This 33-day birding tour explores Colombia’s lush cloud forests and Paramo ecosystem
of the Andean Cordillera, the humid rainforests of the Choco Bioregion, the wetlands and dry tropical forests of the lowland valleys (Cauca and Magdalena), the dry scrub forests of the Caribbean Coast and the high-altitude mountains of the Sierra Nevada de
Santa Marta and the Sierra de Perija. With almost two thousand species, be prepared to be in awe of the spectacular avifauna on show.
Guests will arrive in Bogota and be transferred to the hotel. Your local guide will meet you at the airport and begin talking about the birding adventure you are about to embark on.
Lodging: Hotel Santa Fe Real
We will rise early and make our way to the high elevation Sumapaz National Park. Birding within the park will surely yield many endemics and specialties, and this is our chance to experience the unique Colombian Paramo. Some of our targets will be the rare Blackheaded Hemispingus, Rufous and Undulated Antpitta, and the near endemic Rufous-browed Conebill. For those that have an affinity for hummingbirds, there will be chances to view the endemic Green-beraded Helmetcrest. Coppery-bellied and Glowing Puffleg, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and the near endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet.
Two other endemics on our target list include Silver-throated Spinetail and Pale-bellied Tapaculo. An encounter with a mixed flock could yield Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Plushcap and the noisy Scarlet-
bellied Mountain-Tanager. The uncommon and endemic Brown-breasted Parakeet is also a possibility, although en encounter will require some luck. We will then return to our hotel in Bogota for dinner and rest.
Lodging: Hotel Santa Fe Real
Today we will go to the Florida Regional Park, an urban wetland where we shall look for the endemics Bogota Rail and Apolinar’s Marsh-Wren. We may also find the are Noble Snipe, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Subtropical Doradito, Spotflanked Gallinule, American Coot, Andean Duck and many other aquatic species in this urban park. Lunch on the road should have us at the Indigo-capped Hummingbird Reserve in time to enjoy the feeders. The main target is the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird, as they visit the feeders regularly. More than 20 species may use these feeders, some only briefly, others nearly year-round. Possible species include White-bellied Woodstar, Green Hermit, Black-throated Mango, White-necked Jacobin, White-vented Plumeteer, Andean Emerald, and with good luck Gorgeted Woodstar. We will spend the afternoon crossing the
Magdalena Valley to the city of Ibague to enjoy our nice hotel.
Lodging: Hotel Santa Fe Rea
An impressive 5 endemics can be observed in the Combeima Canyon, including the mega targets Yellow-headed brush-finch, Blossomcrown and the very range-restricted Tolima Dove. The trail along the Combeima River can yield pairs of Torrent Duck, whilst higher up the montane forest offers opportunities for Ash-colored Tapaculo, Superciliaried Hemispingus and Sword-billed Hummingbird. Other species of interest include the spectacular Red-hooded Tanager, Agile Tit-tyrant, Crested Quetzal and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia. The afternoon will be spent driving along the Magdalena Valley to Honda, a small colonial
town on the banks of the Magdalena River. The city was the main river port of the country in the late 1800’s, and all the imported goods and articles arrived to Bogotá through this port city.
Lodging: Hotel Posada Las Trampas
The Bellavista reserve is small and covers a small area but is teeming with birds, many of them specialties that will surely crave your ornithological appetite. The endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia, the tiny Tody Motmot, the intimidating Collared Aracari and
the stunning Saffron-headed Parrot are only a few of the amazing species this site has to offer. Black-faced Antthrush, Sooty Ant-tanager, Yellow-browed Shrikevireo, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Olivaceous Piculet and Violet-bellied Hummingbird, and the list keeps going! Five species of Manakin can be observed at Bellavista: Striped, Blue-crowned, Golden-headed, White-bearded and White-bibbed. The afternoon will be spend en route to the Rio Claro Reserve, with some birding once we arrive (time permitting).
Lodging: Hotel Los Colores
We will take a short drive to La Cueva del Condor, a cave that was named after a Condor. However, no Condor inhabit the area, but we will be on a search for Oilbird. This very interesting nocturnal bird uses sonar to navigate, and it will be a delight to get acquainted with it. After visiting the cave we will bird in the vicinity and search out the very territorial wrens: Bay Wren, Black-bellied, Band-and-backed Wren.
