The Very Best of Colombia: Santa Marta, Andes and Chocó


Dates and Costs:

 

18 February – 08 March 2022

Spaces Available: 7

Price: US$8,747 / £6,726 / €7,836 per person sharing
Single Supplement: US$990 / £761 / €887.
Please note that there are no single rooms available at Montezuma Eco-Lodge

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 

18 February – 08 March 2023

Spaces Available: 6

Price: US$9,463 / £7,277 / €8,478 per person sharing
Single Supplement: US$1,040 / £800 / €931.
Please note that there are no single rooms available at Montezuma Eco-Lodge


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 19 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Baranquilla
Tour End: Cali


Price includes:

Accommodation
All meals (except where indicated)
All ground transportation, including 4×4 transportation where needed
Admission fees to parks and reserves
Private tour leader
Local guides
Bottled water

 

Price excludes:

International flights
Domestic flight Riohacha-Pereira
Dinner on day 1 and on day 19
Private expenses (drinks, alcoholic drinks, laundry, any other personal items)
Any activity not described in the itinerary
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

The Very Best of Colombia: Santa Marta, Andes and Chocó
February 2022/2023

 

We invite you to our revised Birding Tour Colombia: The Very Best of Colombia. This itinerary provides the best in terms of birds that this country has to offer. For 19 days we will explore the best birding sites of the country, including the Caribbean region in the north with the famous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, looking for the unique species that occur exclusively in these mountainous peaks, and the dry scrub of the La Guajira peninsula at the northern tip of the country. Then we will cover the mighty central Andes from the spectacular Los Nevados National Natural Park and the Rio Blanco Reserve in search of the most wanted White-capped Tanager, Ocellated Tapaculo, Masked Saltator, and Buffy Helmetcrest to the Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary in search of the endemic Cauca Guan and the secretive Hooded Antpitta. At the bird-rich Tatamá National Park, where the Western Andes meet the Chocó, we will search for the finest selection of Colombian birds, such as the endemic Golden-ringed Tanager, Black-and-gold Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Club-winged Manakin, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Dusky Starfrontlet, Black Solitaire, and Munchique Wood Wren. We will then explore the wetlands at the shores of the Cauca River in search of the endemic Apical Flycatcher, Spectacled Parrotlet, and many classic aquatic species.

Colombia birding toursMulticolored Tanager is one of our targets on this tour (photo Daniel Orozco).

 

Another highlight of the tour without doubt will be the Anchicaya road, where we will have the chance to look for several Chocó specialties such as Toucan Barbet, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Golden-chested Tanager, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, and Tooth-billed Hummingbird. The Pacific lowlands are home to the sought-after Ocellated Antbird, Rose-faced Parrot, Choco Toucan, and Lita Woodpecker. Finally we will explore the mountains above Calí in search of the striking Multicolored Tanager, one of the most beautiful tanagers in the world.

Colombia birding toursThe outrageously colored Toucan Barbet (photo Daniel Orozco).

 

Colombia with its diverse habitats is home to more bird species than any other country in the world. With the country’s almost two thousand species be prepared to be in awe of its spectacular avifauna as we explore Colombia on this 19-day adventure. Join Birding Ecotours on this exciting Birding Tour Colombia to this dynamic birding destination!

This tour can be combined with our Birding Tour Colombia: Medellín and Bogotá Endemics. which take place right before this tour or our Very Best of Colombia, Part 2: Southern Andes, Amazonian Foothills and Llanos which also takes place before this tour. 

Colombian birding toursWe will hope for views of Chestnut Wood Quail in La Florida Reserve (photo Gilberto Collazos).

 

 

Itinerary (19 days/18 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival in Barranquilla

Our tour will start in the northern city of Barranquilla, which is our rendezvous point at the Caribbean coast. You will be met at Barranquilla’s Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport and transferred to your Hotel.

Overnight: Barranquilla Plaza Hotel, Barranquilla

 

Day 2. Birding the Barranquilla Marshes and Isla Salamanca, transfer to Minca

Today we will have an early start, looking for the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca in the scrub around Barranquilla. Then we will briefly visit the Salamanca National Park, where we will be looking for the endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird. After getting these two targets we will explore some marshes near Barranquilla, where we will look for Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Rufescent Tiger Heron, Glossy Ibis, Bare-faced Ibis, Ringed Kingfisher, Snail Kite, Pied Water Tyrant, White-headed Marsh Tyrant, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Stripe-backed Wren, Brown-throated Parakeet, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Prothonotary Warbler, and Red-crowned Woodpecker.

After the morning’s birding we will transfer to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a place famous for its isolated, snow-capped mountains along the Caribbean coast, reaching altitudes from sea level to 5,000 meters (16,400 feet). Santa Marta is the home of almost 20 endemic birds and boasts several range-restricted species – a true paradise for birders! After lunch at our accommodations our first approach to Santa Marta birds will be to those occurring at lower elevations near Minca. Our hotel holds hummingbird feeders with species like Black-throated Mango, Steely-vented Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and White-vented Plumeleteer.

In the afternoon we will explore the road below Minca, looking for Whooping Motmot, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Keel-billed Toucan, Streaked Flycatcher, Blue-headed Parrot, Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Crested Oropendola, Pale-breasted Thrush, Baltimore Oriole, Yellow-backed Oriole, White-bearded Manakin, and Laughing Falcon, and with luck we might have distant views of Military Macaw.

Overnight: Hotel Minca – La Casona, Minca

Colombia birding toursThe hummingbird feeders at El Dorado Lodge attract the likes of Brown Violetear.

 

Day 3. Birding around Minca, transfer to El Dorado Lodge

Today we will spend the morning birding above Minca, looking for Golden-winged Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, Scaled Pigeon, Keel-billed Toucan, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Rufous-breasted Wren, Bicolored Wren, Rufous-and-white Wren, Yellow-legged Thrush, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, and the endemics Santa Marta Tapaculo and Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner.

