Quetzal Andean Trails and Cauca Valley

( 7 nights / 8 Days) Starting in Cali and ending in Pereira
2019 February 20 – 27 Tour Leader: Julio Delgado.
2020 January 14 – 21 Tour Leader: Julio Delgado.

USD$ 2.380 Length: 8 days Starting city: Cali Ending city: Pereira Pace: Relaxed Physical difficulty: Easy Focus: Birding Max Group Size: 8 people in double accommodation (2 persons per room) Single suplement: USD$350 Addressed to: Beginner Birders, Enthusiastic birders, Keen Birders, who want to go birding just in the Morning and arrive around 3 pm to nice 4 star hotels with swimming pools and nice garden areas, for afternoon tea, reading, painting, swimming, relax, etc. Physical difficulty: Moderate- Easy (include some long drives) Focus: Birding, Culture, Landscapes Max Group Size: 8 people in double accommodation (2 persons per room) Single suplement: USD$350 Adressed to: Beginner Birders, Keen Birders & Enthusiastic birders interested in Colombian culture willing to do other activities than birding almost half of the time.

Quetzal Andean Trails and Cauca Valley Birding Tour

This tour offer us very nice Hotels and the most comfortable birding. We will have stunning birding mornings, conducted by a professional Tour Leader  in the following EBAs (Endemic Bird Areas  by Birdlife International):Chocó, Colombian Inter-Andean Slopes, Colombian Inter-Andean Valleys and central Andean Paramo. It’s a dreamy introductory tour to Colombia performed in a very comfortable and relaxed way. We will go birding in the western and central Andes Slopes, home of the gorgeous Golden Headed Quetzal and the less common Crested Quetzal. We will be on the lookout for these Majestic birds, that fill the cloud forest of vibrant colors and  enigmatic songs.

We will have good chances to spot endemics like Grayish Piculet, Apical Flycatcher,  Multicolored Tanager, Cauca Guan, Buffy Heltmetcrest, Colombian Chachalaca, Brown banded Antpitta, Chestnut Wood Quail, Stiles’s Tapaculo and many other interesting birds like, Saffron crowned Tanager, Beryl spangled Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Blue necked Tanager, Rainbow bearded Thornbill, Sword billed Hummingbird, Brown Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Purple throated Woodstar, Bicolored Antpitta, Chestnut crowned Antpitta, Green and Black Fruiteater, Masked Trogon, Black billed Mountain Toucan, Emerald Toucanet, Crimson rumped Toucanet, Green Jay,  Blue backed Conebill, Red ruffed Fruitcrow, Flamulated Treehunter, Plushcap, among many, many more.

Bear in Mind

Early starts are necessary on most days since the best birding is in the early morning. Start times will usually be from ( 6:00 am). Meals will be in the Hotels / Reserves or nearby restaurants. Meals consists on Main dish with drink (water/Soda/Juice/Beer). No appetizers, desserts, bottles of wine are included.

Land transportation will have not too long journeys (2:00  to 2:30 hours). We will use a comfortable, air conditioned, Van. We will have mild walks, even in the mountains, nearly all the birding will be from a dirt road where we will be mostly walking downhill. There will be some short hikes on moderately difficult trails where a walking stick could come in handy. You can expect to walk around 3 Km per day on average. 

Weather will be warm to hot in the lowlands (Cali and  Sonso Lagoon), and cool to pleasant in the highlands (Pereira, Manizales, Rio Blanco, Otún Quimbaya, Hotel Tinamou). The coldest temperature is normally 7°C on one morning (Nevados National Park), where a couple of layers and a pair of gloves would be nice for an hour or two before it warms up. The tour is run in the dry season, but it is not unusual to get a bit of rain in the mountains, though it is usually not much.

We will use comfortable and nice 4 stars Hotels with swimming pools and nice garden areas, lobby and restaurant.

 Day 1

Airport pick up and transfer to Hotel Guadalajara in Buga –We will pick you up at the Cali´s Airport, Alfonso Bonilla Aragon. From there, we’ll drive to Buga, a quiet village in the Cauca Valley province. Locals find pride in the Basílica del Señor de los Milagros, where the sacred image of Christ was believed to work miracles. We will stay at the nice hotel Guadalajara where we can relax or swim in the pool.

Day 2

La Minga – We will pay a visit to the trails and feeders of LaMinga Ecolodge  at Chicoral Cloud Forest in the western Andes 50 min North from Cali. Currently up to 17 species of hummingbirds and up to 30 species of colorful tanagers and allies (including of course, the Multicolored Tanager), flower piercers, and honeycreepers have been recorded at the feeders. From the house you can also enjoy the view to the surrounding forest where we will be on the lookout for our fantastic Golden headed and Crested Quetzals and Toucanets. There we will have the opportunity to watch birds like endemic Colombian Chachalaca, endemic Chestnut Woodquail, Saffron crowned Tanager, Golden naped Tanager, Acorn Woodpecker, Golden Olive Woodpecker, Long Tailed Sylph, Brown violetear,  Booted Raquettail, Western and Andean Emerald, Bronzy Inca, Green Honeycreeper, White naped Brush Finch, Bananaquit, Barred Becard, Uniform Antshrike, Slaty Antwren, Crested and Golden headed Quetzal, Scarlet fronted Parakeet, Flame rumped Tanager, Slate throated Redstart, Azara’s spinetail, lineated Foliage gleaner, Golden Crowned Flycatcher, Green and black Fruiteater, Black billed Thrush among many other. After a nice lunch at La Minga  we will come back to  hotel Guadalajara in Buga.

Day 3

Sonso lagoon – After breakfast we will go birding to Sonso Lagoon, a wetland ecosystem close to Buga, with a fantastic Tropical dry forest. It is home to hundreds of species of resident and migratory birds. There we may spot many species, such as endemic Grayish Piculet, endemic Apical Flycatcher, Amazon Kingfisher, Anhinga, Great Antshrike, Bar Crested Antshrike, Jet Antbird, Cocoi Heron, Bare Faced Ibis, Neotropical Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Buff necked Ibis, Snail Kite, Roadside Hawk, Purple Gallinule, Blackish Rail,  Limpkin, Southern Lapwing, Spotted Sandpiper, Greater Yellowlegs, Pale vented Pigeon, Eared Dove, Greater Ani, Striped Cuckoo, Common Potoo, Lineated Woodpecker, Cocoi Heron, Striated Heron, Yellow Headed Caracara, Crested Caracara, Purple Gallinule, Spectacled parrotlet, Wattled Jacana , Striped Cuckoo, Smooth-billed Ani, Dark billed Cuckoo, Dwarf Cuckoo, Red breasted Meadowlark, Cocoa Woodcreeper, Streak- headed Woodcreeper, Pale breasted Spinetail, Yellow crowned Tyrannulet, Yellow bellied Elaenia, Slate headed Tody Flycatcher, Yellow olive Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Pied water Tyrant, Great Kiskadee, Rusty Margined Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Cinereous Becard, Fork Tailed Flycatcher, Oriole Blackbird, Yellow Oriole, Red Capped Cardinal among others. We will have lunch in Buga and drive to Pereira Pereira, , the main city of Risaralda Province, which is part of the UNESCO declared World Heritage Site: the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia. We will stay at the fantastic hotel Sonesta where we can read a book, enjoy the pool, or the gym and relax.

 

Day 4

Otun Quimbaya- Otún-Quimbaya is a Flora and Fauna Sanctuary at the central andes western slope, holding lots of Avifauna. It’s a protected area of 489 hectares characterized by rainforest vegetation and sub-Andean forest. This place, where there are 259 species of flora, is ideal for bird watching and butterflies.

This Fauna and Flora sanctuary is the best place to see endangered, endemic Cauca Guan and Red ruffed Fruitcrow. We can see endemic Stiles’s Tapaculo, Chestnut Wood Quail and near endemic species, like the Golden fronted Whitestart, Moustached Antpitta, and Rufous breasted Flycatcher. We might also spot Hooded Antpitta, Masked Trogon, Green Jay, Andean Motmot, Blue naped Chlorophonia, Metallic green Tanager, Fawn breasted Tanager, Black winged Saltator, Chestnut capped Brush Finch, Three striped warbler, Variegated bristle tyrant , Collared Trogon, and Torrent Duck. We’ll also be on the lookout for Glossy and Masked Flowerpiercer, Chestnut breasted Wren, Plumbeous crowned Tyrannulet, among others.

