The Ultimate Llanos Orientales of Colombia Bucket List

Over the last few years, Los Llanos Orientales has become a top favorite nature destination in Colombia. Travelers have fallen hard for the incredible landscapes, the safari experiences, the culture, and food.

With 16-17 million ha in the country, there is a long list of things you want to see and do. So I put together a bucket list with some of the most remarkable Colombian Llanos travel experiences and destinations.

From Caño Cristales in La Macarena to rafting in the Güéjar River Canyon, bird watching in Restrepo, aero-safari in Altagracia, horse riding and cowboy experience in El Encanto de Guanapalo, cocoa experience in Arauca, sport fishing in the Bita river in Vichada, glamping in the Corocora Camp to boating along the Manacacias River chasing dolphins in Meta— The Llanos Orientales is full of incredible adventures!

Here’s our ultimate Colombian Llanos Orientales travel bucket list!


Meta is one of the top bird watching destinations in Colombia. The multiple ecosystems you can find in Meta offer some of the most varied bird species checklists from the paramo to vast plains with echoes of the Amazon forest and parts of the Guiana Shield.

It also offers more than 47 festivals and cultural events throughout the year. The International Folkloric and Tourist Festival of El Llano is one of the most important and has the Cuadrillas de San Martín horse exhibition, which is Cultural Heritage of Colombia.

Another highlight for Meta is the Caño Cristales river, along with wonderful natural landscapes and adventure destinations. In Meta, you will have incredible gastronomic, cultural, wellness, nature and adventure experiences just a 20-minute flight from Bogotá. It is a great destination for those who have little time, or for those who travel with their families.

Top Experiences in Meta

La Macarena Mountain Range (Sierra de la Macarena): Caño Cristales Route

Caño Cristales – Creative Commons Wiki

Piedemonte Llanero Route: Birdwatching, Wellness and Horseback Experiences

Undulated Savanna – Mururito Nature Reserve

Llanero Dawn Route (Amanecer Llanero): Safari and dolphins

Manacacías River

Llanero Spell Route (Embrujo Llanero): Rafting at Rio Guejar Canyon

Travesía Aventura, Rio Guejar

More Bucket List Experiences in Meta

  • Birdwatching at UNAMAS Nature Reserve: Amazon jungle transition Orinoquia-Amazon
  • World Cowboy Meeting
  • 51st International Joropo Tournament.
  • Los Ocarros Biopark
  • Lomalinda Regional Natural Park
  • Guaicaramo Hot Springs (Barranca de Upía)
  • Ostrich Park
  • Las Malocas Park
  • Obelisk of Puerto Lopez


Casanare is one of the top safari destinations in Colombia. The multiple nature reserves in the flooded plains of Casanare offer some of the best wildlife viewings in northern South America, especially during April and December.

Another highlight of Casanare is the cowboy’s rich culture. Discover the Cowboy culture in the Ranchón del Llanerazo, a museum that invites you to live the life of the Llanero man. There you will know the “Cantos de Trabajo del Llano”, which is a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of the world.

Top Experiences in Casanare

Aerosafari in the Colombian Plains

Aero safari – Altagracia Nature Reserve

Colombian Cowboy Experience

Cowboy Experience – Hato Los Deseos

Safari at Nature Reserves and Hatos

Safari in truck – Hato Matepalma

More Bucket List Experiences in Casanare

  • Birdwatching at La Primavera
  • Visit Corocora Camp for Luxury Glamping
  • Wildlife Photography tours
  • Gastronomy
  • Horseback Riding Expedition
  • Culture & Traditions
  • Conservation Experiences


Vichada is the biggest department of the Colombian Llanos and is blessed with an incredible richness of water. It is the place where the Orinoco River forms its natural border between Colombia and Venezuela. From the spectacular El Tuparro national park to the mighty network of rivers, lagoons and canals and abundant wildlife – it’s the perfect destination for anglers and nature lovers.

To get to Vichada, you need an air connection since there is no direct road in good condition. You will find the airport of Puerto Carreño its capital, and also other airfields in other places in the department. You can also get there by boat, through the rivers that run on its territory: Orinoco, Meta and Vichada.

Top Experiences in Vichada

Tuparro Natural National Park

The Eighth Wonder of the World Tuparro Natural Park Colombiaamazinglandscapes / CC BY-SA

Streams of Maypures and Ventanas

Streams of Maypures and Ventanas © FishIn Colombia

Sportfishing at Bita and Tomo Rivers

Fishing in Puerto Carreño © FishIn Colombia

Bojonawi Nature Reserve

Bojonawi Nature Reserve

Pink river dolphin at Meta, Bita, and Orinoco Rivers

Bita River © FishIn Colombia

More Bucket List Experiences in Vichada

  • Hills of Casuarito
  • Orinoco and Bita Rivers beaches
  • Streams of Tuparro
  • Azul and El Pañuelo lagoons.
  • Peinillas Canal
  • Mesetas Canal
  • Rancho Barú and Rancho Wisi
  • Tomo, Tuparrito, and Tuparro rivers
  • Pedro Camejo Island
  • Guahibos and Cuibas Tribes
  • Maipures Indigenous Cemetery
  • El Unuma Indigenous Reserve
  • Gaviotas Center
  • Marandúa Project
  • Trekking


Arauca is a diamond in the rough for nature and adventure tourism in Colombia. Its poor development is related to the presence of illegal armed groups. Here oil and livestock play an important role in the national economy.

In 2018, this area of Colombia was supported as a Tourism, Peace and Reconciliation zone with Creata Foundation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, and USAID collaboration. However, despite the efforts, it is still a conflict zone in the country.

Its attraction lies in the richness of its landscapes. Its territory is divided into a mountainous part, an alluvial plain of the Orinoco, and the foothills of the plains with vegetation of savanna and tropical forest. Thus, the contrasts between mountains and plains offer you exotic landscapes and a great diversity of flora and fauna.

Top Experiences in Arauca

“Cotizas” of Arauca – handmade shoes and handicrafts


Arauca Birding


Cacao Experience


Llanero Experience and Vaquería Songs


La Barcaza: Boat trip on the Arauca River


More Bucket List Experiences in Arauca

  • Cravo Norte
  • José Antonio Páez International Bridge
  • Las Toninas Aquapark
  • Arauca River
  • Los Morichales Park
  • El Alcaraván Experimental Farm
  • Rondon Port
  • Saravena
  • Tame

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours, or want to visit the Llanos Orientales, follow us, write us comments, or just contact us.


  • SITUR Meta
  • Fundación Omacha

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.[/vc_column_text]


Most Colorful Birds of Colombia and Where to Find Them

Birds’ colors are, for many, one of its main attractions. In this post you will find the Most Colorful Birds of Colombia and where to find them.

Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan

Andigena hypoglauca

This is a colorful toucan of the high Andean cloud forest. You will find that its beak with coral, black and yellow stripes separates it from all others of its kind. It also has shades of yellow, red, rufous, brown and gray all over its plumage.

We recommend you to visit Hacienda el Bosque, located over 3000 m, and only 30 minutes by car from Manizales, in the department of Caldas. There you will be able to observe this high mountain toucan in all its splendor.

White-tipped Quetzal

Pharomachrus fulgidus festatus

This colorful bird is from the Colombian Caribbean. You can observe it in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the vicinity of the El Dorado Natural Bird Reserve, or in the famous Cuchilla de San Lorenzo (San Lorenzo Ridge).

The word Pharomachrus comes from the Ancient Greek pharos, which means “mantle”, and makros which means “long”. It refers to the wing and tail coverts of the quetzal. On the other hand, the word fulgidus comes from Latin and means shining, glittering, radiant.

And as if that weren’t enough, the endemic subspecies of Colombia, has the name festatus, which means festive. So, you can imagine the beauty that this bird embodies.

Fiery Topaz

Topaza pyra

This hummingbird is one of the biggest and, probably, the most colorful in Colombia. The male is the one who wears this beautiful plumage, in a big body size of ~22 cm, including bill and tail.

Moreover, this is a bird that you can find throughout the Colombian Amazon region. However, we recommend you to visit Mitú, in the department of Vaupés, in Colombia, because there you can easily observe this bird.

Turquoise Dacnis

Dacnis hartlaubi

This is a tanager endemic to Colombia. It does not have many colors; however, the electric blue of the male attracts a lot of attention. It also has a black mask on its face, especially prominent, and a sharp yellow eye.

In Colombia you will be able to see the Turquoise Dacnis in the central and western mountain ranges, from 1,300 to 2,200 meters above sea level.

We recommend the department of Risaralda, where you can watch it in the rural areas and also in its capital city: Pereira. Near Bogotá you can watch it in the Pedro Palo Lagoon.

Keel-billed Toucan

Ramphastos sulfuratus

This toucan is found in northern Colombia and occupies various habitats. Two subspecies are currently recognized: Sulfuratus and brevicarinatus; the latter is found in Colombia.

It is a big and unmistakable bird, its beak is huge and with rainbow colors: red, green, blue, orange. Additionally, it has a green ring around its eyes that contrasts very well with its lemon-yellow neck, throat, and chest, edged with a fine red line.

It is a spectacle that you can see all over the Colombian Caribbean below 1600 m above sea level.

Keel-billed Toucan. Picture by Sara Colmenares

Red-fan Parrot

Deroptyus accipitrinus

This is a green parrot that seems to have nothing in particular. However, its throat and belly feathers are red with wide blue margins, its forehead is white, and the sides of its head and neck are striated with white.

When excited, this bird spreads the feathers of its nape, forming a crest like a crown around its head. It is very impressive and it is no wonder why the local indigenous people call it the Cacique parrot, Cacique means king.

In Colombia, you will find the subspecies accipitrinus, and you will be able to see it in the eastern end of the country, from Vichada to Vaupés departments, up to 400 m above sea level. We recommend you visit the Cerrito Verde trail in Mitú to watch this bird, in the company with the amazing local guides.

Toucan Barbet

Semnorinis ramphastinus

This is a spectacular bird and almost endemic to Colombia. Here we call it Compass. The Toucan Barbet has a gray throat, red chest and belly, black cap, a thick white stripe behind the eye, and a thick yellow beak with a black tip. These colors make them unique among the Barbets. They are also striking for their singing.

You will find this bird in the cloud forests of western Colombia, in the Pacific Region. We recommend you to visit Anchicayá, km 55 El Descanso, in the department of Valle del Cauca. There you will have the opportunity to see them, record them, photograph them, and listen to them in all their splendor.

Compas – Toucan Barbet – Semnornis ramphastinus

Red-headed Barbet

Eubucco bourcierii

This is a widely distributed bird, but that does not stop it from being eye-catching. The male is unmistakable with a bright red head, green back, yellow belly, and thick yellow beak.

It is a bird that you can easily see in the region of IBA/AICA “Bosque de Niebla San Antonio – Kilometro 18” in places like La Minga Ecolodge, or Finca Alejandría, in the department of Valle del Cauca.

Also in the Coffee Axis, for example, in the Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

Red-headed Barbet – Eubucco bourcierii, La Minga Ecolodge, Valle del Cauca

Wire-tailed Manakin

Pipra filicauda

This little bird is spectacular. It has very long caudal filaments and penetrating white eyes. The male is bright yellow from the face to the ventral region and bright red from the crown to the mantle, contrasting with the rest of his body which is deep black.

This is a bird that invites you to know the Colombian Orinoco. You can see it in the Hato la Aurora – Ecolodge Juan Solito, or in the Reserva Altagracia – Ecolodge Buenaventura in the department of Casanare.

You can even convince yourself to visit more remote regions in the departments of Guainía and Caquetá, with the excuse to follow the colors of this bird.

Saffron-headed Parrot

Pyrilia pyrilia

This parrot is widely distributed in Colombia, up to 1600 m above sea level.

It is mostly green, but its head is bright yellow and has a very prominent white eye ring. It also has shades of yellow, blue, red, and copper in its flight feathers.

You can observe this parrot in several highly recommended places such as the Rio Claro Reserve in Antioquia.

Orange-billed and Golden-winged Sparrows

Arremon aurantiirostris and Arremon schlegeli

Sparrows and brush finches are not the most colorful birds, we know, but there are two species that call special attention for the composition of their colors. These are the Orange-billed Sparrow – Arremon aurantiirostris and the Golden-winged sparrow – Arremon schlegeli.

The Orange-billed Sparrow, as its name suggests, has a strong orange peak, it practically glows in the dark. It also has a black and white head, black chest, and white throat. Although it is widely distributed in several countries, you will not find species similar to this bird. In Colombia you can find it all over the Andean region up to 1200 m above sea level.

On the other hand, the Golden-winged sparrow has a more restricted distribution. It looks very elegant, with a brilliant yellow beak and an open black ring around its neck.

Baudo Oropendola 

Psarocolius cassini 

This beautiful bird looks like it is wearing makeup. I can imagine it putting it on before going anywhere in the forest, rubbing a pink powder on its cheeks and a salmon-red lipstick on the tip of its beak. For the rest, it is a chestnut-colored bird adorned with bright yellow feathers on its tail.

It is an endemic bird of Colombia, which is distributed to the north of the Pacific region in the departments of Chocó, Risaralda, and Antioquia.

To get to know the Baudó Oropendola, you will have to visit Santa Cecilia in Risaralda, where it wanders around the town; or go to El Valle and the Utría National Natural Park in Chocó.

Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonia

Chlorophonia pyrrhophrys

Yes, khlōros in Ancient Greek means “green”. But, unlike many Chlorophonias, this species is characterized by the striking brown belly, yellow sides, chest and face in different shades of green, and the blue crown of the male!

In Colombia, it is found in the cloud forests of the western and central mountain ranges. We recommend you visiting Hacienda El Bosque in Caldas, or the Montezuma Lodge in Risaralda to know this bird.

Orange-breasted Fruiteater

Pipreola jucunda

All the birds of the genus Pipreola are beautiful. Their colors make them almost invisible in the middle of cloud forests full of humidity, lichens, and mosses. It is difficult to choose among them the most striking, but I think the Orange-breasted Fruiteater is one of the most beautiful you can see in the western Andes of Colombia.

The orange chest and black head of the male make him easy to recognize.

You will see it when you visit Anchicayá in the Valle del Cauca, the town of Mistrató and the Montezuma Lodge in Risaralda, or Las Tangaras bird reserve in Chocó.

Striolated Manakin

Machaeropterus striolatus

This bird looks like candy! The male has a bright red crown and contrasting white stripes on its reddish belly.

It is widely distributed in Colombia until 1700 m above sea level.

Scarlet Ibis

Eudocimus ruber

You will never know exactly what color this bird is, for some it is fuchsia, for others it is orange, for others it is deep pink and some even say it is red. The truth is a red-orange color, with a black beak in the reproductive state.

It is a very common bird in aquatic marine and sweet habitats. In Colombia you can find it all over the Caribbean and in all swampy regions, wetlands, and marshes below 600 m above sea level.

To see this bird in all its splendor and, in addition, in great numbers, we recommend visiting the Los Flamengos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary in La Guajira, or any of the reserves with lagoon habitats in the departments of Meta and Casanare.

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Rupicola peruvianus

This bird needs no introduction. It is simply spectacular.

You can find a very large lek of this bird in the town of Jardin, in the department of Antioquia, in the Natural Reserve Jardin de Rocas.

Andean cock-of-the-rock Rupicola peruvianus

Blue Cotinga

Cotinga nattererii

The male is deep sky blue with a dark purple throat and belly and mostly black wings.

It is distributed throughout the Pacific region of Colombia, and you can see it and even photograph it in the department of Valle del Cauca in Anchicayá and Alto Potedó. Also, in the department of Chocó, in the municipalities of Bahía Solano and in the National Natural Park Ensenada de Utria.

Spangled Cotinga

Cotinga cayana

The male is deep sky blue with a bright purple throat and mostly black wings. The plumage is spectacular with good light, but otherwise may appear gray.

It is distributed throughout the Colombian Orinoco and Amazon regions. To observe this bird, we recommend you visit the Natural Reserve La Isla Escondida in the department of Putumayo, the city of Mitú and surroundings in the department of Vaupés and Puerto Nariño and Tarapoto Lakes in the department of Amazonas.

Paradise Tanager

Tangara chilensis

This is possibly the most colorful tanager of all. Its head is bright green and contrasts with the red, black and blue body, the latter in different shades.

If you like tanagers, we have a post for you covering the Top 7 Most Colorful Tanagers of Colombia and Where to Find Them.

The Paradise Tanager can be seen in the departments of Meta, Putumayo, Caquetá, Amazonas and Vaupés. We recommend you visit the town of Restrepo, in Meta department, stay at Rancho Camaná and visit the forests around, you will find not only this bird but many of the mentioned above! It is just a 20-minute drive from the Villavicencio airport.

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours follow us, write us comments, or just contact us.


  • The Internet Bird Collection IBC
  • The Macaulay Library

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.

Top 7 Most Colorful Tanagers of Colombia and Where to Find Them

Did you know that Tanagers are a very large family of birds? Yes! and you must know that many species from this family are brightly colored. Therefore, we decided to dedicate a whole post to them, however, if you want to know other colorful birds of Colombia, you can visit our entry Most Colorful Birds of Colombia and where to find them. In this post you will find the Most Colorful Tanagers of Colombia and where to find them.

First of all, I will tell you that the initial selection was not easy, many of tanagers are beautiful. Secondly, tanagers are very widely distributed along the entire American continent! Here is a preliminary list of those chosen: Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Guira Tanager, Masked Crimson Tanager, Swallow Tanager, Multicolored Tanager, Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager, Purplish-mantled Tanager, Grass-green Tanager, Golden-hooded Tanager, Paradise Tanager, Rufous-winged Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Flame-faced Tanager, Golden-eared Tanager, Saffron-crowned Tanager, Green-and-gold Tanager, Golden Tanager, Rufous-throated Tanager, Red-hooded Tanager, and White-capped Tanager.

Colombia also has important, but less colorful tanagers to speak of, belonging to the Bangsia genus. We will talk about these in another post, stay tuned!

In this entry I will focus on Tanagers with reduced distribution, and/or exclusive to Colombia.

Multicolored Tanager: The Queen of the Most Colored Tanagers

Chlorochrysa nitidissima

This bird has an incredible color pattern: electric cerulean chest and flanks, black belly, green nape and wings, cream colored back, golden face and throat, and brown-black ear patch.

Endemic to the forests of the central and western mountain ranges of the Colombian Andes, it is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is the symbol of the IBA “Bosque de Niebla San Antonio – km 18“, in the department of Valle del Cauca. There you can easily photograph this bird at La Minga Ecolodge.

Flame-faced Tanager 

Tangara parzudakii

Among the most colorful tanagers, you cannot miss this one. Know that this bird has unmistakable colors with a bright red-orange face, which turns yellow on the crown and nape. Also, it has a black patch on its ears, and its back is black. Its underparts and wing covert patch are opalescent greenish and the rump is reddish.

Depending on its geographical location in some places it shows individuals with bright red on the face, while in other places they may look more orangish.

Yes, I know you can say “but this bird is widely distributed among Colombia, Ecuador y Perú!” But I also can tell you that it is still an eye-catching attraction when you are in a birding tour in Colombia. You can find it around the whole Andean region of Colombia, in altitudes between 1000 and 2500 m.

Golden-eared Tanager

Tangara chrysotis

This colorful bird moves on top of the trees, however it visits low troughs from where its colors can be appreciated. It is blue-green with an orange face, coppery belly and contrasting black patches on its head and back.

You can find this bird in the departments of Huila and Caquetá, in the south of Colombia. It is very easy to photograph in the El Encanto Nature Reserve and in the Mirador de las Tangaras on the old road to Florencia, capital of Caquetá.

Scarlet-and-white Tanager

Chrysothlypis salmoni

You must know this Tanager is rare, like, difficult to find. You can find it only by visiting the lowland and foothill rainforests of western Colombia, throughout the Pacific region, which also corresponds to the Biogeographic Chocó forest.