After a nice birding morning we will continue our drive toward El Dorado Lodge in the heart of the El Dorado Bird Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. El Dorado will be our base for two nights, allowing us to enjoy the environment and to get as many birds as possible, including most of the Santa Marta endemics.  The hummingbird feeders at the lodge are excellent for several species, including the endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet, Brown Violetear, Crowned Woodnymph, and if we are lucky Lazuline Sabrewing.  From the lodge grounds we can enjoy views of Band-tailed Guan, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Black-capped Tanager, Sierra Nevada Brushfinch, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-hooded Thrush, White-tipped Dove, Lined Quail-Dove, White-throated (Santa Marta) Toucanet, and Black-fronted Wood Quail.

Overnight: El Dorado Lodge, El Dorado Bird Reserve

Colombia birding toursAnother hummingbird species we may encounter at El Dorado Lodge — Crowned Woodnymph.

  

Day 4. Birding the San Lorenzo Ridge and El Dorado Lodge

We will have an early start, leaving the lodge before dawn to look for the endemic Santa Marta Screech Owl. We will reach the famous San Lorenzo Ridge at 2,700 meters (8,850 feet) above sea level. Here we will look for Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush Tyrant, Santa Marta Warbler, Rufous-headed Spinetail, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Streak-capped Spinetail, Santa Marta Mountain Tanager, Santa Marta Brushfinch, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Flammulated Treehunter, and with luck Brown-rumped Tapaculo.  We will visit the San Lorenzo Field Station to look for the endemic Santa Marta Antpitta being fed with worms. Then we will return to the lodge and after lunch look for Golden-breasted Fruiteater, White-tipped Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Montane Foliage-gleaner, and White-lored Warbler.

Overnight: El Dorado Lodge, El Dorado Bird Reserve

 

Day 5. El Dorado Lodge and transfer to Santa Marta

We will leave early in the morning, looking for the endemic Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Santa Marta Woodstar, Groove-billed Toucan, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Santa Marta Antbird, Tennessee Warbler, American Redstart, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Grey-throated Leaftosser, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, and if we are lucky Rosy Thrush-Tanager. We will also look for Black-and-white Owl at its usual day-roosting perch.

Overnight: Santa Marta

Colombian birding toursBlack-tipped Cotinga is always a tricky target on this tour (photo Gilberto Collazos).

 

Day 6. Las Gaviotas, transfer to Riohacha, and birding at La Guajira

Today we will look for Lance-tailed Manakin, Southern Bentbill, Striped Cuckoo, Trinidad Euphonia, and Double-striped Thick-knee. Then we will drive to Riohacha and after arrival will look for Green-rumped Parrotlet, American White Ibis, Reddish Egret, Caspian, Common, Royal, and Cabot Terns, American Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Lesser Black-backed Gull, and if we are lucky Scarlet Ibis and American Flamingo as well. We will also search for Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Glaucous Tanager, and Burrowing Owl.

Overnight: Hotel Taroa, Riohacha

 

Day 7. Birding La Guajira and flight to Pereira

We’ll have another early start to explore the dry habitat of La Guajira. We will look for Vermilion Cardinal, Orinoco Saltator, Northern White-fringed Antwren, Black-backed Antshrike, Black-crested Antshrike, Slender-billed Inezia, Pale-tipped Inezia, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Buffy Hummingbird, Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Caribbean Hornero, Carib Grackle, and Northern Scrub Flycatcher and hope to find the shy Tocuyo Sparrow. Later we will transfer to the airport and connect with a flight to Pereira.

Overnight: Movich Hotel de Pereira, Pereira

 

Day 8. Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, transfer to Hotel Termales Del Ruiz

A relatively short drive from Pereira will take us to the Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, where we will look for the endemic Cauca Guan and the secretive Hooded Antpitta. Other birds include Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Chestnut-breasted Wren, the endemic Crested Ant Tanager, Andean Motmot, White-throated Toucanet, the endemic Stiles’s Tapaculo, Streak-capped Treehunter, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Whiskered Wren, Torrent Tyrannulet, White-capped Dipper, and Torrent Duck. After lunch we will drive to Manizales and bird at the base of Los Nevado National Natural Park.

Overnight: Hotel Termales Del Ruiz, Manizales

 

Day 9. Los Nevados National Natural Park

Today we will have an early start to explore the high-elevation páramos below the snow-capped mountains. Outside the park we will be looking for the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero, Grass Wren, Tawny Antpitta, Plain-colored Seedeater, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, and Stout-billed Cinclodes. If we are lucky we might see the mighty Andean Condor soaring above the mountains and the more common Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. We will try to locate the uncommon Black-backed Bush Tanager before returning to the hotel and enjoying its hummingbird feeders. These feeders attract species like Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Mountain Velvetbreast, Black-thighed Puffleg, Goldenbreasted Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam, Viridian Metaltail, and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. Other species around the hotel include Paramo Tapaculo, Glossy Flowerpiercer, and Pale-naped Brushfinch.

Overnight: Hotel Termales Del Ruiz, Manizales

 

Day 10. Termales Del Ruiz and transfer to the Rio Blanco Reserve

Today we will spend some time looking for the endemic and rare Rufous-fronted Parakeet in the upper parts of the páramo. We will also explore the forest below the Hotel Termales Del Ruiz, looking for Rufous Wren, White-browed Spinetail, Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Pearled Treerunner, Spillmann’s Tapaculo, Blue-backed Conebill, and Hooded Mountain Tanager. If we are lucky we might get our first view here of Ocellated Tapaculo.

We will continue our trip to the Rio Blanco Reserve, where we will have time to enjoy the hummingbird feeders with species such as White-bellied Woodstar, Long-tailed Sylph, Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed Coronet, Lesser Violetear, and Collared Inca. We will also explore the main road, looking for Ocellated Tapaculo, and before dusk we will try for Rufous-bellied Nighthawk, Band-winged Nightjar, and White-throated Screech Owl.

Overnight: Rio Blanco Reserve

Colombian birding toursThe cute Crescent-faced Antpitta will be targeted in the Caldas state (photo Danial Orozco).