Rio Claro is a hotspot for bird diversity and other birds we might encounter include the elusive Blue Cotinga, the endemic Magdalena Antbird, Purple-crowned Fairy, Bay-breasted Warbler, Buff-rumped Warbler, Western White-tailed Trogon,
Black-throated Trogon, Rufous Motmot, Broad-billed Motmot, Slaty-winged Foliage-Gleaner, Western-Slaty Antshrike, Black-faced Antthrush, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Pacific Streaked Antwren, Checkered Antwren, Moustached Antwren, Yellow-backed Tanager, Tawnycrested Tanager, Orange-crowned Oriole and many others. We will devote all afternoon to the area and return to our hotel for dinner.
Lodging: Hotel Los Colores
A full morning of birding in Rio Claro will have us birding along a dirt road in search for specialties like the endemics White-mantled Barbet and Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and the very conspicuous Barred Puffbird. Other birds we might encounter include Panama Flycatcher, Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Cinnamon Becard, One-colored Becard, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Purple Honeycreeper, Chestnutmandibled Toucan, Citroen-throated Toucan, Collared Aracari, Olivaceous Piculet and Fulvous-vented Euphonia. We will also have the opportunity to find two species of Manakin: Western Striped and Whitebearded.
Another target we will hope to encounter is the endemic Magdalena Antbird, We will spend the afternoon driving up the central Andes to Sabaneta, to our hotel which is one of the closest to La Romera Park.
Lodging: Hotel La Extremadura
Our targets at the municipal La Romera Reserve will be the endemic Red-bellied Grackle and the near endemic Yellow-headed Manakin. The reserve is small but we will have to spend some time trying to find the elusive Manakin. Our trip from Medellin to Jardin will take us into the unique canyon that the Cauca River has carved into the Andes Mountains. We will have the
opportunity to explore the dry forests of The Cauca Valley, making a few stops during our drive hoping to net some of Colombia’s most range-restricted species. Our main target will be the recently described Antioquia Wren, whilst taking advantage of the possibility of the endemic Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet. We will hope to arrive in Jardin by 5 pm, to experience
what is becoming known as the best Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek on the planet, which sometimes hosts more than 20 individuals that park themselves not more than 6 feet from the observation decks.
Lodging: Hacienda Balandu
We will maximize our efforts to find the Yelloweared Parrot and for the next 2 days. This little-known species is severely threatened due to the disappearance of the wax palms, where they roost and nest. Wax palms are the national tree of Colombia, and is also
an endangered species. As we look for the parrot we will also keep our eyes and ears out for White-capped Tanagers, Rufous-chested Chat-Tyrant, Barred Fruiteater, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Rufous-headed Pygmy- Tyrant, Handsome Flycatcher, Northern Mountain and Subtropical Cacique, Russet-backed Oropendola, Citrine Warbler and others. Other targets for the day
will be Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Tanager Finch, and the endemic Red-bellied Grackle. A visit to a Rufous Antpitta feeder station is possible before descending back to Jardin to enjoy the pleasant town and a nice dinner.
Lodging: Hacienda Balandu
The morning will be well spent trying to nail any target species we may have missed, including the endmic Parker’s Antbird, Black-and-white Seedeaters, Striped Treehunter, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Tanager Finch, Clay-coloured Thrush, and White-browed Spinetail. The afternoon will be spent driving to the Rio Blanco Reserve near Manizales, enjoying the scenic vistas the coffee region of Colombia has to offer. Along the way, King Vultures catching thermals are a possibility if eyes are kept overhead.
Lodging: Rio Blanco Reserve
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 Stripeheaded 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 get boasts many that we may encounter here include Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Goldenfronted Whitestart, Dusky Piha, Lachrymose and Buffbreasted 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 endangered Golden-plumed Parakeet.
Lodging: Rio Blanco Lodge
A morning of birding at Rio Blanco’s well-maintained hummingbird feeders that attract a great variety of hummingbirds can produce species such as 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 evening is spent driving up the mountain form Manizales 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: Hotel Termales del Ruiz
Los Nevados National Park is located at the highest part of the Colombian central Andes. The road winds through patches of elfin forest that open up to Paramo, an ecosystem of tropical grasslands above the treeline. Driving toward the picturesque 5,300-meter
(17,400-foot) volcano Nevado del Ruiz., the scenery in the 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.
