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The Mid-Magdalena Valley of Colombia

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+57 3164196760

[email protected]

7 days
Availability : All year
Bogotá DC
Medellín
Max People : 8

This tour explores the best birding sites in one of the most important regions of Colombia in terms of endemism, the Mid-Magdalena Valley. This region located in the middle section of the Magdalena river basin and between the Eastern and Central Cordilleras is an emporium of very high biodiversity. Here two ecosystems of great importance converge such as the tropical dry forest and the tropical humid forest.

This tour is the perfect complement for our Andes Essentials birding trip with which it connects in Medellín and continues south. It also connects very well with the Caribbean Coast and Santa Marta Mountains birding trip allowing the birder to get an impressive list of around 500 species.

For a hardcore birding experience, connect part of this tour with the Northeast Colombia birding tour which includes the famous Perijá mountains.

Tour Details

Welcome to the birdiest country: Colombia!

This tour has been specifically designed for a very precise birding experience in Colombia. It starts in Bogotá with a taste of the Bogotá specialties and then heads to the lowlands. The Mid-Magdalena Valley of Colombia is home to a group of endemics not found anywhere else in the country and this tour explores the best localities for them.

Departure & Return Location

Bogotá DC. El Dorado international airport – Medellín. José María Cordoba international airport

Price Includes

  • Expert birding bilingual tour guide
  • Hotel accomodation from day 0 to day 7
  • 1 domestic flight upon request: Medellín-Bogotá for international connections.
  • Terrestrial transportation: Van/mini bus for the highway transportation and 4 WD for the Blue-billed Curassow reserve.
  • Entrance fees to parks, farms and reserves
  • 3 complete meals, water, snacks and other freebies

Price Excludes

  • Tips
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Mini bar expenses
  • Laundry and/or room service
  • Other items not mentioned above
What to Expect

The Mid-Magdalena Valley is located between two of the major Cordilleras of Colombia and is less than 100 meters high in the lowest sections, but in the mountains toward the Central Andes will reach around 800 meters. Warm weather it’s going to be the dominant factor on this tour. Places like the Blue-billed Curassow reserve are humid too, and this means a very high concentration of birds. The scenery of the crystal-clear Río Claro river is always a perfect companion for the great birding experience there.

  • Warm temperatures and some rains even in the dry season.
  • Over 400 especies of birds for your list.
  • Tropical Dry forest and Tropical Humid forest ecosystems.
  • Crystal-clear waters of the Río Claro river and amazing views of the beautiful marble and limestone canyon of the Río Claro canyon.
  • A fully customizable trip that can be extended as far as you want.
  • This tour works perfectly as an extension of any of our other trips or as a sole experience.
Itinerary

Day 0 Arrive to Bogotá

Upon arrival in Bogota, our guide will pick you up at the airport and will drive you to the hotel. We will have a welcome dinner and will go through the most relevant information on the trip.

Night in Bogotá. 2600 m. 15°C

Day 1Chingaza NP - Hummingbird Observatory

Today we rise early and head out towards the small town of la Calera. Ten kilometers from la Calera Elfin forest and Paramo habitat begins and so does the birding. Chingaza National Park is one of the two high-Andean national parks close to Bogotá and a great place for starting this trip. Here we will look for Páramo and elfin forest’s specialists and the in the middle afternoon we will head to the Hummingbird Observatory, a private residence in the mountains above the small town of La Calera, which years ago was transformed into one of the best places for hummingbird observation of Bogotá.

