AT A GLANCE
With more than 1,950 species (almost 20% of the world’s total) counted so far, Colombia has more species of birds than any other country on the planet. It is easy to see why. Colombia is tropical, yet it also has ample elevation changes due to the Andes mountain range. Furthermore it has both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. Many different habitats ensure an abundance of bird species, with new ones still being discovered and new records being announced often.
Private and small group, birding tours can be booked on request for your preferred travel dates
Next Group Departure date: July 2022 / July 2023
Full Itinerary – Northern Colombia Birding Tour
Arrival in Bogota
Welcome to Colombia! Your fantastic birding tour in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world will start as soon as you touch down at the El Dorado International Airport in Bogota, you will be met a company representative and be transported to your comfortable hotel nearby.
Bogota is the capital of and largest city in Colombia, and is the political, economic, administrative, industrial, artistic, cultural, and sports centre of the country. It truly is Colombia’s “beating heart”, an engaging, vibrant and hip place. Bogota was founded as Bacatá, which in the Chibcha language means “The Lady of the Andes.” Further, the word ‘Andes’ in the Aymara language means “shining mountain,” thus making the full meaning of the name of Bogota as “The lady of the shining mountain.” The city is located in the geographical middle of Colombia, on a high plateau known as the Bogota savanna. It is the third-highest capital in South America (after Quito and La Paz), at an average of 2,640 metres (8,660 ft) above sea level, and home to about 8 million people.
Some of the top attractions in the city are in the area of La Candelaria, the cobbled historic downtown area where most tourists congregate. There are numerous museums (including the Botero and Gold Museums), bars, theatres, art galleries, libraries, restaurants and some stunning old buildings, including the beautiful Cerro Monserrate.
On the way to the hotel, it might be a good idea to learn a little more about where we are. Colombia may have been struggling with conflict and drugs for decades, but recently tourist travel has increased by almost 50% and is on the way further up! It is well on the way of reclaiming its position as the “holy grail” of birding. This is because it is one of the most biodiverse countries on earth, considered a “megadiverse” country, with mountain ranges, Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, Amazon rainforest, two desert areas and a large paramo ecosystem. In 2017 Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said “The biodiversity is to Colombia, what oil is for the Arabs”.
The huge altitude differences (from sea level to Pico Cristobal Colon at 5,775 metres (18,947 ft) above sea level) in the country result not only in varied fauna and flora, but also in dramatic climatic differences. This has led to a high degree of endemism; Colombia has the highest number of endemic species worldwide. Incredibly about 10% of the fauna and flora species in the world live in Colombia! The country boasts almost 2,000 bird species, over 450 mammal species (of which a fifth are considered endangered or critically endangered), nearly 800 species of amphibians, almost 550 reptile species, 1,500 fish species and a barely believable 130,000 species of plants! The country occupies the first position worldwide in number of orchids and birds, second position in plants, amphibians, butterflies and freshwater fish, third place in species of palm trees and reptiles and globally holds the fourth position in biodiversity of mammals. All these amazing species can be found in Colombia’s 59 national parks and protected areas, which all vary dramatically in landscape, climate and ecosystems.
If your arrival time in Bogota permits we can visit La Florida Park in the afternoon. This urban wetland has unfortunately been heavily impacted recently by urban development, but still gives us a chance to tick our first species of the tour. We could see two endemic and endangered species, namely Bogota Rail and Apolinar’s Wren, and we may also find Noble Snipe, endemic Silvery-throated Spinetail, Brown-bellied Swallow, Yellow-hooded Blackbird, Rufous-browed Conebill, Andean Siskin, Subtropical Doradito, Spot-flanked Gallinule, American Coot, Andean and Torrent Duck, Bare-faced Ibis and many other water-associated species.
We will get together for our Nature Travel Birding welcome dinner in the hotel restaurant and set out our target species for the trip, ensuring all participants a fantastic time.
