Colombia - Birding & Wildlife Adventure in the Llanos

Tour dates: April 16 – 21, 2024.  

The Llanos region, extending from central Venezuela to the far eastern region of Colombia, is one that has been attracting the recent attention of birders and wildlife enthusiasts. It’s easy to see why: the variety of habitats in this area include river-bordered forests, wetlands, tropical dry-forests, and savannah, each with their own unique species. We’ll be based in an atmospheric and comfortable ecolodge in the Casanare Reserve for five nights, sitting on 20,000 acres adjacent to the Ariporo River. We’ll explore the vast region of the Llanos by jeep, boat, and foot, gaining a collection of experiences  that we won’t soon forget. This is a perfect post-trip complement to our main Colombia Birding, Nature and Heritage tour. *Prices in your Cart are listed in CAD. 

6 Day Itinerary

Day 1

Bogotà | Yopal | Hato La Aurora

We will be flying from our original destination, Santa Marta to the Bogotá airport. Here, we will take a flight to Yopal, in the heart of the vast Colombian Llanos, a grassland broken by forest-bordered rivers and occasional low-lying, swampy regions. As soon as we’re out of the airport, we will begin our six-hour drive to the heart of this biome. We will make stops along the road, keeping an eye out for some of the most popular birding spots: the borrow pits and wetlands, since these bring opportunities to look for the impressive Jabiru and Maguari storks (the latter is rare) as well as many other waterbird species including White-faced and Black-bellied whistling ducks. Particularly beautiful are the unique Whistling Heron and the striking Scarlet Ibis. Our base for the next five nights will be the Ecolodge Juan Solito, in the Reserva Casanare where we will be staying for the remainder of our tour in twin room accommodations. Dinner is included on this day.

Days 2-5

Hato La Aurora

During our four full days in this unique and bird-rich biome, we will explore the key habitats including riverine (gallery) forest, wetlands, patches of tropical dry forest, scrubby vegetation and shrubs. Each of these habitats offers distinctive wildlife. For example, the gallery forest hosts the unique and bizarre Hoatzin, a folivorous bird with an elongated esophagus, an adaptation to ferment the cellulose in the leaves they eat. This habitat also hosts more restricted distribution species including the Paleheaded Jacamar and the White-bearded Flycatcher. Additionally, some more widespread but spectacular birds include Sunbittern and Green-and-rufous Kingfisher. In more open areas, one can find wetlands and with them, the enormous Horned Screamer. A favorite among tour participants is the astonishing Scarlet Ibis, a species restricted to northern South America. Another interesting area to look for birds is the ecotone forest-grassland, which is the transition between these two habitats. Here, we will look for Blue-tailed Emerald and Blue-chinned Sapphire. In the Llanos, there are endless opportunities to keep adding birds to your list. There will be time to look for the Orinoco Goose, Pied Lapwing and Sharp-tailed Ibis. Once we have seen the commoner species, we will pursue less easy-to-see birds including Crestless Curassow, Wire-tailed Manakin and Sepia-capped Flycatcher. Along with the bird diversity, a visit to the Llanos offers a great cultural experience. The local cowboys, locally named Llaneros, stand as a heavy mix between the Spaniards and the Amerindian tribes that once populated this area. They are used to living in rough conditions and are also great musicians; their songs usually reference the flora and fauna of this splendid area. We should also see Capybara, the largest rodent in the world, and the impressive and the impressive Anaconda. Reserva Casanare and Hato La Aurora are also famous sites to look for the Giant Anteater. Lunch and dinner will be included on all days. Touring will mainly be by jeep safari with some walking tours, and river boat exploration.

Day 6

Yopal | Bogotà

We may take advantage of the early morning to catch-up on any birds we’ve missed, and after breakfast we will prepare for our drive back to Yopal to connect with our afternoon flight to Bogotá.

Pricing: $2395 CAD / $1,750 USD per person based on twin sharing.

Single Supplement: $185 CAD / $135 USD. 

Flight from Bogotá, to Yopal, and back to Bogotá: $875 CAD / $670 USD per person additional.

Deposit due: $500 USD per person, balance due 90 days prior to departure.

INCLUDED:

  • Lodging for five nights in a twin room at the Juan Solito Ecolodge
  • 5 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 5 dinners
  • Transportation in-and-out of the Ecolodge to the Yopal airport
  • Tours and activities according to the itinerary in jeep, van and boat.
  • English-speaking local birding and naturalist guide for all days included.


NOT INCLUDED:

  • Airfare
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Gratuities
  • Personal Expenses (minibar, laundry services, etc.)


WHAT TO BRING:

  • Passport (bring additional photocopy)
  • A daypack for personal items (to be carried personally)
  • Warm clothing
  • Rain jacket
  • Long sleeved shirts (cotton)
  • Shorts for walking (optional).
  • Cap and sunglasses
  • Sun block
  • Binoculars 


JEEP SAFARIS 

Our jeep exploration days will take approximately 8 hours. We leave the Ecolodge with a packed breakfast and go to the other side of the Ariporo River by canoe to board the jeeps. Snacks and a packed lunch are also provided in the field. During those 8 hours, 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, different ecosystems such as savannahs, forests, estuaries are visited, adding to our bird list. Wild animals such as: chigüiros, deer, palm bears, whitetails, babillas, cattle, wild horses, capybaras, and Giant anteaters complement the more than 200 species of birds. Occasional sightings of jaguars, pumas and anacondas are realized.

 

EXPLORING THE ARIPORO & CHIRE RIVERS

At Juan Solito Ecolodge, we are close to the “El Toro” channel, “El Indio” channel, the Ariporo River and the Chire River. Two different times are slotted for river tours: 4 hours in the early morning and/or 4 hours in the afternoon. In addition to the rich avifauna are a variety of turtles and howler monkeys. When the river is navigable, it is done by motor boat and when it is very dry, in wooden boats with oars.

 

HIKES

At the Ecolodge Juan Solito, there are trails near the hotel for guided walks.