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The Western & Central Andes of Colombia. Photographic birding tour

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Why Book With Us?

  • No-hassle best price guarantee
  • Personalized attention. Fully flexible tailor-made tours
  • The best birding routes of the country
  • We are locals, we know the country!

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+57 3164196760

[email protected]

11 days
Availability : All year
Pereira
Cali

This tour is specially designed for a complete photographic experience in locations specially selected for photographing.

Tour Details

Welcome to the birdiest country: Colombia!

 

This tour has been specifically designed for the avid bird photographer. A specific selection of locations with the -best conditions for photography, are part of this trip. With a mix of feeders and easy-to-walk roads and trails, this trip will put in your memory great moments and pictures.

Departure & Return Location

Pereira, Matecaña International Airport – Cali, Alfonso Bonilla International Airport

Price Includes

  • Expert birding bilingual tour guide
  • Hotel accomodation from day 0 to day 13
  • 1 domestic flight (extra domestic flight depends on departure airport)
  • Terrestrial transportation: Van/mini bus and 4 WD transportation when required
  • 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

This is a photographic trip, this means thousands of shots and incredible pictures. This trip takes you to different locations with a specific design for photographers. The time has been meticulously set, so you can get what you want without rushing, and enjoy every location.

  • Several ecosystems: tropical dry forest, rain forest, cloud forest, páramo (moorlands), all levels of andean forests (sub-andean, hig-andean, elfin/dwarf) and aquatic ecosystems.
  • Calm pace and easy-to-walk trails and/or roads.
  • Comfortable and calm lodges near or within the areas of interest.
  • Flexible trip style: small groups, independent, species seekers, couples, families.
  • Modify this trip based on your needs and desires.
  • Physical demand: low. We know what is to carry a complete load of photographic equipment.
  • Nature and culture interpretation by our expert guides.
Itinerary

Key: (E) = Endemic. (NE) = Near-endemic

 

Day 1Arrival to Pereira and transfer to Manizales: Los Termales road low section

After arrival in Pereira, we will be transferred to the western slope of the Central Andes in the surroundings of Los Nevados National Park just beyond the mountain city of Manizales. This day we will explore the Andean forests of Los Termales road (2400-3000 m) looking for the first specialties of this trip: Dusky Piha, (NE) Bicolored and Chestnut-naped Anpittas, Black-eared, Superciliaried, Black-Capped, and Oleaginous Hemispingus, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Flammulated Treehunter, White-capped Tanager, Powerful Woodpecker, (E) Chestnut Wood-Quail, Spillman´s, Blackish and Ash-coloured Tapaculos, Bar-bellied Woodpecker, Slaty-backed and Yellow-bellied Chat-tyrants, Andean and Sickle-winged Guans are quite common, Mountain, Rufous and Sharpe´s Wrens are often seen in mixed flocks or family groups, the colorful Black-billed Mountain-toucan is another inhabitant of this very well preserved forest

Night in Manizales. 2200 m. 18°C

Day 2Río Blanco reserve

Río Blanco is one of the oldest and better-known birding hotspots of Colombia. Was the first in establishing antpitta feeders where is possible to spot at least 4 species, (E) Brown-banded, Chestnut-crowned, Slate-crowned, and (NE) Bicolored antpittas.
Feeders are strategically placed close to the lodge and next to the main road, photographic chances are the best here. In addition to this, there are hummingbird feeders which attracts common and colorful species of the Colombian Andes: Collared Inca, Tourmaline Sunangel, Bronzy Inca, Lesser and Sparkling Violetears, Speckled Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Buff-tailed Coronet, White-bellied Woodstar, and Fawn-breasted Brilliant among others. Andean Emerald, Green-fronted Lancebill, and (NE) White-troated Wedge-billed Hummingbird (Chocó Daggerbill) are found in a garden in the main entrance to the reserve.
Tanagers feeders attract Buff-breasted and Blue-winged Mountain-tanagers, Slaty Brush-finch, Masked Flowerpiercer and others. Walking in the road is possible to see the much wanted and rare Masked Saltator, Golden-headed Quetzal, White-capped Tanager, Golden-plummed Parakeet, Montane, Tyrannine and Strong-billed Woodcreepers, Rusty-faced Parrot, Dusky Piha, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Red-hooded Tanager, Grey-throated (Southern Emerald) Toucanet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Black-collared Jay, Yellow-vented and Bar-bellied Woodpeckers are also present in this reserve, Plushcap Finch, Chestnut-crowned Tody-flycatcher, Mountain Cacique, Capped Conebill, Pearled Treerunner, and many other species will give us such great times there.