We will get our first taste of the delicious food of Colombia. Restaurants in the country pride themselves on fresh food and home-cooked meals, with influences from Italy, France, Spain, Peru and Argentina. Fresh juices and freshly baked breads are especially popular, so enjoy! You might want to try tamale, a very traditional Bogotá dish. It is a paste made with rice, beef, pork and/or chicken, chickpea, carrot, and spices, wrapped in plantain leaves and steam-cooked. Delicious! After dinner we are off to bed for a good night’s rest; tomorrow the birding tour starts in earnest!
Sumapaz National Park
We will be up very early this morning with a quick cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast at the hotel to get us going.
We will then make our way to the high elevation Sumapaz National Park, about a 90 minute drive to the south. It was declared a National Park in 1977 because of its importance as a biodiversity hotspot and as the main source of water for the entire Bogota savanna. The average altitude of the park is about 3,750 metres (12,300 ft) above sea level and the average temperature is usually below 10 °C (50 °F).
Birding within the 178,000 hectare (688 sq mi) park, that is also an Important Bird Area (IBA), will surely yield many endemics and specialties, and this is our chance to experience the fascinating Colombian páramo. This unique ecosystem occurs above the continuous forest line but below the permanent snowline in the northern Andes mountains of South and Central America. It is a biome with vegetation that includes rosette plants, shrubs and grasses. This specific area of páramo inside the Sumapaz park is considered the largest in the world, and therefore has huge evolutionary and biodiversity importance.
Some of our targets will be the rare Black-headed Hemispingus, Rufous and Undulated Antpitta, and the near endemic Rufous-browed Conebill. For those that have an affinity for hummingbirds (and who doesn’t!), there will be chances to view the endemic Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Coppery-bellied and Glowing Puffleg, Amethyst-throated Sunangel and the near endemic Blue-throated Starfrontlet.
Two other endemics on our target list include Silver-throated Spinetail and Pale-bellied Tapaculo. An encounter with a mixed flock could yield Buff-breasted and Hooded Mountain Tanager, Pale-naped Brushfinch, Plushcap and the noisy Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager. The uncommon and endemic Brown-breasted Parakeet is also a possibility, although an encounter will require some luck. That same luck may even yield views of the vulnerable Spectacled Bear!
Other species we could see include Andean Condor (the national symbol of Colombia), Bogota Rail, Noble Snipe, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Paramo Pipit, Andean Tit-Spinetail and many others.
Apart from these species, the park is also home to Dwarf Red Brocket, tapir, coatis, salamanders, lizards and over 200 species of vascular plants.
After an exciting day in the park we will drive back to our hotel in Bogota. We will freshen up and get together for dinner and to update our trip lists before turning on for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow is hummingbird day!
Indigo-capped Hummingbird Reserve
A very early start will have us enjoy a quick breakfast and checking out of our Bogota hotel. We then hop into the vehicle and head towards the Indigo-capped Hummingbird Reserve near the town of Fusagasugá, located in a warm valley between the Cuja and Panches rivers, about an hour to the southwest.
The reserve boasts an impressive number of feeders that attract many species of hummingbirds. The main target is the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird, and they visit the feeders regularly. More than 20 species may use these feeders, some only briefly, others nearly year-round. Possible species include White-bellied Woodstar, Green Hermit, Black-throated Mango, White-necked Jacobin, White-vented Plumeteer, Andean Emerald, and with good luck even Gorgeted Woodstar. We should have plenty of time to enjoy these amazing birds and hopefully even take some spectacular photographs!
We will enjoy a packed lunch somewhere in the reserve and keep an eye out for even more species! We will then spend the afternoon crossing the Magdalena Valley past the city of Ibague to the Combeima Canyon.
A long day of birding and driving will come with the reward of an exquisite home-cooked meal and a good night’s sleep at our chosen lodge, located in beautiful surroundings deep in nature.
Combeima Canyon and Honda
We will start our day with breakfast and some excellent coffee at the hotel, and then check out and go birding.
An impressive 5 endemics can be observed in the beautiful and diverse, middle-subtropical environment of the Combeima Canyon, including the mega targets Yellow-headed Brushfinch, (recently split) Tolima Blossomcrown and the very range-restricted and endangered Tolima Dove.