 

Day 11. Full day at Rio Blanco Reserve

Today we will spend the morning visiting the three different antpitta stations of this reserve to look for Bicolored Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Brown-banded Antpitta, and Slate-crowned Antpitta. The mixed flocks at Rio Blanco normally include Blue-and-black Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Capped Conebill, Black-eared Hemispingus, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Grass-green Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Pearled Treerunner, and Green-and-black Fruiteater. Some understory species we will look for are Rusty-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Flammulated Treehunter, Streak-headed Antbird, Blackish Tapaculo, Russet-crowned Warbler, and Grey-browed Brushfinch. Other highlights at Rio Blanco are Masked Saltator, Dusky Piha, and White-capped Tanager.

Overnight: Rio Blanco Reserve

 

Day 12. Rio Blanco Reserve and transfer to Montezuma Ecolodge

After a whole morning birding around Rio Blanco we will make a long drive to the Tatamá National Park, where we will stay at the basic Montezuma Ecolodge located at the edge of the park. During our visit to the Caldas state, we will visit a new reserve to look for the most-wanted Crescent-faced Antpitta which has regularly been visiting feeders here over the last couple of years. Your guide will inform you of the best time of the day for the antpitta and we will schedule our visit accordingly.

Overnight: Montezuma Ecolodge

 

Day 13. Montezuma Ridge (top)

Today we will have an early start and a full day to explore the top of the Montezuma ridge at 2,600 meters (8,530 feet) above sea level, where we will look for the endemic Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, the endemic Munchique Wood Wren, Smoky Bush Tyrant, Collared Inca, the endemic and Critically Endangered (IUCN) Dusky Starfrontlet, which has been recorded recently in the area, and with luck it might remain for a long time. We will also look for the incredible mixed flock of species that makes Montezuma famous, such as the endemic Golden-ringed Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Spillmann’s Tapaculo, Narino Tapaculo, Tatama Tapaculo (recently described in 2017), Montane Woodcreeper, Glistening–green Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Bronze-olive Pygmy Tyrant, Handsome Flycatcher, and with luck White-faced Nunbird and Tanager Finch. The hummingbird feeders below the ridge attract Tourmaline Sunangel, Velvet-purple Coronet, Greenish Puffleg, Violet-tailed Sylph, Empress Brilliant, and Brown Inca. At night we will look for Tropical Screech Owl around the cabins.

Overnight: Montezuma Ecolodge

 

Day 14. Montezuma Ridge (mid-elevations, Cajones)

We’ll have another early start to focus this time on mid-elevation species in the Cajones sector of the park. Here we will look for Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Crested and Golden-headed Quetzals, Uniform Treehunter, Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner, Uniform Antshrike, Bluish Flowerpiercer, the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Choco Brushfinch, Choco Vireo, Golden-winged Manakin, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-throated Tanager, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, and with luck Black Solitaire and Beautiful Jay. We will drive back to the lodge and spend the afternoon birding around the property, looking for the endemic Greyish Piculet and enjoy the hummingbird feeders, where we’ll be looking for Western Emerald, White-tailed Hillstar, Tawny-bellied Hermit, and the uncommon Purple-bibbed Whitetip.

Overnight: Montezuma Ecolodge

Colombian birding toursWhite-faced Nunbird can be seen in the Montezuma area (photo Danial Orozco).

 

Day 15. Montezuma Ecolodge and transfer to Buga

On our last morning here we will be focusing on species that occur at lower elevations on the Montezuma ridge, such as Choco Tapaculo, Club-winged Manakin, the endemic Parker’s Antbird, Zeledon’s Antbird, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Olive Finch, Crested Ant Tanager, and with luck Moustached Puffbird and Lanceolated Monklet. Then we will leave the park to drive to the town of Buga to stay in a comfortable hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Guadalajara, Buga

Colombia birding toursThe brightly colored Yellow-collared Chlorophonia (photo Gilberto Collazos).

 

Day 16. Sonso Lake and transfer to Anchicaya

We will have an easy morning visiting the Sonso Lake and looking for Spectacled Parrotlet, Jet Antbird, the endemic Apical Flycatcher, the secretive Dwarf Cuckoo, Orange-crowned Euphonia, Common Potoo, Common Nighthawk, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Red-breasted Blackbird, Oriole Blackbird, and several aquatic species that we may have missed before in the Barranquilla marshes. After lunch we will transfer to Anchicaya in the Chocó lowlands and, if time permits, spend the afternoon enjoying the hummingbird feeders of Doña Dora, where normally we find White-whiskered Hermit, Green Thorntail, and White-tailed Hillstar. The fruit feeders attract Toucan Barbet.

Overnight: Hotel El Campanario, El Queremal

 

Day 17. Anchicaya lowlands

Today we will focus on lowland Chocó species such as Golden-chested Tanager, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Emerald Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager, Grey-and-gold Tanager, Pacific Antwren, Lita Woodpecker, Choco Toucan, Yellow-throated Toucan, Collared Aracari, Black-capped Pygmy Tyrant, Pacific Flatbill, Sulphur-rumped Myiobius, Buff-rumped Warbler, White-whiskered Puffbird, Purple-crowned Fairy, Bay Wren, Choco Warbler, and with luck Lemon-spectacled Tanager and Tooth-billed Hummingbird. After some intense birding along the Anchicaya road we will arrive at Buenaventura on the Pacific coast for an overnight.

Overnight: Cosmos Pacifico Hotel, Buenaventura

Colombian birding toursThe gorgeous Scarlet-and-white Tanager (photo Gilberto Collazos).

 

Day 18.  Birding San Cipriano and transfer to Calí

We will spend the morning birding in the San Cipriano Reserve, looking for Chocó specialties such as Stub-tailed Antbird, Black-breasted Puffbird, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Dusky Pigeon, Barred Puffbird, Moustached Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Bicolored Antbird, and if we are lucky we could find the the most-wanted Ocellated Antbird, Rose-faced Parrot, Black-tipped Cotinga and Five-colored Barbet. Then we will drive to Calí on a new, paved road.