Birding is done at elevations up to 3,950 meters (13,000 feet), so it will be cold. Here we hope to find species adapted to high elevations like the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and the near endemic Rainbowbearded Thornbill, both of which sometimes forage
close to 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.
We will search for the very rare and endangered endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet along a two-kilometer stretch of road that passes through elfin forest, an ecosystem of dwarfed plants. We also hope to spot the very tame Tawny Antpitta, a common companion in this area. We will stop at a nearby glacial lake, Laguna Negra, where we may find Many-striped
Canastero, White-tailed Hawk, the rare Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Tit-Spinetail, White-chinned
Thistletail, Andean or Ruddy Duck, Andean Teal, Grass or Sedge Wren, and Pale-naped Brush-Finch.
A bit of after-breakfast birding for any missing species will lead way to a 4 hour drive to the Otun- Quimbaya Reserve. We will drive through the city of Pereira, and wind along the Otun River, finally arriving at the Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, whose lodge and
tourist operation is superbly run by the local community group Yarumo Blanco. The lodge area can be birded at arrival, time-permitting. En route to Pereira, a stop at a roadside lake can add some aquatic species to the trip list, including Pied-billed Grebe, Masked Duck, and Blackish Rail.
Lodging: La Suiza Lodge Cabins
There is an early morning option for those who wish to look for the endemic Colombian Screech-Owl near the lodge before breakfast. After breakfast, one can easily bird the reserve right at the doorsteps of the cafeteria. Located on the west slope of the Central Cordillera, the reserve is part of the national park system, and home to the Wax Palm, the tallest palm in the world and the national tree of Colombia. These palms, unlike most other species of palm, thrive at high altitudes and cool climates found here. The area is also home to a colony of Howler Monkeys and the endangered, endemic Cauca Guan, once believed to be extinct until rediscovery of a population in 1990.
Otun-Quimbaya is also one of the best places in the world to observe Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. We will search for endemics – Chestnut Wood-Quail, recently described Stiles’s Tapaculo – and near endemics, like Moustached Antpitta, the handsome Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, and bright-colored Golden-fronted Whitestart. Other impressive birds we hope to find include
Three-striped, Russet-crowned, and Canada Warblers, Masked Trogon, Green Jay, Andean Motmot, Bluenaped Chlorophonia, and Orange-bellied Euphonia. We will also look for Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Marble-faced and Variegated bristle-tyrants, and Glossy and Masked flowerpiercers.
Lodging: La Suiza Lodge Cabins
This morning some time will devoted time to finding the infamous Torrent Duck before beginnin a long drive to Montezuma Lodge (4 hours). The next three nights will be spent at the lodge, which has unsurpassed local hospitality by the Tapasco family who runs a great operation, allowing birders from around the globe to enjoy the birds of Tatatma National Park.
The Montezuma Lodge offers unsurpassed hospitality and magnificent feeders and birding right from the lodge, and boasts a 13 km road of pristine forest that covers a 1,400-meter (4,500 ft) altitudinal gradient. A very early start will have us at the top of the hill by sunrise, in hopes of making the best out of a long day of birding. Our targets at he higher elevation are the endemics Munchique Wood-wren and Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, which should be easy to see in the open areas of the top of the hill. The long descent will provide opportunities for some nice species, including Flame-faced Tanager, Glossy-black Thrush, Barred
Fruiteater, Tanager Finch, and Black-and-gold, Rufousthroated, and Golden-chested Tanagers. We will have a picnic lunch along the way to maximize our birding, allowing time to get after forest skullkers such as Alto Pisones and Spillman’s Tapaculos and Yellow-bellied and Hooded Antpittas. A long day if birding will come with the reward of an exquisite home-cooked meal and a good night’s sleep.
Lodging: Montezuma Lodge
The park never fails to provide, and seeking out Colombian endemics such as Gold-ringed Tanager and Chestnut Wood-quail can be exhilirating. If the weather is on our side, we will have fantastic views of Cerro Tatama, with hopes of running into species such
as the endemic Beautiful Jay, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, White-faced Nunbird, Glistening-green Tanager, Streak-capped Treehunter, Linnetaed Foliagegleaner, Olivaceous Piha, and Indigo Flowerpiercer. River crossing will give us a chance for White-capped Dipper, and we won’t have to venture to far from the lodge to have chances for Toucan Barbet, Black Solitaire, Choco Vireo and the beautiful Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia.
