Colombia has more species of birds than any other country - a staggering 1930+ species are to be found within the confines of this incredible nation; of which, at least 89 are endemic. This huge diversity of species results from the equally diverse range of habitats: three Andean Cordilleras (Western, Central and Eastern Andes), two inter-Andean valleys (the Cauca and Magdalena Valleys), the lowland forests of the Amazon and Orinoco regions, the isolated snow-capped Santa Marta Mountains, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, deserts and lakes, and the rich wet forests of the Chocó all help to make it one of the most exciting countries to bird on earth!
Our series of northern Andes tours focus on the bulk of endemics that Colombia has to offer; working our way through the Central and Eastern Andean ranges and both the Magadalena and Cauca Valleys, as well as the dry Guajira desert and the impressive Santa Marta Mountains.
Bogota and the Upper Magdalena Valley takes us to the Eastern Andes sites of Chingaza, Guasca, Sumapaz and Chicaque for Flame-winged Parakeet, Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Apolinar's Wren, Bogota Rail and Moustached Brushfinch. We next move west, visiting the hummingbird paradise of Jardin Encatado en route to Mariquita. The dry forest sites are home to Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Apical Flycatcher and Tolima Dove, while the higher cloud forests of Clarito Botero hose Yellow-headed Brsuhfinch and Crested Ant Tanager. A quick side stop to Canon Combeima should deliver Tolima Blossomcrown, before we continue to Loros Andinos for the rarely seen Fuertes's Parrot. Finally, we have a day around Otun-Quimbaya to find the formerly presumed extinct Cauca Guan and possibly Multicolored Tanager.
Central and Western Andes tour starts off at the antpitta haven of Rio Blanco near Manizales where up to 5 species may be seen, including the endemic Brown-banded and rarely seen Bicolored. Our next morning see us climbing high into the elfin forest and paramo grasslands of Los Nevados in search of Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Buffy Helmetcrest and a range of high altitude near endemics. We spend an afternoon around the gorgeous town of Jardin watching a lek of Andean Cock-of-the-rock. The following morening we shall head high above Jardin to the Loro Orejiamarillo reserve to find Yellow-eared Parrot and Tanager Finch before making our way to the Choco cloud forests of Cerro Montezuma. The forests bristle with activity, and will hopefully give up Gold-ringed Tanager, Munchique Wood Wren, Black-and-gold Tanager and chances for Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer. As we head north east towards Medellin, we shall stop in at Santa Cecilia for Baudo Guan and spend a morning near Apia searching for Tatama Tapaculo, Parker's Antbird and Turquoise Dacnis. Our final afternoon will be spent near Bolombolo looking for some dry forest speices such as the newly described Antioquia Wren, Apical Flycatcher and Greyish Piculet.
Medellin and Magdalena Valley tour sets off with a leisurely walk in La Romera park for Stiles's Tapaculo, Red-bellied Grackle and Yellow-headed Manakin before making a quick stop to find the rediscovered Antioquia Brushfinch en route to Rio Claro. The lowland humid forests of the Rio Claro Canyon Park are one of the best birding site sin Colombia and host to an accessible Oilbird cave, Beautiful Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle Tyrant and Sooty Ant Tanager. Staying within the lush, lowland forests, we move slightly north to El Paujil - home of the rare Blue-billed Curassow. While by no means guaranteed, we stand an excellent chance of seeing this once mythical species. Our final site of this tour is the endemic rich Reinita Azul near Bucaramanga. The gardens and trails are home to the striking Black Inca, Gorgeted Wood Quail, Chestnut-bellied and Indogo-capped Hummingbirds, Parker's Antbird, Magadalena Tapaculo and Moutached Brushfinch. We will also spend time birding the eastern Andes near Bucaramanga for Turquoise Dacnis and Niceforo's Wren, as well as the montane oak forests towards the Venezuelan border to find Colombian Mountain Grackle and Rusty-faced Parrot.
Our endemics-laden Santa Marta extension takes us to the Santa Marta Mountains and the Guajira Peninsula on the northern coast of Colombia. The Santa Marta massif is an isolated mountain range and its snow-capped peaks are the highest coastal mountains in the world. It is also one of the most endemic-rich regions of South America, hosting nearly 50 endemic and regional specialities plus numerous endemic subspecies (several of which, upon further taxonomic review, are likely to be elevated to full species status in the future).
Our series of southern Andes tours focus on the rarely visited southern Andes of Colombia.
The Best of the South Western Andes starts in the beautiful city of Santiago de Cali. We move up and out of the Valle de Cauca through the Farellones de Cali in search of Chestnut Wood Quail and both Purplish-mantled and Multicolored Tanagers. We then make our way slowly down the Old Buenaventura Road towards Anchicaya filtering through numerous lowland Choco endemics. From the Pacific coastal city of Buenaventura, we visit San Cipriano where a short 'bruja' or platofrm train ride will get us up to the forest trails to find Five-colored Barbet, Sapayoa and Pacific Flatbill. Having so far taken in a fascinating traverse of the south western Andes, we shall turn around and bird another traverse taking us to Bosque Yotoco for Cauca Guan and onwards to Buga and Laguna del Sonso. We have a little time to find the an isolated population of Horned Screamer before making our way back to Cali where the tour will conclude.
