NORTHERN COLOMBIA BIRDING TOUR
|Duration:||9 Days, 8 Nights|
|* This tour is available for any dates of your choosing provided guide services and accommodations are available.|
Our tour of northern Colombia covers most of the important birding sites in the Santa Marta area and the Caribbean coast. These sites are home to all the possible endemics of the region except a few that are only in extremely remote places or are largely unknown and rarely recorded by anyone.
DAY 1 - ARRIVAL
Arrive in Santa Marta, typically via a connecting flight from southern Florida, Bogota, or Panama City. Night hotel in Santa Marta.
DAY 2 - TRANSFER & EL DORADO RESERVE
Morning transfer inland to the Santa Marta Mountains with birding an altitudinal transect from Minca to El Dorado Reserve. The road passes through middle elevation forest and offers Groove-billed Toucanet, Klages's Antbird, Santa Marta Antbird, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Santa Marta Tapaculo, Santa Marta Foliage-gleaner, Spectacled (Venezuelan) Tyrannulet, Golden-faced Tyrannulet, Golden-fronted Greenlet, Black-chested Jay, Rufous-breasted Wren, Golden-winged Sparrow, Santa Marta Brushfinch, White-lored Warbler, Black-headed Tanager, and Rusty Flowerpiercer. Flowers around some cafes toward the upper end of the transect sometimes attract Santa Marta Blossomcrown and Coppery Emerald along with the much more common violetears. Arrive at El Dorado lodge for lunch. At the lodge hummingbird feeders attract many Brown Violetears, Lesser Violetears, Sparkling Violetears, and Crowned Woodnymphs. Of greater interest are occasional visits by White-tailed Starfrontlet. Birds possible around seed feeders and the compost pile include Band-tailed Guan, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Lined Quail-Dove, Southern (Santa Marta) Emerald-Toucanet, Sierra Nevada Brushfinch, and Blue-naped Chlorophonia. After dark the endemic Santa Marta Screech-Owl can usually be found along the road near the lodge. Night at El Dorado Lodge.
DAY 3 - SAN LORENZO & EL DORADO RESERVE
Depart very early for Cuchilla de San Lorenzo at higher elevation above the lodge. This area is home to several endemics not found at lower elevation. The main target birds are Santa Marta Parakeet, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Flammulated Treehunter, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Gray-breasted Wood-Wren (a possible future split into Banks's Wood-Wren), Hermit Wood-Wren, Santa Marta Warbler, Yellow-crowned Redstart, and Black-cheeked (Santa Marta) Mountain-Tanager. Also possible are Black-and-chestnut Eagle, Solitary Eagle, White-rumped Hawk, Red-billed Parrot, and Scarlet-fronted Parakeet. Afternoon birding El Dorado Reserve. Night at El Dorado Lodge.
DAY 4 - SANTA MARTA NATIONAL PARK & MINCA
Morning drive back upslope to Santa Marta National Park, primarily to look for Santa Marta Antpitta that has been conditioned to appear in the open. Other likely birds include Mountain Velvetbreast, White-tipped Quetzal, Sierra Nevada Antpitta, Black-throated Tody-Tyrant, Golden-crowned Flycatcher, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Golden Grosbeak, and Black Flowerpiercer. Afternoon transfer back to the very touristy town of Minca, located in the foothills of the Santa Marta Mountains. Our hotel is outside the congested town center. Feeders attract an occasional Pale-bellied Hermit along with more common White-vented Plumeleteer and Steely-vented Hummingbird. Night at Sweet Harmony Hotel in Minca.
DAY 5 - MINCA, TAYRONA NATIONAL PARK, & TRANSFER
Morning birding around Minca followed by transfer to the lowlands. First stop will be outside Minca along the road leading to Bonda, which offers some roadside birding. Possibilities there include Coppery Emerald, Russet-throated Puffbird, Orange-chinned Parrot, Black-backed Antshrike, White-fringed Antwren, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, and Trinidad Euphonia. Then visit Tayrona National Park, heavily visited especially on the weekends for its beach access. Birding some trails there offer mainly widespread lowland species. Also possible are Cotton-top Tamarin and Venezuelan Red Howler Monkey. From there transfer to Riohachca with a birding stop along Gaviota Road if time permits to look for Lance-tailed Manakin if missed at Tayrona. Night at Hotel Gimaura in Riohacha.
DAY 6 - CAMARONES, LOS FLAMENCOS, & TRANSFER
Morning birding around Camarones and a private site nearby. The private site has feeders attracting Vermilion Cardinal, its star attraction. Also usually present there are Green-rumped Parrotlet and Orinocan Saltator. A major target bird around Camarones is the sparsely distributed Tocuyo Sparrow, an often difficult bird to find. Other interesting possibilities include Crested Bobwhite, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Double-striped Thick-knee, Scarlet Ibis, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Red-billed Emerald, White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Tyrannulet, Gray Kingbird, and Glaucous Tanager. A visit to Los Flamencos National Park could produce large numbers of American Flamingos along with numerous other water birds depending on water levels, A major attraction sometimes seen there is Scarlet Ibis. Depending on season numerous shorebirds may be present as well. Then transfer to Valledupar with birding stop at Los Besotes Natural Reserve. A difficult but possible bird there is Blue-billed Curassow. Night at Hotel Arawak Upar or comparable in Valledupar.
DAY 7 - PERIJA MOUNTAINS & RESERVE
Morning will be devoted to birding an altitudinal transect up the Perija Mountains to the Pro Aves lodge. Target birds include Rufous-shafted Woodstar, Perija Tapaculo, Rufous Spinetail, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Perija Brushfinch, and Yellow-breasted Brushfinch. Other possibilities are Yellow-throated Toucan, Red-crested Cotinga, Russet-backed Oropendola, Chestnut-capped Brushfinch, Swallow Tanager, and Beryl-spangled Tanager. Arrive at the lodge for lunch. Hummingbird feeders at the lodge attract Amethyst-throated Sunangel, Tyrian Metaltail, Mountain Velvetbreast. Afternoon will be spent birding the road around the lodge. Possibilities include Highland Tinamou, Rufous Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Rufous-crowned Tody-Flycatcher, Slaty Brushfinch, Black-crested Warbler, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, and Blue-capped Tanager. Night at Chamicero de Perija Lodge.
DAY 8 - SABANA RUBIA & PERIJA RESERVE
Early morning drive up the mountain to Sabana Rubia in the highlands. Key target species in the paramo are Perija Metaltail, Streak-backed Canastero, and Perija Thistletail. These species are very difficult after 7:00am so an early start is essential. Other possibilities below the paramo include Spectacled Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Glossy-black Thrush, Paramo Seedeater, and other species mentioned above. Afternoon birding the road above and below the lodge. Night at Chamicero de Perija Lodge.
DAY 9 - TRANSECT & END OF TOUR
Morning bird the altitudinal transect back down the mountain to Valledupar looking for any species missed on the way up. Arrive at the airport around mid-day for flights out of Valledupar to connect with international flights home. End of tour at the airport.