Araucana Lodge Choco Endemics Bonanza Tour - Birding by Locals


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Araucana Lodge Choco Endemics Bonanza Tour

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    8 Days / 7 Nights
    Availability : All Year Round
    Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport
    Tour Details

    This tour celebrates the grand opening of Colombia’s newest birding lodge, allowing one to bird in very comfortable accommodations in some of the best birding sites in Colombia, without having to spend much time in a vehicle. The Araucana Lodge is a brand new lodge (opening date is January 2019) designed specifically for birders and nature lovers, with spacious rooms and all the comforts to ensure a good night’s rest.

    For those who enjoy bird photography, Araucana Lodge and many of the reserves along the route have excellent feeder set ups that provide some of the best photographic opportunities in Colombia.

    The tour starts in the KM 18 and San Antonio Cloud Forest, which provide an excellent introduction to birding in the Colombian Andes. More than 100 years ago, Frank Chapman, of the American Museum of Natural History, spent some time researching the bird diversity of this forest, which concluded in the first detailed bird survey for Colombia. The birding in the area is amazing, with mixed-species flocks of Multicolored, Purplish-mantled, Scrub and Golden-naped Tanagers foraging along side Scaled Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted Chlorophonias and Golden-headed and Crested Quetzal.

    Apart from a visit to an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek and a feeding station for a brand new species of Antpitta, this tour dips into the humid forests of the Pacific lowlands in the San Cipriano Reserve, where the habitat and the species differ dramatically from those in the Andean Cloud forests.

    The next stop is the Anchicaya Valley, in one of the most biodiverse national parks in the planet: Farallones NP. Found along The Old Buenaventura Road, which descends from the western Andes to the Pacific Ocean, the area is one of Colombia’s newest destinations to open up to birding, and is AMAZING.

    The road provides a mind-boggling diversity of birds, and is such that it inspired Steve Hilty to start work on Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia. This was the first ornithological field guide for South America, and inspired a myriad of ornithologists in the continent.

    Departure & Return Location

    Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (Google Map)

    Operated By

    Araucana Lodge
    What to Expect
    • Highlights:Grayish Piculet (E), Colombian Chachalaca (E), Parker’s Antbird (E), Apical Flycatcher (E), Blue-headed Sapphire (NE), Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Long-billed Starthroat and many more
    • Activities: Birding
    • Difficulty:Low
    • Holiday Type: Tailor-made
    • You will visit:Anhicaya – Km 18 – San Cirpiano – Sonso Lagoon – La Minga
    • Trip style:Independent Birders – Couples – Small groups
    • Comfort level: Luxury
    • Transportation: SUV and/or Minibus
    • Physical demand: Moderate: All walking is done on roads except for a 20 minute hike down the trail to the Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek.
    • Group size: 1 Person Minimum
    • Price:2 – 3 pax: $3,395 USD Per Person 4 -5 pax: $2,495 USD Per Person 6-7 pax: $2,095 USD Per Person 8 pax: $1,795 USD Per Person Double Occupancy Singles Supplement: $300 US

    Day 1Arrive in Cali

    Guests will be picked up at the airport and driven to the lodge in a private vehicle.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 2KM 18

    Today we spend the morning around the famous El 18, located on an 1800-meter (5,900-foot) pass 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Cali along the road that connects Cali with the port city of Buenaventura. Birding can be very productive here, and we will look for four endemics – Chestnut Wood-Quail, Colombian Chachalaca, Grayish Piculet and the spectacular Multicolored Tanager.

    This area is a tanager paradise, where we have a good chance to see Purplish-mantled, Summer, Beryl spangled, Flame-rumped, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, and Golden-naped tanagers as well as Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.

    We hope to be dazzled by an impressive show of hummingbirds at a private house along the same road, including the beautifully ornate Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Rackettail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Green Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin. Brown Violetear and Tawny-bellied Hermit.

    Birding the forest can also produce many near-endemics such as Scrub Tanager, Purple-throated Woodstar, Nariño Tapaculo, Purplishmantled Tanager and Yellow-headed Manakin.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 3San Antonio Forest and Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek

    The morning will be devoted to a two hour drive that will take us to the El Danubio Reserve, near the village of Peñas Blancas. Here we will meet some local rangers that will take us to see the recently discovered Dancing Antpitta,  a bird with an incredibly restricted range that is Colombia’s newest endemic.

