Colombia – The Ultimate Tailor-made Birding Trip

18 Days



8 Years

£ 4624

The Ultimate Colombia

Colombia – a country associated with beauty, mystery, tropical warmth and endless bounty. The natural riches found within its borders aren’t found here by chance, however. It’s Colombia’s rugged, broken and unique geography that makes it one of the world’s most diverse countries, a treasure trove of biological evolution, where this same geography has created many restricted range species, found across Colombia’s 5 main geographical regions – Andean, Pacific, Caribbean, Llanos (plains) and Amazon. This vast array of landscapes and ecosystems makes a wildlife watching tour to Colombia an essential trip for any discerning wildlife enthusiast. Additionally there are also those special ecosystems that Colombia has almost to itself, such as the tropical savannahs of the Llanos (or Eastern Plains) that only exist in Colombia and Venezuela, covering an area larger than Nepal, or the Paramo – a high altitude tundra recently proven to be the fastest-evolving ecosystem on Earth, with its other-worldly plants and extreme climate.


The word ‘Colombia’ sparks imagination and wonder when mentioned in birding circles. It is the mecca for neo-tropical birding, being home to 1,932 recorded species (over 1,950 unofficially recorded) with more being found each week as the country’s vast territory is explored during this time of transition and peace. This startling amount represents close to 20% of the world’s total number of birds. Among this mouth-watering list there are at least 84 ‘country endemics’ found in Colombia’s various isolated geo-regions and ecosystems, the evolutionary results of the complex and extreme Andean topography, its role as the bio-bridge between North, Central and South America and its 1,000-mile Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.


During this tour you’ll explore the biodiversity hotspot of the highlands of many regions of Colombia, starting in the Eastern Andes The Amazonian piedmont in Putumayo, one of the most biodiverse areas of our country and also one of the last biological corridors between the Andes and the Amazon. Back to the Andes, to the Central mountain range where volcanic soils have shaped and given life to this lush environment; and finally, the incredible north coast in the lowlands of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where you will visit the unique and endangered ecosystem of tropical dry forest in Tayrona National Park.. Colombia is here, slowly but surely making a claim to being one of the world’s most exciting emerging wildlife watching destinations.

Price £4,624/ $5,550

Based on 4 pax. Excludes international flights.

£5,960 $7,153 Based on 2 pax.



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Day by Day


Located at 8,530 ft above sea level and surrounded to the east with its imposing Cerros Orientales (eastern hills) we find the capital and largest city of Colombia, Bogotá. With average temperatures of 62ºF throughout the year, Bogotá leans towards being a cool weather city for its 8 million or so inhabitants; a population that brings together people from all over the country, making Bogotá a multicultural city with a good representation of each region of Colombia. Bogotá offers visitors a vast variety of options for all kinds of activities related with culture, nature, history and nightlife. It boasts Colombia’s best museums, among them the world-renowned Gold Museum and an excellent gastronomic scene that is developing into an unmissable attraction. Having been the most important city since the Spanish colonial times, Bogotá is full of history and tales, where many of the most important moments of Colombia’s recent history have occurred. Also, the night life of Bogotá is amazing, its wide variety of bars and restaurants makes Bogotá a place to live and enjoy, and staying more than 3 nights, you’ll start to ‘get’ Bogota’s local vibe.


Today we will arrive in the Amazon of Colombia, in the region of Putumayo, one of the departments that connect the Andes with the Amazon and one of the most important biodiversity corridors of Colombia. Putumayo is divided into 3 regions, low, mid and high Putumayo according to the altitude. Lower Putumayo covers the Amazon plains, mid Putumayo the Amazon the foothills and the transition zone between the Amazon and the Andes and high Putumayo is the Andean region of the department. This characteristic makes Putumayo a transition department between the Andes and the Amazon, with a great variety of ecosystems and altitudes that range from sea level to 4,700 m.a.s.l., creating one of the most important biodiversity corridors in Colombia.


