Colombia - The World's Richest Birding

Saturday 4th February – Saturday 25th February 2012

Yellow-eared-Parrot by Steve BirdColombia has fast become the number 1 birding destination in South America. With its 1870 species of birds it holds more than any other country in the world. Most areas are now perfectly safe to visit, with improving lodges, reserves and ever friendly and helpful locals. The key to a successful tour to this fantastic destination is using local guides who know where the birds are and are experts at smooth running logistics. We are lucky to have the very best guides ensuring that a tour with Zoothera is as good as it gets. Our most recent trip ran with minimal disruption which cannot be said for other companies there at the same time! We urge you to check all companies trip reports so as you can be sure booking with Zoothera is the right choice. We will concentrate our efforts on finding a wealth of endemics and specialities, and our revised itinerary will allow chances for Zoothera to excel in this. We have added an extra day to our Santa Marta extension so as we have the best opportunities to connect with this wonderful areas target species. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the most bird rich country in the World then you need to be sure you get all aspects of your tour right. We have the best local guide, the best endemic focused itinerary, without doubt the best price and all inclusive of many little things that others seem to leave out. Join the Zoothera Colombia Tour and know you’ve made the right choice! 

Targets:
 
  • Yellow-eared Parrot
  • Santa Marta Warbler
  • Beautiful Woodpecker
  • Brown-banded Antpitta
  • Gold-ringed Tanager
  • Munchique Wood-Wren
  • Blossomcrown
  • Turquoise Dacnis
  • Multi-coloured Tanager
  • White-tipped Quetzal
  • Santa Marta Screech-Owl
  • Red-ruffed Fruitcrow
  • Sooty Ant-Tanager
  • Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant
  • Santa Marta Parakeet
  • White-mantled Barbet
  • Indigo-capped Hummingbird
  • Bogota Rail
  • Red-bellied Grackle
  • Tanager Finch
  • White-tailed Starfrontlet
  • Yellow-headed Brush-Finch
 
 
Day 1     Arrive Bogota, Colombia (Sat 4th Feb) - Overnight
After your arrival in Bogota you will be met and transferred about 25 minutes to our accommodation on the outskirts of this vast city.
 

Day 2     Bogota and surrounding area  (East side of Eastern Andes)

Rufous-browed-ConebillThis morning we will make an early start to venture into the hills just a short distance from the city. Apart from the spectacular views we will soon have our first endemics in our sights. The short stunted trees and nearby paramo habitat encourages small mixed roving flocks and amongst these we will search for Rufous-browed Conebill, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Black-chested, Buff-breasted and Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanagers, Red-crested Cotinga, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Rufous Wren, Superciliaried, Black-eared, Black-headed and Oleaginous Hemispingus and other delights such as Rufous Antpitta, Plushcap, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Black-crested Warbler, White-throated Tyrannulet, Ash-coloured and Mattoral Tapaculo, Glowing, Golden-breasted and the endemic Coppery-bellied Puffleg. We may even entice an Andean Pygmy-Owl to show itself, or if very lucky we could find Coppery-tailed Thornbill. Moving on from here we will check out an area of wetlands which is a reliable site for Bogota Rail as well as Spot-flanked Gallinule, Andean and if lucky Merida Speckled Teal, or even Noble Snipe. Moving on a little further we have the chance to see the very restricted Apolinar’s Wren before returning back to our pleasant city hotel.  Night at Bogota.

