For an informative overview of all our Colombia birding tours, see Colombia: Field Guides Tours.
This tour focuses on five hundred kilometers along and above the Cauca Valley, visiting both the Western and Central Andes. It is not only an itinerary rich in endemics of Colombia and the Choco biogeographic region, but a fun mix of birdy localities. Several international airlines serve the beautiful, modern city of Medellin, from which we will travel by road, departing from Cali.
One ProAves reserve has been set aside for the Chestnut-capped Piha, and not only is that recently described species present but two others, Parker's Antbird and Stiles's Tapaculo, are as well. Other possibilities along the forest trails include Multicolored and Black-and-gold tanagers, Indigo Flowerpiercer, and Red-bellied Grackle. Jardin in the Western Andes is a comfortable base from which to visit one of the last remaining homes of the Yellow-eared Parrot, which most resembles a small macaw. Surrounding forests harbor Purplish-mantled Tanager, Tanager Finch, and Munchique Wood-Wren (difficult).
Farther south, the university town of Manizales provides easy access to two areas in the Central Andes. A high-altitude national park offers a small chance for Rusty-fronted Parakeet, as well as some treeline and paramo species including Bearded Helmetcrest. At the Rio Blanco reserve we can take our meals watching 50+ hummingbirds of perhaps ten species, and then see how the antpitta feeding project is going (up to five species), hoping that the endemic Brown-banded is as easy to see as it was on five recent visits, and that the recently habituated Bicolored remains so. Other notables include Rusty-faced Parrot, Flammulated Treehunter, Dusky Piha, Masked Saltator, and White-capped Tanager.
Two simple lodges in the Western Andes will be our bases to access the wet montane Choco, where we will seek Gold-ringed Tanager, Black Solitaire, and Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, with a good chance for Choco Vireo. The Otun-Quimbaya reserve has accommodations within minutes on foot of a high density of both the endangered Cauca Guan and the normally scarce Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. We will also look for Crested Ant-Tanager and have another chance for Multicolored Tanager. And the trip is a two-week parade of Andean hummingbirds and tanagers.
A note about tour size: Our two longer Colombia tours are limited to just six participants, which means, of course, that they cost more than tours with larger limits. We realize that the price of a tour always matters, but we maintain the small limit for several reasons. First, several of our lodges have very few rooms, and while we certainly can't promise singles, we would very much like to avoid triples. Second, comfort in the vehicles matters on a trip long in miles and days, and we would like to preserve an open seat or two in our bus and also reduce crowding when we use multiple 4WD vehicles on several segments of the tours. And while smaller groups for our Colombia tours help relieve these logistical issues, they of course also bring added benefits to our ease of birding. When comparing ours with larger group tours, we think you'll agree our smaller limits are worth it.
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