A birding tour designed for taking you to the most representative birding hotspots in Colombia.

An itinerary specially focused  on photography locations.

Custom tour for:

Dustin Chen, UK

COLOMBIA, THE BIRDIEST COUNTRY.

Colombia is the land of the birds, 20% of the birds of the world -1913 species and counting- have in Colombia their home. This amazing number is due to the intrincate geography of the country: tree Andean ranges –Cordilleras -, two inter-andean valleys: Cauca & Magdalena, rainy forests in the Pacific/Chocó region, tropical dry forests in the Caribbean coast and in the Magdalena & Cauca river’s valleys, the huge savannah of the Orinoco region, the always giant amazon basin plus the Santa Marta mountains -which hosts the highest concentration of endemic birds of Southamerica-, and two oceans  with several islands and archipelagos spreaded  through them, make of Colombia a magical place where with travelling just a few hours is possible to move from a Páramo ecosystem over 4000 masl to the tropical dry forest in the Cordilleras’ foothill below 1000 masl, one of the most endangered terrestrial ecosystems in the world.

Colombia’s position privilege the country, making it the access door for migrants who come from both extremes of the continent.

A complex state-owned protected area’s network where the National Natural Parks are the main ones, join with private and community conservation initiatives, where the researching and environmental education have been increasing in the last years, locating Colombia as a megadiverse country.

TOUR DETAILS

2018

4 - 23 April (20 days)

Ecosystems covered: 

Andean and subandean forests.

Cloud forest.

Tropical dry forest.

Páramo.

Rain forest.

Shade grown coffee plantations.

Marshes.

Tour leader:

Johnnier Arango

Keywords:

(E) Endemic, (NE) Near endemic

Day 0. Arrival: arriving to Cali's international airport in the Cauca department. Night at Cali.

Day 1-2. KM 18 & Finca Alejandría. 1900 masl.

Located 1 hour away of Cali on the ridge of the Western Andes, the KM 18 is one of the classic birding hotspots and one of the best places for bird photography in the region. The Finca Alejandría, also known as the "Hummingbirds paradise" has a incredible set of over 40 hummingbird feeders and it's the best location for photographing the endemic and superb Multicolored Tanager. Feeders here attract: (E) Colombian Chachalaca, Beryl-spangled, (NE) Flame-rumped, (NE) Scrub, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, Bay-headed, and Golden-naped tanagers,  Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager also attends the feeder. Other beauties include Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Black-winged Saltator, Summer Tanager (migrant), Hepatic Tanager, Red-headed Barbet among others.

 

The hummingbird feeders are visited by hundreds of Hummers. Species include Long-tailed Sylph, Bronzy Inca, Booted Racket-tail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Lesser Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Crowned Woodnymph, (NE) Purple-throated Woodstar and Greenish Puffleg. Two species of hermits visit the heliconias in the surroundig garden, these are the Tawny-bellied and Green Hermit.

Birding the forest can also produce many specialties as (NE) Nariño Tapaculo, the endemic and skulking Chestnut Wood-Quail, Scaled and Green-and-black Fruiteaters, Chestnut-capped, White-naped and Yellow-breasted Brush-finches, Gray-throated Toucanet and some interesting understory birds like Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streak-capped and Striped Treehunters, and the always nice woodpeckers: Yellow-vented, Acorn and Golden-olive.

Both, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals are often seen in the forest near Finca Alejandría.

At the end of the day we will head to the small town of El Queremal, the main access to the impressive Anchicayá Canyon. Driving time 1.2 hours. Night at Hotel El Campanario.

GOLDEN-HEADED QUETZAL
ENDEMIC MULTICOLORED TANAGER

Day 3. High Anchicayá Canyon. 1300 - 1100 masl.

The Anchicayá Canyon is the place where the well known American ornitholgist Steven Hilty built the basis of his research which led to the publishing of the first colombian field guide in 1986. Thirty years later, the area remains as one of the best colombian birding hotspots. With an easy access paved road, great views at canopy-level and also hummingbird feeders, is a great location for exploring and for getting introduced to the avifauna of the Chocó region, one of the most biodiverse ecoregions of the world.

