7 DAYS WITH 352 SPECIES BIRDING IN CENTRAL ANDES COLOMBIA
With nearly 2000 avian species and 80 endemics, Colombia is the most bird-rich country on Earth. This megadiversity is due to Colombia’s tropical location, its two ocean coasts, and extreme elevation changes wrought by the three spurs of the Andes, with many rain-shadow valleys between the mountains. So many habitats, so many birds!
In the Central Andes, birding is becoming an active driver of economic development. While this itinerary is designed for the avid birder, it is also part of a process where birding becomes an active driver in economic development and ecotourism.
The Central Andes and coffee region (Eje Cafetero) has an important cultural, historical and economic role in Colombia. Tourists already consider this a must-see region in Colombia, and tourism and infrastructure are improving every day as more areas are becoming accessible. Birders are the vanguard, going where others have yet to discover. Some of these areas were, up until recently, not accessible due to political and social conflict. This conflict has receded, and gorgeous areas are now open and primed for discovery.
The Otún Quimbaya area is a Flora and Fauna Sanctuary and it is connected to Los Nevados National Park. It spans a good elevational range (1600–2200 meters) and the farther you go up the road or trail, the more there is to see. Less than an hour from Pereira, this is a super destination.
This is a great spot for birding, and what you see depends on what elevation you decide to bird along the access road. There are 250 species of birds in the Otún Quimbaya Sanctuary. One of the most noticeable birds in the reserve at times is the Cauca Guan. This is an endemic species to west central Colombia, and Otún Quimbaya is the best spot in the world to see this guan. In fact, it is greatly endangered and although easy to find at the sanctuary, it is estimated that less than 1000 individuals exist in the wild!
The Otún Quimbaya appears to be the world headquarters for the Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. This species can be very common here, unlike in most other places it is found. The reserve is also a good place to f ind the skulking and rare Hooded Antpitta, a small Antpitta that has a neat little body swaying behavior, but that day it was raining and we could not look. Was very fun day in this place, it’s amazing moments with a lot good birds.
EL COLOR DE MI RÉVES
A small lodge located at 3000 masl loaded with good birds and nice feeding stations, to start the afternoon we had incredible views of the Black-billed Mountain Toucan and Blue-capped Tanager, after that we enjoyed the hummingbird feeders.
Here we had a very special moment for our group!
Susan, who is a retired teacher, met a beautiful family that live in the Lodge area, and this morning she shared her knowledge with them, and thus they were able to exchange many experiences of two completely different realities of life!
We also had fun times where Helem lent and taught the kids how to use their hiking poles. They were very simple things, however they end up making a big impact on the lives of these people who are somehow helping to conserve these ecosystems!
Birds unite people
This former finca is still owned and operated by the same family that has owned it for over 40 years. They have restored the habitat to forest, and the birds have returned! The forest is second growth, at 1,200m (3,930 foot) elevation, and has a wealth of neat birds to be seen. It is also an incredibly comfortable birding lodge. But what is truly outstanding here is the abundance of hummingbirds and tanagers that come to the nectar and fruit feeders. You can sit back, have something to drink and enjoy a never ending drama unfolding in front of you.
The Rio Blanco reserve constitutes an AICA (IBA Important bird area). The Andean and high Andean ecosystems framed in a cloud forest that belongs to the city of Manizales have been protected for years in favor of the conservation of the water resources that supply the city. No less than 450 species of birds have been recorded here, many of them endemic and with ranges of restricted distribution. The main attraction of this reserve are the feeders of Grallarias (Antpittas) and hummingbirds, this place is one of the most famous in the world to see antpittas.
The various antpittas vary in how difficult they are to see, and four species come in regularly including the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned as well as the Bicolored and Slate-crowned antpittas.
And for me as a guide, Rio Blanco is very special, it is the place where I grew up, where I learned and connected for the first time with birds, where I learned a lot, as I often say Rio Blanco is my home!
LOS NEVADOS NATIONAL PARK
Los Nevados National Park is a high elevation park, largely above the tree line. It is an extensive park; we visited the most easily accessible part of it. This region is also adjacent to montane forests at slightly lower elevation, such as the road that goes through the Bosques CHEC preserve on the way down to Manizales.
The park is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the country, the incredible landscapes and the beautiful diversity of birds in the place make this place a must in Colombia for any bird watcher. The plants of the place are also a great attraction, an immensity of rare and unique species that mix with the wild volcanic landscapes of what is the largest and most important active volcano in the country.
HACIENDA EL BOSQUE
The Hacienda El Bosque is a new place for birdwatching just 1 hour from the city of Manizales, it is characterized by having large patches of high Andean forest that are mixed with paddocks used for livestock and farming of potato. The Forest has recently become very popular because of the incredible feeders of antpittas, tanagers and hummingbirds, as well as the fact that some very good species of mountain tanagers and mountain toucans usually arrive around the main house.
TOP BIRDS ON THIS TRIP
Andean Condor, Bicolored antpitta, Brown-banded antpitta,Chestnut-crowned antpitta, Crescent-faced Antpitta, Equatorial Antpitta, Cauca guan, Red-ruffed fruitcrow, Torrent duck, Black-and-chestnut eagle, Grayish Piculet, Black-billed mountain toucan, Gray-breasted Mountain tocan, Guira tanager, Golden-collared Manakin, Grass-green Tanager, Buffy helmetcrest and Rainbow bearded thornbill.
This was perfect tour, with a lot of Birds and fun moments!