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The Caribbean Coast & Santa Marta mountains of Colombia

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6 days
Availability : All year
Santa Marta/Barranquilla
Max People : 8

It’s simple, the Santa Marta Mountains are home to the highest concentration of endemic birds in the Americas. This, plus the very dry and tropical dry forests of northern Colombia, creates the perfect scenery for a memorable trip. Enjoy the views of the Caribbean sea and its white-sand beaches which lie under the vigilance of the Santa Marta mountains.

Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan by Johnnier Arango

Our suggestion

Link this tour to the Andean Essentials birding tour for a very complete Colombian experience!
Tour Details

Welcome to Colombia, the ultimate destination for bird enthusiasts!

Our carefully curated tour caters to all types of birders, whether you’re an avid enthusiast in search of rare species or someone seeking a more leisurely pace. The highlight of this expedition is the abundance of endemic species found in the stunning Santa Marta Mountains. As we venture through the northern part of Colombia, you’ll encounter a diverse array of ecosystems, ranging from tropical dry environments to subtropical forests. Notably, the Santa Marta range, a distinct group of mountains, hosts a unique array of avian life, with over 20 bird species evolving independently from their counterparts in the main Andes range.

Departure & Return Location

Barranquilla – Santa Marta

Price Includes

  • Expert birding bilingual tour guide
  • Hotel accomodation from day 0 to day 7
  • 2 domestic flights: Bogotá-Barranquilla and Santa Marta-Bogotá. Some airlines have international flights arriving/departing from Cartagena
  • Terrestrial transportation: Van/mini bus for the highway transportation and 4 WD for the Santa Marta Mountains (up to 4 passengers/4WD vehicle)
  • 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 Caribbean Coast of Colombia is warm and tropical. Arid areas are overlapped with tropical dry forests. The Caribbean culture is pretty much like the one in Central America and other places of the region. Two main indigenous groups: Wayuu (the people from the desert) and Tayronas inhabit the region.

  • Warm temperatures and dry breeze in the coast
  • 300-400 species in total
  • 20+ endemic birds in the Santa Marta Mountains
  • Rough roads in the ascend to the high elevations parts of the Santa Marta Mountains
  • The best view and accomodation in the world famous El Dorado lodge in the Santa Marta Mountains
  • Easy birding, short walks
  • A fully customizable trip that can be extended as far as you want.

Day 0Arrive to Barranquilla from Bogotá

This day the group will meet the guide, talk about the itinerary, resolve questions, prepare everything, and fly in the evening to the coastal city of Barranquilla.

Night in Barranquilla. 5 m. 26°C

Day 1Barranquilla - Salamanca NP - Palomino

Early In the morning, we’ll take a 15 minutes drive to our first stop in the outskirts of Barranquilla where we will look for the first endemic of the region: the noisy Chestnut-winged Chachalaca. After trying some other few birds we will head east towards the area of the Salamanca National Park, just
before the park, there is a village road where the main specialties are (NE) Northern Screamer, (E) Bronzed Cowbird, White-cheeked Pintail, Dwarf Cuckoo, Stripe-backed wren, (E)Turquoise-winged Parrotlet, Russet-throated Puffbird, and others.
A short drive will take us to the Salamanca National Park public protected area which preserves important extensions of mangrove ecosystems. Here we will look for the endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Saphire-throated Hummingbird, Bicolored Conebill, Brown-throated Parakeet, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Golden-green Woodpecker, Pied Puffbird, and other specialties. After this great introduction to the Caribbean avifauna, we drive to the tourist town of Palomino where a beautiful beach waits for us. If the time allows it, we may stop and try for some other specialties in the vicinities of Palomino.

Night in Palomino. 5 m. 28°C

Day 2Los Flamencos Sanctuary

We will rise early and head to the town of Camarones. We will bird along the trails in the dry scrub forest for specialties which include: (NE) White-whiskered Spinetail, (NE) Orinocan Saltator, (NE)Slender-billed Inezia, (NE) Chestnut Piculet, (NE) Red-billed Emerald, (NE) Tocuyo Sparrow (rare). In the very dry tropical forest, we will look for other specialties including a bird which has an important role in the local communities: the Near-endemic Vermilion Cardinal. Other specialties here are, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Bluecrowned Parakeet, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Red-billed Emerald, (Ne) Buffy Hummingbird, Black-crested Antshrike, Northern Scrub-flycatcher, Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Pearly-vented Tody Tyrant, (NE) Glaucous Tanager,Double-striped Thick-knee, White-fringed Antwren (northern race), Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Pileated Finch, Redish Egret, Scarlet Ibis, White-tipped Inezia, Pale-legged
Hornero (Caribbean) and the charismatic American Flamingo.