Night in Bogotá. 2660 m. 15°C

Target species

  • (E) Brown-breasted Parakeet
  • (E) Silvery-throated Spinetail
  • (E) Greenbearded Helmetcrest
  • (E) Silvery-throated Spinetail
  • (E) Muisca Antpitta (recent splif from Rufous Antpitta)
  • (NE) Blue-throated Starfrontlet
  • (NE) Matorral/Pale-bellied Tapaculo
  • (NE) Golden-fronted Whitestart
  • (NE) Coopery-bellied Puffleg
  • (NE) Rufous-browed Conebill
  • Purple-backed Thornbill
  • Paramo Seedeater
  • Plush-capped Finch
  • Smoky Bush-Tyrant
  • Black-billed Mountain-toucan
  • Andean Pygmy-Owl
  • Black-headed Hemispingus
  • Black-tailed and green Tailed Trainbearers
  • Glowing Puffleg
  • Sword-billed hummingbird
  • Great Sapphirewing
  • (NE) Longuemare’s Sunangel

Day 2La Florida Park - Enchanted Garden

La Florida Park, located within the city, is a wetland heavily impacted by development but with a conservation effort that allows visitors to get a nice experience watching aquatic and marsh birds. The small remaining natural area is a good spot to find the endemic Bogota Rail and other specialties. Here we will spend part of the morning and after this, we’ll head to the Enchanted Garden,

Target species

  • (E) Bogota Rail
  • (E) Silvery-throated Spinetail
  • Spot-flanked Gallinule
  • Yellow-hooded Blackbird (Bogota subspecies)
  • Lesser Scaup
  • (Ne) Rufous-browed Conebill
  • Andean Siskin
  • Band-tailed Seedeater

Enchanted Garden

This is another private residence located in the small town of San Francisco which enjoys the warm temperature typical of the middle part of the western side of the eastern Cordillera. This is considered the first place in Colombia with hummingbird feeders and to date, it has more than 40 of them which attracts a wide diversity of these magical birds.

Target species

  •  (E) Indigo-capped Hummingbird
  • Gorgeted Woodstar
  • Ruby-topaz Hummingbird
  • (NE) Red-billed Emerald
  • Short-tailed Emerald
  • Black-throated Mango
  • White-vented Plumeleteer
  • Sparkling Violetear
  • Brown Violetear
  • Green Hermit 

After the hummingbird’s show, we will drive back to Bogotá.

Night in Bogotá. 2660 m. 15°C

Day 3Tabacal Lagoon - Drive to Blue-billed Curassow reserve

The Tabacal Lagoon is a small public reserve located 2 hours from Bogotá and on the way to the Blue-billed Curassow reserve. It’s located on the western slope of the Eastern Andes just below the elevation of the Enchanted Garden we previously visited (1300 m) which belongs to the big Magdalena basin. This reserve protects a very good patch of premontane forest in the transition to tropical dry forest. We will walk the inner and outer trails in search of the specialties and other common birds of this region.

Target species

  • (E) Velvet-fronted Euphonia
  • Rosy-thrush tanager
  • Little Cuckoo
  • Red-billed Scythebill
  • Blue-lored Antbird
  • Black-hawk Eagle
  • Speckle-breasted (Colombian) Wren
  • Rusty-breasted Antpitta
  • Spectacled Parrotlet
  • White-bearded Manakin
  • Ruddy Quail-dove
  • Least Grebe
  • Ash-browed Spinetail
  • White-throated Crake
  • Stripe-breasted Spinetail

After a full morning at the Tabacal Lagoon, we will head to the Blue-billed Curassow reserve (5 hrs) with some stops on the way where we will be able to get the near-endemic Northern Screamer and other specialties.

Night in Blue-billed Curassow reserve lodge

 

Day 4Blue-billed Curassow reserve

This Proaves reserve is one of the most famous birding hotspots of the Mid-Magdalena valley of Colombia. The reserve protects more than a thousand hectares of the last fragments of humid tropical forests in the region. The main target here is undoubtedly the endemic and critically endangered Blue-billed Curassow which is quite easy to see around the lodge as the birds are habituated to the human presence. There are different trails in the reserve and most of them are easy to walk. Two watching towers and hummingbird feeders allow getting extra views of the forest and the birds flying over it.

