Day 1 – Arrival in Bogotá
Our Colombia birding tour starts with a welcome dinner at our hotel in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia. If you are joining from our Colombia: Santa Marta birding tour, welcome to Bogotá! If you are just arriving, welcome to Colombia! Night in Bogotá.
Day 2 – Birding the Bogotá region
Temperatures will be mostly pleasant to cool. We will concentrate on the eastern Andes northeast of Bogotá today, departing before dawn so that we avoid the city’s heavy traffic. We will have a field breakfast en route and spend much of the day birding in and near Chingaza National Park. This park has páramo (alpine grassland) with martian-looking Espeletia plants --home to Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Matorral (Pale-bellied) Tapaculo, Tawny Antpitta and White-chinned Thistletail—and also forest/forest edge with Brown-breasted (Flame-winged) Parakeet, Rufous-browed Conebill, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Black-capped Hemispingus, Agile Tit-Tyrant, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, as well as many other species. In the afternoon we will visit the wonderful Observatorio de Colibríes where 18 species of hummingbirds have been recorded visiting the feeders, including some species that we are not likely to see elsewhere on the tour such as Blue-fronted Starfrontlet, Black-tailed Trainbearer and often also Golden-bellied Puffleg and Green-tailed Trainbearer. Night in Bogotá.
Day 3 –westward toward Ibagué
We have a fairly early departure with breakfast in the field, this time heading west of Bogotá. Our first stop will be at Laguna Pedro Palo, a beautiful lake with patches of cloud forest nearby. Birds here include Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Moustached Puffbird, Scrub Tanager, Moustached Brushfinch and if we are very lucky the rare Black Inca and Turquoise Dacnis. We will break the long drive to Ibagué by stopping for lunch and then making a birding stop in the warmer, seasonally dry forest near Payandé, hoping to find Apical Flycatcher and Velvet-fronted Euphonia, White-bellied Antbird, Cinereous Becard, Spectacled Parrotlet, and with luck Dwarf Cuckoo. Night in Ibagué.
Day 4 - Cloud Forest birding above Ibagué; transfer to Otun Quimbaya
This morning we will visit Combeima in the cool, forested slopes of the central Andes above Ibagué, home to Yellow-headed Brush-Finch, which is usually fairly easy to see, as well as Tolima Dove, Tolima Blossomcrown, White-vented Plumeleteer, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Olivaceous Piculet, and several species of tanager. In late morning, we’ll drive to Otun Quimbaya, at an elevation of 6,500 feet, stopping near Pereira to look for Torrent Duck. Night in Otun Quimbaya.
Day 5 –Otun Quimbaya Reserve
We will spend a day and a half at this delightful reserve in mostly pleasant temperatures, walking along beautiful trails through pristine forest where we look for the endemic Cauca Guan (long thought to be extinct until a healthy population was rediscovered in 1989), Chestnut Wood-Quail, Streak-capped Treehunter, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Variegated and Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrants, Chestnut-breasted Wren, White-capped Tanager and the breathtakingly gorgeous and aptly named Multicoloured Tanager. Night in Otun Quimbaya.
Day 6 – Otun Quimbaya Reserve and transfer to Manizales
After a relaxed morning’s birding and lunch at Otun Quimbaya Reserve, we drive to Manizales, with birding stops on the way. Night in Manizales.
Day 7 - Rio Blanco Reserve
The Rio Blanco reserve not only provides quality water to the city of Manizales but is habitat to many marvellous bird species that can be seen along gently sloping tracks through the cool forest. Hummingbird feeders attract Speckled Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, Bronzy and Collared Incas, Tourmaline Sunangel, Long-tailed Sylph, Wedge-billed Hummingbird and White-bellied Woodstar. A couple of antpitta feeding stations are visited by Brown-banded, Chestnut-crowned, Bicolored, Undulated and Chestnut-naped Antpittas, and Gray-browed Brush-Finch. We also have a chance to see Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Rufous Spinetail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Pearled Treerunner, Striped Treehunter, and Blackish, Ash-colored and Spillman’s Tapaculos. In the afternoon we head back down to our hotel in Manizales. Night in Manizales.
Day 8 - Los Nevados
Leaving just before dawn, we drive up toward Los Nevados National Park, spending most of the day at the edge of the national park and in the forested slopes below the park. Here there is a different suite of birds in the páramo and cloud forest- Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Shining Sunbeam, the nomadic Black-thighed and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Great Sapphirewing, Viridian Metaltail and Páramo Tapaculo. Other possibilities are Ocellated Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager and Black-backed Bush-Tanager. Tawny Antpittas can be quite approachable. Close to the National Park entrance we look for Buffy Helmetcrest, White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Plain-colored Seedeater and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. The marshy areas and water ponds will also give us a chance for Andean Teal and Noble Snipe. Night at Manizales.
Day 9 – Manizales to Jardín
After a relaxed breakfast, we will drive northwestwards to Jardín, with stops for birding and lunch on the way. Grayish Piculet is a distinct possibility on one of these stops. At Jardín we will visit a lek of impressive Andean Cock-of-the Rock.
Day 10 – Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve
Today we take jeeps up and spend the whole day at the Yellow-eared Parrot reserve. The endangered and spectacular Colombian endemic Yellow-eared Parrot is the key species here, but we will be on the lookout for several other special species. A growing population of 350 of the parrots inhabits the steep hillsides above Jardín, dependent upon the endangered wax palm for nesting and roosting sites. The landscape ranges from pastures to good forest, and holds Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, White-browed Spinetail, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Golden-faced Redstart, Golden-crowned Tanager, White-capped Tanager, and Tanager Finch, among many others. Night in Jardín.
Day 11– Transfer to Las Tangaras
We will transfer to the outstanding Las Tangaras Reserve, with birding stops on the way. We will arrive at Las Tangaras in time to watch the hummingbirds at the lodge hummingbird feeders.
Days 12 & 13– Las Tangaras
After an early breakfast (before dawn) we drive to a humid, mossy forest with a very high biodiversity where Chocó specialties occur. Goodies include especially a high number of hummingbirds (including many visiting a set of hummingbird feeders, including the spectacular Velvet-purple Coronet, White-tailed Hillstar, and Empress Brilliant and the cute Purple-throated Woodstar) and tanagers (Glistening-green, Purplish-mantled, Black-and-gold, Golden, Silvery-throated, Red-and-white, Rufous-throated, Bay-headed, Sapphire-spangled, Black-chinned and Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers). The number of species here is amazing, and other birds include Golden-headed Quetzal, Club-winged Manakin, Beautiful Jay, Pacific Tuftedcheek, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Uniform Treehunter, Bicolored Antvireo, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Andean and Black Solitaires, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, and Chestnut-breasted and Golden-collared Chlorophonias. Night at Las Tangaras.
Day 14 - Transfer to Medellín
After breakfast we leave Las Tangaras and head to warm Bolombolo, a site for the recently discovered Antioquia Wren, where we will also have a second chances for finding Moustached Puffbird, Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet. Then we will drive to Medellín, where we should have time to look for birds in the La Romera area above the Sabaneta neighborhood. New species that we may see include Red-bellied Grackle and Yellow-headed Manakin. Night in Medellín.
Day 15 - Departure
Our Colombia birding tour ends today. Participants can depart anytime.