Colombia – endemic wildlife mountains and Caribbean

An introduction to some of Colombia’s wildlife-rich habitats including cloud forest, dry forest, mangroves and alpine ‘páramo’ grassland.

Costa Rica is a natural history paradise, as discovered by those who travelled with us on our five previous visits to this biodiverse country, where a high percentage of the land is managed for conservation. The wildlife in the tropics will captivate both the new and the more seasoned traveller as we explore coastal forests and mangroves, cloud forests, rain forests and dramatic volcanic cones. Visiting national parks and reserves, we pass through several different regions. As we travel we will also find out about the ecology, agriculture, and the culture and history of Costa Rica. Accommodation is mostly at attractive lodges and our travel is at a comfortable pace, by coach and boat.

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We begin at Poas Volcano where there are spectacular tropical rainforests and beautiful waterfalls. Moving to the Talamanca mountains, we explore high cloud forest with a chance to see the Resplendent Quetzal! We then move to La Ensenada Wildlife Refuge set amongst the dry forests of the Pacific coast, before exploring the Arenal N.P. and visiting this famous volcanic area. At Caño Negro we will travel by boat, looking for monkeys and forest birds along the banks of the Rio Frio. At La Selva Biological Station in the Caribbean lowlands we join local conservationists to gain an insight into conservation work in the Tropics. The exciting Tortuguero National Park on the Caribbean coast is not accessible by road but, travelling by boat to our lodge, we have a wonderful tour through the waterways. Walks on easy trails will give us many chances to see howler monkeys, fruit-eating bats, poison-dart frogs, and many tropical plants.

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Wildlife Travel Colombia 2018

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

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14 – 30 November 2019


Laurie Jackson with local guides


To be confirmed


Return flights: UK to Bogotá. Local transport as specified in itinerary including internal flight to northern Colombia. Fourteen nights’ accommodation (two extra nights are overnight flights), full board basis.

Not included

Drinks and refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Day 1 Fly to Bogotá arriving early morning on Day 2.

Day 2 A day in Bogotá to acclimatise to the altitude with the opportunity to visit attractions such as the Gold Museum and Monserrate.

Day 3 We visit Chingaza National Park in the Eastern Andes to explore the alpine ‘paramo’ grassland of the high slopes where the unusual tall frailejones Espeletia grow, and home to an array of birds including the bizarre Andean Cock-of-the-rock.

Day 4 This morning we set out west towards Honda, on the banks of the Magdalena River (c. 5 hours), making stops along the way to explore La Florida Park and La Laguna el Tabacal.

Day 5 We will explore the Magdalena Valley and have some opportunity to visit some of the sites of the town of Honda with its colonial history. We then continue west to Manizales in the Central Andes (c. 4 hours).

Day 6 We spend the day exploring the cloud forest of the Rio Blanco Reserve, home to many brightly coloured parakeets, tanagers, hummingbirds, and several species of antpitta.

Day 7/8 We move onwards to the Otún Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (c. 2 hours) where we have two days to explore the wildlife of the cloud forests.

Day 9 After breakfast we take our flight to Santa Marta on Colombia’s north coast and transfer into four-wheel-drive vehicles for the journey to El Dorado Bird Reserve (c. 3 hours) high in the Santa Marta Mountains (1,900m), making stops along the way as we climb.

Day 10/11 We have two days to explore different elevations within the El Dorado Reserve. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park was named the world’s most irreplaceable nature reserve, due to its exceptional levels of endemism, which include many birds and amphibians.

Day 12 We take our return journey down from the mountain (c. 3 hours); stopping along the way to enjoy the views and wildlife, before a visit to the beaches and rainforest of Tayrona National Park.

Day 13 This morning we travel east along the coast to Los Flamencos National Reserve, which includes dry tropical forest, semi-desert and lagoon habitats. We will also have an opportunity to find out more about the indigenous Wayuu communities of this area.

Day 14 We head west along the coast, stopping to visit the dry forest and mangroves of Salamanca National Park.

Day 15 We will have time to explore the area around Barranquilla before continuing on to the historic city of Cartagena (c. 2 hours).

Day 16 We will have a relaxing start to the day with some time to explore Cartagena before a flight back to Bogotá and onwards to the UK.

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities or at the discretion of the leaders. During this holiday, you will need to be able to climb in and out of small boats, sometimes directly onto the bank. 

The group flights are with Avianca from London Heathrow. Times have not yet been released for 2019 but are likely to be similar to the following:

14 November depart London Heathrow 22.05, arrive Bogotá 04.30 (15 November)

29 November depart Bogotá 23.15, arrive London Heathrow 14.30 (30 November)

Colombia is five hours behind UK time.

It is also possible to fly from other airports – check with us for options and costs. You can book the trip without flights – please contact us for the price reduction.

You must have a valid passport for this trip (valid for at least six months from the date of entry in to Colombia). Visas are not required for holders of UK/EU passports, although you may be asked to show evidence of return/onward travel. For holders of other passports please check with your embassy.