Epic Andes Birding Tour

$ 4,000

Icaro Birding Epic Andes birding tour has been carefully crafted for you to have a birding experience of a lifetime visiting some of the most important birding hotspots in the Western and Central Andes Cordillera including the Cauca Valley (home to +900 bird species), the Choco Bioregion (with more biodiversity per area than the Amazon itself!) and the beautiful Coffee Area of Colombia

Some of the main targets for this tour include (E) Multicolored Tanager, (E) Chestnut Wood-quail, (NE) Golden-chested Tanager, (NE) Choco Toucan, (E) Tatamá Tapaculo, (E) Grayish Piculet, (E) Apical Flycatcher, (E) Gold-ringed Tanager, (E) Munchique Wood-Wren, (E) Black-and-gold Tanager, (E) endangered Cauca Guan, (E) endangered Indigo-winged Parrot, (E) Buffy Helmetcrest, and (E) Rufous-fronted Parakeet.

When you combined the Epic Andes Birding Tour with a Santa Marta Endemics extension you save $1,000!

Tour Duration: 12 days

2020 Dates: *July 7-18* and *December 7-18* or we will organize a private tour for you

Tour Price: $4,000 per birder

Single Occupancy Supplement: $500

Tour Goal: Over 400 bird species including +30 endemics

Tour Size: Limited to 8 participants

Tour Guide: Johnnier Arango, Juan Manuel Cardona or Andrea Beltran

Category:

Day 1 - Arrival to Cali International Airport

Our Epic birding tour will start upon arrival in Cali, where your tour guide will pick you up at the airport and will drive you to the beautiful Minga Ecolodge located in Cloud forest ecosystem. Here we will have a welcome dinner, and will go through intros, logistics, rules and expectations and an overview for the first day out birding

Night at La Minga Ecolodge

Minga ecolodge

La Minga Ecolodge

Day 2 - La Minga Ecolodge and Km 18

The Cauca Valley is home to OVER 900 SPECIES of BIRDS, representing 40% of Colombia’s total species and close to the total number of species in the United States. A really good place to start our Epic Birding Tour!

Waking up to the sight of up to 17 species of hummingbirds that frequent La Minga's feeders is the way to start our tour. Surrounded by well preserve Cloud Forest and 5 miles of trails you can find 5 endemic bird species: Multicolor Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Chestnut Wood-Quail, Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, and Yellow-headed Manakin.

In the afternoon, we will visit the well-known Finca Alejandria, a privately owned property Eighteen kilometres from Cali and the best site in Colombia for good views of the endemic and much-sought Multicolored Tanager and the Blue-headed Sapphire

Highlights:

Crested and the Golden-headed Quetzals, Rufous-crested Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Scaled Fruiteater, Crimson-rumped, and Emerald Toucanet, Sickle-winged Guan, Chestnut-breasted Wren, and Uniform Antshrike, endemic Colombian Chachalaca, Flame-rumped Tanager, Masked Flowerpiercer, Bronzy Inca, Long-tailed Sylph, and Purple-throated Woodstar, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted Barbtail, Streak-capped & Flammulated Treehunter, Streaked Xenops,

In late afternoon, we will drive for an hour to the town of El Queremal to spend the night

Night at hotel El Campanario

Multicolored Tanager

Multicolored Tanager

Photo: Sebastian Moreno

Red-headed Barbet

Red-headed Barbet

Day 3 - Anchicaya Valley - Old road to Buenaventura

A very famous birding destination in the Western Andes cordillera, the Anchicaya Valley, also known as Old Road to Buenaventura, is clasified as a tropical forest in the foothills of the Chocó bioregion (one of the wettest regions on earth), which creates the perfect biodiversity storm for a very satisfying birding stop on our Epic birding Tour. This old road can produce up to 100 bird species in a single day. Some of the most seek out species to be found here include (NE) Golden-chested Tanager, (NE) Baudo Guan, (NE) Choco Toucan, (NE) Rose-Faced Parrot, and (NE) Choco Poorwill

