Magdalena Valley of Magic Tour

The Magdalena Valley of Magic Birding tour will take you on an 11-day journey through the heart of Colombia. The Magdalena Valley divides the Central and Eastern branches of the Andes Cordillera and is in turn cut through by its main artery, the Magdalena River, which constantly guides our journey as we travel north in search of some of Colombia 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 immediately after this a 7-day Santa Marta Endemics Tour extension and get altogether as many as 550 bird species including some 40 endemics and many specialties.

If you care about preservation initiatives, we will stay at 3 eco-lodges co-founded by the American Bird Conservancy in Colombia. This funding is very important for them to keep ongoing efforts to protect the habitat of endangered bird species

Tour Duration: 11 days

Tour Dates: *June 3-13, 2019*

New added Dates: *November 12-22, 2019*

Tour Price: $3,800

Super Deal: Take $1,100 OFF with a Santa Marta Endemics extension

Single Occupancy Supplement: $500

Tour Size: Limited to 8 Participants

Tour Guide: Johnnier Arango

Pay a deposit of $ 500 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 - July 29 - 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 Tour guide, Johnnier Arango. 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 in Bogota

Day 2 - July 30 - Chingaza National Park or Florida 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 feet.a.s.l. 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 have been reported on ebird.org (2015-2017). Of special interest for our tour will be to see (E) Silvery-throated Spinetail, (NE) Rufous-browed Conebill, (NE) Pale-bellied Tapaculo

We may go to the Florida Park in place of Chingaza Park depending on group preferences - La Florida Park 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

Night at hotel in Bogota
birding tour colombia

Day 3 - July 31, Tabacal lagoon, Enchanted Garden and drive to el Paujil

Tabacal lagoon is located 57 kms from Bogota at an altitude of 4,100 feet.a.s.l. and a great place to spot 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, Stripe-breasted Spinetail

Enchanted Garden is a private residence located about an hour and a half west of Bogota at an altitude of 4,990 feet.a.s.l. 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 here include Brown Violetear, Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, White-bellied and Gorgeted Woodstars, Black-throated Mango and Lazuline Sabrewing

We will continue driving the ‘ruta del sol’ up the Magdalena Valley, stoping at the Guarinocito wetland searching mainly for the Horned Screamer until we reach the Paujil Nature Reserve, at the heart of the Magdalena Valley

Night at the Paujil Reserve

Day 4 - August 1, 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 feet.a.s.l. There are 396 bird species recorded on ebird.org for this location

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

Other important highlights for our time at the Paujil reserve 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 Paujil Reserve

Day 5 - August 2, El Paujil Nature Reserve and drive to Rio Claro Reserve

We will keep birding the Paujil Reserve in the morning searching for the specialities missing from our checklist and will drive 4 hrs to Río Claro Reserve after lunch. We will lodge in open-wall cabins high in the canopy, affording spectacular views of the river and forests below. Better yet, you will wake up to the calls of Howler Monkeys while toucans and honeycreepers search for fruit just off the main terrace. Birding in this reserve is quite productive with some groups reporting up to 150 species in a single day!

Night at the Rio Claro Natural Reserve

Day 6 - August 3, Rio Claro Natural Reserve

The reserve is located at an elevation of 560 m (1,950 ft) and covers an area of 250 ha (617 ac). A dirt road provides great birding opportunities, with chances for specialties such as the endemics White-mantled Barbet, the highly range-restricted (E) Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and the motionless Barred Puffbird.

Other specialities for the reserve include (E) Beautiful Woodpecker, (E) Magdalena Antbird, (E) Sooty ant-tanager, (NE) Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo, (NE) Scarlet-browed Tanager, (NE) Saffron-headed Parrot, many Antwren species Checker-throated, White-fringed, Moustached, Dot-winged, Pacific and Rufous-rumped, and Broad-billed Motmot among many others. Over 490 bird species have been recorded on ebird.org 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 the Rio Claro Natural Reserve

Day 7 - August 4, ½ day Río Claro Natural Reserve and drive to Medellin city

We will keep birding the Río Blanco Reserve in the morning to complete our list of specialities and will drive to the city of Medellin for about 5 hours just after lunch making stops on promising birding hotspots along the way

Night at hotel in Medellin

Day 8 - August 5, Morning drive to the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

From Medellin we will drive our way up to the fantastic Chestnut-capped Piha reserve making promising stops along the way 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 9 - August 6, 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 feet.a.s.l. 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 10 - August 7, ½ day Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve and drive 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 for a few hours in preparation to the start of the Santa Marta Mountain's leg of our birding adventure!

Night at hotel in Medellin

Day 11 - August 8, Birding morning in La Romera Reserve and flight to Barranquilla

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 find the Near Endemic Yellow-headed Manakin

In the afternoon we will catch a flight to the Caribbean city of Barranquilla, the starting point of our Santa Marta Mountains Tour!

Night at hotel in Barranquilla

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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