Welcome to Birdquest
This tour is specifically designed to dovetail with the classic Birdquest Colombia tour; the two tours combined giving an unparalleled coverage of this stunning country. Whilst our Colombia tour covers the more accessible endemic-rich areas, this amazing itinerary covers the remaining ‘hot spots’. By covering an even wider variety of sites and habitats than our classic Colombia tour (stretching from the Choco lowlands of the Pacific through the Andes to Amazonia!) not only will we see a staggering variety of endemics and rarely-seen specialities, we will also notch-up one of the biggest species totals of any Birdquest tour, rivalling Ultimate Kenya and Ultimate Ecuador for overall avian diversity!
Friday 19th January —
Friday 9th February 2018
Mitú Extension: Friday 9th February — Thursday 15th February (7 days)
Leaders: Dani López-Velasco and local bird guides
Group Size Limit: 8
Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking for the most part and comfortable to fairly simple accommodations
This very special adventure has been carefully designed to complement our Colombia tour; the two combined giving a good shot at virtually all of the available endemics and specialities to be found in this wonderful birding country. Whilst our regular Colombia tour gives an excellent introduction to Colombia’s exciting avifauna, with an excellent crop of endemics, this specially designed tour focuses on an impressive suite of endemics and specialities not found on that tour. Not only that, but by travelling from the Andes to the Choco and to the Amazonian lowlands, we will amass a quite staggering number of species!
Colombia is an immense country with an almost unimaginable variety of landscapes, floras and birds. It is now at peace, having improved dramatically in the last fifteen years, such that today Colombia is a clean, safe, modern and friendly country with great infrastructure. Indeed things have turned around so far that Colombia is now one of the safest and most popular South American destinations! Add to this its enviable distinction of having the highest number of bird species recorded for any country and Colombia must be a priority for any birder: nearly 1900 species have been recorded to date, with more being added every year, including species new to science!
One of the great things about birding in Colombia is that just about anywhere one stops, even along roadsides, there are a seemingly endless procession of good birds to be found! Quite apart from providing home to nearly twenty percent of the world’s birds, Colombia has within this number an exciting selection endemics: in this it is equalled only by Brazil and Peru in South America, and our two tours to Colombia, between them, give an excellent chance of finding nearly all of the ‘available’ endemics.
We will begin our adventure close to the capital city of Bogotá, where in remnant patches of moss-clad forest, amongst a host of interesting species, we will make a concerted effort to find the poorly know Cundinamarca Antpitta and colourful Brown-breasted (or Flame-winged) Parakeet, both of which are endemic to the eastern cordillera.
Moving on, we will head north to Soatá and explore a spectacular forested ridge in search of a suite of endemics that includes Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, Niceforo’s Wren and the endangered Mountain Grackle, along with the rare Rusty-faced Parrot. A relatively short distance west is the famous Cerulean Warbler reserve. As nice as this migrant visitor from North America is, it is not the main focus of our attention as we will be seeking out another exciting selection of endemics including the retiring Gorgeted Wood-Quail, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, the smart Black Inca, Parker’s Antbird, Upper Magdalena Tapaculo and the delightful Turquoise Dacnis-Tanager, as well as other specialities which may include Yellow-throated Spadebill and Yellow-browed Shrike-Vireo.
Next we will descend to the Magdalena valley and make the longish drive north to the Reserva Hormiguero de Torcoroma (or Recurve-billed Bushbird Reserve), a protected area that has been created specially for this enigmatic bird. As well as this charismatic species, which skulks in dense bamboo, we should also find the near-endemic Grey-throated Warbler.
Our mission accomplished, we will retrace our steps southwards along the Magdalena Valley to the Reserva El Paujil (or Blue-billed Curassow Reserve). As we pass along the valley through marshy swamplands and open country we should find the huge near endemic Northern Screamer and a wide variety of more widespread species. El Paujil was set up to protect a healthy population of the elusive Blue-billed Curassow. In recent years, due to fantastic conservation efforts, this species has become much easier to see, and we will have an excellent chance of finding this rare cracid. There are also a considerable number of other exciting species in this magnificent area including Saffron-headed Parrot, the aptly-named Beautiful Woodpecker, Citron-throated Toucan, Black-breasted Puffbird, White-mantled Barbet, Black Antshrike, the rare Black-billed Flycatcher and the superb endemic Sooty Ant-Tanager, amongst others.
We then again head south to explore some areas in the upper Magdalena Valley where a number of other rarely seen species can be found including the rare endemic Tolima Dove, Apical Flycatcher, Yellow-headed Manakin and the endemic Yellow-headed Brush-Finch. In more open habitats we shall look for the endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia while a short stop at the Bella vista reserve gives us an opportunity to look for the rare Tody Motmot before we head west to Medellin.
