Andes/Mitu, Amazon Tour – Details

Day 1

Arrive in Bogota. Night in Bogota.

Day 2

We’ll depart early for a two-and-a-half hour drive to Chingaza National Park, where amongst beautiful Andean scenery we’ll look for the endemic Brown-breasted Parakeet, near endemics Mattoral Tapaculo and Rufous-browed Conebill, and a host of high elevation and temperate forest species including Andean Guan, Andean Pygmy Owl, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, White-browed Spinetail, White-chinned Thistletail, and Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager. Time permitting we may make a late afternoon stop in some marshes to look for Bogota Rail. Night in Bogotá.

Day 3

After an early breakfast, we’ll spend a few hours in La Florida Park, a marsh and lake close to the international airport, searching for three endemics – Bogotá Rail, Apolinar’s Marsh-Wren and Silvery-throated Spinetail. Other specialities could include Spot-flanked Gallinule and Subtropical Doradito. We’ll then drive to the town La Victoria with a stop to visit a private garden with some hummingbird feeders which attract hundreds of hummingbirds including the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird and the localized Gorgeted Woodstar. We’ll spend most of the afternoon driving to La Victoria. Night in La Victoria.

Day 4

We’ll spend our morning in the forest above La Victoria looking for several endemics including Sooty Ant-Tanager, Beautiful Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet and Colombian Chachalaca. The forest holds many birds and we are sure to encounter a host of more common species. Manakins are especially well-represented with the possibility of White-bearded, White-bibbed, Striped and Golden-headed Manakins. We’ll also keep an eye out for the endemic White-footed Tamarin, a primate which is being intensively studied at this site. We’ll stay until late morning and then drop down into the hot Magdalena valley stopping for lunch on the way. We’ll spend the afternoon in dry forest near Laguna del Hato where we hope to see the endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia, both Jet and White-bellied Antbirds, Barred Puffbird, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and possibly Crested Bobwhite. We’ll spend the night in the foothills of the central Andes. Libano Tolima.

Day 5

We’ll drive to the fragmented remnant forest above Libano for some roadside birding. Once more we’ll be looking for several endemics most especially Yellow-headed Brush-finch, Tolima Dove and the gaudy Crested Ant-Tanager. Other specialities may include Bar-crested Antshrike, Highland Motmot, Moustached Puffbird and Black-headed Brushfinch. We’ll stay until late morning before driving over Colombia’s central cordillera and dropping down to the city of Manizales. We may make one or two birding stops along the way. Night in Manizales.

Day 6

Today we’ll visit the Rio Blanco reserve for a long but bird-filled day. We’ll arrive early and bird around the small lodge where we will look out for such species as Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Sickle-winged Guan, Dusky Piha and Black-collared Jay. About an hour after dawn we’ll be led by a local guide to special antpitta feeding stations where we hope to enjoy close up views of the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta and the impressive Chestnut-crowned Antpitta. We also have a good chance of seeing Bicoloured, and Slate-crowned Antpittas, all of which visit various feeding stations in the forest on and off throughout the year. We will spend much of the remainder of the day exploring the excellent network of trails. The mixed flocks at this site are often large and varied and we will hope to connect with several species of hemispingus, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Pearled Treerunner and many tanagers. This site is also rich in skulkers and we will be looking for several tapaculos and the elusive Masked Saltator. We’ll take lunch at the lodge and enjoy the spectacular hummingbird show at the feeders. We will then continue birding at the reserve all afternoon. We’ll have dinner here too and then do a spot of owling with targets including Rufous-banded and White-throated Screech-Owls. We’ll then drop back down to our hotel in Manizales for the night.

Day 7

We’ll climb back out of the city to the high elevation Nevado del Ruiz National Park (13,000 feet). This will be our second chance to bird the paramo zone but as we are on a different cordillera we’ll hope for a slightly different mix of species including the endemic and very localized Rufous-fronted Parakeet. Flowering bushes attract a number of colorful hummingbirds including Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Buff-winged Starfronlet, Mountain Velvetbreast, and Shining Sunbeam. On occasion, the nomadic Black-thighed Puffleg can be present in some numbers, but at other times it’s absent. In the forest patches we’ll look for Paramo Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, and Black-backed Bush-Tanager. Tawny Antpittas are often very tame here and we’ll also search for the dazzling Buffy Helmetcrest. After lunch we’ll drive to Pereira and our lodge at Otun Quimbaya Ecological Reserve, near La Suiza, where we should have a little time for birding the garden. Night at Quimbaya Otun.

Day 8

We’ll have the entire morning to look for birds around Quimbaya Otun, following a beautiful track through good forest at 6,500 feet. The endemic Cauca Guan is reasonably common here, and we also have a chance of seeing the endemic Chestnut Wood-Quail and the elusive Wattled Guan. We’ll be on the lookout for the endemic Multicoloured Tanager, as well as exciting mixed-species feeding flocks. Another attraction of this site is Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and we hope to obtain great views of this large and impressive cotinga. The afternoon will be taken up with the one hour drive to matecaña airport. We flight Pereira to Mitu, Department of Vaupes. Night in Mitu.
Colombia is well-known for its biodiversity, given the characteristics of its different regions. Due to its high temperatures and humidity, the Amazon region is the richest of all Furthermore the flora and fauna is almost entirely differnt from what you can find in the Andes. The Amazon region comprises almost 40% of the Colombian territory, and it is also the least populated and most intact area of the country. It is flat and covered with pristine forest. At first sight the Amazonian jungle may seem quite uniform, but it is actually a complex patchwork of many types of very different forest, especially in western Amazon, where the mixture of upland and lowlands soils and high levels of sedimental deposition make it the most dynamic region in the entire Amazon basin. It is the ideal destination for the ecotourism lovers, as this place is only just beginning to reveal its many secrets.

