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Colombia trip 2020

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Old Tuesday 3rd September 2019, 17:35   #1
Western Tanager
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Colombia trip 2020

My wife and I are considering a trip to Colombia in February or March of 2020 for general scouting (we may retire there in about 12 years) as well as some birding. We have not been to Colombia before but overall we hear good things about it as a potential destination for retiring abroad as well as an excellent birding destination. My dad and step mom retired several years ago and moved from Washington State in the US to Ecuador. I have visited them twice in Ecuador and they really like it there but my dad encourages me to also check out Colombia.

We have obviously not rented a car in Colombia. Do any of you know if one can rent a car at the Medellin airport and return it at the Bogota airport or vice versa?

We will probably either fly into Medellin or Bogota. If we fly into Medellin my initial thought is to rent a car at the Medellin airport and over the next 12 or so days work our way to these towns/citites:

Retiro (about a 30 minute drive from the airport) and La Ceja.

Near Retiro is this place: San Sebastián de la Castellana Ecological Reserve and we thought we would do some bird watching there. Have any of you been here? If so is there decent birding here?

Also in the Retiro area is Los Salados Ecological Park. Have any of you been here?

After checking out this area we would probably drive to Jardin, Antioquia and spend 2 nights. We hope to do some birding at the Pro Aves Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve but so far I have not heard back from Pro Aves about doing that. Has anyone been to this reserve? If so do they provide a guide? What does it cost to enter and for a guide?

Can anyone recommend a guide based in Jardin or other places to go birding in the Jardin area?

From Jardin we plan to drive to Manizales and hopefully go birding at the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve. We might see about staying there 2 nights but my wife and I both use CPAP machines to help us breathe well at night and avoid snoring and I wonder if their rooms have electricity all night for the machines. I have not contacted them yet but if anyone has details they would like to share about Rio Blanco that would be great.

After Manizales we would probably drive to see these towns: Salento, the Corcora Valley, Circasia and Armenia. While in this area we might try to do a morning of birding at the Otun Quimbaya Wildlife Sanctuary.

Then we would head for Villa de Leyva. It is a long drive so we would probably stay a night in Bogota.

Does anyone know of any good birding in the Villa de Leyva area?

We would ideally like to fly into Medellin and out of Bogota. If we do it that way then from Villa de Leyva we would head back to Bogota for the flight back to the USA.

I would appreciate any tips or recommendations from those of you who have been in this area of Colombia. Thanks!
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Old Wednesday 4th September 2019, 13:04   #2
Western Tanager
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P.S. I meant to also ask if any of you know when special holidays or festivals might occur in Colombia that would impact traffic or make it generally busier. I would like to avoid those times to make for easier travel, easier to find lodging etc.
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Old Thursday 5th September 2019, 12:58   #3
kb57
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Originally Posted by Western Tanager View Post

After checking out this area we would probably drive to Jardin, Antioquia and spend 2 nights. We hope to do some birding at the Pro Aves Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve but so far I have not heard back from Pro Aves about doing that. Has anyone been to this reserve? If so do they provide a guide? What does it cost to enter and for a guide?

Can anyone recommend a guide based in Jardin or other places to go birding in the Jardin area?

I would appreciate any tips or recommendations from those of you who have been in this area of Colombia. Thanks!
I was in Jardin earlier this year, and visited the Pro Aves reserve up at Ventanas. As far as I'm aware, although in theory you can stay there, it isn't normally open to casual visitors, and doesn't feature on Pro Aves' website of reserves where you can book accommodation.

I went to the reserve through organising a day trip with Guillermo Nagy in Jardin. He runs Aramacao Tours (they have a website) and is best contacted via WhatsApp (+57 305 3184585). He will arrange access direct with the rangers at the reserve, and arrange a 4X4 to take you up there - the road is not suitable for a normal hire car, more due to risk of bottoming out than being particularly slippery. Excellent birder.

It is worth noting that you don't need to visit the reserve to see yellow-eared parrots. The reserve centre is on a hilltop which makes a great vantage point for overflying parrots and has hummingbird feeders, but we actually saw more perched parrots a short walk down from the pass towards Riosucio, and a whole lot more flocks further down this road.

There is an American guy living near Jardin you might want to call in on - Doug Knapp, who runs a conservation project at La Esperanza. He used to run a lodge but it is now closed. I spoke with him on the phone, but didn't have the time to visit in the end - he recommended Guillermo to me.

Personally I was happy not to drive in Colombia - Jardin in particular is easy to get to by bus from Medellin - but if you are confident with South American driving styles, and you're aiming to live there anyway, I guess you have to go for it!
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Old Friday 13th September 2019, 13:00   #4
Western Tanager
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kb57, thanks for the info. We have booked our flights for next February. We decided to fly round trip to Pereira.

We plan to go birding at Rio Blanco near Manizales and maybe to Montezuma Lodge as well. Hopefully also at Otum-Quimbaya Reserve and the Barbas Bremen Reserve near Filandia.

Mainly we will focus on just seeing what Colombia is like.

I will contact Guillermo.
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Old Thursday 26th September 2019, 16:41   #5
Western Tanager
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Have any of you been to this lodge and reserve near Manizales? If so please share your thoughts on the lodge and birding there.

https://tinamubirding.com/
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Old Tuesday 8th October 2019, 17:26   #6
mclay100
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I was in Jardin in July 2017. It is a nice touristy town. I hired a mototaxi for $20 to Ventanas (50 min trip) arriving at 0545 and walked back to town (downhill) arriving back about noon. The parrots are best seen at the top of the hill past the reserve. You get the same birds in the reserve (I didn't visit it as it is locked and you need a guide). The road gets very little traffic and is in bad shape for low clearance vehicles. There is a daily bus to Riosucio from Jardin which passes the reserve, but it doesn't leave until afternoon (2 pm?) from Jardin.

I'm in Indianapolis. Let me know if you have any more questions.
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