We will arrive at the lodge in time to scope out the hummingbird feeders with visitors such as Violettailed Sylph, Empress Brilliant, White-tailed Hillstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Andean Emerald, and the near endemic Purple-throated Woodstar.
Lodging: Montezuma Lodge
After breakfast we will have time to enjoy the banana feeders where Silver-throated Tanager, Buffthroated Saltator, and Golden-naped Tanagers take turns at the bananas in a semi-polite manner. Also, the kitchen staff sets out maize for a population of Blackish Rail that live in a nearby wetland, affording great views of this usually hard-to-see bird. After lunch, the next destination is the Cauca Valley, more specifically to the city of Buga, a pleasant city and one of the most important religious pilgrimage centers in Colombia. The colonial hotel, which has been recently remodeled, has a large swimming pool and impressive architecture.
Lodging: Hotel 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 Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-ducks, Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Anhinga, Little Blue, Cocoi, and Striated herons, Snowy Egret, Black-necked Stilt and Snail Kite. We are likely to find Wattled Jacana, which have a polyandry mating system, where females mate with many males within a breeding season. Polyandry is a fascinating adaptation that occurs in less than 1% of birds, and is most common in shorebirds. Another target that is sometimes observed is Blackish Rail.
Interesting species we might spot in the dry forests surrounding the lagoon include the endemics Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet, and also the hard to see Jet Antbird. If the timing is right, a nice surprise would be Ruby-topaz Hummingbird if certain flowers are flowering. Along riparian areas we may find Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara, Red-crowned and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, and Cocoa Woodcreeper. Greater Anis are fascinating because two to four unrelated pairs form a nesting group that build a single nest in which all the females lay their eggs and raise the young communally.
After lunch at the hotel, the afternoon will be spent driving towards Cali, and then ascending the western Andes to the Km 18 area. If time permits, we can start birding for some of the targets of the cloud-forests close to the lodge.
Lodging: Hostal Santa Eulalia
Today we spend the morning around the famous KM 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-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 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 Viole-tear 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 with much luck. The road provides chances for both Golden-headed and Crested Quetzal. We will spend the afternoon birding in the pristine cloud forest of the San Antonio Forest. Here we will may 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, 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 Pygmytyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.
Lodging: Hostal Santa Eulalia
We will spend the day in the upper Anchicaya road with lots of time to enjoy the upper portion of the road and some very well-maintained feeders at our lunch spot. The road will surely yield many highly prized species, including Silver-throated Tanager,
Rufous-throated Tanager, and White-whiskered Puff-bird.
The main target will be 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 Alto Pisones Tapaculo. The road can be extremely productive and surely we will go back to our lovely birding lodge with a long list of
new birds for the trip!
Lodging: Hostal Santa Eulalia
Depending on your arrival time to Barranquilla, an afternoon of birding in search for the endemic Chestnut- winged Chachalaca is possible near town. This is one of the most attractive Chachalacas in Colombia and possibly all of South America. The dry forests in
the outskirts of town will also provide opportunities for species such as the very photogenic Russet-throated Puffbird and the common Brown-throated Parakeet.
Lodging: Hotel Barranquilla Plaza.
We will rise early and spend the morning birding at Isla Salamanca National Park, 35 minutes from Barranquilla, where we will bird the newly rebuilt walkways through the mangroves in search of Saphire-throatd Hummingbird, Bicolored Cpnebill, the common Brown-throated Parakeet, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, and Yellow-chinned Spinetail among many others. We will also have time to bird some wetlands in the area in search of Northern Screamer and other specialties. After a morning of birding we will embark on a 2-hour drive to Minca, a quaint little town with nice lodging along the river. Located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Minca is a great location to bird for lower elevation species. We will arrive in town and visit some hummingbird feeders for lunch where Rufous-breasted Hermit, Black-throated Mango, Long-billed Starthroat, the near endemic Redbilled Emerald and Violet-crowned Woodnymph can be found. We will also have time to explore the surroundings
in search of birds such as Black-backed Antshrike, Scaled Piculet, Swallow Tanager, Rufoustailed Jacamar, Keel-billed Toucan, Masked Tityra, and Whooping Motmot.
