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped, and Slate-crowned Antpittas.
Other rare feeder visitors include Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush and Stripe-headed Brush-Finch. Additional species observed in Rio Blanco include the uncommon and endangered Rufous-fronted and Golden-plumed Parakeet and the very rare and sought-after Masked Saltator.
This reserve is considered one of the top birding spots on the planet, and species we may encounter in the forest include Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Dusky Piha, Lachrymose and Buff-breasted mountain-Tanagers, showy Grass-green and White-capped Tanagers, Powerful Woodpecker, and the hard to see Ocellated, Blackish, and Spillman’s Tapaculos. Other less common species that are possible are Long-tailed Black-billed Peppershrike, the handsome Plushcap, Red-hooded Tanager, Mountain Cacique, and the endangered Golden-plumed Parakeet.
Lodging: Rio Blanco Lodge
This morning we have a chance to visit the reserve’s several well-kept hummingbird feeders that attract a great variety of hummingbirds. We hope to see Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed Coronet, Speckled Hummingbird, Bronzy and Collared Incas, Mountain Velvetbreast, the tiny, slow-flying White-bellied Woodstar, and the showy Long-tailed Sylph.
The afternoon is spent driving to Jardin in order to arrive at the Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek at 4pm. Dinner is on the main square of Jardin.
Lodging: Hotel Valdivia Plaza
This morning we shall drive to Finca Babusa to photograph Chestnut-naped Antpitta at the feeder station. Other species of interest include the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot and several species of hummingbirds at the feeders.
The afternoon is spent at the Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek at 4pm.
Lodging: Hotel Valdivia Plaza
After a morning at a local hummingbird feeder station we will spend the rest of the day on a four hour drive to Medellin airport to catch flights to Bogota.
Lodging: Hotel Grand Plaza
Today we visit the Hummingbird Observatory, a feeder that attracts all the high elevation hummers above Bogota.
The diversity is incredible, with species such as: Coppery-bellied and Glowing Puffleg, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and the near endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail and Shining Sunbeam. We might also see the endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing and Purple-backed Thornbill.
Lodging: Hotel Grand Plaza
Guests will be taken to the airport for their flights home.
Wildlife species we expect to see:
This photography tour focuses on Colombia’s best hummingbird, antpitta and fruit feeder setups in the western and central Andes, with one of the top highlights being access to two different Andean Cock-of-the-rock leks. On this trip it is possible to see six species of antpittas coming to worm feeders and there is even a site where the photogenic Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan comes to a feeder. For travellers that want a mix of feeder photography and forest photography, the photo tour can be customised to spend some time in search of species that do not visit feeders, including Crested Quetzal, Buffy Helmetcrest, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager, Grayish Piculet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Ruby Topaz, and Scaled Fruiteater.
What is included?
- Professional bilingual bird guide
- All lodging (double occupancy) from day one to day 14
- Bottled water throughout the trip
- All meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on day 15
- Snacks throughout the trip
- Entrances to parks and reserves
- Local guides
- Internal terrestrial transport from airport pickup to airport drop-off
- Limited medical and accident insurance
What is not included?
- Alcoholic beverages
- Airfare to Colombia
- Items of personal nature
- Anything that is not included in "What is included"
Colombia Birdwatch stands out as a specialist Colombian birding tour operator because, as locals, we provide exceptional value. We know Colombia, its birds, birding areas, customs, culture and gastronomy, while our privileged local access will make your experience exclusive and unforgettable.