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Colombia: West and Central 19 days


Birding Western and Central Colombia (Cauca and Magdalena Valleys)

Yellow-eared Parrot. Gunnar Engblom

Colombia has more birds than any other country in the world, more than 1800 species. There is also an excellent field guide - the best on the continent. Yet, few people have been birding in Colombia. Road travel is now safer than ever. And there are many local ornithologists that can direct us to the best birding areas. Kolibri Expeditions organized a trip to North Eastern Colombia in 2011 after many years of absence. Now it is time to cover the rest of the country.

In the last couple of years, birding has boomed in Colombia. Birding lodges and new reserves have popped up like mushrooms everywhere. Many of the endemics which were out of range earlier due to unsafe conditions or poor access are now available.  For instance this Yellow-eared Parrot, which was extremely rare and off limit at their only known sites some 15 years ago, have now been found near Jardin in relatively good numbers - and where it can be watched safely.. 

Our trip concentrate the effort in Central Cauca and Magdalena Valleys with some additional birding on the west slope of Chocó.  Targets include: Gold-ringed Tanager and Black-and-Gold Tanager, Brown-banded Antpitta, Yellow-eared Parrot, Fuerte's Parrot, Rusty-faced Parrot, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Dusky Starfrontlet, Parker's Antbird, Chestnut-capped Piha, Blue-knobbed Curassow, Beautiful Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet, Tolima Dove, etc.  See the target species here.

Rate: Moderately demanding with some uphill hikes, yet intense birding through the day. It is not a tour aimed specifically towards photographers, but nevertheless there are many good oppertunities to get good photos at the hummingbird feeders at the lodges. 

Note that there is a 13 day Santa Marta and Recurve-billed Bushbird add-on following this itinerary. 

No Departures for this Tour

If the departure dates don't fit you, please suggest another date.

Day 1. Birding Florida marshes and drive to Ibague. Bogota Rail and Apolinar's Wren.

We search for Bogotá endemics Apolinar's Wren, Bogotá Rail, Silvery-throated Spinetail and the near-endemic Rufous-browed Conebill at the Florida Marshes.  We proceed to Ibague hopefully picking up Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Apical Flycatcher and Colombian Chachalaca on the way. The dry scrub has White-bellied Antbird, Grey-headed Tanager and Blue-ground Dove.

Day 2. Search for Fuerte's Parrot at Fuertes Giles Reserve.

Fuerte's Parrot - Proaves.org

Fuerte's Parrot Source: arkive.org via Gunnar on Pinterest

An early start take us to Fuertes Giles Reserve for the the critically endangered Fuerte’s Parrot. Other birds include Black-billed and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucans, Dusky Piha, Pale-footed Swallow and perhaps Bicolored Antpitta. Around mid-day we continue to the small village El Cairo.

Day 3.  Galapagos road to San Jose del Palmar for Gold-ringed Tanager and Black-and-Gold Tanager.

Birding Galapagos road to San José del Palmar for the beautiful endemic Bangsia Tanagers Gold-ringed and Black-and-Gold Tanagers. Other species include Choco Tapaculo, Choco Tyrannulet, Choco Vireo, Olivaceous Piha, Black Solitaire, Rufous-rumped Antwren, Tanager Finch, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Glistening-Green Tanager and Beautiful Jay. Night in El Cairo.

Day 4. Galapagos road to Otun-Quimbaya. Cauca Guan

It is worth having yet another morning on the Galapagos road before we continue to Otun Quimbaya reserve. Night at La Suiza Lodge.

Day 5. Otun-Quimbaya, La Suiza. Chestnut Wood-Quail and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow.

Endemics that can be found near La Suiza are Cauca Guan, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Multicolored Tanager, Crested Ant-Tanager and Greyish Piculet. Another highly priced species are Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Chestnut-breasted Wren and Moustached Antpitta. Mixed flocks may contain Moustached Puffbird, Streak-capped Treehunter, Bar-crested Antshrikes, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher and Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet. In the afternoon we drive to Manizales for a four night stay.

Day 6-7. Rio Blanco Reserva. Masked Saltator, Brown-banded Antpitta and Hooded Antpitta.

Two full days at Rio Blanco reserve. Targets include Masked Saltator, Brown-banded, Hooded and Bicolored Antpittas. Other birds here are Rusty-faced Parrot, Ocellated Tapaculo, Dusky Piha, Grass-green Tanager, Gray-browed and Slaty Brush-Finch, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Russet-crowned Warbler, White-capped Tanager, Capped Conebill, Black-eared, Black-capped and Superciliaried Hemispingi, Grey-hooded Bush-Tanager and Plushcap.

