Andes Birding Colombia

Andes Birding Colombia

Colombia is fascinating.  From the deep blue Pacific Ocean and the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea to the Andean mountain peaks rising to 18,700 feet and back down to the Amazon Basin; Colombia is stunning and a true adventure to explore. This trip focuses on birds and wildlife.

This trip starts with a few days in Bogotá and then we head to the high mountains of the eastern and central Andes and then back to the Bogotá Valley.  We will visit the world’s largest Paramo, with wondrous high altitude landscapes.  There are about 1,850 species of birds that travel through Colombia and 73 endemics.

Printable Bird List
(This is a checklist of the birds that we have seen on this trip)

  • Travel Dates: December 1 - 10, 2019 and every year, dates don't change
  • Group Size: 8 Travelers plus guides, spaces left for 2019 = 6
  • Trip Length: 10 days
  • Rates: Rate per person = $3,620 (based on double occupancy)
  • Rates include: Domestic transfers, lodging, breakfast, lunch, dinner, scheduled group tours, entrance fees and Allianz travel medical insurance.
  • Not included: International airfare, customs & immigration fees and visas, alcohol, trip cancellation insurance. 

Please note: This tour visits high-altitude locations in the Colombian Andes. 

Day 1 – Arrival in Bogotá 
Upon arrival at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, you will be met at the airport and it is about a 45 minute drive to the hotel located in the historic district of La Candelaria in downtown Bogota. 

Day 2 – Bogotá 
Today will be a chance to get to know the city of Bogotá.  There will be a historical walking tour of La Candelaria and the local neighborhood.  Bogotá is at an elevation of 8,300 feet and atop the mountain overlooking the city is the Monserrate church and mountain park at a summit of over 10,300 feet.  There is both a funicular and tramway that goes to the top, as well as a hiking trail.  Not only are views of the city fantastic from this location, but is also a great birding area for hummingbirds, raptors and mountains birds. The weather can vary magically from sunny to rainy many times a day and is not a surprise to see the fog coming down the mountain as well. Night at hotel in La Candelaria.  

Day 3 - La Vega
Located near the airport is Florida Park. This small natural area is a perfect spot to find the endemic Bogota​ ​Rail​. Other interesting species to be found include endemic Apolinar's​ ​Wren​, a fairly common bird of tall cattails. The endemic subspecies of the Yellow-hooded Blackbirds are normally present and conspicuous, but Noble Snipe and Subtropical Doradito are rather rare and more difficult to see. Small numbers of Spot-flanked Gallinule are usually present in open water and also to be seen is the Silvery-throated Spinetail and Rufous-browed Conebill, Band-tailed Seedeater, Lesser Scaup, Andean Siskin, Andean Teal, Black Flowerpiercer, as well as many other birds.  We will spend the morning at this park and in the afternoon starting heading up the mountains to the town of La Vega.  It is a 2-hour drive to the municipality of San Francisco where the Enchanted Garden is located.  The Enchanted Garden is a private residence located at an altitude of 5,000 feet. Some 300 hummingbirds can be seen at any moment coming to the 40 plus feeders present in the garden. 27 different hummingbird species have been recorded here including the unique and highly regarded Indigo-capped Hummingbird and both Red-billed and Short-tailed Emeralds. And there are other birds there besides hummingbirds. Lodging for the night will be near the town of La Vega. 

Day 4 - Honda 
Just up the road from La Vega is La Laguna el Tabacal and we will be spending the morning in this area for birding and later in the day head to the town of Honda; about a 2-hour drive.  Just outside of Honda is a wonderful lake and wetland and we will spend the afternoon and early evening boating and birding.  There are so many birds here that that is difficult to see and write them down fast enough without missing a few.  Honda is located in the beautiful Magdalena River Valley that divides the Eastern and the Central Andes Cordillera.  The area offers great birding along the river and slough habitats.  A few of our favorites:  Northern Screamer, Black-faced Dacnis, Sooty Ant-Tanager, White-mantled Barbet, White-bibbed Manakin and Black-capped Donacobius. Lodging will be at a hotel in Honda. 