The male has a spectacular coloration, which makes him different from any other South American bird. It has a bright red plumage with white flanks and slightly darker wings.

You can watch this bird when you visit the old road to Buenaventura, better known as Anchicayá, in the department of Valle del Cauca. Also at Las Bangsias Reserve in the department of Nariño.

Rufous-throated Tanager

Ixothraupis rufigula

All the species of the genus Ixothraupis have a very particular plumage, presenting very vivid colors of greens, blues, whites and yellows, but they become weird by the black spots in the midle of their feathers, which make them look with scales, as a fish… Among them, the Rufous-throated Tanager differenciates the most.

The Rufous-throated Tanager has a set of colors, which makes those Ixothraupis scales look less trippy. This Tanager may appear as of sober plumage, however when you see it in the sun it is spectacular. It has a mostly black head, and a very striking orange throat. Its neck, back and scapulas are dark with a flaky appearance, as well as the contrasting black spots on its breast and flanks over the white of its belly.

You will find this tanager throughout the Pacific region of Colombia, which also corresponds to the Biogeographic Chocó forest. You can photograph it when you visit Anchicayá in the department of Valle del Cauca. Also in the department of Nariño at Las Bangsias Reserve.

Purplish-mantled Tanager

Iridosornis porphyrocephalus

This tanager is almost completely blue. However, the truth is that its plumage represents almost every shade of blue, from a brighter dark blue on the head, to a paler cerulean blue towards the tail. And, to complete its beauty, it has a bright lemon-yellow throat.

It is difficult to find the most beautiful among all the species of the Iridosornis genus. Firstable, what can you expect from a genus called Iridosornis which means rainbow bird? I found Iridosornis is a word derived from the Greek roots “iris = rainbow” and “ornis = bird“. Second, they all look alike and have the same range of colors: all blues, yellow, black and a little bit of rufus.

I decided that Purplish-mantled Tanager and Golden-crowned Tanager (Iridosornis rufivertex) are the most beautiful in this genus. And you can find them in Colombia. You can observe the Purplish-mantled Tanager in southern Colombia, and it is especially easy to see in the department of Putumayo.

On the other hand, the Golden-crowned Tanager can be found all over the Andean region of Colombia, the luck is to find it, but in places like the national natural park Los Nevados in the coffee axis, or the national natural park Chingaza, near Bogotá, you can get easy records.

Golden-crowned Tanager is rare to see, its color is mostly dark cobalt blue with a black head and a bright yellow cap. Its under tail coverts are reddish, which differentiates it from the rest of the birds of this genus.

Rufous-winged tanager

Tangara lavinia

This tanager is mostly green. The male is deep emerald green with a yellow back and neck. The head and wings are mostly ferruginous and the belly is bright sky blue.

You can find this tanager throughout the Pacific region of Colombia, which also corresponds to the Biogeographic Chocó forest. Also, the best places to photograph this bird are Anchicayá in the department of Valle del Cauca, and Apía in the department of Risaralda.


  • The Internet Bird Collection IBC
  • The Macaulay Library

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.

The Uniqueness of Tatamá Park and Montezuma Road Destination

Tatamá Park is situated on the borders of the department of Chocó, Risaralda, and Valle del Cauca, along the western Colombian Andean mountain range. It is situated in the confluence between the biographical Pacific and the Coffee Triangle.

The park has an extension of 51900 ha, and it is located between 2000 and 4200 meters above sea level. Temperature ranges between 4 and 22ºC and precipitation is high all year round, especially towards de Chocó side, in the west.

Discovering Tatamá National Natural Park

The park was created in 1987. Its uniqueness lies in its geographical location which makes that many of Colombia’s endemic and near-endemic species are found here. This protected area is of high scientific interest because of the excellent state of conservation of its Andean ecosystems.

Its territory is also home to tributaries that drain the slopes of the San Juan and Cauca Rivers. At the highest area of the park, there is the Tatamá Paramo which along with those of Frontino and El Duende are the only three paramos in Colombia that have not been altered by humans.

According to historians, this place was inhabited in pre-Columbian times by the Sima or Tatamá indigenous groups, belonging to the Anserma indigenous people. It was them who gave the name to the hill Tatamá. According to this theory, tatamá meant “the land or the highest stone” in their dialect.

Other historians have a different theory, and say that the name comes from the Chocó indigenous people, of Caribbean influence, who attribute the meaning of “the grandfather of the rivers” to the word tatamá.

Flora and Fauna at Tatamá

According to the documentation on the park found on the official website of the System of Protected Areas of Colombia, in the park you can find a great richness of plants, among them the endemic Black Anthurium (Anthurium caramantae) and more than 560 species and morpho-species of orchids. Tree species with fine woods are also protected, some of which are in danger of extinction.

There are also more than 600 species of birds, some of which are locally and globally vulnerable, 11 are endemic to the Western Cordillera, 9 are endemic to Colombia and 14 are near-endemic. An example of these is the Gold-ringed Tanager (Bangsia aureocincta).

110 species of mammals have been registered, representing the endemic fauna of the Andes. Among them stands out the Colombian Weasel (Mustela felipei), which has been catalogued as the rarest mammal in South America. Within the reptiles there are records for 108 species.

Black Anthurium – Anthurium caramantae ENDEMIC

What to do at Tatamá

Currently, the park is closed to public, however, in some areas around the park, and at the lower areas, it is possible to do hikes, trekking, climbing and bird watching activities.

Hiking and trekking at Tatamá National Natural Park

Given its high level of conservation, the Tatamá Park has a scenic beauty unknown to the public. Los Planes de San Rafael  Visitors’ Center is located in Los Planes de San Rafael, municipality of Santuario, in the department of Risaralda.

In general, this visitors’ center, in agreement with Risaralda Regional Autonomous Corporation (CARDER), and the Community Action Board of the village, offers  personalized attention for tourists, with tours where environmental interpretation is fundamental.

There are several trails related to these tours:

  • Path to the Tatamá Waterfalls: The path to the waterfalls is located in the lower area of the park, at 2500 meters above sea level. It has a great natural tourist attraction, where you can climb and enjoy the exuberant vegetation. It starts at the visitors’ center, and follow a four kilometer route that leads to the area of the waterfalls. Once there you can enjoy the landscape formed by the waterfalls, some of which reach 70 meters high. The route takes between eight and ten hours, so it is better to start it early in the morning.
  • Valley of the Frailejones: It is a sector located at 3,700 meters above sea level, in the territory of the department of Chocó. It is a destination that requires experience in hiking and mountaineering. To reach the valley it is necessary to climb and descend in ropes. Here you can see frailejones that reach five meters in height.
  • Valley of the Lagoons: It is located near the Valley of the Frailejones. It is a territory of glacial origin surrounded by steep hills, which protect the mountain lakes between them.
  • There is also the trail to the Centro Experimental Altoandino Tatamá. It takes over 30 minutes.

Birdwatching at Tatamá: Montezuma Road

This place is included in the Central Andes Birding Route, developed by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MINCIT), the Productive Transformation Program (PTP) and Procolombia.

This bird watching route enters the Tatamá National Natural Park through its northern zone, via Pueblo Rico. Pueblo Rico is a municipality of about 10,000 inhabitants and is the last town in Risaralda before entering the Colombian Pacific.

The Montezuma Rainforest Ecolodge is located in the lowest part of the Tatamá National Natural Park. Although it is not the official entrance to the Park, it is a place authorized by the National Natural Park System to be able to enter and observe the biodiversity and ecosystems that Tatamá offers, and especially to observe the great amount of birds of the tropical humid forest.

Montezuma Rainforest Ecolodge is a farm located on the western slope of the western mountain range, in the Department of Risaralda, on the border with Chocó, in Colombia. From Pueblo Rico you have to travel about 17 km to get to Montezuma, at Montebello village.

There you will find signs of entry to the National Natural Park Tatamá. The classic visit for birdwatching is through the road connecting the Montezuma Lodge and a military base at the top of the Montezuma Hill at 2600 meters of altitude.

Military Base at Montezuma Hill. We are accompanied by the local bird guide Arnulfo Sánchez and the guide of Montezuma. The soldiers always ask for a photographic record of the visitors, to be spread with the message that they feel safe and proud of the Colombian National Army.

The road has about 11 km long, is open, and has steep slopes without any place for resting. Several feeders and drinkers have been installed along the road, at strategic points, to facilitate the appearance of the birds that come out of the dense forest to feed. Thus, it is possible to find Collared Inca, Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer, Rufous-gaped Hillstar, and Olive Finch, easily.

Purple-bibbed Whitetip – Urosticte benjamini

Tourmaline Sunangel – Heliangelus exortis

Olive Finch – Arremon castaneiceps

Green-and-black Fruiteater – Pipreola riefferii

Gold-ringed Tanager – Bangsia aureocincta ENDEMIC

Collared Inca – Coeligena torquata

Chestnut-bellied Flowerpiercer – Diglossa gloriosissima ENDEMIC

The best birding area (Montebello) is where a bird endemic to Colombia, and restricted only to that region was found, the Tatamá Tapaculo (Scytalopus alvarezlopezi).

In front of the house there is a garden with bird feeders that permanently has bananas and papayas, and  bird drinkers with sugary water, where many species of tanagers and hummingbirds arrive.

Explore the eBird Field Checklist for the PNN Tatamá – Camino Montezuma. This checklist is generated with data from eBird (, a global database of bird sightings from birders like you.

If you enjoy this checklist, please consider contributing your sightings to eBird. It is 100% free to take part, and your observations will help support birders, researchers, and conservationists worldwide.

How to get to Tatamá

Zoom In the map to check the complete destinations.

The administrative headquarters of the Tatamá National Natural Park is in the municipality of Santuario, in Risaralda, 1 hour and 20 minutes from the city of Pereira on a paved road.

It is only possible to arrive by 4×4 truck. From Pereira, take the road to Cartago at the point known as Cerritos. There you turn right until you reach the municipality of La Virginia.

From there, follow the Pan-American Highway to Choco and at the site known as La Marina, take a detour to the left to reach the municipality of Santuario.

To get to Tatamá National Natural Park, take an open road of about 10 km to the Los Planes de San Rafael trail, and from there take a trail to the lower limit of the Tatamá Park at 2500 masl.

The park can also be accessed from Pueblo Rico town, following the road connecting the Montezuma Ecolodge and a military base at the top of the Montezuma Mountain. However, road conditions make this transit exceedingly difficult, and if you are going for bird watching, it is necessary to depart at 3 a.m. from Pueblo Rico to be able to arrive before dawn to Montezuma.

The other option is to sleep at the Montezuma Ecolodge, but this one is always booked, so you have to book at least a year in advance.

Where to stay in Tatamá National Natural Park

CARDER visitor’s center

CARDER visitor’s center, picture by Fecomar Risaralda 

The park does not have specialized infrastructure for tourist services in general.  However, the visitor’s center, located in the Los Planes de San Rafael village, has the capacity to accommodate 40 people in quadruple occupancy. It offers restaurant service, lodging and guidance on the different trails with environmental interpretation. The place is owned by CARDER and managed by the village’s Community Action Board.

Montezuma Rainforest Ecolodge

Montezuma Rainforest Ecolodge, picture by Risaralda Travel

Montezuma Ecolodge is prepared to receive about 10 guests in independent rooms with private bathroom and hot water. The place is very simple, there is no luxury or excessive comfort, as it is a rural accommodation that has been gradually adapted for tourism.

There the disconnection is complete because there is no telephone or television signal. The food is also simple, but very good.

What you should consider when you visit Tatamá

It’s not allowed in the park:

  • Hunting, collecting or introducing animals or plants.
  • No fires allowed.
  • It is forbidden to throw or burn garbage.
  • It is forbidden to get drunk or make a fuss or noise.
  • Logging is forbidden.
  • Excavation is forbidden.
  • Fireworks and explosives are prohibited.


  • You must be vaccinated against yellow fever at least 30 days before access and you must present your valid card at the entrance of the protected area.
  • You must wear clothing suitable for cold weather such as balaclavas, scarves, boots, waterproof coat, and gloves.
  • You must abide by the observations and suggestions of park officials since the Colombian park system is not responsible for any accident you have during your stay in the area or for the loss of objects.
  • You should only walk the authorized trails and always be accompanied by an official or a guide.
  • We recommend that you never get separated from the group and that you keep an eye on your fellow travelers.

Check out our tour in this region of Colombia!

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.

Best Set to Photography Tropical Rainforest Birds at Upper Anchicayá

The Anchicayá is a Colombian river, in the department of Valle del Cauca, which originates west of Cali and flows into the Pacific Ocean, in the Buenaventura Bay. Like all rivers on the Pacific side, it has a high biodiversity. The Anchicayá basin is one of the richest places in Colombia for birding, and is considered the first in the world. This area is composed by a tropical rainforest that contains countless rivers and waterfalls of crystalline water and has a great variety of fauna and flora typical of the Pacific region and the Biogeographic Chocó. It is an area rich in primary forests that are characterized by their biodiversity in flora and fauna. The region is the third place with the highest rainfall in the world and the first in bird diversity. This is a very special area for birdwatching, with around 500 species recorded in several locations along the road, such as Agua Clara, the Danubio, Lower Anchicayá and Upper Anchicayá.

Since 1955, the company CELSIA, from the ARGOS Group, owns two hydroelectric power stations: The Alto Anchicayá hydroelectric plant, located 85 km west of Cali, and the Bajo Anchicayá plant located within the perimeter of the Los Farallones Natural Park. The reservoirs are located along the Anchicayá River. When you go birding on this road, the observation points are distributed and referenced around these two reservoirs, and they are known as Low Anchicayá and Upper Anchicayá. The upper Anchicayá is the nearest point from Cali.

Birding at Upper Anchicayá: El Descanso

El Descanso is a must for those who like bird photography. It is a unique place thanks to its location on the road that leads from Cali to Buenaventura through the Anchicayá River basin, in the Valle del Cauca department. As I mentioned before, it is one of the most important hotspots for bird watching, where the western mountain range of the Colombian Andes merges with the tropical rainforests of the biogeographic Chocó. On this road you will find a gradient that goes from the Andean cloud forest to the seashore in the Pacific sea.

In the area known as Alto Anchicayá, or upper Anchicayá, Dora Londoño offers tourist services for bird watching, together with her children, her grandchildren and her husband. She was a victim of the war in Colombia, who had to leave her place of origin to save her life. In Anchicayá she found refuge for her family, and has lived there for more than 20 years.  Initially, Doña Dora had a small cafeteria on her farm called El Descanso, next to the old road that leads from Cali to Buenaventura, at kilometer 55. In her cafeteria she offered lunches, cheese empanadas, coffee and her famous puff pastries. Her clients were the engineers and workers of the local reservoirs, who constantly went by. Doña Dora feels immense gratitude for that time, and for her first clients, who made it easier for her to settle in this place.

Doña Dora making her famous puff pastries at El Descanso

Over time, other types of customers began to arrive at their cafeteria. This family did not know that there were people willing to paid trips to come to Colombia to watch birds. They would never have thought of such a thing! For them, birds were part of their daily lives, and they did not pay much attention to them.

The Bird Photographers

Groups of people with very large cameras and binoculars, dressed in camouflage clothes began to arrive. Doña Dora asked the guides who were with them about who they were or what they were doing. She found out that they were birders. They used to sit and have a coffee at Doña Dora’s while they rested from their long journey along this road. One day, next to the house, one of the trees was bearing fruit, and a large number of birds began to arrive to eat from the tree. And it was that just at that moment there was a group of bird watchers in the cafeteria. They quickly got up from their chairs, leaving the coffee and the flakes, to follow and photograph these birds in the tree. And so the story began.

El Descanso farm is on the edge of a mountain covered by a dense cloud forest, in the tropical rainforest of the Biogeographic Choco. There is nothing but the mountain bordering the road and the house. One day, one of the guides suggested to Doña Dora that she give the birds food to attract them. Despite her incredulity, she began by putting bananas on a board, then papaya and sugary water. With this, not only did the birds arrive, but more tourists! In time, and by applying visitor’s recommendations, she set up a garden behind her house, with sticks and logs, drinking troughs and feeders, and began to make improvements with the money that tourism left her.

Attracting the Birds

She remembers that the first birds to arrive were the Mal-casados, or the badly married, common name of the White-lined tanagers. Then the Primaveras ones (Clay-colored Thrush), the Clarineros del Pacífico (Blue-winged Mountain Tanager), and the last one, the most difficult to attract, the Compás (Toucan Barbet) because it is a bird that usually do not exposes easily.

Malcasados – White-lined Tanager – Tachyphonus rufus

Clarinero del Pacífico – Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager – Anisognathus somptuosus

Compas – Toucan Barbet – Semnornis ramphastinus

Sustainable Destination

Family unity and constant commitment have brought this tourism project to fruition. Thanks to the support of her husband and sons, and with the help of several bank loans, she has managed to finish building her house, support her family and keep the birds. She build a third floor with an observation tower, which is more as a terrace, which gives direct view to the canopy, and where she has installed some drinking troughs to attract hummingbirds. His plans in the future are to offer a basic rural accommodation service, with hot water bathrooms. One of the attractions of the place is also the beautiful murals with birds painted by one of Dora’s sons, Erbert Sanchez. His aim is to fill the house with these murals, and to highlight the beauty of the rainforest birds that visit the gardens.

Gardens at El Descanso Farm, Doña Dora, especially disposed for bird photography.

Terrace, at El Descanso Farm, Doña Dora, especially disposed to attract hummingbirds.

Murals, at El Descanso Farm, Doña Dora.

All this has been paid for by the money left over from the birders’ visits. She knows that developing a tourist destination is a process that requires love and a lot of commitment. It has only been four years since she has positioned herself as a destination with a constant flow of birdwatching tourists, before that, it was all effort, patience and dedication, for almost two years.  Today they have been affected by the pandemic crisis, and any economic assistance is very important to them. If you are interested in helping you can contact them through their Facebook page.

Find a checklist of the birds you can observe in and around El Descanso, in Upper Anchicayá. This checklist is generated with data from eBird (, a global database of bird sightings from birders like you. If you enjoy this checklist, please consider contributing your sightings to eBird. It is 100% free to take part, and your observations will help support birders, researchers, and conservationists worldwide. Go to to learn more!


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.

The Complete Colombia Birdwatching Guide: Tourism & Conservation

Colombia Birdwatching guide! All about birding in Colombia.

Bird watching in Colombia is considered one of the priority products in peacebuilding, especially because of the possibility of generating more employment opportunities in the territories that were affected by the armed conflict and that are abundant in flora and fauna. With 20% of bird species in the world, the advantages that Colombia offers in the birdwatching segment are incredible.

1. Best spots for birdwatching in Colombia

1.1. Andean Region

Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve

This is a very special place for bird watching in the department of Caldas, and it has become one of the top destinations for photography in Colombia.

Tinamú Birding Located in the village of San Peregrino, the reserve is composed of a 15-ha fragment of dry forest at 1,225 m a.s.l. (4019 FAMSL). It is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and a variety of ancient plants and trees.

To share this natural wealth, facilities have been adapted for bird-seekers, ornithologists, and bird and nature lovers from around the world to provide unforgettable experiences.

The area is well known throughout the country for its high-class bird product and surreal opportunities for photography, research, and good old-fashioned bird watching.

Tatamá National Natural Park and Montezuma road

Tatamá National Park is situated on the borders of the department of Chocó, Risaralda and Valle del Cauca along the western Colombian Andean mountain range. Currently, the park is closed to public, but it can be accessed by following the road connecting the Montezuma Lodge and a military base at the top of the Montezuma Mountain.

Montezuma is an area of confluence between the Biogeographic Pacific and the Coffee Axis. The area houses a rich array of ecosystems, including the Andean Forest, the High Andean Forest, and the Paramos that are all extremely well preserved.

