WESTERN AND CENTRAL ANDES (14 DAYS)

Day 1 : Arrival in Cali, Land Transfer to El Queremal

Arrive in Cali's International Airport, most likely in the early afternoon, where your tour leader and personal driver will be waiting for you. We will drive through a picturesque section of Cali, and soon head up the Western Cordillera of the Andes Mountains to the quaint town of El Queremal where we will spend our first night.

Day 2: El Queremal and Anchicayá (Chocó bioregion

We will rise early and be birding in Colombia's most famous birding location within minutes after we depart the hotel. Over 300 species have been recorded along this road. We will bird along the old Buenaventura Road. A portion of the road has been paved recently, but then gives way to a narrow dirt road surrounded by lush vegetation and gorgeous waterfalls. As we descend, possibilities include the near endemic Lemon-rumped Tanager, Violet-crowned Woodnymph, Summer Tanager, Silver-throated Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Blue-necked Tanager, Scarlet Tanager, Bright-rumped Atilla, Golden-collared Manakin, White-headed Wrens, and Chestnut-headed Oropendola. We will stop for lunch at a roadside restaurant before descending further into the lower Anchicayá where we will have opportunity to search for Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Collared Aracari, White-tipped and Blue Cotinga, Rose-faced and Blue-headed Parrot, Spot-crowned Barbet, Black-chested Puffbird, and Purple-throated Fruitcrow. Other possibilities include Blue-whiskered, Emerald, Palm, Dusky-faced, Tawny-crested and Rufous-winged Tanager, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Ruffous-tailed Jacamar, Ocellated, Jet, Stub-tailed and Bicolored Antbird, and Long-tailed Tyrant.We will spend the night at the EPSA facilities.

Day 3: EPSA Property

Today we will spend the day at the EPSA facility grounds, where forests in this facility have remained largely undisturbed. After breakfast, we will bird along a small road that leads towards the Anchicayá dam. Along the road ,we will be on the lookout for Chocó and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, Esmeraldas Antbird, Streaked Antwren, Fasciated Tiger-heron, Collared Aracari, Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, Sooty-headed Wren, Rufous-brown Solitaire, Pale-eyed Thrush, Pacific Cacique, Yellow-green Bush-Tanager, and Gray Seedeater. Specialties for this area include Long-wattled Umbrellabird, Black-tipped Cotinga, Chocó Tapaculo and the near endemic Rose-faced Parrot. After a long day of Birding, we will head into the cloud forest towards El 18 where we will spend the night.

Day 4 and 5: El 18 and Bosque de San Antonio (Cloud Forest Western Andes)

In the morning of the first day, we will bird at the higher elevations of the Bosque de San Antonio. Possibilities include purplish-mantled, Golden, White-lined, Scrub, Fawn-breasted, Summer, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, and Golden-naped Tanagers, as well as Ashthroated Bush-Tanagers and Blue-winged Mountain-tanager. Two endemics that we will search out are Grayish Piculet and Multicolored Tanager. Other birds we might see in this area include, Scarlet-fronted parakeet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Streak-capped Treehunter, Scaled Fruiteater, Green and Black Fruiteater, Yellow-headed Manakin, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Black-billed Peppershrike, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia, Greenish Puffleg, Montane woodcreeper, Redfaced Spinetail, Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streaked Xenops and Narińo Tapaculo.

Along one of the roads, we will visit a local peasant home who maintains feeders that attract an impressive show of hummingbirds. The following species have been observed at the feeders. Purple-throated Woodstar, Blue-headed Saphire, Brown Violetear, Green Violetear, Fawn-Breasated Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, Wedge-billed Hummingbird, Long-tailed Sylph, White-necked Jacobin, and Long-billed Starthroat.

On the second day we will visit the Bosque de San Antonio We will spend the morning birding in the pristine Bosque de San Antonio, where we might see Golden-headed Quetzal, Scarlet-fronted parakeet, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Scaled Fruiteater, Green-and- Black Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Black-billed Peppershrike, Chestnut-breasted and Blue-naped Chloro-phonia, Greenish Puffleg, Montane woodcreeper, Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, Redfaced Spinetail, Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streaked Xenops and Narino Tapaculo. After a great typical lunch, we will continue our searches for new species, including the endemic Crested Ant-tanager, Grayish Piculet and Apical Flycatcher. Prior to dusk, we will visit an active Andean-cock-of-the-rock lek in hopes of stunning displays by the noisy males. We will then head to Buga for the night. Buga is a lovely town with a lot of character, and we will be staying in a colonial style Hotel Guadalajara.

Day 6: Sonso Lagoon (Cauca valley)

We will rise early and head towards the Sonso Lagoon. The lagoon, encompasses 1900 acres and is one of the only remaining wetlands in the Cauca Valley and one of Colombia's best wetland birding localities. We will search the waters for Wattled Jacana, Anhinga, Little Blue, Cocoi and Striated Herons, Snowy Egret, Bare-faced and Glossy Ibises, Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Cinnamon Teal, Osprey, Snail Kite, Black-necked Stilt, Neotropic Cormorant, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, and Spotted and Least Sandpipers. Rare species we might come across include Pinnated Bittern, Apical Flycatcher, Roseate Spoonbill, Ruby Topaz and Horned Screamer. Along riparian areas it is possible we see Southern Lapwing, Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Northern-Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara, Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Southern Beardless and Mouse-coloured Tyrannulets, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-olive Flycatcher, Grey and Ruddy-breasted Seedeaters, Blue-black Grassquit, and Cinereous Becard. In nearby oxbows (called madres viejas in Colombia) we will also be able to observe the attractive Jet Antbird, Orange-crowned Euphonia, and Slate-headed Tody-Flycatchers. After a long morning of birding (in hot weather) we will have lunch at a nearby restaurant, then we will return to the hotel to rest before heading towards the Otún Quimbaya Reserve near Pereira. Otún-Quimbaya is located on the central Andes near the City of Pereira and is a Flora and Fauna known to reward us with a large number of species.

