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WESTERN AND CENTRAL ANDEAN SPECIALTIES – ARAUCANA LODGE GRAND OPENING TOUR

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    14 Days / 13 Nights
    Availability : All year round
    Cali (CLO) Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport
    Colombia
    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.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Bird the Anchicaya Watershed, an area that inspired the first Bird ID guide for South America.
    • Enjoy the feeders at KM 18, where more than 22 species of hummingbirds have been recorded.
    • Stay at the brand new Araucana Lodge, owned and operated by Colombia Birdwatch and specially designed for birders.
    • Visit an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek that is only a 20 minute hike.
    • Take an exhilarating rail ride in the Pacific Lowlands where you will bird close to sea level in search of lowland species.
    • Visit the surreal Paramo Ecosystem where you will bird above 3,500 meters in search of the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest.

    Departure & Return Location

    Cali (CLO) Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport (Google Map)

    Operated By

    What to Expect
    • Highlights:Colombian Chachalaca - Baudo Guan - Cauca Guan - Wattled Guan - Great Curassow - Chestnut Wood-Quail - Andean Condor - Ornate Hawk-Eagle - Ruddy Pigeon - Colombian Screech-Owl - and many more
    • Activities: Birding
    • Difficulty:Moderate
    • Holiday Type: Tailor-made
    • You will visit:Anhicaya – Km 18 – San Cirpiano – Sonso Lagoon – La Minga – Otun Quimbaya NP – Rio BLanco Reserve – Los Nevados National PArk – Termales del Ruiz
    • Trip style:Independent Birders – Couples – Small groups
    • Comfort level: Standard with some 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 people minimum
    • Price:2 – 3 pax: $5,400 USD 4 – 5 pax: $4,600 USD 6 – 7 pax: $3,900 USD 8 pax: $3,700 USD
    Itinerary

    Day 1 Flights to Cali. Transfer to Buga

    A representative will meet you at the airport for your transfer to the hotel (40 minutes)

    Lodging: Hotel Guadlajara de Buga

    Day 2Sonso Lagoon and Drive to Rio Blanco Lodge

    We will start early to take a 10-minute drive to this wetland gem. It is one of the only remaining wetlands in the Cauca Valley and is teeming with birds, making it one of Colombia’s best wetland birding locations.

    Here we will search the marshes and lagoons that line the Cauca River for Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-ducks, Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Anhinga, Little Blue, Cocoi, and Striated herons, Snowy Egret, Black-necked Stilt and Snail Kite.

    We are likely to find Wattled Jacana, which have a polyandry mating system, where females mate with many males within a breeding season.

    Polyandry is a fascinating adaptation that occurs in less than 1% of birds, and is most common in shorebirds.

    Other interesting species we might spot include the endemics Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet, Jet Antbird, Blackish Rail, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, and Horned Screamer. Along riparian areas we may find Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Crested and Yellowheaded Caracara, Red-crowned and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, and Cocoa Woodcreeper. Greater Anis are fascinating because two to four unrelated pairs form a nesting group that build a single nest in which all the females lay their eggs and raise the young communally.

    Lunch is at the hotel with time to prepare for a 4-hour drive to the the Rio Blanco Lodge near the city of Manizales.

    Lodging: Rio Blanco Lodge

    Day 3Rio Blanco

    The Rio Blanco Reserve is owned by Aguas de Manizales, the local water company, and is situated along an altitudinal gradient, therefore including a wide variety of ecosystems. We could possibly observe five antpitta species at feeders located within a short hike from the lodge, including the endemic and endangered Brown-banded, and the elusive Bicolored, Chestnut-crowned,
    Chestnut-naped, and Slate crowned antpittas.

    Other feeder visitors seldom seen include Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush and Stripeheaded Brush-Finch. Additional species observed in Rio Blanco include the uncommon and endangered Rufous-fronted and Golden-plumed Parakeet sand the very rare and sought-after Masked Saltator.

    The reserve get boasts many that we may encounter here include Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Goldenfronted Whitestart, Dusky Piha, Lachrymose and Buffbreasted mountain-tanagers, showy
    Grass-green and White-capped tanagers, Powerful Woodpecker, and the hard to see Ocellated, Blackish, and Spillman’s tapaculos.

