What is a Birding Photography Tour and Where to Go in Colombia

Doing bird photography in Colombia is a must. It is the ‘birdiest’ country in the world. Nowhere else on the planet you will find more bird species than in here. There are over 1,900 registered species   80 endemic  and this number represents 20% of all the species of birds in the world.

Every region of Colombia boasts unique bird species for birders to enjoy. However, photographing birds is a whole another scenario and not all the birding spots throughout the country are apt to do bird photography tours.   

Find out the best tips for bird photography in our entries Brief Overview about Bird Photography for Beginners and How to Prepare for a Birding Tour in the Neotropics?.

In this post, we will talk about the difference between bird photography and birdwatching tours, and the most recommended bird photography destinations in Colombia. 

Bird Photography vs Birdwatching 

The Guide

In South America, both fields are commonly undistinguished. However, it is essential that a guide leading a bird photography tour has knowledge about birds in the region as well as photography, to help tourists improve their pictures.

About 4 or 5 years ago, Colombia did not have this kind of complete guides, but currently the landscape is changing. 

The Destination

Also, the destination for doing bird photography is totally different from a spot for birdwatching. Photography guides are used to visiting the destinations in advance to know if those are convenient for doing a photography tour or not.

Aspects to take into account for a bird photography destination, and which offer ease to the photographers, are:

  • The bird perches.
  • The background.
  • The slope of the terrain where you are going to place your tripod or seat.
  • The suitable infrastructure for photography such as hides, or observation towers.
  • Access to electricity.
  • Spacious rooms with extra desks and outlets.

Experts Advice

We interviewed 2 South American photographers at the Colombia BirdFair 2020 on the subject, and here we will share their recommendations.

Steve Sánchez

Steve Sánchez is a birding guide and nature photographer specialized in bird photography from Peru. He is the manager and CEO of Kuntur Birding and Steve Sánchez Wildlife Photography. 

Steve thinks a birdwatching tour is very different from a photography tour or a bird photography tour.

Usually, what a birdwatcher wants is to observe as many bird species as possible during their trip. On the ther side, a nature photographer is not interested in having a lot of species photographed if those pictures are mediocre or do not turn out well. For a photographer, the priority is quality, not quantity. 

Steve Sanchez recommends to lodge owners to listen to the professional photographers advice to make the lodge more apt for photography (that means changing the perches or moving the feeders to a better place and this does not negatively impact birds, as it is commonly believed). 

Memo Gómez

Memo Gomez, a nature photographer from Colombia, and CEO of the El Cantil Ecolodge, says that photographers need to spend time with birds.

Memo explained to us that bird photographers need the right landscape, the right spot, the right button for every picture, while birders seek to spot a bird and cross their checklists, it is quite different. Photographers are more patient, because they need to wait for the perfect conditions to take a shot. 

Some practical tips for bird photographers, explained by Memo Gomez, are:

  1. Exposure is key, if you learn how to control exposure well, you will get more and more pictures.
  2. Understand pretty well the focus system of your camera, for example when photographing birds in flight, cause it depends on the camera manufacturer.
  3. Have the right local guide. When going to the jungle or complex environments, finding a bird is tough if you do not bring a local guide that has a deep knowledge of the area.

The Coffee Triangle Bird Photography Tour 

In the western and central ranges of the Andes lies the region where the best-quality coffee of the world is grown: the Colombian Coffee Region 

Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda are the mainly constituents of the region, with stunning landscapes and high biodiversity hosted in dry forests, tropical humid forests and páramos.

This area concentrates about 45% of all birds in the country, Quindío has around 690 bird species, Caldas has approximately 880 species with 22 endemic  and Risaralda around 890 species with 25 endemic.

That being said, you may notice why the Coffee region is a special destination for bird photography. In Sula, we have a bird photography tour around the Eje Cafetero (or Coffee region) 

It starts in Pereira and ends in the town of La Virginia, in Risaralda too. It is an unforgettable 14-day birding experience.

You will visit the next spots: 

Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve

The Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve is a renowned birding place in Manizales where you can hear, observe and photograph from 70 to 110 bird species at 1,225 meters above sea level!

Find out more information about Tinamu in our entry The Nicest Bird-lodge of Colombia: Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.

Moustached Puffbird (Malacoptila mystacalis) at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.

Among the species you can find are the Little Tinamou, Colombian Chachalaca, Gray-headed Dove, Dwarf Cuckoo, Common Potoo, Common Pauraque, Rufous-breasted Hermit, Stripe-throated Hermit, Western emerald, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Grayish Piculet, Bar-crested Antshrike and Scrub Tanager. 