This ideal geographical location and its status as a protected area have transformed Tatamá Natural Park into a natural refuge in Colombia for a large variety of plant and animal species. Many of Colombia’s endemic and near-endemic species are found here.

Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Otún Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is an important ecotourism destination in Colombia. Found in the coffee region at the upper basin of the Otún river in the department of Risaralda, the area houses some incredible flora, most notable of which are its trees.

Here you can find the Cauca guan (Penelope perspicax), Mustached antpitta (Grallaria alleni), Chestnut wood Quail (Odontophorus hyperythrus), Golden-plumed Parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii), Wattled Guan (Aburria aburri), Multicolored tanager (Chlorochrysa nitidissima) and Red-ruffed Fruitcrow (Pyroderus scutatus). This wide variety attracts a rich array of birds and other fauna to observe.

Río Blanco Reserve and Quebrada Olivares

Located along the Central Andean Mountain range in the department of Caldas, the Protective Forest Reserve of Río Blanco and Quebrada Olivares has one of the highest rates of biodiversity in Colombia.

This place is known for its photography facilities primarily focused on antpittas, tanagers and hummingbirds.

Jardín, Antioquia

Jardín is a beautiful patrimonial town in the department of Antioquia. The town is surrounded by Paramos so that it is also surrounded by pristine cloud forests. During your visit, you can stop by the Jardín de Rocas Natural Park, which is a Natural Park dedicated to the conservation, research and sighting of the Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus).

There is also the road Jardin – Riosucio, where the altitudinal variation lets you enjoy birds from different thermal floors. The Yellow-eared Parrot Bird Reserve is on this road, all of which makes this area one of Colombia’s top 10 bird destinations.

1.2. Caribbean Region

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Sierra Nevada contains a high concentration of endemic species in Colombia, making it a must visit place for birders in Colombia. One of the main attractions is the ability to observe on different thermal floors since altitude variation ranges from zero to 5,700 meters above sea level (18700 FAMSL).

Serranía del Perijá

Serranía del Perijá is located in the department of Valledupar, which shares a border with Venezuela. The area has acquired a significant biological importance for the country and humanity, as there are high rates of endemism along with other important natural sites.

Here you can find birds like the Perijá Metaltail (Metallura iracunda), Perijá Thistletail (Asthenes perijana), Perijá Brushfinch (Arremon perijanus) and the newly described Perijá Tapaculo (Scytalopus perijanus). The area also includes the Balcón del Cesar where you can find birds in mid-level altitudes.

La Guajira

Birding in La Guajira is relatively easy since most of the species of interest can be easily found during a long morning session. The region consists of a well conserved dry forest ecosystem inside the indigenous territory of the Wayuu tribe.

The birding session begins in Camarones downtown area, where you will find the Green-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus passerinus) followed by a trip to the surrounding indigenous villages in the dry forest. These areas house endemic, almost endemic and restricted habitat bird specialties.

The flag species is the Cardinal Guajiro or Vermilio Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus). The session concludes with a birding tour in lagunar and the surrounding coastal ecosystems, where the flagship species is the American Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber).


At the center of this little town, you can find the Green-rumped Parrotlet (Forpus passerinus) and the Trinidad Euphonia (Euphonia trinitatis).

Los Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Very close to Riohacha and Camarones lies this national sanctuary devoted to the preservation of the Caribbean dry forest and marshes that contain over 250 bird species. This area is specialized in the conservation of migratory and threatened birds, such as the Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber).

The area also protects the other typical species, including the Vermilion cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus), Tocuyo Sparrow (Arremonops tocuyensis) and Anteado Hummingbird (Leucippus falax), found in the dry ecosystems of La Guajira.

1.3. Pacific Region

Old way to Buenaventura: Anchicayá

This is another hotspot for birdwatching in Colombia. Situated in the department of Valle del Cauca, Buenaventura is surrounded by forests that house both Andean and Pacific fauna.

Housing over 350 species of birds, the rich geography of Buenaventura makes it an ideal spot for any avid birdwatcher. The old road leading to Buenaventura is named after the river seen at the end of this great canyon that follows the road.

La Planada Natural Reserve – Nariño

La Planada Natural Reserve is managed by the AWÁ indigenous community who form part of the Indigenous town council of Pialapí Pueblo Viejo. It is located on the Pacific slope of the western mountain range in the department of Nariño and conserves about 3,200 ha of cloud and rainforest.

The altitude varies anywhere between 200 and 2,100 meters above sea level (3930 to 6890 FAMSL), and the region receives upwards of 4,800 mm of precipitation per year.

Endemic species of fauna and flora are protected, among which includes a large variety of orchids, 243 species of birds and the only bear of South America: The Spectacled Bear.

Río Ñambí Reserve – Nariño

Río Ñambí reserve is located on the Pacific slope of the “Knot of the Pastos”, better known as the “Massif of Huaca”, in the Andean mountain range. The area forms part of the department of Nariño and sits along a road that leads to the Pacific sea from the city of Pasto.

It has 1,400 ha of a well preserved rainforests that receive 7000 mm of precipitation per year. The altitude ranges from 1100 to 1900 meters above sea level (3600 to 6230 FAMSL) and houses a large variety of flora and fauna.

There are approximately 350 species of birds, including 31 species of hummingbirds and a recently discovered species, The Chocó Vireo (Vireo masteri). The reserve is also a refuge for a variety of orchids and butterflies in Colombia.

Lodging is still very basic and the area is only accessible through a 3 km trail in the forest. The community has improved the trail with birding facilities for photography and birdwatching.

1.4. Orinoquia Region

Mururito Farm Hotel Natural Reserve

The Mururito Farm Hotel is an ecological lodge & natural reserve of sits in the Department of Meta, which is located in the Colombian plains about 1h30m from Puerto Gaitán. The reserve spans 2,000 ha along the Manacacías River.

There is a variety of scenic views showing off the region’s rich natural diversity. From the pristine forests and creeks to the well maintained estuaries, marshes, lagoons, savannas and hills, the region houses an incredible array of flora, birds, mammals and reptiles that cannot be missed!

El Encanto de Guanapalo – Altagracia – Casanare

El Encanto de Guanapalo is a natural reserve in Colombia consisting of almost 9 thousand ha located 110 km from Yopal. Since 1908 the owners have worked to  conserve the area, which supports the Llanera tradition and culture in Casanare Colombia.

Today, Hato Mata de Palma, Hato Altamira and Hato Montana make up the El Encanto de Guanapalo. Here, you can find beautiful floodplains and gallery forests of the Colombian eastern plains, enjoy regional food, and participate in unforgettable experiences of adventure and tradition, such as the Llanero Safari.

1.5. Amazon Region


Mitú is the capital of the department of Vaupés in the Amazon region of Colombia so that it shares a border with Brazil. Mitu is the closest and thus easiest city to enter the Amazon Forest in Colombia.

Here, you will find White-sand forest, Terra firme and Várzea. Birding trails are located inside of indigenous communities that provide guidance and food.

In recent years, tourism has become a way to make a living as well as maintain the preservation of these ecosystems.

Isla Escondida Natural Reserve – Putumayo

The reserve is located in the department of Putumayo, Colombia – not far from the border with Ecuador. The reserve consists of106 ha of mainly primary forests nestled between the Andes and the Amazon at an altitude of 850 meters above sea level (2790 FAMSL).

The area houses typical species to both the Andean and Amazon regions, which is why it comes so highly recommended for birders. In comparison to other regions, however, the area is less developed and difficult to access. The area still offers relatively good lodging services though.

Proaves’ Bird Nature Reserves and Lodges

Proaves is an NGO that working to conserve the natural ecosystems and birds of Colombia through research, monitoring, communication, education and the establishment of nature reserves around the country.

Proaves has the largest private reserve system in Colombia oriented towards the protection of endangered bird species. The system is composed by 23 reserves, each one named after the bird they are meant to protect.

It is possible to visit the reserves, but only 35% of them are equipped with bird lodges and other accommodation services. Moreover, transportation on a 4×4 is required to access any of the reserves. The more secluded the reserve is, the higher the transportation and accommodation costs.

El Dorado Bird Nature Reserve 

Located in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, it is one of the best bird ecolodges in Colombia. Find out more below.

Tangaras Bird Reserve

Tangaras Bird Reserve protect the Gold-ringed Tanager (Bangsia aureocincta) and  the Black-and-gold Tanager (Bangsia melanochlamys). The reserve is located in Carmen de Atrato, near a variety of Afro-Colombian and indigenous community reserves in the department of Chocó.

Blue-billed Curassow Bird Reserve

Blue-billed Curassow Bird Reserve is located in the Sierra de las Quinchas, between the towns of Puerto Boyacá, Bolívar and Cimitarra. The reserve lies in the departments of Boyacá and Santander, respectively.

Chestnut-capped Piha Bird Reserve

This reserve is located in El Roble in the department of Antioquia.

Chamicero del Perijá Nature Reserve

Chamicero del Perjá is located in the villages of El Cinco and Altos de Perijá in the municipality of Manaure and the department of Cesar. The main attractions are the Perijá Thistletail, Perijá Metaltail, Perijá Brush-finch, and Perijá Antpitta.

Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve

Located on the western slope of the Colombian Eastern mountain range in the town of San Vicente de Chucuri and the department of Santander, Cerulean Warbler Bird reserve is near the Serranía de los Yariguíes.

2. Interesting Birding Points in Colombia

Here you can find information about places of ornithological interest or value in Colombia.

2.1. Areas with high bird diversity in Colombia

The richness of birds in Colombia has attracted attention of scientists, travelers and ornithology enthusiasts around the world.

Colombia’s more than 1900 species represent about 20% of all species in the world and 60% of those identified in South America, all of which has made Colombia one of the most important places in terms of biodiversity.

Here is a list of the top ten sites for birdwatching in Colombia, based on species diversity.

Place Bird species* Location
Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve 544 San Vicente de Chucurí, Santander
National Natural Park Tatamá and Cerro Montezuma 534 Pueblo Rico, Risaralda
Chestnut-capped Piha Bird Reserve 519 Anorí, Antioquia
Río Claro Canyon Natural Reserve 517 San Francisco, Antioquia
Fauna and Flora Sanctuary Otún Quimbaya 480 Vereda La Suiza, Risaralda
Old road to Buenaventura 478 Dagua, Valle del Cauca
Tangaras Bird Reserve 461 El Carmen de Atrato, Chocó
Río Blanco Ecological Reserve 455 Manizales, Caldas
Yellow-eared Parrot Bird Reserve 443 Jardín, Antioquia
La Isla Escondida Reserve 433 Orito, Putumayo

Of course, this is just a top ten list, but there are more than 100 places in Colombia with more than 300 bird species to observe!

You can also explore the county by departments. Here are the top 10 departments with most bird species in Colombia:

Department Bird species* Region
Cauca 1167 Pacific and Andean Regions.
Antioquia 1052 Pacific and Andean Regions.
Meta 1047 Orinoquia and Andean Region.
Valle del Cauca 1026 Pacific and Andean Regions.
Nariño 995 Pacific and Andean Regions.
Putumayo 992 Amazon Region
Chocó 953 Pacific Region
Cundinamarca 918 Andean Region
Boyacá 909 Andean Region
Risaralda 894 Andean and Pacific Regions.

2.2. Areas with high bird endemism in Colombia

The endemic areas of Colombia are classified by their geographical position as follows:

Caribbean Colombia and Venezuela

Reaching altitudes of up to 1000m, this is a region characterized by a wide variety of ecosystems, including deserts (including cactus scrub), thorn scrubs, dry forests (deciduous and evergreen), riparian associations and mangroves (Sugden 1982, L. M. Renjifo in litt. 1993).

Here, you can find the following endemic species: Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird (Lepidopyga lilliae) CR, Chestnut Piculet (Picumnus cinnamomeus) LC, Black-backed Antshrike (Thamnophilus melanonotus) LC, White-whiskered Spinetail (Synallaxis candei) LC, Tocuyo Sparrow (Arremonops tocuyensis) LC, Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus) LC.

The region houses important birding areas like Tayrona National Park, Salamanca Island and Ciénaga Grande and Los Besotes EcoPark (first IBA of Colombia).

Central Andean paramo

The altitude of this region ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 m and supports humid elfin forest, Polylepis woodland and scrub, páramo scrub and grassland ecosystems. It is possible to visit important birding areas like Los Nevados National Park, Toche Water Basin and Puracé National Park.

The most remarkable birds of this regions are the Buffy Helmetcrest (Oxypogon stubelii)Blue-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus) and the Bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon guerinii).


This area is a pluvial forest with one of the world’s richest biotas. Here, you can visit places like the old road to Buenaventura, National Parks Ensenada de Utría and Tatamá, Yotoco Forest Reserve, Alto Calima, Reserva Natural Río Ñambí and La Planada Natural Reserve.

Colombian Eastern Andes

Here, it is possible to find a variety of habitats, ranging from upper tropical to temperate and páramo zones.

These habitats house species like the Bogotá Rail (Rallus semiplumbeus), Apolinar’s Wren (Cistothorus apolinari), Bronze-tailed Thornbill (Chalcostigma heteropogon), Bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon guerinii), Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis andina), Spot-flanked Gallinule (Gallinula melanops bogotensis), Bearded Tachuri (Polystictus pectoralis bogotensis) and Yellow-hooded Blackbird (Chrysomus icterocephalus).

There are also important IBAs like the Chingaza National Natural Park and surround, Wetlands of the Sabana de Bogotá, El Cocuy National Natural Park, Guatiquía River Canyon, Western Hills of Tabio and Tenjo.

Colombian inter-Andean slopes

The region houses subtropical evergreen forests of the Andean foothills at a altitudes ranging between 1,000-2,500 m.

The important birding areas present is this region are:

  1. Jardín, Antioquia.
  2. Yotoco Forest Reserve, Valle del Cauca.
  3. Rio Blanco Reserve, Caldas. 
  4. the East Risaralda Forests, Barbas – Bremen basin, Quindío.
  5. Combeima River canyon, Tolima.
  6. Toche River Canyon, Tolima.
  7. aPuracé National Park, Cauca.
  8. Meremberg Natural Reserve, Huila.
  9. Cueva de los Guácharos National Park, Huila.
  10. Chicoral, Valle del Cauca.

This where you will find many endemic birds like the Tolima Dove (Leptotila conoveri), the Tolima Blossomcrown (Anthocephala berlepschi) and the critically endangered Yellow eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis).

Colombian inter-Andean Valleys

The valleys, which ranges anywhere from 200-1,700 m above sea-level, are made up of open woodlands, dry forests and arid scrub. A majority of the area has been converted for agricultural use, which has significantly reduced the presence of naturally occurring vegetation.

Here, you can find the White-chested Swift (Cypseloides lemosi), Greyish Piculet (Picumnus granadensis), Apical Flycatcher (Myiarchus apicalis) and the Velvet-fronted Euphonia (Euphonia concinna).

The notable birding areas are the Reserva Natural Laguna de Sonso, Reserva Forestal Yotoco, Oriente de Risaralda, Tolima and Cundinamarca.

Macarena Mountains

This is an isolated mountain range located in the Meta department of Colombia. The national park is situated at the meeting point between the Amazon, Orinoco and Andes regions. The area contains rainforests, dry forests, shrublands and savanna ecosystems.

Conservationists have identified the Macarena Mountains as a key area for the preservation of the threatened Spot-winged Parrotlet (Touit stictoptera) and the Speckled Rail (Coturnicops notatus).

Orinoco-Negro white-sand forest

The forest is located in the departments of Guainía, Guaviare and Vaupés in the south-east of Colombia. The endemic birding areas lie within the Inírida Basin, El Tuparro and Chiribiquete National Parks, Bojonawi, and Estrella Fluvial Inírida.

Providence and San Andrés Islands

Here, you can find the Thick-billed Vireo (Vireo crassirostris), San Andres Vireo (Vireo caribaeus) and Jamaican Oriole (Icterus leucopteryx).

Santa Marta Mountains

This is an isolated mountain range separated from the Andes chain. Here, you can find several forested habitats depending on the altitude, which reaches up to 5,700 m.

There you can watch birds sucha as the Santa Marta Blossomcrown (Anthocephala floriceps), Santa Marta Sabrewing (Campylopterus phainopeplus), Santa Marta Woodstar (Chaetocercus astreans), White-tipped Quetzal (Pharomachrus fulgidus), Santa Marta Parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata), Santa Marta Antpitta (Grallaria bangsi), Santa Marta Tapaculo (Scytalopus sanctaemartae), Brown-rumped Tapaculo (Scytalopus latebricola), Streak-capped Spinetail (Cranioleuca hellmayri), Rusty-headed Spinetail (Synallaxis fuscorufa), Santa Marta Bush-tyrant (Myiotheretes pernix), Santa Marta Wren (Troglodytes monticola), Santa Marta Brush-finch (Atlapetes melanocephalus) LC, Santa Marta Warbler (Myiothlypis basilica), White-lored Warbler (Myiothlypis conspicillata), Yellow-crowned Whitestart (Myioborus flavivertex), Rufous-browed Conebill (Conirostrum rufum) and Santa Marta Mountain-tanager (Anisognathus melanogenys).

There are some other regions with high endemisms, like Darién, Sierra de Chiribiquete, Tumaco and Bocagrande Islands, and the Upper Amazon-Napo lowlands; however, these areas are not accessible to tourists.

2.3. Endemic birds of Colombia and where to find them

Endemic birds of Colombia (by families)

Endemic Cracids of Colombia

Penelope perspicaxOrtalis garrula Ortalis ColumbianaCrax alberti 

Endemic Quails of Colombia

Odontophorus hyperythrusOdontophorus strophium 

Endemic grebes of Colombia

Podiceps andinus Already extinct

Endemic Pigeons of Colombia

Leptotila conoveri 

Endemic Hummingbirds of Colombia

Anthocephala floriceps,  Anthocephala berlepschiRamphomicron dorsaleOxypogon stuebeliiOxypogon cyanolaemusOxypogon guerinii , Eriocnemis isabellae,  Eriocnemis mirabilisCoeligena prunelleiCoeligena phalerataCoeligena orinaChaetocercus astreansChlorostilbon olivaresiCampylopterus phainopeplusAmazilia castaneiventrisAmazilia cyanifronsLepidopyga liliae

Endemic Rails of Colombia

Rallus semiplumbeus 

Endemic Owls of Colombia

Megascops gilesi

Endemic Puffbirds of Colombia

Bucco noanamae 

Endemic Barbets of Colombia

Capito hypoleucus

Endemic Woodpeckers of Colombia

Picumnus granadensisMelanerpes pulcher 

Endemic Parrots of Colombia

Bolborhynchus ferrugineifrons Hapalopsittaca fuertesi , Pyrrhura viridicata , Pyrrhura calliptera 

Endemic Antbirds of Colombia

Drymophila hellmayri , Drymophila caudata , Cercomacroides parkeri 

Endemic Antpittas of Colombia
  1. Santa Marta Antpitta (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta) Grallaria bangsi
  2. Cundinamarca Antpitta (Eastern Andes) Grallaria kaestneri
  3. Sierra Nevada Antpitta (Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta) Grallaria spatiator
  4. Muisca Antpitta (Eastern Andes)  Grallaria rufula
  5. Chamí Antpitta (Western Andes)   Grallaria alvarezi
  6. Urrao Antpitta (Western Andes) Grallaria urraoensis
  7. Brown-banded Antpitta (Central Andes) Grallaria milleri
Endemic Tapaculos of Colombia

Scytalopus sanctaemartaeScytalopus rodrigueziScytalopus alvarezlopeziScytalopus stilesi Scytalopus latebricola Scytalopus canus

Endemic Foliage gleaners of Colombia

Clibanornis rufipectus

Endemic Spine-tails of Colombia

Synallaxis subpudicaSynallaxis fuscorufa

Endemic Tyrant flycatchers of Colombia
  • Endemic Bristle-Tyrant of Colombia

Phylloscartes lanyoni 

  • Endemic Bush-Tyrant of Colombia

Myiotheretes pernix 

Endemic Flycatchers of Colombia

Myiarchus apicalis

Endemic Contingas of Colombia

Lipaugus weberi 

Endemic Vireos of Colombia

Vireo approximansVireo caribaeus 

Endemic Wrens of Colombia

Troglodytes monticolaCistothorus apolinariThryophilus sernaiThryophilus nicefori Henicorhina anachoretaHenicorhina negreti 

Endemic Tanagers of Colombia
  • Endemic Flowerpiercers of Colombia

Diglossa gloriosissima 

  • Endemic Dacnis of Colombia

Dacnis hartlaubi 

  • Endemic Tanagers of Colombia

Chlorochrysa nitidissimaAnisognathus melanogenysBangsia melanochlamysBangsia aureocincta

Endemic Sparrows of Colombia
  • Endemic Brushfinch of Colombia

Arremon basilicus Atlapetes melanocephalusAtlapetes flavicepsAtlapetes fuscoolivaceusAtlapetes blancae 

Endemic Cardinals/grosbeaks of Colombia
  • Endemic Ant-tanagers of Colombia

Habia gutturalisHabia cristata 

Endemic Wood-Warblers of Colombia
  • Endemic Warblers of Colombia

Myiothlypis basilicaMyiothlypis conspicillata 

Endemic Redstarts of Colombia

Myioborus flavivertex 

Endemic Blackbirds of Colombia
  • Endemic Oropendolas of Colombia

Psarocolius cassini

  • Endemic Grackles of Colombia

Macroagelaius subalarisHypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster 

Endemic Finches of Colombia

Euphonia concinna

2.4. Endangered Bird Species of Colombia

Threatened species are interesting targets for birdwatchers. The combination of endemic and threatened status is becoming increasingly common, which has made these birds the targets of birders, tourism, and conservation strategists.