Night in Palomino. 5 m. 28°C

Day 3Las Gaviotas road - Minca

This morning we will explore a section of the tropical dry forest a few kilometers away from Palomino. Here we will look for Lance-tailed Manakin, One-colored Becard, Buff-breasted Wren, Brown-capped Tyrannulet, Trinidad Euphonia, Keel-billed Toucan, White-bellied Antbird, Grey Hawk, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Gartered Trogon, Barred Antshrike, and others.
After this morning, we will drive towards the Santa Marta mountains, the tallest coastal mountain of the world, and home of over 20 endemics only found there! the highest concentration of the Americas but this afternoon will be spent on the foothills of the mountains where another tropical dry forest will allow us to get some specialties like Military Macaw, Black-backed Antshrike, Pale-bellied, and Sooty-capped Hermit, Rufous-breasted and Rufous-and-white Wren, Lance-tailed Manakin, Blue ground-dove, Zone-tailed Hawk, White hawk, Short-tailed hawk, King Vulture, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Trilling (Long-billed) Gnatwren, and others.

Night in Minca. 650 m. 24°C

Day 4Minca - El Dorado

We will rise early and begin our ascent into the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. We will stop along the way looking for the first endemics and other specialties of the area like (E) Sierra Nevada Brushfinch, (E) Santa Marta Tapaculo, (E) Santa Marta Woodstar, (E) Santa Marta Blossomcrown, (E) Santa Marta Antbird, (E) Santa Marta Tapaculo, (E) Santa Marta Foliage Gleaner, (E) White-lored Warbler, (E) Santa Marta Brush-finch, (NE) Black-fronted Wood-quail, (NE) Coppery Emerald, (NE) White-tipped Quetzal, (E) Streak-capped Spinetail, Band-tailed Guan, King Vulture, Grey-headed Kite, Black-and-white Owl, Zone-tailed Hawk, (NE) Golden-Winged Sparrow, Scaled Piculet, Golden-headed Manakin, Rosy Thrush-tanager, (NE) Yellow-billed Toucanet, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Orange-billed & Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrushes, Red-billed Parrot, Black-headed Tanager, Long-billed Hermit, Golden-winged Warbler, (NE) Spectacled Tyrannulet, Yellow-legged, Black-hooded & Pale-breasted Thrushes and Rusty-breasted Antpitta among others. We will lunch at the lodge and spend the remainder of the day birding around the nearby forests where is possible to see the recently
described Santa Marta Screech-Owl (at dusk), the endemics White-tailed Starfrontlet, Hermit Wood-wren, and Yellow-crowned Whitestart.

The feeders of the lodge are a great place to rest and get great views of some common hummingbirds, tanagers, and the always impressive sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

Night in Mountain House lodge

Day 5Cuchilla de San Lorenzo, El Dorado reserve

This day we will rise very early and head up to higher elevation looking for the Santa Marta Endemics of this section. With the stunning views of the tallest snowy peaks of Colombia, we will look for the endemics, Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain-tanager, Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, Santa Marta Antpitta, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Black-backed Thornbill, and Sierra Nevada Antpitta. Other specialties are also found here like the Santa Marta race of the Tyriant Metaltail, Scaly-naped Parrot, Flammulated Treehunter, Paramo Seedeater, Golden Grosbeak, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Black-and-white Hawk-eagle and the near endemic White-tipped Quetzal. The afternoon will be spent looking for missing specialties around and below the reserve.

Night in Mountain House lodge

Day 6Mountain House -Minca

This morning we will start our way back to the lowlands exploring the forest below El Dorado lodge and towards Minca. There we will clean key missing species (see day 4) until we reach the town of Minca by lunchtime. After that, we will explore the tropical dry forest below Minca in search of
additional or missing species.

Depending on the previous arrangements we may fly late in the afternoon to Bogotá for international connections or stay overnight in Santa Marta. International flights also depart from Cartagena (3 hours from Santa Marta)

Night in: Santa Marta, Cartagena or Bogotá




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