Colombia - The Richest Country for Birds!

Main Tour: Saturday 13th February  – Sunday 28th Feb 
Santa Marta: Sunday 28th Feb – Saturday 5th March 

Yellow-eared-Parrot by Steve BirdColombia has quickly risen to stardom as the number 1 birding destination in South America. With its 1906 species of birds, and rising, it holds more than any other country in the world. All the areas we visit are perfectly safe, 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 privileged to have Colombia’s No.1 bird guide Diego Calderon leading for Zoothera and this combined with the best value tour on the market ensures you that there is no better trip to this fabulous country available. Our tour will concentrate on finding a wealth of endemics and specialities (more than any other company), and our revised itinerary with newly discovered sites by our guide will allow chances for Zoothera to excel. Our extension to the wonderful Santa Marta will also give us the best opportunities to connect with this wonderful areas target species including many Santa Marta endemics. 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! ZOOTHERA No.1 in Colombia!
Imortant notes on why you should book with Zoothera - Click Here

  • Yellow-eared Parrot
  • Santa Marta Warbler
  • Beautiful Woodpecker
  • Brown-banded Antpitta
  • Gold-ringed Tanager
  • Munchique Wood-Wren
  • Blossomcrown
  • Turquoise Dacnis
  • Multicoloured Tanager
  • White-tipped Quetzal
  • Santa Marta Screech-Owl
  • Golden-bellied Starfrontlet
  • Masked Saltator
  • Chestnut Piculet
  • 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
  • Buffy Helmetcrest
  • Ocellated Tapaculo
  • Vermilion Cardinal

MAIN TOUR: 13th Feb - 28th Feb 

Day 1     Arrive Bogota, Colombia  – Overnight Bogota - 13th Feb
After our arrival in Bogota you will be met and transferred about 25 minutes to our accommodation on the outskirts of this vast city. Night Bogota. (D)

Day 2     Bogota and surrounding area  (Core of the 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, Mattoral Tapaculo, Glowing and the endemic Coppery-bellied Puffleg. We may even entice an Andean Pygmy-Owl to show itself, or if very lucky we could find Bronze-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. Heading back to Bogota and depending on traffic, we may have time to check a reedbed where we have previously seen the very restricted Apolinar’s Wren, and with luck Subtropical Doradito before returning back to our pleasant city hotel. 
Night at Bogota. (B,L,D)

Day 3   Laguna Pedro Palo – fly to Pereira - Otun (West Slope of East Andes)
Turquoise-Dacnis by Gina Nichol
This morning after an early breakfast we will drive 1 hour 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, Red-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. From here we will make a short visit to Chicaque where hummingbird feeders have recently attracted the the near endemic Golden-bellied Starfrontlet. From here we will drive to the airport and take the short flight to Pereira from where we can drive to the research centre at Otun Quimbaya. Depending how we feel we may go in search of Colombian Screech-Owl near to the lodge. Night Otun Quimbaya (B,L,D)

Day 4   Otun Quimbaya - Montezuma (Central Andes) 
Red-ruffed-FruitcrowThis morning for those that wish we can be up early and again look for Colombian Screech-Owl as well as Wattled Guan. After breakfast and no doubt the distraction of Red-ruffed Fruitcrows in the garden we will spend the morning searching for flocks and a few special birds. Taking a walk along an open quiet road we hope to connect with several sought after birds including the impressive Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, followed by such delights as Inca Jay, Golden-plumed Parakeet and Cauca Guan in one of its last remaining strongholds. Other species could include Flame-rumped Tanager and possibly Highland Motmot, while mixed feeding flocks will give us a good 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. As we leave this area a few strategic stops along the way could have us look at a nearby tumbling river where we may find Torrent Duck, White-capped Dipper and Torrent Tyrannulet amongst others. Continuing on we will make our way to the fabulous reserve of Montezuma for a very exciting three night stay. 3 Nights Montezuma Lodge (B,L,D)

