The Audubon Society’s Northern Colombia Birding Trail
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From March 4-14, 2017, $4800 per person, 8 Travelers max

This trip is sold out! Contact us to plan a private, custom birding trip.

Join John Myers, Director of the National Audubon Society’s Latin America Program, and local expert Colombian birding guides on a bird watcher’s dream trip through Northern Colombia, a country that boasts more bird species than anywhere else on earth. Recent advances in peace negotiations within Colombia have opened up regions of the country to international birdwatchers and eco-tourists for the first time, while simultaneously preserving biodiverse habitats and providing new economic opportunities to millions of local people. The Northern Colombia Birding Trail, a collaborative project between Audubon and local NGOs since 2014, connects a network of individual sites and communities that together represents Northern Colombia as a regional destination. But what really sets this program apart from other birding tours is the training of birding guides in the areas visited on tour, both in birding and guiding, but also in English language skills. To date, the project has trained over 30 locals to be bird guides. By traveling on this trip you are ensuring this continues as a portion of the trip cost will be reinvested in continued guide training and education.

This March 2017 escorted departure coincides with the ideal time to observe migrant bird species as well as endemics during breeding seasons and explores the prime and diverse birding destinations of the Sierra de Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park, the Sierra de Perijá, as well the threatened dry forests between the ranges and the proper coastal desert habitats of the Guajira Peninsula.

Cost is $4800 per person, including internal flights in Colombia.  Contact us to get more information or reserve your space now!

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Meet your host
John Myers & Gabriel Utria

Adventure Highlights

Los Besotes Private Reserve: Bluebilled Curassow, Military Macaw, Vermillion Cardinal

Chamizero del Perijá Reserve: newly identified Sierra de Perijá endemics  + Crested & Goldenheaded Quetzal, Plushcap, White-rumped Hawk and multiple Tanager species

Los Flamencos SanctuaryAmerican Flamingos, Scarlet & White Ibis

Coastal dry forest, home to Russet-throated Puffbird, Spinetails and Orinoco Salator + more

Wayuu indigenous culture & weaving tradition

Tayrona National Park: Lance-tailed Manakin, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Boatbilled flycatcher

Sierra Santa Marta: Santa Marta Blossomcrown, endemics, Sickle-winged guans, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Bluenaped Chlorophonias and more!

Please contact us for a detailed pdf itinerary or to reserve your space on this special departure! For more information on Audubon’s work in Colombia, check out the article on Birding as Ecotourism in the March 2016 Audubon Magazine.

Day 1: Arrive Bogota. Group lunch followed by guided tour of La Candelaria + time to explore the Gold Museum and Botero Museum. Overnight at Hotel Artisans in Zona G neighborhood with time to explore the local restaurants on your own for dinner.

Meals Included: Lunch

Day 2: Fly to Valledupar. Spend the afternoon in Los Besotes Private Reserve birding in tropical dry forest habitat.  Over 210 species of birds have been found in Los Besotes, plus ocelots, pumas and several types of monkey. Besotes will be our first opportunity to look for Vermilion Cardinal, Glaucous Tanager, and the gorgeous Golden-winged Sparrow. The Black-backed Antshrike is here in the lower elevations, as well as the Pale-legged Hornero, a form that is sometimes considered a regional endemic.  Evening will provide an opportunity for owling. Overnight in Valledupar.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:  Early morning birding in Los Besotes then head uphill to Sierra de Perijá, the Holy Grail for birders interested in Colombia’s birds. Only open to visitors since 2014, the area is ripe for discovering new species; just four endemics are currently recognized but this number will surely grow as more birders visit the area and help with identification.  Recognized endemics include the Perijá Metaltail, Perijá Thistletail, Perijá Sierrafinch and the newly described Perijá Tapaculo.  Spend the following three nights at the newly constructed birding lodge in the Chamizero del Perijá Reserve, immersed in beautiful mountain scenery and birdsong.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Days 4 & 5: Two days spent birding in the Perijá Reserve. Morning starts will be early and we’ll return to the lodge midday for lunch and a midday siesta. Other birds here include Crested and Goldenheaded Quetzal, Barred  Fruiteater, Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Plushcap, Buffbreasted Mountain-Tanager. A unique looking form of Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager is common in the higher areas, as well as another unique endemic that may one day be a full species, the local form of the Golden-bellied Starfrontlet. Hook-billed Kites are relatively easy to see here, and with luck the White-rumped Hawk or even Black-and-chestnut Eagle may fly through.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Day 6: Bird downhill toward Rihoacha.  The afternoon will be devoted to Los Flamencos Sanctuary,   which lies on the western edge of the Guajira Desert where the dry forest gives way to sandy expanses. However, this coastal environment contains seasonal pools that attract brine shrimp as they evaporate and concentrate salt throughout the dry season, attracting American Flamingos as well as White and Scarlet Ibis. Shore birds such as gulls and terns flock here as well. Overnight in Riohacha.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner 