Overnight: Hampton by Hilton Calí, Calí

 

Day 19. La Florida Reserve, Finca Alejandria and departure

On our final morning, we will focus on the area known as Km 18, visiting two important birding hotspots. First, we will visit La Florida Reserve to look for the endemic Chestnut Wood Quail, which comes to a feeder here. Afterwards, we will head to the famous Finca Alejandria, where we will look for hummingbirds including Long-tailed Sylph, White-booted Racket-tail (a recent split from Booted Racket-tail), Bronzy Inca, and Blue-headed Sapphire. The tanager feeders attract the handsome Red-headed Barbet, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Summer Tanager, Lemon-rumped Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, and the striking Multicolored Tanager. Other species here include the endemic Colombian Chachalaca, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and Black-winged Saltator.

After lunch we will transfer to the Calí airport to connect with your international flights.

Colombian birding toursRose-faced Parrot will be searched for in the San Cipriano Reserve (photo Gilberto Collazos).

 

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes have to use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

Download Itinerary

The Very Best of Colombia Trip Report, February 2020

18 FEBRUARY – 17 MARCH 2020

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

Colombia trip reportCrescent-faced Antpitta (photo John Turner)

 

Overview

 

Our 19-day Colombia tour 2020 was a fabulous experience, which allowed us to see probably the best birding route of the country and most of the highlights that this amazing land has to offer to birdwatchers and truly adventurous travelers. No other country holds more avian species than Colombia, and we had the chance to see some of the most spectacular birds in this part of the world and finished the tour with most of the Neotropical families well represented on our list.

The Colombia 2020 tour was an easy trip for a group of very enthusiastic photographers who also wanted to contemplate the birds, became familiar with them, and admire their natural behavior at a more relaxed pace than the usual birding pace. Instead of working on a long list of species we tried to photograph as many birds as possible, and even though the total was not as large as in previous years we did remarkable well for our easy pace, getting 513 species recorded. This total includes 63 species of hummingbirds, 83 species of tanagers and allies, 27 Colombian endemics, and a good set of locally restricted birds found in Colombia and adjacent Venezuela and/or Ecuador only. Our list includes breathtaking and endemic species such as Crescent-faced Antpitta, Hooded Antpitta, Moustached Antpitta, Gold-ringed Tanager, Black-and-gold Tanager, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Baudo Guan, Cauca Guan, Chestnut Wood Quail, Buffy Hummingbird, Tocuyo Sparrow, White-tipped Quetzal, Keel-billed Toucan, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Scarlet Ibis, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-chested Tanager, Mountain Avocetbill, Lita Woodpecker, Club-winged Manakin, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Black Solitaire,   Beautiful Jay, Santa Marta Warbler, Chivi Vireo, and Lemon-spectacled Tanager among many other jewels.  We had fun from beginning to end and learned a lot about the distribution of species in one of the countries with the most complex geography in the Americas.

 

Detailed Itinerary

 

Day 1. Arrival at Barranquilla and transfer to the hotel

Our trip started in Barranquilla, where the group arrived on different flights, and the participants were transferred to our comfortable hotel in town.

 

Day 2. Barranquilla and transfer to Riohacha

The following morning we left Barranquilla and drove to the outskirts, where we started birding. We had an amazing start with species such as the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Brown-throated Parakeet, Orange-winged Amazon, and Bicolored Wren around the scrub. Then we drove to the famous Km 4, where we saw several attractive species, including Blue-winged Teal, Scaled Dove, Black-necked Stilt, Groove-billed Ani, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Northern Crested Caracara, Carib Grackle, Stripe-backed Wren, and Russet-throated Puffbird. From here we continued driving toward Riohacha, and on the way we saw Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull, Willet, and Semipalmated Plover. After passing the city of Santa Marta we stopped at Las Gaviotas, where we saw Crimson-backed Tanager, Blue Dacnis, White-necked Puffbird, Lance-tailed Manakin, and Ruby-topaz Hummingbird working on the flowers, a most-wanted species of hummingbird in Colombia. Finally we arrived at Riohacha in the department of La Guajira, where we spent the night in a comfortable hotel.

 

Day 3. La Guajira and Camarones

Today we had a full day to explore the deciduous dry habitat of Guajira and Camarones.

We had an early start in the company of our local guide Jose, who belongs to an indigenous American ethnic group called Wayuu that inhabits the territory.  This community lives on the Guajira Peninsula of Colombia with a small population in northwest Venezuela.

The first species we looked for was Tocuyo Sparrow; with the help of our local guide we found it thanks to the knowledge of the territory of our guide, since this is one of the most difficult and sought-after species in the area. Other species that we saw were Chestnut Piculet, Merlin, Bare-eyed Pigeon, and Red-billed Emerald.

Then we visited a new birding facility where the owner started feeding birds and increased the chances to see some great classic species like Vermilion Cardinal, and other species that visit the feeders are Orinoco Saltator, Grey Pileated Finch, Buffy Hummingbird, Tropical Mockingbird, Scaled Dove, Yellow Oriole, Bananaquit, and Greyish Saltator.

We explored the dry surroundings of Guajira, where we saw Crested Bobwhite, Northern White-fringed Antwren, Black-crested and Black-backed Antshrikes, Slender-billed Inezia, White-whiskered Spinetail, Russet-throated Puffbird, Black-faced Grassquit, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Scaled Dove, and Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant.

At the end of the morning, we moved to the shores of Camarones, where we spent the remainder of the day. Here we had good views of American White Ibis, Scarlet Ibis, Reddish Egret, Royal Tern, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, and Least, Semipalmated, and Western Sandpipers, as well as thousands of American Flamingos.

 

Day 4. Transfer from Riohacha to Taironaka

Today we left Riohacha and transferred to the Hotel Taironaka Turismo Ecológico y Arqueología in Don Diego.

We left our vehicle and took a small boat to get to this paradise in the Caribbean jungle. It is the best way to get to the hotel. Another way is to walk to it through the forest, but this is not a good option considering luggage.