Responsible tourism is one avenue that may guarantee the preservation of these species. In Colombia there are around 124 globally threatened birds. The list below denotes which birds are critically endangered and where to find them according to the IUCN Red List.

The Global IUCN Red List Categories are: Data Deficient (DD), Least Concern (LC), Near Threatened (NT), Vulnerable (VU), Endangered (EN), Critically Endangered (CR), Extinct in The Wild (EW), Extinct (EX). Below you can find the most Critically Endangered bird species of Colombia.

Scientific name English name Where to find it*
Crax alberti Blue-billed Curassow N Colombia, S Antioquia and W Boyacá; currently survives only in a few remnant forests patches from La Guajira and Magdalena. El Paujil Bird Reserve, Boyacá, E Andes. Tayrona National Park, N, Magdalena. Los Besotes Ecopark Reserve, Cesar.
Oxypogon cyanolaemus Blue-bearded Helmetcrest N Colombia. Lagunas de Sevilla, Sierra nevada de Santa Marta.
Eriocnemis isabellae Gorgeted Puffleg W Andes of SW Colombia. Serranía del Pinche, Cauca.
Coeligena orina Glittering Starfrontlet NW Colombia. Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve, Antioquia, Colombia. Páramo de Frontino, Antioquia. Las Orquídeas Natural National Park, Antioquia–Chocó border. Farallones de Citará, on Antioquia–Chocó border. Jardín, Antioquia. Cerro Montezuma, Risaralda.
Lepidopyga lilliae Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird Coastal N Colombia. Vía Parque Isla de Salamanca, Magdalena, Colombia. Bocas del Atrato, Antioquia
Hapalopsittaca fuertesi Indigo-winged Parrot W slope of C Andes of Colombia Cortaderal, Risaralda, Colombia.
Grallaria fenwickorum Urrao Antpitta SE slope of Páramo del Sol Massif, at N end of W Andes of Colombia. Dusky Starfrontlet Reserve, Antioquia, Colombia.
Lipaugus weberi Chestnut-capped Piha N & NE slopes of C Andes of Colombia. Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve, Antioquia.
Troglodytes monticola Santa Marta Wren Upper elevations in Santa Marta Massif, in N Colombia. Lagunas de Sevilla, Sierra nevada de Santa Marta.
Thryophilus nicefori Niceforo’s Wren W slope of E Andes from Serranía de los Yariguíes and San Gil area (Santander) E to Soatá (Boyacá). Cerulean Warbler Reserve, Lodge, Santander. Barichara, Santander.
Atlapetes blancae Antioquia Brushfinch C Andes of Antioquia. Vereda Alto de Medina, Bello, Antioquia. Vereda Cerezales, Antioquia.

*own registers, 

Find out more information about bird extinction in our entry Bird-watching Tourism Helps to Reduce Bird Extinction Risks in Colombia.

2.5. Top 5 charismatic bird species of Colombia

Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus)

In Colombia this species occurs as a subspecies known as R. p. sanguinolentus, Gould, 1859. These birds reside along the western Andes of Colombia and into the northwest corner of Ecuador.

Their feathers are a brilliant and unmistakable orange color, and the males have a distinctive crest created by two rows of fluffy feathers that take the shape of a semicircular casque. Females are dark chestnut-brown colored.

One of the most striking moments to observe these birds is during breeding season. The males form groups of up to 15 or more individuals to attract the attention of the females. They then compete with ritualized bowing and head-bobbing displays towards the other, which includes jumping, wing-flapping, bill-snapping and callings.

Helmetcrest Hummingbirds

These stunning hummingbirds are highly distinctive. There are three species variants in in Colombia: the Blue-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon cyanolaemus), Buffy Helmetcrest (Oxypogon stuebelii) and Green-bearded Helmetcrest (Oxypogon guerinii).

The males have a colored strip on the throat resembling a tie or bowtie and a spiky crest. These birds are found in solitary forages near flowering shrubs in the Páramos.

The Blue-bearded Helmetcrest are found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Blue-bearded Helmetcrest), near the town of Minca and Santa Marta city.

Los Nevados National Natural Park, which is close to Manizales City, houses the Buffy Helmetcrest, and Sumapaz National Natural Park near Bogotá is where you will find the Green-bearded Helmetcrest.

Multicolored Tanager (Chlorochrysa nitidissima)

This endemic but vulnerable of Colombia is found in the Colombian Inter-Andean Slopes and Chocó. The genus name Chlorochrysa refers to the green and yellow plumage, and the species name nitidissima means “very bright”.

The beauty of this bird comes from its electrified plumage. It is a difficult to see species in the field since it travels in mixed flocks at the top of the forest and moves quickly.

There are, however, some places where this bird has been enticed by the local fauna. La Minga Bird Lodge and Finca Alejandría, both of which are in the Valle del Cauca, have banana trees that attract these birds and allow for photography.

Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata)

Despite this species being extremely common throughout the Andes, it is always a great experience to see one live. The Torrent duck lives by fast-flowing rivers and streams in the mountains; they move around a mixture of rapids, rocks, ravines, waterfalls along with some calmer waters.

It is for this reason that the duck has been named the “torrent duck”, as it is fearless against the most dangerous currents of South America. The Torrent is extremely territorial and mates for life. This will surely interest you romantics out there!

They are, however, difficult to catch, despite their abundance; however, if you find one half of the pair, the other will surely be quick to follow. Some of the best places to find them are Otún Quimbaya in Risaralda and Combeima river canyon in Tolima.

Grey-Breasted Mountain-Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca)

Have you ever heard of a toucan living in the cold? The Grey-Breasted Mountain-Toucan lives in the higher altitudes of the Páramos, between 2,000 and 3,659 meters above sea level (6562 to 11975 FAMSL).

The birds have a stunning, blueish-greyish coat accented by cheerful and multicolored tones of red, yellow, green and pink. In Colombia you can find this beautiful bird in the areas of the coffee triangle, Valle del Cauca and Cauca and Nariño… but only if the dense fog clears up a bit.

2.6. Top 5 larger bird species of Colombia

Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria)

Height: 122–140 cm. Weight: male 6–8 kg, female 4–6 kg. Wingspan: 230–260 cm.

The Jabiru is the largest stork in the New World. Its name comes from the Guaraní language and means “swollen neck”. This size of this bird is not the only element that makes this bird particular; it is also mute and communicates by beating its beak.

In addition, these birds mate for life, meaning that if you find one half of the mate, the other half is not far behind. Upon your visit, you can see this voiceless bird in our photographic safari tour.

Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)

Height: 100–130 cm. Weight: female 8 – 11 kg, male 11 – 15 kg. Wingspan: 260–320 cm.

The Andean condor is the national bird of Colombia and has thus become highly symbolic. It is believed to be a symbol of power and health because of its size and longevity. The Andean condor is recognized as one of the largest flying birds on the planet, only second to the Wandering albatross or the Southern royal albatross.

Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)

Height: 89–105 cm. Weight: male 4–5 kg, female 6–9 kg. Wingspan: 176–201 cm.

The presence of this bird indicates that the ecosystem is in total balance. It is a magnificent hunter of the forests. In Colombia, the Harpy Eagle can be found in the Chocó, Caquetá and Amazonas departments.

Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta)

Height: 80–94 cm. Weight: 3–3.5 kg. Wingspan: 170 cm.

With a spiny and cornified* structure attached to the skull, the Horned Screamer is the unicorn of birds, which grows continuously and gives this species its name.  Its call is a very loud echoing sound, and it also gives this species name.

* What does Cornified mean? cor·ni·fi·ca·tion. noun. The process by which squamous epithelial cells in vertebrate animals develop into tough protective layers or structures such as hair, hooves, and the outer layer of skin; the final stage of keratinization. Origin of cornification.

Black Curassow (Crax alector)

Height 85–95 cm. Weight: male 3–4 kg; female 2,4–3,4 kg.

Despite appearing in large numbers, the Black Curassow is threatened by habitat loss and has thus received a vulnerable conservation status due to excessive trapping and hunting.

In Colombia, this bird has been reported at Sierra de la Macarena in the Orinoquia Region.

2.7. Top 5 smaller bird species of Colombia

Gorgeted Woodstar (Chaetocercus heliodor)

Size: 5·8–6·4 cm

The smallest of the Woodstars, this little bird can be found 1h from Bogotá at a place called Jardín Encantado (Enchanted Garden) or at the Chingaza National Natural Park, which is about four hours from Bogotá.

Spangled Coquette (Lophornis stictolophus)

Size: 6·4–6·9 cm

Usually mistaken by a big bee, this hummingbird is usually observed foraging at the top of the trees. The male has a beautiful orange crest with black spots. In Colombia it is possible to observe it in the piedmont forests of the Casanare department in the Eastern Andes. If you want to know this bird, travel with us to Casanare!

Santa Marta Woodstar (Chaetocercus astreans)

Size: 6-7 cm

Little is known about this tiny woodstar hummingbird found only in the Santa Marta mountains. It is known that it lives around montane forest borders, woodlands and shaded coffee plantations; however, it is possible to find it feeding in the gardens of the high parts of Minca.

Little Woodstar (Chaetocercus bombus)

Size: 6–7 cm

This is a small, buzzer hummingbird considered among the smallest birds in the world. In Colombia it has only been registered at the Ñambí River Nature Reserve. Little is known about this bird, which is currently under threat.

Rufous-Crested Coquette (Lophornis delattrei)

Size: 6·4–7 cm; c. 2,8 g.

The Rufous can be smaller than your own thumb! This bird looks like the Spangled Coquette; the males of this species have big and jazzy crests.

The clue to differentiating them is their location. While the Spangled Coquette is found in Casanare (east Andes piedmont at the Orinoquia region), the Rufous-crested Coquette is found in Antioquia and Santander lowland forests.

2.8. Top 5 rare or difficult to see species in Colombia

Barred Tinamou (Crypturellus casiquiare)

Located in a small area between eastern Colombia and southern Venezuela, the Barred Tinamou has been registered in the Vaupés river, near the Brazilian border and the east end of Guainía.

The Barred Tinamou was discovered in the 1920s, but because of its limited presence, it is of little interest to ornithologists and birdwatchers. Virtually nothing has been published about the species’ natural history!

Helmeted Curassow (Pauxi pauxi)

The Helmeted Curassow has a comparatively smaller presence in Colombia, as it is found primarily in the northeast. In May of 2007, the Proaves, and ONG for birds conservation mentioned above, established the Helmeted Curassow Bird Reserve to protect this endangered species and its habitat.  

Despite these and other conservation efforts, the population has been declining due to a combination of hunting and habitat destruction.

Tacarcuna Chlorospingus (Chlorospingus tacarcunae)

This little-known species is found in the northwest corner of Colombia and the southern tip of Panama. It has been reported in Los Katíos National Park; however, this park is closed to visitors.

Scarlet-Breasted Dacnis (Dacnis berlepschi)

Found along the border of Colombia and Ecuador, the Scarlet-Breasted Dacnis is a rare find, especially since its habitat is extremely fragmented and has been reduced over the years. All of this explains the limited information on its natural history.

Its habitat is extremely fragmented and has been reduced over the years. In Colombia this species can be found in protected areas, such as the Río Ñambí Community Nature Reserve in the department of Nariño.

Sharpbill (Oxyruncus cristatus)

Because this species is hard to observe, not much is known about its history and nuances. The specie’s distribution spans from Costa Rica to Argentina; however, its presence is highly fragmented.

The Sharpbill’s voice is exceptionally distinctive and extremely firm; many have compared it to the sound of a falling bomb. In Colombia this species can be found in the department of Antioquia.

2.9. Species with a rich cultural significance in Colombia

The Yellow-Eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis)

It is believed that touching the wings of this bird in flight will bring about good luck. This good luck, however, may run out, as the species is under threat by habitat destruction that has reduced the amount of wax palm trees (Ceroxylon spp.). The parrots use these trees for food, shelter and nesting.

During Holy Week, these trees are harvested for the religious celebration of Palm Sunday. In an effort to reduce the habitat destruction, people have begun to use little saplings of palms that are then planted after the festivities.

Cucarachero – (House wren – Troglodytes aedon)

This bird is well known for its particularly harmonious song. The bird is not shy of humans, and it can be seen with its tail erect while actively jumping along hedges or bushes, occasionally in tall trees. Its vocalizations consist of a melodic, bubbling twitter that occur throughout the year.

This song is so beloved by Colombians to the point that Garzón & Collazos, a Colombian vocal duo, composed a Bambuco (a traditional music genre from Colombia) about a love story based on the behavior of these birds. Listen to the original song in the video here.

Turpial montañero or Toche – (Yellow-backed Oriole – Icterus chrysater)

Unfortunately, the beautiful songs and colors of this bird make it a very attractive ornament in houses. Some subspecies are easy to tame and learn to speak like magpies.

Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)

In 1835 the Andean Condor was recognized as the national bird of the Republic of Colombia due to its great power. It is considered part of the National Heritage because it is a bird that represents the spiritual harmony of those who love the nation.

The symbolism of this bird precedes the birth of Colombia. The Andean Condor was recognized as a mystical bird responsible the earth’s sunrise. With its powerful wings, the condor carries the sun and provides it with the strength to ascend into the sky.

The Andean Condor is considered a bird of freedom and sovereignty. In the national shield of Colombia, it can be seen spreading its wings and showing its majesty.

2.10. High concentrations of birds in Colombia

National Natural Park Montezuma Hill 

This place is one of the most well preserved national parks in Colombia. The eBird system has noted around 590 bird species in the region while other reports have recorded roughly 51 families, 270 genera and 402 species.

The families with the greatest representation are: the Tyrannidae with 30 genera and 47 species; the Thraupidae with 19 genera and 43 species; and the Trochilidae with 28 genera and 36 species.

Eighteen of the one-hundred and sixty three species are considered to be vulnerable or threated either locally or globally, including one (1) endemism Gold-ringed Tanager (Bangsia aureocincta) and 11 endemisms of the Western Cordillera. Nine of these species are endemic to Colombia while 14 are considered almost endemic.

Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve

This is a reserve dedicated to the conservation of the migratory Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea). Located on the western slope of the Colombian Eastern Andes in the department of Santander, the reserve houses around 540 birds. The  Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) has declared the reserve an official AZE site.

Cañón del Río Claro Reserve

The “Cañón del Río Claro” Reserve is located on the south eastern slope of the Central Andean Mountain range in the department of Antioquia. The biodiverse area contains humid forests that grow on limestone rocks, and these forests house a large variety of flora and fauna.

The reserve’s transparent waters running along a marble bed carved out over millions of years offers a unique view. With around 520 reporte bird species, the area is considered the most important biological reserve in the central region of the country.

Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

This reserve was created to protect the habitat of the Chestnut-capped Piha (Lipaugus weberi). Located in Anorí, Antioquia, the reserve contains around 506 bird species.

Los Flamencos Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna in La Guajira

Unlike other reserves known for their biodiversity, this reserve is known for its high density of one species: the pink flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber ruber). A slender bird with pink plumage, the pink flamingo is found along the Navío Quebrado lagoon and Laguna Grande.

The graceful flamingos and their vibrant coloring are the sanctuary’s main attraction, but the area also has relics of tropical dry, very dry tropical forest, mangrove ecosystems and estuaries with their own unique habitats and species. Despite its small size, the sanctuary is considered one of the richest protected areas in Colombia.

Altagracia Natural Reserve

This reserve is home to around 23% of the global population of the Orinoco Goose (Oressochen jubatus).

2.11. Species to see easily in Colombia

Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruviana)

The Nature Reserve Jardín de Rocas is located beside the Serranias bridge and over the Volcanes river (400 m from the Jardin’s main square).

It is a place where people can enjoy watching these birds in their natural habitat because every morning and every afternoon, a lek of around 15 males comes to rest in the garden of this reserve. It is a unique experience in Colombia.

Hummingbirds in feeders

There are many places to observe hummingbirds in Colombia. Generally, there are species that are more confident than others in the face of humans.

Among these is the White-necked Jacobin (Florisuga melivora), Shining Sunbeam (Aglaeactis cupripennis), Rufous-tailed Hummingbird (Amazilia tzcatl), Brown Violetear (Colibri delphinae), Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis), Buff-tailed Coronet (Boissonneaua flavescens), Crowned Woodnymph (Thalurania colombica), Steely-vented Hummingbird (Amazilia saucerottei) and Indigo-capped Hummingbird (Amazilia cyanifrons).

Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis)

This is a difficult bird to detect due to its camouflage abilities. This means that pictures must be taken from very short distances. If you can spot the bird, you will appreciate the incredibleness of its camouflage abilities.

The bird is active at night, which is when it feeds on large insects. Its’ terrifying call is a sharp and descending scream that frightens many and fills the imaginations of unsuspecting people, especially late at night.

Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus)

This bird is similar to the Great Potoo; the difference is that it usually rests on cut branches. It is so confident in its camouflage that you can take selfies with it without it budging from its spot in the slightest.

With a big head and huge yellow eyes, it blends perfectly with its environment and becomes very difficult to detect. The bird is active at night and mainly hunts from an exposed hanger. The song has melancholic series of whistles that descend in tone: “POO, POO, Poo, poo, poo”.

Crescent-Faced Antpitta (Grallaricula lineifrons)

Also known as Lunita, the Crescent-Faced Antpitta is a tamed bird appearing every morning at 8 o’clock for breakfast in Hacienda El Bosque. Lunitas are small and live in the cloud forest at very high elevations in the Andes.

The bird is brown and gray with white half-moons on its face, striped bottoms and beige spots on the sides of its neck. Lunita remains in the undergrowth but not typically on the ground. It is usually located by its vocalizations; the typical song is a growing series of sweet whistles.

2.12. Bird species with prominent songs of Colombia

Musician Wren (Musician) (Cyphorhinus arada)

This bird has been registered in the departments of Vaupés and Putumayo, both in the Amazon region of Colombia.

