This 17-day birding tour will take you to unexplored areas opening up to bird tourism. Colombia has been undergoing a very positive transformation in the past decade, and with the recent signing of a historic peace treaty, new areas are now accessible. The tour has been chosen to highlight some of these areas on, known as peace destinations, to offer a chance at some of the most sought-after birds in Colombia. The Anchicaya Valley on the Pacific Slope, the paramo ecosystems of the Colombian Massif, and the Amazonian piedmont of the Putumayo region. No other tour offers access to the Choco lowlands in the Pacific region, the Colombian Massif in southern Colombia, and Amazonian piedmont.
Guests will be picked up at the airport.
Lodging: Hotel Araucana
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
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, Purplishmantled Tanager and Yellow-headed Manakin.
Here we will may see striking birds such as Greenand-black Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted and Bluenaped Chlorophonia, the inconspicuous Goldenheaded 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, Scalecrested Pygmy-tyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher. After birding we head to an afternoon visit to the Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek, which requires a 35 minute hike.
Lodging: Hotel La Araucana
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 5 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 first 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 Swallowtailed 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 this road rarely disappoints.
Lodging: Hotel EPSA Lodge
Birding again on this day is done along a lightly traveled road, but this time having the opportunity to explore the lower portion of the road. The “El Danubio” area is host to many interesting species, including the near endemics Rose-faced Parrot and Blacktipped Cotinga, Choco Trogon, Lita Woddpecker and Baudo Guan. The tanagers can be quite a treat, with chances for Scarlet-and-white, Golden-chested, Gray-and-gold, and Scarlet-browed Tanagers among many others. Lunch on the road will provide for a long day of birding, as we seek out other goodies such as Long-tailed Tyrant, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Lanceolated Monklet, Bay Wren, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Collared Aracari and colonies of Russetbacked
The area is teeming with many of our friends with the word “ant” in their name, and if we are lucky enough to encounter an ant swarm the action can bring bird such as Stub-tailed, Immaculate, Ocellated, and Bicolored Antbirs as well as Streaked and
Pacific Antwren amongst many others. The road to the Pacific lowlands can be rough but it offers such amazing birding opportunities that it makes the road inconsequential. This night is spent iin the Anchicaya Reserve that is managed by a local
Lodging: Hotel EPSA Cabins
Biridng this morning is done right from the EPSA hotel to the port city of Buenaventura, with two mega targets such as Slaty-tailed Trogon and Five-colored Barbet. It seems like in this area everything is a target, and one doesn’t have to spend too much time to
find species such as White-whiskered Puffbird, Purplethroated Fruitcrow and Black-cheeked Woodpecker. With the high humidity and heat, it is best to have bagged species such as Pacific and Checker-throated Antwrens, Pacific Flatbill, Cinnamon Becard, Whiteringed Flycatcher, Blue-black Grosebeak, and Bluecrowned and Golden-collared Manakin before lunch.
In the afternoon we make our way towards Buenaventura, Colombia’s main port on the Pacific. The hotel has a beautiful terrace with a pool and magnificent views of the bay and the port.
Lodging: Hotel Cosmos
After a one hour drive to Zaragosa and a pleasant 20 minute ride on “brujitas” (motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails), one arrives in the town of San Cipriano. The area is a protected reserve and is the source of drinking water for the nearby port city of
Buenaventura. Located in the Choco Bioregion, it is known for being one of the wettest places on the planet. 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 Five-colored Barbet (NE), Broad-billed Motmot, Black-chested Puffbird and Purple-throated Fruitcrow. The area is teeming with Antbirds, with chances to see Ocellated, Jet, Stubtailed and Bicolored Antbirds. We will leave after lunch and drive 5 hours to Popayan in preparation for a close encounter with Andean Condor the following day.
Lodging: Hotel Dann Monasterio
Purace National Park is home to one of Colombia’s most active volcanoes, and it is here the group has the chance to have a very intimate moment with the largest flying bird on the planet. The local indigenous community has set up a feeding stations for two magnificent specimens, and if the birds cooperate it can be a one in a lifetime experience to be able to photograph a Condor at such close range. A visit to San Juan Hot Springs (unfortunately swimming in them is prohibited) to enjoy the scenery and for some landscape photography is a must. Surrounded by elfin forest, the hot springs are home to a large variety of mosses and lichens with a fascinating color palette.
An excellent chance to explore the surreal paramo, the ecosystem is referred to as Colombia’s water factory, as it is the birthplace of the county’s two largest rivers: Cauca and Magdalena. Birding in patches of elfin forest can produce many high elevation specialists, including Scarlet-bellied Mountain-tanager, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Rufous-vented Whitetip, Black-chested Mountain Tanager, and Black-backed Brush-finch. We will also seek out marshy habitat for Noble Snipe, and eventually make it back to the hotel in Popayan.
Lodging at Hotel Dann Monasterio
We will break up the long drive (7 hours) by making several birding stops. Our first stop is the Upper Patia Valley, a deep, arid valley where we will seek out species such as the near endemic Bar-crested Antshrike and the adorable Spectacled Parrotlet
amongst the xerophytic vegetation. After lunch we will begin ascending towards the Old Besuaco road for species such as Carunculated Caracara, Barred Anthtrush, White-crested Elaenia, Red-hooded Tanager, Tufted Tit-tyrant, and Whitebanded
Tyrannulet. We will arrive at the La Cocha Lagoon in time to settle in to our hotel, a cozy, Swissbuilt hotel with fireplaces and spectacular views of the lagoon.
Lodging at Chalet Guamez.
