Colombian Wildlife Discovery

‘Colombian Wildlife Discovery’ will allow you to experience the very best of Colombia’s wildlife as well as much of its colourful culture. Take in Bogota’s unique merge of cosmopolitan and rich history, birdwatch amongst the largest amount of bird species in the world, witness the rehabilitation of rescued primates from the illegal animal trade and spot the captivating Lake Tarapoto Pink and Grey River Dolphins. Furthermore, discover the nocturnal Llanos wildlife with both all-morning and night safaris.

Colombia is in the midst of a new era in its history. It has one of the top regional economies and is one of the most politically stable countries in Latin America. The significant improvement in the country’s safety has also positioned Colombia as a top travel destination that people from all around the globe are eager to discover. Colombia boasts the stunning Andes mountain region and the legendary Amazonian rainforest; the country is the second most bio-diverse country in the world. Furthermore, booming cosmopolitan cities like Bogotá and Cartagena can impress anyone with their magnificent views, innovative architecture, rich culture, exceptional restaurants, and enthralling ambience. A much-loved destination for bird watchers, Colombia is home to over 1,900 species of birds (more than the amount of bird species found in North America and Europe combined). Additionally, 450 mammal species live in Colombia with approximately 22% considered either endangered or critically endangered. Colombia has it all: city life, stunning coastlines, diverse landscape and wildlife as well as countless trekking opportunities.

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Colombian Wildlife Discovery – Itinerary

DAY 1: BOGOTA (B)

Welcome to Bogota! Your host and a driver will be eagerly waiting to greet you at Bogota Airport. Your host is a local who will fully introduce you to the charmingly unique city Bogota, and will conveniently serve as your guide, translator and concierge. Following your arrival, we will make our way to the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral; an underground Roman Catholic Church uniquely hidden within the tunnels of a Zipaquira salt mine. Following an optional lunch in Zipaquira, our return to Bogota will be met with an afternoon visit to the dramatically domineering Cerro Monserrate, this mountain towers above Bogota and will offer us gorgeous panoramic views over the city. In the evening we will be heading out to La Macarena neighbourhood for our first dinner.

Overnight – Hotel

 

DAY 2: BOGOTA CITY TOUR and MANIZALES (B, D)

Today we will explore Bogota City, travelling through the winding streets of La Candelaria accompanied by a historian and living the stories behind the streets, plazas, cathedrals and street art pieces we will see along the way. Our guide will not only give us an insight into the country’s history and architecture, but also into Colombia’s political and economic revival. We will visit some of Bogota’s most important museums such as Botero Museum and the Gold Museum.

Following the excursion, there will be an optional lunch. We will then be transferred to Bogotá airport to catch our flight to Manizales. From here, we will be transferred to the hotel and the afternoon will be at your leisure to do whatever you wish, relax, take in the scenery, go exploring. Later on, a briefing will be given to us by a local birding guide who will be accompanying us for the next day’s birding activity – something you’ll be looking forward to if you’re a bird lover!

Overnight – Hotel Termales El Ruiz

 

DAY 3: BIRDING at LOS NEVADOS NATIONAL PARK and TERMALES EL RUIZ (B, L, D)

Our third day, which will be dedicated to birding, will start with a morning activity. We will spend our morning searching for all of the high-Andean specialities and endemics that can be found at the hotel’s feeders, along the old Manizales road on which the hotel is located on and at the entrance of Los Nevados National Park (the landscape of which is made up of three mountain ranges, dormant volcanoes and hot springs… not to mention to birds!). Here we will witness the unique birds of which include: Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Buffy Helmetcrest, Tawny Antpitta, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Black-thighed Puffleg, Rainbow-bearded Helmetcrest, Crested Cotinga, Sapphire-winged Hummingbird, Shining Sunbeam, Buff-winged Starfontlet and various mountain tanagers. Breakfast will be provided either before leaving the hotel or during the trail, depending on your requirements.

If you loved your morning of birding, after lunch, we will offer you an option to return to continue birding along the old Manizales – Los Nevados road and forests to see how many more species we can spot, we’re sure you won’t be disappointed! After dinner back at the hotel, the evening will be at your leisure in the hotel grounds, with full access to the hotel’s natural hot springs which you’ll have to try out!

