The Colombian Andes split into three cordilleras, providing an incredibly varied topography, with western and eastern slopes and inter-andean valleys. Thus the very structure of Colombia is the engine behind the amazing biodiversity that fills the countries’ superb habitats – Colombia has the richest avifauna in the world, and more butterflies than anywhere else! The coastal Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the worlds’ highest coastal mountain range, and boasts many endemic birds and butterflies.
The diversity of hummingbirds is extraordinary and the names are as beautiful as the birds - Tourmaline Sunangel, Band-tailed Barbthroat, Green-fronted Lancebill, Violetears, Incas, Emeralds, Green Thorntail, Violet-tailed Sylph, Tyrian Metaltail, Greenish Puffleg, Velvet-purple Coronet, Booted Racket-tail, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, White-vented Plumeleteer… the list should reach fifty species!
Smaller still and equally beautiful are the metalmark butterflies. We’ll see incredible hairy-legged Anteros jewelmarks, eyemarks, sombermarks, greenmarks, tanmarks, whitemarks, and euselasias. Showy species included Blue-and-Yellow Beautymark, Costa-spotted Beautymark, Ancyluris aulestes, Ancyluris etias, Necyria bellona, Cherry-bordered Metalmark, Rhetus dysonii, and the semi-transparent Chorinea bogota. Hairstreaks included beauties such as such as Arawacus aetolus, Theclopsis lydus, and Brevianta emathaon, whilst mud-puddling Colombian Kite Swallowtails will be a sight to see. The Eighty-eights are a really special group of butterflies and we’ll see these gorgeously colourful butterflies mud-puddlig in numbers - Puddling Striped Eighty-eight, Six-spotted Eighty-eight, Two-eyed Eighty-eight, Blue-and-Orange Eighty-eight and Common Eighty-eight.
Orchids are everywhere and it’s a prime season for them – we should see up to fifty specie a day, ranging from the tiny epiphytic Lepanthes carunculigera and Pleurothallis orecta to the showy terrestrial Maxillaria speciosa and beautiful Oncidium serpens.
Oilbirds emerge in numbers at dusk from a cave across a crystal clear river. There’s both Golden-headed and White-tipped Quetzals, and we’ll see the enigmatic Toucan Barbet. Amazingly we can find no less than eleven species of Toucan, and parrot highlights will include the scarce Rusty-faced Parrot, lovely Military Macaws, noisy Golden-plumed Parakeets, and endangered Yellow-eared Parrots. Other beauties will include Green-and-Black Fruiteaters, Barred Fruiteater, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, and the stunning Orange-breasted Fruiteater. We’ll see both Blue-naped and Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia. We’re likely to see no less than sixty different Tanagers with highlights being the two endemics Black-and-Gold Tanager and Gold-ringed Tanager. Grass-green Tanager is a stunner and we’ll also see the well-named Multicoloured Tanager.
Coming back to the butterflies Morphos glide through pristine forest clearwings. There are several species - Morpho cypris, Morpho helenor, Morpho achilles, and the lovely pale silvery Morpho sulkowskyi. We’ll see many Adelphas and there are Catones, Memphis Leafwings, Banners, Perisama, Marpesia Daggerwings, Mapwings, and Preponas, Metamorpha elissa and Blue-patched Crescent Eresia levina. We’ll see abundant moths too with many coming to the lodge walls and lights at night notably the stunning green Xylophanes chiron hawkmoth.
An Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek will get the cameras clicking but perhaps even more desirable will be a visit to a Golden-headed Manakin lek. It is always great to see any Antpitta and here we’ve the chance of several, indeed we should have wonderful photo opportunities with Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Brown-banded Antpitta, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, and Slate-crowned Antpitta. We’ll encounter the remarkable Ocellated Tapaculo, and the stunning White-capped Tanager, as well as Red-billed Scythebill, Flammulated Treerunner, Pearled Treerunner, Bar-crested Antshrike, and the lovely Rufous-headed Pygmy-Tyrant. Endemics include Colombian Chachalaca, Cauca Guan, Grayish Piculet, Parker’s Antbird, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Munchique Wood-Wren, Red-bellied Grackle, Crested Ant-Tanager, Turquoise Dacnis. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is particularly rich in endemics such as Santa Marta Woodstar, Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Hermit Wood-Wren, Bang’s Wood-Wren, Sierra Nevada Brushfinch, Santa Marta Brushfinch, Santa Marta Warbler, White-lored Warbler, Yellow-crowned Redstart, and Sierra Nevada Mountain-Tanager.
The entire natural world, but particularly Birds, Butterflies and Orchids.
Very easy throughout. Trails occasionally muddy or steep for short distances.
Included in the Price
All flights. All accommodation, transport and meals in Colombia. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature including insurance, are not included.
Minimum is 5 and the maximum is 9.
We start with two nights (well, one and a half!) at the very comfortable 84 DC Hotel which is on the edge of the city on the road that rises up to Chingaza. After a night in the Minca Ecohabs in Minca, we move to the lovely El Dorado Lodge for a two night stay. El Dorado has views up to Sierra Nevada and down to the Caribbean amid paramo scrub. Next we’ve three nights at the Hotel Estellar Recinto del Pensamiento in Manizales close to the Rio Blanco Reserve. Then we have four nights at the Montezuma Lodge set on the edge of superb forest in the Tatamá National Park. This family-run lodge has a superb location and good food. Next we’ve a couple of nights in the Charco Corazón Hotel Campestre by the river in Jardin before moving to the Hacienda Extremadura in Medellin for a night. This rather lovely place is in a quiet suburb and close to reserve of La Romera. We finish with three nights at Los Colores Ecoparque situated just outside the Rio Claro national park. This has wildlife-filled gardens and very nice rooms as well as a swimming pool. All rooms on this tour have en suite facilities.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow to Bogota via Madrid. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* and various European Airports may be available.
*These routes may incur a supplement
Warm to hot in the lowlands though much of the tour is at a reasonable altitude which certainly takes the edge of temperatures and it can even be quite cool early mornings at a couple of locations. Occasional heavy showers.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information. Butterfly and bird checklists are available.