The Reserve offers Facilities and Avitourism Services with a comprehensive and specialized service for photographers and birders, as follows:  

  • Tour of photography and bird watching
  • Birding Library for consultation
  • Space for workshops with audiovisual equipment
  • Wide screen for review of photographic and video files
  • Hummingbird garden with support feedlots
  • Feedlots for birds with hide for photographers
  • Fishing lake for birds only
  • +3 Km. of private and safe paths
  • Hides
  • Trails with recognized perches and crossing points for some birds

Río Blanco Reserve

The Rio Blanco Reserve is 3 km from Manizales and has the cloud forest ecosystem at over 2,159 MASL. It is key in the preservation of water and biodiversity. The place has been suitable with feeders and drinkers for hummingbirds and tanager, as well as with small observation benches to photograph the 4 different species of antpittas that have been bait in the reserve.

Brown-banded Antpitta (Grallaria milleri) at Rio Blanco Reserve, Caldas, Colombia

Here you can photograph species such as the Masked Saltator, Rusty Faced Parrot, Golden Plumed Parakeet, the endemic Brown-banded Antpitta and the near endemic Bicolored Antpitta. There are approximately 350 bird species here! 

Cameguadua Reservoir

The Cameguadua Reservoir is an aquatic ecopark commonly visited by around 250 species of aquatic birds.

Cameguadua Pier

From the pier you can photograph Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, Blackish Rail, Common Gallinule, Purple Gallinule, Wattled Jacana, Pectoral Sandpiper, Spotted Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Neotropic Cormorant, Snowy Egret, among others. It has a dock that goes deep into the lake, from where it is possible to locate the camera to take photographs. 

Romelia Colors of Life Farm

In the Romelia Colors of Life farm, you will have the possibility to spot over 200 bird species including the Golden-plumed Parakeet, Bar-crested Antshrike, Crimson-rumped Toucanet , Yellow-vented Woodpecker and Golden-olive Woodpecker, in a nice area with orchids, bonsai, citrus fruits and avocados crops. 

There is also a striking collection of orchids and bonsais from around the world.

Orchid at Finca Romelia Colors of Life

Termales del Ruiz Hotel 

If you want to discover highland birds, Termales del Ruiz Hotel hosts approximately 190 species including Andean Siskin, Shining Sunbeam, Glowing Puffleg, Red-crested Cotinga, Buff-winged Starfrontlet,  Great Sapphirewing, Slaty Brushfinch, Masked Flowerpiercer and Black-backed Bush Tanager in a páramo ecosystem at 3,500 meters above sea level.

Shining Sunbeam – Aglaeactis cupripennis

Also, you can enjoy several hot springs here. This place is known for its large number of drinking fountains and gardens with native plants that attract hummingbirds and other high mountain species. It has benches and terraces to facilitate photography. It is even possible to have the experience of feeding the birds in your own hand. 

Tatamá Hill and Montezuma Ecolodge

One particularly recommended birding spot is the Finca Montezuma eco-lodge, located on the hillside that connects the Risaralda with Chocó, in the western range of the Andes.

It has a huge cloud forest that borders the Tatamá National Natural Park and boasts fauna and flora wealth. It is not so known among birders but is home to various endemic species, such as the iconic Black-and-gold and Gold-ringed Tanagers and the Chocó Tapaculo and Warbler.  

Olive Finch – Arremon castaneiceps

Find out more information about Tatamá and Montezuma Lodge in our entry The Uniqueness of Tatamá Park and Montezuma Road Destination.

Other birding spots within the Coffee region are the towns of Santa Rosa de Cabal, Santa Cecilia, Apía, Mistrató and La Virginia. These boast ecosystems such as páramo, rainforest, wet premontane forest, cloud forest and tropical dry forest, so the variety of birds you can spot is unbelievable. However, there is still lack of good infrastructure to photograph them.   

Chicoral, Dapa and Km 18, Cali 

Find out more information about Km 18 and the San Antonio forest in Valle del Cauca in our e entry Know the Winged Jewels Held by San Antonio Cloud Forest – Km 18.

Finca Alejandría Farm

Finca Alejandría is 18 km down the road from Cali to Buenaventura, on the Pacific coast. This place covered in cloud forest has several feeders that attract hummingbirds and other regional bird species such as tanagers, toucanets and motmots.

