Tour dates: April 4th - 8th, 2024.
Colombia is a very attractive country for birdwatchers. It has the largest number of species in the world (over 1900!), in large part owing to the complexity of its diverse geography. We are offering a learn-to-bird trip to Araucana Lodge in the Andes, near the city of Cali. Experienced birders will also leave with a handful of new skills, species, and helpful tips! Our post tour to Colombia's Caribbean is a perfect complement to this trip. Another tour will be available to the Llanos, a vast tropical grassland plain situated to the east of the Colombia Andes. *Prices in your Cart are listed in CAD.
- This tour celebrates the opening of Colombia’s newest birding lodge, allowing one to bird in comfortable accommodations at some of the best birding sites in Colombia, without having to spend much time in a vehicle. The Araucana Lodge opened January 2019 and was designed specifically for birders and nature lovers with spacious rooms.
- A visit to an Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek, where we will witness a large group of males engage in competitive displays of mate courtship.
- A visit to a private hummingbird house, where we will be able to see over 9 species of ornate hummingbirds.
- A ride out to San Cipriano Nature Reserve, one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet, via a 'brujitas' (motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails).
- A city tour of the beautiful city of Cali, with a notable visit to Galeria Alameda - a bustling farmer's market showcasing the region's most vibrant bounty.
5-Day Suggested Itinerary
Our small group departs April 4 - 8, 2024.
Arrival at Araucana Lodge
You’ll arrive at the airport in Cali, Colombia, where your guides will greet you. Then, the 90 minute drive to Araucana Lodge commences, where you will be staying for the next 4 nights. Domestic flights are available from Bogota and other cities in Colombia. The lodge is located in the Western Andes at 1600 meters above sea level. It is a combined ‘finca’ farm and ten room accommodation that is nestled in a bamboo and palm grove with mature vegetable and fruit orchards spanning 20 acres. It is an ideal place to birdwatch and eat the delicious organic bounty of the farm and surrounding fertile lands. Araucana will serve as our base for exploring the avifauna and wildlife of the area for the next four days. Dinner is included on this day.
Birding at Araucana Lodge
The day will be spent at the Araucana Lodge in search of some of the target bird species, such as Parker’s Antbird, Grayish Piculet, Apical Flycatcher, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Bar-crested Antshrike, Spectacled Parrotlet, Scaled Antpitta, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Colombian Chachalaca and Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant. We will also have a chance to explore the trails that wind through the pre-montane forest that is protected by the lodge owners, and a stroll around the organic vegetable gardens! After lunch the group takes a 2-hour drive to an Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included on this day.
San Antonio Cloud Forest - Hummingbird Paradise
Today marks the start of our next epic birding adventure in Colombia. We’ll spend the morning around the famous KM 18, located on an 1800-meter (5,900-foot) pass 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Cali along the road that connects Cali with the port city of Buenaventura. Birding can be very productive here, and we will look for four endemics – Chestnut Wood-Quail, Colombian Chachalaca, Grayish Piculet and the spectacular Multicolored Tanager. This area is a tanager paradise, where we have a good chance to see Purplish-mantled, Summer, Beryl-spangled, Flame-rumped, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, and Golden-naped tanagers as well as Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager. We hope to be dazzled by an impressive show of hummingbirds at a private house along the same road, including the beautifully ornate Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Rackettail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Green Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Brown Violetear and Tawny-bellied Hermit. Birding the forest can also produce many near-endemics such as Scrub Tanager, Purple-throated Woodstar, and Nariño Tapaculo. We will have a delicious traditional lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon you can explore the Dolmetsch Arboretum. The Dolmetsch Arboretum is home to more than 2,200 plants from around the world, and is known worldwide for its collection of cycads, which contains more than 60 species. This place provides an incredible diversity of plants and impeccable gardens. The high number of plant species attract high bird diversity. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included on this day.