We will start the day walking along the paved road which leads to the city port of Buenaventura in the Pacific coast. The high elevations of Anchicayá host several specialties as: (E) Tatamá Tapaculo, (E) Grayish Piculet, (E) Crested Ant-tanager, (E) Parker’s Antbird, (NE) Toucan Barbet, (NE) Rufous-throated tanager, NE) Chocó tapaculo, (NE) Uniform Treehunter, (NE) Orange-breasted fruiteater, (NE) Club-winged Manakin, (NE) Sooty-headed Wren, (NE) Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, (NE) Ochre-breasted tanager, (NE) Black Solitaire, (NE) Glistening-green Tanager, (NE) White-whiskered Hermit, and (NE) Yellow-collared Chlorophonia.

At 1100 masl is located "El Descanso", a familiy restaurant which has a place dedicated to tanagers and hummingbirds. Some of the specialties mentioned above come to feed on the bananas plus others like Black-headed and Tricolored Brush-finch, Tick-billed and Orange-bellied Euphonias, Green Thorntail, White-whiskered Hermit, (NE) Empress Brilliant, (NE) Brown Inca among others.

Oter specialties in the area include Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Torrent Duck, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Olive Finch, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Russet Antshrike, White-headed Wren, and  Chestnut-crowned Gnateater.

Night at hotel El Campanario in El Queremal.

Day 4. High and mid Anchicayá canyon. 1300 - 600 masl

This day we will start exploring the mid section of the canyon lookink for specialties as Lemon-rumped Tanager (the local subspecies of the near endemic Flame-rumped Tanager), Silver-throated Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Bright-rumped Atilla, Golden-collared Manakin, White-headed Wrens, and Chestnut-headed Oropendola. Three species of toucans are possible here such the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Collared Aracari and the very restricted Choco Toucan. Other birds of interest are Spot-crowned Barbet, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Gray-and-gold Tanager, Dusky-faced, Tawny-crested and Rufous-winged Tanager, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Long-tailed Tyrant among many other birds that are representative of this rich region. This afternoon we will leave to the historic city of Buga in the heart of the Cauca river's valley. 

Driving time: 3 hours. Night at Hotel Guadalajara

TOUCAN BARBET
ORNATE HAWK-EAGLE

Day 5. Sonso Lagoon. 800 masl.

The Sonso lagoon is the last big lagoon of the Cauca river's valley, is the remaining of a complex of wetlands and marshes. As a protected area it preserves habitat for many migrants and resident birds. In its tropical dry forest is possible to see 2 endemics: The Grayish Piculet and the Apical Flycatcher. Other specialties here include (NE) Bar-crested Antshrike, Dwarf Cuckoo, Jet Antbird, Common Potoo, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Striped Cuckoo and Spectacled Parrotlet. The wetland section hosts Fulvous, White-faced & Black-bellied whistling ducks, blue-winged teal, Buff-necked Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Comb Duck, Black-crowned Night-heron amomg others. Birding here is easy with open areas,clear trees and good views of the aquatic vegetation, all them adequate conditions for photographing.

After a morning here we will drive to the Parque de la Uva (The grape park. Driving time 1.2 hours) where is possible to photograph in a stationary location: Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Black-throated Mango, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Western Emerald plus some other tropical dry forest species.

In the mid afternoon we'll head towards the mythical Tatamá NP in the transition between Western Andes and Chocó bioregion. Driving time 3 hours. Night at Montezuma lodge.

RUBY TOPAZ HUMMINGBIRD
ENDEMIC GRAYISH PICULET

Day 6. Montezuma lower section and feeders.

Certainly Montezuma is one of the best locations for birding in the colombian Andes. Its privileged location laying on the north side of the Tatamá NP just in the transition between two of the main bioregions of Colombia:Chocó and Tropical Andes, make of this place a real hotspot for birding and other nature watching activities. Here we will spend 3 full days and one half morning trying to achieve mostly of the targets. In this case our targets are the jewels of Tatamá NP, a set of rare, colorful and range restricted birds found here. 

 

The first day we will spend the best light of the morning photographing hummingbirds in the feeders, a number of up to 16 species can be seen here including Chocó specialties as (NE) Violet-tailed Sylph,  (NE) Velvet-purple Coronet, (NE) Purple-throated Woodstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, (NE) Empress Brilliant, White-tailed Hillstar and (NE) Brown Inca, some other hummingbirds here are Western Emerald, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Crowned Woodnymph, Andean Emerald and White-necked Jacobin among others. Tanager feeders also attract common but cute species of the region. The surroundings of the lodge are good for seedeaters like Slate-coloured, Variable and Gray seedeaters, Large-billed Seedfinch is also possible here. The feeders allow you to modify and set flowers, perchs and flashes as you desire as long as other birders are not affected.