Red-headed Barbet – Eubucco bourcierii at Finca Alejandría

The stars of the zone are the Multicolored Tanager, which is really difficult to see, Blue-headed Sapphire, Ornate Hawk-eagle, Crested Quetzal and Golden-headed Quetzal. Our Valle del Cauca birding route has a stop in this farm. Check the itinerary here

Finca La Conchita Farm

In this zone known as the 18 Km, you can also visit Finca La Conchita to photograph hummingbirds, honey creepers, tropical mockingbirds and plenty more bird species. Experienced photographers such as Augusto Ilian have taken gorgeous shots at this birding spot.

Bronzy Inca – Coeligena coeligena at La Conchita

La Minga Ecolodge

Another eco-lodge for bird photography is La Minga, which is located within the Rio Bitaco forest reserve. In the cloud forest, over 300 species and 4 endemic birds have been spotted.

La Minga Ecolodge

You can easily photograph up to 17 species of hummingbirds, up to 30 species of tanagers, flower piercers and honeycreepers. Watch our birding experience in Km 18!

Upper Anchicayá

Find out more about this destination in our entry Best Set to Photography Tropical Rainforest Birds at Upper Anchicayá.

El Descanso km 55 – Doña Dora

It is also important to mention the immense effort local people is putting into develop adequate places for bird photography. It requires a lot of compromise, money and time.

Compas – Toucan Barbet – Semnorinis ramphastinus at El Descanso Km 55

Here is one of the most impressive places in Valle del Cauca, where bird watching and bird photography helped local people to transform and enhance their life conditions, El Descanso, Km 55 Old Way to Buenaventura with doña Dora.

As time goes by, the list of bird photography destinations in Colombia gets longer and you can be sure that you will find fantastic birds in any region of the country. Check all of our Birding Routes here

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.

Colombia has 20% of the Butterflies in the World: The Butterfly Kingdom.

Colombia is a butterfly paradise. Our country is second in the world in butterfly species, after Peru, with around 3400 species. Besides this, Colombia is the first country, above Peru and Brazil, in unique butterfly species with 350 endemic species.

Butterflies, despite their deceptive fragility, are an “evolutionary success story” after completing more than 250 million years on Earth, they met with the dinosaurs!

Butterflies are important bioindicators. The presence of butterflies is an indicator of the health of habitats because they play a fundamental role in pollination and feeding other animals.

13 Butterfly Facts

Butterflies don’t eat. They drink! The proboscis is like a straw, and serves to suck the nectar from the flowers. In the resting state, the proboscis is rolled into a spiral.
  1. The order of the Butterflies (a.ka. Lepidoptera) is characterized mainly by its wings covered with scales, like fish!… but different.
  2. Butterflies don’t eat. They drink. They have the proboscis which is a very long tube, like a straw, that serves to suck the nectar from the flowers. In the resting state, the proboscis is rolled into a spiral.
  3. The scales of the butterflies are used for thermoregulation, courtship, and signaling.
  4. There are the so-called moths or night butterflies, and the butterflies or day butterflies. The way to differentiate a moth from a butterfly is by looking at their antenna. In the case of butterflies, they end with a thickened tip, and in the case of moths, their antennae end with a sharp tip.
  5. The colors of the butterflies are produced by special cells in the scales of their wings. The scales on the butterflies’ wings alter the reflection of light, and this is how they produce those striking and often iridescent colors that amaze us.
  6. Butterfly wings have veins, and these are crucial in differentiating between species.
  7. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis and go through the stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult or imago.
  8. Although the vast majority of butterflies feed on plants, there are a few species that are carnivorous, but some even eat wool or other materials.
  9. Female butterflies lay their eggs on plants.
  10. Butterflies migrate. Like birds!. And they also navigate to orientate themselves using coastal lines, mountains, roads, the sun, and even the Earth’s magnetic field.
  11. The biggest butterfly can reach a wingspan of about 28 to 31 centimeters (11 to 12 inches). Unfortunately, this butterfly is not found in Colombia, but in New Guinea, it is The Queen Alexandra Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae).
  12. There is a moth which looks like a hummingbird! The Hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum). But it is distributed throughout the northern Old World from Portugal to Japan, not in Colombia.
  13. Interestingly, the longest life cycle of a butterfly in the world was recorded in the Cundinamarca-Boyacá highlands. It is the endemic species of Colombia Neopedaliodes zipa, with a duration of 333 days.
Butterfly in Caterpillar (larva) Stage of Development
The Queen Alexandra Birdwing (Ornithoptera alexandrae) Source Natural History Museum Scott, B., & Smith , V. (2014): Dataset title data.nhm.ac.uk. https://doi.org/10.5072/1
Hummingbird hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) ©Zeynel Cebeci

Butterflies of Colombia

Did you know that Colombia has 20% of the butterflies in the world? Yes! And this is because of its high habitat variation, which is generated by the Andean uneven topography, and a strategic geographical position in northern South America.