 

Night: Manizales/Río Blanco. 18/15°C

Day 3Páramo del Ruiz (Los Nevados NP) and Termales del Ruiz.

Páramo ecosystem is undoubtedly one of the best habitats for birding in Colombia, although the number of species is lower compared with other habitats, Páramo allows to have great points of view over the dwarf and shrubby vegetation and the light is often much better than in the forest.
Here we will spend 2 days exploring the border of Los Nevados National Park between 4100 – 3300 m.

Starting in the upper elevation (4100 m) we will go for specific highland targets as the endemics Buffy Helmetcrest and Rufous-fronted Parakeet. Other specialties will show up as we descend, these are: White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Many-striped Canastero, Black Flowerpiercer, Plain-capped Ground-tyrant, Páramo Seedeater, Sedge (Grass) Wren, Tawny Antpitta, and eventually, a Black-chested Buzzard-eagle could come to scan the area for preys.

Just below the treeline, (3600 m) another set of specialties are found: Paramo Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Ash-coloured Tapaculo, Andean Pygmy-owl, Mountain Avocetbill, and Black-backed Bush-Tanager.

The Termales del Ruiz hotel will provide us with one of the best hummingbird feeders of Colombia. No big numbers are seen here but all of them are highland specialties as (NE) Black-thighed Puffleg, (NE) Golden-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Tourmaline Sunangel, Viridian and Tyriant Metaltails, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill and Purple-backed Thornbill. Here we will spend the rest of the day with time for going to the hotel’s surrounding gardens for Pale-naped Brush-finch, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Scarlet-bellied, and Lacrimose Mountain-tanager and (NE) Golden-fronted Whitestart (Endemic Yellow-fronted Withestart in the BirdLife International/HBW Taxonomy). We will stay overnight in the fantastic Termales del Ruiz hotel with enough time to be spent in the hummingbird feeders and in the dwarf forest around the hotel.

Night: Termales del Ruiz hotel. 3500 m. 5-10°C

Day 4Termales del Ruiz area, Los Termales road high section, Hotel Tinamú

This morning we will have time for missing targets of the Paramo and dwarf forest spots and we will make our way down on the Termales Road where we will have more chances to get more of the specialties previously mentioned as well of the targets found in the low section of this road an in Rio Blanco reserve. After lunchtime, we will head to the foothills of the Manizales area where the Tinamú Birding Reserve is located.

A complex of sub-Andean and dry forest species is found here: Little tinamou and Grey-headed Dove which attend to corn feeders, (NE) Bar-crested Antshrike, Great and Western-slaty Antshrikes, Scaled Antpitta, Blue-lored Antbird, Lineated Woodpecker, (E) Parker´s Antbird, Whiskered and Scaly-breasted Wrens, Grey-headed Dove, Dwarf Cuckoo, Moustached Puffbird, (NE) Flame-rumped and Scrub Tanagers attend the feeders, Brown-throated and Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Spectacled Parrotlet and Blue-headed Parrots are common in the reserve.
Tanager and hummingbird feeders are specially located for photographing including hides and allowing to set perches and flowers for a better photographic experience.

Hummingbirds of interest include Long-billed Starthroat, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Sparkling Violetear, Green hermit, Steely-vented Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, White-vented Plumeleteer, and White-bellied Woodstar.

Night: Tinamú lodge. 1500 m. 24°C

Day 5Tinamú Birding Reserve and Drive to Montezuma

This morning we will have more time for getting the best of this place but with the warm light if the morning. After some hours working here, we will head to the western slope of the Westen Andes to the highly biodiverse Tatamá National Park where the Montezuma hill and reserve are located. Driving time will be of 3.5 hrs approximately. In the town of Pueblo Rico, we will switch to 4WD vehicles for the last 40 minutes of driving. We will arrive in the mid or late afternoon with some time for exploring the hummingbird feeders where the first endemics of the Choco region are found.