Day 3     Laguna Pedro Paulo – Ibague (Eastern Andes to Central Andes)
Moustached-Puffbird by Steve BirdThis morning after an early breakfast we will drive the short distance to an area of scattered secondary forest surrounding a peaceful secluded lake. It will be the forest edges and open track that attracts our birding and of the many specialities we will search for the Turquoise Dacnis could prove the most difficult. Much easier to see will be mixed flocks of tanagers including Scrub, Crimson-backed, Flame-faced, Blue-necked, Black-capped, Fawn-breasted, Lemon-rumped and Bay-headed. Wintering migrant warblers could include Canada, Blackburnian, Black-and-white, Tropical Parula and Northern Waterthrush, but it will be other specialities that seek our attention. Moustached Brush-Finches work the thickets while nearby flowering trees attract hummingbirds such as White-vented Plumeleteer, Blue-tailed Emerald, Booted Racket-tail and if we are very lucky the endemic Black Inca or tiny Gorgeted Woodstar. We will try for Moustached Puffbird, and Colombian Wren, Ash-browed and Pale-breasted Spinetail, Plain Antvireo, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Uniform Antshrike, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Smoky-brown, Red-crowned and Golden Olive Woodpeckers, Black-billed Thrush and both Golden-faced and Sooty-headed Tyrannulets. In the afternoon we will make our way towards the dry zone and the town of Ibague. We will make a few stops where we can hope to pick-up species such as Crested Bobwhite, Yellow-headed Caracara, Bare-faced Ibis, Vermilion Flycatcher, Smooth-billed Ani, Tropical Gnatcatcher, Southern Lapwing and Roadside Hawk. Once we reach the hustle and bustle of town we will check in to our hotel and have dinner. Night Ibague

Day 4     Ibague , Juntas Valley – Cartago (Central Andes to Western Andes)
Today we make an early start to get to a scenic hidden valley and picturesque gorge that Moustached-Brush-finch by Steve Birdis part of Nevados National Park. On the hillside beside a small stream we will search for the endemic Yellow-headed Brush-Finch and Yellow-throated Brush-Finch, as well as Whiskered Wren, Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant, Olivaceous Piculet, Streaked and Black-winged Saltator, and possibly the endemic Blossomcrown. On the river Torrent Tyrannulet, Black Phoebe and White-capped Dipper can be found and as we head higher we have more chances for the endemic Tolima Dove. At Nevados National Park we will take a short walk to the edge of the superb forest where we can look for tanager flocks that include Blue-and-Black, Saffron-crowned, Blue-capped, Golden, Hepatic, Beryl-spangled and hopefully the stunning Red-hooded Tanager. Many other birds are present and we will spend our time trying to see Yellow-billed and Mountain Cacique, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Colombian Chachalaca, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Andean Toucanet, Streak-necked Flycatcher, Green Jay, Azara’s Spinetail, White-tipped Swift and hummingbirds such as Tourmaline Sunangel, Speckled Hummingbird, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, Blue-tailed Emerald and Buff-tailed Coronet. With luck we may also come across one or two of the scarcer birds that inhabit this area such as Masked Saltator or Dusky Piha. After our morning here we will head for Cartago arriving in time for dinner. Night Cartago

Day 5     Galapagos Road – (West side of Western Andes)
Gold-ringed-Tanager by Steve BirdAn early start will see us transfer to our 4x4 jeeps at the start of the famous Galapagos Road, a bumpy muddy unmade road that takes us through forest and up to a ridge top where many specialities and endemics await us. This is one of those must visit sites in Colombia and you will soon realise why as the day unfolds and with the help of our local guide here, we will encounter some stunning species. With our picnic breakfast beside a stream we should soon be on the hunt for the endemic Crested Ant-Tanager, as well as Andean Solitaire, Bicoloured Antvireo, Yellow-collared and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias, Red-headed Barbet, Greenish Puffleg, Montane Foliage-Gleaner and Pearled Treerunner. White-capped Dippers often feed along the stream while higher up we can marvel at the beautiful endemic Gold-ringed Tanager, as well as Orange-breasted and Green-and-black Fruiteaters, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Dusky-headed Bush-Tanager, Three-striped Warbler and if we are lucky Olivaceous Piha, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner or Rusty-winged Barbtail. Both Cinnamon and Handsome Flycatchers should be around as well as the delightful Ornate Flycatcher and several hummingbirds including Green-fronted Lancebill, Empress Brilliant, Violet-tailed Sylph, White-tailed Hillstar, Velvet-purple Coronet, and Bronzy Inca. There of course a few skulkers here and we will make special efforts to see the endemic Munchique Wood-Wren as well as Choco and Narino Tapaculos, Ochre-breasted Antpitta and Black Solitaire. After a full day we will return to the little town of El Cairo and our hotel for the night. Night El Cairo

