Colombian specialties mega tour. A journey to the best of the Colombian Andes

Actualizado: 5 de jul de 2018

In this post I'll share with you a brief visual report of our 24 days' birding trip to the best spots for birding in the Colombian Andes with an extension to the Caribbean Coast of the country and to the Santa Marta mountains, home of the highest concentration of endemics in the continent!

About the company: this trip was designed by the alliance between Colombia Wild Birding Tours and The Andean Birder. Logistics were runned mostly by the #TheAndeanBirder. For more information about our available trips please visit our home page

The participants: Lisl van Deventer and Pieter Vrey (Southafrica) Tour leader: Johnnier Arango. Logistic support: Ernest Leupin

Pieter and Ernest exploring the beautiful scenery of the Chingaza National Park

Itinerary sumary:

Day 1. December 17th - 2017: Arrive to Bogotá international airport, drive to the Hummingbird observatory and #Chingaza National Park. Higher elevations of Bogotá, high-andean forest and páramo ecosystems. Night in Bogotá.

Day 2. December 18th - 2017: #Chingaza National Park. Higher elevations of Bogotá, high-andean forest and páramo ecosystem. Night in Bogotá.

Day 3. December 19th - 2017: #Monterredondo (Guayabetal, Cundinamarca). Subandean forest. East side of the eastern Andes. Night in Bogotá.

Day 4. December 20th - 2017: a) La Florida Park (Bogotá. Marsh). b) Jardín Encantado/Enchanted Garden (San Francisco, Cundinamarca. Hummingbird and tanager's feeders. West slope of eastern Andes). c) Drive to Cañón del Rio Claro reserve with stops in Puerto Triunfo and Puerto Nare (Antioquia department. Marshes and tropical dry forest patches) Night in Doradal, Antioquia.

Day 5. December 21st - 2017: a) #Cañón_del_Río_Claro reserve (San Luis, Antioquia. Tropical humid forest. Mid-Magdalena valley). b) Cueva del Cóndor/Oilbird cave (Doradal Antioquia. Tropical humid forest. Mid-Magdalena valley) Night in Doradal, Antioquia.

Day 6. December 22nd - 2017: San Luis y La Piñuela (Antioquia department. Tropical humid forest and tropical dry forest. Central Andes foothills). Drive to Medellín. Night in Medellín.

Day 7. December 23rd - 2017: a) La Romera (Medellín, Antioquia. Subandean forest of the Aburrá valley). b) Sinifaná creek's tropical dry forest (Venecia, Antioquia. West slope of central Andes). Night in Jardín (Antioquia department. East slope of western Andes)

Day 8. December 24th - 2017: Ventanas peak and Yellow-eared Parrot reserve (Jardín - Riosucio, Caldas, road. Subandean and cloud forests. East slope of western Andes) Night in Jardín.

Day 9. December 25th - 2017: a) Peñalisa (Venecia, Antioquia. Open pastures. Cauca river's valley). b) Los Termales road low section (Villamaría, Caldas. Subandean and andean forest). Night in Manizales (Caldas department. West slope of central Andes)

Day 10. December 26th - 2017: Páramo del Ruiz (Los Nevados National Park. West slope of central Andes. Páramo and elfin and high-andean forests) Night in Manizales.

Day 11. December 27th - 2017: #Río_Blanco reserve (West slope of central Andes. Subandean and andean forests) Night in Manizales.

Day 12. December 28th - 2017: Cortaderal (Santa Rosa de Cabal, Risarada. West slope of central Andes on the edge of Los Nevados National Park. High andean forest). Night in #Otún_Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (West slope of central Andes. Subandean forest)

Day 13. December 29th - 2017: Otún-Quimbaya FFS (West slope of central Andes. Subandean forest). Night in #Otún_Quimbaya lodge.

Day 14. December 30th - 2017: a) Apía (Risaralda department. East slope of western Andes. Subandean forest, shade-grown coffee plantantions). b) Montezuma, mid-low section (Tatamá National Park, Risaralda department. West slope of western Andes. Subandean and cloud forest). Night in #Montezuma ecolodge.

Day 15. December 31st - 2017: #Montezuma, high and middle section. Night in Montezuma ecolodge.

Happy new year 2018!

Day 16. January 1st - 2018: a) Montezuma low section. b) Drive to El Queremal (Dagua, Valle del Cauca. West slope of Western Andes) Night in El Queremal.

Day 17. January 2nd - 2018: Low #Anchicayá canyon (Dagua and Buenaventura, Valle del Cauca. West slope of western Andes on the edge of Los Farallones National Park. Tropical humid forest) Night in El Queremal.

Day 18. January 3rd - 2018: Low and mid #Anchicayá canyon. Night in El Queremal.

Day 19. January 4th - 2018: a) High Anchicayá (Subandean forest). b) #Finca_Alejandría and #Km_18 forest (Subandean and cloud forest. Cali, Valle del Cauca) drive to Cali's international airport. Flight to Barranquilla. Night in Barranquilla.