WELCOME TO THE AMAZON, ENJOY ITS NATURAL BEAUTY AND HELP TO PRESERVE ITS NATURE.

There is nowhere better to sample the variety of Amazonian bird habitats that the Eastern lowlands of Colombia encompass than the environs of Mitu. With 5 full days in this avian-rich region, we will have ample time in the varied habitats, all within a short drive of our base in the town itself. While much of our time will be spent in the ‘default’ habitat of the region, terra firme primary forest, we will have several walks through the nutrient-poor but especially rich white sand forest! Several of the species that are endemic to this region, and more easily seen here than other sites in nearby Brazil or Venezuela, are found in the seasonally flooded varzea forest and gallery forest along the mighty Vaupes River. Others are found atop the ‘cerros’ – tabletop mountains that stand hundreds of feet above the surrounding forest, breaking the endless green horizon dramatically. We will explore these seldom-visited, fascinating habitats in the company of a local ornithologist with ties to the local ethnic group, also learning much about the local history and culture. To mention just one of the 400 species posible at this site, we hope to encounter Orinoco Piculet.

Day 9-10

Mitu Cachivera, and Pipeline trail. Will spent two whole days, and part of one morning here, by far more time than we spent at any other site. It has the best white sand forest as well as good patches of humid lowland forest. Nearly all of our best birds should come from here. Also, it is only a few km from the hotel, so within reasonably easy walking distance. We will bird two main trails: the first starts behind a basketball court at the Mitú Cachivera, Pipeline trail. Cachivera community, a few km south of town across two very narrow wooden bridges: a short trail where we will look for Bar-bellied Woodcreeper, Gray-bellied Antbird, Imeri Warbling-Antbird, Brown-headed Greenlet, Purple-breasted Cotinga, Black Manakin, White-naped Seedeater, Plumbeous Euphonia, Blackish Nightjar, Blackish-gray Antshrike, Gray-bellied Antbird, Black Manakin, White naped Seedeater, Chestnut-crested Antbird, Black Bushbird, Pompadour Cotinga, Azure-naped Jay, Black-headed Antbird, Bronzy Jacamar, Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock and Black-chinned Antbird. Nights in Mitu.

Day 11

Urania trail. We spent one day on trails east of the Urania community. We will look for Amazonian Tyrannulet, Cherrie’s Antwren, Yellow-throated Antwren, Swainson’s Flycatcher, Gilded Barbet, Paradise Jacamar, Orange-cheeked Parrot, Spot-throated Woodcreeper, Cream-coloured Woopecker, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Dusky Antbird, White-Eyed Tody-Tyrant, Lemon-chested Greenlet, White-naped Seedeater, Rusty-breasted Nunlet, White-chinned Sapphire, Gould’s Jewelfront, Pavonine Quetzal, Brown-winged Schiffornis, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Pearly Antshrike, Slate-coloured Antbird, Grey-breasted Sabrewing, Spotted Puffbird and Reddish Hermit.

Day 12-13

Santa Cruz road. This 13 km road to the yet-to-be-completed hydro plant has the reputation of being one of the best birding sites near Mitu. In one of the last trips to this area we had terrific birding on the one full day we spent here. We recorded 149 species, more than on any other day of our trip. Species encountered here are typical of amazonian terra firme forest: Maroon-tailed Parakeet, Ladder-tailed Nightjar, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Short-billed Honeycreeper, Yellow-browed Tody-Flycatcher, Ash-winged Antwren, Lawrence’s Thrush, Brown-banded Puffbird and Blue-crowned Manakin. The mixed flocks in this area are unbelievable, and the main road gives you great views. We’ll be looking for Masked Tanager, Golden-green Woodpecker, Chestnut-crowned Becard, Green-and-gold Tanager, Scale-breasted Woodpecker, Speckled Spinetail, Pink-throated Becard, Black-collared Swallow, Tawny-tufted Toucanet, Sand-coloured Nighthawk, Pale-bellied Mourner, White-bellied Dacnis, Chestnut-belted Gnateater, Curve-billed Scythebill, Striated Antthrush, Cinnamon Attila, Grey-crowned Flycatcher, Great Jacamar, Red-crowned Ant- Tanager, Cinereous Antshrike, Lineated Woodpecker, Rufous-tailed Xenops, Red fan Parrot, Crowned Slaty Flycatcher, Green Ibis, White Hawk, Bat Falcon, Black Caracara, Plain-breasted Ground-Dove, Dusky-billed Parrotlet, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Scarlet Macaw, Russet-crowned Crake, Lined Forest-Falcon, Plumbeous Pigeon, Grey-fronted Dove, Mealy Amazon, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Short-tailed Swift, Fork-tailed Palm-Swift, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift, Black-bellied Thorntail, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher, Green-backed Trogon, Amazonian Trogon, Amethyst Woodstar, White-fronted Nunbird, Lettered, Ivory-billed and Many-banded Aracari, Channel-billed Toucan, Ruddy Spinetail, Striped Woodhunter, Red-necked Woodpecker, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Elegant Woodcreeper and Small-billed Elaenia. Nights in Mitu.

Day 14

We’ll have a few hours to bird in Mitu, looking for any last species we may still be missing, before our midday flight to Bogota, where we finish this fantastic adventure.