Night in Blue-billed Curassow lodge. 286 m. 26°C

Target species

  • (E) Blue-billed Curassow
  • (E) Beautiful Woodpecker
  • (E) Sooty Ant-tanager
  • (E) White-Mantled Barbet
  • (E) Colombian Chachalaca
  • (NE) Black-billed Flycatcher
  • (NE) Black Antshrike
  • (NE) Saffron-headed Parrot
  • Black-tailed trogon
  • Bare-crowned Antbird
  • Bicolored Antbird
  • Blue-and-yellow Macaw
  • Citron-throated Toucan
  • Great Potoo
  • Vermiculated Screech-owl
  • Crested, Mottled, and Spectacled Owls
  • Black-faced Antthrush
  • Northern-barred Woodcreeper
  • Blue cotinga
  • Speckled Mourner (rare)
  • Slate-throated Gnatcatcher
  • (NE) Scarletbrowed Tanager
  • Yellow-backed Tanager
  • American Pygmy Kingfisher
  • (NE) Southern Bentbill
  • Buff-fronted and Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaners
  • Ruby-topaz Hummingbird
  • (NE)cRed-billed Emerald
  • Shining-green Hummingbird
  • Long-billed Starthroat

Day 5Blue-billed Curassow reserve - Río Claro

This morning we’ll work on our remaining targets and after lunch, we’ll head to the Río Claro reserve located 4 hours away. On the way, we’ll make some stops for finding extra birds in marshes and forest fragments. 

Night in Río Claro reserve. 26°C. 800 m

Target species

  • Same as previous day, plus
  • Black-crested Antshrike
  • Yellow-chinned Spinetail
  • Northern White-fringed Antwren
  • Russet-throated Puffbird
  • Black-capped Donacobius
  • White-headed Marsh-tyrant

 

Day 6Río Claro reserve

The Río Claro reserve is another famous hotspot in the Mid-Magdalena Valley. This private reserve is also a popular destination for nature-watching people who go there for the impressive geologic formations and the beautifulness of the crystal-clear Río Claro river. The reserve protects one of the most important fragments of karstic forests of Colombia which is a special type of limestone habitat with very particular flora and fauna.

Here we will look for our remaining regional endemics and other local specialties.

Night in Río Claro reserve. 26°C. 800 m

Target species

  • (E) Antioquia Bristle-tyrant
  • (E) White-mantled Barbet
  • (E) Beautiful Woodpecker
  • (E) Sooty Ant-tanager, 
  • (Ne) Magdalena Antbird
  • (Ne) Saffron-headed Parrot
  • (Ne) Scarlet-browed Tanager
  • (Ne) Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo
  • Gray-cheeked Nunlet
  • Bare-crowned Antbird
  • Blue Cotinga
  • Crested Owl
  • Oilbird
  • White-whiskered Puffbird
  • Brownish Twistwing
  • Blue-black Grosbeak
  • Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer
  • Barred Puffbird
  • Black-faced Antthrush 

Day 7Río Claro reserve - Medellín

Today will be our last day in this region. This morning, birding will be focused on missing targets and for that, we’ll use different locations within and outside the Río Claro reserve. The most significant is the old Cocorná road where we will try for the last Mid-Magdalena specialties and other new birds will be added to the list. This road is located on the highway to Medellín and includes a series of forest fragments and open areas with agricultural plots. After birding finishes, we will go to Medellín thus ending our trip.

For those in a trip extension, the tour continues to Jardín and the Central and Western Andes (see Andean essentials birding trip) or to the northern region of Colombia (see The Caribbean Coast & Santa Marta mountains of Colombia) Or a combination of both done upon request.

Drive to Airport in Medellín/Medellín city

Night in Medellín/Bogotá

Target species

  • (E) White-mantled Barbet
  • (E) Beautiful Woodpecker
  • (E) Sooty Ant-tanager, 
  • (Ne) Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo
  • (Ne) Sooty-headed Wren
  • Black-headed Brush-finch
  • Slate-colored Grosbeak
  • Dusky Antbird
  • Rufous Piha
  • Marbled Wood-quail
  • Black-faced Dacnis
  • Ruddy Quail-dove
  • Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher
  • Striolated Manakin
  • Red-billed Scythebill
  • Large-billed Seed-finch
  • Cinereous becard

 

Map