Days 5 - 7   Montezuma (West Andes)
The fabulous reserve at Montezuma offers some fabulous birding and we will be spending three nights here so as to make the most of this special place. During our stay we will spend a day in the high zone followed by a day in the mid elevation forest and finally a day around the lower section. All this will enable us to see a wide variety of sought after and very special species.We will mostly bird along the road and a big wide trailand the avian Munchique-Wood-Wren by Steve Birddelights are endless with opportunities for Chestnut Wood-Quail, Blackish Rail, Barred Parakeet, Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, White-tipped Sicklebill, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Violet-tailed Sylph, Brown Inca, Velvet-purple Coronet, Booted Racket-tail, White-tailed Hillstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, White-bellied and Purple-throated Woodstars, Golden-headed and Crested Quetzals, Moustached Puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Grayish Piculet, Toucan Barbet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Yellow-vented and Lita Woodpeckers, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Uniform Treehunter, Bar-crested Antshrike, Bicolored Antvireo, Parker's Antbird, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Gnateater, Ocellated, Choco & Nariño Tapaculos, plus a new species of Tapaculo, Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, Handsome and Lemon-browed Flycatchers, Scaled, Green-and-black, Barred and Orange-breasted Fruiteaters, Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, Olivaceous Piha, Golden-winged, Club-winged, Striped and Golden-collared Manakins, Choco Vireo, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Beautiful Jay, Gray-mantled, White-headed, Sooty-headed and Sharpe's Wrens, Munchique Wood-Wren, Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, Black Solitaire, Lemon-rumped, Flame-rumped, Black-and-gold, Gold-ringed, Purplish-mantled, Glistening-green, Multicoloured, Scrub, Rufous-throated, Flame-faced, Scarlet-and-white and Dusky-faced Tanagers, Crested Ant-Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Indigo and Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercers, Yellow-throated, Dusky and Yellow-green Bush-Tanagers, Black-winged Saltator, Tricolored (Choco) Brush-Finch, Golden-bellied (Choco) Warbler, Blue-naped, Chestnut-breasted and Yellow-collared Chlorophonias. On our last day we will concentrate on the lower section of Montezuma Peak where we hope to connect with any target species we may have missed. From here we then Yellow-headed-Manakin by Diego Calderondrive to Apia for a one night stay. 3 Nights Montezuma (B,L,D)

Day 8   Apia - Manizales  (West Andes) 
Our birding this morning will be along the main road and a short trail where we will target a number of special birds including the rare Yellow-headed Manakin, the new species of Tapaculo?, White-throated Spadebill, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, White-bellied and Purple-throated Woodstars, Booted Racket-tail, Whiskered Wren and the endemic Yellow-headed Brush-Finch. We will then possibly make a few roadside stops to search for any other missing dry-forest targets. By birding along the entrance road to several farms we can get a variety dry Cauca Valley birds.This is fairly easy birding and amongst some of the species we can expect are Dwarf Cuckoo, Spectacled Parrotlet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Apical Flycatcher, Grayish Piculet, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Scarlet-fronted Parakeets and Crested Bobwhites. From here we will then drive to Manizales and our comfortable hotel. Time permitting we may look a some hummingbrd feeders where we could see Western Emerald, Brown Violet-Ear, Purple-throated & White-bellied Woodstar, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Andean Emerald and Booted Rackettail. Night Manizales

Day 9   Rio Blanco Reserve (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, Rufous-banded Owl, and Common Potoo. 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 the 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 it’s 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, Chestnut-naped 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, Spillman's and the fabulous Ocellated Tapaculo and Streak-headed Antbird, a bamboo specialist. Further searching should reveal Black-collared Jay, 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, Gray-browed Brush-Finch, Purple-backed Thornbill and with luck the rare Masked Saltator. In the evening at dusk we could try some of the owls again as well as Rufous-bellied Nighthawk and Lyre-tailed Nightjar. After what will certainly be a bird filled day we will return to Manizales. 
Night Manizales(B,L,D)

