With over 1900 species, Colombia is a must for any serious birder!
Colombia has almost 1900 bird species, more birds than any other country in the world and this number is growing every year through new discoveries and range extensions, but it is not only the sheer number of species that are impressive, but also the extraordinary number of endemics found within its boundaries. The country is now stable and safe for birders to visit, but very few have ventured here so far. There is so much to observe and discover in Colombia, that it would be impossible to cover all the birding regions of this amazing country on one visit. So by way of an introduction, on this small group tour we will concentrate on the most important Magdalena Valley and Santa Marta areas.
Colombia is a must for any serious birder and although you can only hope to have a glimpse of its extraordinary biodiversity in a single trip, this will surely be an unforgettable experience.
This is a small group tour of 16 days duration from 13th – 28th March 2020
Similar tailor-made itineraries can also be designed for individual travellers.
Day 1 – London – Bogota
Depart London Heathrow for a non-stop overnight flight to Bogota.
Day 2 – Bogota – City Tour
After arrival at Bogota airport, we will be met by our tour leader and driver and transferred to our hotel. After check-in and a short rest, we will start with an optional half day city tour of Bogota. On this tour we will visit the old colonial area called ‘La Candelaria’, the Gold Museum, Botero Museum and take a trip by cable car up to Cerro Monserrate, for stunning views over the city. First night in Bogota at HOTEL REAL ESTACION
Day 3 – Bogota – La Florida – Tabacal – Maraquita
Today we will visit three very special places close to Bogota. Firstly, La Florida Park, which has a wetland ecosystem and here we will look for some important birds such as Bogota Rail, Apolinar Marsh Wren, Silvery throated Spinetail, Noble Snipe, Subtropical Doradito and more. After La Florida, we will visit the “Jardin Encantado” a hummingbird sanctuary in San Francisco. Here we will can see up to 16 different species of hummingbirds such as Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Gorgeted Woodstar and White- bellied Woodstar. Finally, we will visit Laguna El Tabacal, a lovely area of secondary forest with very interesting birds such as Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Rosy thrush Tanager, Grey throated Warbler, Stripe- breasted Spinetail and more. At the endof the day, we will transfer to Maraquita Village for the night at HOTEL CASA QUINTA LA ERMITA.
Day 4 – Maraquita – Bellavista – Rio Claro
This morning we will visit the Bellavista Nature Reserve, which is a small but very special reserve in the Caldas department not far away. In the afternoon we will transfer to the Rio Claro Nature Reserve, which was started in 1970, to support the conservation of tropical rainforests in the Rio Claro Canyon. The Reserve is about a 3-4 hour drive away, but we will stop at various points along the road to see interesting birds, which will include White-mantled Barbet, Beautiful Woodpecker, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Sooty Ant-Tanager, Tody Motmot, Cocoa and Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Red-billed Scythebill, Streaked Flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Striped Manakin, White-bearded Manakin, Golden-hooded Tanager, Black-faced Dacnis, Streaked and Buff-throated Saltator, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Great and Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cocoi Heron, Bare-faced Ibis, Wood Stork, Jabiru, Northern Screamer Roadside Hawk, Pearl Kite, Yellow-headed Caracara, American Kestrel, Large-billed Tern, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Pied Water-Tyrant, and White-winged Swallow. We will spend the night within the RIO CLARO NATURE RESERVE
Day 5-6 – Rio Claro Nature Reserve
We will bird all day in the incredible tropical forest of the Rio Claro Nature Reserve, enjoying the amazing biodiversity to be found here. Some birds that we will look for in this location are White-mantled Barbet, Sooty-ant Tanager, Colombia Chachalaca, Beautiful Woodpecker, Citron-throated Toucan, Black-bellied Wren, Scrub Tanager, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Marble Wood-Quail, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Stripe-throated Hermit, Ruby Topaz, Dull-mantled Antbird, Purple-crowned Fairy, Western White-tailed Trogon, Pied Puffbird, Barred Puffbird, White-whiskered Puffbird, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Jet Antbird, Pacific Antwren, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Southern Bentbill, Long-tailed Tyrant, Rufous Piha, Blue Cotinga, Yellow-browed Shrike-Vireo, Black-chested Jay, Rufous Wren, Scarlet-browned Tanager, Plain-coloured Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, White-ear Conebill, Slate-coloured Seedeater, Thick-billed Seed Finch, Large-bellied Seed Finch, Orange-crowned Oriole, Fulvous-vented Euphonia and so much more. We will have plenty of time to find these as we will spend two more nights within the RIO CLARO NATURE RESERVE.