    Other less common species that are possible are Long-tailed Black-billed Peppershrike, the handsome Plushcap, Red-hooded Tanager, Mountain Cacique, and the endangered Golden-plumed Parakeet.

    Lodging: Rio Blanco Lodge

    Day 4Rio Blanco and Drive to Los Nevados NP

    Today a chance to visit the reserve’s several well maintained hummingbird feeders that attract a great variety of hummingbirds.

    We hope to see Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed Coronet, Speckled Hummingbird, Bronzy and Collared Incas, Mountain Velvet breast, the tiny, slow-flying White-bellied Woodstar, and the showy Long-tailed Sylph.

    In the afternoon we will drive up the mountain to spend two nights at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, at 11,000 feet, where we can relax in its mineral-rich, medicinal hot springs and enjoy scenic views of the central Andes.

    Lodging: Hotel Termales del Ruiz

    Day 5Los Nevados National Park

    We will explore Los Nevados National Park, located on the highest part of the Colombian central Andes. We will wind through patches of forest that open up to Paramo, an ecosystem of tropical grasslands above the treeline, toward the picturesque 5,300-meter (17,400-foot) volcano Nevado del Ruiz.

    The scenery in Paramo is magical and surreal, with velvety Frailejon plants adding to this effect. Frailejon plants belong to the Espeletia genus and are endemic to Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

    The tour reaches elevations up to 3,950 meters (13,000 feet), so it will be cold. Here the goal is to find species adapted to high elevations like the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and the near endemic Rainbowbearded Thornbill, both of which sometimes forage on the ground.

    Also possible are Viridian Metaltail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, the beautiful Golden-crowned Tanager, near endemic Black-backed Bush-Tanager, and Glossy Flowerpiercer.

    We may also find a variety of seedeaters in the Paramo, including Plumbeous Sierra-Finch plus Paramo and Plain-colored seedeaters.

    Lodging: Hotel Termales del Ruiz

    Day 6Los Nevados NP and drive to Otun Quimbaya Lodge

    The morning is spent searching for any targets that may have been missed and enjoying the hummingbird feeders at the hotel. There is also a chance to look for the very rare and endangered endemic Rufous-fronted Parakeet along a two-kilometer stretch of road that passes through elfin forest, an ecosystem of dwarfed plants. We also hope to spot the very tame Tawny Antpitta, a common companion in this area.

    On the drive down to the Pereira airport the road passes by some interesting spots, including a glacial lake, Laguna Negra, where one may find goodies such as Many-striped Canastero, White-tailed Hawk, the rare Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Andean Tit Spinetail, White-chinned Thistletail, Andean or Ruddy Duck, Andean Teal, Grass or Sedge Wren, and Palenaped Brush-Finch. After lunch we will head towards the Otun-Quimbaya Reserve, a 2-hour drive.

    We will drive through the city of Pereira, and wind along the Otun River, finally arriving at the locally run and rustic lodge. The afternoon drive along the Otun River will be devoted to finding the infamous Torrent Duck.

    Lodging: Yarumo Blanco Cabins

    Day 7Otun-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

    We will rise predawn to look for Choco endemic Colombian Screech-Owl, and then continue birding at the Otun-Quimbaya Reserve right at the doorsteps of our hotel. The Otun-Quimbaya Reserve is a flora and fauna sanctuary located on the west slope of the Central Cordillera, and is home to the Wax Palm, the tallest palm in the world and the national tree of Colombia.

    These palms, unlike most other species of palm, thrive at high altitudes and cool climates found here. We will also be received by the sounds of Howler Monkeys and the endangered, endemic Cauca Guan, once believed to be extinct until rediscovery of a population in 1990. Otun-Quimbaya is also one of the best places in the world to observe Red-ruffed Fruitcrow.

    We will search for endemics – Chestnut Wood-Quail, recently described Stiles’s Tapaculo – and near endemics, like Moustached Antpitta, the handsome Rufous-breasted Flycatcher, and bright-colored Golden-fronted Whitestart.