Day 6     Galapagos Road – Otun Quimbaya (West side of Western Andes to West side of Central Andes)
Red-ruffed-FruitcrowThis morning we will again visit the famous Galapagos Road, but this time we will head over the ridge and down to the Choco side. Here we can expect a few different species than yesterday and our efforts will see us searching for the stunning Indigo Flowerpiercer, the rare Black-and-gold Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Yellow-breasted Antwren, Golden-winged Manakin, Sickle-winged Guan, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Choco and Narino Tapaculo, Black Solitaire, Smoke-coloured Pewee and quite often great looks at Swallow-tailed Kite and White-collared Swifts. With many other birds to see including second looks at the stunning Gold-ringed Tanager, and chances to catch up with any species we missed yesterday this will be a bird filled morning. After a picnic lunch we will set off towards the Cauca Valley and our destination of Otun Quimbaya reserve in the foothills of the Central Andes. A few strategic stops along the way could produce Grayish Piculet, Andean Cock-of-the Rock, Bar-crested Antshrike, Highland Hepatic Tanager or Yellow-throated Brush-Finch, and a look at a nearby tumbling river may find us Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper and Torrent Tyrannulet amongst others.
Night Near Otum Quimbaya

Day 7     Otum Quimbaya – Manizales (West side of Central Andes)
This morning we will bird part of the reserve and then concentrate our efforts Cauca Guan by Steve Birdalong an open quiet road where we hope to connect with several specialities. The impressive Red-ruffed Fruitcrow will be high on our hit list, followed by such delights as Inca Jay, Golden-plumed Parakeet and Cauca Guan in one of its last remaining strongholds. The gardens can often play host to numerous overwintering warblers, as well as Flame-rumped Tanager and possibly Highland Motmot. Our main aim for this morning is to connect with one or more mixed feeding flocks as this will give us our best shot at the endemic Multicoloured Tanager as well as a host of other species such as Marble-faced and Variegated Bristle-Tyrants, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Tropical Parula, White-winged Becard, Black-billed Peppershrike, Saffron-crowned and Fawn-breasted Tanager. With luck we may come across one of the more tricky species such as Chestnut Wood-Quail, Stile’s Tapaculo or Chestnut-breasted Wren. After Lunch we will make our way to our hotel in Manizales where we should have time to check out the hummingbird feeders which will give us close looks at species such as Collared Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, White-bellied Woodstar, Bronzy Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, Green Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Rufous-tailed and Steely-vented Hummingbird. In the flowering bushes we could see White-sided, Masked and Bluish Flowerpiercers, while a small section of forest with patches of Bamboo may produce Plushcap, Oleaginous and Black-eared Hemispingus, Canada Warbler, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Slate-throated Redstart, Brown-capped Vireo, Scrub Tanagers and Pale-breasted Spinetail. 2 Nights Manizales

