The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated mountain range on the Caribbean coast of Colombia topped by the country’s highest peak, home to permanent snowfields that are within sight of the sea. This mountain range, separated from the Andes by about 50 miles, is also one of the most endemic-rich areas in the world, resulting in many avian endemics with "Santa Marta" in the name—frankly, it can be a bit repetitive!

Our tour starts and ends in the coastal city of Barranquilla, famous for being the hometown of several of Colombia’s biggest international celebrities (Sofia Vergara and Shakira, for starters!). We will visit nearby semi-deciduous woodlands, mangroves, and marshes along the lowest stretch of the great Magdalena River, which empties into the Caribbean Sea at the city. Our travels next will take us east to the Guajira Peninsula, near the Venezuelan border, where Colombia’s driest desert can be found, and with it some range-restricted specialties such as White-whiskered Spinetail, Tocuyo Sparrow, and Vermilion Cardinal. After suffering the heat of the lowlands (but the birds make it worth it!), we finally turn our attention to the centerpiece of this trip: the northwest slopes of the Santa Martas! We will stay in a comfortable lodge at about 6000 feet elevation on an outlying ridge of the mountains, enjoying feeders around our lodging and visiting several elevations nearby for many of the endemic birds, as well as other species of interest.

We normally encounter about 300 species in 8 days of birding. Highlights (in addition to those mentioned above) include Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Lazuline Sabrewing, White-tipped Quetzal, Russet-throated Puffbird, Chestnut Piculet, Black-backed Antshrike, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Streak-capped and Rusty-headed spinetails, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Spectacled Tyrannulet, Hermit Wood-Wren, Golden-winged Sparrow, Yellow-crowned Redstart, Glaucous and Black-headed tanagers, Orinoco Saltator, and a whole list of birds with “Santa Marta” as the first part of their names: SM Woodstar, SM Blossomcrown, SM Screech-Owl (only described in 2017), SM Parakeet, SM Antbird, SM Antpitta, SM Tapaculo, SM Brushfinch, and SM Warbler. It’s a lot of great birds to see and enjoy, so what are you waiting for? We’ll see you in this little corner of paradise, and don’t forget your binoculars!

Select the KEY INFO tab or click here for our itinerary plus space requests, status, fees, limits, and guides for any departure.

Combo Tours
If you would like a longer birding holiday, some departures of this tour may be combined with: