Birding Colombia: Three Andean Mountain Ranges 7 to 18 September, 2019

Price: US$37588 Places Available Species of Interest
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Species of Interest

    • Horned Screamer
    • Northern Screamer
    • White-faced Whistling-Duck
    • Torrent Duck
    • Andean Teal
    • Colombian Chachalaca (E)
    • Cauca Guan (E)
    • Chestnut Wood-Quail (E)
    • Striated Heron
    • Andean Condor
    • Snail Kite
    • White-rumped Hawk
    • Blackish Rail
    • Tolima Dove (E)
    • Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl (RE)
    • Tourmaline Sunangel
    • Tolima Blossomcrown (E)
    • Violet-tailed Sylph
    • Buffy Helmetcrest (E)
    • Black-thighed Puffleg
    • Buff-tailed Coronet (RE)
    • Velvet-purple Coronet (RE)
    • White-tailed Hillstar
    • Purple-bibbed Whitetip
    • Empress Brilliant
    • Purple-throated Woodstar
    • Gorgeted Woodstar
    • Lazuline Sabrewing
    • Red-billed Emerald (RE)
    • Short-tailed Emerald (RE)
    • Indigo-capped Hummingbird (E)
    • Shining-green Hummingbird
    • Blue-headed Sapphire
    • Crested Quetzal
    • Masked Trogon
    • Andean Motmot
    • Moustached Puffbird
    • White-mantled Barbet (E)
    • Toucan Barbet
    • Southern Emerald-Toucanet
    • Black-billed Mountain-Toucan
    • Choco Toucan
    • Grayish Piculet (E)
    • Beautiful Woodpecker (E)
    • Crimson-mantled Woodpecker
    • Rufous-fronted Parakeet (E)
    • Bar-crested Antshrike (RE)
    • Streak-headed Antbird
    • Parker’s Antbird (E)
    • Zeledon’s Antbird
    • Chestnut-crowned Antpitta
    • Bicolored Antpitta (RE)
    • Chestnut-naped Antpitta
    • Brown-banded Antpitta (E)
    • Slate-crowned Antpitta
    • Ocellated Tapaculo
    • Stiles’s Tapaculo (E)
    • Tatama Tapaculo (E)
    • Ash-browed Spinetail (RE)
    • Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant (E)
    • Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant (RE)
    • Apical Flycatcher (E)
    • Orange-breasted Fruiteater
    • Scaled Fruiteater
    • Red-ruffed Fruitcrow
    • Dusky Piha
    • Golden-winged Manakin
    • Club-winged Manakin
    • Slaty-capped Shrike-Vireo
    • Black-collared (Quindio) Jay
    • Munchique Wood-Wren (E)
    • Chestnut-breasted Wren
    • Gray-throated Warbler
    • Red-capped Cardinal
    • Black-and-gold Tanager (E)
    • Golden-chested Tanager
    • Gold-ringed Tanager (E)
    • Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager (RE)
    • Purplish-mantled Tanager (RE)
    • Multicolored Tanager (E)
    • Scarlet-browed Tanager
    • Turquoise Danis (E)
    • Yellow-backed Tanager
    • Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer (E)
    • Yellow-headed Brushfinch (E)
    • Sooty Ant-Tanager (E)
    • Crested Ant-Tanager (E)
    • Red-bellied Grackle (E)
    • Yellow-hooded Blackbird
    • Velvet-fronted Euphonia (E)

Rainbow-bearded Thornbill at Termales del Ruiz Hotel Birding ColombiaColombia is a mega-diverse country - home to an awe-inspiring array of different habitats and ecosystems which give home to approximately one-fifth of the bird species on Earth. The Andean Mountains is one of the regions that promotes this incredible biodiversity, with richness in birds and endemism. The Colombian Andes are divided into three mountain ranges, creating different conditions in each range and in the Inter-Andean valleys. High-elevation paramo, humid montane forest, cloud forest and dry forest are just some of the ecosystems that encompass this region. Therefore, birding Colombia should not be missed.

On this tour we will explore all these environments from Cali to Bogota, as we observe a number of beautiful and fascinating birds. We will have the possibility to see more than 25 endemic species, including Brown-banded Antpitta, Cauca Guan, White-mantled Barbet and the flashy Multicolored Tanager, as well as many other striking species unique to tropical America. Moreover, you will love the Colombian landscapes, rich culture and charming people.

Trip Basics

Tour Leader: Edwin Campbell

Length of tour: 12 days

Maximum number of participants: 8*

Single supplement: US$435

Lodging: Nice, clean and comfortable with private bath.

Food: Fresh, traditional cuisine.

Weather: Warm and humid in the valleys (lowlands) and temperate to cold in the highlands. 

Difficulty: Moderate. Medium to long walks at a gentle pace, though some days will require longer walks on steep and/or muddy terrain. Some long drives and local air travel required.

