The Nicest Bird-lodge of Colombia: Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Tinamú Birding is a natural reserve 15 km away from the city of Manizales, in the village of San peregrino. More than 40 years ago, in the heart of the coffee region in Colombia, Tinamu Birding was a coffee farm. Over the years, the Londoño Jaramillo family allowed their coffee and banana plantations to become a forest.

The family started supporting the planting of native trees in the region, protecting and reforesting a small part of the sub-Andean forest in the department of Caldas. This resulted in a high density of fauna and flora, concentrated in a land completely surrounded by open coffee and fruit tree plantations, becoming a refuge for local wildlife.

Origins of the Tinamú Birding Lodge

The real story begins just six years ago, in 2014, when Mauricio Londoño, its owner, made the decision to build a bird lodge. Since then, it became a successful and unique project in the country, competing internationally with eco-lodges and bird-lodges in countries like Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Costa Rica, which have a longer trajectory in birding and nature tourism. Since that time, ecotourism has been one of the main sources of self-financing for the reserve. They are specialized in offering a high level of service for birding tourists, who seek comfort and at the same time all the facilities to observe and photograph birds in their natural habitat.

According to Mauricio, a lot of perseverance and discipline was needed, because one of the main challenges was to adapt the facilities around the lodge to attract the birds. As is well known, the installation of bird drinkers and bird feeders requires a daily commitment to maintenance, to ensure the presence of the birds, but most of all, the health of the birds.

Tinamu Birding Visitors

Initially the bird lodge received hardcore birders, and still does, if not all of them have already passed through this place. As time went by, it became specialized in receiving people interested in having contact with nature and, at the same time, having the best possible comfort and attention. Today, Tinamú Birding is oriented to travelers looking for quality and comfort, and does not receive backpackers or outlanders. Just so you know, even camping is forbidden and no buses are accepted that bring more than 10 people.

Bird photographers at Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve

Eventually, Tinamu specialized to hosting bird photographers. Bird photographers are a particular segment of bird watching tourism, who generally carry photographic equipment that can weigh up to 15 kilograms. These people do not walk much, but rather sit and wait for the perfect conditions to photograph the birds.

Facilities for bird photographers and bird watchers at the Tinamú Birding Lodge

Steely-vented Hummingbird at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

The facilities offered for bird photographers at the Tinamu are concentrated on attracting the birds with food and water to scenarios well suited for bird photography. These locations are native plant gardens, with feeders and waterers installed around them. There are several natural perches installed there suitable for bird photography.

Around the lodge you can observe around 60 species of birds, among them the Gray-headed Dove, and the Little Tinamou itself, which gives the name to the reserve, has been baited to facilitate its observation. Some sectors even have hides for photographers.

Hide at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Accommodation and staff

Highlights at a glance:

Tinamu offers a high level of service, from food, lodging, cleaning in the lodge and in the forest. All the employees are from rural families who live nearby, and are trained in the love of service and the appreciation and respect for the clients, and so provide a qualified service. There are 9 staff members in charge of providing the best attention in all the services of cooking, lodging, guidance and maintenance of the reserve.

Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

The lodge has large rooms of between 25 and 30 square meters, with comfortable beds, designed for a senior and family segment, so that people receive good service and feel good. The bathrooms are very spacious, with hot water, and are safe and functional for the senior tourist.

Accommodation capacity in the Tinamu is reduced to guarantee peace in the natural environment, allowing wild animals to come close. For this reason there are no dogs, cats, television or radio that can disturb the tranquility. It is a perfect place to enjoy the sounds of nature.

Accomodation at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Today, the recovery of the forest has been so successful that, only 3 months ago, Tinamu Birding Lodge was declared as a Civil Society Nature Reserve (CSRR 031-19 before Colombian National Natural Parks NNP according to resolution 056 of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development). Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve is proudly rising as one of the most important private wildlife conservation centers in the region, and becoming a national reference for others who are beginning to understand and follow its example.

Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve, notice it is a refuge in the middle of a highly fragmented landscape.

Today, the reserve guarantees the regeneration and restoration of the ecosystems within its 12.6 hectares. It protects a strategic habitat in the middle of the agricultural zone. This habitat is a refuge for 227 species of resident birds and 33 species of migratory birds. Also, different types of mammals, reptiles, insects, and attractive butterflies and moths, as well as many plants and fungi. Check out the gallery of wildlife you can photograph at Tinamu at the end of this post.

Sustainable Practices at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Their new goal is to increase their environmental education programs focused on children and youth living in the surrounding area, people with disabilities, and the elderly. They are also looking for alliances with institutions, schools and universities, and agreements with ornithological associations in the country, to develop research projects for the conservation and biodiversity of nature.

Children from San Peregrino at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.

Among the main activities carried out in the reserve for the protection of the forest are:

  • The use of native trees for reforestation.
  • The creation of artificial nests for birds and mammals.
  • Research of the avifauna by carrying out permanent bird censuses.
  • Day and night monitoring of species with camera traps, videos, sound recording and photographic records.
  • Free workshops for children and young people in the San Peregrino area with emphasis on water, nature and bird care.
  • Workshops for groups of blind and disabled people with a focus on awareness and care of the environment.
  • Invitation of international experts, through PROCOLOMBIA and other institutions, as advisors for the preservation of the environment.
Juan Pablo Culasso at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.

Birds and Coffee at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Within the reserve there are also some relics of the coffee plantations of the past. These trees have been left to grow along with the native species from the reforestation. The banana is also kept, but this time for the maintenance of the birds’ food. The coffee and banana plantations are maintained naturally as they do not receive any agricultural treatment. Birds like the tinamou and some species of grallarias are very attracted by these mixed covers of coffee and forest.

Recently Tinamú created the Café de las Aves, a completely organic coffee, roasted in Chichiná, Caldas which is offered to visitors during their stay, and for sale in general. The production is not industrial, and the profits from the sale of this coffee are destined to the maintenance of the food for the birds. If you want to know more about the relationship between birds and coffee read our entry Did you know birds can be saved by the coffee you drink?

What has been happening at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve during Covid-19 pandemia?

During the pandemic, Tinamu has taken care of the people and their jobs. The lovely staff have prepared all the necessary biosecurity protocols to receive you with all the care you need. At the moment they only recommend you to #stayhome. If you like to know how to visit the reserve, write to us and we will be happy to design your trip.

Birds in colombia
Fernando Galvis – Birdwatching Guide at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve
Verónica Echeverry – Receptionist at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.
James Martínez – Gardener Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.
Dorany García – Housekeeper Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.
Nancy and Natali -Chefs Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.

Fauna and flora you can find at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve (Photo gallery)

Pieridae Butterfly
Scarabeidae
Blue-headed Parrot
Zingiberaceae Plant
Bee pollinating a passion fruit flower.
Water lily.
White-bearded Manakin
Western Emerald
Spectacled Owl
Bamboo mushroom
Earthstar mushroom
Kinkajou
Berthold’s bush anole.
Long-tailed weasel.
Tent-making bat.
Moustached Puffbird.
Gray-headed Dove.
Nine-banded armadillo.
Agouti.
Stump-tailed porcupine.
Hoffmann’s two-toed sloth.
Crab-eating fox.
Western basilisk.
Bay-headed Tanager.

Sula thanks Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve for the visual material shared for the publication of this post. Also for receiving us at the reserve to know first hand everything they have to offer. This allows us to give the best information to our clients about this destination.

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About the author

Sara Colmenares 

Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching. 

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