Highlights:

(NE) Scarlet-and-white Tanager, (NE) Choco (blue-tailed) Trogon, Lita Woodpecker, Lanceolated Monklet, Cinnamon Woodpecker, White-headed Wren, Gray-and-gold Tanager, Spot-crowned Barbet, Black-headed Tody-flycatcher, Blue-crowned Manakin, Club-winged Manakin, (NE) Purple-chested Hummingbird, (NE) Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Black-breasted Puffbird, (NE) Yellow-green Chlorospingus, (NE) Choco Woodpecker (rare), (NE) Lemon-spectacled Tanager, (NE) Ochre-breasted Tanageand many more

Night at hotel El Campanario

Choco Toucan

Choco Toucan

Lanceolated monklet

Lanceolated Monklet

Toucan Barbet

Photo: Francesco Veronessi

Day 5 - Sonso Lagoon in the morning and transfer to Tatama National Park

Roughly 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) southwest of the municipality of Buga, the Reserva Natural Laguna de Sonso (Sonso Lagoon) is a wetland reserve that offers delights to birders. The eastern margins of the River Cauca pour here to create an area of 2045 hectares (5053 ac), 90 percent of which is wetlands. As part of our epic birding tour, we will have the opportunity to see specialties such as (E) Grayish Piculet, (E) Apical Flycatcher, Bar-crested Antshrike, Cinereous Becard, Dwarf Cuckoo, Jet Antbird and Ruby Topaz Hummingbird

Highlights:

Comb Duck, Grey-headed Dove, Dark-billed Cuckoo, Ultramarine Grosbeak, Striped Cuckoo, Blackish Rail, Spectacled Parrotlet, Fulvous, White-faced & Black-bellied whistling ducks, blue-winged teal, Buff-necked Ibis, Little Cuckoo

Just after lunch, we will start a 4.5 hours drive to Tatama National Park, seeking the mythical Montezuma road and the many special birds this magic reserve in the Choco Bioregion of Colombia has to offer

Night at Montezuma lodge

Striped Cuckoo

Striped Cuckoo

Photo: Alejandro Bayern

Day 6 - Montezuma High-Medium parts

The Montezuma Peak lies within Tatama National Park in the Colombian Western Andes Cordillera. It is recognized as one of the best birding hotspots in the world with over 600 bird species identified, and with the most Choco endemics in the Americas, thanks to its terrific verticality and location in the Choco Bioregion of Colombia, a super diverse area that encompasses much of western Colombia and Ecuador. Montezuma is without a doubt a main stop in our Epic Birding Tour.

Birding at a range of 5,250 to 8,040 feet atop cerro Montezuma, we will have the opportunity to see some unique species such as (E) Gold-ringed Tanager, (NE) Tanager Finch (E) Munchique Wood-Wren, (NE) Black Solitaire, (NE) Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, and (NE) Beautiful Jay. (E) Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, (E) Dusky (Glittering) Starfrontlet (rare), White-faced Nunbird, and Greater Scythebill (rare)

Highlights

Some of the most coveted species include (NE) Purplish-mantled Tanager, (NE) Glistening-green Tanager, (NE) Dusky Chlorospingus, (NE) Black-chinned Mountain-tanager, Crested Quetzal, Olive Finch, and Scaly-throated Foliage-Gleaner, Tricolored Brush-Finch, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia and Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, Semicollared Hawk (rare). Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, and Barred Fruiteater among many others

Night at Montezuma Lodge

Crested Quetzal

Crested Quetzal

Gold-ringed Tanager

Gold-ringed Tanager

Photo: Humberto Marin

Day 7 - Montezuma Mid-Lower Segment

Early morning on birding tour day 7, we will take into the mid-lower segments of the Montezuma Road hoping to see some serious targets such as (E) Black-and-gold Tanager, (E) Crested Ant-Tanager, (NE) Bicolored Antvireo, (E) Tatamá Tapaculo (recently described), (NE) Chocó Vireo, (E) Parker’s Antbird, (E) Multicolored Tanager, (E) Grayish Piculet, (NE) Indigo Flowerpiercer, (NE) Yellow-breasted Antpitta. Also with some luck we may encounter the well regarded Golden-winged Manakin and (NE) Club-winged Manakin. The Club-winged Manakin, is one of the star attractions of the Chocó region, as anyone who has observed their freaky mooning display can attest.