Day 7: Morning at Los Flamencos before the day heats up. We’ll also spend time boarding in the dry forest in the transition zone where a surprising number of attractive regional species are found.  If the Vermillion Cardinal has not yet made an appearance, today is another excellent chance to spot it, as well as the crowd favorite Russet-throated Puffbird. This bird’s tendency to sit and stare has earned it the name ‘tae bobo’ or fool bird among locals.

After lunch we will visit one of the local Wayuu communities, well known for their colorful bags (mochilas), which are sold throughout the Guajira region.  Overnight at Hotel Casa Barlovento along the coast and close to Tayrona National Park.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Morning birding in the lower coastal rainforest of Tayrona National Park.  Here we may find the stunning Lance-tailed Manakin (or perhaps hear its elaborate ‘leapfrog’ courtship display). Sometimes this species is found with its relative, the White-bearded Manakin. If we have great luck, the Blue-billed Curassow will make an appearance, although it is very rare. Many different Tanager species as well as Red-legged Honeycreepers are also frequently seen, along with several species of monkey. In the afternoon we’ll move higher, climbing steadily into the Santa Marta Mountains which are sure to be a highlight of our trip. 19 endemics are currently found here. We’ll spend the next two nights at El Dorado Reserve, operated by local NGO ProAves.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: From our headquarters we will bird higher into the Cuchila de San Lorenzo, a spur off the main Santa Marta Range, which reaches to 2700m in elevation.  We can also venture to lower elevations as well, an advantage as mountain birds stratify depending on elevation. Search for a currently unnamed screech owl as well as the endemics that bear the Santa Marta moniker such as the Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Woodstar and Santa Marta Brush-Finch to give but a few examples.  If we are in luck, worm feeders at the lodge may attract the elusive Santa Marta Antpitta, and perhaps the non-endemic but prized Black-fronted Wood-Quail. There are lots and lots of species to search for and look at in this Colombia birding haven!

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Morning to continue birding at El Dorado Reserve before departing after lunch. We’ll drive down the mountain to Minca where we spend the night at Hotel Minca.  Sitting at 2,000′ a.s.l., Minca is a pleasant village surrounded by shad-grown coffee plantations that boasts excellent birding, including more than 20 species of hummingbirds. Dinner and overnight in Minca.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

 

Day 11: One final morning birding in the dry scrub below Minca, the best place to look for teh elusive Black-backed Antshrike. We’ll drive down the mountain to Santa Marta, arriving in time for folks departing Colombia today to make their afternoon flight from Santa Marta Airport back to Bogota. Internal flights back to Bogota or another airport of international departure are included.

International flights out of Bogota should not depart earlier than 10:00 PM today.

