Birding Pals Tours in Colombia
with Professiona Guide Pablo Florez

Birdwatching in Colombia

Colombia has the highest bio-diversity per square kilometer of anywhere on the planet. At around 1875 species, Colombia’s bird list is number one in the world. Moreover, the country offers one of the best relationships between species number x quality birds/money - time for any kind of birder.

Colombia is also one of the most beautiful countries on earth. There’s a big variety of landscapes and habitats plus the sites still are pure and authentic. Security is perhaps still regarded by many potential visitors as an issue of concern when visiting Colombia. In reality however, if you stay out of the few remaining areas of conflict, you will be safer in Colombia than in most other Latin American countries. Plus people are very nice and friendly. Colombia is a country with an emerging economy, clean and tidy, and with an educated people. Ecotourism is an activity that is still in its infancy, but nonetheless there are numerous reserves, national parks and lodges that offer security, adequate facilities, easy access and of course premium birding.

Electronic map of Colombia

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Tour I
12 days birdwatching tour to Western and Central Andes.

The Western and Central Andes of Colombia has a big concentration of endemics and specialties. This area it holds some of the hottest birding destinations in South America. Around 400-450 species including 28 endemics and at least 85 specialties and mytical birds are possible in our 12 days tour in this region. This tour cover lot the habitats between 500-4000 masl. including Jungle, Premontane humid Forest, Cloud Forest, Montane forest and Paramo.

Itinerary

The participants will meet in a hotel in Medellín City. This is second biggest city in Colombia and also the most modern. Medelín has a busy international airport with direct flights from USA, Spain, Panama and Quito. Also lots of connections with other Colombian cities.
Dinner and night in nice and quiet hotel.

Day 1 and 2 - Chesnut-capped Piha Reserve (1300-1800 asl).
It’s a 3.5 hour drive, but we will make some interesting birding stops to look for White-mantled Barbet(E), Bar-crested Antshike(NE), Pacific Antwren, Scrub Tanager and many others.
This relatively new Proaves Foundation reserve is very interesting for birders and the comfortable lodge is set right in the middle of the action is an added bonus. On our way into the reserve, we will make some stops to look for Yellow-browed Shrike-Vireo, Bare-faced Ibis, White-throated Crake, Blackish Rail, Bronze-winged Parrot, Black-capped Donacobius, Yellow-backed and Guira Tanagers, Grey Seedeater and the cute Yellow-tufted Dacnis. Sought-after birds on the reserve include Multicolored Tanager(E), Black-and-gold Tanager(E), Purplish-mantled Tanager(NE), Chestnut Wood-Quail(E), White-tipped Sicklebill, Lanceolated Montlet and Red-bellied Grackle(E). In addition we will look for three recently-discovered species, Chestnut-capped Piha(E), Parker’s Antbird(E) and Stiles Tapaculo(E). Other possibilities include Colombian Chachalaca(E), Greenish Puffleg, Western Emerald, Wattled Guan, Lyre-tail Nightjard Green-crowned Woodnymph, Barred Hawk, Lyre-tailed Nightjar, Moustached Puffbird, Red-headed Barbet, Brown-billed Scythebill, Rufous-rumped Antwren, White-bellied Antpitta, Ochre-breasted Antpitta, Sooty-headed Wren, Golden-winged Manakin, Wing-barred Piprites, Black-billed Peppershrike, Scarlet-and-white Tanager and the splendid Indigo Flowerpiercer(NE).
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight at the Piha Reserve Lodge.

"White-mantled Barbet" Mark Loockwood


Day 3 - Piha Reserve and Drive to Medellín.
During the morning we’ll focus on tracking down any specialities we may have missed so far and then return to Medellín with some interesting birding stops.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Medellín.
Day 4 - Medellín and drive to Jardin (1500-2000 asl).
In the mornig we’ll bird an area close to Medellín where our main targets will be Red-bellied Grackle(E) and Yellow-headed Manakin(NE). We’ll then drive to Jardin (3h) and spend the late afternoon birding close to town. We’ll finish the day at a nice Cock of the Rock Lek. Night in picturesque Jardin Town.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Jardin Town.

"Sword-bill Hummingbird"


Day 5 - Jardin (1800-3000 asl).
Jardín is one of the one of most beautiful areas of Colombia. We’ll enjoy superb birding between 1900-3000 m asl, where we have a good chance to find one of the area’s most special birds, the critically endangered Yellow-eared Parrot. Other prized species here include Chestnut-crested Cotinga, Munchique Wood Wren(E), Tanager Finch, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Barred Fruiteater, Citrine Warbler, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Mountain Cacique and Grey-hooded Bush Tanager.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Jardin Town.