Chestnut-breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus)

The Chestnut-Breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus) is a bird species in the Troglodytidae family found in the Andes of Colombia. Its natural habitat is a subtropical or tropical moist montane forest.

This bird is more easily heard than seen. Listen for repeated sets of 2–3 eerie whistled notes moving up in pitch.

Song Wren (Cyphorhinus phaeocephalus)

Like its chestnut counterpart, the Song Wren is more easily heard than seen. Listen for a unique combination of deep whistles and harsher clucking notes. It lives in the undergrowth of very humid forests and adjacent areas of high secondary growth.

Four subspecies are recognized in Colombia: C. p. lawrenciiC. p. propinquusC. p. chocoanus and C. p. phaeocephalus.

It is located south of the Serranía del Baudo (chocoanus), west of the Gulf of Urabá to the upper Atrato valley (lawrencii), in the headwaters of the San Juan River south to Nariño (phaeocephalus), in the Sinú east valley, through the humid lowlands of the north from the Andes to the middle valley of the southern Magdalena, and to the east of Antioquia.

Andean Solitaire (Myadestes ralloides)

The Andean Solitaire is a shy bird of the cloud forests, where it remains hidden above the trees most of the time. The bird can be detected through its melodious song.

What this bird it lacks in colors and markings, it makes up for with its gorgeous voice.  Listen for short, ethereal and flutelike phrases, usually appearing in a long and leisurely series.

3. What to expect when you come to Colombia for birding?

Despite the varying opportunities Colombia’s rich geography provides, it is still necessary to acknowledge that birding and other forms of ecotourism are relatively new industries, especially in comparison to countries like Costa Rica, Ecuador or Brazil.

Colombia is still lacking in high quality and standard infrastructure, especially in terms of transportation to reach many of these places. Other areas lack hot water, bilingual guides, and well groomed trails with hideouts and observation towers.

Nonetheless, the situation is highly recommendable. In terms of seeking out adventure and a unique experience, Colombia is certainly the most interesting choice, especially for those looking to disconnect for a bit.

3.1. Accommodation in Colombia

Currently, there are around 30 bird lodges in Colombia. While its numbers are far behind those of Peru, Costa Rica and Ecuador, Colombia’s faculties are rapidly improving.


The country’s main cities, along with some of the surrounding area, have very nice hotels with the basic services included. However, the further away you move from the cities, the lower the quality of services.

For example, it is likely to find cold water showers in hot regions. Many of the locals would consider hot showers to be a nonsensical demand.

Bedroom sizes also become smaller, as well as the restroom size. Some hotels have several floors with no elevators, which can difficult for people with certain health conditions or who simply have a lot of baggage.

Breakfast included in the hotel price is rare, especially in small town hotels.

Rural accommodations

Some of Colombia’s most fantastic places for birding are quite difficult to reach.  One alternative is to stay with the local people in their own homes.

Many campesinos open up their home to tourists as a means of extra income. You can expect wood-made houses, small beds, shared rooms and shared bathrooms- all quite simple and rustic.

Everything, however, is very clean and includes farm to table food and attentive and kind hosts.


Colombia is still working towards offering higher quality customer support and services for its clients.

3.2. Services and Facilities

Transportation in Colombia

Roads and specialized transportation services for birdwatchers in Colombia Main roads in Colombia are paved. In general, most secondary roads are in good conditions, but it depends on the region. Landslides and rockslides are the main reason for road closures in Colombia.

The primary regions affected by these occurrences are the route Bogotá – Villavicencio, which is the main connection to the eastern plains, and the route Ibagué – Armenia (known as La línea road), which connects Bogotá with the rest of the country.

Delays and closures are especially prevalent during the winter seasons when it rains a lot. As if this were not enough, the costs to travel by plane quadruple due to the low number of airlines covering these routes.

Thus, if you are planning to travel to Colombia, make sure you plan it with enough time to avoid high flight prices.

Nowadays, there are few companies offering specialized transportation for birdwatchers in Colombia. Big companies are used to paved roads and scheduled departure and arrival times, with little interest in waiting for a birder.

This is likely to change, as birdwatching and natural tourism continues to grow in the area. Natural parks, reserves, and birding routes in Colombia are far from accessible in terms of connectivity and infrastructure.

In general, you will find open, unregulated roads, and in some cases, there are no roads at all. Many operators offering services to birders will the traditional transportation mechanisms of the region, such as willys (jeeps),  chivas (traditional bus) or mulas (a hybrid between a horse and a donkey).

Travelling this way can be a good cultural experience; however, if you want your comfort and privacy, you will need a 4×4 truck. The most common 4×4 truck used in Colombia is a Duster because of the tradeoff quality and the price.

The problem with this car is its size, as many Europeans and North Americans will find it a tight squeeze to say the least. Additionally, poor road conditions and bad connectivity makes terrestrial transportation expensive.

In recent years, this factor has been the principal factor behind birding’s rising price in Colombia. Traffic accidents are can also cause delays, especially in rural areas. If you travel by land, do not panic (watch drivers video). As long as you or your driver follow the rules, there should be no problems.

Distances in Colombia

Colombia is a huge country, as it is the size of Germany and France or that of Texas and California combined. Besides this, the intricate mountain ranges increase distances and traveling times.

We recommend you travel by plane, but if you must or prefer to travel the country by car, use professional transportation services. 

For example, traveling from Bogotá to Cali takes 40 minutes by plane while it can take anywhere from 9 to 12 hours by car depending on the car and the traffic conditions! You will cross the Western Andean Mountain Range into the Central Mountain Range. This voyage is full of ups and downs, with winding roads and unexpected bends.

Food in Colombia

Despite Colombia’s plethora of fruits and veggies, traditional Colombian food is based on carbohydrates, meat and products derived from sugarcane, such as the panela, and maize, such as the arepa. Local food Depending on the region, your dose of carbohydrates will vary, LOL.

The most widespread recipe in Colombia is something called sancocho. The sancocho is a soup with potato, cassava or yucca, green banana or “platano” and a protein, ranging from cow, pigs, chicken or fish. Sometimes combinations of these proteins will appear. The soup is seasoned with onion, tomato and salt. Despite the sancocho’s popularity, there are typical dishes in each region.

Special requirements in Colombia

Since it is not common to find vegetarian or vegan offerings in the rural areas of Colombia, it is necessary to inform to your travel company about your food preferences well in advance. This guarantees that all your requests will be met during your trip.

You can also equip yourself with biscuits and candies at the supermarket before traveling to remote or isolated areas.

Drinking water is available only in the capital cities, such as Bogotá or Medellín; although, it is not always advisable to drink it directly, as some pipes may be old. We recommend that you use filtered water or buy bottled water.

Colombia Birdwatching Guides

In Colombia there are excellent birdwatching guides who are very knowledgeable about birds and the various services the regions provide.

Guides come from diverse backgrounds, ranging from indigenous communities and campesinos to engineers, biologists and passionate enthusiasts. Some of them work as freelancers while others work for a specific company.

The point is that they are still few, considering the size of the country, the diversity of regions and quantity of birds. English guides are especially hard to find in some of the more remote regions, so a translator, for whatever language you prefer, may be necessary.

4. Best Time to come to Colombia for birdwatching

Due to the variety of ecosystems in Colombia, is it possible to visit the country throughout the year; however, visitors should look into the best time to visit specific regions, as seasonality varies.

Colombia’s seasons are determined by the rain, which is influenced by the climatic phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña. This affects accessibility to some regions, and sometimes coincides with bird nesting times.

Besides this, considering bird migratory seasons is also an important consideration when planning a visit for birdwatching in Colombia. Migration occurs between September and April for  boreal species and between May and September for austral migratory bird species.

5. Urban birding in Colombia and Best cities to do it

Here you can find information about places of ornithological interest or value in Colombia.

5.1. Best spots for birdwatching in Bogotá

La Florida Park

Located on the western limits of Bogota, La Florida Park is a large reserve with 267 ha of forests and wetlands in the capital district. Here, it is possible to observe 3 endemic species to Bogota: the Silvery-Throated Spinetail, Apolinar´s Wren  and the Bogotá Rail.

Monserrate Sanctuary

The Monserrate Sanctuary is an iconic symbol of Bogotá.  Towering over the city at 3152 meters above sea level, the sanctuary is a religious pilgrimage site enclosed in exuberant and lush vegetation. The area contains three types of forest:  The High Andean Forests, Eucalyptus forests and Pine forests. 

The site offers the best view of the city while also offering birders a chance to observe various birds in the high-altitude gardens.

 Here are some of species you may find: Silvery-Throated Spinetail EN, Rufous-Browed Conebill, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Golden-Fronted Whitestart, Andean Guan, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Shining Sunbeam, Glowing Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, White-bellied Woodstar, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain Tanager, Black Flowerpiercer, Grey-Browed and Pale-Naped Brush Finches, Andean Siskin.

Botanical Garden José Celestino Mutis

The botanical garden of Bogota functions as a research center provides cultural and educational services for citizens. With 19 ha of land containing 300 plant families, the garden receives over 50,000 individuals during the year.

This is the main hub for biodiversity within the city limits of Bogotá. The following species can be found here: The Scrub Tanager, Rufous-browed Conebill, Mountain Elaenia, Rusty and Black Flowerpiercers, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Siskin, and several migratory birds During the migratory seasons occuring at the end of the year.

Quinta de Bolívar Museum

This museum is devoted to the legacy of Simon Bolivar. The entrance of the museum lies within Monserratte and includes several gardens that attract many birds, especially hummingbirds. Because this is a museum, this will not be your traditional birdwatching experience.

You can, however, kills two birds with one stone and get a history lesson on Colombia as well. Among the birds found here are the Lesser Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, White-bellied Woodstar, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Black Flowerpiercer, among others.

Hummingbirds Observatory

The observatory is not actually located in Bogota but rather 30 minutes outside the city, via La Calera town. Here it is possible to observe around 30 Hummingbird species and montane birds.

You can either pay for a three hour pass or a full day pass, making it accessible to families as well as individuals.

5.2. Best spots for birdwatching in Cali

The Pance River Ecopark

The Pance River Eco Park is in the Department of Valle del Cauca, near the Municipality of Cali. The ecopark lies between 1,125 – 1,240 meters above sea level with an area of 59.9 ha that house a transition zone between the Tropical Dry Forest and Premontane Wet Forest.

Among the species it is possible to find the Colombian Chachalaca , Andean Motmot, Green Kingfisher, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Golden-collared Manakin, Green Hermit, and the Collared Trogon, Red-Headed Barbet. The area houses over 200 other bird species as well.

Eco Park Lake of the Garzas

The Eco Park Lake of the Garzas is framed by an artificial lake. The first conservation date back to 1995; however, the initiative really took off in 1996 after the American Airlines accident. With the support of the affected families and the DAGMA, over 400 trees were planted in memory of the people lost.

The ecopark is a public place and offers basic infrastructure for the development of educational programs, environmental research and passive recreation, including the observation of diverse fauna and flora. Here, it is possible to observe the endemic Grayish Piculet – Picumnus granadensis, the Common Potoo – Nyctibius griseus, the Rufous-Breasted Hermit –Glaucis hirsutus, the Chestnut-Headed Oropendola – Psarocolius wagleri, among other 200 bird species.  

Farallones Country Club

This is a private country club dedicated to offering golf, tennis, soccer and swimming activities to its members. The club lies within a huge tree garden containing several lakes with large and small water mirrors in the landscapes that add difficulties for any golfer.

This place has been recognized as a hotspot for birds in the city of Cali, with around 180 species to observe. Here is a small list of what you might find: the Gray-Cowled Wood-Rail – Aramides cajaneus, Purple Gallinule – Porphyrio martinica, Colombian Chachalaca – Ortalis Columbiana and the Grayish Piculet – Picumnus granadensis.  

Universidad del Valle

This is a public Colombian university located in the city of Cali in the department of Valle del Cauca. The city is one of the largest university campuses in Colombia with an area of 1,000,000 m², making it the second largest university campus in the country after the main campus of the National University in Bogotá.

Within the area’s gardens and green spaces, you can observe species like the Vermilion Flycatcher – Pyrocephalus rubinus, Streak-Headed Woodcreeper – Lepidocolaptes souleyetii, Baltimore Oriole – Icterus galbula, Tropical Parula – Setophaga pitiayumi, Yellow Warbler – Setophaga petechia and the Scrub Tanager – Stilpnia vitriolina, among the other 150 bird species.

5.3. Best spots for birdwatching in Medellín

Cerro El Volador

The Cerro El Volador is the largest natural park within an urban area of the city of Medellín. It is located in the northwest of the city, in carrera 65, in front of the headquarters of the National University in Medellín.

The park has important ecological, historical, archaeological and touristic value for the inhabitants of the Aburrá Valley.

It is a protected area with status as a Metropolitan Regional Natural Park due to its biodiversity and vegetation cover. The park is an important platform for environmental education and research.

Arví Park

Arví Park is the only park in Colombia with a Sustainable Tourism certification from the Rainforest Alliance. With 10 trails containing diverse flora, archeological sites, and blossoming orchids that attract birds from all over, the park has a lot to offer.

Among the bird species it is possible to observe the Golden-olive Woodpecker – Colaptes rubiginosus, the Azara’s Spinetail – Synallaxis azarae, the Green Jay – Cyanocorax yncas, the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta – Grallaria ruficapilla, and the Andean Solitaire – Myadestes ralloides, etc.

La Romera Natural Reserve

This reserve is located on the outskirts of Medellín in the municipality of Sabanetas. The Romera has an area of 235 hectares, the best way to get to the Park is walking, along the paths immersed in the vegetation of the area which corresponds to Andean wet forest at 2650 meter above sea level.

Here it is possible to observe the Colombian Chachalaca – Ortalis Columbiana, Ornate Hawk-Eagle – Spizaetus ornatus, Southern Emerald-Toucanet – Aulacorhynchus albivitta, Yellow-headed Manakin – Chloropipo flavicapilla, the endemic Red-bellied Grackle – Hypopyrrhus pyrohypogaster, among other 350 bird species.

5.4. Best spots for birdwatching in Manizales

Paraíso Verde Manizales

This place has a coffee-style house surrounded by forests, gardens and natural water sources, just three kilometers from the center of Manizales. It is possible to walk along the paths and surroundings of the house for bird watching.

They also have ideal feeders for bird photography. Around 200 species of birds can be found in this place, among them Squirrel Cuckoo – Piaya cayana, Southern Emerald-Toucanet – Aulacorhynchus albivitta, Crimson-rumped Toucanet – Aulacorhynchus haematopygus, Steely-vented Hummingbird – Amazilia saucerottei, Scaled Antpitta – Grallaria guatimalensis, etc.

Los Alcázares Arenillo EcoPark

Located in the municipality of Manizales, in the Los Alcázares neighborhood, 5 minutes from the city center with an extension of 33.43 ha at 2000 m.a.s.l. It is immersed in a very humid premontane forest life zone; its vegetation is characterized by trees of great importance for the fauna of the place.

The Alcázares Arenillo Ecopark becomes one of the main lungs within the urban area of the city of Manizales. Ecological tours and good environmental practices are the activities that tourists can develop in it.

Bird watching has easy access and easy roads, here you can meet more than 140 species of birds and among the most representative stand out, Scaled Antpitta – Grallaria guatimalensis, Scrub Tanager – Tangara vitriolina, Red-headed Barbet – Eubucco Bourcierii, Bar-crested Antshrike – Thamnophilus multistriatus, among other 300 bird species.

Recinto del Pensamiento

The Jaime Restrepo Mejía Recinto del Pensamiento has an area of 179 ha, which are mostly part of a protective and productive natural reserve. The “Recinto del Pensamiento” offers a path that presents different natural attractions such as: Orchard of aromas, Chairlift system, Ecological path, Bird’s eye view, Eastern path, Butterfly observatory, Orchid forest, Wooden pavilion and Coffee Ritual.

Here it is possible to observe around 260 species of birds among them the Lesser Violetear – Colibri cyanotus, White-naped Brushfinch – Atlapetes albinucha, Metallic-green Tanager – Tangara labradorides, Indigo Flowerpiercer – Diglossa indigotica, Collared Inca – Coeligena torquata, etc.

Los Yarumos Ecopark

The Los Yarumos Ecopark is really close to the city center. With its 53 hectares of cloud forest, the park hosts a large variety of fauna and flora while also providing the urban area of ​​Manizales with oxygen and water. Species of flora, such as bromeliads, anthuriums and orchids, adorn the ecological paths.

Arboloco (shrub) large tree ferns and palms can also be found in this forest reserve. Of course, the most notable site to see is the Yarumo, which paints the Andean jungles white. The trees attract many unique birds, such as the Mountain Carriqui – Cyanocorax yncas, and the Emerald Toucan – Aulacorhynchus prasinus. Guatines, opossums, foxes and even tigrillos are also quite abundant in this region.

5.5. Best spots for birdwatching in Armenia

Parque de La Vida

The Parque de la Vida in the city of Armenia is one of the largest green lungs of the Quindian capital. With a total area of about 8 ha, this ecotourist offers the inhabitants of the city a slice of paradise amid the concrete and chaos of daily life.

The park offers a variety of different tours revealing waterfalls, artificial lakes, and over 200 bird species, including: The Blue-Necked Tanager – Stilpnia cyanicollis, Bay-Headed Tanager – Tangara gyrola, Flame-Rumped Tanager – Ramphocelus flammigerus, Hepatic Tanager – Piranga flava, Turquoise Dacnis – Dacnis hartlaubi, etc.

Quindío Botanical Garden

The Quindío Botanical Garden fosters conservation projects, scientific research and environmental education. It is also an internationally recognized center for natural tourism in Colombia.

There are several plant collections and exhibitions including the National Collection of Palms. These collections brings together almost all the native species of Colombian palms.

The Botanical Graden also has a beautiful and famous butterfly garden, an insect zoo, three sites for bird watching, a geology and soil museum, the Line Tunnel Museum, an ethnobotanical palm museum and many other natural attractions.

There are around 200 bird species reported in this area, among them the Crimson-Rumped Toucanet – Aulacorhynchus haematopygus, Barred Antshrike – Thamnophilus doliatus, Blue-Necked Tanager –Stilpnia cyanicollis, the near endemic Western Emerald – Chlorostilbon melanorhynchus, and the endemic Grayish Piculet – Picumnus granadensis.

5.6. Best spots for birdwatching in Villavicencio

Bosque Bavaria (Orange-Breasted Falcon Reserve)

The reserve is located at the base of the Eastern Andes in the foothills of the Colombian eastern plains, five minutes outside the capital city of Villavicencio in the department of Meta. The forest has around 30 ha of humid foothill forests located between 800 and 1.100 m above sea level.

The most notable birds here are the Gray-Chinned Hermit – Phaethornis griseogularis, Blue-Fronted Lancebill – Doryfera johannae, Amazonian Motmot – Momotus momota, Yellow-billed Nunbird – Monasa flavirostris, White-Chinned Jacamar – Galbula tombacea, Scaled Piculet – Picumnus squamulatus, White-Chested Puffbird – Malacoptila fusca and the Striolated Manakin – Machaeropterus striolatus among others.

5.7. Best spots for birdwatching in Santa Marta

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino Botanical Garden is one of the most important tourist attractions in the city of Santa Marta. The garden houses the largest representation of flora from the tropical dry forests of the Caribbean.

It is also the most important wildlife refuge in the urban environment of the Santa Marta district. This is a historical and cultural place that can also be great for bird watching activities in Santa Marta.

Among the 140 registered species, you will likely find the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl – Glaucidium brasilianum, Orange-Chinned Parakeet – Brotogeris jugularis, Yellow Warbler – Setophaga petechia, Whooping Motmot – Momotus subrufescens, Russet-Throated Puffbird – Hypnelus ruficollis, and the Trinidad Euphonia – Euphonia trinitatis.