Day 8     Rio Blanco  (Central Andes)
Brown-banded-Antpitta by Steve BirdThis morning we will have a very early start to allow us to look for White-throated Screech-Owl prior to dawn. We will then take breakfast at the Rio Blanco reserve where we will be surrounded by dozens of hummingbirds. The majority of these will be Buff-tailed Coronets but we can also look for Tourmaline Sunangel, Fawn-breasted Brilliant and Long-tailed Sylph. The Rio Blanco reserve is a superb area to bird and we have to full day to try and do this wonderful place justice. A scan of the tree tops may produce Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Sickle-winged Guan or Rusty-faced Parrot, but its the mixed flocks that can really set pulses racing. A walk into the reserve will start with the local worm man taking us to a feeding area where we can get close views of the once almost impossible endemic Brown-banded Antpitta. Chestnut-crowned Antpittas are a little easier to see and as the day unfolds we also have chances for Bicoloured and Slate-crowned Antpittas. The mixed flocks can hold numerous species and we will work through them in order to find such species as Golden-fronted Redstart, Pearled Treerunner, Barred Becard, Capped Conebill, Gray-hooded Bush Tanager, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Blue-and-black Tanager, Black-eared, Black-capped  and Superciliaried Hemispingus, Grass-green Tanager, Montane Woodcreeper, Flammulated Treehunter, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant, Plushcap,  Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager, Ash-coloured, Blackish and the fabulous Ocellated Tapaculo and Long-tailed Antbird, a bamboo specialist. Further searching should reveal Streaked Xenops, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Black-capped Tyrannulet, Blue-capped Tanager, Smoky Bush Tyrant, Dusky Piha, Sharpe’s Wren, Yellow-billed Cacique, Mountain Wren, Gray-breasted Wood Wren, Black-crested Warbler, Bar-bellied and Crimson-mantled Woodpeckers, Chestnut-capped Brush Finch, Purplish-backed Thornbill and with luck the rare Masked Saltator. After what will certainly be a bird filled day we will return to Manizales.
Night Manizales

Day 9     Los Navados  - El Jardin  (Central Andes to East side of Western Andes)
Bearded-Helmetcrest by Steve BirdThis morning as long as the access road is open we will make our way with picnic breakfast to the high Paramo of Los Navados National Park. A stop at a small pond may find us Andean Duck and Andean Teal, while the surrounding grass holds Many-striped Canastero, Andean Tit-Spinetail and Sedge Wren. Driving up to the entrance gate we will then check this area before making a slow walk downhill where we can track down calling Tawny Antpittas, and search for a variety of special hummingbirds that include Bearded Helmetcrest, Viridian Metaltail, Black-thighed Puffleg, and Rainbow-bearded Thornbill. There will be plenty of other species to keep us busy including Black-backed Bush-Tanagers, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Blue-backed Conebill, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Paramo Tapaculo, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Plain-coloured Seedeater, Stout-billed Cinclodes, White-throated Tyrannulet and more chances for the ever elusive Ocellated Tapaculo. We have a long drive ahead of us so we will depart around 11am and head through the Cauca Valley to the beautiful town of Jardin in the Western Andes. If we get there in time then we can look for Andean Cock-of-the Rocks at a display area. 2 Nights El Jardin

Day 10     El Jardin   (East slope of Western Andes)
Tanager Finch by Steve BirdThe exquisite town of Jardin is a delightful base from which to explore the surrounding hills and its many special birds. With a picnic lunch and joined by our local friend and guide we will travel up a bumpy track until we reach the top of one particular hill where we have chances to see the endangered endemic Yellow-eared Parrot. From here we will spend the rest of the day slowly walking downhill to try and connect with a multitude of species that could include such delights as Red-crested and sometimes Chestnut-crested Cotingas, White-capped Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Barred Fruiteater, Mountain Cacique, Golden-headed Quetzal, Slate-crowned and Chestnut-naped Antpittas, Ocellated Tapaculo, Tanager Finch, the rare Munchique Wood-Wren and roving flocks that will excite each and every one of us. There are several hummingbirds to look for including Mountain Velvetbreast, Tourmaline Sunangel, Collared Inca and possibly Sword-billed Hummingbird, while tanagers could include Golden-hooded, Blue-capped, Grass-green, Beryl-spangled, Blue-and-Black and Lacrimose, Hooded and Buff-breasted Mountain Tanagers, With plenty of other species to keep us busy such as Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Golden-fronted Redstart, Streak-throated Bush Tyrant,  Slaty-backed, Rufous-breasted, and Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrants, Masked Trogon,  Barred Becard, Black-capped, White-banded, White-throated and White-tailed Tyrannulets, Streaked Tuftedcheek, Pearled Treerunner, Streaked Xenops, Rufous Spinetail, Smoke-coloured Pewee, Cinnamon Flycatcher, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Rufous-headed Pygmy Tyrant, Russet-crowned Warbler, Slaty Brush-Finch and  Sharpe’s Wren, this will surely be a day to remember. The evenings around the town square in Jardin can often be a hustle of activity and entertainment and an experience not to be missed. Night El Jardin

