Welcome to Birdquest
Birdquest's Colombia birding tour is a classic South American birdwatching trip. Our Colombia tour is the single best itinerary in the country and records more Colombian endemics in three weeks than any other. Right up there with Ecuador and Peru in terms of species diversity, Colombia is far richer than either in endemic birds.
Saturday 17th February —
Sunday 11th March 2018
Leaders: János Oláh and local bird guides
Group Size Limit: 8
Tour Category: Easy to moderate walking and comfortable accommodations
To most people Colombia conjures up images of the finest coffee in the world, emeralds, cocaine, and swinging salsa and merengue music, but for birders it offers the richest avifauna on earth!
Colombia has had a complex history. Once encompassing all of adjacent Panama, Venezuela and Ecuador, the early republic soon shrunk in size, but even today we are still left with an immense country with an endless variety of scenery, habitats and bird communities.
Colombia has the enviable distinction of having the greatest number of bird species recorded for any country in the world: over 1870 species have been recorded to date! Upon entering from Ecuador, the mighty Andean Cordillera soon divides into three huge ranges, Colombia’s ornithologically-famous Western, Central and Eastern Andes. In between are the wide Cauca and Magdalena Valleys that eventually reach the Caribbean Coast. Here, one of the planet’s most awesome mountain ranges, the snow-clad Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, rises abruptly out of the ocean.
Only rivalled by Peru for the diversity of its avifauna, it is not only the sheer number of species that are impressive about Colombia, but also the extraordinary number of endemics found within its boundaries. Faced with the impossibility of covering all of this vast country in a single three week tour, this tour concentrates on the more readily accessible sites, with mostly easy walking conditions, for the unique endemic species occurring in the Western and Central cordilleras and the isolated Santa Marta Mountains.
We will start out in the scenic mountains around the capital, where such exciting species as Bogota Rail, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Apolinar’s Marsh-Wren, Rufous-browed Conebill and Turquoise Dacnis-Tanager await us.
Our next port of call will be the temperate forests above Ibague in search of the rare Fuertes’s Parrot before we head to Otun Quimbaya. A morning here in the park may well yield Cauca Guan and the elusive Chestnut Wood-Quail, as well as the recently-described Stiles’s Tapaculo and the superb Chestnut-breasted Wren. Continuing on to Manizales, we make an in-depth exploration of areas bordering Los Nevados National Park. These include the excellent Rio Blanco Reserve and the nearby Nevado del Ruiz where, amongst others, we hope to find such specialities as Rusty-faced Parrot, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Brown-banded and Bicoloured Antpittas, and Golden-fronted Whitestart, in addition to more widespread but nonetheless elusive species such as Paramo and Ocellated Tapaculos, and White-capped Tanager.
Crossing the Cauca valley to Jardin we will explore a forested ridge in search of Yellow-eared Parrot and Tanager-Finch while nearer town we shall visit a spectacular Cock-of-the-Rock lek.
Next we will explore the very wet Pacific slope of the Western Andes, known as the Chocó, where we visit the Las Tangaras reserve in the Montezuma region. Here we can find the stunning Gold-ringed Tanager alongside other colourful Chocó endemics, such as Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph and Orange-breasted Fruiteater, and such additional specialities as Munchique Wood-Wren, Black Solitaire and Chestnut-breasted and Yellow-collared Chlorophonias.
Continuing on we will reach the very northern end of the Central Andes at the Arrierito Antioqueño Reserve near Anori, where our prime targets will be two species which have been discovered and described relatively recently; Parker’s Antbird and Chestnut-capped Piha. We should also see the spectacular Black-and-gold Tanager and Red-bellied Grackle in this part of the country.
Crossing the low hilly country of the northern central Cordillera we enter the wide Magdalena Valley where the humid forests at Rio Claro hold such specialities as White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and Sooty Ant-Tanager.
Returning to Medellin, we make a special effort to see the rare Yellow-headed Manakin.
Moving on to the far north of the country, we will first visit the Santa Marta region, where we will climb the impressive Sierra Nevada in search of over a dozen endemics whilst simultaneously enjoying some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery!
We then descend to the arid littoral exploring the Guajira Peninsula. Here we will look for some restricted-range species only shared with neighbouring Venezuela, such as Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail and Vermilion Cardinal. On our final day we explore a mosaic of coastal habitats in search of Chestnut-winged Chachalacas and the endangered Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird.
Birdquest has operated tours to Colombia since 1998.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels and lodges are of good or medium standard throughout. Transport is by small coach or minibus, and 4x4 vehicles where necessary. The roads are generally good.
Walking: The walking effort is easy to moderate. At Rio Claro we walk along a stream bed to the Oilbird cave repeatedly crossing the shallow waters.
Climate: At this season it should be mostly dry and often sunny. It can be quite hot and humid in the lowlands, whilst at higher elevations it can be quite cool, especially at night. There may be some rain which at times can be heavy and persistent.
Bird Photography: Opportunities are worthwhile.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £6180, €7300, $8100 Bogotá/Baranquilla.
Price includes all transportation (including the Medellin-Santa Marta flight), 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: £558, €659, $731.
There are only a limited number of rooms at the Arrierito Antioqueño reserve (Anori) and at San Lorenzo (El Dorado), where we spend a total of 4 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). At Montezuma there are also relatively few rooms and it is possible that not all those requesting singles will be able to have them. Any unexpected sharing at Montezuma will result in an appropriate refund.
Deposit: £750, €900, $980.
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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