Neblina Forest Birding Tours

The Cauca Valley

Itinerary 1

Itinerary 1

The Cauca Valley, one of the important eco-regions in Colombia, the Cauca Valley is home to a handful of endemic species not occurring anywhere else in the country. The Western and Central Cordilleras on both flanks of the valley harbor many species with ranges restricted to the cloud forests and grassland Páramos of the mountains. Some of these species are shared with bordering Ecuador but most of them are more easily seen in Colombia where the populations of such species are either better represented or found in areas of easier access. This trip will allow us to look for 21 Colombian endemic species.

Day 1. Nov 1. Arrival in Cali International airport in the late morning and birding at Km 18 where we will be birding for the afternoon. Night in "Mi Universo".

Upon arrival at Cali international airport we will immediately head towards the cloud forest at Km18 to check in our lodge. Our lodge is located within access to wonderful forest and hummingbird feeders. We will spend the rest of day birding in the vicinity of our lodge. Several hummingbirds are possible here including, White-necked Jacobin, Andean Emerald, Speckled Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Blue-headed Sapphires, Buff-tailed Coronet, Bronzy Inca, Long-billed Starthroat, Booted Raquet-tail, Long-tailed Sylph and Purple-throated Woodstar to name a few. We will also be looking for other species along a road that borders the forest and is free of traffic. Night at Mi Universo.

Day 2. Nov 2. Early morning birding the forest and road along Km 18, after lunch visit Luis Mazariegos´s House . Buga for the night.

We will spend the entire morning at km 18 looking for the first stars of our trip, the striking and beautiful endemic Multicolored Tanager and the endemic Colombian Chachalaca. Other species possible here include Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Azara´s and Red-faced Spinetails, Streak-capped Treehunter, Lineated Foliage-gleaner, Bar-crested Antshrike, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Golden winged Manakins, Barred Becard, Oleaginous Hemispingus (fairly common here), the endemic Flame-rumped Tanager (separated species from the Lemon-rumped Tanager) and Yellow-throated Brush-Finch. With a bit of luck we could also find the Rufous-crested Tanager, the uncommon (for this locality) Purplish-mantled Tanager and the rare Yellow-headed Manakin. After lunch we will head towards the small town of Buga where we will spend the night. On the way we will stop at the house of our friend Luis Mazariegos, an authority on Colombian hummingbirds, and a well known photographer whose works have appeared in several publication including the Handbook of the Birds of the World. Luis is also a great host and a humble person. His gardens are full of hummingbird feeders and he has at least 4 or 5 species that come to his feeders most of the time. The gaudy Rubby Topaz is one of them and the close-up views of the male Topaz will certainly make for a great day's finale. Night in Buga.

Day 3. Nov 3. Early morning birding the Yotoco Forest, afternoon birding at Laguna de Sonso and drive to Filandia.

A mere half an hour drive will take us from Buga to the Yotoco pretected forest. The Yotoco headquarters are surrounded by forest allowing plenty of views of Bat Falcon, Colombian Chachalaca (endemic), Scarlet-fronted Parakeets and Bronze-winged Parrot. The forest trail and some of the fruiting trees close to the main house will give us a chance for Collared Trogon, the endemic Grayish Piculet (fairly common here), Bar-crested Antshrike, White-throated Spadebill, Whiskered Wren, White-breasted Wood-Wren, Rufous-naped Greenlet, Golden-crowned, Guira Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager and Blue-naped Chlorophonia. We will also look for the secretive Yellow-headed Manakin and likely have another opportunity to enjoy the endemic Multicolored Tanager. After lunch we will go to the Laguna de Sonso in our way to Filandia. The amount of water in Laguna de Sonso is quite variable, and the birds we will see will depend on the amount of flooding at the time of our visit. We will have a chance for many waterbirds including various common and widespread herons, ibises, Limpkins, ducks, waders and kingfishers. To mention a few specialties, we have a good chance for Snail Kite, Cinnamon Teal and the uncommon Masked Duck. The deciduous habitat surrounding the lake are home to Spectacled Parrotlet, Dwarf Cuckoo, Greyish Piculet (uncommon but possible here) Spot-breasted and Red-crowned Woodpeckers, Jet Antbird, Slate-headed Tody-Tyrant, Pied Water-Tyrant, the endemic Apical Flycatcher, Cinereous Becard, Guira Tanagers, Yellow-hooded Blackbird. After a wonderful day of birding we drive to Filandia arriving there in the late afternoon or early evening where we will check in our charming and pleasant hotel. Night in Filandia.

Day 4. Nov 4. Early Morning birding the Cañon del Rio Barbas and drive to Cartago.