Lodging: Hotel Sierras Sound
This day will have us birding through a vast altitudinal gradient, birding different elevations along the road to El Dorado Lodge. Birding up the mountain will surely yield a large number of species, including Golden-winged Sparrow, Rosy Thrush-tanager, Rustyheaded Spinetail, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, the recently described Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Black-backed Antshrike, the magnificently colored Blue-naped Chlorophonia, and the attractive Rufous-capped Warbler.
Lodging: El Dorado Lodge
We will rise early and head up to higher elevations towards Cerro Kennedy, in search of these endemics: Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain-tanager, Santa Marta Bush-tyrant and Brown-rumped Tapaculo, among many others. We will have a picnic at high elevation with great views of the Sierra Nevada, and bird along the road on our way
down, hoping to run into awe inspiring species such as Swallow Tanager, Grove-billed and Santa Marta Toucanet, Black-chested Jay, the endemic White-lored Warbler, Golden-breasted Fruiteater and the near endemic White-tipped quetzal. After dinner we will certainly scout for the endemic and recently described Santa Marta Screech-owl.
Lodging: El Dorado Lodge
After breakfast we will have time to enjoy the wellmaintained feeders at the lodge. Hummingbirds that visit the feeders include the endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet, White-vented Plumeteer, and Long-tailed Hermit. The bananas attract the endemic Santa Marta Brush-finch and also the endemic Colombian brushfinch, and the many flowers in the garden attract White-sided and Black Fowerpiercer. We will spend some time trying to see Santa Marta Antpitta, a skullker that will definitely take some work. A day of birding near the lodge will have its rewards, a special treat being the near endemic Black-fronted Wood-quail that visit the lodges compost pile in the afternoon.
Lodging: El Dorado Lodge
We will spend the day birding the road en route to our beach-side hotel to enjoy the beautiful beaches. We will make stops to catch any birds we missed on the way up. We will spend one night at Finca Barlovento, an exquisite lodge right on the beach that is touted
as one of the best places to stay in Colombia.
Lodging: Finca Barlovento
We will have a morning visit to the park, and if all things align for us, the Blue-billed Curassow could show up for us. Otherwise, this is a great place to see some species which we are not as likely to see elsewhere on the trip. One abundant bird that is easiest to see here than anywhere is the stunning Lance-tailed Manakin. Sometimes it can be found with its relative, the White-bearded Manakin. The birds here are varied, from Crane Hawk and Boat-billed Heron to Greater Ani, White-necked Puffbird and Rufous-tailed Jacamars. Blue-headed Parrot is common, and Lineated Woodpeckers are impressive to see as they forage on the large trees.
White-bellied Antbirds belt out their song from the understory, if one is lucky they will even show themselves. The complex songs of Buff-breasted and Bicolored wrens are heard in the forest, along with the repetitive songs of Scrub Greenlets, nasal sounds
of Barred Antshrikes or loud calls of Boat-billed and Streaked flycatchers. It is an active area, full of birds! Crimson-backed Tanagers and the gorgeous Redlegged Honeycreepers give a lot of color to the local flocks. While birding here it is common to see the Cottontop Tamarin, a gorgeous little monkey dwarfed by the less common White-fronted Capuchin. While our visit to Tayrona will be cursory, we will see a lot, and enjoy the company of our trained guides here who will have the pulse on where the birds are. The afternoon will be spent driving to Riohacha, with a stop at a known spot where Double-striped Thick-kneee are often seen. Our hotel is right on the beach.