"Chesnut-crested Cotinga"


Day 6 - Jardin and drive to Manizales.
Early morning in Jardin, and then we will drive to Manizales city (4h) with some birding stops on the road to look for Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Manizales Town.

"White-capped Dipper"


Day 7 - Río Blanco (2200-2600 asl).
We’ll make an early 30 min drive to Río Blanco. This reserve, located on the western slope of the Central Andes, includes excellent cloud forest between 2100-2700 m. There are a number of great birds in Rio Blanco, including Masked Saltator, Rusty-faced Parrot, Red-hooded Tanager, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Black-collared Jay, Dusky Piha, Ash-colored and Ocellated Tapaculos, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Rufous-banded Owl, White-throated Screech Owl, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Sharpe’s Wren, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Golden-rumped Euphonia and Scaly-naped Parrots. The reserve also features some amazing antpitta feeders, which often attract Brown-banded(E), Bicoloured, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped and Slate-crowned Antpittas!
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Manizales Town.

"Brown-banded Antpitta"



Day 8 - Paramo Ruiz- National Park Los Nevados (3200-4000 asl).
This area of Paramo is a special site for a number of scarcer hummers, including Bearded Helmetcrest, Black-thighed & Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Mountain Avocetbill, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Shining Sunbeam and Buff-winged Starfrontlet. Other cool birds include Rufous-fronted Parakeet(E), Paramo Tapaculo, White-browed Spinetail, Black-backed Bush Tanager, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Grey-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Tawny Antpitta, Crowned Chat-tyrant, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Paramo Seedeater, Andean Tit-Spinetail, White-chinned Thistletail, Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Black-eared Hemispingus and Plushcap. Late afternnon, have 2 h drive to Otun –Quimbaya Santuary. Night excusion for Colombian Screch Owl.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Otun Lodge.

"Spectacled Parrotlet"



Day 9 - Otun-Quimbaya (1800-2200 asl).
Otun features a charming lodge, surrounded by subtropical forest, and many of its special birds can be found just a short walk from our rooms. We’ll search here for Cauca Guan(E), Chestnut Wood-Quail(E), Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Moustached Antpitta, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Wattled Guan, Black-winged Saltator, Torrent Duck, Metallic-green Tanager, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Green-fronted Lancebill, Rusty-winged Barbtail, Streak-capped Treehunter and Cerulean Warbler.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight in Otun Lodge.

"Blue-naped Chlorophonia"


Day 10 - Otun and drive NP Tatama (1300-2000 asl).
Early birding in Otun and then 3.5 drive to the mythical western slope of the west Andes. Then full afternoon birding the low area of this fantastic area. Montezuma Road is inside the Tatama National Park it can produce some really impressive birding, and in our opinion is one of the very best sites in the whole of Colombia (11 endemics and at least 30 specialties plus a lot the colorfull birds).
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight at Montezuma Farmhouse.

"Gold-ring Tanager"



Day 11 and 12 - NP Tatama (1300-2000 asl).
Tatama, it’s a paradise for tanagers!! Possibilities include two difficult Bangsia species, Gold-ringed(E) and Black-&-gold Tanagers(E), plus Crested Ant Tanager(E), Purplish-mantled, Glistening-green, Lemon-spectacled, Rufous-throated, Metallic-green, Silver-throated, Flame-faced, Yellow-throated Bush and Flame-rumped Tanagers. Other superb birds seen at the site include Black Solitaire, Buffy Tuftedcheek, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Toucan Barbet, Bicoloured Antvireo, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Black Hawk-Eagle, Rufous-breasted Antthrush, Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant, Yellow-breasted Antwren, White-headed Wren, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Rufous-browed Tyrannulet, Olivaceous Piha, Olive Finch, Uniform Treehunter, Scaly-throated Foliage-gleaner, Yellow-collared and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias.
Hummingbirds we’ll look for here include Empress Brilliant, White-tailed Hillstar, Brown Inca, Velvet-purple Coronet, Violet-tailed Sylph, Purple-bibbed Whitetip and Purple-throated Woodstar. The Montezuma Road is also home to Nariño, Choco and the newly discovered Alto Pisones Tapaculo!! We’ll spend three nights at the Montezuma Farmhouse (a simple but clean homestead located very close to some of the best birding spots.) The owners here are directly involved in the birding-conservation business, and the friendly welcome from our hosts is matched only by the tastiness of the food!
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight at the Montezuma Farmhouse.
Day 13 - Drive to Pereira and flight Conections.
Early birding and then start our drive to the Pereira City Airport, where in the afternoon we’ll will fly to Medelín or Bogota to connect with possible birding extensions or for international flights.
Breakfast and lunch.