In the past, Putumayo has been hard hit by deforestation practices, which contrasts with the strong environmental awareness of the new generations, who have been recovering and conserving patches of jungle that have become refuges for many species, making them excellent places for flora and fauna watching, for environmental education and recovery of the Amazon rainforest. Putumayo is also a region of great indigenous cultural wealth, the indigenous population reaches approximately 30,000 people. There are 126 councils and 39 reservations from the tribes Camëntzá, Inga, Cofán, Siona, Murui, Coreguaje, Muinane, Andoque, Huitoto, Nonuya, Okaina, Bora, Emberá and Paez peoples, making of this department algo a multicultural society full of culture


Today we will arrive at Puerto Asís, ancient territory of the Kofán indigenous people, located in the Amazon plains on the banks of the Putumayo River and recognized for being the commercial capital of the department.


We will arrive at Cofan reserve and hotel, where we will be able to spot various species of primates such the Aotus vociferans of the night monkey, the Saguinus fuscus or whitelipped monkey and the Saimiri sciureus or squirrel monkey. This will be our first night in this region of the Colombian Amazon as a prelude to a spectacular adventure in the midst of the biodiversity of a magical territory that we will begin to discover with the first rays of sun the next day accompanied by birds, monkeys and all the life of the tropical forest of the region.

Today we will start very early and will be transferred to El Arbolito Reserve, where Fleider and Yolima, its owners, will take us through a beautiful journey through the richness of their reserve. Birds such as the White-necked Jacobin, Black-throated Mango, Blue-tailed Emerald, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Cattle Egret, Tiny Hawk, Gilded Barbet, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Spot-winged Antbird, Straight-billed Woodcreeper and White-bearded Manakin among other 130 species that have been observed in the reserve. In this reserve have also been observed 9 of the 14 species of primates that inhabit Putumayo, among which is the smallest primate in the world, the Cebuella pygmaea or Pygmy marmoset. Birds and primates are living proof of the good health of this reserve, but also butterflies, mushrooms, plants and trees that create a perfect ecosystem for a great variety of species. After our visit to El Arbolito, we will keep going towards Villagarzon, 1.5hrs drive before we start to see the majestic Andes mountain range appear in the horizon, this spectacular landscape is possible only in Villagarzon, which is surrounded by the most magnificent contrast between the Andean mountains and the Amazon rainforest. Here we will arrive at one of the coziest and most beautiful jungle lodges of the region, El Portal del Sol, a unique place that revolves around conservation and sustainability. Through interaction with its owners we will learn about sustainability processes, clean energy production and organic fertilizers.


After a short tour to the crops, we will collect some products to share from an afternoon of cooking. At night we will go out through the forests and wetlands near the lodge to reconnect with mother earth in a different context, under the darkness of the night on a nocturnal expedition to learn about frogs and other nocturnal species present in the ecosystem. We will be able to spot species of frogs such as Dendropsophus reticulatus or the jaguar frog, Ranitomeya variabilis or splash-back poison frog, Atelopus spumarius or Pebas stubfoot toad, Teratohyla mida or glass frog of midas and Ameerega bilinguis or Ecuador poison frog among many others.

Today we will wake up in the middle of a bird concert to start our last adventure of this trip to nature. The "Mohano'' trail, a tour through the tropical humid forest, a refuge and biological corridor for numerous species of birds and primates, guided by the guardians of this territory in which we will understand the process of restoration and natural conservation of this ecosystem until reaching the Mohana waterfall. Our bird targets today will be Undulated Tinamou, Crested Owl, Mottled Owl, Speckled Chachalaca, Glittering-throated Emerald, Whistling Heron, White-throated Toucan, Lesser Kiskadee, Paradise tanager, Chestnut-eared Aracari, Green backed trogon, Social Flycatcher and Great Tinamou among other 200 observed species. Primates such as saki monkey, Colombian black-handed titi and other 5 species can be found in this trail.

