Colombia, September 2023

Sept. 4–15, 2023

With over 1,900 bird species recorded, Colombia is home to about 20% of the global total. Join our ABA Colombia birding tour and explore the number one birding destination in the world. We will marvel at the bird extravaganza of the Central and Western Andes and the famous Chocó bioregion, taste delicious local cuisine — and coffee, of course —, travel with highly skilled and knowledgeable local guides, enjoy breathtaking scenery, and simply have a good time in good company. We can’t wait to see you there!

  • Colombia birding tour

Colombia is the country with the highest bird diversity in the world! About 1970 species have been recorded to date. That is about 20% of the world’s species. One of the reasons for such diversity is the heterogeneity of ecosystems, from Caribbean dry forest to high elevation paramo, from Amazonian lowland forest to seasonally flooded savannas and Pacific super humid forest. And the list goes on and on. And in Colombia, the Andes split into three “cordilleras” or ranges. Each one of these hosts unique and endemic species. This 12-day Colombia birding tour offers the perfect introduction to this amazing country!

We explore the diversity of the Central and Western Andes and the famous Chocó bioregion. Despite the great variety of species we expect to see, the pace of this tour is relaxed. We will take our time to enjoy both the showy birds and the skulkers and take some nice pictures (even though it is not a specialized photography tour). And we will learn about the culture, history, and day-to-day life of the places and people we visit.

Our Colombia birding tour starts in the Central Andes, in Manizales. Here, we explore the high elevation cloud forests and impressive paramos, looking for some of the most sought-after species of Colombia like Buffy Helmetcrest, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Andean Condor, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Ocellated Tapaculo, Gray-breasted and Black-billed mountain-toucan, Andean Pygmy-Owl, and more. The many antpitta feeding stations in this area allow for close-up views of many of these skulkers, notably Crescent-faced, Brown-banded, Equatorial, Slate-headed, Bicolored and Rufous-crowned antpittas.

During the second half of our Colombia birding tour, we descend from the Central Andes and enter the very humid Chocó bioregion and the Western Andes, and particularly around the city of Cali. We explore the cloud forests and Chocó lowlands, visiting world-famous birding hotspots such as the Anchicayá valley, km18, and San Cipriano.

We focus on a host of endemics here, such as Multicolored Tanager and Chocó regional endemics such as Toucan Barbet, Brown Inca, Empress Brilliant, Black Solitaire, Tricolored Brushfinch, Glistening-green Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Chocó Poorwill, Five-colored Barbet, Stub-tailed Antbird, Rose-faced Parrot, and many more. A variety of feeder settings draws over 30 species of hummingbirds, including the rare Blue-headed Sapphire, Brown, Lesser and Sparkling violetear, Long-tailed Sylph, White-necked Jacobin, Purple-throated Woodstar, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, and more.

09/04/2023: Arrival at Pereira International Airport (Matecaña, PEI) & transfer to Manizales

09/05/2023: Hacienda el Bosque

09/06/2023: Nueva Primavera Village & Tinamú Birding Reserve

09/07/2023: Los Nevados National Park & Termales del Ruiz

09/08/2023: Rio Blanco Reserve

09/09/2023: Hacienda Venecia & transfer to Cali

09/10/2023: Laguna de Sonso

09/11/2023: La Florida Reserve

09/12/2023: San Cipriano Reserve

09/13/2023: Upper Anchicayá

09/14/2023: San Felipe Birding Reserve & Finca Alejandría

09/15/2023: Departure from Cali International Airport Alfonso Bonilla Aragon (CLO)

Specialty birds:

  • Endemics: Grayish Piculet, Colombian Chachalaca, Parker´s Antbird, Rufous-fronted Parakeet, Buffy Helmetcrest, Apical Flycatcher, Multicolored Tanager and Chestnut Wood-Quail
  • Near-endemics: Crescent-faced Antpitta, Black-backed Bush Tanager, Paramo Tapaculo, Black-thighed Puffleg, Moustached Puffbird, Blue-lored Antbird, Blue-headed Sapphire, Five-colored Barbet, Stub-tailed Antbird, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Rose-faced Parrot, Toucan Barbet, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Empress Brilliant, Green Thorntail, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Purple-throated Woodstar, Rufous-throated and Silver-beaked Tanager, Black-headed Brushfinch and Chestnut-headed Oropendola.
  • Other goodies: Equatorial Antpitta, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Torrent Duck, Golden-crowned Tanager, Tawny Antpitta, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Jet Antbird, Golden-collared manakin, Horned Screamer, Dwarf Cuckoo, Spectacled Parrotlet, Scaled Antpitta, Little Tinamou, Black-tipped Cotinga, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Saffron-headed, Lanceolated Monklet and Slaty-capped Shrike.


Central American Agouti, Crab-eating Fox, Gray-handed Night Monkey, Red-tailed Squirrel, Dwarf Squirrel.

Landscape, scenery, habitats:

montane forest, paramo, cloud forest, high Andean forest, tropical dry forest, tropical rainforest

Culture, history:

Coffee growing, processing and tasting

Supported projects: 

Torrent Duck community conservation project

Laguna de Sonso community conservation & ecotourism project

Dates: Sept. 4—15, 2023

Number of days and nights: 12 days / 11 nights

Start and end point:

  • Starting: Sept. 4, 2023, Aeropuerto Internacional Matecaña in Pereira (PEI). Note: arrive at PEI before 4pm!
  • Finishing: Sept. 15, 2023, Aeropuerto Internacional Alfonso Bonilla Aragon in Cali (CLO)


  • Recinto del Pensamiento in Manizales
  • Spiwak Chipichape in Cali

Group size:

  • Minimum number of participants: 8
  • Maximum number of participants: 20

Guides and ABA staff: 1 Colombian lead guide and 1 ABA staff for up to 12 participants, 2 guides and 2 ABA staff for 12 to 20 participants


  • Birds
  • General wildlife
  • Landscapes
  • Culture
  • Conservation

Birding pace: Medium – High

Photography opportunities: Medium – High (though it is not specifically a photography tour!)

Physical difficulty: Low – Medium: Generally walks are short, slow and easy. There are some narrow forest trails. We will spend plenty of time at feeder setups. That being said, the trip is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.


  • $5,000 per person in double occupancy (twin or double)
  • $600 single supplement


  • 11 hotel nights
  • 3 meals per day from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 12 (vegan and vegetarian options available)
  • All in-country private transportation to and from sites visited and transportation from airport to hotel and day 1 and from hotel to airport on day 12
  • All guiding fees for tour leaders and local guides
  • All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
  • All activities as described in the itinerary

Not included:

  • Transportation to and from Colombia (we start in PEI and end in CLO)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Purchases of personal nature, including (but not limited to) laundry service, room service, phone calls, toiletries, souvenirs etc.
  • No insurance is included. We do strongly recommend you get your own travel, cancellation, and medical insurance
  • Extensions of the trip due to circumstances out of our control
  • Any tips you would like to offer tour leaders, guides, drivers, porters, wait staff, housekeeping etc. for outstanding service

Optional add-ons:

If you want to arrive before Sept. 4, 2023, or leave after Sept. 15, 2023, we can book extra hotel nights in Pereira or Cali for you. You can indicate this in your booking form.

Terms and conditions:

Booking and secure payment:

09/04/2023: Arrival to Pereira International Airport & transfer to Manizales

Your Colombia birding tour starts in Pereira. A driver will be waiting for you at Pereira international Airport (Matecaña, PEI) and bring you to your hotel in Manizales, a drive of approximately 1.15h, depending on traffic.  At 7pm, we will all have dinner together, get to know the participants, local guides and ABA staff, and go over the plans for the following days.

Hotel: Recinto del Pensamiento, Manizales

Meals: D

09/05/2023: Hacienda el Bosque

Early in the morning, we head east into the mountains. A 45-minute drive brings us to Hacienda el Bosque, a traditional ranch located in the Central Andes. Hacienda el Bosque has an altitudinal gradient from 9,514 to 12,790 ft. (2,800 to 3,900m) above sea level and contains a variety of ecosystems: pastures for livestock and dairy production but also high Andean and Paramo forests that have been protected for over 40 years.

Hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders around the hacienda attract Collared Inca, White-bellied Woodstar, Mountain Velvetbreast, Sparkling and Lesser violetear, Tourmaline Sunangel, Tyrian Metaltail, Buff-Winged Starfrontlet, and the emblematic Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan. However, the main targets are probably the Crescent-faced Antpitta and the Central-Andean member of the Rufous Antpitta complex: the Equatorial Antpitta that come to the feeder stations here.

We spend the entire day exploring the feeders and trails around Hacienda, and only return to our hotel in time for dinner, after a well-filled first day of this Colombia birding tour.

Hotel: Recinto del Pensamiento, Manizales

Meals: RB, RL, D

09/06/2023: Nueva Primavera Village & Tinamú Birding Reserve

About 1 hour south-east is the village of Nueva Primavera, or ‘new spring’. A group of local children have organized themselves to learn about the birds of their village, and protect important habitat for the Torrent Duck, which lives along the fast-flowing Andean rivers and streams and forages in the rough waters and pools. Due to habitat loss and pollution, its population in Colombia is decreasing, which is why these young birders are trying to raise awareness around the importance of conservation of native birds and their habitats.

We continue on to Tinamú Birding Reserve near the village of San Peregrino. It is a dry forest reserve of 15 ha situated at 4,020 ft. (1.225 m) above sea level. Along the trails, we look for several endemics such as Grayish Piculet, Colombian Chachalaca, and Parker’s Antbird. Other local specialties include Gray-headed Dove, Moustached Puffbird, Andean Motmot, Blue-lored and antbird, Guira Tanager, and Golden-collared Manakin.

The feeders that are spread out in the gardens attract near-endemics such as Western Emerald and Scrub Tanager, and more widespread species including Green Honeycreeper, Blue-necked Tanager, Long-billed Starthroat, Steely-vented and Rufous-tailed hummingbird, Andean Emerald, Andean Emerald, Green Hermit, White-vented Plumeleteer, Black-throated Mango, and Lesser, Brown and Sparkling violetear.

Hotel: Recinto del Pensamiento, Manizales

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/07/2023: Los Nevados National Park & Termales del Ruiz

Nevado Del Ruiz is a National Park situated on the slopes of the (active!) Ruiz volcano between 9,180 to 13,120 ft. (2,800m and 4,000m) above sea level, it is a combination of grassland, elfin forest, patches of bamboo, and paramos.

The elfin forest and paramos of this massive park are home to endemics such as Rufous-fronted Parakeet, and near-endemics like Black-thighed Puffleg, Black-backed Bush-Tanager, and Paramo Tapaculo. Passing feeding flocks may also include Hooded Mountain Tanager, Golden-crowned Tanager, Sedge Wren, Plain-colored Seedeater, Paramo Seedeater, Tawny Antpitta, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Andean Tit-Spinetail, Crowned Chat-Tyrant, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Andean Tit-Spinetail, and White-chinned Thistletail.

The main target of this stunning mountain habitat, however, is the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest, which we hope to see on the flowering Speletia shrubs (commonly known as ‘frailejones’ – a unique type of shrubs in n the sunflower family that thrives only in the paramo ecosystem).

Hotel: Recinto del Pensamiento, Manizales

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/08/2023: Rio Blanco Reserve

First thing in the morning, we visit another antpitta feeder in Rio Blanco Reserve, where we can get close-up views of the endemic and once almost impossible to see Brown-banded Antpitta, the near-endemic Bicolored Antpitta, the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, and the charismatic Slaty-crowned Antpitta.

Afterwards, we divide our time between the hummingbird feeders and the reserve’s trails. The feeders attract Long-tailed Sylph, Speckled Hummingbird, Bronzy Inca, Buff-tailed Coronet, and Fawn-breasted Brilliant. Along the trails, we look out for the near-endemic White-throated Wedgebill, Pearled Treerunner, Black-capped and Black-eared Hemispingus, Streak-headed Antbird, Lachrymose and Blue-winged mountain-tanager, Andean Motmot, Grass-green Tanager, Golden-plumed Parakeet, Slaty Brush-Finch, Green-and-black Fruiteater, Bar-bellied and Crimson-Mantled woodpeckers, and Gray-browed Brush-Finch. With some luck, there is also a chance to see Masked Saltator, Plushcap, Yellow-billed Cacique, and Ash-colored and Ocellated Tapaculo.

