Manakin Nature Tours, the best birdwatching and wildlife photography tours in Colombia and Latin America.

Enjoy nature with us! Is not just Birding, are amazing nature holidays!


Enjoy nature with us!

Is not just Birding, are amazing nature holidays

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Nature Lovers – with Cindy and Arnold

By Daniel López 

Paramo, subparamo, Andean Forest (Cloud Forest), Humid Tropical Forest and Dry Forest, that’s the mix of scenarios this tour has. Here we have a representative group of Ecosystems of the Neotropic, in an important part of the Andean Region and a small part of the Caribean Region, particularly visiting in this last region, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, these pieces of Colombia, full of different kinds of birds, reptiles, frogs, Orchids, Butterflies, etc., were exactly what our clients; Cindy and Arnold wanted. This is a trip for Nature lovers, people full of curiosity about the surprises that nature brings us day by day.
DAY 1 – This first day we were traveling, with our driver Jhon, at 5:30 am to Chingaza, located in the Eastern Mountain Range, more than 3000 meters above the sea level, a Natural Park located at the North East of Bogotá, just a couple of hours from this city we found a beautiful Sub-paramo and paramo ecosystem, different types of Ericaceas, Asteraceae, Orchids, Espeletias, etc., were surrounding us the most part of the day, while we were looking for some special birds. So, we started our Birding activity watching an amazing Mixing Flock with Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Black-chested Mountain-Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Golden-fronted Redstart, Rufous-browed Conebill, and some other birds. Was a really good Beginning. Then The sun was rising into the sky, and the weather was getting warmer, even that, we could find some other interesting birds during the day as: Coopery-bellied Puffleg, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Red-rumped Bush-Tyrant, etc. But our day wasn’t just plenty of birds, we enjoyed a lot finding beautiful orchids along the road: Epidendrum, Oncidium, Sigmatostalix, were some of the genus we found. We had lunch on the field, and around 6:00 pm Cindy and Arnold were relaxing in the hotel.
DAY 2 – This day we were on the road at 5:00 am, sometimes the traffic in Bogota can be heavy, and we took three hours to arrive at the Enchanted Garden, well, in any way we enjoyed around two hours watching the jewels into this place, Red-billed Emerald, Indigo-capped Hummingbird and Gorgeted Woodstar were some of the stars in that show. Then we went to Tabacal Laggon, just some minutes from The Enchanted Garden a beautiful humid tropical Forest where we could enjoy watching different animals, as: Colombian Slider, Yellow-spotted River Turtle, White-bearded Manakin, Gray-headed Tanager, Speckle-breasted Wren, Bay-headed Tanager, Crimson-rumped Tanager, Plain Antvireo, etc. Before 2:00 pm we were having lunch and at 2:30 pm we started our trip to Río Claro, an amazing canyon located in the Magdalena Valley, plenty of life, the next place to visit. We got Río Claro at 6:30 pm and after having a good dinner, we had a nocturnal adventure looking for frogs, insects and others. We found some nice things, as: Engystomops pustulosus (Túngara Frog), Craugastor metriosistus, Thecadactylus rapicauda (Turnip-tailed Gecko), Amblypygi (Tailles Whip Scorpion), a Scorpion (Opisthacanthus elatus), some Milipids and hundred pods, etc. Our adventure finished at 9:30 when Cindy and Arnold were tired, so we were lying in bed at 10:00 pm.
DAY 3 – In this case, our clients decided not to get up so early, so, at seven we started, but just some seconds after meeting, two Spectacled Owls show up, possibly a mother with her son, it was an amazing beginning, after that, we were walking and discovering new things, and not just birds, this Tropical humid Forest keep several surprises and we could enjoy some of them. But some of the birds we saw, were: Black-throated Trogon, Yellow-throated Toucan, Rufous Motmot, Olivaceous Flatbill, among others.
After lunch, Cindy and Arnold decided to enjoy the beautiful River this canyon has, they wanted to relax because this day Cindy’s Birthday was happening.
We celebrated this event with a Delicious cake and sang the Birthday song. After 6:00 pm we have dinner and then we went out again trying to find some other things, as follow: Mottled Owl, Pristimantis Gaiei (Fort Randolph Robber Frog), Leaf Litter Toad, Zammara Smaragdina, Basiliscus galeritus, Holcosus sp., Yellow-Headed Gecko, Rainbow Whiptail, etc. (at noon, the Owner of Río Claro, Mrs. Jimena, approached us to explain the situation, right now in Río Claro, because there are 300 people moving all the time in all the Reserve, and we were the only group of tourist into this location, and everything is because of a Netflix Production. So she said she was very sorry if we were uncomfortable.