Despite such richness, Colombia is far from having an adequate inventory of its biodiversity in butterflies, as it is estimated that only 5 to 10 percent of species of this group of insects are known in the country.

Siproeta stelenes (malachite) at the Mariposario of the Botanical Garden of Quindío

Butterfly species in Colombia are widely distributed throughout the natural regions of Colombia. The Eastern mountain range of the Colombian Andes is the richest with 1813 species.

After the Andean region follow the biogeographic Chocó with 500 species, the Orinoco with 200 species, the Amazon region with 350 species, the Perijá mountain range with 200 species, the Caribbean region with 150 species, and San Andrés island with 59 species.

The Prepona and Morpho genus are one of the most representative and iconic, not only for experts but also for butterfly lovers.

Butterfly Hotspots in Colombia

The “hotspots” of butterflies in Colombia are:

  • the Andean-Amazon foothills,
  • the Eastern cordillera,
  • the department of Putumayo,
  • the low forests of Chocó, and
  • the Andean region.

However, there are still many species to be discovered and described.

How is a Butterfly Watching Tour?

First of all, good news, you don’t have to get up early. This is because the greatest number of butterfly sightings are made at times of greater sunshine. Approximately between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A butterfly tour begins peacefully after an 8 am breakfast. You head to the field around 9 or 10 in the morning and in the afternoon between 3 and 4 p.m., after a good nap.

Now if you’re looking for moths, go to the nearest lamps, at night.

But don’t get too confident, butterflies also need to be attracted, just like birds. And this is possible by knowing what they feed on.

Adult butterflies feed on the nectar and pollen grains of flowers, animal excrement, and/or rotting and fermented fruits, which can be mango, guava, or bananas. They can also be found absorbing iodine accumulated in the sand of small beaches and rivers.

Attracting Butterflies at the Mariposario of the Botanical Garden of Quindío

Thus, there will be some you find among the flowers and others in the wet sand and mud puddles. But some are attracted mostly by rotten fruits, and you will even have to put rotten fish as a lure to attract them. Well, not you, your guide.

You should keep in mind that there is a certain quantity of uncertainty in a butterfly tour. Butterfly watching is highly dependent upon local environmental and weather conditions.

The Colombian Butterfly Routes

Mysarbia sejanus stolli at the Amazonas River ©Fredy Montero Abril

Andean Region

  • Santa María, Arcabuco and Otanche in Boyacá
  • Chicaque Natural Park, near to Bogotá.
  • The Bogotá Savannah.
  • Open Sky Pedagogical Butterfly Farm “Mauricio Babilonia” in Santander.
  • Piedras Blancas Entomological and Butterfly Museum in Antioquia.

Eastern Plains

  • Bosque Bavaria in Meta.
  • Mururito Nature Reserve in the Orinoco – Amazon confluence
  • Casanare Piedmont

Chocó Region

  • Tatamá National Park in the Low forests of Chocó Region
  • Río Ñambí Nature Reserve

Magdalena Valley

  • Rio Claro Canyon Reserve
  • Victoria, Caldas

Amazon Region

  • Putumayo

Caribbean Region

  • Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
  • Serranía del Perijá

The Coffee Triangle Region

  • Butterfly Observatory (Mariposario) at the Botanical Garden of Quindío.

Finally, be aware that nature tourism in Colombia is young. Thus, much improvement is needed in terms of hotel and road infrastructure, especially in places that are hotspots. So, don’t expect to find high-level services in all the places you want to visit.

Mariposario (Butterfly Observatory) at the Botanical Garden of Quindío

Stay tuned for more information and posts about our butterfly destinations in Colombia!

Plan your trip with us! Our goal is to organize your butterfly watching trip in Colombia that you will never forget!


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.

9.5% of the Birds of the World: Main Spots for Birdwatching in Caldas

Find here why birdwatching in Caldas is a must! The greatest biodiversity of Colombia is concentrated on the slopes of the north of the Andes, between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level. In fact, it is so huge, that it can even surpass the biogeographic Chocó and the Amazon biodiversity. 