Day 7 and 8: Otún Quimbaya Reserve

For those that are eager, we will rise before dawn to try and find the near endemic Colombian Screech-owl . After Breakfast we will bird along a dirt road that is sure to yield a large number of species. Soon after we start, we will have opportunities to view the endemic Cauca Guan and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow. With luck we will also spot the occasional howler monkey family foraging high in the canopy (we will certainly hear them). Along the road, we'll see active mixed foraging groups. We'll look for Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Inca Jay, Black-billed Peppershrike, Marble-faced and Variegated Bristle-Tyrants, and Highland Motmot, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Golden-fronted Redstart, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Orange-bellied Euphonia, and Glossy and Masked Flowerpiercer. At the end of the road, we may spot a pair of Torrent Duck. The following day, we will look for target species that we may have missed on the first day and try to find Torrent Duck feeding or loafing on the rocks of a clear river. We will have lunch at an Argentine Grill and indulge in some of the best selection of meats in all of Colombia before heading towards Manizales, we will lodge at Termales del Otono, where we can relax and enjoy the thermal pools.

Day 9: Nevado del Ruiz (Central Andes)

The road to Los Nevados National Park begins in the bustling college town of Manizales, where on a clear day the magical Nevado del Ruiz is visible. Birding is done along the lightly traveled road that winds up the mountain through patches of forest that give way to paramo (tropical grassland above tree line). The scenery is delightful, with velvety frailejon plants adding a touch of surrealism to the experience. On our ascend, we will look for the endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet, the very special Black-backed Bush-Tanager, astonishing Golden-crowned Tanager, and Andean Condor. Other high elevation specialists we will look for include: Bearded Helmetcrest, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Viridian Metaltail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Golden-crowned Tanager, Black-backed Bush-Tanager, Glossy Flowerpiercer, and the endemic and very hard to find Rufous-fronted Parakeet. At the park's entrance, we will look for Tawny Antpitta who are very tame in this area. We will stop at Laguna Negra, where it is possible to see Plumbeous Sierra-Finch, Paramo and Plain-colored Seedeaters, Many-striped Canastero, Pale-naped Brush-Finch, Andean Tit-Spinetail, White-chinned Thistletail. We will search the reeds to look for Andean Duck, Andean Teal and Grass Wren. After a long day of birding we will head to the Rio Blanco Reserve.

Day 10 and 11: Rio Blanco Reserve

The Rio Blanco Reserve is managed by Aguas de Manizales, the municipal water company near the city of Manizales. This is one of the finest destinations for birdwatching in Colombia where we will be able to observe spectacular birds.

During our morning coffees, up to 20 species of hummingbirds may be seen visiting the many feeders that surround the lodge and include Tourmaline Sunangel and Buff-tailed Coronet, White-bellied Woodstar, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Collared and Bronzy Inca , Long-tailed Sylph, Speckled Hummingbird, and the Green and Sparkling Violetear. Among the flowering shrubs in the garden we will likely get excellent looks at White-sided Flowerpiercer , and the beautiful Masked Flowerpiercer. Other species that we have seen from the comfort of our lodgings include Black-billed Toucan, Sickle-winged Guan, and the target Masked Saltator. We will also have an opportunity to see upclose, a handful of the shy Antpittas that are attracted to worm feeder stations: these include the endemic Brown-banded, Bicolored, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped, and Slate-crowned Antpitta. The secretive Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush and Gray-browed Brush-Finch also appear during the feeding sessions.

A walk up the reserve will yield many species and possibilities like the Rusty-faced Parrot, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Golden-faced Redstart, Dusky Piha, Black-billed and Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers, Grass-green and White-capped Tanager, Chestnut-naped Antpitta, Rusty-faced Parrot, Powerful Woodpecker, Ocellated, Blackish and Spillman's Tapaculos, Black-billed Peppershrike, Plushcap, Mountain Cacique, and Golden-plumed Parakeet. After a good days birding, we will head down towards our lodgings in Jardin.

Day 12-13: Jardin, Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve

After a good breakfast, we will head towards Proaves' Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve located above the beautiful town of Jardin. We will bird along the road looking for our main target, the critically endangered Yellow-eared Parrot. These parrots are strongly associated with the wax palm, an endemic and equally endangered palm.

The way towards the reserve will yield lots of species and we will look out for Purplish-mantled and Golden-crowned Tanager as well as other specialties including Black-billed Mountain Toucan, Citrine Warbler, Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant and the beautiful Golden-fronted Whitestart and Red-bellied Grackle. On our second day, we will focus our morning efforts on target species we may have missed. After a hearty lunch, we will head towards Medellin where we will be able to relax at our lodgings.

Day 14: Departure

Guests will be taken to the airport from the hotel to catch flights home or to extension tours.

Extension Tours:

Eastern Andes and Eastern Prairies (Meta and Casanare Departments)

Eastern Andes and Eastern Prairies (Meta and Casanare Departments)

Bahía Solano (Pacific Lowlands)