DAY 4 – This day, we were having breakfast at 7:00 am, in order to take advantage of all the morning doing Birdwatching. Due to the stronger summer the whole week, we couldn’t see many birds, but we had some new birds, as: Bronze-tailed Plumeleteer, Olivaceous Piculet, Golden-hooded Tanager and Greater Ani, At 1:00 pm we had already had lunch and we were leaving for Termales El Ruiz, with our new driver, Mr. Ángel. Our trip last a little more than 5 hours. In the hotel they were waiting for us, we had dinner and we went to the bed. Termales El Ruiz is a hotel located in the central Andes, 3500 masl, surrounded by subpáramo, a wonderful landscape, really nice Termal Waters and a great spot for birds.
DAY 5 – We were having breakfast at 7:00 am, and we left the hotel at 7:30, the beginning of the day was amazing, no clouds, no fog, just the beautiful mountains to see, the Paramo landscape at the National Natural Park Los Nevados is more than wonderful, different view comparing with Chingaza and Arnold wanted to stop in every curve to take some nice shots, we did as he wanted, then at 8:00 am we were in brisas and we enjoyed the activity of 5 individuals of Buffy Helmetcrest.
And we were there a little bit more than 1 hour and 30 minutes, we saw other birds too, as: Tawny Antpitta, Pale-naped Brushfinch, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, among others. Then we go to the Waterfall of the Gualí River, remembering the story of the last Nevado del Ruiz Explosion, and watching some other birds as: Black Flowerpiercer, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Andean Tit-Spinetail, etc. Then we went down on the road stopping in some more places, and suddenly the Andean Condor appeared, but when we stopped this big bird had disappeared into the Fog, we were looking for some more minutes by our efforts didn’t work. Well we continued and the next stop was the Black Lagoon, there we saw some Andean Ducks. At 12:00 we were having lunch and after that, we enjoyed the hummingbird feeders, there we could appreciate some nice birds, as: Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Glossy Flowerpiercer, masked Flowerpiercer, Shining Sunbeam, Golden-breasted Puffleg, Viridian Metaltail, Gray-browed Brushfinch, Golden-fronted Redstart, etc. Cindy and Arnold enjoyed the other part of the afternoon the Thermal Waters, and then at 7:00 pm we had dinner and we met Luis Urueña and we were talking about the conservation projects of Manakin Nature Tours, then Almost at 9:00 pm, we went to bed.
DAY 6 – At 6:20 am we were leaving Termales del Ruíz in direction to Hacienda el Bosque (A really nice Project of Birding Tourism, located around 3000 masl, with nice feeders, amazing birds, excellent food and the attention is the best), we did a little stop on the way, in San Carlos Forest, and we could see: Black-back Bush-Tanager, Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager, Rain bow-bearded Thornbill and Golden-crowned Tanager. At 7:15 am we were at Hacienda el Bosque having breakfast, just in time, and then we started our birding activity, I can say this was our best birding day until that moment, at least that was what Cindy and Arnold Showed with their faces, we could see some amazing birds as: Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Barred Fruiteater, Crescent-faced Antpitta, Purple-backed Thornbill, Hooded Mountain-Tanager, etc. After a delicious lunch we went to Tinamú Birding, another beautiful place with a big garden and eleven hectares of Humid Tropical Forest, an island for the Coffee region birds, at this location we found some other nice birds as: our very first Parrot (Brown-throated Parakeet), Cocoa Thrush, Clay-colored Thrush, Blue-necked Tanager, Common Potoo, etc. At 8:00 pm we were lying in bed, getting ready for the next day.
DAY 7 – We were traveling to Río Blanco at 5:15 am, after a little bit more than one hour, we were having breakfast in the location watching, meanwhile, some hummingbirds at the feeders, at 7:00 am another group joined us and some minutes later we were admiring the Bicolored Antpitta, then we followed the Schedule and finally we could see three different species of Antpittas, so. We toured a Good part of the road and before twelve, we enjoyed some nice birds as: Powerful Woodpecker, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Grass-Green Tanager, Capped Conebill, Blue-winged Mountain Tanager, Sickle-winged Guan, Masked Trogon, Andean Pygmy-Owl, Black-eared  Hemispingus, Beryl-spangled Tanager, etc. After lunch we started to going down into the Reserve, we could see some other birds as: Smoke-colored Pewee and Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, but the rain started and it didn’t stop, despite this, we watched White-capped Dipper, White-throated Daggerbill and Lyre-tailed Naightjar (female). Then we went to Tinamú again to rest at night. But before. we met some parrots, on the way, for the second time: Blue-headed Parrot and Bronze-winged Parrot. (I forgot to say before, Parrots is one of the families that Cindy wants to see the most)