The trail along the Combeima river can yield pairs of Torrent Duck, whilst higher up the montane forest offers opportunities for Ash-colored Tapaculo, Superciliaried Hemispingus and impressive Sword-billed Hummingbird. Other species of interest include the spectacular Red-hooded Tanager, Torrent Tyrannulet, Whiskered Wren, White-throated Toucanet, Agile Tit-Tyrant, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Crested Quetzal and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia.
Other species we could tick in the valley include several tanagers (Blue-grey, Black-capped, Blue-necked, Summer, Blue-capped, Bay-headed and Saffron-crowned Tanager), many hummingbirds (Lesser Violetear, Collared Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, White-booted Racket-tail and others), Saffron Finch, Canada Warbler, Eared Dove, Squirrel Cuckoo, Andean Motmot and many more.
The afternoon will be spent driving along the Magdalena valley to Honda, a small colonial town on the banks of the Magdalena river. The city was the main river port of the country in the late 1800s, and all the imported goods and articles arrived to Bogota through this port city. The city goes by the names of “city of bridges” with more than 40 in the vicinity, and also by “city of peace” as this area escaped most of the violence of the 1950s.
We will have dinner, update our growing trip lists and enjoy a good night’s rest at our colonial-style hotel. Our hotel is a historic place, with its origins dating back to the late 1800s. But don’t worry, it has been thoroughly revamped recently!
Bella Vista Natural Reserve and Rio Claro
We start our day with another hearty breakfast and some quality coffee, after which we pack up, check out and head further north.
We are heading for the Bella Vista reserve, a protected area that, although small, is teeming with birds, many of them specialties that will surely crave your ornithological appetite. The reserve protects a tract of humid forest in the middle Magdalena valley.
Birding in the reserve is mainly along the roadside. The reserve has recently gained a reputation among birders as a relatively easy place to see Tody Motmot, a species that, although widely distributed, is quite difficult to see in most places. The endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia, the intimidating Collared Aracari, endemic White-mantled Barbet, aptly-named Beautiful Woodpecker, endemic Antioquia Bristle Tyrant and the stunning Saffron-headed Parrot are only a few of the other amazing species this site has to offer.
Some more species we could see include Black-faced Antthrush, Blue-headed Parrot, Scarlet-fronted and Orange-chinned Parakeet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Sooty Ant Tanager, Yellow-browed Shrike-Vireo, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Masked Tityra, Olivaceous Piculet, Violet-bellied Hummingbird and many others. Five species of manakin can also be observed at Bellavista: Striped, Blue-crowned, Golden-headed, White-bearded and White-bibbed Manakin.
Mammals that inhabit the reserve include vulnerable Spectacled Bear, South American Coati, weasel-like Tayra, near-threatened Olinguito and even Puma.
The afternoon will be spent en route to the Rio Claro Reserve, with some birding once we arrive (time permitting). We will get together in our beautiful and birder-friendly hotel, update our lists around the dinner table and then get a good night’s rest after a good meal. This is our home for the next two nights.
Oilbird Caves and Rio Claro Reserve
We have a full day to explore the Rio Claro Reserve and its many avian treasures.
We will take a short drive to La Cueva del Condor, a cave that was named after a legendary condor. However, no condor currently inhabits the area, but we will be on a search for the bizarre Oilbird. It is the only nocturnal flying fruit-eating bird in the world, and uses bat-like sonar to navigate. It is the only species of the family Steatornithidae, and is endemic to South America.
After our exciting visit at the cave we will bird in the vicinity and search out some very territorial wrens: Bay, Black-bellied, and Band-backed Wren. We will also look for Yellow-rumped Cacique, Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Chestnut-headed and Crested Oropendola, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Swallow-tailed Kite, Broad-billed Motmot, Colombian Chachalaca, Roadside and Savanna Hawk, and many others.
