Tailor-made Colombia Birding Tour
Colombia Birdwatch offers Custom Bird Watching Tours that allow you to travel at your own rhythm with only the people of your choice, to choose your preference of birding destinations, and to have as much flexibility as you wish. It is a creative and exclusive experience for those of you who enjoy a highly individualized service. They will create an itinerary tailored to your specifications – your desired departure date, length of the journey, special interests, dietary needs, physical fitness level, budget, and of course, ornithological interests. The tours feature private transportation and a tour leader accompanying the group throughout your entire stay. They will set up your tour and send you a detailed itinerary with NO COMMITMENT NECESSARY.
Colombia is the birdiest country on earth, with more than 1,950 species (almost 20% of the world’s total). There are more species of birds in this country than on any other. It is easy to see why. Colombia is tropical, yet it also has ample elevation changes due to the Andes, furthermore, it has both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. Lots of different habitats ensure an abundance of bird species. To be exact, 1.930 species (almost 20% of the world’s total in 1% of the landmass), with new species still being discovered and new records being announced often. Colombia is experiencing a historical transformation politically, making it one of the safest travel destinations in Latin America, and 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 with easy access to some of the best birding site in Colombia. The map below shows the awe-inspiring amount of birding locations that Colombia Birdwatch offers throughout the entire country for your Custom Bird Watching Tours. Colombia Birdwatch has included a sample photo tour as a custom tour in this section but the idea is they will customize any tour to fit your needs.
For a more complete custom tour, please check out the Complete Birding Colombia Tour.
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 1800-meter (5,900-foot) pass 18 kilometers (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-spangles, Flame-rumped, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, and Golden-naped tanagers as well as Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.
We 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. Birding the forest can also produce many 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 1 hour drive to the edge of the Farallones National Park to a private reserve where 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
La Minga Lodge is located within the Rio Bitaco forest reserve, which results in the house being surrounded by a very well preserved cloud forest. There is a 3 km private road leading to the house with superb birding, with species observed (more than 300 on record!) 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, 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 hummingbirds and up to 30 species of colorful 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 offer many of the Choco endemics that this mega diverse locality has to offer. Our day on the Anchicaya road will allow time to enjoy the upper portion of the road and some very well-maintained feeders at our breakfast spot where Rufous-throated, Glistening-green and Silver-throated Tanagers are known to occur. The road will surely yield many highly prized species Golden-collared Honeycreeper, White-whiskered Puffbird, Uniform Treehunter, Sooty-headed Wren, Green Thorntail and White-tailed Hillstar..
One of the main targets main targets is Toucan Barbet, sporting 5 different colors elegantly while still having a tough demeanor. 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 is the recently described Pisones Tapaculo. The road can be extremely productive as it rarely disappoints.
Lodging: Araucana Lodge
The morning is spent photographing birds at the Araucana Lodge feeder stations and the surrounding forest. Species that visit the feeders include Long-billed Starthroat, White-lined Tanager, Blue-headed Saphire, 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: Hotle Guadalajara de Buga
We will start early to take a 10-minute drive to this wetland gem. 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 aquiatic 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.
Lunch is en route to the National Grape Park, located near the town of La Union. At he park we visit an Aloe plantation, whose flowers are the predominnat source of nectar for Ruby Topaz Hummingbirds.
Lodging: Tinamu Lodge
All morning will be devoted to 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 Plumeteer and Western Emerald. In the afternoon we will drive up the mountain to spend two nights at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, at 11,000 feet, where we can relax in its mineral-rich, medicinal hot springs and enjoy scenic views of the central Andes.
Lodging: Termales del Ruiz
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 5,300-meter (17,400-foot) 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 up to 3,950 meters (13,000 feet), so it will be cold. Here the goal is to find species adapted to high elevations like the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and the near endemic Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, both of which sometimes forage on the ground. Also possible are 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 also find a variety of seedeaters in the Paramo, including Plumbeous Sierra-Finch plus 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 Saphirewing.
Lodging: Hotel Termales del Ruiz
The target of the morning is one of the mst stunning Antpittas on the planet: Cresent-faced Antpitta. The Hacienda El Bosque provides a great oprotunity to photograph this rare bird, at a blind, but also has a nice patch of forest where common visitors are Gray-breatsed 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, therefore including a wide variety of ecosystems. We could possibly observe 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 feeder visitors seldom seen 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 sand the very rare and sought-after Masked Saltator.
The reserve is touted as one of the top birding spots ont he 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-maintained 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 4 PM. Dinner is on the main square of Jardin.
Lodging: Hotel Valdivia Plaza
The morning is spent driving to Finca Babusa, where Chestnut-naped Antpitta can be photographed at he feeder station. Other species of interest include the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot and several species of humminbirds at the feeders. The afternoon is spent at the Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek at 4 PM.
Lodging: Hotel Valdivia Plaza
After a morning at a local humminbird feeder station we will spend the rest of the day on a 4 hour drive to Medellin airport to catch flights to Bogota.
Lodging: Hotel Grand Plaza
The day is spent at the Hummingbird Observatory, a feeder set up that targets all the hight 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, Shining Sunbeam, the endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Great Saphirewing, and Purple-backed Thornbill.
Lodging: Hotel Grand Plaza
Guest will be taken to the airport for flights gome.
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. Six species of antpittas coming to worm feeders are possible on this trip, and there is even a site with the very photogenic Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan coming to a feeder. For travellers that want a mix of feeder photography and forest photography, the photo tour can be customized 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 1 to Day 14
- Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
- All Meals From Dinner on Day 1 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