Lodging: Hotel Taroa
Very close to the city of Riohacha is Los Flamencos and the village of Camarones. This is the west edge of the Guajira desert, where dry forest becomes shorter and sparser and bare dry earth separates the trees from each other. But before you have a mistaken idea of a parched world, Los Flamencos is on the coast and it has shallow waterbodies that fill as the rains come,
and evaporate during the dry season. These evaporating ponds concentrate salt, and then brine shrimp bloom which brings in the namesake bird of the park – American Flamingos! Their numbers vary depending on water levels, but they can be here in the hundreds on a good day. If you have not had enough pink, how about the even brighter Scarlet Ibis? They concentrate
here as well, with their very close relatives White Ibis. They are so close in fact that every once in a while a hybrid “Pink Ibis” is seen here. Gulls, terns, and many migratory shorebirds are to be found at Los Flamencos. Retreating to the forest though, one is quite surprised that a series of very attractive regional specialties are found here. The sole South American offshoot of what is really a North American group, the Vermilion Cardinal can be seen here. Nothing prepares you, even if you have backyard Northern Cardinals, for the striking red of this species, the overdone crest and the very different look to its close relatives from the north. On
the ground, a member of a group that is usually very drab and brown, may elicit “wows!” from the crowd – the White-whiskered Spinetail is one heck of a good looking Spinetail. Pecking in the branches and trilling away is a tiny and colorful woodpecker, the Chestnut Piculet. Sure there are specialties that are more somber in tone, such as the Slender-billed Inezia (Tyrannulet), and White-tipped Inezia. A crowd favorite is the Russet-throated Puffbird (the Bobo or ool bird as the locals call it) who will just
sit there, staring back at you as hard as you stare at it. In a crowd of what tend to be relatively greenish or grayish and nondescript birds, the saltators, the uncommon Orinoco Saltator is quite a good looking bird. Don’t ask why there are so many good looking birds in this drab desert habitat, just enjoy these wonderful dry forest birds. After lunch we will spend the afternoon driving
to the Perija Lodge
Lodging: Perija Reserve Lodge
The Sierra de Perijá is like the Holy Grail for birders interested in Colombia’s birds. This isolated offshoot of the Eastern Andes forms the border with Venezuela and is one of the least explored areas in Colombia. Much of Colombia suffered from the internal strife that lingered here for decades, and Perijá was a final stronghold. Yet since 2009, the area has been clear of any political problems, and only now are birders beginning to venture to this amazing set of endemic rich mountains. A new birding lodge, ProAves’s Chamizero del Perijá Reserve started receiving tourists in May of 2015. It is a small, comfortable lodge surrounded by
amazing montane forest.
Currently the Sierra de Perijá is considered to have four endemic species, the Perijá Metaltail, Perijá Thistletail, Perijá Sierrafinch and the newly described Perijá Tapaculo. Yet, this is where things get interesting! This area has been out of reach for birders and
scientists for decades until now, and even a cursory visit to the area finds that many common species, such as the Rufous Spinetail and the local version of Yellow-breasted Brushfinch are in fact certainly endemic species! And these are the common ones, many new discoveries await as birders and biologists increase their visits to Perijá. There is a spinetail here that could be a new species, it is little known, and so far a resolution of what it is has not been reached. Talk about exciting. It may not eventually rival Santa Marta in the number of endemics, but it will come close once taxonomy is updated for these birds. This is a unique area, still being
discovered, and not only that but it is gorgeous and wonderful to be in. The morning views across the valley to the Sierra Nevada are breathtaking. Other birds here include Crested and Golden-headed Quetzal, Barred Fruiteater, Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Plushcap, Buffbreasted Mountain-Tanager. A unique looking form of Lachrymose Mountain-Tanager is common in the higher areas, as well as another unique endemic that may one day be a full species, the local form of the Golden-bellied Starfrontlet. Hook-billed Kites are relatively easy to see here, and with luck White-rumped Hawk or even Black-and-chestnut Eagle may fly through. The road that reaches the reserve continues into Páramo habitats, where Rufous-breasted Chattyrants
abound, and Páramo Seedeater may be found as well as many Tyrian Metaltail and fewer of the stun-ningly purple-tailed, endemic Perijá Metaltail. The ability to move from Montane Forest to Páramo, and then down to foothill subtropical areas will give us more
than enough to look at. This area is right on the cusp of discovery, and now is the time to go. Who knows you may be in on a new species! You never know.
Lodging: Perija Reserve Lodge
We will spend the morning birding down the road towards Valledupar to catch an afternoon flight to Bogota
Lodging: Hotel Habitel
What is included?
- Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
- Snacks Throughout the Trip
- All Meals From Breakfast on Day 2 to Breakfast on Day 32
- All Lodging (Double Occupancy)
- Entrances to Parks and Reserves
- Local Guides
- Terrestrial Transport From Airport Pickup to Airport Drop-off
- Internal Flights (Cali-Barraqnuilla and Valledupar- Bogota)
What is not included?
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Airfare to Colombia
- Items of Personal Nature