Next we will head for the newly established Reserva Colibri del Sol (Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve) near Urrao in search of another suite of endemics. This truly remote reserve is set in stunning paramo, and it was here that the recently discovered Urrao Antpitta is found along with the rare Dusky Starfrontlet, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer and Paramillo Tapaculo, and together with a superb supporting cast of cloud forest specialities. After our all too short stay here, we return to Medellin (stopping for the recently described Antioquia Wren on the way).
Finally we will take a flight to the Pacific coast at Bahia Solano in order to visit the El Valle area and Utria National Park. Although our main reason for our visiting this remote area will be to find the rarely seen Baudo Oropendola there is an excellent supporting cast of Choco species including the poorly-known Humboldt’s Sapphire, Sapayoa (sometimes considered a family in its own right), Black-tipped and Blue Cotingas, and Scarlet-and-white Tanager, as well as a large number of other scarce species such as the rare Brown Wood-Rail, Spot-crowned Barbet, Rose-faced Parrot, the impressive Great Green Macaw, Black-headed Antthrush and Thicket and Streak-chested Antpittas, to name just a few! The tour concludes back at Medellin.
The optional extension will see us travel to the far southeast of Colombia, to Amazonas and the bird-rich Amazonian lowlands. Our base will be Mitú, from where we can access the little-explored birding areas close to town. It is an incredibly rich area, but we will be focussing our attention on a number of localized specialities. Perhaps the most spectacular is the impressive Chestnut-crested Antbird, but the supporting cast of so-called Imeri endemics and white sand specialists is quite mouth-watering and includes such goodies as Orinoco Piculet, the delightful Tawny-tufted Toucanet, the rarely-seen Bar-bellied Woodcreeper, Bronzy Jacamar, Yellow-throated Antwren, localized Grey-bellied and Imeri Warbling Antbirds, Cherie’s and Yellow-throated Antwrens, Blackish-grey Antshrike, Yellow-crowned and Black Manakins, the rare Azure-naped Jay, the extremely localized White-naped Seedeater, the elusive White-bellied Dacnis and the attractive Plumbeous Euphonia.
Birdquest has operated tours to Colombia since 1998.
Sooty-capped Puffbird Option: The leader will be happy to accompany anyone wishing to visit the far northwest of Colombia in the Bocas del Atrato area in order to see poorly-known endemic Sooty-capped Puffbird, which was recently discovered in this area where it seems to be relatively common and easy to see. There is also a good chance of the poorly known endemic Sapphire-bellied Emerald, as well as Bare-throated Tiger-Heron and Black Antshrike. A visit to the area would take three or four days (two or three nights), depending on flight schedules. Cost will depend on numbers and duration. Please contact the Birdquest office if you are interested in such an extension.
San Andres & Old Providencia Option: The leader will also be happy to accompany anyone wishing to visit these seldom explored islands. Belonging to Colombia, these two islands, situated off the Nicaraguan coast, both harbour an endemic vireo, the San Andres (or St Andrew) Vireo and Providencia Vireos respectively. As well as these two vireos, there is a distinctive form of Tropical Mockingbird (the ‘St Andrew Mockingbird’) and we will see a number of other species not seen on the tour. These may include Caribbean Dove, White-crowned Pigeon, Mangrove Cuckoo, Green-breasted Mango, Caribbean Elaenia, Thick-billed Vireo and Jamaican Oriole. The local forms of the dove and oriole may represent distinct species. There are likely to be a number of North American migrants present too, and these could include Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Grey Catbird, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-throated, Magnolia, Worm-eating, Black-throated Blue and Black-throated Green Warblers. A visit to the islands would take three days (two nights). Cost will depend on numbers. Please contact the Birdquest office if you are interested in such an extension.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and lodges are mostly of good or medium standard, but at El Paujil and Colibri del Sol the accommodation is pleasant but of a more rustic quality. At Colibri del Sol (one night) there are just a few rooms with a number of beds in each and bathroom facilities are shared. Transport is by small coach or minibus, and 4x4 vehicles, and roads are mostly good.
Walking: The walking effort is mainly easy, sometimes moderate. At the Cerulean Warbler Reserva, and possibly at El Paujil, one or two of the optional hikes are harder.
Climate: At this season it should be mostly dry and often sunny in the eastern and central Andes, while in the Choco and in Amazonia it may be wet. It is hot and humid in the Choco and Amazonian lowlands. At higher elevations it will be cool, especially at night, and there will be rain, which can be heavy and persistent at times.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £5890, €6950, $7720 Bogotá/Medellin. Mitú Extension: £1850, €2180, $2420 (ending in Bogotá).
Price includes all transportation (including all specified flights inside Colombia), all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room Supplement: £408, €481, $534 (excluding one night at Colibri del Sol). Extension: £108, €127, $141.
There are only a limited number of rooms at the Reinita Azul, El Paujil and Hormiguero de Torcoroma reserves, where we spend a total of eight nights. There is no single supplement at these locations, but singles are provided free of additional charge if available at the time (they often are, but not always for everyone who wants one).
Deposit: £750, €900, $980. Extension: £250, €300, $330.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate
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