Highlights:

(NE) Yellow-Green Chlorospingus (rare), (NE) Ochre-breasted Tanager, (NE) Golden-bellied Warbler (Choco Warbler), Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, (NE) Violet-tailed Sylph, (NE) Brown Inca, (NE) Velvet-purple Coronet, (NE) Empress Brilliant, (NE) Purple-throated Woodstar, (NE) Toucan Barbet, (NE) Uniform Treehunter, (NE) Choco Tapaculo, (NE) Orange-breasted Fruiteater, (NE) Rufous-throated Tanager, (NE) Scarlet and White Tanager

Night at Montezuma Lodge

Grayish Piculet

Grayish Piculet

Photo: Francesco Veronesi

Violet-tailed Sylph

Day 8 - ½ day Montezuma Lower Parts and transfer to Otún Quimbaya

Our Epic birding tour will dedicate the morning to complete the list of specialities at the lower parts of the Montezuma Road, taking the road for 3 hours after lunch to Otún Quimbaya National Park, a beautiful natural reserve well-known for 2 coveted specialities: Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and (E) endangered and very localized Cauca Guan Birding happens along fairly flat trails and a road. The understory is pretty navigable and open, making this a great place to actually look for Antpittas and the (E) Chestnut Wood-Quail

Night at Otun Quimbaya Lodge

Barred Fruiteater

Barred Fruiteater

Photo: Juan Manuel Cardona

Crested-ant Tanager

Crested-ant Tanager

Photo: Arley Vargas

Day 9 - Day at Otún Quimbaya and transfer to Tinamu Birding Reserve

The birding in Otun Quimbaya is along fairly flat trails and a road. The understory is pretty navigable and open, making this a great place to actually look for Antpittas and the Wood-Quail. Birding in the morning should produce a number of specialties such as (E) Chestnut Wood-Quail, (E) Golden-plumed Parakeet, (NE) Moustached Antpitta, and Hooded Antpitta, Torrent Duck, (E) Stiles’s Tapaculo, and (E) Crested Ant-tanager. In late afternoon we will transfer for 2 hours to the nice Tinamu Birding Reserve

Highlights

Other marbles at Otun Quimbaya include (NE) Colombian Screech-Owl, (NE) Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, White-capped Tanager, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Wattled Guan, Rusty-winged Barbtail, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Black-banded Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Treehunter, Bronze-olive Pygmy-tyrant, Black-billed Peppershrike, Golden-winged Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Whiskered Wren among others

Night at Tinamu Birding Reserve

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow

Red-ruffed Fruitcrow

Day 10 - Tinamu Birding Reserve

Tinamu Reserve is a birding sanctuary located on 15 ha. of a dry forest at 4,019 feet asl. With over 240 species of birds registered and a really good set of trails and hummingbird feeders, this place promises to be a delight for birders & photographers. Hummingbirds of interest include Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, Black-throated Mango, White-vented Plumeleteer, Steely-vented Hummingbird, and Green Hermit

Other birds of particular interest include Little Tinamu, Blue-headed Parrot, Acorn Woodpecker, Flame-rumped Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Common Potoo, Brown-throated Parakeet, Giant Cowbird, Cocoa Thrush, (E) Grayish Piculet, Tropical Screech-Owl, Mustached Puffbird, and the amazing Golden-collared Manakin

