2015 Colombia Tour Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive Bogota

Fly independently to Bogota, Colombia and overnight at Hotel Estelar Parque de la 93.

Day 2

Bogota / Puerto Nariño

Fly to Leticia and enjoy lunch before boarding boats to head into the Colombian Amazon. Tonight, our naturalist guide takes us into the rainforest looking for nocturnal creatures. Spend two nights at Hotel Lomas del Paiyu. (B,L,D)

Day 3

Puerto Nariño: Amazon & Lago Tarapoto

Today our Colombia tour delves deep into the Colombian Amazon as we explore the region called “Amazonian Trapezium.” Our naturalist-guided excursions take in one of the region’s diverse habitats, Lago Tarapoto. This region is home to 468 bird species, 150 aquatic and land mammal species, 12 species of primates and Colombia’s largest number of reptiles. Most notably, the region is home to charapa, the world’s largest freshwater turtle. Also pay a visit to Isla de los Monos (Monkey Island). Board excursion boats to visit a local village. Along the way, watch the waters for Amazon River dolphin, manatee and tucuxi — three of Colombia’s four species of freshwater mammals call these waters home.

Meet members of the Ticuna tribe, whose communities have inhabited the Amazon riverbanks since 2930 B.C. The Ticuna were one of the first major Amazon tribes contacted by early Conquistadors. Even with over 400 years of contact, the Ticuna people have preserved much of their personal identity through their native language, traditional religions, rituals and art. Tonight, enjoy another nighttime excursion. (B,L,D) 

Day 4

Puerto Nariño / Leticia

En route to Leticia we further explore the banks of the Amazon River by boat. Watch for pava hedionda, curassow, mountain paujil, grey-winged trumpeter and some of the area’s 33 macaw species. Once in Leticia, check into Waira Suites. The town of Leticica was called San Antonio and considered part of Peru until a 1922 treaty ceded it to Colombia (B,L,D)

Day 5

Leticia / Pereira

Spend our morning on a nature walk and chatting with the locals while visiting another tribal village before boarding our connecting flight to Pereira, in the Coffee Region at the foothills of the Andes. Spend tonight at Hotel Movich Pereira. (B,L,D)

Day 6

Otún Quimbaya / Manizales

Venture to Otún Quimbaya, the ideal location for observing birdlife such as Cauca guan, Monte toro and carriquí, along with howler monkeys, mountain tapir and guatín — though these mammals can be difficult to spot. Enjoy a picnic breakfast, surrounded by lush slopes where our naturalists point out ficus, yarumo, bromeliad, orchid and other flora native to the cloud forest. Drive to Manizales this afternoon and check into Hotel Termales el Otoño, our home for three nights, in the lush hills surrounding Manizales. Before or after dinner, be sure to take advantage of the hotel’s hot springs, which are fed by underground volcanic activity. (B,L,D)

Day 7

Manizales: Los Nevados National Park

Spend a full day exploring the paramo and other high-altitude vegetation of Los Nevados National Park. Located in the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes, the landscapes of Los Nevados are dominated by the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. In addition to Nevado del Ruiz, seven other volcanoes are located in the area: Nevado del Tolima, Santa Isabel, Nevado del Quindío, Páramo de Santa Rosa, Cerro Bravo, Cerro Machín and Nevado El Cisne. This entire region was shaped by glacial activity, leaving U-shaped valleys and moraines behind.

The park's hydrographic networks supply water to over 2,000,000 coffee-growers in the region and to most of the rice and cotton crops in the Tolima Department. Los Nevados is home to 1,250 species of vascular plants, 200 bryophytes, 300 lichens and 180 macroscopic fungi. On the lower slopes and in the valleys, we find the distinctive Andean wax palms along with rich birdlife. During our nature hikes, watch for blue-crowned motmot, yellow-eared parrot, Fuertes's parrot, rufous-fronted parakeet, Andean condor, brown-banded antpitta and ruddy duck. The bearded helmetcrest hummingbird is endemic to the region. A variety of mammals also call the area home, including mountain tapir, spectacled bear, Northern pudú, oncilla, cougar and white-eared opossum. (B,L,D)

Day 8

Manizales: Rio Blanco Reserve and Hacienda Vencecia Coffee Plantation

A "must see” for any birding enthusiast, today our Colombia tour takes in the varying altitudes of the Rio Blanco Reserve. A wide variety of flora and fauna can be found in the park. Three endemic bird species are found here: brown-banded antpitta, bicolored antpitta and rufous-fronted parakeet. But the area also boasts a number of other sought-after species. Our naturalist will be on the look-out for tyrannine woodcreeper, golden-faced redstart, dusky piha, black-billed and buff-breasted mountain-tanagers, grass-green and white-capped tanager, chestnut-naped antpitta, rusty-faced parrot and powerful woodpecker. Lucky and observant groups may even spot the hard to see ocellated, blakish and Spillman’s tapaculos, black-billed peppershrike, plushcap, mountain cacique and golden-plumed parakeet.

The reserve boasts well-maintained hummingbird feeders that attract various species of hummingbirds, including tourmaline sunangel, buff-tailed coronet, speckled hummingbird, bronzy and collared Inca, mountain velvetbreast, white-bellied woodstar and long-tailed sylph. Plus, an ingeniously installed antpitta feeder attracts two endemic antpitta and two species of brush-finch. Spend our afternoon touring Hacienda Venecia and learning about the coffee process from bean to cup. (B,L,D)

Day 9

Manizales / Barranquilla

Fly to Barranquilla, stopping first at Parque Isla de Salamanca, an UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The park has an extraordinary set of beaches, marshlands and forests occupying the former estuary of the Magdalena River. Salamanca is home to a variety of endemic birds, including the endangered sapphire-bellied hummingbird and bronze cowbird, which we’ll watch for during naturalist-guided walk. The park is the Caribbean’s most important habitats for the Anatidae family. Spend tonight at the Smartsuites Royal Barranquilla. (B,L,D)

Day 10

Barranquilla / Proyecto Tití / Cartagena

En route to Cartagena, tour Proyecto Tití, a conservation program that works to study cotton-top tamarins in their tropical forest habitat as well as educate local communities about the species’ conservation and the need to protect Colombia’s biodiversity. The tiny cotton-top tamarin is an endangered species found only in the tropical forests of Colombia. Spend our afternoon on a guided walking tour of the charming streets of Cartagena’s Old Town, including the city walls. Dinner tonight is on your own. (B,L)

Please Note: Visits to Proyecto Tití require final permission closer to the time of visit. If the Center cannot be visited another excursion will be substituted.

Day 11

Cartagena

On a private morning excursion, board local boats with local guides to explore the rich coastal life of the mangroves swamps of La Boquilla, just outside Cartagena, an important nesting and migratory spot for many birds. Local guides point out the many species as we make our way through the channels and canals of Cienega de la Virgen (Swamp of the Virgin). Water species such as kingfishers, white herons, common lauras, pink spatulas and pelicans are found in this fascinating ecosystem. After a wonderful lunch of local specialties, enjoy touring this atmospheric city, including the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas and la Popa, the town’s highest point. Tonight, say goodbye to your Colombia tour friends during a festive farewell dinner is in a local restaurant (B,L,D)

Day 12

Depart Cartagena

Transfer to the airport for your independent flights home. (B, Meals Aloft)