A fantastic short pre-Christmas tour and a quick getaway. The Santa Marta mountains rise, it seems, straight out of the Caribbean and it are a spectacular mountain range with a bagful of localized endemics of which we will see the vast majority. The Perijá Mountains are also an isolated mountain range that straddle the Colombian -Venezuelan border and hold some much sought after endemic species amongst spectacular scenery. We start with a visit to the Guajira Peninsular that holds a number of regional endemics shared with nearby Venezuela, not forgetting the coastal lagoons with large numbers of shorebirds and terns. After this incursion into the desert peninsular we base ourselves at the very comfortable El Dorado Lodge where several of the Santa Marta endemics can be seen in the garden. We'll spend several days exploring various elevations and searching for the 20+ endemics to this mountain range. The scenery is spectacular and the lodge very birder friendly and comfortable. Moving to the comfortable Perijá Lodge we are in relatively unchartered territory with many exciting species and superlative scenery.
Day 1: Arrival in Bogota. We’ll meet you at the airport and take you to our comfortable hotel situated in a quiet residential area of the capital.
Day 2:Dawn to 11:00 am we shall visit La Florida Park in search of the endemic Apolinar's Wren and Bogotá Rail and common Andean wetland birds. We'll also be on the lookout for Rufous-browed Conebill and Silver-throated Spinetail. Later we’ll travel to the nearby airport for a flight to Santa Marta and check into the hotel. In the afternoon we’ll go to a nearby spot for the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca. Night Santa Marta. B: L: D
Day 3:Field Breakfast. Morning around Salamanca for Gulls, Terns and Shorebirds. Other birds include Bare-eyed Pigeon, Russet-throated Puffbird and Chestnut Piculet, Bicolored Conebill and Panama Flycatcher. Lots of Herons, Shorebirds/Waders and coastal species here, and as the day heats up we'll head east of Santa Marta to Riohacha and bird the afternoon at suitable desert habitat and the Los Flamencos reserve. Specialties here include White-whiskered Spinetail, Bare-eyed Pigeon, Blue-crowned Parakeet, Buffy Hummingbird, Caribbean Hornero, Black-backed Antshrike, Stripe-backed Wren, Black-faced Grassquit, Vermillion Cardinal, Glaucous Tanager, Slender-billed Inezia, Northern Scrub Flycatcher, Pileated Finch Trinidad Euphonia, Tocuyo Sparrow, Orinocoan Saltator plus more. American Flamingo is here along with Green-rumped Parrotlet, Dwarf Cuckoo, Rufous-vented Chachalaca and Two –banded Puffbird Night in Riohacha. FB:L:D
Day 4:Morning again birding the Los Flamencos area picking up what we may have missed As the day heats up we'll head for the cooler Santa Marta Mountains and lunch in Minca. Sometimes Santa Marta Sabrewing comes to the lunchtime feeders. We’ll be birding lower elevations near Minca in the afternoon looking for Rufous and White Wren, Venezuelan Tyrannulet, Black-backed Antshrike, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Santa Marta Tapaculo (endemic), Rufous-capped Warbler, Rosy Thrush Tanager, Keel-billed Toucan, Scaled Piculet, Swallow Tanagers, Coppery Emerald, Northern Royal Flycatcher, Golden-winged Sparrow and more. On the way up we may look for the endemic Santa Marta Antbird and Santa Marta Blossomcrown (endemic). We’ll arrive at the El Dorado Lodge at dusk. This new lodge is extremely comfortable with a very birdy garden with many endemics visible from the balcony. Night El Dorado Lodge FB:L:D
Day 5-7: Three full days on the San Lorenzo Ridge and slopes birding different elevations for different species. One day we'll take our 4 wheel drive jeeps to the higher elevations of the San Lorenzo ridge. Endemic targets include Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant, Paramo (Santa Marta) Seedeater, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Mountain Tanager, Santa Marta Brush Finch, Sierra Nevada Brush Finch, White-lored Warbler, Yellow-crowned Whitestart, Rusty-headed Spinetail, Streak-capped Spinetail, White-tailed Starfrontlet, Santa Marta Antpitta, Brown-rumped Tapaculo, Santa Marta Foliage Gleaner, Santa Marta Warbler, Black-backed Thorntail (rare) and Santa Marta Woodstar. Others include White-tipped Quetzal, White-rumped Hawk, Red-billed Parrot, Black-fronted Wood-Quail, Golden-breasted Fruiteater, Rusty-breasted Antpitta, Montane Foliage -Gleaner, Spotted Barbtail ( probably a good split), Band-tailed Guan, Black-chestd Jay, Grey-throated Warbler and Lined Quail-Dove. A new species of Megascops Owl – the Santa Marta Screech Owl is to be seen here too! Santa Marta Antpitta is around and often Black–fronted Woodquail are at the conveniently placed compost heap. 2 Nights at the El Dorado Lodge and one at Minca Lodge. B:L:D
I wanted to thank you for putting me in touch with Barry Walker of Manu Expeditions to do a birding tour. You may not remember me, but I had signed up for one of your tours and when it didn't work out, you put me in contact with Barry. I did his Manu Reserve tour, with a few extra days around Puerto Maldonado and Lima, this past November/December and it was fantastic - the birds, the organisation, the guides !!!
We had a wonderful trip with a fabulous guide, really funny (something we definitely prize), incredibly knowledgeable, and just a fine person we can now call friend. We haven’t had time to update our life list yet, but I’m estimating we saw at least 275 lifers and most we really got to observe. He had a wealth of information to share and is so good at finding the birds. We also loved our morning with Wilma at Machu Picchu. She, too, shared a wealth of information with us. I can’t say enough about the quality of the service we received from our drivers, the boat service, staff at the lodges.