PURPLE-THROATED WOODSTAR
VELVET-PURPLE CORONET

Day 7. Montezuma high section. 2400 - 2000 masl

The Montezuma hill wich lies within the Tatamá NP, is often divided in 3 altitudinal sections. This day we will explore the best spots of the high part in the quest for many of the specialties with stops at 2 feeders set at 2200 and 2400 masl where is possible to see some extra hummingbirds as Collared Inca, Tourmaline Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Greenish Puffleg, Mountain Velvetbreast among others seen in the lower section.

 

The endemics list here contains Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Munchique Wood-wren and Gold-ringed Tanager, the endemic with the most restricted range in Colombia and an iconic bird of the country.

Other specialties here are (NE) Tanager Finch, (NE) Black Solitaire, (NE) Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, (NE Orange-breasted Fruiteater, and (NE) Beautiful Jay.  We will look for the best locations acording to the light and visibility, the guide will lead you to natural corridors where mix flocks use to move in their search of food.

Depending on the day's weather conditions and the requirements of the photographers we will evantually return to the main feeders for resting and continuing shooting. The plan here is completely flexible in order to satisfy all needs.

Day 8. Montezuma mid-lower section. 1800-1350 masl.

This day will start in the mid level, considered the most biodiverse of the three sections. Here we'll have chances to see the endemic Black-and-gold Tanager, Olivaceous Piha, (NE) Indigo Flowerpiercer, (NE) Purplish-mantled Tanager, (NE) Glistening-green Tanager, (NE) Dusky Chlorospingus, (NE) Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Crested Quetzal, Olive Finch, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Tricolored Brush-Finch, Yellow-collared and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias and Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant. Other interesting birds are Barred Hawk, Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, and some interesting antbirds as (NE) Bicolored Antvireo, Zeledon's Antbird, (E) Parker's Antbird, Slaty, Rufous-rumped and Yellow-breasted Antwrens.

 

As the day before we can dedicate time for remaining targets or specific photographic plans. Night at Montezuma lodge.

ENDEMIC GOLD-RINGED TANAGER
ENDEMIC CHESTNUT-BELLIED FLOWERPIERCER
ORANGE-BREASTED FRUITEATER

Day 9. Montezuma - Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

This morning we will spend some few hours birding in the lower section or feeders. Then we'll drive to Otún-Quimbaya FFS (Driving time 4 hours) with some road stops where we will attempt to find Torrent Ducks along the Otun river. Once arrived we'll spend the rest of the afternoon birding around the lodge which is surrounded by a pristine subandean forest with a big open garden and short trees that create a very good environment for photographing birds as the Endemic Cauca Guan, the scarce Red-ruffed Fruitcrow plus some colorful tanagers as Blue-necked, Bay-headed and Beryl-spangled tanagers. Hummingbirds of interest include (NE) Western Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Bronzy and Collared Incas and the superb Green-fronted Lancebill.

At night there are chances to see the (NE) Colombian Screech-owl and the more common Tropical Screech-owl and Mottled Owl. Night at Otún lodge.

Day 10. Otún-Quimbaya FFS.

Otún-Quimbaya is another famous location with a long tradition promoting birding through a community-based tourism strategy led by the Yarumo Blanco Community Association.

It's also the best place for some restricted birds like the endemics Cauca Guan, Crested Ant-tanager, Stile's Tapaculo and Multicolored Tanager. Other specialties here include: (E) Grayish Piculet, (NE) Moustached and Hooded Antpitta, (NE) Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Torrent Duck, White-capped Tanager, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Wattled Guan, Rusty-winged Barbtail, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Black-banded Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Treehunter, Bronze-olive Pygmy-tyrant, Black-billed Peppershrike, Golden-winged and Cerulean Warblers, Cerulean Warbles and Whiskered Wren among others. Biridng here is easy with a flat unpaved road which has good spots for photography where we will spend mostly of the day. 

In the afternoon we can spend more time around the lodge or visiting nearby spots for remaining specialties. 

Night at Otún lodge.

RED-RUFFED FRUITCROW

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$5780

14
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