Home to 20% of the world's avian species, Colombia is a must-visit for devoted birdwatchers and aspiring ecologists alike. This 10-day itinerary travels through three distinct climates, ecosystems, and landscapes, from the slopes of the Andes to the rainforests of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the palm-fringed Caribbean coast. Along the way you'll embark on memorable birdwatching excursions into national forests and nature reserves, searching out the many rare and resplendent species that call Colombia home.

Highlights

  • Explore the cloud forests of Chicaque National Park
  • Embark on full-day birding excursions led by knowledgeable local guides
  • Discover the flora & fauna of the El Dorado Nature Reserve
  • Spot rare & endemic species like the groove-billed toucanet & Santa Marta parakeet
  • Relax on the golden sands of Tayrona National Park

 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bogotá Bogotá
Day 2 Birdwatching in Chicaque Natural Park Bogotá
Day 3 Fly to Pereira, Transfer to Tinamú Hotel Nature Reserve Tinamú Reserve
Day 4 Birdwatching in Tinamú Reserve  Tinamú Reserve
Day 5 Transfer to Pereira, Fly to Santa Marta Santa Marta
Day 6 Transfer to the El Dorado Nature Reserve El Dorado Nature Reserve
Day 7 Birdwatching in Cuchilla de San Lorenzo El Dorado Nature Reserve
Day 8 Transfer to Tayrona National Park Tayrona Park
Day 9 Explore Tayrona National Park Tayrona Park
Day 10 Transfer to Santa Marta Airport, Depart Colombia  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bogotá

Plaza de Bolívar in La Candelaria, Bogotá
Plaza Bolívar, in La Candelaria, Bogotá

Welcome to Bogotá! Upon arrival, a driver will meet you at the airport and transport you to your hotel. 

Colombia's biggest city has culture to spare, and its regional gastronomy has made it a global foodie destination. You'll have ample free time to explore this Andean capital on foot. Start with the cobblestone streets of the La Candelaria neighborhood, where trendy restaurants and colonial-era landmarks are located. You'll also find excellent museums, shopping, and street food ranging from empanadas to exotic fruit salads. 

Depending on what time you arrive, you can experience more of Bogotá's local history and culture by taking a tour with an English-speaking guide.

Day 2: Birdwatching in Chicaque Natural Park

Chicaque Natural Park
Chicaque Natural Park is home to over 200 species of birds

Today you'll set off early with a two-hour private transfer from your hotel to Chicaque National Park. Located just west of Bogotá, this protected green space is home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna. After meeting your guide and deciding on the route and pace of the hike, you'll explore the park's seven different types of forests as you search for its over 200 species of birds.

In the afternoon, a private driver will return you to Bogotá, where you'll have time for a rest before heading out for dinner.

Day 3: Fly to Pereira, Transfer to Tinamú Hotel Nature Reserve

The coffee fields of Colombia's Zona Cafetera

This morning your driver will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the Bogotá airport, where you'll board a flight bound for the heart of Colombia's Zona Cafetera (Coffee Region). Upon arrival in the city of Pereira, you'll be transferred two-hours north to the Tinamú Hotel Nature Reserve, a paradise for birders and your base for the next two nights. 

The rest of the afternoon is free to spend at your leisure as you rest up for tomorrow's excursion.

Day 4: Birdwatching in Tinamú Reserve 

The blue-headed parrot

A haven to more than 260 registered species, the Tinamú Hotel Natural Reserve is a remarkable setting for today's birdwatching excursion. Accompanied by a guide specialized in avian photography, you'll set off early in the morning along the reserve's private trails, where stops at feeders and gardens provide plentiful opportunities for observation and photography. Within the protected rainforest you'll find rare and endemic species such as the Colombian chachalaca, the blue-headed parrot, and the grey-headed dove.

