Colombian Endemics Tour – Details

Day 1

Arrive in Cali. Night in Cali.

Day 2 Km 18.

Just 20 minutes from Cali, he km. 18 area is important for bird conservation. Birding is on dirt roads with many mixed tanager flocks. The most wanted birds are the endemic Multicoloured Tanager, Colombian Chachalaca and Chestnut Wood-Quail. This area is a tanager paradise, where we have very good chance to see : Bay-headed Tanager, Silver, Saffron-crowned tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, the near endemic Scrub Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager and Golden Tanager. We hope to be dazzled by an impressive show of Hummingbirds more than 14 species can be observed, including: Purple-throated Woodstar, Western Emerald, Blue-headed Sapphire, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Andean Emerald, Long-tailed Sylph, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Crowned Woodnymph, Booted Racket-tail, Tourmaline sunangel, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, Tawny-bellied Hermit, Green Violetear, Brown Violetear, White-necked Jacobin. Beyond the feeders we have Yellow-headed Manakin, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Nariño Tapaculo, Black-billed Peppeshrike, Masked Trogon and Andean Solitaire. Night in Cali.

Day 3 Sonso lagoon and then Tatama national park.

We will start very early this morning drive to Sonso lagoon is the last large wetland of Valle del Cauca, and one of the best places in Colombia to observe aquatic and dry forest birds. Apical Flycatcher, Greyish Piculet and Bar-crested Antshrike are relatively easy endemics in the area. Other species can be posible to see here, including: Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Great Antshrike, Crested Caracara, Roseate Spoonbill, Anhinga, Horned Screamer, Glossy Ibis, Cocoi, Striated and Little Blue Heron, Black-necked stilt, Snowy Egret, Snail Kite, Wattled Jacana, Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, and Blackish Rail. At riversides we may find Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher and Red-crowned Woodpecker. We lunch on the way and then drive 5 hours to Tatama National Park. Night in Montezuma Lodge.

Day 4 Tatama National Park.

This is an excellent birding road on the Choco slope of the Western Andes. In total 11 endemic and least 37 near- endemic species can be seen along the road. With really impresive birding, I think that this is one of the best locations in the country. Our targets in higher elevation are the Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Munchique Wood-Wren. The descent will provide opportunities for some nice species including: Glossy-black Thrush, Tanager Finch, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Grey-breasted Wood-Wren, Barred Fruiteater, Golden-winged Manakin, Club-winged Manakin, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, Scaly-throated Foliagegleaner, Gold-ringed Tanager, Uniform Treehunter, Black Solitaire, Bicoloured Antvireo, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner and Glistening-green Tanager. We will have a picnic lunch along the way to maximize our birding time and go after forest skulkers such as Hooded Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Yellow-bellied Antpitta, Spillmans’s Tapaculo and Tatama Tapaculo. Night in Montezuma Lodge.

Day 5 Tatama National Park.

If we are lucky with the weather is on our side, we will have fantastic views of cerro Tatama. Today we have very good chance to find Choco Vireo, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Beautiful Jay, Black-headed Brushfinch, Olive Finch, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, White-capped Dipper, Pale-eyed Thrush, Toucan Barbet, Golden-chested Tanager, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Moustached Puffbird, Bronze-winged Parrot, Black-mandibled Toucan, Emerald Toucanet, Black-and-gold Tanager, Scaly-breasted Wren, Choco Tyrannulet, Flame-rumped Tanager, Bay Wren, Zeledon’s Antbird, Red-headed Barbet and Streak-capped Treehunter. After lunch we will arrive at the lodge for the hummingbird feeders with Empress Brilliant, Booted Racket-tail, Crowned Woodnymph, Purple-throated Woodstar, Violet-tailed Sylph, White-tailed Hillstar, Velvet-purple Coronet, Crested Ant-Tanager, Green Thorntail, Brown Inca, Rufous-naped Greenlet. Other possibilities include: Lemon-browed Flycatcher, Parker’s Antbird, Wing-barred Piprites, Black-winged Saltator, Orange-bellied Euphonia, Ochre-breasted Tanager, Ornate Flycatcher, White-headed Wren, Cloudforest Pygmy-Owl, Sooty-headed Wren, Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrant, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant and Olivaceus Piha!! We have three nights at the Montezuma farm house, where the very friendly local people are involved directly with the bird conservation. Simple but clean and charming acommodation and unsurpassed hospitality.