We started birding the road around the hotel and had good views of Orange-chinned Parakeet, Piratic Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher nesting, the fantastic Keel-billed Toucan, King Vulture, Lineated Woodpecker, Barred Antshrike, Plain Xenops, and Buff-breasted Wren.

 

Day 5. Taironaka and transfer to Minca

The next morning we explored a different road near the lodge. We were lucky to see Gartered Trogon, Whooping Motmot, Crested Oropendola, and Streaked Flycatcher. When we found an army ant swarm we had great views of Grey-headed Tanager, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, White-shouldered Tanager, and Crimson-backed Tanager. Then we moved close to the Don Diego River and were able to observe Collared Aracari, Military Macaw, Spotted Sandpiper, Neotropic Cormorant, White-bearded Manakin, and Prothonotary Warbler.

We left Taironaka and drove to Minca, a town located at the lowest parts of the Santa Marta Mountains. At our hotel, La Casona de Minca, we keep ourselves busy with the feeders for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying species such as Pale-bellied Hermit, White-vented Plumeleteer, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Keel-billed Toucan, Black-chested Jay, Clay-colored Thrush, Crested Oropendola, and White-tipped Dove.

Colombia trip reportRufous-tailed Hummingbird

 

Day 6. Minca and transfer to El Dorado Lodge

The next morning we started our birding above Minca, finding species such as Golden-winged Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, Keel-billed Toucan, Lineated Woodpecker, Masked Tityra, Bicolored Wren, White-lined Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Buff-throated Saltator, Summer Tanager, and Broad-winged Hawk. We climbed into higher elevations and there were happy to see the toddi subspecies of Broad-winged Hawk, which is endemic to the Santa Marta Mountains, and also Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Swallow Tanager, and Plumbeous Kite. Later we had great views of a number of endemics, namely Santa Marta Woodstar, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, and Santa Marta Brushfinch, and we also saw Rusty Flowerpiercer and Groove-billed Toucanet.

We arrived at El Dorado Lodge at lunchtime and found a hummingbird frenzy at the lodge feeders with views of Crowned Woodnymph, Brown Violetear, Lesser Violetear, and Lazuline Sabrewing, while the tanager feeders provided Blue-naped Chlorophonia and Black-capped Tanager. Around the lodge we saw White-tipped Quetzal and Golden-breasted Fruiteater.

We spent some time observing the compost, where we could only see a few White-tipped Doves; at this time of year there is not much activity at the compost.

In the evening we went out to look for Santa Marta Screech Owl around the hotel, but we had no luck.

Colombia trip reportLesser Violetear

 

Day 7. San Lorenzo Ridge

The San Lorenzo Ridge was our location for the next morning. We had a predawn start in order to be at the ridge by dawn. Once we arrived there we had our field breakfast and started to look for birds. We had an incredible start, getting many of the Santa Marta endemics such as Rusty-headed Spinetail, Streak-capped Spinetail, Santa Marta Mountain Tanager, Santa Marta Brushfinch, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, and Santa Marta Warbler. We also saw Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Hermit Wood-Wren, Black-backed Thornbill and White-throated Toucanet. Later we drove to the San Lorenzo Field Station, where we had amazing views of two Santa Marta Antpittas at feeding station.

For lunch we drove back to the lodge, where we later had great views of White-tipped Quetzal and Golden-breasted Fruiteater, White-lored Warbler, Golden Grosbeak, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Masked Trogon, and Band-tailed Guan near the lodge grounds.

Colombia trip reportWhite-throated Toucanet

 

Day 8. El Dorado Lodge, transfer to Santa Marta, and flight to Pereira

We spent a couple of hours trying to improve on our the photos at the hotel feeders and then we headed to the airport at Santa Marta, from where we successfully started our flight via Bogotá to the city of Pereira.

 

Day 9. Otún-Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary

Today we went to the Otún-Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary for a full day of birding, During the morning we enjoyed Torrent Tyrannulet, Blue-necked Tanager, Canada, Blackburnian, and Three-striped Warblers, and Moustached Puffbird.

We had lunch in the reserve and afterwards continued birding along the main road, finding the uncommon Wattled Guan, the endemic Cauca Guan, White-capped Parrot, the secretive Moustached Antpitta, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Rufous-breasted and Slaty-capped Flycatchers, Inca Jay, Grey-breasted Wood Wren, Andean Solitaire, the endemic Crested Ant Tanager, and Flame-rumped Tanager.

 

Day 10. Transfer to Montezuma Eco-Lodge

A full morning at Otún-Quimbaya started with an early rough drive to El Cedral at the top of the road. Here we saw the super-rare Hooded Antpitta and other species such as Collared Trogon, Andean Motmot, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Bronze-olive Pygmy Tyrant, Black-billed Peppershrike, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Swainson’s Thrush, and the endemic Stiles’s Tapaculo. We also looked for birds around the hotel, hoping for better photography opportunities; some of the species we saw were Blue-grey Tanager, Cauca Guan, Blue-necked Tanager, Black-winged Saltator, and Black-billed Thrush.

Colombia trip reportChestnut-crowned Antpitta

 

Then we drove to Montezuma Eco-Lodge, the gateway to Tatamá National Park. On the way we made a couple of stops looking for Turquoise Dacnis, but we didn’t have any luck and saw only the usual suspects such as Blue-grey Tanager, Tropical Pewee, Black-billed Thrush, Green Honeycreeper, and Blue-headed Parrot.

In order to explore Tatamá National Park, where the Pacific Chocó lowlands meet the Western Andes, we planned staying three nights at the Montezuma Eco-Lodge as our base in order to investigate the forest above the lodge and find the jewels that this place holds. But not only birdwatchers visit this park but also a good number of butterfly aficionados from different parts of the world due to the fact that Tatamá holds one of the largest concentrations of butterfly species in Colombia.

