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Colombia Birding (8 days)

This birds and natural history tour focuses on Northern Colombia where the worlds' highest coastal mountain range creates the largest center of continental endemics.

Colombia is a very attractive country for birdwatchers.  It has the largest number of species in the world with over 1900, in large part owing to the complexity of its diverse geography.  We travel to Northern Colombia where the Andes splits into three distinct ranges with valleys lying between. We will visit Caribbean Colombia and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta with its incredible abundance of endemic species. We include Guajira peninsula (driest area of Colombia) with a high number of threatened species, and Tayrona Park a lush rain forest with beautiful white sand beaches. 


Birding in Northern Colombia (8 days) 

Includes Birding in Salamaca National Park, Tayronaka Naure Reserve, Flamingos National Park, Minca & Santa Marta Mountain, Dorado Nature Reserve.

Tour Cost: $ 2,675 USD per person from Barranquilla 
Domestic flights from Bogata can be added

2017 - 2018 Departure dates & costs

August 5 - 12, 2017
November 20 - December 12, 2017
December 5 - 12, 2017

January 5 - 12, 2018
February 3 - 10, 2018
March 5 - 12, 2018
August 5 - 12, 2018
November 20 - December 12, 2018
December 5 - 12, 2018


Itinerary in brief

Day 1:  Arrival at Barranquilla (D)
Day 2:  Salamanca National Park (Mangroves) (B,L,D)
Day 3:  Tayronaka Natural Reserve (Rain forest) (B,L,D)
Day 4:  Flamingos National Park (Dry forest) (B,L,D)
Day 5:  Minca (Foothills of the Santa Marta Mountain) (B,L,D)
Day 6:  Dorado Natural Reserve (Cloud forest) (B,L,D)
Day 7:  Dorado to Minca (B,L,D)
Day 8: Departure from Barranquilla (B)

Extensions to Bogata, Medillin, Cartagena, Coffee culture region, or the Colombian Amazon can compliment this trip. Ask for details.


Tour leaders

Gabriel Utria: Biologist from the University of Magdalena, bird lover, manager of Birding Santa Marta and S.A.S tour operator. Gabriel knows his birds ~ especially those from Northern Colombia and for 5 years he has guided groups of national and international visitors. He is the first Colombian to observe 1000 species of birds of Colombia in a single month.

Ricardo Martinez: A biologist at the University of Magdalena, passionate bird, Ricardo has worked on several projects for bird conservation, designing management plans and conservation strategies with local communities. For more than 3 years he has guided groups of bird watchers in Northern Colombia.


Additional Information

SALAMANCA NATIONAL PARK: In this place there are mangroves, with a very dense population Conebill bicoloured, sharing habitat with Black-crested Antshrike and Northern waterthrush. Also you can see the Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird. Along the coast we will see Magnificent frigatebird and numerous Brown pelicans and a host of herons and waders out in the marshes of the Reddish Egret, Tricolored and Great Blue Herons, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Semipalmated and Wilson's Plovers, Willet, Whimbrel, Short-billed Dowitcher, Stilt Sandpiper and Gull-billed, Caspian, Royal and Sandwich Terns.

TAYRONAKA NATIONAL RESERVE: A magical place in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, exploring a trail alone to the river Don Diego with a lush forest where there are attractive birds like the Lance-tailed Manakin, White-bellied Antbird, Southern Bentbill, Black-crowned Antshrike, Cocoa Woodcreeper, among another.

FLAMINGOS NATIONAL PARK. Coastal habitats and the desert of the Guajira Peninsula have a wide variety of bird species with restricted distribution in northeastern Colombia and northern Venezuela, including species such as Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Buffy Hummingbird, Russet-throated Puffbird, Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Inezia, Orinocan Saltator, and the splendid Vermillion Cardinal. In coastal lagoons can be seen American Flamingo, Scarlet Ibis, migratory waders and a lot of other waterfowl.

MINCA: In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada this village of coffee growers with primary forests that conserve a great diversity of birds of this mountain to observe species of birds Golden-winged Sparrow, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Coppery Emerald, Rosy Thrush- Tanager, Rufous-breasted Wren, Scaled Piculet, Whooping Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan, Rufous-tailed Jacamar and Cocoa Woodcreeper and others.

DORADO NATURAL RESERVE: The Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain in the world, this is isolated from the Andes mountains with 28 birds endemic, among these the birds are critically endangered by its restricted range and habitat destruction Santa Marta Parakeet, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Rusty-headed Spinetail, and a race that may be divided Rufous Antpitta.

Access: 2-3 hours from Santa Marta to El Dorado lodge in 4x4 vehicle, and some access by foot.Birding around the lodge is often productive: Santa Marta Brush-Finches are common in the garden, which includes a Crested Oropendula colony. Hummingbirds include the uncommon endemics Blossomcrown and Santa Marta Woodstar. Tanagers visit the feeding trays: look for Black-capped Tanager and Blue-naped Chlorophonias. The lodge clearing, with a view of the Caribbean below, is a good place to look for flying Scarlet-fronted Parakeets and White-rumped Hawks. There is also a newly discovered endemic Screech Owl species that often can be found close to the lodge. Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Santa Marta Toucanet, White-tipped Quetzal, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Spinetail, Gray-throated Leaftosser, Santa Marta Antpitta, Golden-breasted Fruiteaters, Black-hooded Thrush and White-lored Warblers can all be found in the forests adjacent to the lodge.

There are several trails helpful for locating skulking birds, although the best birding is often along the lightly-traveled road. Many of the endemics are found primarily at higher elevations above the lodge, including Santa Marta Parakeet, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Rusty-headed Spinetail, the distinctive endemic subspecies of the Rufous Antpitta, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta Mountain Tanager, Yellow-crowned Whitestart and Santa Marta Warbler. The peaks of the Sierra – the highest in Colombia- are usually visible in the early morning. Don’t forget to watch the skies for Scaly-naped Parrots and several raptors: Andean Condor, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, and Semicollared Hawk.

There are also fantastic birds to be found along the road below the lodge. The forest here is largely excellent; search for Blossomcrown, Keel-billed Toucan, an endemic foliage-gleaner that awaits formal scientific description (formerly considered a subspecies of Ruddy Foliage-gleaner), Gray-throated Leaftosser, Scaled and Rusty-breasted Antpittas, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Venezuelan Tyrannulet, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Rufous-breasted Wren, Black-headed Tanager. We will bird on the slopes up and down the Sierra Nevada mountain slopes.

Included in the price
~ Accommodation (double occupancy) ~ Meals as indicated ~ Local transport ~ Entrance fees ~ Hotel taxes ~ Bird list of the Santa Marta area 

Not included
 * International or domestic air * Activities or services marked as 'optional' * Meals not included in the itinerary * Tips and personal expenses * Alcoholic or other drinks * Travel or medical insurance

Note: * Passport must be valid for at least six months