Santa Marta Endemics Tour

$ 3,000

The spectacular and well-known Santa Marta endemic birds are readily found in the main route that leads from the small town of Minca (located at ~2,000 ft. elevation) up to Cerro Kennedy (~7,700 ft.) at the top of the San Lorenzo Ridge in the Santa Marta mountains. In a single morning, up to 19 Santa Marta endemics are possible along the dirt route that connects Colombia’s flagship ecolodge, “El Dorado Reserve,” all the way up to Cerro Kennedy. This 7-day Santa Marta endemics tour includes staying at El Dorado Lodge, a nice and comfortable eco-lodge perched in a cloud forest with a view of the Caribbean Sea far below. Named after the legendary city of gold, El Dorado is Colombia’s flagship reserve and a Holy Grail for birding in the Americas

This reserve, created with the support from American Bird Conservancy is intended to preserve the habitats of the highest concentration of continental range-restricted bird species found anywhere in the world. Take this tour as an extension to the Epic Andes Birding Tour or the Magdalena Valley Birding Tour and save $1,000 on the combined tour

Tour Duration: 7 days

2020 Tour Dates: *June 14-20*

2020 Tour Dates: *Extension to our other Tours* and *Private Tour upon request*

Tour Price: $3,000

Single Occupancy Supplement: $500

Tour Size: Limited to 8 Participants

Tour Guide: Johnnier Arango or Juan Manuel Cardona

Pay a deposit of $ 800 per item

Additional information


Epic Birding Tour, Santa Marta Mountaing

Day 1 - Arrival to Barranquilla International Airport

With a number of international connections, the Caribbean Coast city of Barranquilla is the perfect place to begin your Santa Marta Endemics Tour. Upon arrival to the airport, a representative of Icaro Birding will pick you up and drive you to your hotel. We will have a welcome dinner, and will go through introductions, a tour presentation, rules & expectations, Q&A, and logistics for next day out birding

If you are taking this tour as an extension of any other Icaro Birding Tours, we will arrange the internal flight to make sure you arrive on time to start the Santa Marta Endemics Tour

Night at hotel in Barranquilla

Day 2 - Salamanca Island Nature Reserve and birding at Minca

Early in the morning we will drive from Barranquilla to Salamanca Island Nature Reserve where birding is very popular, specially as a place to look for the critically endangered, range-restricted and endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird. This group of small islands includes almost 140,000 acres of mangrove forests and freshwater ecosystem vegetation. The other main specialities here are (E) Turquoise-winged Parrotlet and (E) Chestnut-winged Chachalaca

Just after lunch we will drive for 1.5 hours to the Minca municipality, located in the foothills of the mythical Sierra Nevada mountains of Colombia. and the starting point of our Santa Marta endemics endeavor. We will keep birding here for the remaining of the afternoon in search of some very interesting species such as Military Macaw, King Vulture, Gray-Headed Kite, Short-tailed Hawk, Zone-tailed Hawk, Blue ground-dove, Pale-bellied Hermit, Sooty-capped Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat, Whooping Motmot among others

Night at hotel in Minca

Day 3 - Birding Minca road towards the El Dorado Reserve

At around 5:30 in the morning we will get on board a 4WD vehicle that will take us birding the dirt road connecting Minca to el Dorado Reserve, making several stops along the way searching for a number of Santa Marta endemics and specialities including (E) Sierra Nevada Brush-finch, (E) Santa Marta Tapaculo, (E) Santa Marta Woodstar, (E) Santa Marta Blossomcrown (E) Santa Marta Antbird, (E) Santa Marta Tapaculo, (E) Santa Marta Screech-owl, (E) Santa Marta Foliage Gleaner, (E) White-lored Warbler, (E) Santa Marta Brush-finch, (NE) Black-fronted Wood-quail, (NE) Coppery Emerald, (NE) White-tipped Quetzal, and (NE) Streak-capped Spinetail

We will arrive in time for lunch to the El Dorado Reserve where we will go birding in the afternoon around the lodge, hoping to keep growing our list of Santa Marta endemics and the many specialties. The Sierra Nevada remains remarkably little known, with at least two new bird species discovered in 2007, including a new species of Screech-Owl that roosts beside the EcoLodge!

Night at El Dorado Reserve

Day 4 - Cuchilla de San Lorenzo - Full day-out birding!

We will start the day early at around 4:30 am driving up to the highest part of el Dorado Reserve - The San Lorenzo Ridge, in a 4WD vehicle. Today, under the right weather conditions and a bit of luck, we should be able to see most of the Santa Marta endemics, which happened at high altitude (7,700 feet asl). Among the endemics we can expect to find are (E) Santa Marta Antpitta, (E) Santa Marta Warbler, (E) Santa Marta Parakeet, (E) White-tailed Starfrontlet, (E) Rusty-headed Spinetail, (E) Santa Marta Bush-tyrant, (E) Brown-rumped Tapaculo, (E) Bangs Wood-wren, (E) Santa Marta Wood-Wren, (E) Yellow-crowned Whitestart, (E) Santa Marta Mountain-tanager, and (E) Black-backed Thornbill among others

We will continue birding our way down arriving to the lodge just in time for a leisure lunch. In the afternoon and after a well deserve 'siesta' we will continue birding around the lodge until late afternoon hoping to have checked from our 'lifer' list most of the Santa Marta endemics and specialities

Night at El Dorado Reserve

Day 5 - El Dorado - Minca in the morning and drive to Riohacha

For the last leg of Icaro's Santa Marta endemics birding adventure, we will drive in early morning from El Dorado Reserve back to Minca, birding along the way to complete our list of Santa Marta endemics and specialities

We will then have lunch, will transfer to a very comfortable van and will drive for 3 hours to the city of Riohacha in the northest part of Colombia

Night at hotel in Riohacha

Day 6 - Los Flamencos Flora & Fauna Sanctuary and late flight to Bogota

Icaro's Santa Marta endemics tour will finish at Los Flamencos Sanctuary, an important coastal wetland and dry forest reserve created to protect a large population of the American Flamingo. This 17,000+ acre reserve of marshes, lagoons, and dry forest is also habitat to 185 other bird species (80% are migrants)

Retreating to the forest, the xerophytic scrub vegetation of the area is very productive for all of the Guajira specialties restricted to NE Colombia and NW Venezuela, including Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Buffy Hummingbird, Russet-throated Puffbird, (NE) Chestnut Piculet, (NE) White-whiskered Spinetail, (NE) Slender-billed Inezia, (NE) Orinocan Saltator, Pileated Finch, (NE) Red-billed Emerald, (NE) Tocuyo Sparrow (rare) and the splendid Vermilion Cardinal

Nothing prepares you, even if you have backyard Northern Cardinals, for the striking red, the overdone crest and the very different look of this sole South American offshoot of what is really a North American group. The Vermilion Cardinal is called "El Rey de la Guajira" ("King of the Guajira") by locals

We will continue birding until late afternoon when we will drive to Santa Marta for a late night flight to Bogota or for you to get your international connections back home

Night at hotel in Bogota

Day 7 - Drive to Bogota Airport and onto your next adventure!

With a bag full of good memories, an extended birding list with a number of Santa Marta endemics and some new friends and Colombian souvenirs, the Icaro Birding team will make sure you all take your connecting flights on time back home or onto your next big birding adventure. Feliz viaje and see you 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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