Colombia: Bogota, Eastern Andes & the Magdalena Valley: Feb 11—25, 2017

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Price: $5,995
(Internal flight included)
Departs: Bogota
Tour Limit: 8
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (167.6 KB)

Route Map

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Tour Leaders

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Steve Hilty

Steve Hilty is the senior author of A Guide to the Birds of Colombia, and author of Birds of...


Local Leader




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Register for the Waiting List

This departure is sold out! Add your name to the waiting list, or inquire about this tour by calling our office (1-800-328-VENT or 512-328-5221), or emailing us (info@ventbird.com).

Saffron-headed Parrot

Saffron-headed Parrot— Photo: Luis Eduardo Urueña

VENT leader Steve Hilty is featured in an article about birding in Colombia which appeared in the June 25, 2009 edition of the Wall Street Journal, and also in an article in the Spring 2011 issue of Living Bird, the quarterly magazine of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The world’s richest avifauna, an opportunity to search for many exciting endemics, and a glimpse of a fascinating and beautiful country almost unknown to birders until recently, are only some of the rewards of this pioneering, action-packed trip.

After a twenty-two year absence, we returned to Colombia in 2009 and haven’t looked back. Is it safe, you ask? Our answer is an unequivocal “Yes!” Most of Colombia is now back to normal and as safe as anywhere one can travel in Latin America. Their economy is booming, and the areas we visit are in well-established reserves or parks, and most have relatively new facilities to accommodate visitors. These sites have never experienced any security problems, and the facilities, generally, are quite nice. You can be assured that Colombians are very excited to receive foreign visitors, and every bit as excited to show their country and its avian riches to us as we are to offer this trip.

Simply put, more species of birds have been recorded in Colombia than anywhere else in the world, some 1,900 species at present. It is a remarkable testimony to the determination of a new generation of young and energetic Colombian students and ornithologists that this list, now a source of considerable national pride, continues to grow, and observers continue to travel and work almost throughout the country. Since the publication of Hilty and Brown’s landmark Guide to the Birds of Colombia in 1986, several species new to science have been described and more than 160 species have been added to the country list, and it continues to increase.

Green-bearded Helmetcrest, in light rain

Green-bearded Helmetcrest, in light rain— Photo: Steve Hilty

For years birders and naturalists have looked longingly at Colombia’s enticing list of endemics—some 70 species—found only within its borders. And, there are many other near-endemics that barely extend beyond Colombia’s borders. Reserves now protect many of these species, and our tour route takes advantage of this, staying in key sites. We will spend several days in the vicinity of Bogotá with the chance of seeing several endemics, among them the Silvery-throated Spinetail, Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Rufous-browed Conebill (near endemic), Bogotá Rail, and Apolinar’s Wren, as well as eye-popping hummingbirds such as Green-tailed and Black-tailed trainbearers, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, and several pufflegs. Leaving the wide plateau around Bogotá, we’ll descend the east slope of the Eastern Andes for three days where we are sure to meet a treasure trove of new species, some Amazonian, some associated more with the llanos or plains to the east, and many found only on the eastern slope of the Andes. Crossing back through Bogotá we’ll visit a site known for its tanager diversity including hemispinguses, conebills, flowerpiercers, and such dazzling species as Blue-and-black, Metallic-green, and Flame-faced tanagers. Continuing down into the drier floor of the Magdalena River Valley we’ll search for several endemics, among them Apical Flycatcher and Velvet-fronted Euphonia. At higher elevation near the city of Ibague, we’ll return to cooler montane forests once again, this time in search of more hummingbirds, among them the endemic Tolima Blossomcrown, as well as Andean Motmot, Masked Trogon, Black-billed Mountain-Tanager, Yellow-headed Brush-Finch (endemic), and the incredible Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia. For the remainder of the trip we’ll continue down the Magdalena River Valley, working northward, eventually to the lovely Rio Claro Reserve with its lush, lowland rainforest and such exciting species as the Oilbird, Saffron-headed Parrot, endemic Beautiful Woodpecker, White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, and Sooty Ant-Tanager. We’ll end with a beautiful morning in ranchland for marsh and gallery forest species, among them Northern Screamer, Blue-and-yellow Macaw, and a variety of waterfowl. And, above all, we think you will love Colombia’s beautiful countryside and verdant Andes. And, as Colombians love to say, your only danger, really, will be wanting to stay.

Good accommodations and good food throughout, but with simple accommodations at one site; a few longish drives, but bus transportation comfortable and air-conditioned; most birding along roads; one fairly long, steep downhill road may be slippery if wet, requiring walking sticks, otherwise generally easy walking conditions throughout; some midday rest periods; warm and humid in lowlands, cool and pleasant in mountains.