Magdalena Valley of Magic Tour

$ 4,600

The Magdalena Valley of Magic Birding tour will take you on a 15-day journey through the heart of Colombia. The Magdalena Valley divides the Central and Eastern branches of the Andes Cordillera and is home to Colombia’s main artery: the Magdalena River. The river constantly guides our journey as we travel north in search of some of Colombia’s most iconic bird specialties, including the endemics: Blue-billed Curassow, White-mantled Barbet, Beautiful Woodpecker, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Velvet-fronted Euphonia and Chestnut-capped Piha. Take a 7-day Santa Marta Endemics Tour extension and get as many as 550 total bird species, including some 40 endemics and many specialties.

This tour visits 2-3 natural reserves supported by the American Bird Conservancy. by staying at their lodges, we provide vital funding to keep ongoing efforts to protect the habitats of endangered bird species.

Tour Duration: 15 days

2020 dates: *August 3-17* or we will organize your private tour as well!

2021 Dates: *January 11-25* and upon request

Tour goal: +450 bird species including about 35 endemics

Tour Price: $4,600 per birder

Single Occupancy Supplement: $500

Tour Size: Limited to 8 Participants

Tour Guide: Johnnier Arango or Juan Manuel Cardona

Deal: $1,000 OFF with a Santa Marta Endemics extension

Pay a deposit of $ 800 per item

Additional information

In a Nutshell

Full tour price $4,500, Joelle & Ken Price $3,800, Tour Dates: January 10-25, 2018, Departure city: Bogota, Colombia, Max Number of participants: 6, Tour Guide: Johnnier Arango, Required deposit: $500

Day 1 - Arrival in Bogota International Airport

Upon arrival in Bogota, a company representative will pick you up at the airport and will drive you to the hotel to meet with Icaro's team including your tour guide. We will have a welcome dinner, and will go through introductions, a tour presentation, rules & expectations and Q&A, and logistics for our first day of birding

Night at Hotel Atton Calle 93 Bogota

Day 2 - Chingaza National Park and Hummingbirds Observatory

Chingaza National Park is located just outside of Bogotá (1.5 hours land trip), it includes vast areas of high Andean forest, subparamo and paramo ecosystems and provides access to some key specialties such as the uncommon (E) Brown-Breasted Parakeet, (E) Green-bearded Helmetcrest

Potential Near endemics to see in Chingaza NP include: Rufous-browed Conebill, Bronze tailed Thornbill, Coppery-billed Puffleg, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Agile Tit-Tyrant, Rufous-browed Conebill

The Hummingbirds Observatory is located only 11.1 miles from Bogota, at an altitude of 9,800 fasl in high andean forest. The weather can vary magically from sunny to rainy many times a day and is not surprise to see the fog coming down the mountain as well. A total of 118 species of birds have been reported on ebird.org (2015-2017). Birds of special interest include (E) Silvery-throated Spinetail, (NE) Rufous-browed Conebill, (NE) Pale-bellied Tapaculo

Night at Hotel Atton 93 in Bogota
birding tour colombia

Day 3 - Florida Park, Tabacal lagoon, Enchanted Garden

La Florida Park located in Bogota is a wetland heavily impacted by development. The small remaining natural area is a perfect spot to find the endemic Bogota Rail. Other interesting species to be found include endemic Apolinar's Wren, a fairly common bird of tall cattails. The endemic subspecies of the Yellow-hooded Blackbirds are normally present and conspicuous, but Noble Snipe and Subtropical Doradito are rather rare and more difficult to see. Small numbers of Spot-flanked Gallinule (endemic subspecies) are usually present in open water. (E) Silvery-throated Spinetail and (NE) Rufous-browed Conebill can occasionally be found in the surrounding Eucalyptus trees and parkland. Other birds of interest include Band-tailed Seedeater, Lesser Scaup, Andean Siskin, Andean Teal, Black Flowerpiercer.