Day 11     El Jardin  - Medellin  (East slope of Western Andes to West slope of Central Andes)
Today we will go and check out a close Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek if we missed them before, and then head for an area where we hope to find the attractive Red-bellied Grackle. There should be a few other species around such as Russet-backed Oropendola, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Solitaire, Golden-olive Woodpecker and maybe Yellow-throated Brush-Finch or White-collared Swifts. We will then move on and make a few strategic stops on the long drive to Medellin. In particular we will be looking for the endemic Apical Flycatcher, alongside Greyish Piculet and other species that might include Red-crowned Beautiful Woodpecker by Steve BirdWoodpecker, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Cattle Tyrant, Mouse-coloured Tyrannulet, Southern Beardless Tyrannulet, Black-striped Sparrow, Bar-crested Antshrike, Cinereous Becard, Black-throated Mango, Vermilion Flycatcher and who knows what else. Arriving in Medellin we will enjoy an excellent dinner. Night Medellin

Day 12     Medellin - Rio Claro  (West slope of Central Andes to Eastern slope of Central Andes)
An early start will see us out of the city and on to our breakfast stop. Feeders with fruit can attract a variety of tanagers including Lemon-rumped, sometimes Swallow Tanager and numerous Thick-billed Euphonias. From here we will take a walk to a site no other companies or birders visit but an excellent spot to find several endemics and really nice species. A couple of superb endemics will be White-mantled Barbet and the Beautiful Woodpecker, while others species include Red-rumped, Red-crowned and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, Olivaceous Piculets can be found and we will search for Western Striped Manakin, Pacific Antwren, Spectacled Parrotlets, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-crowned, Sooty-headed and Golden-faced Tyrannulets, Bran-coloured Flycatcher, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Bay Wren, Pale-breasted Thrush, Purple-crowned Fairy and maybe Long-billed Starthroat as well as a variety of wintering north American wood warblers. Returning for lunch we will then set off toward our next destination of Rio Claro where we expect to arrive in time for a little birding around our forest lodge. Of particular interest we will look for Barred Puffbird, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Dusky-faced Tanager, White-tailed Trogon, Buff-rumped Warbler and Band-backed Wren. Night Rio Claro

Day 13     Rio Claro - Victoria (East side of Central Andes)
There will be even more fantastic birding today as we set off to explore White-mantled-Barbet by Steve Birdthe nearby forest and an Oilbird Cave. These extraordinary birds can be seen remarkable well in the dim light as they perch on the walls, something rarely achieved by other destinations pitch black darkness and need for spotlights. Following a stream through the forest towards this cave we will have many opportunities to find a wide variety of sought after species which include the endemic Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant. Other memorable birds may include Yellow-backed Tanager, Citron-throated Toucan, Slaty-winged Foliage-Gleaner, Grey-cheeked Nunlet, Black-chested Jay and Slate-coloured Grosbeak, and if we are lucky even Blue Cotinga which have seen previously. Other more expected species include Collared Aracaris  One-coloured Becard, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Giant Cowbird, Greater Ani, Piratic Flycatcher, White-thighed Swallow, Gray-lined Hawk (Gray Hawk), Band-backed Wren, Blue-headed Parrot, Green and Purple Honeycreeper, Black-headed Tody Flycatcher, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Blue Dacnis, Golden-hooded Tanager, Swallow Tanager, Crested and Chestnut-headed Oropendola, White-shouldered Tanager, White-bearded and Blue-crowned Manakin, Bright-rumped Attila, Plain Xenops, Black-bellied Wren, Cocoa,  Olivaceous, Wedge-billed and Plain-brown Woodcreepers, Rufous Motmot, Dot-winged and White-flanked Antwren, Ochre-bellied and Streaked Flycatcher, Cinnamon Becard, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Blue-black Grosbeak, Grey-headed Tanager, Chestnut-backed Antbird and if we are lucky another shot at White-mantled Barbet or even Black-faced Antthrush. All in all a bird filled morning. Departing this area we will make our way to the small quaint town of Victoria. Birds to keep a look out for along our journey include Savanna Hawk, Swallow-tailed Kite, King Vulture, Wattled Jacana, White-winged Swallow, Grey-breasted Martin and Ringed Kingfisher. As we near the town we should have time to search an area along the roadside for species such as White-eared Conebill, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Red-breasted Blackbird, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and Yellow-naped Parrots. Night Victoria