Rio Claro (meaning “clear river”) is a hotspot for bird diversity and other birds we might encounter include the elusive Blue Cotinga, the endemic Magdalena Antbird, Purple-crowned Fairy, Bay-breasted and Buff-rumped Warbler, White-tailed and Black-throated Trogon, Rufous and Broad-billed Motmot, Orange-winged Amazon, Slaty-winged Foliage-gleaner, Western-Slaty (Black-crowned) Antshrike, Black-faced Antthrush, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Pacific and Moustached Antwren, Checker-throated Stipplethroat, Chestnut-backed and Dusky Antbird, Black Phoebe, One-colored and Cinnamon Becard, Bananaquit, Yellow-backed and Tawny-crested Tanager, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Orange-crowned Oriole and many others.
The reserve and surrounding areas are also home to several mammal species, and with some luck we could see species like the endangered Silvery-brown Bare-faced Tamarin, Common Opossum, Ocelot, Central American Agouti and Colombian Spiny Rat.
We will devote all afternoon to more birding in this fantastic area and return to our hotel for dinner and our overnight stay.
Rio Claro Reserve and flight to Barranquilla
Today we have a very full day; birding and travelling!
A full morning of birding in Rio Claro will have us birding along a dirt road in search for specials like the endemic White-mantled Barbet and Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and the very conspicuous Barred Puffbird. Another target we will hope to encounter is the endemic Magdalena Antbird.
Other birds we might encounter include Panama, Ochre-bellied and Ruddy-tailed Flycatcher, Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Purple and Green Honeycreeper, Rufous-tailed and Blue-chested Hummingbird, Rufous-breasted, Long-billed and Stripe-throated Hermit, Little Tinamou, Crested Owl, White-tailed and Gartered Trogon, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Citron-throated Toucan, Collared Aracari, Wedge-billed Woodcreeper, Olivaceous Piculet and Fulvous-vented Euphonia. We will also have the opportunity to find two species of manakin: Western Striped and White-bearded Manakin.
We will spend the afternoon driving up the central Andes to the Medellin airport to catch a one hour flight to Barranquilla.
Barranquilla lies strategically next to the delta of the massive Magdalena River, 8 kilometres (5 miles) from its mouth at the Caribbean, serving as an important port for river and maritime transportation within Colombia, and is rightly called “Colombia’s Golden Gate”. The city is home to one of the most important folk and cultural festivals of Colombia, the Carnival of Barranquilla, which was declared a National Cultural Heritage by the Congress of Colombia in 2001 and recognized by UNESCO in 2003. It is basically one huge street party! The city, Colombia’s fourth largest, also has plenty of excellent restaurants, lively bars and some decent museums.
Depending on our arrival time to Barranquilla, an afternoon of birding in search for the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca is possible near town. This is one of the most attractive chachalacas in Colombia and possibly all of South America. The dry forests in the outskirts of town will also provide opportunities for species such as the very photogenic Russet-throated Puffbird and the common Brown-throated Parakeet.
We will have dinner at our comfortable city hotel. After a week together we could start talking about birding trips we would like to do in future to some other exotic places on the planet! Then we are off to bed for a good night’s rest, because tomorrow we head to another top spot on our tour.
Isla Salamanca National Park and Minca
We will have an early breakfast at the hotel and then set off.
We will spend the morning birding at Isla Salamanca National Park, 35 minutes from Barranquilla. The flora and fauna is quite spectacular here because of the interesting mix of sweet water flowing from the Magdalena river and saline water of the Caribbean sea.
The park was created in 1964 to specifically protect the abundant birdlife and coastal mangroves. In 1998 it became a Ramsar Wetland of International importance, and in 2000 the park was designated a Biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Mangrove forests, tropical dry forests, riparian forest and deciduous woodland cover most of the area. The park is home to 33 mammal species, 9 species of amphibians, 35 species of reptiles, more than 140 fish species and nearly 200 bird species.