5.8. Best spots for birdwatching in Popayán

Popayán downtown and Cerro de la Eme

The city of Popayán can be found in the Valley of Pubenza, between the Western and Central mountain ranges of Colombia in the southwest of the country.

Because of its white color, UNESCO has declared this city a world heritage site, which means you can combine bird watching with cultural exploration.

Your adventure begins with a departure from the Cerro de la Eme hill, which has multiple trails containing more than 100 recorded bird species, including the White-Naped Brushfinch – Atlapetes albinucha, Crested Oropendola – Psarocolius decumanus, Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager – Anisognathus somptuosus, Golden-olive Woodpecker – Colaptes rubiginosus, Rusty Flowerpiercer – Diglossa sittoides, etc.

6. Best ecolodges and birdlodges in Colombia

An “ecolodge” is a type of tourist accommodation designed to have the least amount of impact on the natural environment in which it is located.

Beyond not harming the environment, ecolodges should positively impact the environment as well as the local community. Ecolodges can be classified depending on the quality of comfort and the number of facilities available.

In Colombia there is still a transition between basic, rural infrastructure and basic hospitality services to world-class lodges with good infrastructure, sustainable practices and high quality hospitality services.

There are around 35 lodges throughout country that offer hospitality to birdwatchers and other travelers. Here we have listed the top five places that meet our criteria for bot accessibility, comfort, and sustainability.

We have also factored in the potential benefits for birdwatchers, and thus have considered aspects like facilities for birdwatchers, and photographers as well as other attractions, such as trail quality, gardens, and balconies.

Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

Hotel Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve is a special place in Manizales Caldas for photography and bird watching. Facilities were created to provide birdwatchers, ornithologists, and nature lovers from around the world with an unforgettable experience.

The area is nationally recognized as an ideal spot for photography and bird watching. It provides comfortable rooms with easy access for older adults, private bathroom, hot water and decorations allusive to birds.

It also provides an early breakfast, opportunities for bird watching day and night, night viewer and camera tripods, a library for consultation, a hummingbird garden, bird feeders, and hideouts for photographers.

Mururito Farm Hotel Natural Reserve

This ecological lodge & nature reserve is located in the Colombian plains in the department of Meta. Spanning 2,000 hectare along the Manacacias River, the reserve provides comfortable rooms with easy access for older adults, private bathrooms and decorum matching that of the Colombian Plains.

The area also has gardens attracting birds and butterflies along solar panels that provide electricity both day and night.

The lodge allows for walks in the forests or the savannas, horseback riding, mountain bike riding, farm activities and much more.

El Dorado Bird Natural Reserve

El Dorado is the flagship reserve of the ProAves foundation and one of the most important bird watching sites in South America. It has 10 rooms and five individual huts, inspired by the architecture of the indigenous Kogui tribe.

The huts offer wonderful views of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The services include: the observation of endemic birds, feeders; different species of mammals and wildlife; trails, observation towers, terraces, a specialized library and resting areas; a restaurant that serves excellent meals and a bar. However, due to its remote location, access becomes increasingly difficult during the rainy season.

La Minga Ecolodge

The ecolodge is located within the Rio Bitaco Forest Reserve, which is a well-preserved cloud forest in the Valle del Cauca department.

The place has maintained bird feeders in the house and garden for several years, along with a floral garden, nectar and fruit feeding stations.

Over 17 species of hummingbirds and 30 species of colorful tanagers (including the multicolor tanager), flower piercers, and honeycreepers can be observed and easily photographed. In the surrounding forest, you can also observe Quetzals and Toucanets.

The house is small but offers cozy accommodations, including a specialized library and chimney.

Araucana Lodge

The lodge is located in the Chocó Bioregion of Colombia, about a 40 min. drive from Cali. It offers ten luxurious rooms with private balconies and complete services. It also provides facilities to birdwatch, take walks, and eat farm to table meals.

El Nido del Condor

El Nido del Condor offers a luxury, glamping experience at the top of the Andean Mountains in the department of Caldas. Here, it is possible to photograph the Andean Condor.

Find a complete guide to the best ecolodges and birdlodges in our entries Complete Guide to the Best Eco lodges in Colombia and Ultimate Guide to the Best Birding Lodges in Colombia.

7. Colombian Birding Trails

Colombian Birding Trails With the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Minister of Commerce’s Tourism and Industry Fund (MINCIT),  the Tourism Promotion Fund (Fontur), The National Audubon Society, and Birdlife International, Calidris in Colombia has been promoting conservation initiatives based on science, bird-based tourism and the public awareness of birds and conservation in Colombia.

Currently, Audubon develops Birding Trails in Colombia to enhance community governance and improve local incomes while conserving the remarkable biodiversity of Colombia.

The program focuses on the conservation of birds and habitats through bird-focused tourism by training local birding guides, which includes English language skills.

The trained people become ambassadress for their local environments and aim to convince these communities to conserve habitats rather than degrade them.

The first results were released on 2016 with the Northern Colombia Birding Trail. Currently, they have been developing the Central, the Southwestern and the Eastern Andes Birding Trails.

PROCOLOMBIA and The Birders Documentary

PROCOLOMBIA is the entity in charge of promoting Tourism, Foreign Investment in Colombia, non-mining energy exports and the overall image of the country.

PROCOLOMBIA asked WhereNext to create a long-form documentary film and five short films about bird diversity in Colombia (learn know more here).

The documentary is called THE BIRDERS | A Melodic Journey through Northern Colombia. It is a magnificent promotional of Colombia that not only portrays the country as an ideal destination for bird watching but for nature and adventure more broadly.

The video demonstrates just how truly unique Colombia is as a country. We hope that the birdwatching industry will help preserve the nation’s natural beauty and promote the growth of ecotourism.

The Caribbean Region: THE BIRDERS | Bird tales from Colombia’s Caribbean.


The Andean Region, THE BIRDERS | A family’s nest in the Colombian Andes.

The Pacific Region: THE BIRDERS | A photographer’s view of Colombia’s Pacific Coast.

The Eastern Plains or Orinoquia Region: THE BIRDERS | A winged safari through the grasslands of Colombia’s Orinoquia.

The Amazon Region: THE BIRDERS | A feathered adventure in the Colombian Amazon.

  • BirdLife International (2019) Endemic Bird on 22/10/2019

Birding around the main cities of Colombia: Know the Best Spots

Birds are everywhere, even in the middle of the big cities, the only thing you must do to discover them is to connect with nature, by doing urban birding. Cities are, in fact, real jungles, with specific and unique fauna and flora and ecological networks, like any other environment on Earth. Only this one has a high level of human intervention, and birds are where you least expect them: flying high in the sky, perched on top of buildings or antennas, nesting on your ledge, eating seeds in your neighborhood park, waiting for the leftovers you leave somewhere, in a lake, in the pool and even on lamp posts!

The activity of identifying a bird in the city requires paying attention to what is around, the trees, the houses, the buildings, the sounds and the colors, apart from a good field guide of course. Many birders travel to remote nature destinations to find exotic birds and tick their checklists -Colombia is becoming a top birding destination. However, birding has moved to the cities of the world in recent times and people are discovering the huge birdlife that goes unnoticed in the urban everyday life. Urban birding is now a trend and we will talk about the basics of urban birding and the best urban birding spots in Colombia.

Urban Birding in Colombia according to ‘The Urban Birder’

David Lindo is a wildlife broadcaster, writer, educator, lecturer, and birding tour guide from London, England. Lindo, also known as ‘The Urban Birder‘, is passionate about looking for birds in urban environments as well as sharing his passion with others and promoting conservation for those birds with whom we share our lives in the cities.

He was at the Colombia Bird Fair 2020 to give a speech about urban birds and bird migration within cities. This was his second time in the country and both experiences were mind-blowing. We had the possibility to interview him on birdwatching tourism, bird conservation and urban birding in Colombia.

“Birdwatching tourism is essential when it comes to conservation” – he told us. This is about a cycle where the bird diversity in one region attracts birders and other kinds of tourists, meaning money entering the local economy. When locals see that people are investing in the region because of birds, they realize they need to protect that resource in order to attract more tourists. In a more holistic perspective, the promotion of ecotourism ensures the protection of natural areas because people actually enjoy visiting and discovering the wildlife that inhabit those areas. This is essential for rural and urban birding spots, and citizens must protect the little nature that is left in the concrete jungle.

The Urban Birder thinks that more people should come to Colombia because it has more species of birds than any other country in the world. For example, Cali -speaking of the Colombia Birdfair host city, a city with over 2 million people, has more than 500 bird species, which is incredible for an urban birder. This is something that Colombians should definitely feel proud of.

7 tips for urban birding in Colombia

  1. Feel safe. An unfamiliar city in a Latin country can seem scary. However, Colombian cities are safe, without denying that there are places where it is advisable to be careful. Always go birding in the company of guides or trusted friends who know the area and its neighbours well. In any case “don’t give papaya!
  2. Bring your local bird guide book, and be amazed at how many birds you can find! Some recommendations here.
  3. Don’t worry if you cannot identify all the birds you see. There are a lot of different species and some are similar, identifying the features of birds is something that comes with time and practice.
  4. When you go out birding, turn off your mind to all the urban sounds and try to tune in to nature’s wave. After a while, you will start hearing and seeing things you never expected.
  5. Once you get the hang of it, try urban birding every day for 10 or 30 minutes. Include birding in your routine, before work or school, and you will feel great!
  6. After you have gotten used to urban birding, it is time to buy a pair of binoculars -go to a store and try ones that suit you- and a birding guide for identification.
  7. Above all else, just look up!

Watch the full interview with David Lindo (LINK)

Urban Birding Spots in Colombia

Colombian cities are characterized by large patches of green areas in municipal parks, monuments, sanctuaries, zoos, and universities. This plant cover, usually composed by native species, is home to many species of birds, as well as mammals and insects. As Colombia has big cities in all the different thermal floors, in all the different mountain ranges and with all the possibilities of ecosystems, it is possible to check a great number of bird species when visiting its main cities. Urban birding is a good opportunity to integrate with the culture and biodiversity of the country, since during and after a day of birding in the city you can get to know the city and also enjoy the local cuisine, historical places, understand the culture, and notice the main attractions of each city that you can also visit during your trip.

Urban Birding Spots in Bogotá

Of course, the capital of Colombia is the first on the list of urban birding spots, as it has plenty of green areas that attract birdlife. Check out our complete guide for Birdwatching in Bogotá, to get detailed information.

La Florida Regional Park

~ 337 species

The district of Engativá, in the west edge of Bogota, hosts a great park, renowned among the bogotanos and also visited by tourists. This is La Florida Regional Park, an area of 267 hectares of forest and wetland for the enjoyment and relaxation of the community. The complete facilities include basketball, football, volleyball, tennis courts, skating and figure skating rinks, a camping zone, a playground, kiosks, a 2 km walking trail and a natural lake for water sports. The lake zone is where birders can tour in search of endemic and migratory birds. Here you can observe 3 endemic species to Bogota: the Silvery-Throated Spinetail, Apolinar’s Wren and the Bogota Rail, along with other ~300 species.

Monserrate Sanctuary

~ 200 species

It is hard not to notice the white church watching the city from any point in Bogota. At 3,152 meters above sea level, Monserrate is one of the most iconic symbols of Bogota.  The sanctuary and monastery built in the 17th century is a pilgrimage and tourist site enclosed in lush vegetation. The area has high Andean forests, Eucalyptus and Pine forests that host diverse wildlife, although it has partially disappeared over time. You can climb whether in cable car, funicular or -if you are a fit person, on foot.

During the hike, if you are going on foot, you will hear the song of the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and find a family of Andean Guans. At the top of the mountain, in the gardens of the sanctuary, you have one of the best views of the city while also having a chance to observe different high-altitude birds. There are at least 58 bird species, including: Silvery-Throated Spinetail, Rufous-Browed Conebill, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Golden-Fronted Whitestart, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Shining Sunbeam, Glowing Puffleg, Sword-billed Hummingbird, White-bellied Woodstar, Scarlet-Bellied Mountain Tanager, Black Flowerpiercer, Grey-Browed and Pale-Naped Brush Finches, Andean Siskin, among other birds.

José Celestino Mutis Botanical Garden

~ 180 species

Bogota’s botanical garden not only preserves biodiversity amid a concrete jungle but works as a research center and provides cultural and educational activities for citizens. As a proof of the success of its operating model, 50,000 people visit the garden each year. Named after the Spanish priest, who was also a botanist, physician, geographer, mathematician and teacher Jose Celestino Mutis, who was the first naturalist to make a complete research in the territory of the New Kingdom of Granada, in Spanish “Nuevo Reino de Granada”, an area corresponding mainly to modern-day Colombia which lasted from 1538 to 1739,  during the “Expedición Botánica” (Royal Botanical Expedition to New Granada). His work inspired a long tradition of studies on the fauna and flora fields of the country.

The Botanical Garden of Bogotá has 20 hectares of land containing 300 plant families, and its highlighted species of birds are the Scrub Tanager, Rufous-browed Conebill, Mountain Elaenia, Rusty and Black Flowerpiercers, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Siskin. At the end of the year, you can also see several migratory birds.

Quinta de Bolívar Museum

~ 60 species

Quinta de Bolívar Museum serves as a tribute to the legacy of Simón Bolívar. The entrance of the museum lies in front of Montserrate and boasts several gardens that attract many birds, especially hummingbirds. Inside the museum there are 24 different areas with unique furniture of the XVII and XIX centuries, some of the pieces were from Bolivar himself, since he owned the house for 10 years. This may not be the most common bird watching site, however, here you enjoy spectacular views of some birds of the area and have the chance to learn about one of the most important figures in Colombia history. Among the birds found here are the Lesser Violetear, Sparkling Violetear, Black-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, White-bellied Woodstar, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, and Black Flowerpiercer. The entrance is free every Sunday.

Javeriana University

~ 35 species

Pontificia Universidad Javeriana is a Catholic university founded in 1623 by the Society of Jesus in the east zone of the city of Bogota, on the foothills of the eastern cordillera. Its campus has 18 hectares, with 202,988 m2 of buildings and abundant vegetation. In fact, the university has carried out a process of ecological restoration for 10 years. A recent infographic guide published by the Ornithology Javeriano Group details 35 of the most common birds in the campus, characterized by a high Andean forest at 2,640 MASL. Among them, Sparkling Violetear, Canada Warbler, Purple Gallinule, Rufous-collared Sparrow and Red-eye Vireo.

Humedal Santa María del Lago

~ 35 species

It is one of the wetlands with the best water quality and most visited in the city. It has a bird observatory, an auditorium, bathrooms and signs. It is located northwest of Bogota, in the town of Engativá, between carreras 73 and 76. It is made up of 10.86 hectares of which 5.64 form the water mirror. In the wetland you can find birds from the savannah forests of Bogotá, Yellow-backed Oriole, Andean Siskin, or the Lesser Goldfinch, as well as birds from aquatic environments such as Purple Gallinule, American Coot and Common Gallinule among others.

Urban Birding Spots in Cali

The Urban Birder’s city guide highlights some spots for urban birding in Cali:

Zoologico de Cali

~ 123 Especies

Walking around the city’s zoo you can spot groups of Common Ground Dove looking for food in the ground, Great Kiskadee in the trees and wires singing their name, along with Streaked Saltator, Guira Tanager, Scrub Tanager, Spot-breasted Woodpecker… As for the aquatic birds, the Neotropic Cormorants are seen constantly diving, while the Green Kingfisher perch silently on low shaded branches waiting for the moment to plunge after fish. During the migration season, you will find the Blackburnian Warbler and Tropical Parula, both of which belong the New World warblers group.

Cali River and El Gato del Rio Park

~ 100 species

If you walk along the riverside that flows next to the zoo, you will easily find several species such as Red-crowned Woodpeckers, which commute between the trees and nearby gardens; hummingbirds including the Brown Violetear feeding outside some houses, Ochre-bellied Flycatcher, Vermillion Flycatcher and Yellow-olive Flycatcher; Black-billed Thrush, Black Phoebe on the rocks near water; as well as the Black-crowned Night Heron and Snowy Egret vigilant to ambush prey.

Downstream the Cali river, 10 minutes on foot from the San Antonio hill, you find El Gato del Rio which is a park area with a big, bronze statue of a cat made by the Colombian artist Hernando Tejada. This is not only a place to hang out with friends but to spot Safron Finch, Common Tody Flycatcher, flocks of Spectacled Parrotlet, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Yellow-headed Caracara in the treetops and Black Vulture overflying the zone.

Lago de las Garzas Eco Park

~ 60 species

To the southwest edge of Cali, Lago de las Garzas – or Heron Lake, is a public eco park consisting of an artificial lake surrounded by about 400 trees, where people go to relax, have a picnic, walk along interpretive trails and observe wildlife. The clumsy Greater Ani can be found here crashing around in the foliage. Other species are Striated Heron, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Bare-faced Ibis, Neotropic Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, hidden in the bushes is the Grey-necked Wood Rail. There are also hummingbirds, and species as the Plain-brown Woodcreeper, Rusty-margined Flycatcher and the Common Potoo.

The Pance River Eco Park

~ 205 species

Southwest of “La Sucursal del Cielo”, a local name to refer to Cali city, is this beloved weekend destination for the locals, just 20 minutes by bus from the city. This natural bathing spot is in the municipality of Pance at 1,200 m a.s.l. in average and receives many caleñas families that seek to enjoy nature in the eastern slope of the Western Cordillera, covered by tropical dry forest and premontane wet forest. Along the crystal clear, rocky waters of the river, you can go birding and find the Colombian Chachalaca, Andean Motmot, Green Kingfisher, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Golden-collared Manakin, Green Hermit, the Collared Trogon and Red-Headed Barbet, among other species.

Valle University

~ 150 species

This public university located in southern Cali is the second largest university campus in Colombia, after Universidad Nacional in Bogotá. Nature is a protagonist here, with a dry tropical forest ecosystem, and 20 years ago there were 80 resident species and 13 boreal migrants recorded in 1 km2 of the campus (know more here). The five most abundant species are the Cattle egret, Vermillion Flycatcher, Black-billed Thrush, Tropical Kingbird and the Blue-gray Tanager. Apart from these birds, you can see the Streak-Headed Woodcreeper, Baltimore Oriole, Tropical Parula, Yellow Warbler and the Scrub Tanager, among the other 150 bird species.

Farallones Country Club

~ 177 species

This prestigious country club 45 minutes from the center of Cali is the place where caleños go to practice golf, tennis, soccer and other sports with a view of Farallones de Cali, the mountain range that gives the club its name, and if you play on a clear day, it is possible to see the majestic snow-capped volcano of Huila to the south east. Its garden shelter about 170 species of birds, among which are the Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Purple Gallinule, Colombian Chachalaca and the Grayish Piculet.

Urban Birding Spots in Medellín

These are the best places to go urban birding in Medellín, Antioquia:

Cerro El Volador Regional Metropolitan Natural Park

~ 35 species

Cerro El Volador is a metropolitan regional natural park, the largest in Medellín, located in front of the Medellin headquarter of Universidad Nacional and 15 minutes by car from the Atanasio Girardot football stadium. It has an area of 100 hectares with 9 different types of soil cover and 10 water sources, the perfect home to 106 bird species and 76 species of butterflies. The bird species that stand out in this protected area are the Bar-crested Antshrike, Lineated Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Large-billed Seed Finch, Slate-colored Seedeater, Eared Dove, Blue-necked Tanager, Palm Tanager, Tropical Kingbird, Spectacled Parrotlet, Bananaquit, and Streaked Flycatcher. The park is an important place for environmental education and research.