    At 2 pm we will visit an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek for some close-up views of this magnificent bird’s display. This 25-minute hike will take us down a steep trail to their lek near the river. After the lek we will make our way back to the lodge.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 4San Cipriano

    The day starts with a 1.5 hour drive to Zaragosa, our entry point into the humid forests of the San Cipriano Reserve. There are no roads into the reserve, so access is via a pleasant ride on “brujitas”, which are motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails that have been ingenuously engineered by the locals.

    In the heart of the Choco Bioregion, the area is known for being one of the most biodiverse on the planet , but also the wettest. Some of the birds that are possible include Choco Toucan, Stripe-billed Aracari, Black-tipped Cotinga (NE), Rose-faced (NE) and Blue-headed Parrots, Spot-crowned and Fivecolored Barbet (NE), Broad-billed Motmot and Purple-throated Fruitcrow and Tawny-crested Tanager.

    The area is teeming with Antbirds, with chances to see Ocellated, Jet, Stub-tailed and Bicolored Antbirds. With the high humidity and heat, it is best to have bagged species such as Pacific and Checkerthroated Antwrens, Pacific Flatbill, Cinnamon Becard, Thicket Antpitta, Black-chested Puffbird, Whiteringed Flycatcher, Blue-black Grosebeak, and Bluecrowned and Golden-collared Manakin before lunch.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 5Upper Anchicaya

    Perhaps Colombia’s most famous birding location, the Anchicaya watershed is located in the Farallones National Park, one of the most diverse parks on the planet. The birding begins just 30 minutes from the hotel via a paved road that can offer many of the Choco endemics that this mega diverse locality has to offer.

    The day will be spent birding along the upper portion of the road. We will devote some time to the El Descanso area, where Rufous-throated, Glistening-green and Silver-throated Tanagers are known to occur.

    A day of birding on the road will surely yield many highly prized species including the endemic Crested Ant-tanager, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, White-whiskered Puffbird, Uniform Treehunter, Sooty-headed Wren, Green Thorntail and Empress Brillaint.

    One of the main targets is Toucan Barbet, sporting 5 different colors elegantly while still having a tough demeanor. We will search the skies for Barred Hawk, Ornate Hawk-eagle and Swallow-tailed Kites, whilst keeping an eye out for the attractive Ornate Flycatcher feeding on low branches. Another mega target is the recently described Pisones Tapaculo.

    A full day of birding ends when we return for another comfortable night at Araucana Lodge.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 6Lower Anchicaya

    A whole day to explore the pristine forests of the lower Anchicaya road for species such as Choco Trogon, Great Currassow, Lita Woddpecker and Baudo Guan. The tanagers can be quite a treat, with chances for Scarlet-andwhite, Golden-chested, Flame-faced, Scru, Blue-whiskered, Gray-and-gold, and Scarlet-browed Tanagers among many others.

    The road is lengthy, so there are plenty of opportunities to seek out other goodies such as Choco Woodpecker (NE), Long-tailed Tyrant, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Lanceolated Monklet, Bay Wren, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Collared Aracari and colonies of Russet-backed Oropendolas.

    The road provides habitat for many species such as Choco Tapaculo, Dusky Pigeon, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Club-winged Manakin, Indigo Flowerpiercer and White-tailed Hillstar. Some of our targets include White-whiskered Puffbird, Barred Puffbird, Spot-crowned Barbet, Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, White-tailed Trogon and Black-cheeked Woodpecker.

    After a long day of birding we make our way back to the hotel for a well-deserved rest, as this will be the longest day of driving we will have.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 7San Antonio Forest and Araucana Lodge

    We will spend the morning birding in the pristine cloud forest of the San Antonio Forest. Here we will may see striking birds such as Green-and-black Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted and Blue-naped Chlorophonia, the inconspicuous Golden-headed Quetzal, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streaked Xenops, and the noisy, inquisitive Crimson-rumped Toucanet.

    We will also listen and search for species with interesting calls and songs, like the hawk-like whistle of the Scaled Fruiteater, warbling song of Black-billed Peppershrike, and beautiful flute-like song of Andean Solitaire. Other species we may find are Chestnut-breasted Wren, Greenish Puffleg, Montane Woodcreeper, Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.

    After lunch we return to the Araucana Lodge for an afternoon of birding in search of species such as Parker’s Antbird, Grayish Piculet, Apical Flycatcher, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Bar-crested Antshrike, Specatcled Parrotlet Scaled Antpitta, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, Colombian Chchalaca and Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 8Depart Cali or Continue Birding

    Guest will be taken in private transport to airport.

    For those who wish, we can arrange more birding for you in other regions of Colombia.

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