Day 10   Los Navados  - Jardin  (Central Andes to East side of Western Andes)
We will once again leave our hotel early in order to be near the high paramo of Los Nevados National Park by breakfast. As we Bearded-Helmetcrest by Steve Birdenjoy our picnic breakfast and the sun rises we will be perfectly positioned to start our highland birding. Golden-breasted Pufflegs and Viridian Metaltails will be overshadowed by the spectacular Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, while small roving flocks may include Golden-fronted Whitestart, Pale-naped Brush-Finch and the rare Black-back Bush Tanager. As we ascend higher we should have chances for Andean Pygmy-Owl as well as Sedge Wren, Paramo Seedeater, Plain-coloured seedeater, White-browed Spinetail, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant and White-chinned Thistletail. One of the highlights of this stunted mountainside is the delightful endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and we will look for this enchanting hummingbird on flowering bushes. Also here should be the vocal and often showy Tawny Antpitta alongside Stout-billed Cinclodes, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Crowned Chat-Tyrant and Many-striped Canastero. Moving back downhill slightly we will search our stake out for the rare Black-thighed Puffleg. With the high altitude specialties under our belt we will set off toward El Jardin one of our most favourite towns in Colombia. We have a long drive ahead of us so we will depart around 11am and head through the Cauca Valley to this beautiful town 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 (B,L,D)

Day 11   Ventanas Peak  (East slope of Western Andes) 
The exquisite town of Jardin is a delightful base from which to explore the surrounding hills and its many special birds. With a Tanager Finch by Steve Birdpicnic lunch and joined by another local 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, 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 hustle of activity and entertainment and an experience not to be missed. Night El Jardin((B,L,D)

Day 12   El Jardin  - Medellin 
(East slope of Western Andes to Core of Central Andes)  
Today we will go and check out a close Andean Cock-of-the Rock lek if we missed them before. On the outskirts of Jardin we can check an area that we have been lucky with Moustached Puffbird, Parker’s Antbird, and other species associated with these scrubby hillsides such as Rusty Flowerpiercer, Red-headed Barbet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Russet-backed Oropendola, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Solitaire, Golden-olive Woodpecker and maybe Yellow-throated Brush-Finch or White-collared Swifts. If we are lucky maybe even Yellow-eared Parrot. We will 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 and Andean Solitaire. 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 the newly described Antioqia Wren, Greyish Piculet and other species that might include Red-crowned and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, 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 (B,L,D)

Day 13   Medellin - Rio Claro  (Core 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 Beautiful Woodpecker by Steve Birdsite which is an excellent spot to find several endemics and really nice species. Amongst the 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 and the newly described Magdalena Antbird. Night Rio Claro (B,L,D)

Day 14   Rio Claro - Victoria (East slope of Central Andes) 
There will be even more fantastic birding today as we set off to explore the nearby forest and an Oilbird Cave. These extraordinary birds can be seen remarkable well in the dim light of this cavernous cave, something rarely achieved by other destinations with pitch black darkness and the need for spotlights. Following a shallow stream through the forest (Boots needed) 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, Slate-coloured Grosbeak, Wing-barred Piprites and if we are lucky even Blue Cotinga which we 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 Honeycreepers, 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 Antwrens, Ochre-bellied and Streaked Flycatcher, Cinnamon Becard, Fulvous-vented Euphonia, Blue-black Grosbeak, Gray-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 a diversion specifically to look for Northern Screamers which inhabit a small area of wetlands. Back on track we will then 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, Gray-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, Shining-green Hummingbird, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Red-breasted Blackbird, Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture and Yellow-crowned Parrots. Night Victoria (B,L,D)

Day 15   Victoria – la Vega 
Indigo-capped-Hummingbird by Steve BirdAn early start will see us arrive at the entrance to a 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 got more difficult 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. Later in the morning we will leave the area and head towards Bogota. A stop along the way at a private garden 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 this tiny 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 it’s just a short drive from here to La Vega where we will spend the night.  Night La Vega.(B,L,D)

Day 16   La Vega – Bogota – fly to Barranquilla (extension to Santa Marta) - 28th Feb
This morning we will visit the nearby lake Tabacal where we will search the trails and lake
edges for a variety of species such as Bar-crested Antshrike, Jet Antbird, White-bellied Antbird, Black-bellied Wren, Grey-throated Warbler, Ruddy Foliage-Gleaner, Stripe-breasted Spinetail, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Spectacled Parrotlet, White-bearded Manakin, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Red-billed Scythebill, White-throated Crake and Black-headed Brush-Finch. It will only be a short drive from here to Bogota for those wishing to finish their tour. For anyone wanting more then we offer a superb extension to the wonderful Santa Marta where a host of very localised endemics as well as many shorebirds and seabirds will be sought. For those not going on, you will be in time for your international departure. (B,L)