Day 6 After breakfast transfer to Otum Quimbaya.

Lunch on the way. Otum Quimbaya is perhaps not the worlds most beautiful reserve, It is esentially an old plantation of exotic Chinese ash (Fraxinus chinensis) and surrounded by subtropical forest. We will search for some birds along the road that include Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Cauca Guan, Crested Ant-Tanager, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Fawn-breasted Tanager, Wattled Guan, Rufous-bellied nighthawk and Colombian Screech-Owl. Night in otum.

Day 7 Otum Quimbaya

We spend the full morning here, look for wonderful birds including: Golden-plumed Parakeet, Torrent Ducks, Hooded Antpitta, Stiles’ Tapaculo, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Torrent Tyrannulet, Crimson rumped Toucanet, White-winged Becard, Golden-headed Quetzal, Speckle-faced Parrot, Spotted Barbtail, Golden-bellied Woodpecker, Barred Becard, Long-billed Starthoat, Yellow-faced Grassquit, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Montane Foliagegleaner, Azara’s Spinetail, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Green Jay, Green-fronted Lancebill, Rusty-winged Barbtail, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Black-winged Saltator, Sharp-tailed Streamcreeper and Moustached Antpitta. After lunch transfer to Manizales. Night in Manizales.

Day 8 Los Nevados National Park

We’ll climb back out of the city to the high elevation Nevado del Ruiz National Park (13,000 feet). Paramo del Ruiz is a protected area below the Ruiz Volcano. It is combination of fields, elfin forest, patches of bamboo and paramo, an ecosystem of tropical grasslands above the treeline. The moonlike scenery in the paramo is magical. 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, White-tailed Hawk Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and Andean Condor. Flowering bushes attract a number of colorful hummingbirds including Buffy Helmetcrest,Golden-breasted Puffleg, Shining Sunbeam, Rainbow bearded Thornbill, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Mountain Avocetbill, Purple-backed Thornbill, Viridian Metaltail, Tyrian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Collared Inca and Buff-winged Starfronlet. We also hope to spot the very tame Tawny Antpitta, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Plain-coloured Seedeater, Paramo Seedeater and Sedge Wren. We will stop at a nearby glacial lake where we may find Andean Teal, Ruddy Duck, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Many-striped Canastero and White-chinned Thistletail. 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. we’ll also search for mix flocks on the way down to Manizales. Golden-crowned Tanager, Blue-capped Tanager, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Powerful Woodpecker and Dusky Piha. Night in Manizales.

Day 9 Rio Blanco reserve

Rio blanco is one of Colombia’s best birding sites. In particular it is a mecca for lovers of skulking species. Just above the visitor centre you can encounter no less tan four species of antpittas, amongs them the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta. 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 Bicolored, 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, Black-crested warbler, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Brown-bellied Swallow, Band-winged Nightjar, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, 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. Night in Manizales city.

Day 10 Transfer early to Jardin Antioquia.

Early in the morning we’ll transfer to the pretty colonial town of Jardin arriving in time to visit the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek situated on the edge of the town. The stunning males here are often remarkably tame and usually offer good photographic opportunities as well as fantastic views. Night in Jardin.

Day 11

We’ll need an early start for our dawn visit to the Yellow-eared Parrot roosting area. These endangered macaw-like parrots are now only found in Colombia having become extinct in other nearby countries and we’ll be looking for them in one of their few remaining strongholds. We’ll spend the rest of the day birding back down the road to Jardin. This will give us a second opportunity to look for Red-hooded Tanager, White-capped Tanager, White-naped Brushfinch, Tanager Finch and Chestnut-crested Cotinga and we also expect to find many temperate forest birds. We’ll return to town in the late afternoon. Night in Jardin.

Day 12 flight from medellin to Valledupar.

If we have time will be birding for few hours in los Besotes reserve near to Valledupar city. Night in Valledupar.