Overnight – Hotel Termales El Ruiz

 

DAY 4: RIO BLANCO NATURE RESERVE (B, L, D)

An early start to the day will involve us being transferred to the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve, located just above Manizales (1hr 30mins). It will definitely be worth the early start, believe us! This drive from the hotel will take us to one of the world’s best birding sites – not only because of its size or wonderfully conserved Andean forests, 380 or so recorded species, but because for the past number of years, the reserve’s keeper has been feeding and coaxing some of the world’s most difficult bird genus to see – the Antpittas. These skulking birds that look like balls on two sticks are terrestrial forest birds, normally making good sightings a rarity. Thanks to the keeper’s (Carlos Mario) work, however, it’s possible to experience almost daily sightings of these wonderful and charismatic birds that will silently hop out of the undergrowth as soon as they hear his voice. During this morning we’ll be visiting the various Antpitta feeders and with a little patience we may be able to see the vulnerable and endemic Brown-banded Antpitta, Bi-coloured Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, the more common Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and less common Chestnut-naped Antpitta. In total there are 7 species of Antpitta found in the reserve, an astounding number and testament to what a special place this is.

After lunch at the reserve, where we’ll be able to sight many hummers and flower piercers at the feeders, you can either have the choice to relax at the lodge and look for crab foxes as they appear out of the forest or go for a bit more birding. Walk along the reserve’s roads looking for the large Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker and the pretty Cinnamon Flycatcher, sallying for insects above the road. Various species of the Tangara genus will be passing by in mixed flocks but special attention will be paid to the uncommon and local Red-Hooded Tanager, the lush Grass-green Tanager and emblematic Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher. We will also be on the lookout for the local and uncommon Scaly-naped Parrot and strikingly coloured Rusty-faced Parrot.

Following another successful action-packed birding day, we will be returning to the Hotel Termales El Ruiz for an afternoon and evening to be used at leisure, before dinner is provided for you at the hotel to re-fill your birding energy levels.

Overnight – Hotel Termales El Ruiz

 

DAY 5: TRANSFER to PUERTO NARIÑO (B, D)

Day 6 will start with you being transferred from the hotel to the airport in Manizales, where we will catch a transfer flight to Bogota for our connection flight to Leticia – a city located near the borders of Brazil and Peru, in southern Colombia, right next to the Amazon River! There will be the opportunity to have lunch at the airport in Bogota if you require it. After our flight, there will be a private boat transfer up the mighty Amazon itself, from Leticia airport to Puerto Nariño – a tiny village in the depths of the Amazon and an ideal peaceful nature retreat which was also Colombia’s first sustainable tourism destination (2 hrs). Upon arrival, we check into our hotel.

Towards the evening/night-time, you will be able to participate on our thrilling jungle walk and become at one with nature to see what nocturnal animals we can find!

Overnight – Hotel Lomas del Paiyu

 

DAY 6: Fundacion Maikuchiga (B, L, D)

An early morning walk (40 mins) will take us to Fundacion Maikuchiga ran by Dr. Sara Bennett and the local community of Mocagua. Fundacion Maikuchiga works with captured primates from the illegal animal trade and those who have also been brought up in captivity. At the centre, primates are lovingly nurtured back to health for their eventual return to their native habitat. After a brief introduction to the programme, we will walk through secondary forest looking for: the common Squirrel Monkey, tiny Pygmy Marmoset, beautiful Yellow-handed Titi, Black-mantled Tamarin and Spix’s Night Monkey. After this location, we will take a trip up the River Matamata which borders the national park of Amacayacu to look for a trail to go into some more primary vegetation where we’ll be on the look out for the enigmatic Monk Saki monkey. Howler sightings are also possible.

A packed lunch will be provided for you and after lunch we will take part in an afternoon birding and wildlife watching session during our return from the Fundacion. We will then return to Puerto Nariño and observe the legendary Amazonian sunset over the great river, which will be magnificent! In addition, making this trip even more cultural, we will meet with a local Tikuna indigneous group (Cocama and Yagua dialects) and get to know the community. Furthermore, we will make a visit to Natutama NGO which works with environmental education and conservation programmes, before a well deserved dinner in Puerto Nariño.

Overnight – Hotel Lomas del Paiyu

 

DAY 7: Lake Tarapoto (B, L, D)

This morning we take a boat ride to Lake Tarapoto and spend the morning exploring the flooded Varzea forest of Lake Tarapoto, looking for various primates, birds and other forms of wildlife. There is even the possibility of catching a boat ride up the Amacayacu River to observe wildlife and/or visit the community of San Martin.

A packed lunch will be provided for you at Lake Tarapoto. The afternoon at Tarapoto oxbow lake will consist of searching for Pink and Grey River Dolphins, freshwater ‘Charapa’ turtles, various species of primate and other mammals along with hundreds of species of bird. Furthermore, walking a trail to the lake’s local community looking for the legendary Ceiba tree (rubber tree) and local medicinal plants will also be in the afternoon’s agenda. We will return to Puerto Nariño before nightfall and enjoy an evening activity by the local community. Our day will again conclude with dinner in Puerto Nariño.

Overnight – Hotel Lomas del Paiyu

 

DAY 8: Puerto Nariño (B, L, D)

Today will give us the opportunity to explore more of the town of Puerto Nariño, with the morning spent looking around the town and taking in their ecological living style, along with an early lunch. This will provide you with the perfect opportunity to buy local handicrafts before heading back to Leticia by private boat.

