A birdwatching tour through the heart of Colombia's most remote and least visited regions, offering diverse ecosystems and climates, ranging from the country's driest desert to the world's highest coastal range. The journey includes traversing the Magdalena River delta, mangrove zones, and semi-humid coastal forests. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Perija mountain range rank among the most significant endemic areas in the Neotropics. This tour is also ideal for photography enthusiasts.

Colombia
14 days
From 3780 US$
Birding tours Birding tours
Photo and bird watching tours Photo and bird watching tours

Your travel expert

Xavier Amigo

Responsible for naturalist, botanical and ornithological travel. Responsible of fixing and profesional contact.

Xavier Amigo
xavier@ecuador-experience.com
Contact our expert
14 14 days

Day 1: Arrival in Colombia - Cartagena

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After your arrival at Cartagena de las Indias International Airport, your guide and driver will give you a warm welcome, followed by a preparatory briefing about the upcoming trip. Depending on the time of arrival, a visit to the colonial quarter of the citadel is possible for those who wish to do so. This will be an excellent time to get to know your guide and to start discussing different aspects of the history of this rich and endearing country.

Dinner and overnight stay in a colonial hotel located in the historic streets of Cartagena's old town.

colonial hotel located in the old town of Cartagena

English-speaking welcome and transfer

Day 2: Cartagena - Barranquilla

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Early breakfast followed by an immediate transfer to our first viewing site: the Palermo Wetlands, which offer excellent opportunities to observe a wide range of aquatic species. We will use the telescope at the various observation points, focusing particularly on the Northern Screamer, one of the site's flagship species. In the afternoon, we'll return to Barranquilla for a visit to the Guillermo Pineres Botanical Garden and then to the University of the North, where we will look for our first species of coastal dry scrub forest.

Optional dinner and overnight in a standard hotel in Barranquilla

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Yellow-headed Vulture, Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Black-collared Hawk, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Hornero, Carribean Hornero, Yellow-billed and Large-billed Terns, Wattled Jacana, Southern Lapwing, Russet-throated Puffbird, Orange-crowned Oriole, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Pale-legged Horneo, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Carib Grackle and Bronzed Cowbird.

Day 3: Salamanca - Riohacha

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After an early breakfast we will head north across the mouth of the Magdalena River. After a 40 minute drive, we will arrive at the entrance of the Salamanca National Park. A short visit to these lacustrine ecosystems consisting of lakes, swamps and mangroves will allow us to make our first observations. Our main target will be the Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, an endemic hummingbird with taxonomic ambiguity. We will take the road towards the Guajira peninsula in the north. A few stops are scheduled along the beaches and scrubland areas. There is no shortage of aquatic ecosystems along the route and we will try to observe as many local species as possible. We will also look for some species specific to the semi-dry forest and grazing areas.

Dinner and overnight in Riohacha.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Bicolored Conebill, Sapphire-throated Hummingbird, Panama Flycatcher, White-cheeked Pintail, Northern Scrub-flycatcher, Wattled Jacana, Chestnut-winged Chachalaca, Bronze-brown Cowbird, Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird, Pied Water-Tyrant, White-headed Marsh-Tyrant, Red-rumped Woodpecker, Stripe-backed Wren, Russet-throated Puffbird, White-necked Puffbird, Brown-throated Parakeet, Lilac-tailed Parakeet, Roseate Spoonbill, American Flamingo, Scarlet Ibis, White Ibis, Caribbean Hornero, Pileated Finch, Crested Bobwhite, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Brown-throated Parakeet, Black-crested Antshrike, Scaled Dove, Gray Kingbird, Hooded Tanager, White-fringed Antwren, Northern Scrub-Flycatcher, Yellow Oriole, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Black-crested Antshrike, Pale-eyed Pygmy-tyrant, Glaucous Tanager

Day 4: Los Flamencos - Caricari

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The arid landscapes of northern La Guajira are home to a wide variety of species that are also found in Venezuela. In the xerophytic vegetation south of the driest desert in Colombia, we will look for several new species. The Los Flamencos National Park and in particular the Pericos and Camarones areas will be our playgrounds today. We will walk in the middle of Wayuu Indian territory, amongst beaches, coastal lagoons and scrub forest. We will then head back to Santa Marta and its semi-arid coastal ecosystems. Our day will end near the rainforests.

