Colombia: The Introtour
This tour is designed for people with limited time, who would like to have a one-off, short, tour to Colombia, based out of one Andean lodge. Therefore, minimal unpacking is required, and only short travel times are involved. The tour is centered at one good mountain lodge close to the city of Cali. Known as the “branch of heaven” to locals, Cali is scenically beautiful, situated in the beautiful Cauca Valley, in the Cordillera of the Western Andes, which features a number of specialty birds. Highly desired species like Multicolored Tanager, Crested Ant-Tanager, Toucan Barbet, Saffron-headed Parrot, and Purplish-mantled Tanager are all likely on this tour. There are also direct flights from a number of US cities to Cali (e.g. Miami, New York, and Orlando), and also from Madrid in Europe, to make it very accessible from these areas of the world.
25 March - 1 April ($4300; single supplement $460)
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Other Tour Details:
Length: 8 Days
Starting City: Cali
Ending City: Cali
Pace: Easy to Moderate
Physical Difficulty: Easy
Max group size: 8 + 1 leader
Day 1: Arrival in Cali
After arrival in Cali, you will be transferred to a nice Cali hotel for a single night. The tour starts with a dinner time meeting that evening. There is no birding planned for this day, and so you are free to arrive anytime through the day, as long as you ensure you are there in time for 6:30pm dinner in our hotel.
Day 2: Laguna de Sonso to Araucana Lodge
Before we set off for our lodge, we will spend a good part of the day birding Laguna de Sonso Reserve to the north of Cali. This 2045 hectare reserve centers around a lake surrounded by Tropical Dry Forest, so there are both plentiful waterbirds and key songbirds on site. The wetlands hold species like Horned Screamer, Comb Duck, 3 species of whistling-ducks, Pinnated and Least Bitterns, Bare-faced and Buff-necked Ibises, Blackish Rail and Wattled Jacana. Other birds of interest in the open areas, include Snail Kite, Crested Bobwhite, Aplomado Falcon, and Pied Water-Tyrant. The surrounding vegetation is home to some Colombian endemics, like Grayish Piculet and Apical Flycatcher, as well as Bar-crested Antshrike. Other species of interest are Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Spectacled Parrotlet, Dwarf and Striped Cuckoos, Jet Antbird, roosting Common Potoo, Cinereous Becard, Yellow and Yellow-backed Orioles, and Oriole Blackbird. After much of the day there, we will, travel to our home for the next five nights, Araucana Lodge, just a few hours drive away.
Day 3: Valle de Anchicaya
The Anchicaya Valley comprises a road passing through multiple elevations, ranging from humid tropical lowlands into the Neotropical Cloud Forest in the foothills of the endemic rich Choco bioregion. This translates as a varied community of birds varying greatly from top to bottom, and with more than enough in the area to keep us busy through the whole day. It is possible to rack up more than 100 species in a day here, with only forest birding involved. We will concentrate on the uper part of this road, as we will be covering lowlands well during the next day’s birding. We will be birding what is sometimes referred to as the “Old Buenaventura Road”, which is home to spectacular, specialty species like, Violet-tailed Sylph, Velvet-purple Coronet, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Moustached Puffbird, Toucan Barbet, Spot-crowned Barbet, Grayish Piculet (a Colombian endemic), Uniform Treehunter, Club-winged Manakin, Sooty-headed Wren, Black Solitaire, Black-headed Brushfinch, Yellow-collared Chlorophonia, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, and Crested Ant-Tanager (another country endemic).
Day 4. San Cipriano
This site will involve a day trip to lower elevations, with the sire firmly placed in the tropical lowlands, and offering a swathe of endemic bird species to this Choco bioregion. It is home to some highly sort after species and lowland Choco specialties, like the shy Berlepsch's Tinamou, Baudo Guan, Dusky Pigeon, Tooth-billed Hummingbird, Uniform Crake, Five-colored Barbet, Choco Toucan, Rose-faced and Saffron-headed Parrots, Sapayoa, Stub-tailed Antbird, Thicket Antpitta, Black-tipped Cotinga, Pacific Flatbill, White-ringed Flycatcher, Slate-throated Gnatcatcher, and Lemon-spectacled, Scarlet-browed, and Blue-whiskered Tanagers.
Day 5. Atuncella Dry Forest & Araucana Lodge
On this day we will stay close to home birding the lodge property feeders, and also the nearby tropical dry forest. Some endemics maybe in the mix, like Colombian Chachalaca, Grayish Piculet and Parker’s Antbird, as well as a flurry of hummingbirds at the lodge, such as Long-billed Starthroat, Western Emerald, Purple-throated Woodstar, Black-throated Mango, and Green Hermit. Other species of note could be Andean Motmot, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Green Jay, and an assortment of tanagers, like Bay-headed, Golden, Blue-necked, Flame-rumped and Crimson-backed Tanagers, and Black-winged Saltator.