We drove through the town of Pueblo Rico, and it was interesting to see how the town became very much alive, especially in the main square. There were lots of people and all kinds of different characters chilling out around the square. Colombian folk music was playing loudly from different local pubs, and several old 4×4 jeeps were parked around the square.

We arrived late in the afternoon at the lodge with just enough time to look at the hummingbird feeders and enjoy Empress Brilliant, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Crowned Woodnymph, Velvet-purple Coronet, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and Western Emerald. The fruit feeders attracted Silver-throated, Crimson-backed, Golden, and Lemon-rumped Tanagers and Black-winged Saltator. After a delicious dinner we went to sleep to get ready for the next day.

 

Day 11. Tatamá National Park (upper parts)

We met in the dining room in order to get some coffee and then left toward the top of the ridge in Tatamá National Park. After an hour (10-km drive) we arrived at the top at dawn and had our delicious field breakfast with amazing views of the mountain forest. Tatamá National Park is somehow remote, and the only people using this road are the members of the Montezuma Eco-Lodge and the Colombian army that still has a small military base at the top of the ridge.

Our first encounter was with a couple of Swallow-tailed Nightjars on the road. During breakfast we saw Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, and Black-and-white Seedeater, followed by the first endemic of the day, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer. After great views of this endemic we started looking for the second target of the ridge, Munchique Wood Wren, which is also a range-restricted country endemic.

Colombia trip reportBuff-tailed Coronet

 

We spent the day exploring the area between the ridge and mid-elevations, focusing more on the upper parts. In the morning we enjoyed views of the endemic Gold-ringed Tanager and of Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Lacrimose Mountain Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager, Rufous Spinetail, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Beautiful Jay, Golden-fronted Whitestart, and the recently described endemic Tatama Tapaculo (April 2017), known previously as Alto Pisones Tapaculo.

The hummingbird feeders at high- and mid-elevations provided excellent views of Velvet-purple Coronet, Brown Inca, Collared Inca, Tourmaline Sunangel, Greenish Puffleg, and Violet-tailed Sylph. We returned to the lodge in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day birding in the gardens and enjoying the hummingbird feeders.

 

Day 12. Tatamá National Park (mid-elevations)

Today we repeated the same formula, leaving the lodge before dawn and focusing on mid-elevation species this time.

We started the morning with Masked Trogon and Tawny-bellied Hermit. We heard the endemic Chestnut Wood Quail distantly and enjoyed Andean Motmot, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Montane Woodcreeper, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Ornate, Handsome, and Cinnamon Flycatchers, Barred Becard, Sharpe’s Wren, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Choco Brushfinch, Yellow-throated Bush Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Brown-billed Scythebill, and Olive Finch. At lower elevations we managed to get crippling views of Dusky Bush Tanager and the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager.

We went back to the lodge after having spent the whole morning by the road and focused on the gardens in the afternoon. We explored the area around the headquarters, having a lovely encounter with the endemic Greyish Piculet and also finding Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Red-headed Barbet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Smooth-billed Ani, House Wren, and other classic birds of open grounds and secondary growth.

Colombia trip reportOchre-breasted Antpitta

 

Day 13. Montezuma Eco-Lodge and transfer to Rio Blanco Nature Reserve

We birded Montezuma the next morning looking and found species like Purple-throated Woodstar, Broad-billed Motmot, Yellow-throated Toucan, Zeledon’s Antbird, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Choco Tapaculo, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Sooty-headed Wren, and Ochre-breasted Tanager. Then we left Montezuma and headed to Manizales and the famous Rio Blanco Reserve, making this day basically a traveling day.

 

Day 14. Rio Blanco Nature Reserve

Today we started birding the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve, which is run by the Aguas de Manizales municipal and regional program. This reserve protects the forest and conserves water sources for the town of Manizales and for many years has been providing tourist facilities for birdwatchers, including accommodation, food, guided visits, and the famous antpitta feeding stations.

We checked the hummingbird feeders and saw Collared Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, Buff-tailed Coronet, and Tourmaline Sunangel. Masked Flowerpiercer and Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager were also around. By 7:00 a.m. we and other birders were called to visit the first antpitta feeding station, which was just next to the house. Here we saw Bicolored Antpitta, which was close and showed nicely. We followed the person in charge of the antpitta feeders, who took us to the next station, where we had incredibly close-up views of the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta and the widespread Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. Grey-browed Brushfinch and Green-and-black Fruiteater were seen here as well.

Colombia trip reportGrey-browed Brushfinch

 

After the show was over we continued birding, finding nice mixed flocks with Black-eared Hemispingus, the uncommon Rusty-faced Parrot, the lovely Golden-plumed Parakeet, Capped Conebill, Brown-capped Vireo, Superciliaried Hemispingus, Grey-hooded Bush Tanager, Slaty Brushfinch, Blue-and-black Tanager, Glossy-black Thrush, Black-billed Peppershrike, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Azara’s Spinetail, Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Xenops, and Strong-billed and Montane Woodcreepers. We also noticed Band-tailed Pigeon, Sickle-winged Guan, Masked Trogon, and Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant.

After lunch we took a break and met again in the afternoon to bird the lower road. The activity was rather slow in the afternoon, with the same mixed flock described above but with fewer species that, however, included White-bellied Woodstar, White-throated Wedgebill, White-capped Dipper, and Blue-capped Tanager. We spent the night at Rio Blanco.

 

Day 15. Hacienda el Bosque and Los Nevados National Natural Park

The next day we drove to Hacienda el Bosque, a new place that also provides feeding stations. We enjoyed Grey-browed Brushfinch, Rufous Antpitta, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Black-crested Warbler, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Paramo Seedeater, and the super-rare Crescent-faced Antpitta.

We continue to Los Nevados National Natural Park to the highest part of the road in search of the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest, where we saw it successfully. We also saw other species along the way, such as Andean Duck, Stout-billed Cinclodes, White-chinned Thistletail, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, and Plain-colored Seedeater.