SANTA MARTA EXTENSION:  28th Feb - 5th March

Day 16
Bogota - Barranquilla – 28th Feb
f you are continuing onto Santa Marta we will be taking a domestic flight to Barranquilla where we will arrive in the evening and go straight to our coastal hotel. Night Barranquilla (D)

Day 17
   Isla de Salamanca – Minca  
Pied-Puffbird by Steve BirdThis morning we will make an early start to visit an area where first light gives us a chance for the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca a species that sits up early morning but then soon disappears into thick cover. We should also be able to find Yellow-headed and Northern Caracaras, plus Bare-eyed Pigeon. Nearby a small wooded reserve surrounded by mangrove will give us opportunities to find the rare Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird as well as Bicoloured Conebill, Least Grebe, Straight-billed Woodcreeper, Pied Puffbird, Prothonotary Warblers, Solitary Sandpiper, Golden-green Woodpecker and Bicoloured Wren. Moving on to various mangrove lined pools we can expect a wealth of shorebirds including Wilson’s and Collared Plovers, Short-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated, Western and Spotted Sandpiper, Caspian, Gull-billed and Royal Tern, Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill, Tricoloured, Cocoi, and Little Blue Herons, and in the scrub we could find Brown-throated Parakeet or Russet-throated Puffbird. After our extensive search of the wetlands we will continue on to Minca and our hotel half way up the Santa Marta mountains.  Night Hotel Minca. (B,L,D)

Day 18   Minca - El Dorado Lodge  
This 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, Santa-Marta-Antpitta-by-Steve BirdRufous-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 El Dorado 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 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 (B,L,D)
Santa Marta Warbler by Steve Bird
Day 19   Santa Marta Mountains  
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 San 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 (B,L,D)

Day 20   El Dorado - 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 Chestnut-Piculet by Steve BirdMarta 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 Hotel Minca. (B,L,D)

Day 21   Minca - Riohacha
This morning after checking the hummingbird feeders 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, Scaled Piculet, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Lineated Foliage-Gleaner, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet and Trinidad Euphonia. We will also have second chances for Black-backed Antshrike and the newly split Santa Marta Antbird. 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 (B,L,D)

Day 22   Riohacha – Los Flamencos - Bogota - 5th March
Vermilion-Cardinal-by Steve BirdWe will have most of the morning 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 morning we will make the short journey to Riohacha airport where we will fly to Bogota, in time for our international departures and the end of our tour. (B,L)


Leaders: Diego Calderon

Ground Price:  
Main Tour:  £3595.00 Special Price! 
Santa Marta: £1695.00

Airfare: £Approx £850 - £1100 UK/UK
Please note that flight costs can vary a lot on route taken and time of booking.

Zoothera tour prices explained

Single supplement:
Main Tour:
Santa Marta:

Main Tour: £500.00
Santa Marta: £150.00

Group size:
Main Tour - Maximum 8
Santa Marta – Maximum 8
Included in cost: Accommodation in twin rooms, mostly en-suite, some with shared facilities (Montezuma), all meals from dinner on 13th Feb to lunch on 5th March, drinks including up to 2 beers a day (main tour) with meals, ground transport, bus on main tour and 4x4 landcruisers where neccessary, all entrance fees, water, coffee and daily snacks and services of all leaders and local guides.

Not included: International and domestic 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. Note that there are may not be single rooms available at Montezuma and depending on group size and make up you may be required to share. Other places there is limited single room availability depending on group size.
Note that areas in the lowlands such as Victoria, La Vega, Rio Claro and along the coast at Santa Marta are places where the temperature is generally warm to hot and as such no hotels or lodges offer hot water. They say they do not need it!

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.
Imortant notes on why you should book with Zoothera - Click Here

To see our 2013 Tour Report - click here   696 species + 63 Endemics

To see our 2012 Tour Report - click here.

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