Night at Tinamu Birding Reserve

Golden-collared Manakin

Photo: Aaron Maizlish

Green Hermit

Green Hermit

Photo: Oscar Marin

Day 11 - Río Blanco Reserve and transfer to hotel Termales del Ruiz

Rio Blanco is the go-to spot in our epic birding tour for three very attractive species: Masked Saltator, (NE) Bicolored Antpitta, and (E) Brown-banded Antpitta. The two Antpittas are commonly heard and both are seen readily at feeding stations. The Saltator is regular, but certainly not guaranteed. Other 2 very important birds to see here as part of our birding tour are (E) Chestnut Wood-quail and Rusty-faced Parrot

Highlights:

We will spend much of the day exploring the excellent network of trails looking out for such marvelous species like Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, (NE) Western Wedge-billed Hummingbbird, Gray-browed Brush-Finch, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Crimson-mantled, Bar-bellied and Powerful Woodpeckers, Golden-plumed Parakeet, White-throated Quail-Dove, Pale-footed Swallow, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Grass-green and Blue-winged Tanager, White-throated Screech-Owl, Rufous-banded Owl, Stygian Owl and Andean Pygmy-Owl

In the afternoon, we'll have lunch at the lodge and enjoy the spectacular hummingbird show at the feeders. We will then get going for 2.5 hours to the highest elevation of our birding tour at Páramo del Ruiz. We will stay at the beautiful hotel Termales del Ruiz (11,480 feet asl), which offers stunning views of the valleys and mountains of the paramo. The thermal pool for which the hotel is named is a steaming, hot, sulfurous delight, set behind the main hotel building, ideal for a truly relaxing experience after a day of birding

Night at hotel Termales del Ruiz

Slate-crowned Antpitta

Photo: Francesco Veronesi

Rufous-banded Owl

Rufous-banded Owl

Day 12 - Paramo del Ruiz - Road to Termales

Early in the morning we’ll climb to the high elevation Nevado del Ruiz National Park at about 13,000 feet asl. Just at the park buildings and along the road we can readily find Tawny Antpitta and the dazzling and very localized (E) Buffy Helmetcrest. This will be our chance to bird the paramo zone and its spectacular mix of unique species including the marvelous (E) Rufous-fronted Parakeet Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Black-chested Mountain-tanager, Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan, Black-headed Hemispingus. Flowering bushes attract a number of colorful hummingbirds including Viridian Metaltail, Golden-breasted Puffleg and Shining Sunbeam

Highlights

Other birds of interest in the sunset of our epic birding tour include: Tawny Antpitta, White-chinned Thistletail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Black-chested Buzzard-eagle, Andean Condor, Many-striped Canastero, Paramo Seedeater, Noble Snipe, Black flowerpiercer, and Plain-capped Ground-tyrant. In the forest patches at an altitude of 3,500 mts asl we’ll look for the amazing Paramo Tapaculo, White-banded Tyrannulet, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Ash-coloured Tapaculo, Andean Pygmy-owl, Mountain Avocetbill and Black-backed Bush-Tanager

In the afternoon after lunch at the hotel Termales del Ruiz, we can enjoy the spectacular display of 10 species of hummingbirds that come to the feeders including (NE) Black-thighed Puffleg, (NE) Golden-breasted Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Tourmaline Sunangel, Viridian Metaltail, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, and Purple-backed Thornbill

For the end of our tour, we will drive for 2 hours to the Pereira airport where you will take a connecting flight to either Bogota or Cali for your flight back home. We do offer a Caribbean Coast extension right after the end of this tour, if you decided to join us, we will fly together to the city of Barranquilla to begin a 6-day endemics extravaganza.