We will bird the newly rebuilt walkways through the mangroves in search of Sapphire-throated, Shining-green and Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Bicolored Conebill, Brown-throated Parakeet, Green-and-rufous Kingfisher and Yellow-chinned Spinetail among many others. We will also have time to bird some wetlands in the area in search of Northern Screamer and other specialties. Other species we could add to our lists include Black-collared Hawk, Snail Kite, Golden-green, Spot-breasted and Red-rumped Woodpecker, Yellow Oriole, Panamanian and Venezuelan Flycatcher and a variety of warblers, herons, egrets and other waterfowl.
After a great morning of birding we will embark on a 2 hour drive to Minca, a quaint little tourist town with nice lodging along the river. Located in the foothills of the famous Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, home to 22 endemic species, Minca is a great location to bird for lower elevation species. This will be our first taste of the amazing birding the Santa Marta mountain range has to offer.
We will arrive in town and visit some hummingbird feeders while having lunch where Rufous-breasted Hermit, Coppery Emerald, Black-throated Mango, Long-billed Starthroat, the near endemic Red-billed Emerald and Violet-crowned Woodnymph can be found.
We will also have time to explore the surroundings in search of birds such as Black-backed Antshrike, Scaled Piculet, Swallow Tanager, Lance-tailed Manakin, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Pale-tipped Inezia, Keel-billed Toucan, Masked Tityra, Whooping Motmot and even Rufous Nightjar.
After another exciting day we will go to our stylish mountain hotel to update our lists and have a fantastic Colombian-Italian dinner, afterwards chatting the evening away while practically on top of the Rio Gaira.
Minca to El Dorado Lodge
The morning starts with early coffee and a quick breakfast. Then we pack up, check out and hit the mountains!
This day will have us birding through a vast altitudinal gradient, birding different elevations along the road to the legendary El Dorado Lodge. This drive is one that you will never forget, not just for the amazing birding, but also the spectacular views.
Birding slowly up the mountain will surely yield a large number of species, including Golden-winged Sparrow, Rosy Thrush-tanager, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, the recently described Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Scaled Piculet, Rosy Thrush-tanager, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Black-backed Antshrike, the magnificently coloured Blue-naped Chlorophonia, recently split Santa Marta Antbird, and the attractive Rufous-capped Warbler among many, many others.
We will spend the next three nights in the El Dorado Reserve, overnighting at the famous El Dorado Lodge. The reserve was created in 2006, based on the urgency of conserving one of the most fragile and important zones in Colombia, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, home to a large number of unique bird, plant and animal species. It currently covers an area of almost 2000 acres, in an altitudinal range between 9,00 and 2,600 meters above sea level. One of the most important characteristics of both fauna and flora of the reserve is the presence of a large number of endemic species or species with some degree of threat of extinction. The mountains are home to 19 Colombian endemics and an additional 14 species found only in Colombia and neighbouring Venezuela.
We will settle in at the wonderful lodge and check out the feeding stations or walk around the lodge’s beautiful grounds looking for more species. We could pick up Band-tailed Guan, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Scaly-naped Amazon, Red-billed and Blue-headed Parrot, Crested Oropendola, Masked Trogon, White-tailed Starfrontlet, White-necked Jacobin, Tyrian Metaltail, Crowned Woodnymph, Lesser, Brown and Sparkling Violetear, Lazuline Sabrewing, Santa Marta Woodstar and many more.
Then it’s dinner time and a chance for us to update our lists and socialise. Afterwards we are off to bed following another exciting day.
El Dorado Lodge (Cerro Kennedy)
We will rise early and head up to higher elevations towards Cerro Kennedy, in search of these endemics: Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain Tanager, Santa Marta Bush Tyrant, Brown-rumped Tapaculo and Hermit Wood Wren among many others.
We will have a picnic at high elevation with great views of the Sierra Nevada, and bird along the road on our way down, hoping to run into awe inspiring species such as Swallow Tanager, Groove-billed and Santa Marta Toucanet, Black-chested Jay, the endemic White-lored Warbler, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Paramo Seedeater, the near endemic White-tipped Quetzal and with lots of luck even Military Macaw.
By now you will have realised why this area is often on the list of “top 10 birding sites in South America”. It is a magical experience on so many levels, including numbers and diversity of avian species, but also in terms of natural beauty and stunning photographic opportunities.