San Cipriano Nature Reserve - Pacific Lowlands
The day starts with a 1.5 hour drive to Zaragosa, our entry point into the humid forests of the San Cipriano Nature Reserve. There are no roads into the reserve, so access is via a pleasant ride on “brujitas,” which are motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails that have been ingeniously engineered by the locals. In the heart of the Choco Bioregion, the area is known for being one of the most biodiverse on the planet, but also the wettest. Some of the birds that are possible include Choco Toucan, Stripe-billed Aracari, Black-tipped Cotinga (NE), Rose-faced (NE) and Blue-headed Parrots, Spot-crowned and Five-colored Barbet (NE), Broad-billed Motmot,Purple-throated Fruitcrow and Tawny-crested Tanager.
The area is teeming with Antbirds, with chances to see Ocellated, Jet, Stub-tailed and Bicolored Antbirds. With the high humidity and heat, it is best to have bagged species such as Pacific and Checker-throated Antwrens, Pacific Flatbill, Cinnamon Becard, Thicket Antpitta, Black-chested Puffbird, White-ringed Flycatcher, Blue-black Grosbeak, and Blue-crowned and Golden-collared Manakin. We’ll enjoy lunch, then, the afternoon will be based on movement of wildlife and the current conditions in addition to the Afro-Caribbean community in San Cipriano. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be included on this day.
City Tour of Cali, and Departure
After our included breakfast, we will have a few hours to bird around Araucana Lodge before a half-day city tour of Cali. Founded in 1536, Cali is known as the Sucursal del Cielo, which loosely translates to “the branch office of heaven.” A half day in this warm and friendly city nestled at the base of the western Andes will surely provide great photo opportunities. We first visit the historic centre of town, exploring many of the churches and colonial buildings along the Cali River. The boulevard along the river is only open to pedestrians , and offers lovely walks with wide open spaces, large trees and locals enjoying the outdoors. The rest of the morning will be spent at the Galeria Alameda, a bustling market where the harvests from nearby farmlands and the Pacific Ocean are displayed. We’ll then transfer to the airport for either our flights home, or to join up with the main tour through Colombia’s Caribbean coast.
$ 2,690 CAD / $ 2,095 USD per person based on twin sharing.
$ 535 CAD / $ 420 USD for a single room supplement.
We highly recommend our Colombia Birds, Nature and Heritage tour along the Caribbean Coast as a complement extension to this itinerary.
Tour leader: Cristian de la Sierra
Cristian was born in Santa Marta, Colombia with both Tayrona National Park and the Sierra Nevada mountain range as his neighbourhood parks. He is a bilingual naturalist, conservationist, birdwatcher, and ethnological guide and has been guiding in hospitality and tourism for eleven years. Cristian is also an avid photographer who enjoys sharing the physical and biological processes of nature at work with visitors. He led our April 2023 Colombia group!
Tour leader: James Kamstra
James Kamstra is an ecologist and naturalist who has travelled widely in the Caribbean, South and Central America including a recent trip to Colombia’s Caribbean region. He has guided many nature tours to Latin America including Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Guyana, and Trinidad. James has been fascinated by many facets of nature since he was a boy; particularly birds, reptiles, insects, and plants. He will share his broad understanding of the region's flora and fauna having studied tropical ecology. James works as an ecologist/environmental consultant examining the impacts of various developments on the natural environment. James led our Colombia group in March, 2023! Feel free to contact him for feedback and information on the trip. James Kamstra: email@example.com or Tel: (905) 985-4497
Tours of Exploration by Adventica Guide: Catherine Evans
For over 30 years, Catherine Evans has applied a mission of “enriching lives through nature & cultural travel”, achieving this by linking conscientious travellers to like-minded hosts in remote destinations on all seven continents. She has been involved with many innovative projects that earned recognition including an Ecoliteracy Field School; a multi-disciplined arts retreat in the wilderness; volunteerism projects with whale researchers in both the Atlantic and Pacific waters; and an ecotourism project with three communities in rural Costa Rica. In 1998 CBC’s Marketplace awarded her company Tours of Exploration “10/10” for their Ecotourism practices. Catherine Evans is an Associate Faculty member at Royal Roads University in the Tourism & Hospitality Department for both Graduate and Undergraduate studies.