Day 7 – Rio Claro Reserve – Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve
We will leave in the morning for San Vicente de Chucuri, a small town in the mountains where the Cerulean Warbler Reserve is located. The Reserve and surrounding coffee farms are a Mecca for North American migrants, as well as endemic and endangered species. The journey will take approximately 6-7 hours and on the way we will make many stops to look for birds. During the afternoon we will change cars for a 4×4 Pick-up to go up at the Reserve, which is a fabulous 545 acre Colombian Oak forest. We will spend the night in the village at the HOTEL QUINTA TIBIGARO.
Day 8 – Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve
We will bird all day in the forests of the Yariguies National Nature Park and the Cerulean Warbler Reserve, searching for many interesting species such as Gorgeted Wood Quail, Black Inca, White-mantled Barbet, Parker’s Antbird, Upper Magdalena Tapaculo, Colombia Mountain Grackle, Long-tailed Tapaculo, Andean Emerald, Highland Tinamou, Moustached Puffbird, Red-headed Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Spotted Barbtail, White-bellied Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Yellow-throated Spadebill, White-throated Spadebill, Green and black Fruiteater, Pavonine Cuckoo, Golden-wing Manakin, Rufous-naped Brush Finch and more. We will spend a second night at the HOTEL QUINTA TIBIGARO.
Day 9 – Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve – Recurve-billed Bushbird Reserve – Ocana
The morning will be spent birding around the coffee plantations within the Reserve, before transferring to Ocaña, the closest town to the Recurve-billed Bushbird Reserve. This small reserve of unique subtropical dry cloud forest is maintained by the conservation group, Pro-Aves and is the best site to see this spectacular bird, locally known as Hormiguero de Torcoroma, which is fairly common here. The reserve has a network of excellent trails and some other interesting birds we will look for today are Yellow-browned Shrike-Vireo, Rough-legged Tyrannulet, Bicoloured Wren, Band-backed Wren, Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, Beautiful Woodpecker, Turquoise Dacnis, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Niceforo´s Wren, Bar-crested Antshrike and more. We will spend the night nearby at the HOTEL REAL DE OCAÑA.
Day 10 – Recurve-billed Bushbird Reserve – Ocana
We will search for birds all day along the well-maintained trails within the bamboo and secondary forests of the Bushbird Reserve. The star attraction of this reserve is the Recurve-billed Bushbird. This stunning bird, recently rediscovered in Colombia and is much more easily heard than seen, but good views can be achieved with patience. The forests here contain several species that are restricted to eastern Colombia and parts of Venezuela, including Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Lazuline Sabrewing, Gray-throated Warbler, Black-headed Tanager, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, and Moustached Brush-Finch, Chestnut-bellied Thrush and Speckled Tanager, Yellow-bellied Siskin, Cliff Flycatcher and others. Of great interest to birders is the recent discovery of Perija Parakeet in the area. This rare endemic is present in the Ocana area and is fairly reliable with local help. In the evening we will return to Ocana for a second night at the HOTEL REAL DE OCAÑA.
Day 11 – Ocana – Riohacha
We will leave very early in the morning for the transfer to Santa Marta and then on to Riohacha in the Guajira, which will take about 10 hours. On the way we will stop in a dry forest area to search for some interesting birds, such as Hooded Tanager, Crested Bobwhite, Double-striped Thick-Knee, Red Siskin, Striped-back Wren and others. We will spend the night in Riohacha at the HOTEL BARBACOA
Day 12 – Riohacha – Los Flamencos National Park – El Dorado Nature Reserve
The whole morning will be spent searching for very special and different species in the Los Flamencos National Park. Then later in the afternoon, we will transfer to El Dorado Nature Reserve in the Santa Marta Mountains, which is the crown jewel of Colombian birding. Nearly 20 endemic species inhabit the mountain and all of them can be found in the El Dorado Bird Reserve, which is run by Pro-Aves and protects 1800 acres of subtropical and montane forest. Some of the species that we might possibly find today are White-whiskered Spinetail, Vermilion Cardinal, Harris’s Hawk, Common Black-Hawk, Pearl Kite, Aplomado Falcon, American Kestrel, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Common and Ruddy ground-dove, Brown-throated and Blue-crowned parakeet, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Burrowing Owl, Red-billed Emerald, Buffy Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Blue-crowned Motmot, Russet-throated Puffbird, Chestnut Piculet, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Caribbean Hornero, Pale-breasted Spinetail, Black-crested and Black-backed Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Vermilion Flycatcher, Brown-crested and Venezuelan flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Social Flycatcher, Bicolored Wren, Black-chested Jay, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Tropical Mockingbird, Scrub Greenlet, Blue-gray and Glaucous tanager, Tocuyo sparrow, Black-faced Grassquit, Pileated Finch, Grayish, Buff-throated and Orinocan Saltator, Saffron Finch, and Yellow Oriole. We will spend the night at the HOTEL MINCA.