13 Days/12 nights tour price is: 2 pax US$2800 per person double room. 4 pax US$2450 per person double room.
US$200 single supplement.
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

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Tour extentions
Santa Marta montains and caribbean coast: 6 days/6 nights. 2 persons US$1900 per person double room. 4 pax US$1650 per person double room. Including flights Bogota-Santa Marta-Bogota.
Mitu - White sand Forest specialties: 8 days/7 nights. 2 pax US$2000 per person double room. 4 pax US$1800 per person double room. Including Flights Bogota-Mitu-Bogota.
Easter Andes: 6 days/5 nights. 2 pax US$1500 per person double room. 4 pax US$1200 per person double room.


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Included:
All logistic arrangements, English/Spanish speaking bird guide with field scope, play-back and recording gear, pick up and drop off from airport, hotels, private transportation, lodging, all meals and entrance fees.
Excluded:
Gratuities, alcoholic beverages, items of personal nature, airport departure tax, or international and local airfare.
Notes:
Expect between 400 to 450 species during the 12 days tour. Colombia has around 140 migrants birds mostly from the North America.
All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time six (6)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
Fitness:
Easy to moderate hiking is required. For birders with moderate limitations is posible to fix a bit the schedules.
Equipment:
Fresh long-sleeved shirts will be very useful for the entire trip. We will be in all kinds of weather. But no special clothing is necessary. Ruber boots will be necessary for Jardin and Rio Blanco. Umbrella and poncho may be very needed. Needed a 1-2 jacket or fleece not too hot. For the Paramo is optional, but not strictly necessary to bring gloves and special hat. Bring a small flashlight for the owling. I have a good one. Sun block and hat. Don’t use military or camouflaged clothing. Malaria and other tropical sikness are not present in our destinations. We will be in areas with few mosquitoes and other bits. But repellent is OK on the lowlands. Yellow feber vacination is requiered to come to Colombia and other tropical countries. Please do not bring too much luggage. For domestic flights you can hold 20 kg and 5 kg in hand luggage. Laundry is possible on Piha Reserve, Jardin and Río Blanco. We will have electric power in all our destinations. With sockets inside all rooms. 110 V. We will use rooms with twin beds and private bathroom. The Guide has recording stuff, ipod, scope, laser pointer, owling light. But It will be good if your can bring an extra ipod and speaker.


Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Pablo.   

Birding guide Pablo Florez, your local Birdingpal guide
Pablo born in Medellín in 1977, at the age of 15 started birding and traveling intensively. He made his thesis studying the Yellow-eared Parrot, and graduated as Forestry Engineer. Since 2000 has been deeply involved with bird conservation working in many projects and leading some expeditions. He is Co-founder of ProAves (stronger NGO in the conservation of birds in Colombia) and worked at this organization for 5 years, contributing to the creation of several private reserves and other important achievements in different regions. After that, was linked independently to different bird research projects with the government and for international entities.
After 18 years of active birding and more than 1675 bird species recorded in Colombia, he has reached significant skills as a birding guide in all regions of the country. His great passion for birds has taken him to Ecuador (9), Venezuela (3), Peru (2) and Brazil (3). His knowledge about birds locations, bird calls and carefully logistics are remarkable.
In 2008, he started guiding tours for different companies. In the middle of 2009 started to work mostly independently up to date.
With his friend Jurgen Beckers he is finishig the book “Where to watch birds in Colombia ”.

Testimonials.