Our accommodation, the Hotel Termales Del Ruiz, had fabulous hummingbird feeders, and we enjoyed Shining Sunbeam, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Mountain Velvetbreast, Great Sapphirewing, Viridian Metaltail, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Rufous-capped Thornbill, and Buff-winged Starfrontlet. We saw Lacrimose Mountain Tanager and Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager around the feeders as well and enjoyed Purple-backed Thornbill and Pale-naped Brushfinch.

 

Day 16. Transfer to Calí and Sonso Lake

In the morning we walked near the hotel, looking for different species of high-elevation areas such as Buff-winged Starfrontlet, White-banded Tyrannulet, White-throated Tyrannulet, Brown-bellied Swallow, and Band-tailed Pigeon. Sadly the localized Rufous-fronted Parakeet was not found this time.

We then started our long drive to the city of Calí, but on the way we made a quick stop at Sonso Lake. Located at the edge of the Cauca River, this wetland ecosystem of 2045 hectares holds an interesting set of waterfowl and aquatic species like Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Greater Ani, Common Nighthawk, Common Potoo, Jet Antbird, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher, the endemic Apical Flycatcher, and Streaked Flycatcher. Then we continued to Calí, where we spent the night.

 

Day 17. The Anchicaya road

We started early the next morning, moving from Calí to the Anchicaya road, staying one night at El Queremal. The old Anchicaya road used to join Calí with the Pacific lowlands, especially the port of Buenaventura, and today, after a new road has been built, provides incredible birding with very attractive species. As soon as we arrived we went to Doña Dora, a local woman who owns a small, basic restaurant located below El Queremal. On the feeders we had dynamite views of Toucan Barbet, Silver-throated Tanager, Scrub Tanager, the endemic Flame-rumped Tanager, Black-headed Brushfinch, Empress Brilliant, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Rufous-throated Tanager, and White-whiskered Hermit.

We continued enjoying different species on the Anchicaya road, such as a female Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Scale-crested Pygmy Tyrant, Pacific Flatbill, Yellow-throated Bush Tanager, Tricolored Brushfinch, Scarlet-browed Tanager, and Grey-and-gold Tanager. Later we moved to our basic hotel in El Queremal for an overnight.

 

Day 18. Anchicaya road, transfer to Calí

The next day we went to visit lower areas of the Anchicaya road that have only recently been opened to foreign visitors, and we had an incredible day. We started with views of Choco Toucan, Spot-crowned Barbet, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Collared Aracari, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Lita Woodpecker, Spotted Woodcreeper, Pacific Antwren, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, and Lemon-browed Flycatcher and had a wonderful encounter with Purple-crowned Fairy. In addition we enjoyed Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo, Bay Wren, several Tawny-crested Tanagers, Golden-hooded Tanager, Lemon-spectacled Tanager, Scarlet-and-white Tanager, the spectacular Golden-chested Tanager, the localized Baudo Guan, White-tipped Sicklebill, Rufous Motmot, and Broad-billed Motmot. We took a packed lunch with us and enjoyed a tasty local meal near the lek of the amazing Tooth-billed Hummingbird and had super views of this most-wanted species.

Then we drove to Calí after an intense day in the field.

Colombia trip reportRufous-tailed Jacamar

 

Day 19. Finca Florida, Finca Alejandría, departure

On our last morning we went to Finca Florida el Bosque de las Aves, located near Calí at the famous Km 18, where they have feeders and we started with beautiful views of endemics and unique species like Chestnut Wood Quail, Colombian Chachalaca, and the enigmatic Multicolored Tanager. We enjoyed other species like Saffron-crowned Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, and Green Honeycreeper.

Then we visited the famous Finca Alejandría “El Paraiso de Los Colibries”, where we had an amazing start with species such as the near-endemic Scrub Tanager, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and Squirrel Cuckoo around the gardens. The fruit feeders attracted several captivating species including Golden Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Blackwinged Saltator, Flame-rumped Tanager, Summer Tanager, and Red-headed Barbet, and we had cracker views of the incredibly beautiful Multicolored Tanager, perhaps one of the most handsome Colombian endemics!

With our international flights from the Calí airport later in the day a fabulous adventure came to an end, full of incredible and wonderful memories of yet another successful Birding Ecotours Colombia tour. We had an excellent time visiting some of the best places in Colombia, enjoyed the delicious food, and got to know some of the richest bird regions in the whole country – a very productive trip with great photo opportunities and wonderful landscapes.

Colombia trip reportMulticolored Tanager

 

Please see the downloadable PDF above for the full species lists. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

COLOMBIA: THE VERY BEST OF COLOMBIA: SANTA MARTA, ANDES AND CHOCÓ TOUR-SPECIFIC INFORMATION

 

PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PERTAINING TO OUR COLOMBIA TOURS IN GENERAL

 

The birding on this Colombia tour is outstanding in numbers and diversity of species. This itinerary is designed to provide you with the best of the country, including the Caribbean coast, the endemic-rich Santa Marta Mountains, the central Andes including the high Andean mountains of Los Nevados National Park and the Rio Blanco Reserve, the Chocó rainforest, and the western Andes. We believe you are going to love your trip with us!

 

ARRIVAL INFORMATION

Please e-mail us at [email protected] (or contact us a different way if preferred) before you book any flights, as the information shown here is just an initial guide. Our tour will start in the northern city of Barranquilla. You can reach Barranquilla’s Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) with flights from all over Colombia and from some international airports like Miami (USA) and Panama City (Panama). You might wish to consult your travel agent to book your most convenient flight (and contact us if you want guidance). Your tour leader will be waiting for you at Barranquilla airport with a small board with the Birding Ecotours logo and then transfer you to your hotel. Please be aware that most international flights arrive in Barranquilla in the afternoon, so we don’t have any birding activity planned for that day. In case you arrive on an early flight, you will be transferred to the hotel but will have to wait until check-in is available. For an early check-in you might be charged extra directly from the hotel; this cost is excluded from the Birding Ecotours tour price.

Please remember to keep your luggage tags, as they are required to exit the terminal at the Barranquilla airport.