We will spend the morning at the Paramo de Bordoncillo, not far from the hotel. A hike along the first portion of the trail will likely yield species such as Masked Mountain-tanager, Black Flowerpiercer, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Barred Fruiteater, Agile
Tit-Tyrant, and Grass-green and Golden-crowned Tanagers. The trail may be muddy and require rubber boots, but a chance to see both Rufous and Tawny Antpittas definitely makes it worth while. After a morning of birding the first portion of the trail, those who wish to have a picnic lunch and brave the rest of the trail to try for the rare and uncommon Chestnut-bellied Cotinga can do so, but this will require a strenuous hike. Those who wish to have lunch at the hotel and visit some of the local communities
can do so as well.
Lodging: Chalet Guamez
We will take a boat tour of the lagoon scoping the waters for Andean Gull, Slate-colored Coot, Yellowbilled Pintail, Silvery Grebe, and Yellow-billed Pintail, paying attention overhead to the possibility of seeing Cinereous Harrier. It is possible the marshy edges of the lagoon produce species such as Sora, Virginia Rail, Subtropical Doradito , Cinereous Conebill, Plain-colored Seedeater, and Subtropical Doradito. We will disembark at the El Encanto Andina Reserve for lunch and chances of both Green-tailed and Black tailed Trainbearers and Buff-winged Starfrontlet. We will use the boat ride back to the docks to search for any of the species we may have missed in the morning.
Lodging: Hotel Guamez.
We will leave the hotel very early in order to be birding at sunrise after a 1 hour drive, thus beginning our ascent down the trampoline of diversity. A day of birding along the road may bring many surprises, as few birders have explored this pristine area.
Birding a busy road that is only 1 lane along various stretches comes with its challenges, so please be prepared to deal with traffic. We will do our best to avoid certain areas that may be dangerous, but be assured that we will encounter many goodies, including
the handsome and near endemic Golden-fronted Whitestart and the very local Deep-blue Flowerpiercer. One of our main targets is the photogenic and cooperative White-rimmed Brush-finch, a species that is only found in Colombia and Ecuador.
Other species to keep on the radar include Redheaded Barbet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Greenand- black Fruiteater, Saffron-crowned Tanager, and Flame-faced Tanager and Short-billed Bush-tanager. We will bird our way to El Mirador and then descend
down to Mocoa to settle into our downtown hotel for the next three nights.
Lodging: Hotel Suma Wasi
We will ascend from the busy town of Mocoa to El Mirador for amazing views of the Amazonian Piedmont at Sunrise. Today we will again bird a busy road, so extreme care must be taken to be alert and stay together. The day will take us along a 1,400 meter
(4,600 feet) altitudinal gradient with chances to see Yellow-throated Bush-tanager and three species of Tapaculo: Long-tailed, Spillman’s and Ocellated Tapaculo. A sack lunch will allow us to bird all day in search of specialties such as Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Green-fronted Lancebill, White-tailed Hillstar, Chestnut-bellied Thrush, and Handsome Flycatcher among many others!
Lodging: Suma Wasi
The Rumiyaco sector lies at about 600 meters (2,000 feet) above sea level and offers great birding opportunities very close to Mocoa. We will spend the morning birding the area in search of species such as the very common Violaceous Jay and Silver-beaked Tanager. We will also devote time to one of our main targets: Plum-throated Cotinga.
Lunch in town and some time for a short siesta will have us returning to the area to seek out the rest of our targets in the area, including Glittering-throated Emerald, Lettered and Chestnut-eared Aracari, Golden- bellied Euphonia, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Chestnut Woodpecker, and Orange-fronted Plushcrown.
Lodging: Hotel Suma Wasi
An early departure from Mocoa with luggage loaded in the bus will allow for some stops on the way to San Agustin This is definitely the spot for beauties such as Orange- eared, Magpie and Paradise Tanagers, which are relatively common in this part of the Amazonian piedmont. The forests in this region have ecological characteristics of both the Andes and the Amazon, demonstrating high levels of diversity, for which they are considered as sites of interest for biological conservation
and research. It will take luck, but one of the emain targets will be the spectacularly-colored Plumthroated Cotinga. Other species of interest at San Joaquin include Plain-backed Antpitta, Ecuadorian Tyrannulet, Lined Antshrike, Yellow-throated Toucan,
Chestnut-eared Aracari and Wire-crested Thorntail. After lunch we will continue on the Mocoa-Pitalito road, making several stops along the way to stretch out and do some birding, hoping to run in to some exiting species in this seldomly explored road. Once
in Pitalito, we will begin our ascent towards the town of San Agustin, crossing the Magdalena River at its narrowest width.
Lodging: Terrazas de San Agustin
A UNESCO world heritage since 1995, San Agustin presents the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America and also provides nice habitat for some great birding. The archaeological landscape hosts sculptures that resemble human figures with threatening, smiling, or somber faces. But also rather divine creatures, warriors armed with clubs, round eyes or jaguars’ teeth of mythical heroes. Some seem to depict serenity and wisdom, others fear and darkness. The Agustin culture dominated the area, but who these people were, where they came from, what the exact purpose of the gigantic sculptures was, and to what extent the culture was connected to other known cultures that lived in the area at the time, remains unknown.
The main targets in the park are the endemic Dusky-headed Brush-finch and Colombian Chachalaca, as well as the near endemic Specatcled Parrotlet and Bar-crested Antshrike. Other specialties we will seek out include Blue-browed Tanager, Olivaceous Piculet, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Olivacious Piha and a migratory species that would sure be a treat to see at these latitudes, Cerulean Warbler.
Lodging: Terrazas de San Agustin
This will be a travel day to Cali, although we will be able to do some morning birding in the vicinity of San Agustin.
Lodging: Hotel Hampton by Hilton
What is included?
- All Lodging (Double Occupancy)
- Internal Flight (Pitalito - Cali)
- Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
- All Meals From Breakfast on Day 2 to Breakfast on Day 17
- 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