Day 8. Paramo of Los Nevados National Park. Rufous-fronted Parakeet and Bearded Helmetcrest.

We shall drive up to the Paramo of Los Nevados National Park principally for the rare Rufous-fronted Parakeet. Other birds here are Golden-breasted and Black-thighed Puffleg,  Bearded Helmetcrest, Many-striped Canastero, Andean Tit-Spinetail and Stout-billed Cinclodes.

Day 9. Neira to Jardin. Yellow-headed Brush-Finch and Parker's Antbird.

En route to Jardin near Medellin we will stop at Neira (40 min) for a stake out if Yellow-headed Brush-Finch. Arriving at Jardin in the afternoon we shall set out immediately to look for the critically endangered Yellow-eared Parrot, which has a stronghold here. Other birds include the endemic Parker’s Antbird and Moustached Puffbird. Night in beautiful colonial town Jardin.

Day 10.  Jardin to ProAves Dusky Starfrontlet reserve, Urrao. Yellow-eared Parrot and Munchique Wood-Wren.

Additional morning higher up the the Yellow-eared Parrot reserve looking again for the Parrot and for Munchique Wood-Wren and Red-bellied Grackle and the continue to Urrao and horseback riding to ProAves Dusky Starfrontlet reserve, where the newly described (and quite controversial) Fenwick’s or Urrao Antpitta can be seen at the worm feeders. 

Day 11. Dusky Starfrontlet reserve. Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer and  and Paramillo Tapaculo.

At higher elevation Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, the range restricted Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Dusky Starfrontlet and the newly described Paramillo Tapaculo can be seen. Other birds up here are Sword-billed Hummingbird, Purple-backed Thornbill, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, White-browed Spinetail and Ocellated Tapaculo.

Day 12. Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve to Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve.

Additional birding at Starfrontlet reserve and then drive to Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve. 

Day 13. Chestnut-capped Piha reserve. Stiles Tapaculo and Red-bellied Grackle.

Full day at Chestnut-capped Piha reserve looking for the Piha, Stiles Tapaculo, Red-bellied Grackle, Multicolored Tanager and Black-and-gold Tanager.

Day 14. Chestnut-capped Piha reserve to El Paujil. Northern Screamer and Blue-and-Yellow Macaw.

Early morning birding at Piha reserve and then drive to El Paujil reserve. On the way there Northern Screamer and Blue-and-Yellow Macaw.

Day 15-16 El Paujil. Blue-knobbed Curassow Sooty Ant-Tanager.

Two full days searching for Blue-knobbed Curassow. Other birds we may see include Black-billed Flycatcher, Sooty-Ant-Tanager, Southern Bentbill and Golden-headed Manakin.

Day 17. El Paujil to Rio Claro. Beautiful Woodpecker and White-mantled Barbet.

Birding our way out from the reserve along the road can produce Beautiful  Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet, Scarlet-browed Tanager and Fulvous-vented Euphonia. Next stop is Rio Claro area for the endemic Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant. Furthermore, Oilbirds fly out from the cave at night.  Hotel in Doradal.

Day 18. Rio Claro to Mariquita. Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and Velvet-fronted Euphonia.

Additional birding in the Rio Claro area for Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant  before heading on to Mariquita, hopefully picking up Velvet-fronted Euphonia and Apical Flycatcher on the way.

Day 19. Mariquita to Bogota. Tolima Dove and Black-headed Brush-Finch.

Birding near Mariquita in the morning for Tolima Dove, Black-headed and Yellow-headed Brushfinches, before returning to Bogota via Jardin Encantado with Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Gorgeted and White-bellied Woodstar, Lazuline Sabrewing, Brown Violet-ear, Green Hermit and Steely-vented Hummingbird at the feeders. We shall arrive in Bogota in time for evening flights out.

Check out the targets species on Pinterest



Option: West and Central Colombia 19 days. Days: 19
Price: US$ 5620 (Minimum 5 people).
Less than 5 people: (see pricing)
Single supplement: 300 US$
Price include transport, food, guiding, hotels. Does not include international travel, airport taxes, tips and bottled drinks.


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Telephone: +51-1- 652 76 89. From the US: 011-51-1- 652 76 89. Cell: 988 555 938 (Gunnar) or 999 007 886 (Elia Gallo) - Email: kolibriexp@gmail.com