Welcome to “The Heart of the World” as it´s called by the ancient people who live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Come with us and walk in a Tropical Dry Forest, a habitat at critical risk. Visit mangrove forests. Hike up the highest coastal mountain surrounded by cascading rivers and waterfalls, and find yourself in a Paramo, a little explored place at the top of the range. All of this is possible on the Northern Colombia Birding Trail.
This is one of the most complete routes to travel through the Colombian Caribbean Coast. One of the richest regions of endemic bird species in South America with close to 50 species. We will visit the majority of habitats that form this invaluable Colombian region at a comfortable pace which will allow you to enjoy a great amount of birds and their incredibly exhuberant environment.
Starting in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, with its 27 endemic species, we drive through the Guajira Desert, and finish at the rarely visited Perija Paramo where there are various subspecies that need investigation. With more than 760 bird species, this destination is a must for birdwatching travelers.
Birds you will possibly observe
Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus), Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Lepidopyga lilliae), White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis), Bicolored Conebill (Conirostrum bicolor), Bronzed- Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus armenti), Black-crested Antshrike (Sakesphorus canadensis), Black-backed Antshrike (Thamnophilus melanonotus), Slender-billed Tyrannulet (Inezia tenuirostris), Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus), Perija Metaltail (Metallura iracunda), Red-legged Tinamou (Crypturellus erythropus), Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (Ortalis garrula), Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum), Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda, Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus), Buffy Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax), Santa Marta Warbler (Myiothlypis basilica ), Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanager (Dubusia taeniata), Santa Marta Seedeater (Catamenia oreophila), Slaty Brushfinch (Atlapetes schistaceus), Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens).
Mangroves, Xerophytic Scrub, Dry Forest, Rainforest, Montane Forest, High Montane Forest, and Paramo.
Temperate to Cold in the high zones. Warm and Dry in the low lands. Rain may be probable some days.
Places of interest near by
Teyuna (Ciudad Perdida), Precolumbian archaeological site. Aracataca, home of Gabriel García Márquez and his magical realism, Incomparable beaches of the Tayrona National Park, Cartagena de Indias and its historic district. Regional beaches with coral reefs (Tayrona National Park, Islas del Rosario National Park).
Tour Leader: Francisco Troncoso
Colombian ornithologist with more than 32 years of experience in the activity who has reported a bird species for Colombia: Lilac-tailed Parrotlet (Touit batavicus). Francisco specializes in wetland and wildlife conservation through population studies. He has certified farmland through bird rating and valuation. Speaker at various conferences and seminars in Colombia and Latin America. He has collaborated and lead research studies about birds for different national and international institutions. Recommended guide for the region by Lonely Planet.
Northern Colombia Birding Trail Itinerary
Day 1 Arrival
The trip starts welcoming our clients in Santa Marta when they arrive with an overview of birdwatching in the Colombian Caribbean Coast. If you arrive early you have the option of an introductory area tour.
Day 2 Taganga – Bahia Concha
This area is located at 75 m.a.s.l. at 10km from Santa Marta and you can observe aquatic birds as well as Tropical Dry Forest dwellers. After a few hours of birding we will descend back to town and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we will visit Puerto Vale to continue birdwatching. The following species can be observed in these areas: Black-crested Antshrike (Sakesphorus canadensis), Black-backed Antshrike (Thamnophilus melanonotus), Slender-billed Tyrannulet (Inezia tenuirostris), White- bearded Manakin (Manacus manacus), Barred Puffbird (Hypnelus ruficollis).
Day 3 Vía Parque Isla de Salamanca
We will travel to the Vía Parque Isla de Salamanca, where we will find the endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Lepidopyga lilliae) and Bronzed-Cowbird (Molothrus aeneus armenti). We can also observe aquatic species like Lesser Yellow-headed Vulture (Cathartes burrovianus), White-cheeked Pintail (Anas bahamensis), Bicolored Conebill (Conirostrum bicolor). We will enjoy a hearty lunch in the small town of Cienaga the historic home of the Cumbia our traditional National rhythm. On our return to Santa Marta we will visit the home of the Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (Ortalis garrula) another endemic species around sunset.