We will leave after lunch and drive to Hotel Termales del Otoño, where we’ll be spending the night. It lies close to Manizales, the most important city of Caldas Province in the central Andes. Nowadays the city is the main center for the production of Colombian coffee. This nice hotel has thermal water pools from the Ruiz Volcano hot springs, nice gardens and forests. These hot medicinal waters are well known for helping us release stress, and improve health with their minerals.

Day 5

Tinamou Hotel Natural Reserve- This is a special place for photography and bird watching. Located in San Peregrino village, 30 minutes from Manizales, in a dry forest of 15 ha. at 1.225. m.a.s.l., home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and a variety of plants and trees. At the Tinamou Hotel Natural Reserve we can see the elusive Little Tinamou, Crested Bobwhite, Gray headed Dove, Stripe throated hermit, black throated Mango, Long billed starthroat, Green Kingfisher, Blue lored antbird, the hard to get Scaled Antpitta, White crowned Tapaculo, Cocoa and Streak headed woodcreeper, slaty Spinetail,Ochre bellied Flycatcher,Slate headed Tody Flycatcher, White winged Becard, Red eyed Vireo, Scaly breasted Wren, Speckle breasted Wren, Clay colored Thrush, Golden crowned Warbler, Gray headed Tanager, Guira Tanager, among others. After lunch we will drive to Hotel Termales del Otoño, where we can enjoy the thermal pools, or have a nice cup of tea and relax.

 

Day 6

 Rio Blanco- this day we will visit Río Blanco Nature Reserve, located in the Central Colombian Andes 15 minutes from the city of Manizales. Its 4932 hectares in extension consist mainly of  montane cloud forest, Subandean Forest, mixed with a few small clearings. The reserve protects the principal water source for the city and belongs to the local water company. This is one of the most important birding sites in Colombia and has an extensive list of birds. The feeders around the guest house, as well as flowering plants around the building, attract an interesting variety of hummingbirds and Tanagers. However the best attraction are the “antpitta” feeding stations that are visited regularly by 4 species: Chestnut-crowned, near endemic Bicolored, endemic Brown-banded and Slate-crowned antpittas.

In addition, we may encounter other species, such as Buff-breasted Mountain Tanager, the rare Masked Saltator, Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Dusky Piha, Grass green Tanager, Blue and Black Tanager, Powerful Woodpecker, and the secretive Ocellated, Blackish, and Spillman’s tapaculos, Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed Coronet, Speckled Hummingbird, Bronzy and Collared incas, and White-bellied Woodstar. Other uncommon species that we may see here are the Black-billed Peppershrike, Plushcap, Flamulated Treehunter, and Mountain Cacique, among others. After lunch we will return to Hotel Termales del Otoño and Relax.

 

Day 7

Nevados National Park-We will get up early and go to National Park Los Nevados on the highest part of the Colombian Central Andes. We will reach elevations of up to 4000 masl. and temperatures between 8 and 25 °C .Los Nevados National Park, encompasses 38,000 ha (93,900 ac) and is home to four snow peaks. Birding is done along a lightly traveled road that winds up the mountain through patches of elfin forest that give way to paramo. The scenery is  remarkable, with the emblematic frailejon/ Espeletia plants endemic to Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. A paradise for high elevation species, where we might find adapted birds , such as endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and Rainbow bearded Thornbill. This day we can see the very rare and endangered endemic Rufous fronted Parakeet, Viridian Metaltail, Stout billed Cinclodes, Brown backed Chat Tyrant , Golden crowned Tanager, Plumbeous Sierra Finch, Paramo and Plain colored seedeaters, Glossy Flowerpiercer, Tawny Antpitta, Scarlet bellied Mountain tanager, Black chested Buzzard Eagle, uncommon Purple backed Thornbill, Black-thighed Puffleg, the spectacular Sword billed Hummingbird, Great Sapphirewing , Sparkling Violetear, Shining Sunbeam, Andean Tit Spinetail, Sedge Wren, Paramo Tapaculo, Pale naped Brush Finch, and, if we’re lucky, we might even see the Andean Condor soaring the skies, among many other birds. After having lunch we will return to the Hotel Termales del Otoño.

Day 8

Departure- After breakfast we will drive you to the Pereira’s international Airport where you can catch your  Flight Home. We will say goodbye hoping to see you soon in another birding adventure in Colombia.