Then, the Andean region is one of the areas with the greatest biological diversity in Colombia, and it is here where the department of Caldas is placed. 

Caldas has 9.5% of the birds of the world 

Caldas has a high richness in birdlife and because of its area, it can be considered as a region with a high concentration of bird species per area, with around 870 bird species reported. 

In addition, 22 of the bird species found in Caldas are endemic and 34 are almost endemic, being one of the departments with higher endemism in the country. The importance of some species lies in both their endemic condition as well as in their threat level.  

The reason why the department of Caldas has such high biodiversity is its geographical location. To be specific, Caldas borders are found between the Cauca and Magdalena rivers, the two largest rivers of Colombia.

Besides this, it is placed on both sides of the Central Andean mountain range and also over the eastern flank of the western Andean mountain range.

As a result, the territory of Caldas has the particularity of featuring very varied ecosystems: from the perpetual snows and páramos to the dry forests of the lower areas of the basins.  

Birding at the heart of the Coffee Triangle  

Caldas region coincides with the optimal area for growing coffee, and many coffee farms can be found there! It is part of the famous Eje Cafetero (Coffee Triangle), with a coffee culture deeply rooted in its people.

Then, although birds are the main motivation for tourists, it also can be the coffee, the hospitality and the typical gastronomy of Caldas. 

Caldas – The Heart of the Coffee Triangle

Society of Ornithology of Caldas (SCO) and Birding Tourism Congress 

Given the great bird richness in the department, birdwatching has been consolidating for over 30 years with the presence of the Society of Ornithology of Caldas (SCO).

The SCO is one of the oldest and largest birding societies in the country. Find out more about SCO and other birding clubs in Colombia in our post Birders’ Clubs and Ornithological Associations in Colombia

Recently, birding tourism has been consolidated in the region with the Avitourism Congress, which in 2018 hosted the VIII South American Bird Fair, and it was attended by 850 participants from 25 countries around the world. 

SCO’s logo honoring the
Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata)

Best Places to go for Birdwatching in Caldas 

Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve 

Among the most suitable places for birdwatching, you can find at first place the Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve. This is one of the best bird lodges in Colombia, located in San Peregrino village just 30 minutes from the city of Manizales.

Tinamú Reserve protects a dry forest of 15 ha. at 1.225. m.a.s.l., which is home to hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, butterflies and a variety of plants and trees.

Tinamu Birding offers great facilities for bird photography, read our entry The Nicest Bird-lodge of Colombia: Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve to know more about this place.  

Common Potoo (Nyctibius griseus)

Río Blanco Forest Reserve 

Another very special place for birdwatching is just three kilometers far from Manizales. Among the cloud forest of the Andes, you will find the Río Blanco Forest Reserve.

At Rio Blanco Reserve you will find around 372 different bird species, of which 13 are endemic, 30 migratory and 13 are threatened. 

The highlight of this place is the facilities for photographing birds, especially drinkers to attract hummingbirds and tanagers, and feeders to attract antpittas.

Brown-banded Antpitta – Grallaria milleri
Blue-capped Tanager – Thraupis cyanocephala
Buff-tailed Coronet – Boissonneaua flavescens
Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager – Anisognathus somptuosus

Hacienda Venecia Coffee Farm Hotel

Among the farms you can find Hacienda Venecia, a 100 years coffee farm where you can enjoy coffee and chocolate experiences bonded with birding activities.  Know more about Hacienda venecia in our entry Coffee and Birding Top 5 Destinations in Colombia.

Birding at Hacienda Venecia

Finca Romelia Colors of Life  

Finca Romelia is a family tourism project where visitors can take pleasure in observing more than 840 species of orchids for an average of 8,000 orchid plants, an interesting variety of bonsai and around 216 species of birds, as well as citrus and avocado production crops.

Orchids at Finca Romelia

Cameguadua and La Esmeralda Reservoirs 

La Esmeralda is owned by the Caldas Hydroelectric Power Plant (CHEC) and has about 40 hectares of forest. It is considered the last remaining forest on the banks of the Cauca River, reported in Caldas, which corresponds to a semi-dry tropical forest with high biodiversity and influence of the river and the reservoir. With about 200 species of birds, it is a site of high ornithological interest. 