Enchanted Garden is a private residence located about an hour and a half west of Bogota at an altitude of 4,990 fasl. Some 300 hummingbirds can be seen at any moment coming to the 40 plus feeders present in the garden. 27 hummingbird species have been recorded here including the (E) Indigo-capped Hummingbird and the (NE) Red-billed and Short-tailed Emeralds. Other highlights include Brown Violetear, Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, White-bellied and Gorgeted Woodstars, Black-throated Mango and Lazuline Sabrewing

The beautiful Tabacal Lagoon located 57 kms from Bogota at an altitude of 4,100 fasl is to go to hotspot to find Black-bellied Wren, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner and Red-billed Scythebill. Main specialities at Tabacal lagoon include(E) Velvet-fronted Euphonia, White-throated spadebill, Speckle-breasted Wren (endemic colombian subspecies), Jet Antbird, and Stripe-breasted Spinetail

We will continue driving west towards the heart of the Magdalena Valley and will spend the night in the colonial and historic town of Guaduas

Night at Colonial hotel in Guaduas

Day 4 - Guarinocito wetland and drive to Rio Claro Nature Reserve

After driving for just over 1 hour we will find the Guarinocito wetland, a really productive hotspot to observe a number of specialties in a short period of time. Some of the main targets here include Russet-throated Puffbird, Savanna Hawk, Wattled Jacana, Large-billed Tern, Green Kingfisher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-headed Caracara, Pied Water-Tyrant, Black-capped Donacobius, and Yellow-chinned Spinetail

We will continue birding until lunch break at a nice restaurant and will travel for another 2 hours towards the Río Claro Natural Reserve, a truly Magdalena Valley and Central Cordillera birding paradise! Birding in this reserve is quite productive with some groups reporting up to 100 species in a single day

Night at Hotel los Colores Ecopark

Day 5 - Rio Claro Natural Reserve

The reserve is located at an elevation of 1,950 fasl and covers an area of 250 ha. A dirt road provides great birding opportunities, with chances for specialties such as the endemics White-mantled Barbet, (E) and range restricted Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and the motionless Barred Puffbird

Other specialities to go after include (E) Beautiful Woodpecker, (E) Magdalena Antbird, (E) Sooty ant-tanager, (NE) Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo, (NE) Scarlet-browed Tanager, (NE) Saffron-headed Parrot, Antwren species such as Checker-throated, White-fringed, Moustached, Dot-winged, Pacific and Rufous-rumped, and Broad-billed Motmot among others. Over 490 bird species have been recorded for this Reserve

Later in the day we will go 15 mins from the reserve to visit La Cueva del Condor. Although No Condor inhabit the area, the cave is home to a very noisy, bizarre, eye-catching, nocturnal Oilbird colony. This very interesting night bird uses sonar to navigate, and it is a delight to see. The path to the cave follows a small creek through the forest, where large mixed flocks are common and many species are possible, among them Slaty-winged Foliage-Gleaner, Pacific Antwren, One-colored Becard, Trinidad Euphonia, Thrush-like Schiffornis, and the always spectacular Blue-crowned and White-bearded Manakins engaging in their curious displays

Night at los Colores EcoPark

Day 6 - ½ day Río Claro Natural Reserve and drive to El Paujil Reserve

We will keep birding the Río Blanco Reserve in the morning to complete our list of specialities and after lunch will drive northeast for 4 hours to the "heart and soul" of the Magdalena Valley, the very productive Blue-billed Curassow Reserve making promising birding stops along the way

If the river is deep enough we may do the last 20 mins on a very scenic boat ride

Night at the Blue-billed Curassow Reserve

Day 7 - Blue-billed Curassow "El Paujil" Nature Reserve

The Paujil reserve was created in November 2003 with the support of ABC (American Bird Conservancy) and GCF (Global Conservation Fund), in order to preserve the enigmatic, endangered and endemic Blue-billed Curassow (El Paujil). The Paujil reserve covers 8.448 acres and is located between 490 and 3,937 fasl. There are 396 bird species recorded on ebird.org for this location

Other very important endemics to try and see here include White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle-tyrant (rare), Colombian Chachalaca (common), Sooty Ant-Tanager, and Beautiful Woodpecker

Other birds of interest include Chestnut-backed Antbird, Yellow-backed Tanager, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, (NE) Black-billed Flycatcher, One-colored Becard, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Black-bellied Wren, and Shining-green Hummingbird