Night: Montezuma lodge. 1350 m. 20°C

Day 6Montezuma feeders and/or High-mid section

The first day we will spend the best light of the morning photographing hummingbirds in the feeders, a number of up to 16 species can be seen here including Chocó specialties as (NE) Violet-tailed Sylph,  (NE) Velvet-purple Coronet, (NE) Purple-throated Woodstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, (NE) Empress Brilliant, (NE) Rufous-gaped Hillstar and (NE) Brown Inca, some other hummingbirds here are Western Emerald, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Crowned Woodnymph, Andean Emerald, Green Thorntail, Tawny-bellied Hermit and White-necked Jacobin, among others. Tanager feeders also attract common but cute species of the region. The surroundings of the lodge are good for seedeaters like Variable and Gray seedeaters, Large-billed Seedfinch is also possible here. The feeders allow you to modify and set flowers, perches, and flashes as you desire as long as other birders are not affected.

Depending on our current itinerary we can spend the afternoon in the low section of the Montezuma hill. In this low section is possible to find the endemics Multicolored Tanager, Parkers Antbird, Crested Ant-tanager, Red-bellied Grackle, Grayish Piculet, and Black-and-gold Tanager.
Other birds of interest are Zeledon´s Antbird, (NE) Sooty-headed Tanager, (NE) Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, (NE) Chocó Tapaculo, (NE) Club-winged, Golden-collared and Striolated (Western Striped) Manakins, Choco Warbler, Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Moustached Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, (NE) Ochre-breasted Tanager, Olive Finch, Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Tricolored Brush-Finch, Andean Cok-of-the-rock, and others.

Night: Montezuma lodge. 1350 m. 20°C

 

Day 7Montezuma high section. 2400 - 2000 m

The Montezuma hill which lies within the Tatamá NP is often divided into 3 altitudinal sections. This day we will explore the best spots of the high part in the quest for many of the specialties with stops at 2 feeders set at 2200 and 2400 masl where is possible to see some extra hummingbirds as Collared Inca, Tourmaline Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Greenish Puffleg, Mountain Velvetbreast, and Brown Inca among others seen in the lower section before.
 
The endemics list here contains the Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Munchique Wood-wren, and Gold-ringed Tanager, the endemic tanager with the most restricted range in Colombia and an iconic bird of the country.

Other specialties here are (NE) Tanager Finch, (NE) Black Solitaire, (NE) Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, (NE Orange-breasted Fruiteater, (NE) Beautiful Jay, (NE) Bicolored Antvireo, (NE) Yellow-breasted Antpitta, (NE) Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, (NE) Purplish-Mantled and Glistening-green Tanagers, (NE) Indigo Flowerpiercer, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Golden-headed, and Crested Quetzals, Ochre-breasted Antpitta; Furnarids are also present here with a good party representing them: Olivaceous, Spotted and Montane Woodcreepers, Brow-billed and the very rare Greater Scythebill, three Fruiteaters are often seen here: Green-and-black, Barred and the Chocó endemic, Orange-breasted Fruiteater.
We will look for the best locations according to the light and visibility, the guide will lead you to natural corridors where mixed flocks use to move in their search of food.
Depending on the day’s weather conditions and the requirements of the photographers we will eventually return to the main feeders for resting and continuing shooting. The plan here is completely flexible in order to satisfy all needs.

Night: Montezuma lodge. 1350 m. 20°C

Day 8Montezuma mid-lower section. 1800-1350 m

This morning we can dedicate time for remaining targets or specific photographic plans. After some few hours, we will leave this fantastic place and head to the central part of the Cauca river´s valley with one stop in the Grape´s Park where there are good chances to see the elusive and brilliant Ruby-topaz Hummingbird who comes to feed in a permanent aloe´s crop where the light conditions are the best for photographing this hummingbird. Here we will have chances to see other birds like the endemic Apical Flycatcher, Yellow Oriole, White-vented Plumeleteer (who also comes to feed in the same crop along with Rufous-tailed and Steely-vented Hummingbird). After this stop, we will drive to the colonial city of Buga for resting and preparing for the next day.