Other species we could see today include Broad-winged and White-rumped Hawk, Plumbeous Kite, Band-winged Nightjar, Stygian and Mottled Owl, Plushcap, Smoky-brown and Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Plain and Streaked Xenops, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Slaty-backed Nightingale-Thrush, Black Flowerpiercer and many more.
We will return to the lodge in the afternoon to do some more local birding and after dinner we will certainly scout for the endemic and recently described Santa Marta Screech Owl. Then we will settle in for a good night’s rest after an amazing day.
El Dorado Lodge
We start with breakfast and some more fantastic Colombian coffee.
After breakfast we will have time to enjoy the well-maintained feeders at the lodge. Hummingbirds that visit the feeders include the endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet, White-vented Plumeteer, and Long-tailed Hermit among many others. The bananas that are put out attract, amongst others, the Santa Marta and Colombian Brushfinch, both endemics. The many flowers in the garden attract White-sided and Black Flowerpiercer.
Mammals that occur in these mountains are varied, and with luck we could see several species during our birding walks here. These include tapirs, squirrels, otters, deer, rodents (like Santa Marta Porcupine) and even Puma or Jaguar!
The importance of this area for avian conservation cannot be overstated. The Santa Marta mountains are an Endemic Bird Area (one of 20 in Colombia), but unfortunately are seriously threatened by agricultural expansion, logging and burning. This EBA is formally protected within the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park (covering some 3,830 km2), the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve (embracing a further 3,480 km2) and Tayrona National Park. However these formal designations have done little to protect the birds of this EBA and several are under serious threat of extinction.
We will also spend some time trying to see the Santa Marta Antpitta, a skulking species that will definitely take some work. A day of birding near the lodge will have its rewards though, a special treat being the near endemic Black-fronted Wood Quail that visits the lodge’s compost pile in the afternoon.
In the late afternoon and early evening we might also see some interesting mammals. Keep an eye out around the lodge grounds for Colombian Night Monkey, Kinkajou and Crab-eating Fox. At the end of another exciting day on the mountains we will have dinner and socialise into the evening.
El Dorado Lodge to Tayrona National Park
We start our day with a final breakfast at El Dorado Lodge, then maybe a final walk around the grounds to make sure we didn’t miss any species.
Then we pack up and thank the wonderful staff as we leave this magical place.
We will spend the day birding the road en route to our beachside hotel. We will make stops along our 3 to 4 hour drive to catch any birds we may have missed on the way to the coast. We could also see species like Black-chested Jay, Tropical Kingbird, Great Kiskadee, Pale-vented Pigeon, Yellow-headed Caracara, American Kestrel, Tropical Mockingbird and more.
We will arrive at our accommodation in the middle of the afternoon, giving us enough time to enjoy our lodge and its stunning surroundings. The lodge is located right on the beach, basically on top of a rock, between the river Pledras and the Caribbean sea, and only a 5 minute drive from the main entrance of the Tayrona National Park in Santa Marta.
On a walk in the lodge’s grounds or a little further afield we could see Brown Pelican, Black and Turkey Vulture, Magnificent Frigatebird, Smooth-billed Ani, Great-tailed Grackle, Great and Snowy Egret, Royal Tern, Green Heron and many more.
We will get together after freshening up and enjoy a fantastic dinner at the lodge, before socialising into the evening and then settling in for a good night’s rest.
Tayrona National Park and Riohacha
After breakfast at the lodge we unfortunately check out and hop into the vehicle.
We will have a morning visit to the nearby Tayrona National Park. The park covers approximately 30 km2 (12 sq mi) of maritime area in the Caribbean sea and approximately 150 km2 (58 sq mi) of land. It is one of the most visited national parks in Colombia, as it contains not just abundant natural beauty, but also about 108 species of mammals and 300 species of birds.