Day 5 - Paramo del Ruiz
From Honda it is a 3-hour drive to the foothills of Los Nevados National Park at Paramo del Ruiz.  Termales del Ruiz is a hotel located at the highest point of the tour at around 11,480 feet with stunning views of the valleys and mountains of the paramo. The thermal pool for which the hotel is named is a steaming, hot, sulfurous delight, set behind the main hotel building, ideal for a truly relaxing experience after a day of birding. Páramo del Ruiz is a large expanse located within and surrounding Los Nevados. Eight volcanoes can be found within Los Nevados, including Nevado del Ruiz, looming 17,400 feet above sea level. There is a set of gardens that will attract 10 species of Hummingbirds that regularly come and visit the feeders set up in the main garden including the highly regarded Black-thighed Puffleg, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Buff-winged Starfrontlet and the Viridian Metaltail.  Night at hotel Termales del Ruiz.

Day 6 - Manizales
Today we will travel to higher elevations of Nevado del Ruiz National Park at near 13,000 feet in search for the dazzling and very localized Buffy Helmetcrest; a plump little hummingbird that feeds on a few species of flowering plants that bloom at different times of the year. The Buffy Helmetcrest has a population estimate of less than 1000 individuals, found almost entirely within Los Nevados and the surrounding area. Many other birds reside at the paramo life zone with a mix of unique species including Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Andean Condor, Paramo Seedeater, Noble Snipe and the Black Flowerpiercer. In the forest patches you’ll find the amazing Paramo Tapaculo, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Ash-colored Tapaculo, Andean Pygmy-owl and Mountain Avocetbill. In the afternoon we will drive about 2 hours to the city of Manizales, a coffee capital and epicenter of cultural activities in Colombia. Lodging for the night will be just outside the city in an area of great birding. 

Day 7 - Otún Quimbaya
It is a 1-hour drive to Santa Rosa de Cabal which is the municipality in Colombia with the highest sighting records of the critically endangered Fuertes's Parrot, also known as the Indigo-winged Parrot. Other great birds to come and see here include Mountain Avocetbill, Grey-breasted Mountain Toucan, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Ocellated Tapaculo, Hooded-Mountain Tanager, Red-crested Cotinga, Golden-plumed Parakeet and the Speckled-faced Parrot. After lunch, it is 1.5 hours to reach the beautiful Otun Quimbaya Nature Reserve, where birding happens mostly along a dirt road in front of the reserve’s main entrance.  You can bird around the small lodge exploring the excellent network of trails looking out for such marvelous species like Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Golden-plumed Parakeet, White-throated Quail-Dove, Grass-green and Blue-winged Tanager, White-throated Screech-Owl, Rufous-banded Owl, and Stygian Owl. Night at house along the Otún River.

Day 8 - Otún Quimbaya
Otun Quimbaya is well-known as the best site for the endemic, endangered and now very local Cauca Guan, as well as being a great site for Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Torrent Duck, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Stiles’s Tapaculo and Grayish Piculet. The birding is along fairly flat trails and a road. The understory is pretty navigable and open, making this a great place to look for Antpittas, Wood-Quails, the Colombia Screech-Owl, Wattled Guans, Black-billed Peppershrike, Whiskered Wren among others. Our favorite birds are the White-capped Dipper and the Andean-Cock-of the-Rock.  Night at house along the Otún River.

Day 9 - Bogotá
After some morning birding along the river and reserve, we will begin our travel back to Bogota. There is some good birding to be done along the way and species include the Blue-naped Chlorophonia, White-naped Brush-Finch, Crimson-backed Tanager and Rufous-crested Tanager. It is a 45-minute drive to the Pereira Airport where we will be taking a 1-hour flight back to Bogotá in the afternoon.  Night at a hotel in the Candelaria. 

Day 10 – Transport to the airport
Today is "fly-day" and you will be shuttled back to the Bogota airport for your flight home.

Please note: The lodging and itinerary described is always our first choice based on availability.  If we must book with our second choice, the lodging type and itinerary is comparable.

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