Birds of aquatic ecosystems can be found in Cameguadua and La Esmeralda Reservoirs. Cameguadua is located in the municipality of Chinchiná, 30 minutes from the city of Manizales, with two lakes, to the north is the tourist boardwalk and to the south the lake is for recovery. It has patches of forests and isolated trees that make it an attraction mainly for water birds, and there is a pier suitable for bird photography. 

Birding at Cameguadua

National Natural Park Los Nevados 

The best places for high mountain birds are in the National Natural Park Los Nevados, at Brisas-Tucurrumby-La Esperanza sector, where there is a platform, as a facility for the bird observation and photography. 

Besides Brisas, the thematic Park Laguna Negra is another attraction with an imposing lagoon of glacial origin, resting place for migratory species and wild ducks. 

Pale-naped Brushfinch – Atlapetes pallidinucha
Buffy Helmetcrest – Oxypogon stubelii

Termales del Ruiz Hotel  

Termales del Ruiz Hotel is a private hidden hotel with amazing spaces for rest and enjoy the incredible Nevado del Ruiz, with ample space for rest and relaxation, meditation, reading and of course, birdwatching! 

Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager – Anisognathus igniventris
Shining Sunbeam – Aglaeactis cupripennis

Hacienda El Bosque 

Hacienda El Bosque is a traditional family dairy farm located 30 minutes from Manizales on the road to Bogotá. Its elevation gradient from 2,800 to 3,900 meters allows for varied ecosystems such as pastures for livestock and dairy production and large areas of high Andean forest and paramo.

The natural forest fragments have been protected for over 40 years, allowing the conservation of more than 25 water sources. It has an inventory of 127 species of birds. There you can find special facilities for bird photography.  

Grey-breasted Mountain-toucan – Andigena hypoglauca

Nido del Condor 

El Nido del Cóndor eco-hotel is located on the Condor Route to Los Nevados National Park via Santa Isabel. This place has an alternative, inclusive, and sustainable architecture.

The most special thing about this place is the presence of the nest of a beautiful couple of Andean Condors that fly over the 2 canyons that make up the plateau where this hotel is located. 

Andean Condor – Vultur gryphus

Paraíso Verde 

Paraiso Verde is a lodge near Manizales, inspired in the typical style of a coffee house, with large corridors and railings around it, with an extension of 7 hectares and located at an altitude of 1,950 meters. It presents fragments of very humid premontane forest and has a record of 192 species of birds.

With 200 species of birds and feeders which are ideal for bird photography, the ecohotel has specialized in offering facilities for bird watching and bird photography. It has about 4 km of ecological trails with several points for bird photography. 

Emerald Toucanet – Aulacorhynchus prasinus

Hacienda El Jardin 

Hacienda El Jardín is located 40 minutes from the city of Manizales.  This farm has 70 years of tradition and coffee activity at an altitude of 1,450 m and 100 ha of extension.

Also, the Hacienda has several habitats where birds can be observed including lakes, pastures, fragments of native forests, crops, and reforested areas with native trees, shrubs and flowers.   

Yellow-backed oriole – Icterus chrysater

La Juanita Ecohotel 

La Juanita Ecohotel is specialized in bird watching and has a total area of 4 ha at an altitude of approximately 2,000 m. It is immersed in a very humid premontane forest life zone, and it has trails in the middle of a secondary forest and areas suitable for bird watching.  ~127 species reported. 

Flame-rumped Tanager – Ramphocelus flammigerus

Urban Birding in Manizales 

You can also do urban bird watching in the city of Manizales. Just go to the Ecoparque Alcázares – Arenillo located in the neighborhood of Los Alcazares 5 minutes from downtown. This park has an extension of 33.43 hectares and is located at 2000 m.a.s.l.   

It is a little piece of very humid premontane jungle in the middle of the concrete jungle of Manizales. Its vegetation is characterized by trees of great importance for the fauna of the place like the black Yarumo, Balso panelero, Colombian Pine, Camargo, Arboloco, Espadero, Roble, Cariseco, Arrayán, Encenillo, Silvo Silvo and Manzanillo, mountain coffee bushes, Siete cueros, guayabos and palms of the gender Chamaedorea. There have been reported up to 167 species of birds.

Other places that you can visit in the city of Manizales for birding are the botanical garden of the University of Caldas, the viewpoint of Chipre, the Los Yarumos Ecopark, Kairi Reserve and the hotel Recinto del Pensamiento, among the most prominent. 

Recinto del Pensamiento

If you want to know more about Colombian nature tours, or want to visit Caldas for bird watching, follow us, write us comments, or just contact us


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.