Finally we will arrive at the waterfall, a place where previously the Kofan shamans became the "Mohano Tiger" (jaguar man) to defend their territory from the colonist invasion. In this place, where we will arrive guided by a Mama Inga Indigenous Leader, we will enjoy the crystal clear waters of the creek and the energy coming from the heart of Pacha Mama to return to our home to share our adventure with the conviction and awareness of the importance of preserving life and biodiversity.

Today we are living the Amazon to fly to Cauca Valley and start to get closer to the pacific coast to see different species of birds and get to know a complete different ecosystem and region of Colombia.

Early start from your hotel for 5am Transfer to KM 18 IBA Reserve, which forms part of the renowned San Antonio cloud forest. Arrive at Finca Alejandria. Enjoy hummingbird feeders, looking for targets such as Bronzy Inca, Blue-headed Sapphire, Purple-throated Hummingbird and the endemic (and very special) Multi Colored Tanager amongst many others.

5:30 am transfer to Queremal area in the famed Alto-Anchicaya basin, teeming with Choco endemics and rarities, such as Toucan Barbet, Green Thorntail, Empress Brilliant, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Yellow-throated Tanager, endemic Crested Ant-Tanager and many many more. Spend all morning birding along the road where the birds abound.

Today all morning to find more species at the lodge such as Grayish Piculet, Colombian Chachalaca, Parker’s Antbird, Apical Flycatcher, Blue-headed Sapphire, Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Long-billed Starthroat, Purple-throated Woodstar, Flame-rumped Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Scrub Tanager, White-lined Tanager, Yellow-backed Oriole, Spectacled Parrotlet, Scaled Antpitta, Black-winged Saltator and many of the 186 species of birds registered, including 4 endemics: Parkers Antbird, Colombian Chachalaca, Grayish Piculet and Apical Flycatcher. Also Bar-crested Antshrike, Spectacled Parrotlet, Purple-throated Woodstar, and Blue-headed Sapphire; 17 species of hummingbirds that also visit the feeders with drinkers and bananas for fruit species. You will have an early lunch and then transferred to Manizaes.

Spend a day exploring Tinamu reserve where over 230 species of bird have been reported. Species at the feeders offering excellent photographic opportunities are: Steely-vented Hummingbird, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Brown Violetear, Long-billed Starthroat, Grey-headed Tanager, White-shouldered Tanager, Scrub Tanager (near-endemic), Guira and Bay-headed Tanagers, Green Honeycreeper, Red-crowned Woodpecker, stunning Andean or Blue-crowned Motmot, Thick-billed Euphonia among many others. On trial there is chance to see Golden-Crowned Warbler, Cocoa Woodcreeper and Grey-headed Ground-Dove, Little Tinamous (after which the reserve is named), Spectacled Owl, Scaled Antpitta (difficult), Speckle-breasted Wren, Moustached Puffbird and many, many flycatchers.

An hour and 20 min drive from the hotel will take us to one of the world’s best birding sites – not only because of its 4,343ha size or wonderfully conserved Andean forests, or 380 or so recorded species, but because for the past number of years, the local guides of this reserve been feeding and coaxing out some of the world’s most difficult bird genus to see – Antpittas. These skulking birds that look like balls on two sticks are terrestrial forest birds, normally making good sightings a rarity as opposed to a commonality. As you approach with your guide, you’ll see these beautiful little creatures silently hop out of the undergrowth as soon as they hear his footsteps. 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, elusive and difficult Bi-coloured Antpitta, small and quick Slate-crowned Antpitta, the more common and bold 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.