Alternately, travelers can elect to extend their time in Colombia. The UNESCO World Heritage Site and colonial city of Cartagena de los Indies is located along the coast, four hours driving from Santa Marta. A two night extension is available as an option or you can elect for a customized extension.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Contact us to reserve a space – only two spots left!

sfw_mg_5554Chamizero del Perijá Reserve:  Newly created in 2014, Chamizero del Perija Reserve is located in the villages of El Cinco and Altos de Perijá, approximately 36 miles from the city of Valledupar. The Reserve protects a variety of habitats, from high andean forests, to subparamo and paramo. A simple but suitable lodge sits in the middle of the forest at 2600 meters and offers accommodation for 10 people.  Rooms are simple yet comfortable and offer electricity, running hot water and wifi in public spaces.

 

El Dorado Reserve: El Dorado Bird Reserve was created on March 31, 2006 in order to protect one of the most fragile and important zones in Colombia, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, home to a large number of unique plant and animal species.   The reserve is located on the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo, in the western sector of the northern slope of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Here, a simple yet comfortable lodge offers accommodation for 28 people in spacious separate cabins with hot water, en suite bathrooms and full electricity. Even wifi is available in the public spaces!  The Reserve has 6 trails of varying difficulty and various types of habitat, totaling more than 5 km along which you can hike and bird watch.

John Myers leads the National Audubon Society’s Latin America Program, overseeing projects and collaborating with partners in Mexico, Central America and South America. Before joining Audubon, John worked for ten years at The Nature Conservancy. Joining Audubon in fall of 2013, John is focused on building a strong network of conservation NGOs across Latin America that will help Audubon achieve its bold vision of full life-cycle conservation for bird species along the four principle flyways of the Americas. A former Fulbright Scholar in Colombia and Peace Corps Volunteer in Bolivia, John currently lives in Washington DC with his wife.

Gabriel Utria is a biologist from the Universidad de Santa Marta, and grew up in the San Lorenzo reserach station in the Sierra Nevada. His mother ran the lodge, so he grew up birding trecking in the area. Gabriel has participated in the design and implementation of bird conservation strategies in Co-lombia’s Caribbean region, emphasizing his efforts on dry tropical forest ecosistems. He is also in-volved in a project to identify critical habitat for migratory species that visit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

 Cost:  $4,800 per person based on 8 travelers sharing double occupancy accommodations.  Due to capacity at the reserve lodges, only double occupancy accommodations are available in Perijá and at El Dorado Reserve and single travelers will be required to share rooms and facilities. For travelers preferring single rooms in Bogota, Valledupar, Riohacha and Casa Barlovento, private occupancy rooms can be secured upon request for an additional charge. To continue the partnership with the local communities and further the guide training program, $200 from each person booked on this trip will be reinvested into the Northern Colombia Birding Trail guide training.

A 25% Deposit is required to reserve space.  Final payment is due 90 days prior to trip departure or by December 4, 2016.

Included

  • Birding and tours as noted
  • Entrance Fees to reserves and parks
  • All lodging as indicated
  • Meals where noted
  • Bilingual naturalist local guides
  • Two dedicated tour leaders
  • Internal group flights (BOG-VUP, SMR-BOG)
Not Included

  • International Flights
  • Services not specified, extras, and tips
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal laundry, dry cleaner
  • Telephone Charges
  • Meals not noted, alcoholic drinks
  • Internal flights for additional arrangements

Evergreen Escapes is happy to assist with international flight arrangements and with Travel Insurance, which is required due to the remote nature of this trip.

Terms & Conditions

DEPOSIT & PAYMENT: A minimum non-refundable deposit of 25% of your booking total is required to confirm your booking –deposit amount will vary based on the itinerary, destination and partner operators. Some tours, accommodations or events require earlier payment or deposits and you will be advised if this is the case. Late or nonpayment may cause automatic cancellation of your booking. Final payment is due 90 days prior to departure. If cancellation is received 90 days or more prior to
departure, a portion of the deposit, up to the full amount, may be used towards a future booking. Cancellation must be received in writing. If cancellation is received 30-89 days prior to departure, 75% of the trip cost is non-refundable. If cancellation is received within 29 days of departure, 100% of the trip cost is non-refundable. Additional change and cancellation fees may apply based on the discretion of the service providers used in said itinerary.