Arví Park

~160 species

Arví Park is the only park in Colombia with a Sustainable Tourism certification from the Rainforest Alliance. It is located on the outskirts of Medellin and is easily accessible by cable car. Its diverse trails offer visitors the possibility to do day and night hiking, bird watching, picnics, bike tours, archaeological and cultural tours with abounding flora such as orchids. Here you can see the Golden-olive Woodpecker, the Azara’s Spinetail, the Green Jay, the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, and the Andean Solitaire.

La Romera Eco Park

~ 375 species

The municipality of Sabaneta, south of Medellin, has a natural reserve of 235 hectares and is considered a water reserve for the Aburrá Valley. Because of this, it is not allowed to camp, make bonfires or practice extreme sports. Its Andean wet forest ecosystem has native flora that shelters bird species such as the Colombian Chachalaca, Ornate Hawk-Eagle, Southern Emerald-Toucanet, Yellow-headed Manakin, the endemic Red-bellied Grackle and Stiles’s Tapaculo, among other 350 bird species.

Medellín Botanical Garden Joaquín Antonio Uribe

~ 170 species

To the north of the capital of Antioquia, next to Explora Park, the Medellin Botanical Garden is considered as a living museum. It has living collections of vertical gardens, ornamental plants, theme exhibitions and collections of endangered species to promote conservation. Birding is one of the main attractions, as it is a great environment for over 100 native and migratory bird species. Bare-faced Ibis, White-tailed Kite, Andean Motmot, Slate-throated Redstart, Black-capped Tanager and Olivaceous Piculet can be spotted here.

El Poblado and Lleras Parks

~ 145 species

Commune No. 14 El Poblado is one of the 16 communes of Medellín, capital of the Department of Antioquia. It is the most expensive and exclusive sector of the city. It is located in the south-eastern area. It is the largest commune in Medellín and also the least populated in relative terms. Lleras Park is one of the most representative places of El Poblado and a place of almost forced passage for the tourists who come to the city. In the parks and gardens of the neighborhood, which also has two streams, attracts many birds as Black-throated Mango, Roadside Hawk, Southern Lapwing, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Grayish Saltator, American Redstart among others.

Urban Birding Spots in Manizales

Manizales is the capital of Caldas, one of the departments of the Coffee Region, which registers nearly 900 bird species. These are some urban birding spots in Manizales:

Los Alcázares Arenillo Eco Park

~140 species

Right to the west of Manizales, Los Alcázares Eco park becomes a main lung within the city. Below 2000 MASL, this humid premontane forest is the setting for responsible ecotourism activities, such as landscape contemplation, hiking and birdwatching. This park has over 30 hectares inhabited by more than 140 bird species from 34 families, including  the Scaled Antpitta, Scrub Tanager, Red-headed Barbet, Bar-crested Antshrike, among others.

Paraíso Verde Manizales

~200 species

Just 3 km north of Manizales there is a lodge true to the Coffee Region culture. Paraíso Verde is a classic-styled house in the middle of a stunning landscape of mountains, great sunsets, trees, bright flowers, birds, butterflies and more. There are several trails to explore the place and enjoy not only bird watching but bird photography! The lodge has ideal feeders for photographers to take their best shots. Among the 200 bird species that inhabit Paraíso Verde, you can see the Squirrel Cuckoo, Southern Emerald-Toucanet, Crimson-rumped toucanet, Steely-vented Hummingbird, Scaled Antpitta. The entrance costs $35,000 COP and the guiding service has an extra cost.

Recinto del Pensamiento

230  species

Recinto del Pensamiento is a distinctive natural reserve since it does not only protect natural resources but seeks to raise awareness and educate about common welfare. It is located 10 km southwest of Manizales. Here you can access an ecological trail, a chairlift system, a garden, an orchid forest, a butterfly observatory, and a birdwatching spot. You can also have an authentic coffee experience and even plant a tree! In its 179 ha you can spot around 230  species of birds, among them the Lesser Violetear, White-naped Brushfinch, Metallic-green Tanager, Indigo Flowerpiercer, Collared Inca, and Swainson’s Hawk. You can come with at least one person or up to 6 to do birdwatching, having previously made a reserve and paying a fee of $80,000.

Los Yarumos Ecopark

~200 species

Los Yarumos Ecopark is a protected natural area in the eastern zone of Manizales. Local families and tourists visit this park to spend an adventurous weekend with 5 zip lines of 30 to 70 meters high, a 105-meter long Tibetan bridge, rappel down a waterfall, slides, a climbing wall and a 4-hour tour along an ecological trail in the forest for nature lovers. The curious ones can visit the library, the natural science museum and participate in the cultural activities. Its 53 hectares of cloud forest serve as home to diverse wildlife, including agoutis, opossums, foxes and tigrillos, and flowers such as bromeliads, anthuriums and orchids. But the tree that gives the park its name is the Yarumo or trumpet tree, which attracts -along with the other trees, many unique birds, such as the Green Jay and the Emerald toucanet, among 200 others, including the Golden-plumed Parakeet, White-vented Plumeleteer and the Palm Tanager.

Urban Birding Spots in Armenia

The capital of Quindío in the Coffee Region is also a good destination for urban birding in Colombia.

Parque de la Vida

~220 species

Parque de la Vida is a breathing space in the middle of the city of 8 hectares, with cascades, a lake and a lot of green. This park was donated to Armenia by the Coffee farmers National Federation. A 2 km trail crosses a guadual and a gorge. The lake is inhabited by different fish, ducks and geese, and people find in the park crafts exhibitions, children games and spaces for exercising and relaxation. At least 220 bird species can be found in here, including the Blue-necked Tanager, Bay-headed Tanager, Flame-rumped Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, and Turquoise Dacnis.

Quindío Botanical Garden

~205 species

The Quindío Botanical Garden is outside the city of Armenia, more exactly in Calarcá municipality. It is an NGO that fosters conservation projects, scientific research, and environmental education. As a recognized spot for nature tourism in Colombia, it offers several attractions such as the National Collection of Palms, which bring together most native species of Colombian palms, a renowned butterfly house, an insect zoo, a geology and soil museum, and three spots for bird watching (a house in the forest, a 22-meter tower and the hummingbird ballet. There are 205 bird species recorded in this area, including about 10 migratory species. You can spot the Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Barred Antshrike, Blue-Necked Tanager, the near endemic Western Emerald, and the endemic Grayish Piculet.

Urban Birding Spots in Villavicencio

The department of Meta, in Llanos Orientales, is the third region in Colombia with most bird species, having nearly 1050 reported. In its capital, Villavicencio, you can go urban birding.

Bosque Bavaria

~350 species

Since 2008, the Orange-Breasted Falcon Reserve -also known as Bosque Bavaria, exists to preserve the habitat of the birds endemic to the Orinoco region or Eastern plains. It is located northwest of Villavicencio, just 15 minutes by car. In 30 hectares of reserve you can explore the mountain forest of the Eastern Andes, where there is a variety of bird species. The most notable birds here are the Gray-Chinned Hermit, Blue-Fronted Lancebil, Amazonian Motmot, Yellow-billed Nunbird, White-Chinned Jacamar, Scaled Piculet, White-Chested Puffbird and the Striolated Manakin.

Universidad de Los Llanos

~238 Especies

The Universidad de los Llanos , is the largest public academic institution of higher education in the eastern plains and Amazon region of Colombia. Its headquarters are located in Villavicencio, capital of the department of Meta. More than 200 species of birds have been reported here. It is a unique campus full of native trees and gardens that are the support and biological corridor for many birds in the region. You can find there birds like Rufous-breasted Hermit, White-bearded Hermit, Pale-bellied Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat. Hoatzin, Gray-cowled Wood-Rail, Russet-crowned Crake, Scarlet Ibis, Sharp-tailed Ibis, Green Ibis, Bare-faced Ibis, Roseate Spoonbill among others.

Bioparque Los Ocarros

~172 Species

The Ocarros Biopark is a zoo of fauna of the eastern plains of Colombia, where you can see jaguars, anacondas, armadillos, snakes, crocodiles, among other species, just 5 minutes from the city of Villavicencio (Meta), on the road that leads to the municipality of Restrepo. The place has 5.5 hectares with large areas, which serve as habitat for about 680 animals of 150 species typical of the ecosystem of the region.

This theme park offers specialized tours and events for one or more days, as well as workshops, conferences and seminars. Among the birds in the wild that can be observed here are Speckled Chachalaca, Hoatzin, Oriole Blackbird, Silver-beaked Tanager, Orange-crowned Oriole, Violaceous Jay, Scaled Piculet, Northern Waterthrush, Northern Slaty-Antshrike, many aquatic birds, among others.

Monumento de Cristo Rey

138 species

After years of state neglect, El Redentor Hill, home to the monument to Christ the King, one of Villavicencio’s landmarks, has recently been recovered to attract religious, sports and even bird-watching visitors. Cristo Rey is located on the hills that rise above the center of Villavicencio, which also makes it a unique place as a tourist viewpoint over the city and the whole plain. This work was started in 1949 by Pedro Eliseo Achury Garavito, who was the parish priest of Villavicencio cathedral at the time. The authorship of the monument is due to José Rama Kers and it was inaugurated in 1954.

The ascent to the hill is done by a road surrounded by little intervened forests of the Andean foothills. You can find bird species such as Barred Antshrike, Short-crested Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Russet-backed Oropendola, Scaled Piculet, Great Potoo, Common Potoo, Amazonian Motmot, Black-crowned Tityra, Glittering-throated Emerald, Lettered Aracari among others.

Jardín Botánico de Villavicencio

127 species

Created in 1983 and since then is a center of flora where it promotes the conservation, preservation, and propagation of plant material, as well as research and promotion of environmental and ecological education programs. It has 46.3 hectares and is mostly occupied by forest, pasture areas and the nursery of plant material, plots of heliconia plants, guadua plants and trees of various species. Species such as Speckled Chachalaca, Cobalt-winged Parakeet, Yellow-tufted Woodpecker, Crested Oropendola, Tropical Screech-Owl, Bat Falcon, Gray-chinned Hermit, Buff-throated Saltator among others can be found.

Urban Birding Spots in Santa Marta

This Caribbean city, the capital of the department of Magdalena and home to the highest coastal mountain in the world -Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, also offers spots for urban birding:

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino

~152 species

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is an important tourist attraction in Santa Marta. This is the house where Simon Bolivar, Colombia’s liberator, lived his last days. This huge country house, founded in 1608, is located just 5 km from the city and boasts amazing gardens with vegetation from the Caribbean tropical dry forests. It actually has a Botanical Garden that collects plants such as a Samanea saman, Ceibas and Tamarinds, along with flowers that attract several birds. Among the 152 registered species, you will likely find the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl, Orange-Chinned Parakeet, Yellow Warbler, Whooping Motmot, Russet-Throated Puffbird, and the Trinidad Euphonia.

Universidad del Magdalena

~186 species

Universidad del Magdalena is a departmental public university located near Quinta de San Pedro in Santa Marta. It is the second Caribbean public university to get the High Quality Institutional Accreditation from the National Ministry of Education and has one of the greatest campus in the region, with 30 hectares of dry tropical forest ecosystem and an artificial lake. A research published in 2008 reported 186 bird species distributed in 41 families: 38 resident, 77 transitory and 72 migratory. In the university you are likely to see the Great-tailed Grackle, Carib Grackle; some endangered species from the United States such as Stilt and Buff-breasted Sandpipers, and the Willow Flycatcher; other species such as the Cattle Egret, Savanna Hawk, Crested Bobwhite and many more.

Urban Birding Spots in Popayan

Downtown Popayán

~100 species

The department of Cauca is located to the southwest Pacific coast of Colombia and has around 1100 bird species reported in platforms as eBird! Popayan is its capital and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 1738 m a.s.l., this city of nearly 300,000 inhabitants is a good destination for urban birding, having a strategic reservoir formed by micro-watersheds, wetlands and springs. In the historical downtown, you can see eared doves (Zenaida articulata), house sparrows, flycatchers, swallows and hummingbirds.

Vía Las Tres Cruces Hill

~50 species

Also, around Cerro de Las Tres Cruces, it is possible to spot the White-Naped Brushfinch (Atlapetes albinucha), Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus), Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus somptuosus), Golden-olive Woodpecker (Colaptes rubiginosus), Rusty Flowerpiercer (Diglossa sittoides), among others.


Find out about everything related to bird watching in Colombia in our Colombia Birdwatching Guide!


About the authors

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. 

Ana María Parra 

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living. 



#1 Birding Destination in Cesar: Cerro Pintado and Perijá Mountain Range

The Perijá mountain range is located in the north of Colombia and is a territory of great biological importance for the country and humanity due to its unique characteristics and the environmental services it provides in the region.

In addition, it has great cultural importance since it has reservations of the Yuko-Yupka and Bari indigenous peoples, almost extinct ethnic groups.

The economy of the region is based on agriculture and mining. In the agricultural part, permanent crops of oil palm, coffee, cocoa, and livestock stand out. On the other hand, mining focuses on the extraction of coal but it pollutes the sources of water, soil, and air.

The rural population, which suffers from high rates of poverty, has been the main affected by the armed conflict in the past. Community-based tourism, rural tourism, and bird watching tourism are economic alternatives for these communities that, until recently, became peace territories.

Perijá Mountain Range (Serranía del Perijá)

The The Perijá Mountain Range (or Serranía del Perijá) is an isolated, northern extension of Colombia’s East Andean Cordillera. It borders Venezuela for the whole of its north-south alignment.

Due to its independent orogeny from the Andes and other close Mountain Ranges, it hosts highly interesting avifauna and some endemism, although not to the same extent as the Santa Marta Mountains.  

The area is almost completely lacking ornithological coverage and very few expeditions have been undertaken to study the area. This is mainly because of the inaccessibility of the area due to a long and ongoing guerilla presence, enhanced by the Venezuelan crisis and illegal crop plantations.

Efforts of the Colombian military, at least parts of the Colombian side of the mountain range have become accessible to tourists but are still rarely visited by birders.  

While forests on the Colombian side of the accessible areas have been partly cleared, the areas on the Venezuelan have declared a National Park. Although, the ProAves Foundation has established the Perija Bird Reserve that protects some of the most interesting areas higher up in the Sabana Rubia sector. 

Cerro Pintado at Perijá Mountain Range

Cerro Pintado, Perijá Mountain Range, Manaure, Cesar

Cerro Pintado is located in northeastern Colombia, on the western slope of the Perijá mountain range. This area has unique characteristics allowing a vast diversification of different groups of fauna and flora. Its proximity to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and being the transition zone between the Guajira peninsula and the eastern Andes, makes it so special.

The vast majority of the hill is covered by premontane and montane forests which in the higher areas are replaced by paramos. At present, there are strong pressures of colonization, mainly from the lower parts to the higher ones, through the expansion of agriculture and livestock.

This site has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA), with around 15.000 hectares. It holds significant numbers of globally threatened species, a significant population of range-restricted species, and holds a significant component of the group of species whose distributions are largely or wholly confined to one biome-realm (Know more at Birdlife International Website).

We all were stunned by the beauty of this remote area. The Cerro Pintado delineates the border with Venezuela and stood in the backdrop of the untouched forest below us! 

A Famtrip with Ropero Aventuras

In this perspective, it was a big privilege to visit the area on the Sula Fam Trip in December 2018 for a good 3 days. We were accompanied by Jose Luis Ropero from Ropero Aventuras, who knows the area very well.

If visiting the area as an individual, it is absolutely mandatory to hire a local guide! During our trip, we explored the altitude gradient available from the Colombian side from 800m a.s.l. – 3100m m.a.s.l. 

Vereda San Antonio

On our first morning, we explored the foothills around Manaure and found the beautiful Rosy Thrush-Tanager singing, seconds later posing for pictures sitting in a bush. Climbing the road up to Vereda San Antonio, where we stayed for the night, we found little activity. 

Rosy Thrush–Tanager – Rhodinocichla rosea, Balcón del Cesar, Cesar

The owner of the Finca has serious plans to convert the place into a hotel. During our stay there, several mountain bikers explored the area, and it was nice to see (again, and again), how many parts of Colombia tourism are taking flight.  So many local people put in effort, as they recognize it as a viable and sustainable economy. 

Vereda San Antonio still lacks some basic infrastructure but with the often boundless enthusiasm and energy people put into such projects, this could change very soon… And their location would be exquisite as there are very few other options in the area. 

During our two evening and late morning excursions in the close vicinity of the Finca, we birded some small but very productive woodland patches. We saw the regional endemic Perija TapaculoGrey-throated WarblerPerijá Brushfinch and ssp. nigrifrons of Yellow-breasted Brushfinch (a good species under IOC Taxonomy = Black-fronted Brushfinch). 

The Paramo Area

One morning, we devoted to the search of the little known Perijá Thistletailregional endemic Furnariid of high altitudes. We reached the Paramo-like habitat very early on a chilly but cloudless morning. And most important: almost no wind, and actually quite a rare occasion up here! 

Tawny-breasted Tinamou sang in the Valley below. Little trails leading into the forest were very tempting, but we didn’t have time to explore them. The song of Perija Thistletail immediately caught our attention, instead.

With the help of a little playback, we lured the bird completely out into the open. Camilla took an excellent photos of this individual, and I was able to take immaculate sound recordings.

As the morning progressed, the first rays of light warmed us and general bird activity increased. An Andean Pygmy-Owl sat out in the open and was mobbed by Perijá MetaltailsWhite-throated Tyrannulets2 Chestnut-breasted ChlorophoniasCommon ChlorospingusSlaty BrushfinchLacrimose Mountain-Tanager (ssp. pallididorsalis) and Blue-backed Conebill! What a flock.

Close by we saw Mountain Wren and heard the very distinct (and different to other populations) song of Rufous Antpitta. Rumor has it, that finally after almost 30 years of research, the split in the Rufous Antpitta complex is neigh! The saltuensis ssp. of the Perija Mountains will surely be elevated to species level. Further down activity dwindled but we saw a beautiful Golden-breasted Fruiteater 


Unfortunately, it was time to wrap up things at Vereda San Antonio and head back to Manaure. Here we stayed at the charming Villa Adelaida for the night. Around their garden, we logged a scatter of common species like Red-crowned WoodpeckersBicolored WrensCrested OropendolasRufous-capped Warblers and Black-headed Tanagers.

But the best bird here was definitely the beautiful Golden-winged Sparrow. This was as well, our last excursion the highly memorable and interesting FamTrip with Sula. A difficult call, but for me, maybe the visit to the Perija Mountains ornithologically-wise constituted the highlight of this trip. Always save best for last, right?  

We fared well to our guide José Louis Ropero, and the next morning we hit the road back to Bogotá on a long and unexpectedly long journey. But that’s a different story just watch the video!

  • Serranía del Perijá: Geografía, capital humano, economía y medio ambiente. Author María Aguilera Díaz. Banco de la República (read here)
  • BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Cerro Pintado (Serranía de Perijá). Downloaded from on 25/08/2020.
About the authors

Jérôme Fischer

Professional bird guide, swiss native, with more than 32 years of experience guiding hardcore birders and birdwatching tours. Jérôme has been focused on bird identification. He also traveled to many countries,  starting in Switzerland. Then he traveled exploring South America, the most biodiverse continent in the world, becoming specialized in Neotropical birds.

Sara Colmenares

The 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.

Ecotourism in Colombia: Birding, Whale Watching, Hiking and Safaris

Being a megadiverse country and having a system of protected natural areas has allowed Colombia to start ranking as a worldwide ecotourism destination. In fact, regarding destinations for ecotourism, Colombia has it all!

Savannas, deserts, mountains, moorlands, snowy peaks, mangroves, rivers, two oceans, the Amazon… Every place you can think of is full of biodiversity and, fortunately, communities that work each day to preserve the natural wealth of the country.  

What is Ecotourism?

To understand better what ecotourism is and what it’s not, you should know that it is a niche belonging to a larger market segment —nature tourism. Nature tourism comprises 3 niches, namely, ecotourism, adventure tourism, and rural tourism. 