Day 13 – El Dorado Nature Reserve
We will bird all day in the San Lorenzo Ridge area of El Dorado Natural Reserve, where we should find many endemics in this very important bird hotspot. Some of the possible birds are Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Screech-Owl, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta(Tyrian) Metaltail, Santa Marta Woodstar, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Antpitta, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Yellow-crowned Redstart, White-lored Warbler, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta (Black-cheeked) Mountain-Tanager, and Santa Marta Brush-Finch, Black-backed Thornbill, Santa Marta Sabrewing, Sierra Nevada Brush-Finch, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Streak-capped Spinetail, Coppery Emerald, Blossomcrown, White-rumped Hawk, Band-tailed Guan, Sickle-winged Guan, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Band-tailed Pigeon, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Red-billed Parrot, White-tipped Quetzal, Masked Trogon, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Yellow-billed (Groove-billed) Toucanet, Emerald Toucanet, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Spotted Barbtail, Streaked Xenops, Gray-throated Leaftosser, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Rufous Antpitta, Mountain Elaenia, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Venezuelan and White-throated Tyrannulet, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren, Orange-billed and Slaty-backed Nightingale-thrush, Great Thrush, Black-hooded Thrush, Slate-throated Redstart, Three-striped Warbler, White-sided Flowerpiercer, Blue-naped Chlorophonia and others. We will spend a second night within the Reserve at the SIERRA ALTA LODGE.
Day 14 – El Dorado Nature Reserve
Today we will look for birds in the beautiful humid tropical forest of the medium elevations around Minca all day. Some of the birds that we might find here are Black Hawk-Eagle, Crested Bobwhite, Military Macaw, Scarlet-fronted and Orange-chinned parakeet, Red-billed Parrot, White-tipped Dove, Lined Quail-Dove (voice), White-collared and Chestnut-collared swift, Blue-fronted Lancebill, Green Violetear, Brown Violetear, Coppery Emerald, White-vented Plumeleteer, Blossomcrown, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Collared Aracari, Keel-billed Toucan, Golden-olive, Lineated and Crimson-crested woodpecker, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner (endemic), Black-backed Antshrike, Long-tailed Antbird, Greenish and Forest Elaenia, Yellow-olive and Ochre-faced (Yellow-breasted) flycatcher, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Black-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Social and Piratic flycatcher, Cinereous, Cinnamon and White-winged Becard, Masked Tityra, Rufous-breasted and Rufous-and-white wren, Yellow-legged, Black-hooded, Pale-breasted, and Black-billed thrush, Black-chested Jay, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Brown-capped Vireo, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush (at least a voice), Red-legged and Purple honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Bay-headed, Black-headed, Black-capped, Blue-gray, Palm, White-lined and Crimson-backed tanager, Streaked and Grayish Saltator, Golden-winged Sparrow, Yellow-bellied Seedeater, Yellow-backed Oriole and Thick-billed Euphonia. During the northern winter months these foothills also harbour a good number of North American breeding migrants including Swainson’s Thrush, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blackburnian, and Black-throated Green warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Summer Tanager. We will spend a third night within the Reserve at the SIERRA ALTA LODGE.
Day 15 – Santa Marta – Bogota – Flight back to UK
A last morning to perhaps find species not already spotted. Birding around the lodge is often productive as Santa Marta Brush-Finches are common in the garden, which includes a Crested Oropendola colony. Hummingbirds include the uncommon endemics Blossomcrown and Santa Marta Woodstar. Tanagers visit the feeding trays, so look for Black-capped Tanager and Blue-naped Chlorophonias here. The lodge clearing, with a view of the Caribbean below, is a good place to look for flying Scarlet-fronted Parakeets and White-rumped Hawks. There is also a newly discovered endemic Screech Owl species that often can be found close to the lodge. Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Santa Marta Toucanet, White-tipped Quetzal, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Spinetail, Grey-throated Leaftosser, Santa Marta Antpitta, Golden-breasted Fruiteaters, Black-hooded Thrush and White-lored Warblers can all be found in the forests adjacent to the lodge. Later in the afternoon we will transfer to Bogota in time for your connecting flight home.
Day 16 – Arrive back to UK