After an early breakfast we will head to the "Cañon del Rio Barbas" (Barbas River Canyon). We will bird down a road where we will get eye-level views of the tree tops, home to the endemic and localized Turquoise Dacnis-Tanager. Other species from the Rio Barbas Canyon will include Blue-headed Parrot, Green Hermit, Northern White-crowned Tapaculo, Red-headed Barbet, Rufous-naped Greenlet , Highland Hepatic Tanager, Flame-rumped Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Black-capped Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Gray Seedeater, Yellow-throated Brush-Finch and Black-winged Saltator. After lunch we will drive to the small town of El Cairo which will be our base in the next two days. Night in El Cairo.

Day 5. Nov 5. Full day birding El Cairo.

After an early breakfast we will drive to a humid, moss covered forest near El Cairo where many west slope Chocó specialties occur. We will be looking for special, rare and little-known endemic Gold-ringed Tanager (better seen here than anywhere else), and the not-so-gaudy but still rare and local endemic Munchique Wood-Wren. Other wonders of the area include Green and Twany-bellied Hermits, Western Emerald, Violet-tailed Sylph, Velvet-purple Coronet, White-tailed Hillstar, Empress Brilliant, Brown Inca, Highland Motmot, Yellow-vented Woodpecker, Rufous Spinetail, Spotted Barbtail, Pacific Tuftedcheek, the difficult-to-find Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, UniformTreehunter, the rare Bicolored Antvireo, Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Nariño Tapaculo, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Black Solitaire, the difficult-to-find Indigo Flowerpiercer, Glistening-green Tanager, Black-chinned Mountain Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager (better seen here than anywhere else), Chocó Brushfinch and Chestnut-breasted Euphonia. Night in El Cairo.

Day 6. Nov 6. Early morning birding El Cairo and drive to Otún-Quimbaya.

One more early morning birding near El Cairo, this time concentrating our efforts on forest patches at lower elevations looking primarily for the localized and restricted, cool looking endemic Crested Ant-Tanager. We will also try to locate any other species that may have eluded us in the previous days. Afterwards we will drive to the Otum Quimbaya reserve. Night at La Suiza Lodge in Otum-Quimbaya.

Day 7. Nov 7. Morning birding Otún Quimbaya, afternoon birding in Rio Blanco and drive to Manisales.

The La Suiza lodge is a fabulous place. The lodge is surrounded by beautiful forest and all you have do to see forest birds is to step out of you cabin and stroll along the road entering the park. The reserve is the best place to look for the local and endemic Cauca Guan (long thought to be extinct until a healthy population was rediscovered in 1989 near Pereira at the actual location of the Otun-Quimbaya Reserve).We will also be looking for the endemics Chestnut Wood-Quail and Stiles´s Tapaculo, Sickle-winged Guan, Greenish Puffleg, Highland Motmot, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Streak-capped Treehunter, Moustached Antpitta, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, both Variegated and Marble-faced Bristle-Tyrants, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Pale-eyed and Glossy-black Thrushes and White-capped Tanagers, among many others. Here we will see the enigmatic Red-ruffed Fruitcrow which is better seen in this location than anywhere else in its range. At a slightly higher elevation, this is a good place to look for the much sought after Torrent Duck and White-capped Dipper. We will also look for other specialties of the area like Golden-plumed Parakeet, Multicolored Tanager (endemic), Dusky Piha, Slaty Brush-finch. We will try to find any other important bird that we may have missed the previous day. After an early lunch we will head to the Rio Blanco reserve beyond the city of Manisales for a late afternoon of birding before returning to our hotel in Manisales. Night in Manisales.

Day 8. Nov 8. Full day birding at Rio Blanco Reserve. Night in Manisales.

The Rio Blanco reserve not only provides quality water to the city of Manisales but habitat to many wonderful bird species that can be seen just by walking on the gentle slope tracks that cut through the forest. There are f hummingbird feeders by the main house which are attended by a constant flow of hummingbirds including Speckled Hummingbird, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Buff-tailed Coronet, Bronzy Inca, Collared Inca, Tourmaline Sunangel, Long-tailed Sylph and White-bellied Woodstar. They have also started an Antpitta feeding station where the very local and endemic Brown-banded Antpitta sneaks into the territory of a dominant pair of Chestnut-crowned Antpittas.A few other species also show up at the banquette of worms, like the Bicolored Antpitta and the Stripe-headed Brush-Finch. Night in Manisales.

Day 9. Nov 9. Full day birding the Rio Blanco Reserve. Night in Manisales.