DAY 8 – This 8th day we were in Tinamú Birding the whole morning, enjoying mostly around of the house, after 8:00 am we went into the forest looking for the Golden-collared Manakin, this bird was our main target because in several opportunities we saw juveniles, and finally we saw a male, it was there a couple of minutes and then it was gone. We did some walk and watched some birds, but, we came back to the Manakin spot just in time to enjoy the Manakin’s show, we were there more than twenty minutes looking at those Manakins dancing and singing, for sure it was the best moment for Cindy and Arnold until that moment, then, after the Lunch we left this beautiful place, going to Otún Quimbaya, a Surface covered with Andean Humid Forest. Our hotel was located 5 km before the Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, we got there and decided to try some birds before the night, we did as well, but the rain starts and we had to go back to the hotel, but not before to see the Hook-billed Kite. The four of us were drinking a glass of White wine, courtesy of Cindy and Arnold and then having dinner, in a restaurant nearby, when the night arrived. Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Scaly-breasted Wren, White-winged Becard and Bar-crested Antshrike, some of the birds we watched that day.
DAY 9 – The daylight arrived with a lot of rain, but anyway we left the hotel at 6:30 am after breakfast, we were at the Otún River looking for the Torrent Duck, but at this time we didn’t see anything, by the way, we started the day with a beautiful bird, the Golden-rumped Euphonia, after that we walked up, having a couple of Mixing Flocks, admiring the Cauca Guan, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow and Collar Trogon. At noon we decided to have lunch at a restaurant in La Florida Town and after that, we were waiting for the rain stops. But before the lunch, we found the Torrent Duck and this became in the best moment in this day. After lunch, we were sometimes looking the feeders in the hotel and we could watch Balck-capped Tanager and Red-headed Barbet. at the end of the afternoon, when the rain stopped, we went to the zone called La Suiza and we found a Little group of Green Jays.
DAY 10 – This day we went to the entrance of Otún Quimbaya, The day started as a much better day, with no rain and good light. We had several Mixing Flocks and some nice orchids (Epidendrum). Some species we could enjoy were: Long-billed Starthroat, Purple-throated Woodstar, Western Emerald, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Cerulean Warbler, among others. Around 10:00 am we left the place and our trip to Montezuma started, having lunch on the way we arrived to Pueblo Rico in three hours, more or less. In Pueblo Rico we found a long line of cars and in a small bridge between Pueblo Rico and Montezuma a Big truck upside down was covering the road, so, we had to change the car for another car (Mitsubishi sportero, the driver is called Duverney) at the other side of the bridge, thus, we arrived to Montezuma Rain Forest, located in the Western Mountain Range, a totally different scenery full of orchids (more than 500). Don Ángel had to wait until 4:00 am in the next day to find the way free to pass. Well, we started instantly to enjoy watching birds in the feeders around the main house, many beautiful birds, as: Velvet-purple Coronet, Rufous-gaped Hillsatr, purple-bibbed White-Tipped, Green Thorntail, Botted Raquet-Tail, Chestnut-headed Oropendola, Silver-throated Tanager, etc.
DAY 11 – We started our day at 5:00 am having breakfast, then we went to the military base located at 2500 masl with our local guide Gleison and our birding began, but first, we enjoyed the beautiful landscape and one of the endemics from Montezuma the Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer. The activity was until 3:00 pm, at that time we went back to the Lodge because they wanted to enjoy around the feeders. We found more than 20 different species of orchids (Lepanthes, Masdevalias, Pleurothallis,Maxillarias, etc.), so, Cindy and Arnold were really happy that day. Some species we found were: Brown Inca, Rufous-rumped Antwren, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Handsome Flycatcher, Munchique Wood-Wren, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Gold-ringed Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Glistening-Green Tanager, etc.