Night at the Blue-billed Curassow "El Paujil" Reserve

Day 8 - El Paujil Nature Reserve and back for a night to Rio Claro Reserve

We will keep birding the Paujil Reserve in the morning searching to compete the list of specialties and will drive back to Rio Claro Nature Reserve in the afternoon where we can continue birding until nightfall readying to head towards the beautiful Medellin city the next morning

Night at Los Colores EcoPark

Day 9 - Morning drive and birding towards Medellin

This morning will be dedidacte to birding en route towards the city of Medellin, which we will reach just in time for lunch and to check in in a nice colonial style hotel. In the afternoon we can go on a city tour including birding time in the Botanical Garden

Night at a Colonial style hotel in Medellin

Day 10 - Birding along the way towards the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

From Medellin we will drive our way up to the fantastic Chestnut-capped Piha reserve making promising stops to continue to see a variety of birds from the Magdalena Valley. Actually, this route is very interesting because of its strategic location between the limits of the Magdalena Valley, the Central cordillera and the Choco Bioregion, we get to see a nice mix of birds from all 3 diverse ecosystems

After arriving to the municipality of Anori, we will have a late lunch and will continue birding around the lodge until late afternoon

Night at the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

Day 11 - Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

It wasn't until 2001 that the elegant and endemic Chestnut-capped Piha was described in a tiny fragmented forest in the northeast extreme of the Central Andes. In 2006, the local NGO Proaves with support from ABC (American Bird Conservancy) acquired an area of approximately 3,271 acres to support the conservation of the Piha and established a network of trails to find this and other key species. The reserve is located in the El Roble, Anorí (Antioquia), with an altitude between 4,593 and 6,069 fasl, 479 bird species have been recorded on ebird.org for this location

Key species at the reserve include (E) Chestnut-capped Piha, (E) Black-and-gold Tanager, (E) White-mantled Barbet, (E) Chestnut Wood-quail, (E) Parker’s Antbird, (E) Red-bellied Grackle, (E) Multicolored Tanager, (NE) Scarlet-and-white Tanager, (NE) Purplish-mantled Tanager, Ochre-breasted Antpitta and (NE) Sooty-headed Wren among many others

Night at the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

Day 12 - ½ day Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve and drive back to Medellin

We will continue birding the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve in the morning hoping to complete our list of specialities and will drive back to Medellin just after lunch. We will recharge batteries in preparation to the last leg on our Magdalena Valley of Magic Tour, the spectacular town of Jardin, located 2 hours south from Medellin

Night at colonial hotel in Medellin

Day 13 - Birding morning in La Romera Reserve and towards Jardin, Antioquia

La Romera is located at about 30 minutes drive from Medellin just off limits from the Sabaneta municipality. It is a very popular location among birders that provides great chances to see the highly restricted regional endemic Red-bellied Grackle and the (E) Stiles’s Tapaculo. Besides, is one of the very few locations in Colombia to try and find the Near Endemic Yellow-headed Manakin

In the afternoon we will drive for about 3 hours to reach one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia, Jardin (The Garden)

Night at hotel in Jardin

Day 14 - 15 Jardin and the Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve

Jardin is one of the best places in the country for birdwatching and caters to all levels of birding enthusiasm. On the edge of town is a display site of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, one of the most iconic and brightly coloured species in South America. The Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve on a stunning road just above the town is also home to a strong population of yellow-eared parrots, which were formerly thought to be extinct and remain one of the rarest birds in the world. The list of specialties on this part of Colombia include (E) Turquoise Dacnis, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Speckle-faced Parrots, Masked Flowerpiercer, White-capped Tanager, near-endemic Tanager Finch, Chestnut-crested Cotinga and the endemic Dusky Starfrontlet.

Night at hotel in Jardin

On day 15 we will make sure to drive back to Medellin and to the airport for you to make it on time to your flight connections. Make sure to check out Icaro Birding's 6-day astounding Santa Marta Endemics extension and save $1,100 on the combined tour

End of tour for some and begining of the Caribbean Coast extension for others. Thanks for birding with us and let's hope to see you all again soon!

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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