Ecotourism is the type of travel that involves natural areas, the participation of local communities and the promotion of environmental awareness.

It is beneficial for the conservation of the natural destination, the well-being of the community and the tourists themselves since they get greater appreciation for nature and culture.

This is why the ecotourism sector is growing more and more around the world, especially in tropical countries like Colombia. 

The niche of ecotourism, in turn, covers the following activities: bird watching, whale watching, observation of fauna and flora in general, and interpretive trails.

As a complementary product to ecotourism, interacting with local cultures during your trip —aka, cultural tourism, is totally recommended. 

Best Ecotourism Destinations in Colombia 

Now that you understand better what ecotourism is and what its activities are, here are the best destinations for doing ecotourism in Colombia, one for each specialized segment. 

Birdwatching in Colombia 

Birdwatching is the activity of observing, listening, photographing and identifying birds in their habitat. Some have birdwatching as a hobby, while others devote their lives to it. 

Anyway, for amateurs and professional birders alike, birdwatching in Colombia feels like heaven. Over 1,900 bird species are found all around this country in really different environments, blended with native vegetation and exotic animals. This is why birding in Colombia is quite an experience. 

La Guajira

There is an ideal destination for ecotourism —particularly for birdwatching, in the northernmost department of Colombia: La Guajira. La Guajira is also the northernmost tip of South America, being surrounded by the Caribbean sea.

Arid plains, dry forests and only 2 isolated mountains make up the overall landscape of this region, mostly inhabited by ethnic groups such as the Wayuu, Arhuaco, Koguis and Wiwa, Afro-Colombians and Arabs.

Sunset at Cabo de la Vela

The governmental abandonment in the region is evident in the lack of utilities, health care, and education, however, the population is leading sustainable initiatives to help conserve their natural and cultural heritage and bring livelihood to the communities.  

Avitourism is one of these initiatives that you can witness yourself. The dry forest of the La Guajira peninsula is a haven for around 500 bird species, 25 of which are nearendemic or restricted to such dry ecosystem.

Picture from Audubon: “Wayuu indigenous students and teacher Alvaro Jaramillo are bird watching in La Guajira, Colombia this past June. The program teaches locals to become tour guides for travelers interested in spotting birds. Photo: Carlos Villalon”

There is a community organization, Birding Guajira, led by José Luis Puchaina Epiayumember of the Wayuu ethnicity and birdwatching guide specialized in La Guajira’s birds.

With the support and training of the Audubon Society and Calidris  —as part of The Northern Colombia Birding Trail project, members of the community organization lead birdwatching tours in Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary.

Vermilion Cardinal – Cardinalis phoeniceus

The Vermilion Cardinal (Cardinalis phoeniceus), the White-whiskered Tail and the Chestnut Piculet are the most representative birds you can find in the tropical dry forests. An aquatic tour through the Navío Quebrado coastal lagoon will be your opportunity to observe the American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber), along with other +150 migratory bird species. 

Fauna and Flora Sanctuary Los Flamencos

But the experience is not over there. Full cultural immersion is also available to tourists. “Tardes de Ranchería” is the program that lets you know the Wayuu culture and share valuable time with its members.

Talks about their myths, legends, and traditions are given. Also, you can taste typical Wayuu dishes, discover their crafts and witness their traditional dance —La Yonna. For this dance, they usually wear red or bright dresses in homage to the Vermilion Cardinal. 

Finally, you have the chance to spend the night in a chinchorro hammock, in a traditional ranchería. 

 Watch our experience birding in La Guajira:


Learn more about birds in Colombia and where to find them in our Colombia Birdwatching Guide 

Whale watching in Colombia 

Whale watching is an event that not everyone is privileged to witness. Fortunately for all the Colombia travelers, you can see whales on the Pacific coasts of Colombia! Visit our entry Whale watching in Colombia

This is possible due to large groups of Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) migrating from Antarctica and Southern Chile during the winter to the warm waters of the northern Pacific Ocean to mate, give birth and raise its calves. 

Chocó: Bahía Solano

Our whale watching tour in the Chocó town of Bahía Solano is a meaningful ecotourism experience, where you not only have fun sailing the Pacific Ocean to see the whales jumping out of the sea but you learn from a scientific perspective about these large mammals, the diversity of the region and also get to know the local culture.

Whether you enjoy taking pictures or videos of the whales greeting the tourists, or just saving the memory in your mind, you will have an unforgettable time.

Also, you can hear the whales’ songs through a speaker that reproduces the sounds recorded by a hydrophone. Fun fact: since these songs can last 10-20 minutes, they are thought to be the longest continuous vocalizations of any mammal! 

Bahía Solano is an ecotourism destination par excellence. Its lush jungles next to the sea, its pristine beaches, its beautiful waterfalls, the wildlife it hosts, and the people that live there are a full package for nature travelers.

During our tour, we make a stop at the Mecana beach to have lunch at a local restaurant, take a dip in the river and tour the mangroves of the region while learning the importance of this ecosystem.

We work with local operators so that this activity represents the local communities an opportunity for development. 

Experience this adventure yourself! Tour 

Interpretive trails in Colombia 

The interpretive trails are paths designed in natural reserves such as national or ecological parks “to enable visitors to understand more clearly the messages of history, the environment, or a nearly forgotten culture” (American Trails Organization).

This is a work achieved with local interpreters and support signs placed along the trails. Local interpreters have a deep knowledge of the history and biodiversity of the area since they’ve grown there and have been taught about the importance of preserving the natural heritage. 

Chingaza National Natural Park

Chingaza National Natural Park is one of the 23 protected areas in Colombia open for ecotourism. It is a paramo located on the eastern Andes, covering municipalities of Cundinamarca and Meta and accessible from Bogotá.

Lakes of Chingaza National Natural Park

A variety of fauna and flora thrives in the high Andean and sub-Andean forest and moorland ecosystems of the park. This is not the only reason to visit Chingaza, though.

The area is known to have been an indigenous territory, the land of the Muisca and Guayupe indigenous tribes. The stories of these ancient settlers remain alive and give meaning to the 6 hiking trails that currently exist:

  • Lagunas de Siecha trail;
  • Cuchillas de Siecha trail;
  • Lagunas de Buitrago trail;
  • Laguna Seca y Verde trail; 
  • Suasie trail;
  • La Arboleda trail; and
  • Las Plantas del Camino trail.

The guided tours along these trails let tourists admire the stunning cloudy landscapes with crystalline lagoons and a bunch of Frailejones while learning about the ecosystem, its importance and the past inhabitants of the region that left a footprint.

Corpochingaza is the community organization that offers guidance and environmental interpretation services in Chingaza. 

Flora and Fauna Observation in Colombia 

Casanare is one excellent ecotourism destination for flora and fauna observation in eastern Colombia. Casanare is one of the departments of Los Llanos, a region covering the Orinoco river basin and characterized by vast savannas inhabited by many wild animals, marshlands, llaneros (Colombian cowboys), joropo music and breathtaking sunsets. 


Safari Llanero in Casanare

Here you can have the truly Safari Llanero experience, the adaptation of the African concept that seeks the observation and appreciation of the Neotropical fauna.

Traveling the wide plains of Casanare —whether in Jeeps, on horseback, on foot or even in light aircrafts, lets you see capybaras, white-tailed deer, spectacled caimans, giant anteaters, giant otters, ducks, howler monkeys, owls, armadillos, red-footed tortoise, foxes, wild pigs, iguanas, and even anacondas, jaguars and cougars —if you are lucky.

Safari in Casanare

Also birds such as the Orinoco goose, herons, the Double-striped Thick-knee, the Jabiru, owls, varieties of Ibis including the Scarlet Ibis, . As for the native flora, moriche palms (Mauritia flexuosastand out. There are several natural reserves in Los Llanos where you can live this adventure, uncover them here. 

The Safari takes place in the early morning since the animals are more active then. Thanks to this, you have the afternoon free to immerse yourself in a Llanero experience.

You can participate in traditional horse rides through the rich savanna, observe the tradition of herding cattle for living and musical shows where locals sing folklore songs to the rhythm of guitars, harps and maracas about love, women, horses and the biodiverse Llanos. This is the perfect ending for an ecotourism trip. 

Wild horses at Casanare

Hopefully this blog has cleared up your doubts about ecotourism, its products and some ecotourism destinations in Colombia. We are happy to help you plan your nature trip to Colombia. 

About the authors

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.

Birders’ Clubs and Ornithological Associations in Colombia 

According to a study published in 2008 by the Acorn Consulting Partnership, birdwatching was the fastest growing outdoor activity in Americawith 51.3 million Americans claiming to watch birds. Its growth as a niche market was expected to be strong over the next 10 years, and it is!  

The main competing birding destinations for US consumers were Mexico and Colombia, with Venezuela, Costa Rica and Panama as secondary destinations. 

The birdwatching tourism boom in Colombia has been a driver for birders and ornithologists to organize themselves in local clubs or in ornithology associations . 

Their goal: sharing knowledge and raising awareness of bird conservation to all citizens. Some of them also promote their regions as bird watching destinations. 

In this post, we will talk about the main colombian ornithology associations that aim to share their love for birds throughout Colombia. 

Caldas Society of Ornithology (SCO

Sociedad Caldense de Ornitología or the Caldas Society of Ornithology was the second ornithological organization to be legally incorporated in Colombia, in 1984.

It is a non-governmental organization of environmental nature  that works for the conservation, defense and study of birds and their habitats.

The general goal of the SCO is to ensure the preservation and care of the environment in the department of Caldas, considering that one can get enjoyment from simply observing nature.

The Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata) was chosen as the society’s flagship bird and logo. In honor of the symbolic bird, the society created an ornithological newsletter called Merganetta. 

Caldas Society of Ornithology (SCO) Logo honoring the beautiful Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata)

SCO aims to understand better the current environmental problems and suggest conservation alternatives. For this reason, it is formed by professionals and students from different fields, which is useful to have a comprehensive vision and a holistic team. 

As a member of the National Birdwatchers Network -RNOA-, the Caldas Society has coordinated conservation initiatives such as the ‘Esperando Gavilanes’ program and the Christmas and Aquatic Bird Censuses, which have been welcomed by the ornithological community.

These are the main activities offered by the SCO: 

‘Vamos todos a pajarear’ 

This is the initiative of doing birdwatching trips open to all public. Since 2012, bird lovers and curious people gather the first Saturday of every month at 7 am in one of the eco-parks of Manizales to go birding!

These trips are specially aimed at people who have never done birdwatching but are interested in knowing the birds of the region. 

“Esperando Gavilanes’ 

It is a project that seeks to raise interest about the migratory phenomenon of the Broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus) and the Swainson’s hawk (Buteo swainsoni) that went unnoticed in the region, specially in Manizales.

Since these birds migrate to South America to spend winter, they can be observed in October flying over Manizales and returning to the north during the first months of the year.

To create expectations, the organization launches a campaign with newsletters, press releases, posters, and conferences aimed at all citizens. 

Bird Censuses

The SCO replicates international initiatives such as the Christmas Census and the Neotropical Waterbird Census.

The Christmas Census was the adaptation of an ancient North American tradition, which was about to go hunting as many birds as possibly during Christmas time, in which people go out to count as many birds as possible. 

In Colombia, this activity is held from December 14 to January 5. The Neotropical Waterbird Census is a monitoring program based on waterbird counts made twice a year, in February and July throughout the country. 

Antioquia Society of Ornithology (SAO

The Antioquia Society of Ornithology was founded the 24th of November of 1984, in Medellin.

SAO is a non-profit organization engaged in promoting research, knowledge, dissemination and conservation of the birds of Colombia. These objectives are met through 4 different approaches: 

1. Dissemination

SAO seeks to strengthen its positioning in spaces where its activities, publications, products and projects are showcased, as well as to motivate more people to devote their free time to the enjoyment of birds in freedom.

2. Research

Production of ornithological knowledge and sustainable projects. 

3. Training

Since birdwatching requires precise identification skills with the help of field guides, pictures, vocalizations and distribution patterns, SAO aims to train new generations of birders, bird guides and qualified scientists. 

4. Conservation

By having the Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti), a Colombian endemic endangered species, as the society’s flagship bird, SAO encourages the creation of knowledge and actions for bird and habitat conservation in the country. 

Antioquia Society of Ornithology (SAO) Logo honoring the endangered Blue-billed Curassow (Crax alberti)

The organization’s main ways of disseminating knowledge are its scientific newsletter, Boletín SAO, the monthly newsletter El Cucarachero, own book production, the Medellín Bird Festival, and the periodic holding of free conferences, workshops, and bird watching field trips. 

Marco Antonio Serna Grant Fund 

One of the highlights of this birding association is the study grants they offer to students interested in doing research or their degree thesis related to birds.

This project is called the Marco Antonio Serna Grant Fund and has benefited 10 students with the necessary economic resources for them to carry their research out, which then will be published in the SAO newsletter or presented to the society’s members, friends and allied organizations at a lecture.

In addition, there is SAO Kids, a project that aims to draw the attention of children to the preservation of birds, and currently 3 birdwatching clubs have been established in different schools.  

Bogota Association of Ornithology (ABO

17 people, including ornithologists and birdwatchers, gathered together in 1989 to found a group of bird enthusiasts. Two years later, the bylaws of the group were set so that it could be legally incorporated before the Chamber of Commerce in 1994.

Today, the Bogota Association of Ornithology is a non-profit organization that seeks the conservation and the study of birds and their habitats in Bogota and the department of Cundinamarca, by the means of the promotion of knowledge and enjoyment of wild birds in their freedom.  

Bogota Association of Ornithology (ABO)  Logo honoring the endemic Bogotá Rail (Rallus semiplumbeus)

Like other birding associations, this one works with different approaches: research, environmental education and sensitization of citizens, so there is a better understanding of the interaction between nature and the urban environment.

The flagship bird of ABO is the Bogotá Rail (Rallus semiplumbeus), an endemic bird of the wetlands of Bogotá clasified as endangered by the UICN. It is threatened by habitat loss

Conservation Commitment

ABO has led several ornithological initiatives and projects focused on natural, semi-natural and urban ecosystems, where data about bird communities has been collected.

This work has also helped conservation processes of various places in the city such as La Conejera and Córdoba wetlands, the Arzobispo canal, among others.  

ABO is the responsible for crucial events related with environmental education and conservation awareness such as the Cundinamarca Bird Festival 2019.

Monthly birdwatching trips

The activities this association develops include lectures, workshops, courses, and monthly birdwatching trips. These trips are done in urban or rural spaces and have a low fee for participants, although members get a discount.


The last Wednesday of every month, in the Alexis Omaña Auditorium at the National University of Colombia, is when the lectures are offered to ornithologists, birdwatchers, and any enthusiast willing to learn more about birds. 


Also, ABO produces pedagogical and didactic material specially designed to promote the appreciation of birds and respect for nature. Its journal is called El Clarinero and contains scientific knowledge and news, for example the celebration of the organization’s first 25 years.

Remember that there is no need to be an experienced ornithologist or a scientist to make part of the Bogota Association of Ornithology, just wanting to learn about such an amazing activity as birdwatching is! 

Meta Avitourism Association (Avesmeta)

This association emerges as a non-profit organization, with a tourism project that aims to be recognized locally, regionally and nationally for generating processes of research, study and conservation of birds in the Department of Meta and the region of Orinoco.

AvesMeta seeks to guide educational processes that promote in adults, children and adolescents the commitment to bird watching. The goal is to achieve a true and tangible environmental culture from bird watching and avitourism in the department of Meta.

Meta Association of Avitourism logo honoring the Paradise Tanager, the Buff-fronted Owl, the Whistling Heron and the Cundinamarca Antpitta,


The birds in the logo represent the different groups of people who participate in the association:


The biologists, engineers and guides who have acquired the knowledge of the avifauna of the department of Meta. They transmit this knowledge to the people who are entering the world of bird watching.


The teachers are the great leaders who, with their patience and enthusiasm, guide their students to become great professionals in the future. Day by day they dedicate a great part of their time to teaching and also to the love of nature, especially of birds.


Businessmen and hoteliers who offer their accommodation services to all bird lovers. They strive to offer and provide excellent services, taking into account the needs of the birders.


Students and amateur birders who make an effort every day to recognize the birds in their environment. They have the support of their teachers and experts who strive to teach them the importance of fauna, especially birds, which are part of natural ecosystems.

Colombian Association of Ornithology (ACO

October 2001, the XIV National Meeting of Ornithologists was being held in Leticia, Amazonas. Some of the attendees realized that there was an increasing number of ornithological papers presented each year at national meetings, and that these were not being published nor appropriately disseminated. That is how the idea of a national association of ornithology came about. 

ACO was founded in 2002 by 106 founding members seeking to boost the scientific research and the conservation of Colombia’s birds through the publication of a journal called ‘Ornitología Colombiana’.

A group of volunteers have worked since for the sake of the organization’s mission: “to promote the development of ornithology in Colombia through the creation and dissemination of scientific knowledge on birds in pursuit of their conservation”.  

Colombian Association of Ornithology (ACO) Logo honoring the stunning Collared Inca (Coeligena torquatta)

The Ornitología Colombiana journal has great recognition thanks to its contribution to the description of new bird species and to the increase of pertinent information for bird conservation in Colombia. The journal can be found at libraries of over 20 national and international institutions. 

The flagship bird of the Colombian Association of Ornithology (ACO) honor the stunning Collared Inca (Coeligena torquatta).

Today, the Colombian Association of Ornithology is based in Bogota, has about 130 members including graduate students, biologists, ecologists, doctors, business managers, engineers and NGOs, and it is managed by a board of directors, which is elected by the members every two years. 


Membership is open to anyone interested in Colombian birds and their conservation, all one has to do is fill an application form and pay an annual fee. 

Being an active member has great advantages, such as participating in the activities of the organization, obtaining professional recognition, publishing own research on the journal for free, getting discounts on the registration to ornithology congresses and other events, as well as bibliographic material, and accessing to exclusive newsletters and academic or job opportunities. 

Colombian National Birdwatchers Network (RNOA) 

Passions go beyond regions. For this reason, the Colombian National Birdwatchers Network exists.

The Red Nacional de Observadores de Aves, or RNOA, aims to promote and facilitate cooperation and exchange of information between ornithological organizations, similar entities and birdwatchers in Colombia, in order to strengthen knowledge about birds in Colombia and their conservation.

RNOA seeks to be a means by which joint actions for studying, monitoring and preserving national birdlife and its habitats are undertaken. Its work is framed within the National Strategy for the Conservation of the Birds of Colombia. 

Colombian National Birdwatchers Network (RNOA) Logo honoring the Yellow Oriole (Icterus nigrogularis), the Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), the Golden-collared Toucanet (Selenidera reinwardtii) and the Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus).

The flagship birds of the Colombian National Birdwatchers Network (RNOA) logoare the Yellow Oriole (Icterus nigrogularis), the Blue-and-yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), the Golden-collared Toucanet (Selenidera reinwardtii) and the Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus). These birds are arranged in such a way that they form the silhouette of the map of Colombia.

The logo of this association was the most voted as the most representative of the birds of Colombia and of the network. It includes super common birds as the Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus), since those are important keys to the development and knowledge of birds and ecosystems.

The National Ornithology Meeting, ENO

RNOA is the organizer of the National Ornithology Meeting or Encuentro Nacional de Ornitología -ENO-. (know more at Colombia Bird Fairs). 

The network uses a Facebook page to allow members to share information and interact with everyone else. This is a useful tool in modern times to disseminate knowledge easily and with a great reach, as well as promoting teamwork among all birdwatchers in the country.

These were the main ornithology associations in Colombia, but you can find many others, for example university birding groups. We hope that soon there will be birding associations in every region of the country! 

About the authors

Ana María Parra.

Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content.  Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.

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.