In the afternoon, we will arrive in Leticia to be transferred to the airport; here we will catch a transfer flight back to Bogota. From the airport in Bogota, we will transfer you to the airport hotel where you will be able to spend the evening at leisure with dinner provided at the hotel.

Overnight – Hotel

 

DAY 19: Hato La Aurora, Llanos (B, L, D)

We will be leaving our hotel at around 4:30am, for a short 15min transfer to Bogota to catch the flight to Yopal. Even with the early start to the day, breakfast will be provided as well as a lunch, to take with us before leaving the hotel. We will then be transferred to the 16,000-hectare reserve and cattle ranch of Hato La Aurora in the Llanos of Casanare department. This Hato is a fully working cattle ranch with a focus on conservation. Today, a traditional ‘a la Llanera’ lunch will be served at the Hato residency of Juan Solito.

Following on from lunch, we will then be given the opportunity to embark on a short boat trip or 4×4 safari in the reserve whilst keeping an eye out for Capybara, Jabiru Stork, White-tailed deer, Cayman and Red-howler Monkeys, amongst many other typical Llanos species. In the evening we will view a spectacular sunset over Llanos as well as receiving a short introductory talk about the Hato and dinner.

Overnight – Juan Solito Lodge

 

DAY 10: Llanos Wildlife Safaris (B, L, D)

After breakfast, we will get to experience an all-morning, all-Colombian safari to witness the Llanos wildlife which includes the notorious Anaconda and enigmatic Giant Anteater. You’ll find it of interest that The Hato was recently named as having the highest concentration of Jaguars on the continent and Panthera Colombia (NGO) are using the Hato as one of their main investigation centres. Continuing on with the safari, we will be searching for the typical bird species of the Llanos including the 2 regional endemics. We will provide you with the option to either safari by 4×4 or safari by horse depending on your preference, both options will provide you with an amazing experience! In addition, the various elements of Llanos ranch life will be explained to us during our journey around the Hato.

We will be treated to a typical lunch at the Juan Solito residence and the afternoon will involve relaxing before experiencing a night-time safari. This second safari of the day will be conducted in order for us to see the animals that only come out after the sun goes down, such as the large felines that inhabit the Hato (but make sure you take a torch!).After dinner and before retreating to bed for the night, the day will conclude with folklore, songs, musical instruments and stories – a brilliant and highly cultural way to end our Colombian Safari day!

Overnight – Juan Solito Lodge

 

DAY 11: BIRDING & TRANSFER TO CARTAGENA (B, L, D)

Day 12 will begin with birding around the various trails that encircle the house and that lie next to the Ariporo River. We will also get the opportunity to visit La Aurora’s original farmhouse and walk across the Llanos in search of Llanos specialities! Lunch will be provided at the Juan Solito residence. Alternatively, if you feel like catching your own lunch, at one of the sites by the river there will be some great fishing opportunities!

We will then take a flight to Cartagena and be met to transfer to the hotel, followed by dinner in Cartagena.

Overnight – Hotel

 

DAY 12: City Tour of CARTAGENA (B, L, D)

In the morning, we will be invited on a tour of the beautiful city of Cartagena. Our tour will include visiting the cultural and historical locations of which include: Barrio Manga, Bocagrande, Popa Monastery, Saint Philip Castle, Museum of the Spanish Inquisition, the Vaults and various battalions.

After the tour we will return to our hotel and be taken to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. The afternoon and evening will be entirely at your leisure in Cartagena; when there will be an optional trip to Café del Mar to watch our final Colombian sunset and enjoy a few drinks, which we can ensure will be beautiful and idyllic. A farewell dinner will be put on in the evening. If on a group expedition, this will allow you to share your experiences and treasured moments of the trip; a delightful way to say your goodbyes to Colombia as well as all the great friends you’ve made over the last 2 weeks!

Overnight – Hotel

 

DAY 13: Goodbye Colombia (B)

Our final day on this Colombian Wildlife Discovery, you will have the morning at your leisure or to transfer to Cartagena airport for your flight back home via Bogota to your final destination.

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  • Duration11 Days / 10 Nights
  • Price£3950$TBC
    .
  • Upcoming Group DeparturesTBC
  • Tailormade DeparturesOn request

Extraordinary Sights

Capybara at Sunrise - Hato La Aurora Fundacion Maikuchiga Masked Trogon (Trogon Personatus) - Western Andes Red Ruffed Fruitcrow Sunbittern - Hato La Aurora Sunset at Puerto Narino - Amazonas Tree Frog -Night Walk Amazonas Mocagua Amazonas Red Howler Monkey
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