Night: Buga. 1000 m. 26°C

Day 9Km 18 and the Alejandría Farm

Located 2 hours away from Buga on the ridge of the Western Andes, the KM 18 is one of the classic birding hotspots and one of the best places for bird photography in the region. The Finca Alejandría, also known as the “Hummingbirds paradise” has an incredible set of over 40 hummingbird feeders and it’s the best location for photographing the endemic and superb Multicolored Tanager. Feeders here also attract: (E) Colombian Chachalaca, Beryl-spangled, (NE) Flame-rumped, (NE) Scrub, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, Bay-headed, and Golden-naped tanagers,  Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager also attend the feeder. Other beauties include Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Black-winged Saltator, Summer Tanager (migrant), Hepatic (Toothed) Tanager, Red-headed Barbet among others.
 
The hummingbird feeders are visited by hundreds of Hummers. Species include Long-tailed Sylph, Bronzy Inca, Booted Racket-tail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Lesser Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear, Crowned Woodnymph, (NE) Purple-throated Woodstar, and Greenish Puffleg. Two species of hermits visit the heliconias in the surrounding garden, these are the Tawny-bellied and Green Hermit.

Birding the forest can also produce many specialties as (NE) Nariño Tapaculo, the endemic and skulking Chestnut Wood-Quail, Scaled and Green-and-black Fruiteaters, Chestnut-capped, White-naped, and Yellow-breasted Brush-finches, Grey-throated Toucanet and some interesting understory birds like Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streak-capped and Striped Treehunters, and the always nice woodpeckers: Yellow-vented, Acorn, and Golden-olive.
Both, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals are often seen in the forest near Finca Alejandría.
At the end of the day, we will head to the small town of El Queremal, the main access to the impressive Anchicayá Canyon. Driving time 1.2 hours.

Night: El Queremal. 1500 m. 22°C

Day 10High Anchicayá Canyon. 1300 - 1100 m

The Anchicayá Canyon is the place where the well known American ornithologist Steven Hilty built the basis of his research which led to the publishing of one the first Colombian field guides in 1986. Thirty-4 years later, the area remains as one of the best Colombian birding hotspots. With an easy access paved road, great views at canopy-level, and also hummingbird and tanager feeders is a great location for exploring and for getting introduced to the avifauna of the Chocó region, one of the most biodiverse ecoregions of the world.
We will start the day walking along the paved road which leads to the city port of Buenaventura on the Pacific coast. The high elevations of Anchicayá host several specialties as: (E) Tatamá Tapaculo, (E) Grayish Piculet, (E) Crested Ant-tanager, (E) Parker’s Antbird, (NE) Toucan Barbet, (NE) Rufous-throated tanager, NE) Chocó Tapaculo, (NE) Uniform Treehunter, (NE) Orange-breasted fruiteater, (NE) Club-winged Manakin, (NE) Sooty-headed Wren, (NE) Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, (NE) Ochre-breasted tanager, (NE) Black Solitaire, (NE) Glistening-green Tanager, (NE) White-whiskered Hermit, and (NE) Yellow-collared Chlorophonia.

At 1100 masl is located “El Descanso”, a family restaurant which has a place dedicated to tanagers and hummingbirds. This place is very well known for being the only place in Colombia where the near-endemics Toucan Barbet, Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Glistening-green, and Rufous-throated Tanagers come to feed on the fruit feeders. Some other specialties also attend the feeders like Black-headed and Tricolored (Chocó) Brush-finch, Tick-billed and Orange-bellied Euphonias. Hummingbirds of interest here are Green Thorntail, White-whiskered Hermit, (NE) Empress Brilliant, and (NE) Brown Inca among others.
Other specialties in the area include Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Olive Finch, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Russet Antshrike, White-headed Wren, and  Chestnut-crowned Gnateater.

Night in El Queremal.

Day 11High and mid Anchicayá canyon. 1300 - 600 m

This day we will start exploring the mid-section of the canyon looking for specialties as Lemon-rumped Tanager (the local subspecies of the near-endemic Flame-rumped Tanager), Silver-throated Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Bright-rumped Atilla, Golden-collared Manakin, White-headed Wrens, and Chestnut-headed Oropendola. Three species of toucans are possible here such the Chestnut-mandible Toucan, Collared Aracari, and the very restricted Choco Toucan. Other birds of interest are Spot-crowned Barbet, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, Gray-and-gold Tanager, Dusky-faced, Tawny-crested, and Rufous-winged Tanager, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Long-tailed Tyrant among many other birds that are representative of this rich region. After lunch at El Descanso, we will drive to Cali´s international airport for the flight back to home.

End of the tour

Map