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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.

Colombia is home to more bird species than any other country in the world. It also encompasses a variety of habitats stretching from the lowlands of the Pacific coast in the west, the Andes encompassing the Cauca and Magdalena valleys, vast swathes of ‘llanos’ savannah grassland, mangroves and dry tropical forests in the north, and Amazon rainforest. We will pass through several of these areas during our time in Colombia.

Our visit begins in Bogotá with a chance to acclimatise to the altitude, before a trip to Chingaza National Park to explore the interesting alpine ‘paramo’ grassland found here.

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Striking out westwards towards the Magdalena Valley we will spend several days in this area, visiting cloud forests and wetlands, as well as taking opportunities to learn a little about the colonial history of the area.

After our time amid the Andes, we will take an internal flight to Colombia’s north coast, lapped by the Caribbean Sea. Travelling in four-wheel-drive vehicles we head upwards to 1,900m and the El Dorado Ecolodge in the Santa Marta Mountains. Santa Marta is well known for its biodiversity, including a wealth of endemic species and the El Dorado Bird Reserve is a fantastic place to get a flavour of the wildlife here. We will then have time to explore the dry tropical forest, semi-desert and lagoon habitats of northern Colombia’s lowlands, before a visit to the historic city of Cartagena and our flights back to Bogotá and onwards to the UK.

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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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Return flights: UK to Bogotá. Local transport as specified in itinerary including internal flights. 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.

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

The group flights are with Avianca from London Heathrow:

14 November depart London Heathrow 21.40, arrive Bogotá 03.50 (15 November)

29 November depart Bogotá 22.55, arrive London Heathrow 14.35 (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.