Either before or after the Antpitta-fest you’ll dedicate time to the very rare and very local Masked Saltator which fortunately, makes a frequent habit of perching above the house, making Rio Blanco arguably the best place in the world to see this stunning bird. Above our heads we’ll be listening for the characteristic calls and chatter of groups of Golden-Plumed Parakeet, the uncommon and unpredictable White-capped Tanager and uncommon Barred Fruiteater. Some of the most colorful mixed flocks will be dominated by the larger and red-eyed Hooded, Lachrymose and Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers along with the more uncommon and solitary Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager.


You’ll spend the morning birding the various gravel roads, with occasional stops to look for more skulking species such as the various ‘Tapaculos’ that inhabit these forests, among them the very shy but astoundingly beautiful Ocellated Tapaculo – a bird definitely worth spending some time on just to catch a glimpse. We’ll also be looking for the large Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled and Powerful Woodpeckers and common but very 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. Flying above we’ll be watching out for the local and uncommon Scaly-naped Parrot and strikingly coloured Rusty-faced Parrot – a wonderful bird to add to the list if seen.


At the reserve feeders you’ll be able to sight many hummers and flowerpiercers such the stunning Long-tailed Sylph, beautifully marked Collared Inca, territorial Buff-tailed Coronet, along with Andean Emerald and Speckled Hummingbird. A massive list is possible at Rio Blanco and few birders leave disappointed. You will have lunch at the reserve and then be transferred to Hacienda El Bosque to spend the night.

A morning visit to Hacienda El Bosque near the CHEC forest reserve is a perfect spot to see the local and scarce Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Barred Fruiteater and one of the most photogenic antpitta around – Crescent-faced Antpitta which has been visiting feeders with some regularity. You will be transferred to Termales del Ruiz in the afternoon to spend the night.

Today will be gem of a day birding, spotting all the high-Andean specialities and endemics which can be found in the hotel’s gardens and feeders located strategically along the old Manizales road, as well as at the entrance to the magical National Park of snow-capped peaks, Los Nevados. Targets 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 taken either before leaving or on the trail, depending on the group's preferences. Time will also be spent visiting local areas of páramo, an otherworldly, high-altitude tundra ecosystem only found in five countries in the world. Colombia holds the lion’s share of this precious ecosystem, with 60% of the world’s total. The páramo is an ecosystem like no other; an essential producer and regulator of fresh water, home to specially adapted plant species and recently described as the fastest-evolving ecosystem on Earth.

We will spend the day in El Color de Mis Reves, a beautiful mountain glampling, located in a beautiful spot in the mountains to look for Black-thighed Puffleg, American Kestrel, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Barred Becard, Mountain, Black-eared Hemispingus, White-tailed Tyrannulet, Smooth-billed Ani, Speckled Hummingbird, Southern Lapwing, Bare-faced Ibis, Andean Motmot. After lunch, you will be transferred to Pereira.

Today, before we leave the coffee region to head to the north coast, we will drive out looking for species we missed on the way into El Cedral. Once in Santa Marta, you will be transferred to Minca area to spend the night.

Minca is a haven for birders and you'll be staying in one of the birder hotspots in this region, at the ProAves Bird Reserve, El Dorado. Birding around this beautiful lodge is a delight, as you'll search for local targets such as White-tailed Starfrontlet, Sierra Brush-Finch, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, sub-specie of Blue-naped Chlorophonia, and many others.

Today it's a morning drive up to the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo in search of the majority of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta’s astonishing 21 endemic species, including Santa Marta Antpitta, Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Sharp-shinned Hawk. There will be time to observe some of the endemic plant life in this biodiversity hotspot, including the wax palms that dominate this Andean forest

Today we will spend the morning trying to find missing species around the lodge before descending to Tayrona National Park; the perfect combination of tropical rainforest, paradise beaches and Caribbean sea, it's no surprise that Tayrona National Park is the most visited national park in the country. The park extends from the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta down to the white sand beaches of the Caribbean sea. Take a morning trek to Arrecife (1hr aprox.), or La Piscina, the latter a beautiful, natural pool is formed on the bay, making it a great place for a relaxing swim.

End of Expedition.


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