Dinner and overnight in Riohacha.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Caribbean Flamingo, Harris's Hawk, Laughing Gull, Caspian Tern, Black Skimmer, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Buffy Hummingbird, Red-billed Emerald, Chestnut Piculet (endemic), White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, Black-backed Antshrike, Slender-billed Inezia, Orinocan Saltator, Pileated Finch, Tocuyo Sparrow, Vermillion Cardinal, Roseate Spoonbill, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Pale-eyed Pygmy-tyrant, Russet-throated Puffbird, Double-striped Thick-knee

Day 5: Las Gaviotas - Minca

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After an early breakfast we will spend the day in the area of Las Gaviotas, for further bird watching. These coastal lowland forests contain a number of bird species that we will not see anywhere else. Manakins, Tyrants, Flycatchers, Raptors and others. In the afternoon, we will complete our observations and take a break on the white Caribbean beaches. At the end of the day, we will drive to Santa Marta, then climb the western foothills of the Santa Marta massif. Several stops are planned along the way. Arrival in the village of Minca, where we will enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Dinner and overnight stay in a charming hotel in Minca.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Lance-tailed Manakin, White-bellied Antbird, Buff-breasted Wren, Rufous-and-white Wren, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Pale-tipped Tyrannulet, Red-billed Scythebill, Trinidad Euphonia, Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Whooping Motmot, Rufous-breasted Hermit

Day 6: Minca

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Early in the morning we will cross the small village of Minca on our way to Poza Azul. Along the dirt road up to the mythical Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, we will have the opportunity to observe our first endemic species of the area. In the vicinity of our hotel we will also take the time to explore several trails on the hillside for further observations. A photographic session on the balcony of our hotel is also planned: toucans, thrushes, tanagers, hummingbirds... there will be plenty to do. The warm and humid temperatures of the area will be an excellent opportunity to go for a swim at the end of the afternoon. For the more intrepid, we will have the opportunity to search for nocturnal species near the lodge.

Dinner and overnight in a rustic hotel in Minca.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Coppery Emerald, Military Macaw, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Golden-winged Sparrow, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Common Black-Hawk, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Brown-throated Parakeet, Blue-crowned parakeet, Green-rumped Parrotlet, Red-billed Emerald, Black-backed Antshrike, Rufous-and-white Wrens, Scaly-breasted Wren, Scaled Piculet, Santa Marta Sabrewing

Day 7: La Victoria - Cincinati - El Dorado

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This morning we will swap our bus for 4WD vehicles, which are essential to climb the secondary road and reach the El Dorado Lodge, where we will stay the next few nights. Depending on the weather and the state of the roads, it will take us about 3 hours to drive only 30 km. Due to its isolation, climate and altitude, the Santa Marta mountain range offers one of the highest densities of endemic species in the world. More than nineteen species of birds restricted to this massif can be observed there. We will try to observe the majority of them during the next few days.

This area of subtropical perennial forest (high and low) is the only easily accessible one in the Cordillera. The two large altitudinal fringes are now protected, thus ensuring the stability of the populations of species endemic to Santa Marta. The El Dorado Lodge, located in the heart of this reserve, offers a breathtaking view. After settling into our cabins, if it is early enough, we will be able to observe the rare Black-fronted Wood-Quail and the endemic Santa Marta Brush-finch on the various artificial feeding grounds around the Lodge.

Dinner and overnight at El Dorado Lodge.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: White-lored Warbler, Santa Marta Brush-finch, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Antbird, Emerald Toucanet, Santa Marta Woodstar, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Blossomcrown, Lance-tailed Manakin, Streak-capped Spinetail, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Spectacled Tyrannulet, White-lored Warbler, Groove-billed Toucanet, Rufous-and-white Wren, Coopmans’s Tyrannulet, Rufous Nightjar, Keel-billed Toucan, Pale-tipped Inezia, Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Wren

Day 8: San Lorenzo Cordillera - Santa Marta

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Early departure to the San Lorenzo ridge, on the heights of the reserve, where we will continue to check for new endemic and isolated species. We will look for the Santa Marta Conure in particular. We return to the lodge for lunch and continue our survey and exploration of the lower part, covering all the elevations accessible by road. We will also spend a lot of time exploring the area around the Lodge where many endemic species are present. Just before dinner we will go out to look for the Santa Marta Screech-Owl and other nocturnals.

Dinner and overnight at El Dorado Lodge.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Toucanet, Santa Marta Antpitta, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Tyrian Metaltail, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Mountain-tanager, Black-backed Thornbill, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Black-hooded Thrush, Blue-capped Tanager, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, White-tipped Quetzal, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Rufous Antpitta (ssp.),Streak-capped Spinetail, Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager, White-lored Warbler, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Santa Marta Screech-Owl

Day 9: El Dorado Lodge

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This morning we will go slightly higher up in the reserve to accompany one of the park rangers to the feeding area of one of the most difficult and rare species of the area: the Santa Marta Grasshopper, of course still an endemic. Depending on the time of year, these shy undergrowth birds can be observed and even photographed quite easily. We will spend the rest of the day exploring the area around the lodge, looking for species missing from our list. There will be opportunities to walk the various forest trails, the main dirt road or to improve your photographic records around the watering and feeding areas attracting hummingbirds, guans, organ grouse, tanagers, brushfinches, thrushes and many more.