Day 13- 14

Early departure to the Chamicero del Perija reserve, birding on the way up. Lunch in the lodge.
The Serranía del Perija is an isolated mountain range in north- Eastern Colombia that straddless the Colombia – Venezuelan border. The principal reason for the keen Neotropical birder to visit the Perija region is a key set of endemic and near endemic species that can be found nowhere else, many of which are hard to acces from the Venezuelan side of the range. The jewels in the Crown are arguably Perija Thistletail, Perija Metaltail, Perija (Golden-bellied) Starfronlet, Perija (Rufous) antpitta, Perija Tapaculo, Perija (Rufous) spinetail, Perija brush finch, Tyrian metaltail sometimes called Santa Marta Metaltail. Many of other birds on the mountain exhibit distinctive local subespecies some of these, such as the pallididorsalis subspecies of the Lacrymose Mountain-Tanager, and the ponsi form of Common Bush-Tanager. It is also posible to find Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Condor, Crested Quetzal, Streak-capped Treehunter, Barred Fruiteater, Glossy-black Thrush, Chestnut crowned Antpitta, Black-crested Warbler, Andean Pygmy-Owl, White-throated Screech-Owl, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Klages’ Antbird, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Yellow-legged Thrush, Tlack-hooded Thrush and Amethyst-throated Sunangel.

Day 15 Transfer to Riohacha.

A long drive of almost 6 hours from the lodge to Riohacha. In the afternoon we will be looking for birds in lowland desert habitats and the Los Flamencos National Park, where specialties include Green-rumped Parrotlet, Buffy Hummingbird, White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Inezia, Vermilion Cardinal, Orinocan Saltator, Pileated Finch and Tocuyo Sparrow. In the evening we’ll visit coastal lagoons for a host of waders, gulls, terns and waterbirds Night in Riohacha.

Day 16 Birding in the morning in Flamencos and then transfer to El Dorado Lodge.

We’ll spend the morning at Los Flamencos, searching for any species we may have missed the day before, and then drive towards the spectacular Santa Marta mountains and our first endemics including Santa Marta Tapaculo and Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner. We’ll arrive at the El Dorado Lodge at dusk, comfortable accommodation with a bird-filled garden where many endemics can be seen directly from the balcony. Night at El Dorado Lodge.

Day 17- 18 Dorado proaves reserve, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

We’ll devote two entire days to different elevations on the San Lorenzo Ridge of the Santa Marta mountains. On one day we’ll take our four-wheel-drive jeeps high up in search of endemics such as Santa Marta Parakeet, the rare Black-backed Thornbill, Santa Marta Woodstar, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Rusty-headed and Streak-capped Spinetails, Santa Marta Antpitta, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta and White-lored Warblers, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Santa Marta Brushfinch, Colombian Brushfinch, Santa Marta Blossoncrown, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, “Bangs'” Wood-Wren, Santa Marta Antbird, and Santa Marta Wood-Wren. Other birds possible here include Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Lined Quail-Dove, White-rumped Hawk, Golden bellied Grosbeak, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Red-billed Parrot, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Groove-billed Toucanet, Stygian Owl, Mountain Elaenia, Keel-billed Toucan, Coopmans’s Tyrannulet, Masked Trogon, Golden-olive Woodpecker, White-tipped Quetzal, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Black-headed Tanager, White-sided Flowerpiercer and Golden-breasted Fruiteater. The area also has a Santa Marta Screech-Owl and last year one was roosting right next to one of the cabins. Nights at El Dorado.

Day 19

Leaving the lodge early we’ll descend from the mountains and spend time birding around the coffee plantations above the small town of Minca. Here we’ll be looking for Rosy-thrush Tanager, Golden-winged Sparrow, Scaled Piculet, Rufous-breasted and Rufous-and-white Wrens, Rufous-capped warbler, Streaked Flycatcher, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Long-billed Gnatwren, Blue-black Grosbeak, Pale-breasted Thrush, Barred Antshrike, Golden-crowned Warbler, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Rusty-margined and Social Flycatchers, Golden-fronted greenlet and Swallow Tanager. We should encounter a good variety of more widespread species and will try a site for the handsome Black-backed Antshrike. As the day heats up we’ll drive west of Santa Marta to Barranquilla. Night in Barranquilla.

Day 20

We’ll spend the last morning around Salamanca, looking for Chestnut-winged Chachalaca and Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird. Other birds here may include Russet-throated Puffbird, and we’ll explore a mangrove reserve in search of Chestnut Piculet, Panama Flycatcher, and Bicolored Conebill. Birds are numerous in the coastal lowlands and we’ll see many species of herons, waders, and other waterbirds for the second time on the tour. In the late morning we will return to the hotel to shower and change before catching a lunchtime flight from Barranquilla back to Bogotá where the tour concludes.

Ask for travel extension for the Eastern Cordillera endemics around Bogota.