* With smaller groups, an additional fee will be charged.

Notes and Recommendations for the trip




Welcome to Colombia! Today we will meet at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá for our local flight to the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport, in Cali, which is located in the Cauca Valley, nestled between the western and central Andean ranges. Upon our arrival, we will visit the Chicoral region at 1,800 meters (6,000 ft.) 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.


At the Pacific slope of the western Andes, the Old Buenaventura Road crosses the forested area of Anchicaya at an elevation around 750 meters (2,500 ft.). This area is influenced by the Choco region with a great chance to see some Choco specialties, including Choco Toucan, Zeledon’s Antbird, Golden-chested Tanager and Scarlet-browed Tanager. Overnight in Cali.


One hour away from Cali on the eastern slope of the Western Andes, the San Antonio Forest sits at an altitude of 2,100 meters (7,000 ft.). It is a great place to find nice Andean birds such as Scaled Fruiteater, Crested Quetzal and Golden-winged Manakin. We can also find other interesting birds in the feeders of Finca Alejandria. There it is possible to see the endemic Multicolored Tanager and several hummingbirds, among them 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, such as Horned Screamer, White-faced Whistling-Duck, Masked Duck, Striated Heron, Snail Kite, Pied Water-Tyrant, Red-capped Cardinal and Yellow-hooded Blackbird. The vegetation around the lagoon its the perfect habitat for the endemic Apical Flycatcher, as well as Little Cuckoo, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher and the regional endemic Spectacled Parrotlet. Overnight in Buga.


The Montezuma Mountain has a strong influence of the Choco region. This combination between the Pacific and Western Andes offers many national and regional endemics. We will travel approximately four 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, all of them regional endemics. Overnight at Montezuma Lodge.


This will be a full day of birding in Montezuma, starting very early (4:30 a.m), driving all the way to the top of the mountain. While taking in the beautiful sunrise at the top of the mountain, we will start our birding day off with two endemic birds: 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. Overnight at Montezuma Lodge.


After five days in the Western Andes, it is time to make our incursion into the central range.  Otun Quimbaya is located at the foothill of the volcanic complex Ruiz-Tolima (Los Nevados National Park) at 1,900 meters (6,200 ft.) above sea level. It is a fabulous place, with a road that opens into a gorgeous forest. This protected area is the best place to look for the Cauca Guan, an endemic and endangered species that was believed to be extinct until this healthy population was rediscovered two decades ago. Also, the largest Neotropical passerine, the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, is seen there with relative ease. We will also look for the endemics Chestnut Wood-Quail and Stiles’s Tapaculo, and regional endemics such as Greenish Puffleg, Streak-capped Treehunter, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant and Chestnut-breasted Wren, among many others. Overnight at Otun Quimbaya Lodge.


The charm of this reserve is the possibility to see several different species of antpittas up very close. There, the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Bicolored Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta and the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta are habituated to receive food from the local guide, luring them outside of the thick understory. At the fruit and nectar 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 Jay, Golden-headed Quetzal and Masked Saltator, to name a few. Overnight in Manizales.


Another early start this morning will bring us to reach the first rays of the sun in the upper cloud and elfin forests along the way to Los Nevados National Park. There we will look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet, as well as Andean Lapwing, Andean Teal, Golden-crowned Tanager, Black-backed Bush Tanager. At the entrance of the national park at 4,100 meters (13,500 ft.) of elevation we will look for  the highlight of this region, an endemic with a very restricted range, the Buffy Helmetcrest. In this high paramo we can also find White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Tawny Antpitta, Plain-capped Ground-Tyrant and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. In the afternoon, we will spend the time at the Termales del Ruiz Hotel and its beautiful surroundings. At the hummingbird feeders, we will hope to see the Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Mountain Avocetbill, Black-thighed Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam and Great Sapphirewing. Overnight at Termales del Ruiz Hotel.


It is time to go down to the eastern Andean slope towards the middle Magdalena Valley. We will drive down the old road to Libano (four hours from Termales del Ruiz), making some stops to look for some special birds, especially Yellow-eared Parrot, Yellow-headed Brushfinch and Crested Ant-Tanager. Getting into Libano, we will have a chance for the endemics Tolima Dove and Tolima Blossomcrown. Overnight in Libano.


Today we have another opportunity for aquatic birds that we have not yet seen and for new birds in this wetland habitat. Among these new species we can mention Pied Water-Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Yellow-chinned Spinetail and Black-capped Donacobius, but the jewel of Guarinocito Lake is the Northern Screamer. Overnight in Victoria.


This protected area of lowland wet forest is a great place for other endemics of Colombia 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.  Overnight in Victoria.

DAY 12: JARDIN ENCANTADO (Enchanted Garden)

On the way to Bogota we will stop by 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 Emerald, Short-tailed Emerald, 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 Bogota (transfer to airport). Tour concludes in Bogota.

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