Days 14 - 15   Victoria – Bogota – End - or (optional extension to Santa Marta) – 18th Feb
Indigo-capped-Hummingbird by Steve BirdDue to to road repairs after flooding we have had to alter our original itinerary and add an extra day. This means that now we will have our second to last day up early and into the forest near Victoria. We will focus on a few target species namely Sooty Ant-Tanager, White-bibbed Manakin, Golden-headed Manakin, Beautiful Woodpecker and White-mantled Barbet. Tody Motmot seems to have disappeared from the area but we can give it a try, while other species may include Golden-rumped Euphonia, Little Tinamou, Guira Tanager, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Rufous-capped Warbler, Short-tailed Swift, Scrub Greenlet, Western Slaty Antshrike, Orange-billed Sparrow and possibly Ruddy Quail-Dove. After lunch we will drive to La Vega stopping for a few dry zone species en-route, and then here we will spend the night. In the morning, our last morning we will visit Lake Tabacal where we can expect species such as Bar-crested Antshrike, Black-bellied Wren, Grey-throated Warbler, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, White-bellied Antbird, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Spectacled Parrotlet, Striped Manakin, White-bearded Manakin, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Black Hawk-Eagle, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Red-billed Scythebill, White-throated Crake, Black-headed Brush-Finch. We will then continue on to 
a private garden which will be a true delight and fantastic finale to our main tour. This small walled garden has to be seen to be believed. With fifty or so feeders the immediate garden plays host to over 200 hummingbirds at any one time with hundreds of others perched in bushes and nearby trees – completely overwhelming! The species present include the endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird, plus Black-throated Mango, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Gorgeted Woodstar, White-bellied Woodstar, White-vented Plumeleteer, White-necked Jacobin, Green Hermit, Sparkling Violetear, and Violet-crowned Woodnymph. Occasionally they even get visits from the stunning Ruby Topaz. Continuing on we will get to Bogota airport where those continuing on to Santa Marta will catch the evening flight or those finishing the tour will connect with their departing international flight, arriving back in the UK on Sunday 19th February.

SANTA MARTA EXTENSION: 18th - 24th Feb

Day 1     Santa Marta – 18th Feb
Evening flight from Bogota to Santa Marta where we spend the night in local hotel ready for an early morning start.
Night Santa Marta