Day 4, 5 , 6 and 7 San Lorenzo – Cerro Kennedy – Minca
The 4nd day we will drive up to 2.200 m.a.s.l. to the San Lorenzo Ridge in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a special place to observe endemic species. The following 2 days we will travel through the area including the Kennedy mountain Ridge to find the sacred water spring, the habitat for a great number of endemic bird species. Enjoy panoramic views of the Sierra and its highest peaks, taste delicious traditional food and high quality organic hot cocoa.
The fourth day of high mountain bird watching, we will start our descent after breakfast. Slowly enjoying birding while we descend, we will visit Minca and later we will reach Santa Marta to stay overnight.
Among the species that we could observe during these days are: (Grallaria rufula), White-tipped Swift (Aeronautes montivagus), Santa Marta Brushfinch (Atlapetes melanocephalus), Black-backed Thornbill (Ramphomicron dorsale), Santa Marta Screech Owl (Megascops gilesi), Rusty-headed Spinetail (Synallaxis fuscorufa) and the Santa Marta Brushfinch (Atlapetes melanocephalus). We will also probably observe hummingbirds, Toucans, and Tanagers among others.
Day 8 Don Diego
This morning we will walk up along the Don Diego River´s edge till we reach a place called Taironaka a reconstruction of a Tayrona ancestral village. After a snack we will take a boat ride down the river to the sea to observe aquatic birds, besides howler monkeys and caimans (a small alligator).
Some species we can observe include Black-crowned Antshrike (Thamnophilus atrinucha), Lance-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolata), Olivaceous flatbill (Rhynchocyclus olivaceus), Southern Bentbill (Oncostoma olivaceum), Bright-rumped Attila (Attila spadiceus), Orange-crowned Oriole (Icterus auricapillus), Red-legged Honeycreeper (Cyanerpes cyaneus), White-bellied Antbird (Myrmeciza longipes). After sunset we will drive to Riohacha, the Guajira´s capital city.
Day 9 The Guajira Penninsula
This morning we´ll visit the Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, a beautiful place to observe aquatic and desert birds. There we can observe the Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus), among others like the White-whiskered Spinetail (Synallaxis candei), Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus), Buffy Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax), Tocuyo Sparrow (Arremonops tocuyensis) and of course American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber), the park´s emblematic bird. From here, we will cross the Guajira Penninsula to reach our rural accommodations.
Day 10 and 11 Páramo de Perijá
The 1st day in the Serrania del Perija we will be in Sabana Rubia early in the morning. This placid place surrounded by golden hills intermingling with the paramo. This is the place where we could possibly find bird species like the Slaty Brush-Finch (Atlapetes schistaceus), Perijá Metaltail (Metallura iracunda), Crested Guan (Penelope purpurascens). It is also possible that we will find rare species like the Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus), besides the Green Jay (Cyanocorax yncas) who lives here in this habitat. We will return to the cool weather of Manaure, Cesar for the night.
From Manaure, Cesar we will reach San José de Oriente at 2800 m.a.s.l. to continue searching for the emblematic Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus), Black-fronted Brush-finch (Atlapetes latinuchus nigrifrons), Perija Rufous Antpitta (Grallaria rufula saltuensis), Rufous-shafted Woodstar (Chaetocercus jourdanii), and the Rufous Spinetail (Synallaxis unirufa munoztebari).
We will enjoy a picnic style lunch in the paramo to take advantage of every possible moment there. Later, we are afforded stunning vistas as we descend to Valledupar, Cesar´s capital where we will enjoy a dinner with music and a well-deserved rest.
Day 12 Reserva Natural Los Besotes – Santa Marta
From Valledupar we will drive and then walk to the Besotes Private Natural Reserve to observe Dry Forest species like the Red-legged Tinamou (Crypturellus erythropus), Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (Ortalis garrula), Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (Glaucidium brasilianum), Rufous-tailed Jacamar (Galbula ruficauda). We will be treated to a succulent country lunch and return to Santa Marta late in the afternoon for the overnight.
Day 13 End of trip
Transfer to the airport, end of services
The Plan includes
- Local guide
- Meals (with Vegetarian Option)
- Private room accomodations
- Transport By 4X4 with A/C
- rip Insurance and taxes
- Local SIM Card for international calls
The plan does not included
- Airline tickets
- Alcoholic beverages