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First time birding Colombia: Recommendations Wanted! (1 Viewer)

AveryBartels

Well-known member
One important logistical question - how do you plan to get around? hire a driver or use public transit?

I would recommend including the Cali area as a good budget option that offers birding as good as anywhere in Colombia (which I've travelled extensively). There are cheap accom options in both upper (Doña Dora - El Descanso) and lower Anchicaya (in El Danubio) Valley that provide good access to superb birds. San Cipriano is also an easy place to bird and has a variety of accom options. 4-5 days around Cali then moving up to any combination of Montezuma Lodge/Rio Blanco/Nevado del Ruiz/Otun Quimabya, all of which are excellent and can be done without breaking the bank.

Jardin is great, and the Cock-of-the-Rock lek superb and it pairs well with a more Antioquia focused itin. Something Like Rio Claro - Piha Reserve (note that Proaves reserves are pretty expensive) - Medellin (La Romera Reserve and/or Antioquia Brushfinch site) - Las Tangaras (or cut this if not enough time) - Jardin.

Another good option that is logistically quite simple and easy on the wallet is to do the south: Putumayo and either Pasto or the Upper Magdalena. A flight to Villagarzon/Puerto Asis and birding around Mocoa (Finca El Escondite and Vereda Campucana) - Puerto Asis - Isla Escondida Reserve (another superb birding site!) - then either head towards Pasto and bird around Sibundoy (Paramo Bordoncillo/Laguna La Cocha) or head from Mocoa north to Palestina and El Encanto Lodge in the Upper Magdalena Valley. This option is pretty easy to do with public transit/taxis and there are a few very good local guides with reasonable prices. As you cover less ground you have more time for birding. However, birding Amazonian lowland/foothills can be more challenging than Andean birding in terms of bird spotting and keeping track of all the various antbirds etc. so there is a bit of a trade-off between easy logistics vs a bit trickier birding.

An option you might consider is one of a couple of driver/guides who, while not quite up to the level of the best guides still know thee birds well and know where to find them, esepcially on the established birding routes. These include Juan Lopez Zuluaga (https://www.facebook.com/juan.l.zuluaga) and Johan Florez (https://www.facebook.com/JohanFelipe.Florez). They can wrap transport and guide fees into one. I believe both have basic english. I am fairly certain the Multicolor Tours works with Juan Lopez regularly.

A trip report I put together a couple years ago might be helpful if you are considering the Cali areas or South: https://www.cloudbirders.com/be/download?filename=BARTELS_Colombia_03_2019.pdf
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
One important logistical question - how do you plan to get around? hire a driver or use public transit?

I would recommend including the Cali area as a good budget option that offers birding as good as anywhere in Colombia (which I've travelled extensively). There are cheap accom options in both upper (Doña Dora - El Descanso) and lower Anchicaya (in El Danubio) Valley that provide good access to superb birds. San Cipriano is also an easy place to bird and has a variety of accom options. 4-5 days around Cali then moving up to any combination of Montezuma Lodge/Rio Blanco/Nevado del Ruiz/Otun Quimabya, all of which are excellent and can be done without breaking the bank.

Jardin is great, and the Cock-of-the-Rock lek superb and it pairs well with a more Antioquia focused itin. Something Like Rio Claro - Piha Reserve (note that Proaves reserves are pretty expensive) - Medellin (La Romera Reserve and/or Antioquia Brushfinch site) - Las Tangaras (or cut this if not enough time) - Jardin.

Another good option that is logistically quite simple and easy on the wallet is to do the south: Putumayo and either Pasto or the Upper Magdalena. A flight to Villagarzon/Puerto Asis and birding around Mocoa (Finca El Escondite and Vereda Campucana) - Puerto Asis - Isla Escondida Reserve (another superb birding site!) - then either head towards Pasto and bird around Sibundoy (Paramo Bordoncillo/Laguna La Cocha) or head from Mocoa north to Palestina and El Encanto Lodge in the Upper Magdalena Valley. This option is pretty easy to do with public transit/taxis and there are a few very good local guides with reasonable prices. As you cover less ground you have more time for birding. However, birding Amazonian lowland/foothills can be more challenging than Andean birding in terms of bird spotting and keeping track of all the various antbirds etc. so there is a bit of a trade-off between easy logistics vs a bit trickier birding.

An option you might consider is one of a couple of driver/guides who, while not quite up to the level of the best guides still know thee birds well and know where to find them, esepcially on the established birding routes. These include Juan Lopez Zuluaga (https://www.facebook.com/juan.l.zuluaga) and Johan Florez (https://www.facebook.com/JohanFelipe.Florez). They can wrap transport and guide fees into one. I believe both have basic english. I am fairly certain the Multicolor Tours works with Juan Lopez regularly.

A trip report I put together a couple years ago might be helpful if you are considering the Cali areas or South: https://www.cloudbirders.com/be/download?filename=BARTELS_Colombia_03_2019.pdf
Thank you for the recommendations and possible contacts, I was planning on having a good bit of help due to the nature of Colombia with the bird diversity. Thankfully my Spanish is pretty good too due to being from Cuba, so even with a guide of limited English, I can keep a good conversation (that was the way I was able to get better deals on a good guide in Panama in 2019).

I'll read your trip report and probably look into Juan Lopez since he has been recommended in other places too.
 

Lerxst

Well-known member
I would second the advice to go to Montezuma Lodge. It was fantastic. And if nobody has mentioned it, the towen of Jardin is a great place to spend a day or two with the Yellow-eared Parrot resevre being very close. We also like Bogota a lot as it gives you very quick access to a variety of habitats including paramo.
 

fbeeldens

Well-known member
Thank you for the recommendations and possible contacts, I was planning on having a good bit of help due to the nature of Colombia with the bird diversity. Thankfully my Spanish is pretty good too due to being from Cuba, so even with a guide of limited English, I can keep a good conversation (that was the way I was able to get better deals on a good guide in Panama in 2019).

I'll read your trip report and probably look into Juan Lopez since he has been recommended in other places too.
I have traveled with Juan (via Multicolor Birding) a couple of times now and I too can highly recommend him.
 

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