Day 2     Santa Marta - Eldorado Lodge
Santa Marta Antpitta by Steve BirdThis morning we will depart early and head into the lowlands of the Santa Marta Mountains. A few stops along the way will see us search for species such as Black-chested Jay, Bicoloured Wren, Yellow Oriole, Rufous-breasted and Rufous-and-white Wrens, Collared Aracari, Whooping Motmot, Crested Oropendola, Golden-winged Sparrow, Long-billed Gnatwren, Zone-tailed Hawk and the endemic Black-backed Antshrike. There should be time to stop at an area of flowering bushes where we can hope to see another endemic the superb Blossomcrown, and nearby we should pick up different species such as Santa Marta Brush Finch and White-lored Warbler, Rusty Flowerpiercer, Black-headed Tanager, Blue-naped Chlorophonias, Green Violetears, Violet-crowned Woodnymph and if we are lucky the stunning Rusty-breasted Antpittas and much more difficult Santa Marta Tapaculo. We will then continue on towards Eldorado Lodge looking for Pale-eyed Pygmy Tyrant, Streaked Saltator,  White-collared Swift, , Golden-olive Woodpecker, Yellow-tailed Oriole, Rufous-capped Warbler, Orange-billed Nightingale Thrush, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher and possibly Yellow-billed Toucanet or Sooty-capped Hermit. We will arrive at our lodge around mid afternoon and after settling in we can have a look at the hummingbird feeders where we hope to see the endemic White-tailed Starfrontlet and Santa Marta Woodstar. A further exploration around the gardens and nearby trail that goes into the forest may reveal Colombian Brush-Finch, Black-hooded Thrush, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Red-billed Parrot, Crested Oropendola, Yellow-legged Thrush and possibly Grey-throated Leaftosser or even the secretive Santa Marta Antpitta. Maybe the Black-fronted Wood-Quail will be on the compost pile again!
Night El Dorado Lodge

Day 3     Santa Marta Mountains
Santa Marta Warbler by Steve Bird
This morning we will have an early breakfast before attempting to find the rare and endemic Santa Marta Screech-owl. We will then continue on to the scenic heights of the Lorenzo Ridge, a spectacular overlook of the Santa Marta mountain range and a stunning area to bird. There are many endemics up here and we will walk the quiet road in search of the Santa Marta race of Rufous Antpitta, Santa Marta Toucanet, Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Santa Marta Brush-Finch, Yellow-crowned Redstart, White-lored Warbler, Rusty-headed and Streak-capped Spinetails, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, White-throated Tyrannulet, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant, Blue-capped Tanager, Golden-bellied Grosbeak, Golden-bellied Fruiteater, Brown-rumped Tapaculo and more attempts to see Santa Marta Antpitta.
Night El Dorado Lodge 


Day 4     Eldorado - Minca
If we failed to see Santa Marta Screech-Owl yesterday then we can have another try this morning. We will then take a slow walk downhill looking for any species we may have missed yesterday. Mixed flocks can always turn up a few surprises but its our aim to show you all the available endemics of this unique area. After lunch we will continue walking down where we have chances for several species not found higher up. The Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner will be on our hit list as will White-tipped Quetzal, Scaly-naped Parrot, more chances for Santa Marta Tapaculo and Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Lined Quail-Dove and with luck Coppery Emerald. Eventually we will arrive at our lodge situated in the town of Minca still in the foothills of Santa Marta and a haven for birds.
Night Minca

Day 5     Minca - Riohacha
Black-backed-AntshrikeThis morning we will take a leisurely stroll downhill in order to secure any species previously missed. We can look out for Zone-tailed Hawk, King Vulture, Keel-billed Toucan, Golden-winged Sparrow, Emerald Toucanet, Orange-crowned Oriole, Streaked, Yellow-margined, Panama and Venezuelan Flycatchers, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet and Trinidad Euphonia. We will also have second chances for Black-backed Antshrike. After a picnic lunch we will set off on the 3 hour drive to the dry coastal area of Riohacha. A few stops along the way will introduce us to a selection of quite different species such as Yellow Oriole, Carib Grackle, Black-crested Antshrike, Brown-crested Flycatcher, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Pale-legged Hornero, maybe Rufous-vented Chachalaca and the superb Russet-throated Puffbird.
Night Riohacha