    Other impressive birds we hope to find include Three-striped, Russet-crowned, and Canada Warblers, Masked Trogon, Green Jay, Andean Motmot, Bluenaped Chlorophonia, and Orange-bellied Euphonia.

    We will also look for Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Chestnut-breasted Wren, Plumbeous-crowned Tyrannulet, Marble-faced and Variegated bristle-tyrants, and Glossy and Masked Flowerpiercers.

    Lodging: Yarumo Blanco Cabins

    Day 8Otun Quimbaya to Araucana Lodge

    The morning is spent looking for any targets we may have missed. After lunch, we head to the exquisite Araucana Lodge, arriving in time to enjoy the feeders and/or trails at the lodge.

    Lodging: Hotel La Araucana

    Day 9KM 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 spangles, 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.

    Here we will may see striking birds such as Greenand-black Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted and Bluenaped Chlorophonia, the inconspicuous Goldenheaded 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, Scalecrested Pygmy-tyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.

    Lodging: Hotel La Araucana

    Day 10San Antonio Forest and Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek

    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 Pygmytyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.

    At 2 pm we will visit an active Andean Cock-of-therock 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 11San Cipriano

    After a two drive to Zaragosa and a pleasant 20 minute ride on “brujitas” (motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails), one arrives in the town of San Cipriano. The area is a protected reserve and is the source of drinking water for the nearby port city of Buenaventura.

    Located in the Choco Bioregion, it is known for being one of the wettest places on the planet. 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 Five-colored Barbet (NE), Broad-billed Motmot, Black-chested Puffbird and Purple-throated Fruitcrow.

    The area is teeming with Antbirds, with chances to see Ocellated, Jet, Stubtailed and Bicolored Antbirds. We will leave after lunch and drive 2 hours back to the hotel.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 12El Descanso Feeders and Anchicaya Watershed

    Perhaps Colombia’s most famous birding location, the Anchicaya watershed is located along the edge of the Farallones National Park, one of the most diverse parks on the planet. The birding begins just 40 minutes from the hotel via a paved road that can offer many of the Choco endemics that this mega diverse locality has to offer.

    Our day on the Anchicaya road will allow time to enjoy the upper portion of the road and some very well-maintained feeders at our breakfast spot where Rufous-throated, Glistening-green and Silver-throated Tanagers are known to occur.

    The road will surely yield many highly prized species Golden-collared Honeycreeper, White-whiskered Puffbird, Uniform Treehunter, Sooty-headed Wren, Green Thorntail and White-tailed Hillstar.

    One of the main targets 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 Swallowtailed Kites, whilst keeping an eye out for the attractive Ornate Flycatcher feeding on low branches. Another mega target is the recently described Pisones Tapaculo. The road can be extremely productive as it rarely disappoints.

    Day 13Lower Anchicaya

    On this day we bird the same lightly traveled road as the day before, but this time having the opportunity to explore the lower portion of the road after a 2 hour drive form the hotel. The “El Danubio” area is host to many interesting species, including the near endemics Rose-faced Parrot and Black-tipped Cotinga, Choco Trogon, Lita Woddpecker and Baudo Guan.

    The tanagers can be quite a treat, with chances for Scarlet-and-white, Golden-chested, Gray-andgold, and Scarlet-browed Tanagers among many others. Lunch on the road will provide for a long day of birding, as we seek out other goodies such as Long-tailed Tyrant, Scarlet-rumped Cacique, Lanceolated Monklet, Bay Wren, Cinnamon Woodpecker, Collared Aracari and colonies of Russet-backed Oropendolas.

    The area is teeming with many of our friends with the word “ant” in their name, and if we are lucky enough to encounter an ant swarm the action can bring bird such as Stub-tailed, Immaculate, Ocellated, and Bicolored Antbirds as well as Streaked and Pacific Antwren, amongst many others. This last day of birding is sure to provide a lot of specialties which is the perfect way to end a fabulous tour.

    Lodging: Araucana Lodge

    Day 14Depart Cali

    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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