Colombia is an incredibly biodiverse country with outstanding wildlife, and a birdwatcher’s paradise! This is no surprise as the country hosts almost 1900 different bird species – more than any other country in the world – and 79 bird species that are endemic to Colombia. That makes birding in Colombia one of the most popular activities in the country.
The “Northern Colombian Birding Trail” was developed by a group of conservation partners and includes a network of trained professional birding guides, operators, key birding sites such as national parks, private reserves, and small businesses. The trial aims to protect and serve the wild birdlife in Colombia. This provides an opportunity to see some of the world’s most beautiful and rarest birds in their natural habitat.
The Kuoda team has summarized 6 hot spots to visit to get the most out of your Colombian birdwatching experience. We hope you enjoy this article and that it will inspire you to make your next birdwatching trip to Colombia.
1. Santa Marta Mountains
This is the premier birdwatching destination in Colombia. This vast mountain range is the world’s most invaluable concentration of biodiversity. Some of the country’s most symbolic birds like the Andean Condor (which is the national bird of Colombia), the Black-and-Chestnut Eagle and the Blue-Billed Curassow can be spotted here.
Kuoda can help arrange an English-speaking birding guide when visiting the ProAves El Dorado Bird Reserve and the San Lorenzo Ridge Reserve. These reserves are very popular because they are home to the world’s highest coastal mountain range, and also the highest points in Colombia – making it the ideal habitat for some of the rarest bird species on earth. A variety of tanagers, hummingbirds and other rare and beautiful birds can be viewed here.
2. The Amazon
Amacayacu National Park is the place to visit for birdwatching in this area. It is recommended to wake up early in the morning to get the most out of your time and see as many of these species as possible. The many rivers from the Amazon provide an ideal habitat for birds like the Bat Falcon and the Great Black Hawk. Various species of woodpeckers and parrots can also be seen.
The Amazon is without a doubt the most abundant place for birdwatchers as it forms a third of the country’s bird population and offers a guarantee that one will spot at least one of the species that are endemic to Colombia.
3. Antioquia’s Rainforest
There are many small rivers that flow down to the Magdalena-river to create these rainforest-like habitats. The biodiversity here is similar to the Amazon rainforest – proudly boasting a myriad of different bird species.
The Samana river forms the natural habitat for various species of parrots, toucans, tanagers and other riparian birds. Visit the Rio Claro Nature reserve via a river specialist or via car from the district capital, Medellin. If you travel more north, you will find the Arrierito Antioqueño Natural Reserve. The endangered Chestnut-Capped Piha, which is endemic to Colombia and gave the reserve its name, is protected here.
4. The Pacific Chocó Region
The coastal rainforest of the pacific Chocó region treasures the Utria National Park which is overflowing with incredible birdlife. The only way to access this beautiful paradise is by plane as there are no roads that lead to this utopia of birds. You would need a guide to access the parks in this area.
Many Colombian endemic species can be viewed here so it is definitely worth the longer trip and hiring a professional guide to show you around and teach you more about these rare species.
Located on the Colombian Central Mountain Range, which forms a part of the Andes, many endemic species of Colombia are found here. It takes about 30 minutes by car from the city of Manizales to see some of these species in the huge hectares of nature trials in the cloud forests at the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve. It is considered one of the top three places in the world for bird watching.A guide can be hired for trekking the high altitudes of Los Nevado National Park. Some beauties that can be spotted here include the Buffy-Helmetcrest Hummingbird and the Andean Condor. If you are very lucky you may spot the highly endangered Fuerte’s Parrot, which is also endemic to Colombia.
6. Los Flamencos, Guajira
Located in the Caribbean region of Colombia, it hosts a colossal population of American Flamingos and other endemic and semi-endemic species. For better views and the opportunity to take incredible photos, it is recommended to take a wooden canoe as it will make less noise and provide an experience closer to nature.
Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary can be found in the town of Camarones which is close to the city of Riohacha in La Guajira. Los Flamencos is famous for its lagoons that are very shallow. During the dry season, when the water dries up, it aids the growth of shrimps which attracts a lot of flamingos. This is the perfect time of the year to see an abundance of them feasting on the fruit of the lagoon.
Other than exceptional wildlife, the local community – that consists mainly of Wayuu Indians – are a popular visit as they are well-known for creating beautiful colorful bags and handicrafts which serve as the perfect souvenirs to be taken back home for your family or friends.
What kind of birds will you see?
Many of the endemic birds in Colombia are birds of restricted ranges. This means that they are only seen in specific areas and habitats in Colombia, which makes the mission to see them so much more exciting and rewarding at the same time.
The Buffy-Helmetcrest Hummingbird can only be found in the high-elevation paramo of Nevado del Ruiz in Central Andes. Other range-restricted birds endemic to Colombia are the Antioquia Wren, Dusky-Headed Brushfinch, Santa Martha Parakeet, Magdelena Tapaculo and the Chestnut-Capped Piha.
Other than these rare beauties, there are an abundance of parrots, hummingbirds, toucans and tanagers all over the country. You will definitely not have a shortage of birds on your watch in Colombia!
Best season to visit Colombia
Even though Colombia has some migratory species, the majority of Colombia’s birds can be seen at any time of the year. The climate does not change much all year round so it should not affect your travel plans unless you are planning to visit the Amazon and the Chocó Pacific rainforest.
The two main rainy seasons in Colombia are April to May and October to November. It is advised to revise rainfall charts of the different locations in Colombia so you can have a more precise idea of what to expect. Good walking shoes, rain jackets and mosquito repellent are some good things to carry with you during your travels in Colombia.
Plan this trip with Kuoda
From the few astonishing bird paradises on this planet, Colombia is definitely on the top of the list. There are so many reserves and parks to visit in Colombia, so it can be quite overwhelming to arrange a birdwatching trip to Colombia all on your own.
Kuoda offers private and curated trips for couples and families, that will guarantee you a smooth and memorable journey without the stress of planning and arranging everything upfront.
Contact us to enquire more and allow us to plan the perfect trip for you!