Day 5: Transfer to Pereira, Fly to Santa Marta

Santa Marta serves as a gateway to nearby Tayrona National Park

After another morning of birding in the forests of Tinamú, an afternoon transfer takes you back to the Pereira airport to catch a flight north to the Caribbean coast. Upon arrival at Santa Marta airport, you'll be driven to your hotel, where you can relax and enjoy the afternoon.

The busy port of Santa Marta enjoys the distinction of being the first Spanish settlement in Colombia. Though it’s often used as a stopping point for day trips in the area, the historic downtown has been restored and is worth a visit. Stroll its cobbled streets lined with multi-colored buildings and take plenty of photos (you won't miss the stately, white-washed cathedral). There is a slew of hotels, restaurants, and bars in the area, too.

Nearby, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains are home to Colombia’s tallest peak, Pico Cristóbal Colón, which sits at a whopping 18,700 feet (5,700 m). These mountains are also the gateway to postcard-worthy Tayrona National Park on the palm-fringed Caribbean coast.

Day 6: Transfer to the El Dorado Nature Reserve 

Keel-billed toucans are one of many species found around Minca

It's another early morning today, as you depart your hotel at first light for a 2.5-hour transfer to the El Dorado Nature Reserve. Located near the mountain village of Minca, the premier birding site of El Dorado sits at 6,233 feet (1,900 m) above sea level and offers panoramic views over the Sierra Nevadas all the way out to the Caribbean Sea. The reserve is home to the largest concentration of endemic species in Colombia, with 23 of those found nowhere else.

During the drive, you can make several stops to observe rare and native birds such as the Santa Marta blossomcrown, the Santa Marta antbird, the coppery emerald, the orange-chinned parakeet, and the golden-olive woodpecker. Upon arrival at the reserve, you'll settle in and enjoy lunch, then set out on a guided afternoon birding session. If you're visiting during winter, keep an eye out for several migratory species from the north of the American continent—such as the black-throated green warbler, the summer tanager, the Swainson's thrush, and the cerulean warbler.

Day 7: Birdwatching in Cuchilla de San Lorenzo

The Santa Marta brushfinch

Today's full-day excursion takes you to the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo, located at 8,694 feet (2,650 m) above sea level on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. The massif was recently selected as having the most irreplaceable concentration of biodiversity in the world by the International Union for Conservation and Nature (IUCN), and the best spot to find endemic and near-endemic species in this isolated mountain range. Look out for the white-tailed starfrontlet, the rusty-headed spinetail, the band-tailed guan, the groove-billed toucanet, the strong-billed woodcreeper, the white-lored warbler, and many others. Return to the reserve at the end of the afternoon.

Day 8: Transfer to Tayrona National Park

Colombia is home to many types of hummingbird

Head north to Tayrona National Park this morning, stopping along the way to spot the many birds found in this amazing biologically diverse area. You'll arrive at the Caribbean coast in the late morning, leaving the afternoon free for you to enjoy the surroundings of your hotel, observe wildlife, or spend time at the beach. 

Day 9: Explore Tayrona National Park

Cabo de San Juan in Tayrona National Park

After breakfast, your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel and begin a full-day tour of Tayrona National Park. A magical place located between mountains, tropical forests, and the sea, this protected area is known for having some of the most virgin coastal landscapes in the entire country.

Start with a hike in the tropical foothills near Playa Cañaveral, at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Spot the forest's many local and endemic birds, howler and squirrel monkeys, agoutis, and lizards. With a bit of luck, you might even spy crocodiles, anteaters, and sloths. Then it's on to the exotic beaches of Arrecifes and La Piscina, the latter of which is an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. Continue to Cabo San Juan and enjoy the bay of white sand surrounded by large volcanic rocks. The afternoon is yours to enjoy on your own—have a bit of lunch and relax on the shore, before returning to your hotel in the late afternoon.

Day 10: Transfer to Santa Marta Airport, Depart Colombia

Enjoy a final stroll along Tayrona's golden sands

It's time to say goodbye to Colombia! After a leisurely morning and a final walk along the beach, you'll be transferred to the Santa Marta airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

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