Four of us joined Pablo on a 3.5 week tour. We were not disappointed. A total of 50 endemics plus 13 antpittas seen and more lifers for all of us than we had expected. The logistics were seamless, everything worked. Pablo has an outstanding knowledge of all the sites based on his own extensive experience of birding Colombia. He knows where to find all the key species and his knowledge of calls in particular is excellent. He has excellent relationships with all the key people at all the sites which makes for a smooth, safe and pleasant experience for all. Moreover Pablo is a thoughtful and sensitive person, a caring and attentive guide who made sure that everyone felt comfortable and able to enjoy the trip. We certainly did ….and for added measure the trip was very good value! Mike Catsis, Simon Allen, Chris Gooddie and Nick Preston. Aug 2011. Londres.UK
It has always been a wonderful experience birding with Pablo as my guide. We have been to many interesting and beautiful places in Colombia. These include the Piha Reserve, Rio Claro, Rio Blanco, Otun, the Santa Marta area, Leticia and Brasil Border, Cali (Old Bueaventura Road & Wetland Sonso), Mitu in the Amazon, plus many other exciting areas. Pablo followed my birding philosophy very well. It is that I can always sleep and eat, but I can not always see the beautiful birds of Colombia. Because I am at times a little late with my viewing, Pablo many times had to find the bird again and again. Pablo is the most patient, kindest, and diplomatic person I have ever encountered. He was always looking out for my safety and well being. You will do well to have Pablo as your guide because he knows the places to visit, knows the calls of the birds, how to diagnose the bird, and where to look. Most importantly he knows how to show you the bird without disturbing it. Dr. Robert Dix. July 2011 (rdix2002(AT)yahoo.com) Austin. Texas. USA

Some facts about Colombia.

Official Name: Republic of Colombia
Geography: Area: 1.141.748 sq. km (19,730 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Very impressive! 3 Andean ranges, inter Andean valley, savanas, Amazon jungles, Isolated Montains and the pacific wet Choco Lowlands.
Climate: Normally two dry seasons from December till March and also July -August. There are rain peaks between April and may and in October and November.
Ethnic groups: Mestizo, African origin, indigenas.
Religion: CatholicLanguages.
Type: Democratic republic.
Currency: Colombian Pesos (COP).
Natural resources: Petroleum, coffee, coal, gold, bananas, flowers, cotton products, sugar, fruits.


More facts about Colombia.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

Birdwatching in Colombia by Jurgen Beckers, Pablo Florez. ISBN 9789090277841
Guide to birds of Colombia” (1,3 kg) of Hilty & Brown is rather old (1985). Excellent plates but a quiet old book and only 75% of the species have illustrations.
Guide to the Birds of Northern South-America of Restall et al. 2006. Recommended for those who are already familiar with Colombian birds.
Field guide to the birds of Colombia” (0,4 kg), by McMullan, Donegan & Quevedo (ProAves) came on the market. 2010. A new pocket guide but very update.

Find lowest prices here

Bird Recordings from Colombia

The Humboldt Institute in Bogota (Calle 28A # 15-09; open from 8:30 am till 5:30 pm) is a good source for bird sounds. They have published various CD’s. Recommended is the complete 7 CD box “A Guide to the Bird Sounds of the Colombian Andes”.
Look at the Santa Marta section for bird sounds of the Santa Marta Mountains.

www.wildsounds.com


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Fixed Date Tours:
Birding Pals Meet and Tour at Group Rates


Tour 1. Northern and Central Colombia
Leg A: 12-19 July. Bogota, Santa Marta Mountains and Guajira Peninsula.
Leg B: 19 July till 3 August. Western and Central Andes plus Magdalena and Cauca Valley

Tour 2. Colombia lowlands
Leg A: 3-10 Augugust. Mitu Amazonia lowlands
Leg B: 11-15 August. Choco lowlands -Bahía Solano-Utria national Park and Nuqui.

Tour 3. Northern and Central Colombia
Leg A: 23-30 November. Bogota, Santa Marta Mountains and Guajira Peninsula Leg B: 30 November till 12 December. Western and Central Andes plus Magdalena and Cauca Valley

The full trip make sure that you see at least 1000 species, 50 endemics and more than 200 specialties including some of most rare birds and fantastic bird that lives in Colombia.
And check out the Guide Book that Pablo and his friend Jurgen Beckers wrote.



Birding Pal Tours Is Right For You

• If you are you an independent birdwatcher, who does not care for large group tours, then Birding Pal Tours is right for you.

• Our tours are flexible, safe with local know how and let you participate in the planning!

• A local guide knows all the hotspots and you get the most out of your trip

• You select the date and length for a trip to suit youself

• If your time is limited, we’ll design a tour to fit your needs

• A professional Birdingpal guide can customize your tour, and you will see the birds you want.

• Your guide is also your travel companion, who will make sure you experience the native people, scenery, culture, history and food, first hand.

• You will enjoy the advantage of all the attention you get in a small group, for the same price or perhaps even less, than you will pay if you travel with the large tour groups from other countries

• Remember, the next time you travel, you do not have to miss the birdwatching if your partner or travel companions are non birders; a local guide is flexible, and will easily accommodate other needs too

• Hiring a Birdingpal guide will boost the local economy and help protect birds other wildlife and their habitat