Guided by Nick Athanas. This was a custom tour that visited some of the same sites as our set-departure tour.
It was our first tour to this fascinating and beautiful country, and it was a without doubt a success. We saw 36 of the country’s 62 endemic species, plus numerous near-endemics difficult to see in bordering nations, not to mention 500 odd other species. Some of the these birds are so rare and poorly known that only a handful of birders have ever been lucky enough to see them. Yet it is possibly the most difficult trip we have ever offered. Getting to these rare birds involves very long drives on roads choked with truck traffic, taking jeeps (sometimes even horses!) up bad 4WD tracks, a few difficult hikes, and occasional basic accomodation. The birds make up for the hardships, and all six people on the trip had a fantastic time. It helps that Colombians are friendly and helpful, the food surprisingly good, and with only a few exceptions, the accommodation is quite comfortable.
Don’t let the name “Colombia” scare you away! Large areas of Colombia are as safe to travel in as Ecuador or Peru (we would not offer the trip otherwise). Some areas are still dangerous (though you can say that about most other countries in the world). Knowing the areas to avoid, combined with the logistical challenges of birding the key areas means that local help is essential. Tropical Birding contracted the services of Ecoturs, the ecotourism arm of ProAves Colombia, an excellent bird conservation foundation. One of their guides, Luis Eduardo, accompanied us for most of the trip to manage logistics and to help with finding birds; he knew quite a lot of key territories that I wasn’t aware of and was extremely helpful and resourceful when the occasional problem interfered.