8 - 12 participants
Join Mollee Brown & George Armistead of Life List: A Birding Podcast, & Chris Bell of The Birder’s Show, plus a great bunch of Colombian friends for a special event.
Based in the Coffee Triangle for five full days of birding & fun, we then head for the Colombia Birdfair in the city of Cali for an additional three nights. These two areas offer an incredible array of birds, with fantastic opportunities to bird with Colombian birders, while sampling some of the world’s best bird-friendly coffee, and enjoying fun evenings, socializing and discussing/learning about birds. Field outings will offer us the chance to hit cloud forest and paramo habitat, with even a little lower foothill birding mixed in as well. Our focus is on immersing ourselves in the birds, while getting to learn from Colombians about their country and their biodiversity.
Why you’ll love this tour
- A unique, budget-friendly event in the world’s most species-diverse country
- Fantastic birding, networking, and social opportunities
- Familiarize yourself with this uber-friendly country full of birders
- Enjoy the Colombia Birdfair’s field trips, conferences, and workshops with local birders
- See endemic birds, including great antpittas and hummingbirds
- Sample world-class Colombian cuisine and coffee
Includes entry to Colombia Birdfair
Plus 4-6 leaders
February 10-19, 2023
Day 1, February 10: Arrival in Manizales
Day 2, Febuary 11: Bosque Chec
Day 3, February 12: Hacienda El Bosque
Day 4, February 13: Tinamu
Day 5, February 14: Rio Blanco reserve
Day 6, February 15: Los Nevados National park
Day 7, February 16: Transfer to Cali
Day 8, February 17: Colombia Birdfair
Day 9, February 18: Colombia Birdfair
Day 10, February 19: Depart for home or post-tour
Meet your hosts and guides
Juan Manuel Cardona
Locations we'll visit
Tinamu Reserve is a birding sanctuary located on 15 ha. of a dry forest at 4,019 feet asl. With over 240 species of birds registered and a really good set of trails and hummingbird feeders, this hotspot promises to be a delight for birders and photographers alike. Hummingbirds of interest include the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Black-throated Mango, White-vented Plumeleteer, Steely-vented Hummingbird, and Green Hermit.
Other birds of particular interest include Little Tinamu, Blue-headed Parrot, Acorn Woodpecker, Flame-rumped Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Common Potoo, Brown-throated Parakeet, Giant Cowbird, Cocoa Thrush, (E) Grayish Piculet, Tropical Screech-Owl, Mustached Puffbird, and the amazing Golden-collared Manakin.
Rio Blanco is the go-to spot for three very attractive species: Masked Saltator, Bicolored Antpitta (NE), and (E) Brown-banded Antpitta. The two Antpittas are commonly heard and both are seen readily at feeding stations. The Saltator is regular, but certainly not guaranteed. The other 2 important birds to see here include Chestnut Wood-quail and Rusty-faced Parrot.
We will spend much of the day exploring the excellent network of trails looking out for such marvelous species like Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, (NE) Western Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Gray-browed Brush-Finch, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Crimson-mantled, Bar-bellied, and Powerful Woodpeckers, Golden-plumed and Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, White-throated Quail-Dove, Pale-footed Swallow, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Grass-green Blue-winged Tanager, Stygian Owl, and Andean Pygmy-Owl.
Hacienda El Bosque, the newest addition to top birding hotspots in Colombia is located at high Andean Forest and Sub-paramo ecosystems between 9,180 to 12,700 feet asl and home to two fantastic bird species, difficult to find elsewhere; the absolutely gorgeous Crescent-faced Antpitta and Grey-breasted Mountain-toucan!.
The Antpitta is a regular visitor to a successful feeding station and the Mountain-Toucan actually comes to eat grapes!. Other birds of interest here and around include Rufous Antpitta, Golden-fronted Redstart, Pearled Treerunner, Mountain Velvetbreast, and Barred Fruiteater.
Paramo del Ruiz is located at a staggering 13,300 feet asl, breathing gets a bit difficult at this elevation but we have been slowly gaining elevation throughout the tour and a Coca tea helps a lot. At Paramo del Ruiz we will be looking for some amazing target species including the dazzling, endangered, and very localized (E) Buffy Helmetcrest, a plump little hummingbird that feeds exclusively from the espeletia flowers characteristic of Paramo ecosystems, and the marvelous (E) Rufous-fronted Parakeet.
Other birds of interest include Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Tawny Antpitta, White-chinned Thistletail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Andean Condor, Many-striped Canastero, Paramo Seedeater, Noble Snipe, and Black Flowerpiercer.
El Color de Mis Reves High in an Andean Mountain cloud forest we find the magnificent Color de Mis Reves lodge, a special hotspot perfectly conditioned for us to enjoy a day of birding and photography. The main target at this location is the magnificent Black-billed Mountain-Toucan which can be seen regularly in the trees surrounding the property. Over 90 species of birds call el Color de Mis reves home including the highly regarded Ocellated Tapaculo (coming to a feeder), Bicolored Antpitta, Andean Pygmy Owl, Dusky Antpitta, and Lacrimose Mountain-tanager.
Recinto del Pensamiento is a nice and conveniently located hotel in the coffee region of Colombia. Its privileged location will put us on a 2 hours drive to any birding hotspot part of this tour. The hotel rooms are very comfortable, we will have access to areas for talks and presentations, the restaurant is pretty good and the surrounding area is ideal for a lazy stroll in the late afternoon.
The hotel has small patches of forest and wetland that can be explored for some coveted bird species like Sparkling Violetear, Speckled Hummingbird, Buff-tailed Coronet, Southern Lapwing, Roadside Hawk, Andean Motmot, Azara’s Spinetail, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Slate-throated Redstart, White-sided, and Masked Flowerpiercer.