If we are lucky, the critically endangered Blue-billed Curassow could show up for us. Otherwise, this is a great place to see some species which we are not as likely to see elsewhere on the trip. One abundant bird that is easy to see here is the stunning Lance-tailed Manakin. Sometimes it can be found with its relative, the White-bearded Manakin. The birds here are varied, from Crane Hawk and Boat-billed Heron to Greater Ani, Solitary Eagle, White-necked Puffbird and Rufous-tailed Jacamar. Blue-headed Parrot is common, and Lineated Woodpeckers are impressive to see as they forage on the large trees.
White-bellied Antbirds belt out their song from the understory, and maybe they will even show themselves. The complex songs of Buff-breasted and Bicolored Wrens are heard in the forest, along with the repetitive songs of Scrub Greenlets, nasal sounds of Barred Antshrikes or loud calls of Boat-billed and Streaked Flycatchers. Crimson-backed Tanagers and the gorgeous Red-legged Honeycreepers give a lot of colour to the local flocks. While our visit to Tayrona will be cursory, we will see a lot, and enjoy the company of our trained guides here who will have the pulse on where all the special birds are.
While birding here it is common to see the Cotton-top Tamarin, a gorgeous little monkey dwarfed by the less common White-fronted Capuchin. We could also tick Red-tailed Squirrel, Central American Agouti and Colombian Red Howler Monkey.
The afternoon will be spent driving to Riohacha, about 2 to 3 hours to the east, with a stop at a known spot where Double-striped Thick-knee is often seen.
Founded by conquistador Nikolaus Federmann in 1535, Riohacha was named after a local legend “The legend of the Axe”. The friendly town is a gateway to the desert region of La Guajira and has become somewhat of a traveller hub, with tourists from all over the world congregating here before moving on. During colonial times Riohacha was a very important port due to the discovery of vast numbers of pearls in the area. The town boasts a beautiful 3 mile long palm tree-lined beach and an old pier perfect for an evening stroll.
Our hotel for the night is, again, right on the beach! We will freshen up and have dinner while updating our trip lists and counting all our new species! Then we are off to bed for a good night’s rest.
Los Flamencos National Park and flight to Bogota
We will enjoy breakfast at the lodge and then leave for an exciting final day of birding on our amazing Colombia tour.
Very close to the city of Riohacha is Los Flamencos National Park and the village of Camarones. This is the western edge of the Guajira desert, where dry forest becomes shorter and sparser and bare dry earth separates the trees from each other. But before you have a mistaken idea of a parched world, Los Flamencos is on the coast and it has shallow water bodies that fill as the rains come, and evaporate during the dry season. These evaporating ponds concentrate salt, and then brine shrimp bloom which brings in the namesake bird of the park – American Flamingos! Their numbers vary depending on water levels, but they can be here in the hundreds on a good day. If you have not had enough pink, how about the even brighter Scarlet Ibis? They concentrate here as well, with their very close relatives the American White Ibis. They are so close in fact that every once in a while a hybrid “Pink Ibis” is seen here. Gulls, terns, and many migratory shorebirds are to be found at Los Flamencos.
Retreating to the forest though, one is quite surprised that a series of very attractive regional specialties are found here. The sole South American offshoot of what is really a North American group, the strikingly red Vermilion Cardinal can be seen here. The very good looking White-whiskered Spinetail is also on our target list here.
We will also search for Crested Bobwhite, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Black-crested Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Buffy Hummingbird, Russet-throated Puffbird, Chestnut Piculet, Tocuyo Sparrow, Slender-billed Inezia and Orinoco Saltator, amongst many others.
After lunch we will drive the short distance to Almirante Padilla Airport in Riohacha, from where we will take a 90 minute flight to El Dorado airport in Bogota.
We will check into our comfortable hotel close to the airport. Then we will get together for our Nature Travel Birding farewell dinner in the restaurant We will chat and socialise into the evening, exchanging photos and email addresses, having made friends for life!
Departure from Bogota
After a final breakfast we will pack our bags, check out and head to the El Dorado International Airport nearby. At the airport we will say our goodbyes after our fantastic, lifer-rich birding tour in colourful Colombia.
Do you have a quick question about this birding tour? Speak to a specialist at