Dinner and overnight at El Dorado Lodge.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: White-tailed Starfrontlet, Green Violetear, Brown Violetear, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Long-billed Hermit, Lazuline Sabrewing, Band-tailed Sickle-winged Guans, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Black-capped Tanager, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Toucanet, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Black-hooded Thrush, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, White-tipped Quetzal, and Golden-breasted Fruiteater

Day 10: Minca - Santa Marta - Valledupar

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Today we will take advantage of this last morning to complete the observations, either in El Dorado area or in the Minca sector, depending on our shortcomings of the previous days. After lunch, transfer to Santa Marta to continue our route towards the southern foothills of the Santa Marta mountain range to the town of Valledupar. Despite the remoteness of this site and the long drive, several stops will be incorporated into the route to break up the journey. Arrival in the late afternoon in the capital of Vallenato, one of the most representative music styles of Colombia. If time permits, we will make some additional observations in the hotel garden.

Optional dinner and overnight stay in a country hotel on the outskirts of the city.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Coppery Emerald, Coopman’s Double-striped Thicknee, Tyrannulet, Black-backed Antshrike, Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Golden-winged Sparrow, Santa Marta Antbird, Whooping Motmot, Scaled Piculet, Slaty Finch

Day 11: Valledupar - Los Besotes - Serrania De Perija

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After an early departure from our accommodation, we will head to the semi-dry vegetation areas of El Besote to finalise our observations of lowland species. Although some of the species present here are similar to the northern areas of Santa Marta, they are more easily observed and photographed due to the isolation and low number of visitors that these sites of interest receive. Lunch along the river at Las Dantas before continuing our climb towards the Perija mountain range. This mountain range recently opened to scientific exploration and tourism and is a treasure trove of endemism. A few stops along the way to our new lodge (2620m) will allow us to increase our list of endemics.

Dinner and overnight stay in the heart of the Perija mountain range.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Black-backed Antshrike, Venezuelan Flycatcher, Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Red-legged Tinamou, Coppery Emerald, Whooping Motmot, Keel-billed Toucan, Cocoa Woodcreeper, White-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Wren, Perija Yellow-breasted Brush-Finch, Rufous-chested Chat Tyrant, Crested Quetzal

Day 12: Perija - Sabana Rubia

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Long considered an inaccessible area, the heights of this isolated geographical massif are full of naturalist and ornithological surprises. Early morning departure to the high areas of the Perijá mountain range. We will explore in particular the vegetation of paramos and alto-andine forests. The steepness of this part of the Andes (the northernmost) gives it a table-top-like character. Straddling Colombia and Venezuela, this massif, which reaches a height of 3,650 metres, is a very important orographic relief, especially in the eastern foothills. This humid climate and the equally abrupt succession of vegetation generate a large number of habitats, which have allowed a rather particular but marked adaptation of the species. Many birds, common elsewhere, have a particular plumage here, as if they were on their way to speciation.

Dinner and overnight at the same accommodation.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Andean Condor, Perija Brush-Finch, Perija Thistletail, Perija Tapaculo and Perija Metaltail, Perijá (Rufous) Antpitta (SSP), Great Thrush, Rufous Spinetail, Band-tailed Guan, Streak-backed Canastero, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Loungamere's Sunangel, Mountain Velvetbreast, Tyrian Metaltail, Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, White-throated Toucanet, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Lacrymose Mountain-Tanager, Mountain and Gray-breasted Wood-Wrens, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, White-browed Spinetail, Paramo Seedeater, Blue-backed Conebill, Highland Tinamou, Rufous-breasted Chat-tyrant , Hooded Mountain-Tanager, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant

Day 13: Serranía del Perijá

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This morning we can rest around our lodge and take advantage of the watering holes and feeders for a photographic session. We will also be able to return to the high areas of the Cordillera to complete our observations of species or to do some photography. The fauna here is just as diverse: spectacled bear, capuchin monkey, agouti, howler monkey, but also amphibians and of course reptiles. The flora, an essential element of the ecology of these isolated biotopes, is just as endemic as its avifauna, the great biological dispersers.

Dinner and overnight at the same accommodation.

Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: White-rumped Hawk, Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Perija (Golden-bellied) Starfrontlet (ssp), Amethyst-throated Sunangels, Tyrian Metaltail, Perijá (Todd’s) Parakeet, (ssp) Yellow-breasted Brushfinch (ssp), Slaty Brushfinch, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Emerald Toucanet, Rufous Spinetail (ssp), Barred Fruiteater, Plushcap, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, (ssp) Common Chlorospingus (ssp)

Day 14: Perija - Minaure - Barranquilla

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This morning we will descend to the lower areas of the Cordillera. A large number of stops will be made along the way to complete our observations in different ecosystems, coffee and cocoa plantations. We will take some time in the Minaure area. The time allocated to these observations will depend on the flight schedule. Transfer to Barranquilla airport to finalize our list with some species we might have missed. Arrive late afternoon in Barranquilla for your international flight.

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Transport, English-speaking specialist guide

Target birds: Highland Tinamou, Hook-billed Kite, Lined Quail-Dove, Greenish Elaenia, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Lazuline Sabrewing, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Rufous-shafted Woodstar, Coppery Emerald, Golden-headed Manakin, Golden-crowned, Grey-throated and Rufous-capped Warblers, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Rufous-and-white Wren, Scrub Greenlet, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Cattle Tyrant, Golden-winged Sparrow, Whooping Motmot, Golden-fronted Greenlet, White-tipped Quetzal, Venezuelan Tyrannulet, Moustached Puffbird, Perijá Tapaculo, Klages’s Antbird, Fulvous-headed Tanager, Crimson-backed Tanager, Swallow Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Oleaginous Hemispingus, Gray-throated Warbler, Black-crested Warbler, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Perija Brushfinch, Yellow-throated Toucan and Crimson-rumped Toucanet

Dates of the next departures

Dates
Status
From Mar 03 to Mar 16, 2024
Open to booking

You want a personalized departure date? Contact us. Request a personalized date

Dates Status
From Mar 03 to Mar 16, 2024 Open to booking

Prices per person

2 travelers 4 travelers 6 travelers 8 travelers
5,315 US$ 4,180 US$ 3,780 US$ 3,430 US$

You are a group of travelers and want a special rate? Contact us. Request a personalized quote

Included

  • Private transport (petrol, road taxes, parking, insurance for vehicle and passengers).
  • Entrance fees to the sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • All transfers as mentioned
  • Specialised Birdwatching guide
  • Checklist of the Birds of Colombia
  • Spoting scope available
  • 24-hour assistance
  • Accommodation in double rooms with private bathroom - (Hotels, haciendas and charming lodges)
  • Meals as mentioned, picnics for some hikes.

Not included

  • International flights (you can consult our list of tour operators offering  flights only).
  • Excursions and activities indicated as optional in the programme.
  • Luggage weight surcharges for flights (23kg allowed on domestic flights)
  • Some dinners (expect to pay between US$8 and US$15/meal)
  • Single room supplement
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks for all meals.
  • Personal expenses
  • Tips
  • Personal insurance
  • Bank charges for bank transfers.

Important note

Itineraries may be subject to last-minute changes due to natural disasters or changes in domestic legislation. The visitor must take into account and accept the possibility of last-minute changes in the organisation of the trip. The operator therefore reserves the right to make the necessary changes to ensure the safety and integrity of the travellers and to respect the laws in force. The hotels are given as an indication only and are subject to availability at the time of booking the tour. In case of unavailability, a hotel of the same category will be proposed.

* In US dollars based on double room accommodation. These rates are valid for the dates selected but may be subject to increase at the time of booking and depending on the tourist season and local holidays. Our quotations are calculated in US Dollars and we are committed to this amount. The equivalent value in Euros or in any other currency is therefore indicative and calculated on the basis of the exchange rate on the day of the offer.

** Airfares may vary depending on the airline and availability at the time of booking.

Your guide for this trip

José Ferney Salgado

José Ferney Salgado

en es fr
Colombian by birth, he dedicated the last 15 years of his life to follow with the binocular birds of Colombia. Of the 1880 species of the country he has some 1200 to his credit until then. He is currently in the Top Ten register Ebird 2019. He received a scholarship from the French Alliance of Manizales to continue studying the language of Molière. He knows perfectly every nook and cranny of the country and will accompany you during bird watching and naturalistic observation trips to Colombia. When, with his wife, he does not take care of these three children, both of them are very happy to pursue their new passion: animal photography. And the time they have left, they dedicate it to several conservation and sustainable tourism development projects.

Characteristics of the trip

Travel theme

Birdwatching and photography

Accompaniment

English-speaking specialist guide

Group

From 2 to 8 people

Arrival city

Cartagena

Departure city

Barranquilla

Food

Local and International meals

Accomodation

Charming hotels, lodges and haciendas

Transport

Private

Physical condition

moderate (some walks at altitude, although slow, can be tiring)
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