Pricing and more details
Tour Price/person*: $2,725
Single supplement: $150
Final Payment Due: 18 November 2022 (or at registration if after)
*Based on double occupancy at lodgings. If there are fewer than 8 registrants, this tour may be canceled or re-negotiated. Note that if you want a roommate we can try to find you one, but we cannot guarantee all guests a roommate. If none is available, you will be charged the single supplement. The event price (fee) includes services from upon arrival on Day 1/Feb. 10th in Pereira (PEI), until the end of the Colombia Birdfair in Cali on Day 10/Feb. 19th, including:
- All meals from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on Day 10.
- All accommodations from Day 1 through until Day 10.
- All transport from pick-up on Day 1 through to drop-off on Day 10.
- All guiding services, access permits, fees and tolls.
Excluded from your tour fee are:
- Any flights.
- Alcoholic beverages, laundry services, charges to your hotel room, or other items of a personal nature.
- Visa fees, airport taxes, airline baggage fees, etc.
Pace, Rigor, Climate, and Pests
- Moderate to relaxed pace
- Comfortable accommodations
- Time spent at high elevation (11,000 ft above sea level, or higher for a day or two)
- Humid but cool or pleasant weather expected, with a chance of cold & wet weather
- Few if any biting insects expected
We strongly recommend all guests purchase travel insurance, including coverage for medical evacuation services and trip curtailment, trip interruption (including in case of contracting COVID), in advance of this event. It is important to protect against financial losses in the event that a registrant becomes unable to participate. Note that such coverage is often non-refundable so please check with our team before purchasing it, to confirm the event is to proceed as planned.
If cancellation is received:
- 180 days or more prior to the start of the tour, a full refund minus a $250/person processing fee is issued to registrant(s).
- Between 179 and 90 days prior to the start of the tour, half of the tour fee will be returned to the registrant.
- 89 days or less prior to departure, no refund of payments or deposits are issued.
The team at Life List reserves the right to refuse service to any registrant/participant who acts disruptive or in a manner inconsistent with the goals of the tour. All guests are expected to comply with the rules and agenda set forth by the guide(s) of the tour, and to behave in a way that is considerate and conducive to a quality group experience.
Please contact us if you have any questions about if a tour is a good fit for your goals and/or level of fitness.
5-day Pre-Tour: Savanna ‘Llanos’ and Magdalena Valley
On this tour, we will drive southeast from Bogota, beyond the Andes cordillera, and onto foothills to what is known as the Colombian ‘llanos’. A wild open mix of grasslands, savanna forest, gallery forest, and seasonally flooded wetlands home to vast numbers of colorful birds and mammals like the well-regarded Capybara.
On the last 2 days of the tour, we will drive west from Bogota, visiting a couple of hotspots of the Magdalena Valley that divides eastern from central Andes cordillera. This low-elevation tropical forest valley is home to a large concentration of biodiversity including endemic birds, mammals, spiders, and snakes.
Day 1, February 6: Bogotá – La Herrería trail – Rancho Camana
Day 2, February 7:Bosque Bavaria and Sendero Ruta Vial
Day 3, February 8: Rancho Camana and back to Bogota
Day 4, February 9: Tabacal Lagoon and Enchanted Garden
Day 5, February 10: Bellavista Natural Reserve and Recinto del Pensamiento
7-day Pre-Tour: Inirida
Day 1, February 4: Arrival in Bogota
Day 2, February 5: Transfer flight to Inirida; birding Caño Culebra and Rio Inirida
Day 3, February 6: Birding Caño Carbón & Sabanitas
Day 4, February 7: Birding in Matraca trail and Caño Cunuben
Day 5, February 8: Birding Caño Vitina & Cerros Mavecure
Day 6, February 9: Birding Rincón Vitina and transfer to airport; flight to Bogota
Day 7, February 10: Breakfast and flight to Manizales
7-day Post-Tour: Santa Marta Mountains
The highest peak in this coastal mountain range lies just 28 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, yet rises to a height of 18,950 feet. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is separated from the Andes by a wide valley, resulting in a hotbed for endemism in the Americas. The main route to access these endemic species is a road that leads from the small town of Minca (located at ~2,000 ft. elevation) up to Cerro Kennedy (~7,700 ft.) at the top of the San Lorenzo Ridge. Within this relatively short distance, it is possible to observe 19 endemic bird species!
Day 1: Flight from Cali to Santa Marta – Minca
Day 2: Birding Minca towards el Dorado Natural Reserve
Day 3: San Lorenzo Ridge in the morning and El Dorado in the afternoon
Day 4: El Dorado – Minca – Palomino
Day 5: Los Flamencos Flora & Fauna Sanctuary: Camarones
Day 6: Palomino – Las Gaviotas – Barranquilla
Day 7: Universidad del Norte, Km 4 via Palomino and Salamanca
10-day Post-Tour: Pasto to Pitalito
Day 1, February 20: Transfer to Pasto; birding by boat around Laguna de Cocha
Day 2, February 21: Birding in Paramo Bordoncillo
Day 3, February 22: Birding the high area of Trampolin de las Aves
Day 4, February 23: Birding the low area of Trampolin de las Aves
Day 5, February 24: Transfer and birding at El Encanto Lodge and Reserve
Day 6, February 25: Birding at El Encanto Lodge and Reserve
Day 7, February 26: Birding at El Encanto Lodge and Reserve
Day 8, February 27: Birding and tour of the Arqueological Park in San Agustine
Day 9, February 28: Transfer flight to Bogota
Day 10, March 1: Breakfast and departure