 

When filling out the customs declaration form, use this address for the hotel:

Hotel Barranquilla Plaza, Carrera 51B No. 79-246, Barranquilla, Colombia

 

DEPARTURE INFORMATION

Our tour will end in the southern city of Calí after a wonderful 19 days/18 nights in Colombia. After the last morning’s birding, your tour leader will transfer you to the Calí Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO), from where you can take connections to any city in Colombia to connect with your international departure.

 

DOMESTIC FLIGHT INFORMATION

There is only one domestic flight on this trip, covering the leg Riohacha – Pereira. This flight is not included in the Birding Ecotours tour price, but we will book it for you. We will fly with AVIANCA, which we found to be the most reliable airline in Colombia. This flight will have a connection in Bogotá. We have to be at the Riohacha airport two hours before the flight.

Your flight details will be provided within two months before the tour starts and after we have received full payment.

 

PHYSICAL REQUIREMENTS AND PACE

We qualify this trip as moderate. Most of the birding consists of walking along roads, although some of them lead up and down hills. We will spend time sitting and enjoying hummingbird feeders and watching for birds around the lodges’ clearings. We will walk very few trails (only if necessary), except for an afternoon exploring the El Dorado Lodge trail (which is rather gentle) and a wide, short trail around Sonso Lake. Nevertheless, Colombia does not require long, hard mountain walks as do some other Birding Ecotours destinations like Peru, Guatemala, or Ecuador.

Keep in mind that (as is usual on birding trips) we need to be awake very early in the mornings, and pre-dawn starts are in order each day. We normally spend the whole morning birding in the field, return to the lodge for lunch, and then provide a little rest before continuing birding in the afternoon. Your guide will sometimes invite you to look for owls at night, but this is an optional activity that you can skip if you feel tired. Some people prefer to rest, skipping birding in the afternoon; this can be done at those lodges when we are staying more than one night. When we do birding stops while traveling from location to location, people who feel tired do not have to follow the group and can remain in the vehicle.

Even though we spend two or three nights at a few places during this tour, which allows you to walk around and not stress to pack and re-pack every day, Colombia is a big country, and the tour includes some lengthy drives. But this lets you enjoy the interesting countryside and maximizes chances for unexpected birds along the roads.

We will stay at the best places available, but still not all lodges provide facilities such as air conditioning or a heating system (this latter is almost non-existent in Colombia). Other accommodations provide fans.

We think this trip might be difficult for people with back, walking, and balance problems or for those who are not used to a birding trip with early starts involved.

 

ATM MACHINES

ATM machines are available in Barranquilla, Riohacha, Pereira, Manizales, and Calí.

 

ALTITUDE

We will reach high elevation at Los Nevados National Park, 4000 meters (13.120 feet) above sea level. Please ask your doctor if you have any medical conditions that might be affected by going to high elevation. Spending a few hours at high elevation is never a problem, but some minor symptoms might appear, like a slight headache and mild dizziness. A regular Paracetamol 400mg, taken two hours before we reach this elevation, should prevent any headache trouble. We suggest avoiding eating a large dinner on the previous night to result in easier digestion.

 

WEATHER

We ask you to be ready for all kinds of weather during this trip.

Barranquilla, the Santa Marta foothills and especially the Guajira, are hot with temperatures reaching between 30 °C and 37 °C (86°F – 98 °F). Use clothes in which you feel most comfortable in this kind of weather. We highly recommend using sunscreen and a light-colored hat or cap.

Even when it is sunny in the mornings, the temperatures can be cool at night in the Santa Marta Mountains, especially at El Dorado. But we don’t expect rain on the Caribbean coast and in the Santa Marta Mountains during this time of year.

The central Andes can be sunny in the morning, but the temperature can drop to 16 °C (60 °F) with 70 percent humidity, which results in feeling cold at night. We can also expect some rain in this part of the Andes. But several flocks of birds are more active on rainy and overcast days.

Up in Los Nevados National Park in the Cordillera Central of the Andes, windy days may produce even colder temperature. Please check here on what we recommend to bring.

The Chocó rainforest is probably one of the most humid natural areas in the world, so during our stay there we should encounter some rain, which should, however, not be an impediment to getting some good birds. It is hot in the mornings (if not overcast), with temperatures reaching 30 °C (86 °F). Similar is the weather around Calí – high humidity and some rainy mornings – should be expected.

 

LAUNDRY

Laundry service is available at El Dorado Lodge, Hotel Taroa in Riohacha, Hotel in Manizales, and Hotel Dann Cali. The Finca Montezuma cabins offer laundry service as well, but they don’t have a drier, so clothes must be hang-dried, and if we have rainy or very damp days your clothes may not dry well. We think the most convenient options during the trip are Riohacha, Manizales, and Calí. Laundry fees are not included in the tour price.

 

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation at Finca Montezuma is fairly basic and rustic with not much comfort except a clean, private room. The small house provides shared and en-suite bathroom cabins (depending on availability), but hot water is not available 24/7. This is a remote location on the border of the Tatamá National Park. We consider the birding here excellent with some of the most-sought-after species in Colombia, such as Golden-ringed Tanager.

 

TRANSPORT

We will have a private van for the whole tour with plenty of room for everybody. However, we will have to divide the group for the transfer from Santa Marta to El Dorado Lodge and back to Santa Marta. The road conditions along this stretch are too rough for the regular large tourist vans, so we will replace the van with 4×4 vehicles. Normally for a group of four people we use two 4×4 vehicles. The same applies for the transfer to Finca Montezuma, where we also will use 4×4 vehicles.

Birding Ecotours

Colombia General Information

Download Best of Colombia Tour Information

‘We were very impressed by the sheer number of birds we saw and the range of interesting and beautiful habitats on our 2020 Best of Colombia birding tour. We really did think we were seeing the best of Colombia from a birding perspective. Giancarlo was an excellent guide and a very nice person to be with for 3 weeks. It was also very nice that there were just the three of us and we weren’t in a large group.’

John and Maggie

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