Day 6. Florida and La Minga
After two days away from it, we will return to Neotropical Cloud Forest today, with some great birding around La Minga Ecolodge, situated in the Bitaco River Forest Reserve, and boasting a bird list in excess of 300 species. The hummingbirds present could include some gorgeous species, like Long-tailed Sylph, White-booted Racket-tail, while other attractive species in the reserve include Golden-headed and Crested Quetzal, Southern Emerald-Toucanet, Collared Trogon, Green-and-black Fruiteater, and Saffron-crowned and Multicolored Tanagers. Other higlights might include Whiskered and Chestnut-breasted Wrens, Narino Tapaculo and Rusty Flowerpiercer.
Day 7. Bosque de Niebla, km18 to Cali
Our final forest birding will be done around the Bosque del Niebla, a good site for the furtive Chestnut Wood-Quail, Tawny-bellied Hermit, Red-headed Barbet, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Scaled Antpitta, Golden-winged Manakin, Golden-rumped Euphonia, Blue-naped Chlorphonia, White-naped Brushfinch, Golden-naped, Beryl-spangled, and Metallic Green Tanagers, and Oleaginous Hemispingus. In the afternoon, we will return to Cali for a single night in readiness for flights out the next day.
Day 8: Departures from Cali
There is no birding planned on this day, with the hotel breakfast being the last meal of the tour, so you are free to leave at any time on this day.
PACE: Easy to Moderate. Early starts are necessary since birding is almost always best early in the morning, as is standard with many bird tours. Finishing late afternoon, or even in the evening will occur on some days too. On a couple of days, lunch may be taken in the field at a birding site, to ensure we can spend the maximum amount of time at the more remote bird sites. There will also be optional night birding outings on a couple of days. There are no especially long drives on this tour, all being around 2 hours or less.
PHYSICAL DIFFICULTY: Easy. The birding is done mostly on roads and easy trails, and so this is not a difficult tour physically. Although this is a mountain-based tour, the elevations are not high, with the tour generally covering elevations between 3280ft/1000m in Cali to around 4920ft/1500m in the Anchicaya Valley.
CLIMATE: The Cauca Valley, where Cali is located, has a humid climate, temperatures generally ranging from around 12C (53F) to 25C (70F) in the day, but sometimes reaching 30C (85F). Although we will be visiting during the drier months of the year, it is within the wet, tropical Choco bioregion, where rain often falls on about half of the days of each month, and therefore rain gear is essential and should be brought on all outings.
ACCOMMODATION: Very good throughout, with only two very good hotels and lodges used the entire tour. Large rooms, en-suite facilities, 24-hour hot water, 24-hour electricity and WIFI is available in all accommodations used. This is a very comfortable way to see some of Colombia’s best birds.
PHOTOGRAPHY: This is a birding tour, but casual photographers will have great opportunities to photograph birds at some of the feeders visited on this tour, which are among the best in Colombia.
TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS: A valid passport is required; the passport must be valid for at least six months past your intended stay. Tourist visas are currently not required for citizens of the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and EU countries. Canadian citizens are required to pay a reciprocity fee on arrival. Visas are currently only required for a few nationalities, mostly from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Travel requirements are subject to change; if you are unsure, please check with the nearest embassy or consulate, or ask our office staff for help.
WHAT’S INCLUDED?: Tips to drivers, local guides, and lodge staff; accommodation from the night of day 1 to the night day 7; meals from dinner on day 1 (unless you arrive too late for dinner service) to breakfast on day 8; safe drinking water throughout; Tropical Birding tour leader with scope and audio gear from the evening of day 1 to the night of day 7; local guides where required; one arrival and one departure airport transfer per person (transfers may be shared with other participants of the same tour if they are on the same flight); ground transport for the group to all sites in the itinerary in a suitable vehicle with a local driver; entrance fees to birding sites mentioned in the itinerary; a printed and bound checklist to keep track of your sightings (given to you at the start of the tour – only electronic copies can be provided in advance).
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED?: Optional tips to the tour leader; tips for luggage porters in any hotels/lodges (if you require their services); international flights; excess luggage charges; snacks; additional drinks apart from those included; alcoholic beverages; travel insurance; excursions not included in the tour itinerary; extras in hotels such as laundry service, minibar, room service, telephone calls, and personal items; medical fees (including any Covid testing fees required); other items or services not specifically mentioned as being included.
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