DAY 1: ARRIVAL BOGOTA TO CALI
Welcome to Colombia! We start off our Colombia birding tour at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá. From here, we hop on a local flight to Cali, which is located in the Cauca Valley. Upon our arrival, we will visit the Chicoral region at 1,800 m of elevation. There we will have the chance to see Colombian Chachalaca, Uniform Antshrike, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Crested Quetzal and Golden-winged Manakin, among other birds.
DAY 2: ANCHICAYA
At the Pacific slope of the western Andes, the Old Buenaventura Road crosses the forested area of Anchicaya at an elevation of 750 m. This area is influenced by the Choco region with a great chance to see some Choco specialties. While birding the forested roadsides, we will watch and listen for Choco Toucan, Zeledon’s Antbird, Golden-chested Tanager and Scarlet-browed Tanager.
DAY 3: FINCA ALEJANDRIA
One hour away from Cali on the eastern slope of the Western Andes, the San Antonio Forest sits at an altitude of 2,100 m. It is a great place to find nice Andean birds such as Scaled Fruiteater, Crested Quetzal and Sickle-winged Guan. We can also find other interesting birds in the feeders at Finca Alejandria. Here, it is possible to see the endemic Multicolored Tanager and several hummingbirds. Among them are the regional endemic Blue-headed Sapphire, Tourmaline Sunangel and Buff-tailed Coronet.
In the afternoon, we will drive to the Sonso Lagoon in Buga. A number of aquatic birds can be observed in this wetland. We hope to see Horned Screamer, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Masked Duck, Red-capped Cardinal and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. The vegetation around the lagoon is the perfect habitat for the endemic Apical Flycatcher. Little Cuckoo, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher and the regional endemic Spectacled Parrotlet are also birds we will search for today.
DAY 4: MONTEZUMA MOUNTAIN
The Montezuma Mountain has a strong Choco region influence, making it one of the most biologically diverse places on our Colombia birding tour. This combination between the Pacific and the Western Andes offers many national and regional endemics. We will travel approximately 4 hours to get there, birding along the way. Birding stops will give us the chance to find the endemic Turquoise Dacnis. In Montezuma, we will enjoy the hummingbird feeders. Violet-tailed Hummingbird, Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, White-tailed Hillstar and Purple-bibbed Whitetip can be seen here.
DAY 5: MONTEZUMA MOUNTAIN
This will be a full day of birding in Montezuma. We will start very early, and drive all the way to the top of the mountain. While taking in the beautiful sunrise, we will start our day off with two endemic birds, the Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer and Munchique Wood-Wren. We will continue our way down the road in search of the endemics Gold-ringed Tanager, Black-and-gold Tanager and Golden-breasted Fruiteater.
DAY 6: OTUN QUIMBAYA
After five days in the Western Andes, we continue our Colombia birding tour into the central range. Otun Quimbaya is located at the foothill of the volcanic complex Ruiz-Tolima (Los Nevados National Park) at 1,900 m. This protected area is the best place to look for the Cauca Guan. This rare cracid is an endemic and endangered species, once believed to be extinct until this healthy population was recently rediscovered. Also, the largest Neotropical passerine, the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, is found here with some ease. We will also look for the endemic Chestnut Wood-Quail and Stiles’s Tapaculo. Regional endemics such as Greenish Puffleg, Streak-capped Treehunter, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, and Chestnut-breasted Wren, also will be highlights of our day.
DAY 7: RIO BLANCO RESERVE
The charm of this reserve lies in the possibility it offers to see several different species of antpittas up close. Here, Chestnut-crowned, Bicolored, Slate-crowned and the endemic Brown-banded antpittas are featured here. They are habituated to receive food from the local guide, luring them outside of the thick understory. At the productive feeders, it is possible to see White-bellied Woodstar, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, and Slaty Brushfinch, among others. On the reserve’s trails, we will focus on searching for Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Dusky Piha, Black-collared (Quindio) Jay, Golden-headed Quetzal and Masked Saltator, to name a few.
DAY 8: LOS NEVADOS NATIONAL PARK
With another early start this morning we will catch the first rays of the sun in the cloud and elfin forests along the way to Los Nevados National Park. Here we will look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet, as well as Andean Lapwing, Andean Teal, Golden-crowned Tanager, and Black-backed Bush Tanager. At the entrance of the national park at 4,100 m, we will look for the highlight of this region - the impressive Buffy Helmetcrest. This large, Andean hummer is endemic with a very restricted range. We can also find White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Tawny Antpitta, Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. If we are very lucky, we may an Andean Condor soaring overhead.
In the afternoon, we will spend time at the Termales del Ruiz Hotel and its beautiful surroundings. At the hummingbird feeders, we hope to see Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Mountain Avocetbill, Black-thighed Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam and Great Sapphirewing.
DAY 9: MIDDLE MAGDALENA VALLEY
It is time to head down the eastern Andean slope towards the middle Magdalena Valley. We will drive along the old road to Libano, making some stops to look for some special birds. This is a good place to search for Yellow-eared Parrot, Yellow-headed Brushfinch and Crested Ant-Tanager. As we arrive in Libano, we have a chance for the endemic Tolima Dove and Tolima Blossomcrown.
DAY 10: GUARINOCITO LAKE
Today we will visit Guarinocito Lake, where we will have another opportunity to spot some aquatic birds that we have not yet seen. Here we scan the lake and its scrubby edge for Pied Water-Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Yellow-chinned Spinetail and Black-capped Donacobius. However, the jewel of this lake is the Northern Screamer.
DAY 11: BELLAVISTA RESERVE
The Bellavista Reserve is situated in a lowland wet forest. It is a great place to see other Colombian endemics such as White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Sooty Ant-Tanager, Beautiful Woodpecker and Velvet-fronted Euphonia. We can also find Yellow-backed Tanager, Black-faced Dacnis and White-bibbed Manakin, among others.
DAY 12: JARDIN ENCANTADO & DEPARTURE
On the way to Bogota, we will visit a farm with hummingbird feeders. Among its most prominent visitors is the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird. Other visitors we hope to see are the Shining-green Hummingbird, Gorgeted Woodstar, Red-billed and Short-tailed emeralds, Lazuline Sabrewing and another fifteen hummingbird species. Around the farm we also have the chance to find the Ash-browed Spinetail, Black-backed Grosbeak and Gray-throated Warbler. In the afternoon we will drive to Bogotá and transfer to the airport.
Our Colombia birding tour concludes in Bogota.