Hotel: Recinto del Pensamiento, Manizales

Meals: RB, RL, D

09/09/2023: Hacienda Venecia & transfer to Cali

Since the first part of this Colombia birding tour focuses on an area called the ‘Eje Cafetero’ or coffee triangle, and Colombian coffee is regarded as one of the best in the world, we shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to take a coffee tour at an authentic coffee finca; Hacienda Venecia. We start the tour – of course – with a delicious cup of home grown and roasted coffee, and an introduction into the world of coffee in their cozy lounge. We then dive into the origins and history of coffee, its worldwide distribution, varieties and qualities, aromas and properties, and the Coffee Cultural Landscape (recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO).

Energized by this yummy morning coffee, we take a walk through the plantation to learn more about growing, harvesting, processing, and roasting. Roasting is both a science and art – the difference between a perfectly roasted coffee and a rejected batch can be a matter of seconds. We study the different roasting times and experience the different aromas and flavors that the roasting brings out.

We enjoy an early lunch at Hacienda Venecia, after which we make the 4-hour drive to the city of Cali (155mi. or 250km), where we arrive in time for dinner.

Hotel: Spiwak Chipichape, Cali

Meals: B, RL, D

09/10/2023: Laguna de Sonso

Laguna de Sonso is one of the last remaining wetland systems in the Cauca valley. The lagoon is home to an impressive array of aquatic species such as Wattled Jaçana, Striated Heron, Cocoi Heron, Glossy and Bare-faced ibis, Snail Kite, Pied Water-Tyrant, White-faced, Fulvous and Black-bellied whistling-duck and the only interandean population of Horned Screamer.

The dry forest surrounding the wetlands host an entirely different set of interesting birds including the endemic Grayish Piculet and Apical Flycatcher, and more widespread species such as Dwarf Cuckoo, Little Cuckoo, Greater Ani, Slate-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Jet Antbird, Great Antshrike, Spectacled Parrotlet, and many more.

Laguna de Sonso has benefited from the conservation efforts of the local community for over 22 years. When people noticed the destruction of the lagoon and wetlands – which for a fishing community also constitutes their livelihood – they organized themselves to fight the destruction caused by rapid agro-industrial development. Now, four associations are working together – despite their cultural differences – to preserve both their natural and cultural heritage. The group focuses primarily on promoting nature-friendly fishing and farming practices and responsible tourism.

Thanks to the rich avian diversity of the wetlands, they have managed to turn Laguna de Sonso into a hot bird watching destination, and a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of income. Local youth are growing up learning about habitats, ecosystems, wildlife, and conservation, to become the next generation of guides. They also constantly monitor the site both for learning purposes and to keep track of changes to bird populations and habitats. The women in the community prepare delicious traditional meals for visitors, and local artisans craft beautiful wooden souvenirs. This way, the entire community is a part of the tourism experience, and everyone benefits from protecting the wetlands for ecotourism purposes.

Hotel: Spiwak Chipichape, Cali

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/11/2023: Finca La Florida

We make an early start today and visit Finca La Florida, a true paradise for hummingbirds and tanagers in beautiful cloud forest at about 6,560 ft. (2,000m) above sea level. Finca La Florida is located along the new Buenaventura Road, at the famous km18.

Our first target of the morning – and the main reason for the early start – is the endemic Chestnut Wood-Quail that comes to feeders at the crack of dawn, along with Scaled Antpitta and Little Tinamou.

After that, we explore the excellent hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders in the gardens of Finca La Florida, where we look for the endemic Multicolored Tanager and the near-endemic Blue-headed Sapphire, plus Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager, Green Honeycreeper, Golden Tanager, Black-winged Saltator, Red-headed Barbet, Brown Violetear, Long-tailed Sylph, and many more.

