A fantastic “short” extension to the main Colombia Andean Endemics tour, The Santa Marta mountains rise, it seems, straight out of the Caribbean and it is a spectacular mountain range with a hatful of localized endemics of which we will see the vast majority. 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 25+ endemics to this mountain range. The scenery is spectacular and the lodge very birder friendly and comfortable.
Day 1:Coming from the Andean endemics tour, its long travel day with some stops. We'll leave at 3:30 am to avoid the traffic and get to Santa Marta in time for lunch. Breakfast en route and drive to Santa Marta and Rodadero beach in time for lunch and stay in our beachside hotel there. Afternoon free to relax or an optional excursion to see the endemic Chestnut-winged Chachalaca B:L:D
Day 2: 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 3: 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 4-5: Two full days on the San Lorenzo Ridge 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 . B:L:D
Day 6: After an early breakfast we’ll have time for some birding at the lower elevations of Santa Marta near Minca and then drive to Santa Marta Airport, for the 1:00 pm flight (arriving at 2: 40 pm) to Bogota and international connections home (or to Barranquilla if flying from there to Miami). Day use or overnight of a hotel in Bogota may be arranged on request. B:L
Dave & I would like to express our sincerest thanks for such a great trip to Colombia. We have travelled the world extensively, and never before have we had such a well organised trip. The logistics must have been a nightmare to organize, but each time we were due to meet our 4 x 4 vehicles they were there or within 5 minutes of our arrival. Jovani is an excellent driver/organiser - a real gem. Morning/Afternoon snacks were a real delight, and we all looked forward to them. Our days at the Proaves lodges were memorable, being in such beautiful locations.
We’ve been back from our trip with for a few days and I wanted to give you some feedback. First, the leader was an exceptional guide, one of the best that we've encountered in many years of travel. We appreciated and were impressed by his depth of knowledge and enthusiasm, not just about birds but also about other creatures, plants and the whole ecosystem. he made sure that we were well taken care of everywhere that we stayed and he was just great fun to travel with. We’ll look forward to being with him again someday. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It felt like a great adventure and I was able to come up with some great photo images the food and accommodations were for the most part better than we had expected.