The Cauca Valley, one of the important eco-regions in Colombia, the Cauca Valley is home to a handful of endemic species not occurring anywhere else in the country. The Western and Central Cordilleras on both flanks of the valley harbor many species with ranges restricted to the cloud forests, grassland and Paramos of the mountains. Some of these species are shared with bordering Ecuador but most of them are more easily seen in Colombia where the populations of such species are either better represented or found in areas of easier access. This trip will allow us to look for 21 Colombian endemic species.
Chicoral is a beautiful place to start this tour in Cali, on this place, we will visit to see some interesting birds of the south-wester Andes , Uniform Antshrike, Colombian Chachalaca, Chestnut-fronted Macaw and others, some Tanagers and Hummingbirds , then, we will back to Cali.
Anchicayá is located in Queremal Town on the old way to Buenaventura port. It is one of the favorite places to see some endemic and rare birds of the Chocó region. Golden-Chested Tanager, Gray-and-Gold Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Choco Tucan, Zeledon´s Antbird, Sooty-headed Wren, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Purple-crowned Fairy, Scarlet-thighed Dacnis, White-headed Wren, Long-tailed Tyrant and others. In the afternoon return to Cali.
This day we will visit San Antonio Forest at an altitude of 2100 m.a.s.l. visit the cloud forest at km 18, in it, we have access to wonderful forest feeders for hummingbirds and beautiful Tanagers. Several groups of birds are common to see there, including Endemic Multicolored Tanager, Golden Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Crested Quetzal, White-necked Jacobin, Andean Emerald, blue-headed Sapphire, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Long –tailed Silph, Purple-Throated Woodstar, Brown Violetear to name a few. We will also be looking for other species along a road that borders the forest and is free of traffic. After lunch, we will drive two hours to Sonso Lagoon, visit here is for aquatic birds and the endemic Apical Flycatcher, overnight at Guadalajara Hotel.
The Cerro Montezuma is ideal for a birding experience in the high Andean forest, where the Andes merge with the Chocó, with a little over 300 species of birds, instead beginning to be recognized among birders as one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, finding 11 endemic species of the western mountains, 9 endemic species of Colombia, nearly 14 species of endemic birds. There, we will looking for the endemic Gold-ringed Tanager, Endemic Chesnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, NE Toucan Barbet, NE Purplish-mantled Tanager, endemic Munchique Wood-Wren, NE Black Solitaire and others. Nigth at Montezuma Lodge ( 1.350 m.a.s.l. Basic but clean)
Early in the morning (4:30 a.m.), we will drive up to the Army base to see the beautiful sunrise and the first endemics, Chestnut-bellied Flower piercer and Munchique Wren, then we go down exploring the area for the endemics Gold-ringed Tanager and Black and Gold Tanager, we will visit other places looking for the other different species in this magical place: Red-headed Barbet, Lemmon and Flamme-rumped Tanager, NE Violet-tailed Silph, NE Velvet-purple Coronet, White-tailed Hillstar, and NE Empress Brillant. Night in Montezuma.
The La Suiza lodge is a fabulous place. The lodge is surrounded by beautiful forest and all you have done to see forest birds is to step out of you cabin and stroll along the road entering the park. The reserve is the best place to look for the local and endemic Cauca Guan (long thought to be extinct until a healthy population was rediscovered in 1989 near Pereira at the actual location of the Otun-Quimbaya Reserve).We will also be looking for the endemics Chestnut Wood-Quail and Stiles´s Tapaculo, Sickle-winged Guan, Greenish Puffleg, Highland Motmot, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Treehunter, Moustached Antpitta, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, both Variegated and Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrants, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Pale-eyed and Glossy-black Thrushes and White-capped Tanagers, among many others. Here we will see the enigmatic Red-ruffed Fruitcrow which is better seen in this location than anywhere else in its range, also is the perfect place for Hooded Antpitta and Torrent Duck.
On this day we have to leave the hotel at 5 a.m. because at Rio Blanco we will have the only chance to see Antpittas and they feed them at 7 a.m. The Rio Blanco reserve is such a bird-rich place that we need a full day of birding to cover the reserve properly. The birdlife here is so diverse and spectacular with many species to see. We will have a good chance to see Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Andean Toucanet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Rufous Spinetail, Tyranine Woodcreeper, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, endemic Brown-banded Antpitta, NE Bicolored Antpitta, Chesnut-crowned Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta and many others, overnight in Manizales
Another early start will find us at first light in the upper cloud and elfin forest along the way to Nevado del Ruiz National Park. At a higher elevation close to the National Park entrance we will be looking for the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest, which is hard to find anywhere else, as well as White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Tawny Antpitta, Plain-colored Seedeater and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. The marshy areas and water ponds will also give us a chance for Andean Teal and Noble Snipe. We also visit Termales del Ruiz look for the rare and endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet and there we also have a chance for Shining Sunbeam, Black-thighed and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Great Sapphirewing, Tiryan and Viridian Metaltail, Sword-billed Hummingbird and Páramo Tapaculo. Other possibilities are the rare and seldom seen Ocellated Tapaculo and the uncommon Black-backed Bush Tanager. Overnight at Termales del Ruiz Spa Hotel.
We will drive on the old way to Líbano (four hours from Termales del Ruiz), we´ll spent the morning birding on that road, there is possible to see the endemics Tolima Dove and Tolima Blossomcrown, we will have the chance to see Yellow-eared Parrot, Yellow-headed Brush-Finch, Crested Ant Tanager, Andean Condor and other special birds can be seen on this road. Overnight at Líbano.
Visit to dry forest looking for some special birds in this region, then, visit Guarinocito Lagoon, this is possible to see Northern Screamer in this place. In the afternoon, drive to Victoria (one-hour driving) Overnight at Victoria Town.
Bellavista Reserve is located 20 minutes from Victoria and is the perfect place for White-mantled Barbet, Sooty Ant-Tanager, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Striped Manakin, Beautiful Woodpecker and others, overnight at Victoria.
In San Francisco, near to Bogotá, there is a farm with hummingbird Feeders and is possible to find Indigo-capped Hummingbird, the other 15 species visit this place frequently; in the afternoon, transfer to the airport (two or three hours).
On our way to Bogotá, we will visit Jardín Encantado (3.800 feet, two hours from La Dorada) looking for endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird and other jewels of this place, then drive to Bogotá airport to take the international flight.