DAY 12– This day we left the lodge at 6:00 am to do the second part of the road, so, we started with the Orange-breasted Fruiteater and then some other Good birds came: Black Solitaire, Ocre-breasted Antpitta, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Nariño Tapaculo, Golden-winged Manakin (One of the families they wanted to see the most. In this case our second Manakin species), Purple-throated Fruitcrow, etc. At 4:00 pm Arnold decided to finish our activity because he wanted to try having some good shots on the feeders. Then suddenly, the crew of Montezuma found a Fer de Lance. We could have some photos of this wonderful viper. We had other kinds of animals from Montezuma that day, as a kind of Tarantula (perhaps Xenesthis sp.), Speckled Anole, Tatama Flatwing and Short-throated Grasshoper.
DAY 13 – We had to wake up pretty early, trying to avoid some activities that would develop on the road from La Virginia to Pereira for several hours. So, we were at the airport at 7:30 am. Our flight to Bogotá was at 1:06 pm and from Bogotá to Santa Marta at 15:30, everything went according to the airline Schedule, they were on time and the planes were comfortable and strong so the flight was nice. Once in Santa Marta a driver from Sylvana Travel got us to Minca, and thus, we arrived to our hotel Minca La Casona, which is a nice hotel, a Good restaurant and surrounded by nature with a beautiful view.
DAY 14 – This day we went to La Cabaña, a place near Minca, just dry forest, and our main target was the Lance-tailed Manakin. Despite there were many cyclists and motorcyclists passing, we found this target at the end and some other Good birds, for instance, we found finally a White-bearded Manakin male, we could watch Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Black-backed Antshrike, Black-crested Antshrike, Pearly-vented Tody-Tyrant, Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant, Scaled Pigeon, Whooping Motmot, etc. But we found one kind of lizzard, Cnemidophorus sp. Possibly Cnemidophorus lemniscatus (Rainbow Whiptail) a beautiful animal. Then we had lunch and we started the ascent to El Dorado reserve but the birding on the road was difficult, we didn´t see much, talking about birds, but the landscape was amazing and mostly when we arrived to the Lodge. So, Cindy and Arnold settled into their room a beautiful Kogi with a wonderful 180 degrees view.
DAY 15 – This, our last full day birding, was pretty amazing, we started very early watching Band-winged Nightjar, and then when the sun wonderfully rose over the mountains a group of Scarlet-fronted Parakeet appeared and maybe one hour later we could enjoy the Santa Marta Parakeet, both Parrots were amazing, and we spent more than one hour watching the endemic one, this one was so close.
Then we looked for the other group of endemic birds nearby and we found them: the Santa Marta Warbler, Black-cheeked Mountain Tanager, Yellow-crowned Redstart in addition to Santa Marta Brushfinch and Streak-capped Spinetail, and some others. Next we went for the Santa Marta Antpitta and we did it after a long time waiting we could know this amazing bird, that morning at the end we found a White-lored Warbler, and after that, we went to the Lodge and we had lunch. That afternoon we enjoyed different situations and birds, for instance: we found a Tarantula, Kankuamo marquezi (Endemic), killed by a wasp and a snake, Erythrolamprus epinephelus kogiorum (Endemic), killing a Frog, Pristimantis Tayrona (Endemic), in addition we watched Red-billed Parrot, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, White-tipped Quetzal and Masked trogon. This day was amazing to Cindy and Arnold because we found three different Parrots and the other magnificent views we had.
DAY 16 –This day was my last day with Cindy and Arnold, because they continued with a few relaxing days in a hotel located near Tayrona Park. So we enjoyed the sunrise at el Dorado, nice breakfast and we started to descend with some stops for birding and we found Bay-headed Tanager, Olive-striped Flycatcher, Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner, an active nest of Red-billed Parrot, Swallow Tanager, Black-hooded Thrush and Plumbeous Kite. Then I said Hello to this beautiful Couple from Holland and I came back home.
This trip was wonderful, all the places we visited were amazing, you never know what you can find, but we had many things to enjoy, not just the big amount of birds we could find, but mammals, insects, frogs, snakes, orchids, etc. The variety of sceneries and environments. You realized its richness doesn’t have an end. So, this tour has everything you need if you want to know the neotropics as it is and if you want to enjoy the natural diversity with comfort.



It’s been great, we have a wonderful trip, two weeks of travel with Daniel. He is good, nice and funny, exactly what we want from a guide! He suited with us. Daniel is very knowledgeable about birds and many others things. Also, he has an interest in all about nature, which is exactly what we like.
The places we visited were also very special, and drivers overall; it was great, and we would definitely choose Manakin Nature Tours for another trip or would recommend it to others.


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