The Rio Blanco reserve is such a bird rich place that we need two full days of birding to cover the reserve properly. The bird life here is so diverse and spectacular that we stand a chance of seeing over xx species. We will have a good chance to see the endemic Chestnut Wood-Quail, Rusty-faced Parrot, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Andean Toucanet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Rufous Spinetail, Montane Foliage-gleaner, Streaked Xenops, Pearled Treerunner, Spotted Barbtail, Striped Treehunter, Tyranine Woodcreeper, Strong-billed Woodcreeper, Long-tailed Antbird, Bicolored Antpitta, Chesnut-naped Antpitta, Slate-crowned Antpitta, the rare and elusive Hooded Antpitta, Backish Tapaculo, Ash-colored Tapaculo, Spillman's Tapaculo, Black-capped Tyrannulet , White-tailed Tyrannulet, Mountain Elaenia, Handsome Flycatcher, Rufous-crowned Tody-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied and Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrants, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Barred Becard, Green-and-black and Barred Fruiteaters, Pale-footed Swallow, Sharpe's Wren, Mountain Wren, Andean Solitaire, Black-hooded Thrush, Golden-fronted Whitestar, Citrine Warbler, Black-billed Peppershrike, Blue-backed Conebill, Common and Gray-hooded Bush-Tanagers, Black-capped, Superciliaried, Oleagineous and Black-eared Hemispingus, White-capped Tanager, Red-hooded Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Lacrimose, Hooded, Scarlet-bellied, Buff-breasted and Blue-winged Mountain Tanagers, Golden, Metalic-green, Beryl-spangled Tanagers, Pluscap, Slaty and Chestnut-capped Brushfinches, the rare Masked Saltator, Northern Mountain Cacique and Yellow-bellied Siskin. Night in Manisales.

Day 10. Nov 10. Early morning birding the highlands of Nevado del Ruiz NP, afternoon birding the Bellavista Reserve and drive to Victoria.

Another early start will find us at first light in the upper cloud and elfin forest along the way to Nevado del Ruiz National Park, where our main goal will be to look for the rare and endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet. There we also have a chance for Shining Sunbeam, Black-thighed and Golden-breasted Pufflegs, Great Sapphirewing, Viridian Metaltail, and Páramo Tapaculo. Other possibilities are the rare and seldom seen Ocellated Tapaculo and the uncommon Black-backed Bush Tanager. At a higher elevation close to the National Park entrance we will be looking for the Bearded Helmetcrest, which is hard tofind anywhere else, as well as White-chinned Thistletail, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Tawny Antpitta, Plain-colored Seedeater and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. The marshy areas and water ponds will also give us a chance for Andean Teal and Noble Snipe. Later on in the day we will drive over the Central Andes pass heading towards the Magdalena River to the small town of Victoria and on to our next birding destination, the surprising IBA Bellavista Reserve. Night at Victoria.

Day 11. Nov 11. Full day Bellavista Reserve.

A very short drive from Victoria will take us to the Bellavista reserve where many special birds will surely get our attention including Blue-ground Dove, the endemic Tolima Dove, Black-throated Mango, Shining-green Hummingbird, Violet-bellied Hummingbird, White-vented Plumetear, Northern Violaceous Trogon, Tody Motmot, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Barred Puffbird, the endemic White-mantled Barbet, Collared Aracari, Citron-throated Toucan, Olivaceous Piculet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Western Slaty Antshrike, Northern White-fringed Antwren, Slate-headed Tody-Tyrant, Golden-headed and White-bearded Manakins, Black-bellied Wren, Yellow-backed Tanager, the endemic Sooty Ant-Tanager, Crimson-rumped Tanager, Plain-colored Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Black-striped Sparrow, Rufous-capped Warbler, the endemic Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Thick-billed and Orange-billed Euphonias.

Day 12. Nov 12. Early morning birding at Bellavista Reserve and the Victoria surroundings and drive to La Vega in the afternoon.

This morning we will bird the Bellavista Reserve in the early morning looking for any species that we may have missed. After lunch we will head towards the town of San Juan de La Vega stopping on the way for Pearl Kite, White-tailed Kite, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Spectacled Parrotlet, Dwarf Cuckoo, Spot-breated Woodpecker, Barred Antshrike, Mouse-colored Tyrannulet, Pale-breasted Thrush and Black-faced Tanager. Night in La Vega.

Day 13. Nov 13. Early morning birding in La Vega, and late afternoon birding in marshes near Bogotá.. Night in Bogota.

In the morning we will explore various areas in the La Vega valley looking for Short-tailed Emerald, Red-billed Scythebill, Bar-crested Antshrike, the very local and rare race of the Rusty-breasted Antpitta, the endemic Apical Flycatcher, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Gray-throated Warbler, Plain-colored Tanager and Black-headed Brushfinch. Early in the afternoon we will head to Bogotá stopping in one of the marshy habitats of either La Florida or La Conejera to look for Noble Snipe, the endemics Bogotá Rail and Silvery-throated Spinetail, the weird looking Subtropical Doradito and the nearly endemic Rufous-browed Conebill. Night in Bogota at our comfortable hotel.

Day 14. Nov 14. Early morning birding in La Florida marshes near Bogotá and transfer to the airport for the international flights back home.

Time permitting, if we are still missing some target birds,we will return to the marshes of La Florida before heading to airport for our international flights back home. The combination of these two main trip and the extension could produce at least 44 Colombian Endemic species.

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