Day 6     Riohacha – Santa Marta
Russet-throated-Puffbird by Steve BirdWe will have most of today to explore the bird rich dry scrub and also coastal marshes and pools. An early start will take us to Camarones and Los Flamencos where we will first check out an area of coastal dry scrub. A few specialities exist here and we will make an effort to find Tocuyo Sparrow, Vermilion Cardinal, Glaucous Tanager, Chestnut Piculet, White-whiskered Spinetail, Slender-billed Inezia, Ruby Topaz, Buffy Hummingbird, Red-billed Emerald, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, White-fringed Antwren, Orinocan Saltator, Pileated Finch, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Green-rumped Parrotlet and possibly White-tailed Nightjar. Moving on to the tidal mudflats and bay we will look for American Flamingo, Roseate Spoonbill, Scarlet Ibis, Reddish Egret, Tricoloured Heron, Collared Plover and a variety of other shorebirds. Amongst the Royal Terns and Laughing Gulls we could find Cabot’s Tern and quite often a surprise or two. Later in the afternoon we will make the journey back to Santa Marta we will stay for our final night.
Night Santa Marta

Day 7     Santa Marta – Isle de Salamanca – Bogota – End – 24th Feb
We need to up and out early in order to see the very localised Chestnut-winged Chachalaca which only sit out on the cactus tops at dawn. We should also find Bare-eyed Pigeons, Brown-throated Parakeet, Cocoi Heron, Magnificent Frigatebirds, Northern and Yellow-headed Caracaras, White-cheeked Pintail, Caspian Tern, plus a selection of shorebirds that could include Wilson’s Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Willet, Whimbrel, Least, Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers, possibly Stilt Sandpiper and others. Moving on a little we will then check and area of mangrove and coastal scrub where we hope to find Sapphire-throated and the rare Sapphire-bellied Hummingbirds, as well as Bicoloured Conebill, Least Grebe, Bicoloured Wren and Straight-billed Woodcreeper. With possibilities for Pearl Kite we will make our way to Santa Marta airport in time for our early afternoon flight back to Bogota. Please make sure that your flight from Bogota is in the evening or even the following morning.

Leaders:  Steve Bird, Gina Nichol, Diego Calderon & Waly Naranjo  

Ground Price:  
Main Tour £3295.00           Santa Marta £895.00 

Airfare: £650.00 (Approx) UK/UK

Zoothera tour prices explained
 Santa-Marta

Single supplement:
Main Tour £195.00         
Santa Marta £TBA note no single available at El Dorado on 2 nights

Deposit:
Main Tour £450.00
Santa Marta £ 150.00

Group size:
Main Tour - minimum 5 and maximum 8.
Santa Marta – minimum 6 and max 10
 
Included in costAccommodation in twin rooms, mostly en-suite, some with shared facilities, all meals, ground transport, domestic flights, bus on main tour and 4x4 landcruisers in Santa Marta, all entrance fees, water and snacks and services of all leaders and local guides.

Not includedInternational airfare, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.

Accommodation: Our hotels and lodges vary in quality from excellent to rather basic, but all are within easy reach of the areas we wish to bird

El-DoradoTour Code: This is a standard birding tour with all day birding. No particular strenuous walks are planned and birding is generally easy from open roads and wide tracks. To see a good amount of endemics and specialities you need to be prepared for long days. We will generally begin with a 4.30am to 5.00am start and either have an early breakfast or take a picnic breakfast with us. Lunches will be either picnic or a restaurant depending on our schedule, and the majority of our birding takes place in the morning with travelling performed in the afternoons, again depending on how far and where we need to get to. All in all this works very well and maximises our birding at the right times of day, which will allow for an impressive list. The weather can be unsettled at this time of year, so expect some cooler weather and possible cold weather with good chances of a shower or two. Note that birds are far more active in rain than in sunshine! If the weather has been raining for a while then we often get disruptions on the roads, please bear with this as it comes with the territory.

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The air holidays and flights shown are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10436. Please see our Terms and Conditions for more information.