The Endemics and Foothill Specialities tour takes us far to the south of Cali, where few birders have been. Indeed, even as recently as 2014 – insurgents made it impossible to deviate off Ruta 25 en route to Ecuador. Nowadays, we are able to freely explore the incredible Andean ridges from montane cloud forests all the way to the foothills along seemingly impossible road traverses. After leaving Popyan behind, we head to El Encanto - which takes us through an amazing transect of habitats and scenery. El Encanto plays host to the scarce Tolima Dove, Dusky-headed Brushfinch, Tolima Blossomcrown, East Andean Antbird, Velvet-fronted Euphonia and Chestnut Wood Quail. We then move up to the Mocoa area, birding a number of fincas and virgin forests for such beauties as Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Coppery-chested Jacamar, Ecuadorian Piedtail and Red-bellied Grackle to name but a few of >600 possible speces recorded here! After a satisfying few days at Macoa, we shall make our way up the winding road to the mountain town of Pasto, a route known locally as La Trampolina de la Muerte. We have one more day to venture to Bordoncillo, one of only three sites for the critically endangered Chestnut-bellied Cotinga.
Our Highlights birding tour is a shorter version of our Andean endemics tour, yet still covers all three Andean ranges and both inter-Andean valleys in search of Colombia’s numerous endemics and regional avian specialties. We have handpicked the choice sites of our longer Andean Endemics tour, resulting in slightly less travel time and more birding time, culminating in an overall less intensive tour. We will be searching for a remarkable collection of birds, combined with spectacular scenery and pleasant lodges situated within prime birding areas. For the more adventurous birder, we have developed an itinerary allowing access to more than 1 300 of Colombia’s birds!
On our ground-breaking 1 000 Birds Mega tour, we expect to encounter 1 000+ species in less than a month! This fabulous avian adventure includes all sites covered by our Andean Endemics tour, as well as spending time in the nation’s exceptional lowland rainforests. We also explore the famed Choco rainforest, which harbours such spectacular species as Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Streak-chested Antpitta, Golden-chested and Blue-whiskered Tanager to name just a handful of possibilities. The other major Colombia birding addition to this itinerary is the Mitu region of Amazonian Colombia, where we will spend three fabulous days searching for another 200 species not offered on our other Colombian tours. Red-fan Parrot, Fiery Topaz, Pompadour and Purple-breasted Cotinga, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock, Orinoco Piculet, Chestnut-crested Antbird and Brown-banded Puffbird are but some of the spectacular birds that await us! This Colombia birding tour has proved to be a monumental New World birding experience, and we invite you to join us for the most comprehensive birding adventure of Colombia ever offered and to set a new record for most bird species seen on a tour!
Part of our continuing effort to do this magnificent country justice, our new Remote birding tour takes us into some seldom-explored areas in search of a whole host of rare, special and localised species. Targets are too many to mention but include such gems as Baudo Guan, Fuertes’s Parrot, Baudo Oropendola, Bicolored, Thicket, Hooded, White-bellied and Streak-chested Antpitta, recently described Perija Tapaculo, Turquoise Dacnis, Recurve-billed Bushbird, Multicolored Tanager, White-mantled Barbet, Gorgeted Wood Quail, Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Antioquia Bristle Tyrant, Yellow-green Bush Tanager (Yellow-green Chlorospingus), Indigo-crowned and Lined Quail-Doves, Niceforo’s Wren, Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, Esmeraldas and Magdalena Antbirds, Choco Tapaculo, Choco Brushfinch, Perija Metaltail, Perija Thistletail and Perija Brushfinch.
Our endemics-laden tour of Northern Colombia takes us to the Santa Marta Mountains and the Guajira Peninsula on the northern coast of Colombia, as well as the recently explored Perija range on the Venezuelan border. The Santa Marta massif is an isolated mountain range and its snow-capped peaks are the highest coastal mountains in the world. It is also one of the most endemic-rich regions of South America, hosting nearly 50 endemics and regional specialities plus numerous endemic subspecies (several of which, upon further taxonomic review, are likely to be elevated to full species status in the future). We spend time at both low and high elevations of the Perija Range, birding near Valledupar before basing ourselves at the Chamicero Reserve. Purchased in 2014 after the discovery of good forest tracts on accessible land for the entire suite of Sierra de Perija endemics, including the yet-to-be-described Perija Tapaculo and another 35 subspecies that need further research. The local forms of Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, Emerald Toucanet, Rufous Spinetail and Rufous Antpitta are all proposed splits that require more conclusive documentation.
Colombia has a vast expanse of Amazonian rainforest habitat, and it is best accessed via the town of Mitu on our Mitu Extension. The town itself is a fabulous base to work from, with comfortable hotel accommodations in town (even air-conditioning!) and some of the most enjoyable local guides anywhere. The birding sites are easy to access and the birds are plentiful, with many near endemics, white sand specialists, terra firme specialists and many scarce species readily seen. With a total of 5 days to immerse ourselves in this prime birding area, we have more than enough time to visit all of the important birding areas.
Our Llanos extension gives us the opportunity to explore the little visited eastern plains of Colombia where we will search for several range restricted species including Pale-headed Jacamar, White-bearded Flycatcher and Orinoco Goose. We also hope to take in a whole plethora of waterbirds including stately Jabiru, charismatic Sunbittern and ungainly Horned Screamers. We will bird in the open seasonally flooded grasslands and gallery forest of the Llanos and will undertake jeep and boat safaris and night drives. This is a highly enjoyable addition to our Remote Colombia Tour.
Blog - Colombia Mega – A Quest for 1,000 Birds
Blog - Colombia’s Antpitta Feeders