End of tour or begining of a Santa Marta Endemics extension

Gray-breasted Mountain-toucan

Buffy Helmetcrest

Buffy Helmetcrest

  • Tour starts in Cali and ends in Pereira, COLOMBIA. Both cities are 3 hours away from each other by car.
  • Duration: 13 days, 12 nights.
  • Comfort level: Standard. We will stay at comfortable, pleasant and clean Eco-Lodges, and Hotels.
    • Birding lodges are clean and simple but comfortable.
    • They have the luxury of hot showers, three great meals a day, and they work on a birders schedule.
    • Accommodations in cities will be at local hotels, with relative comfort and good local food but no fancy 5 stars hotels.
    • We will have purified or bottled drinking water available throughout the trip.
  • Disposition level: Adventure. It is willing to leave some comfort to go deeper into nature.
    • A couple of days will be especially demanding since we will be out from dusk till dawn birding. Food, water, snacks and toilet breaks are all integrated, though. We will have fun!
  • Included in this Tour:
    • Internal private land transportation. Private Vans and 4x4 when needed. All with A/C
    • All meals from dinner day 1 to breakfast day 13
    • Accommodation: Lodges, and Hotels with shared rooms (2 persons per room)
  • Not Included :
    • International Flights
    • Personal expenses
    • Medical insurance during the tour
    • More than one beer per person per day, unless our guide has a new 'lifer'
    • Not specified expenses.

Entering Colombia is a breeze for citizens of many countries. However, we thought it will be helpful to go over some items for you to consider before making a reservation for our Epic Birding Tour to Colombia. You can expect to receive more detailed information in your welcome package.

ENTERING COLOMBIA: US citizens must have a passport, valid for at least six months after your date of departure from Colombia. A the present time, no visa is required for US citizens visiting Colombia for 60 days or less. Visitors from other countries may need a visa; please contact your nearest Colombian embassy or consulate for further information.


COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/colombia.html and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Colombia at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/co.html.


PACE OF TOUR: Our days will begin normally early at around 6:00 am. On some days we may take a picnic lunch in the field and on others we will stop at roadside restaurants. Participants should be able to walk at a slow to moderate pace for around 3-4 hours at a time; we may walk in the sun on some roads, though most of our trails will be in the shade. Rubber boots may be necessary depending how much it’s been raining, but we will let you know in advance. On rainy days, we may have to stay behind and bird the lodge grounds, and on hot days we may have some downtime after lunch to take a 'siesta' and return to birding in the afternoon. We will typically return to our lodgings at around 5:00 pm, with dinner generally starting around 6:30 pm. We will collectively call a list of the birds recorded during the day after dinner.


HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/colombia


  • Dengue Fever and Chikungunya: Dengue Fever and Chikungunya occur in parts of Colombia and seem to be becoming commoner in many parts of South America. There is as yet no inoculation available for either disease, so no protection can be made in advance of travel. They are transmitted by diurnal mosquitoes mostly in heavily populated areas. It is important therefore cover up and use repellent wherever mosquitoes might be encountered.
  • Yellow Fever: We’ll be in areas considered to be free of the disease. However, it is recommended that you are vaccinated before coming into the country. Please consult your physician.
  • Zika Virus: This virus is expanding into South America including Colombia, and health authorities are still trying to gauge its full impact. Couples who expect/hope to become pregnant should consult their physician.
  • Insects: There are few problems with insects on this tour. There are a few mosquitoes in some areas. Bring a good insect repellent for mosquitoes and other insects that we will occasionally encounter.
  • Altitude: We’ll visit sites up to around 12,000 feet above sea level!.
  • Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a smoking prohibition, that one will prevail.

PERSONAL SAFETY:Colombia is once again a safe destination for sensible international travelers. There is no significant threat in the areas we will visit. However petty crimes such as pickpocketing are common in major cities including airports, so be careful. But really, the biggest risk you take in Colombia is wanting to stay for good.


CLIMATE: August in this region of Colombia is supposed to be just great for birding. We will have some rain but in general you can expect to have dry, beautiful days. Temperatures range between low 40s in the paramo to high 80s. More accurate info as we get closer to the starting date.


FOOD: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at destinations in rural areas (lodges). If you have a significant food allergies or special dietary requirements, please let us know in advance and prepare to bring foods for those times when your needs cannot be met. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact us if you have any questions.


TRANSPORTATION: Travel will mostly be by private vans and 4x4 vehicles wherever the road gets rough. Participants must be willing and able to take the ride in any seat.

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