The forest trails that surround the reserve often yield mixed flocks of Buff-fronted and Lineated foliage-gleaner, Variegated Bristle-Tyrant, Red-faced Spinetail, Rusty-winged Barbtail, and – if we are lucky – Scaled Fruiteater.

Hotel: Spiwak Chipichape, Cali

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/12/2023: San Cipriano

Very early in the morning – taking a grab and go breakfast with us – we head to the village of San Cipriano, a small afro community in pristine Chocó lowland forest. Be prepared for rain today, because we are now in the heart of the rainforest, and one of the wettest places on earth.

Getting to San Cipriano is an adventure of its own because the only way to reach it, is by “brujita”, a rail cart attached to a motorcycle. It takes about 20 minutes like this to cover the 3.7 mi (6km) from the road to the village.

The birding in San Cipriano is exciting, but physically not demanding, since we primarily walk along a flat road, occasionally venturing onto a narrower side trail. We keep our eyes open for a variety of Chocó endemics such as Five-colored Barbet, Sapayoa, Black-tipped Cotinga, Stub-tailed Antbird, Baudo Guan, Blue-whiskered Tanager, Scarlet-browed Tanager, Saffron-headed and Rose-faced parrot, and other rainforest species including Ocellated Antbird, Black-striped Woodcreeper, Black-breasted and Pied puffbird, Lanceolated Monklet, Semiplumbeous Hawk, Pallid Dove, Dusky Pigeon, Olive-backed Quail-Dove, Thicket Antpitta, and many more.

Hotel: Spiwak Chipichape, Cali

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/13/2023: Upper Anchicayá

Another early morning start gets us to Old Buenaventura road, which descends from the western Andes to the Pacific lowlands through the Anchicayá valley. The route offers mind-blowing biodiversity and a spectacular mix of Chocó and Andean species.

We make a first stop at Doña Dora’s and enjoy a delicious local brunch while observing many emblematic species including Toucan Barbet, Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager, Glistening-green Tanager, Empress Brilliant, Green Thorntail, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, Purple-throated Woodstar, Rufous-throated and Silver-beaked Tanager, Black-headed Brushfinch and Chestnut-headed Oropendola coming to the feeders.

We then continue on to the upper section of the valley looking for Slaty-capped Shrike Vireo, Gray-and-gold Tanager, Tatamá Tapaculo, Crested Ant-Tanager, Slate-colored Grosbeak, Uniform Antshrike, and others.

Hotel: Spiwak Chipichape, Cali

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/14/2023: San Felipe reserve and Finca Alejandría

For the last full day of our Colombia birding tour, we adopt a relaxed pace and visit some beautiful, smaller reserves along the km18 cloud forest. The first stop will be at a relatively new place called San Felipe Birding, where a feeding station in pristine cloud forest attracts Scaled Antpitta, Ruddy and White-throated quail-dove, and Little Tinamou. Other great species, such as Long-tailed Sylph, Brown Violetear, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin, Golden Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Flame-rumped Tanager, etc. readily come to the many hummingbird feeders and fruit feeders.

After lunch, we head to Finca Alejandría for a true hummingbird bonanza, with species like White-booted Rackettail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Brown Violetear, Long-tailed Sylph, Purple-throated Woodstar, Green Thorntail, and many more. Red headed Barbets are regulars at the fruit feeders, along with Golden Tanager, Golden-naped Tanager and Saffron-crowned Tanager, and Multicolored Tanager. The nearby forest sometimes yields Collared Trogon and Golden-headed Quetzal, so fingers crossed that we get lucky!

Hotel: Spiwak Chipichape, Cali

Meals: FB, RL, D

09/15/2023: Departure from Cali International Airport

After breakfast, our 2023 Colombia birding tour comes to an end. We make sure everyone gets to Cali International Airport (CLO) for their return flights, and wish you all a safe trip home.

Meals: B


B=breakfast in the hotel, RB=breakfast in other restaurant, FB=field breakfast, L=lunch in the hotel, RL=lunch in other restaurant, FL=field lunch, D=dinner in the hotel, RD=dinner in other restaurant