Caribben coast and Santa Marta mountains leg

Day 20. January 5th - 2018: a) #Salamanca National Park (Barranquilla and Ciénaga, Magdalena department. Mangrooves, swamps, dry forest) b) Las Gaviotas (Dibulla, Guajira department. Tropical humid and dry forest) Night in #Camarones (Guajira department)

Day 21. January 6th - 2018: #Los_Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (Guajira department. Desert, arid and semi-arid vegetation, shore habitat). Drive to #Minca (Magdalena department. West slope of the Santa Marta mountains. Subandean forest). Night in Minca outskirts.

Day 22. January 7th - 2018: Minca to #El_Dorado reserve (Subandean forest, west slope of Santa Marta mountains). Night in El Dorado reserve. This is one of the top reserves of the Proaves foundation which protects a big area of forest where over 20 species of Santa Marta endemics have their home.

Day 23. January 8th - 2018: a) San Lorenzo ridge and El Dorado reserve. b) El Dorado to Minca. Night in Minca.

Day 24. January 9th - 2018: Minca low area (Tropical dry forest). Drive to Santa Marta airport. End of the tour.



Chingaza scenery. The Central Andes of Colombia are home to the most extensive páramo areas of the world.

Andean Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium jardini) in Chingaza NP

The Black-headed Hemispingus is an un common bird of the high andean forests in the Andes from north Peru to Colombia

Puya vegetationn in Chingaza

The sedimentary geologic formations in Chingaza were one of the most interesting in the trip

Black-and-chestnut eagle (Spizaetus isidori), an endangered eagle of the andean mountains. Monterredondo Cundinamarca

Endemic Bogota Rail (Rallus semiplumbeus). This endangered rail is restricted to the swamps of the Bogota plateau which are highly endangered by the constant advance of the city to natural areas. This one was seen in La Florida park.

Eastern meadowlark (Sturnella magna). La Florida park, Bogota

The endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanifrons) is one of the most assiduos visitors to Enchanted Garden located on the west slope of the Eastern Andes

Rufous-tailed hummingbird. Enchanted Garden

The pristine clear water of the Rio Claro river in the Mid-Magdalena valley, which flows on a marble and limestone canyon, was one of the most beautiful scenery of the whole trip

Endemic White-mantled barbet (Capito hypoleucos). This colombian endemic is only found in the humid forests and semi open areas of the Mid-Magdalena region.

Pieter in the entrance to the Oilbird Cave near Rio Claro reserve

White-tailed trogon (Trogon chionurus). Rio Claro Canyon reserve

Volcanic rocks witness the geologic past of the region

The endemic Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) is the top bird in the Ventanas peak in Jardín Antioquia. This species was once found in Ecuador an Colombia, but deforestation in the Ecuadorian Andes has limited its range to Colombia only. Several conservation organizations have worked for preserving the habitat of this parrot.

This is how a Chestnut-naped Antpitta (Grallaria nuchalis) looks in the wild. Antpittas are always tricky birds wich do not show often. Yellow-eared Parrot reserve, Jardín Antioquia

Pieter photographing the highlands of the Central Andes in Los Nevados National Park

A close view of La Olleta inactive crater in Nevado del Ruiz stratovolcano

Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan (Andigena hypoglauca). Santa Rosa de Cabal near Los Nevados National Park

Pano view of the forest and the Montezuma hill in Tatamá National Park

Lemon-browed Flycatcher's 'cluster' (Conopias cinchoneti). Montezuma

Anchicaya canyon, west slope of Western Andes

Chocó endemic Golden-chested Tanager (Bangsia rotschildi) Anchicaya canyon

Chocó endemic Scarlet-and-white tanager (Chrysothlypis salmoni). The Anchicaya canyon is home of several tanager species only found in this side of the country.

Lita woodpecker (Piculus litae) is one of the specialties of the Chocó foothills in western Ecuador and Colombia. Anchicaya canyon

Chocó endemic Toucan barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus). The high Anchicaya canyon is the best area in Colombia for finiding this elusive species.

Birding in the mangroove of Salamanca National Park. Colombian caribbean coast

El Rey de la Guajira (The king of la Guajira), Vermilion cardinal

Orinoco Saltator (Saltator orenocensis) is a bird restricted to Venezuela and Northeast Colombia. This pair were seen in the shruby vegetation of the Guajira desert

Birding in the Guajira's scrub dryland

Camarones beach at Los Flamencos Sanctuary

Endemic Santa Marta brush-finch (Atlapetes melanocephalus) this is maybe the most common Santa Marta endemic, is found above the 1500 masl level up to the highlands.

The endemic Black-backed thornbill (Ramphomicron dorsale. Female in this pic), is an endangered hummingbird only present in the Santa Marta mountains.

Endemic Santa Marta Warbler (Basileuterus basilicus) in San Lorenzo ridge.

A view over the Santa Marta mountains, the talles coastal mountains of the earth.

Forest in El Dorado reserve. The highest concentration of endemics in the country is found here.

Yes! we did look exhausted after 24 continuous birding days. 703 species recorded and thousand of kilometers through the most beautiful landscapes of the country, were part of this adventure! From right to left: Ernest, Lisl, Pieter and Johnnier

Mobile phone: +57-316 416760

Whatsapp: +57-312 7706889