Magdalena Valley of Magic Birding Tour


This endemic-rich birding tour specializes in the birds of the Magdalena Valley that divides the Eastern and Central Andes cordilleras of Colombia. We will conveniently start birding in and around Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, eventually descending into the lowlands of the Magdalena Valley.

Birds of particular interest include Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Blue-billed Curassow, White-mantled Barbet, Beautiful Woodpecker, Velvet-fronted Euphonia, Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant, Chestnut-capped Piha, Red-bellied Grackle, Yellow-eared Parrot, and the spectacular Andean Cock-of-the-Rock

Tour Duration: 15 days
2024 Tour Dates: Feb 5-29, 2024 & July 8-22
Tour Price: $5,200 per birder in shared accommodation
Save $800 when adding a Santa Marta Endemics 7-day extension
Single Occupancy Supplement: $500
Deposit: $800 *Tour balance in three interest-free installments*
Tour Goal: Over 450 bird species including 30 endemics
Tour Size: Limited to 6 participants
Tour Guide: Juan Manuel Cardona, Johnnier Arango or Ivan Aguilera

Category: Product ID: 1296


You will have the opportunity to explore 3 beautiful nature reserves run by the local Proaves NGO and co-funded with support from the American Bird Conservancy for the preservation of habitat critical for the survival of unique and endangered bird species like Blue-billed Curassow, Chestnut-capped Piha, and Yellow-eared Parrot. This birding tour is somehow more remote and off-the-beaten-path than our Epic Andes Birding tour and yet it offers all the Colombian charm, safety, and comfort characteristic of our tours.

Highlights for the tour
  • This tour supports American Bird Conservancy by visiting the natural reserves they co-funded to protect the habitats of two endemic and endangered bird species, the Chestnut-capped Piha and Blue-billed Curassow
  • Nearby the private Río Claro Reserve in a humid tropical forest we will visit a cave where a colony of the noisy, bizarre, eye-catching, nocturnal Oilbird lives
  • This birding tour will give you the opportunity to spend time in the wonderful Medellin city, one of the most interesting cities in Latin America
  • We may go after the recently rediscovered Antioquia Brushfinch in a town not far from Medellin
  • In the beautiful town of Jardin – “The Garden” we will visit the most active Andean Cock-of-the-Rock lek in Colombia


Magdalena Valley of Magic Tour

Day 1Arrival at Bogota International Airport

Upon arrival in Bogota, we will pick you up at the airport and will drive to a nice hotel in a trendy area of the city to spend the first two nights. We will have a welcome dinner and will go through intros and logistics for our first day out birding.


Night at hotel Suites Calle 95

Day 2Chingaza National Park and Hummingbird Observatory

Chingaza National Park is located just outside of Bogotá (1.5 hours land trip), at 11,000 fasl altitude in High Andean forest, subparamo, and paramo ecosystems where the weather can vary magically from sunny to rainy and then foggy many times a day. Key bird specialties to find here include the uncommon (E) Brown-Breasted Parakeet, and (E) Green-bearded Helmetcrest, Rufous-browed Conebill, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Pale-bellied Tapaculo, Agile Tit-Tyrant, and Rufous-browed Conebill

The Hummingbird Observatory is located only 11.1 miles from Bogota, at an altitude of 9,800 fasl in a high Andean forest. Up to 18 hummingbird species have been recorded here including the very interesting Sword-billed Hummingbird, (NE) Blue-throated Starfrontlet, and (NE) Coppery-bellied Puffleg



Night at Hotel Suites Calle 95

Day 3Tabacal lagoon and The Enchanted Garden

The beautiful Tabacal Lagoon located 30 miles from Bogota at an altitude of 4,100 fasl is the go-to hotspot to find Black-bellied Wren, Rosy Thrush-Tanager, Ruddy Foliage-gleaner, and Red-billed Scythebill. Other main targets from the lower elevations include (E) Velvet-fronted Euphonia, White-throated Spadebill, White-bearded Manakin, Jet Antbird, and Stripe-breasted Spinetail. This site is a great introduction to the birds of the Magdalena Valley

In the late morning or early afternoon, we will visit the Enchanted Garden, a private residence located about 30 mins away from Tabacal at an altitude of 4,990 fasl. Some 300 hummingbirds can be seen at any moment coming to the 40 plus feeders present in the garden. 27 hummingbird species have been recorded here including the elegant (E) Indigo-capped Hummingbird and the (NE) Red-billed and Short-tailed Emeralds. Other highlights include Brown Violetear, Ruby-Topaz Hummingbird, White-bellied and Gorgeted Woodstars, and Black-throated Mango

Later in the afternoon, we will travel for another 1.5 hours to the heart of the Magdalena Valley to spend the night at the nice Hotel Boutique Posada Las Trampas a colonial-style hotel with a swimming pool


Day 4Guarinocito Wetland

After driving for just 30 mins we will find the Guarinocito wetland, a really productive hotspot to observe a number of specialties in a short period of time. Some of the main targets here include Russet-throated Puffbird, Savanna Hawk, Wattled Jacana, Large-billed Tern, Green Kingfisher, Rufous-tailed Jacamar, Yellow-headed Caracara, Pied Water-Tyrant, Black-capped Donacobius, and Yellow-chinned Spinetail. Just after lunch, we will drive up the valley for 3.5 hours towards the very productive Blue-billed Curassow nature reserve




Day 5Blue-billed Curassow Reserve

The Blue-billed “Paujil” reserve was created in November 2003 with the support of ABC (American Bird Conservancy) and GCF (Global Conservation Fund), in order to preserve the enigmatic, endangered, and endemic Blue-billed Curassow (El Paujil). The Paujil reserve covers 8.448 acres and is located between 490 and 3,937 fasl. There are 396 bird species recorded on this location

Endemics like White-mantled Barbet, Antioquia Bristle-tyrant (rare), Colombian Chachalaca (common), Sooty Ant-Tanager, and Beautiful Woodpecker are possible to see on this reserve

Other birds of interest include Chestnut-backed Antbird, Yellow-backed Tanager, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, (NE) Black-billed Flycatcher, One-colored Becard, Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, Slaty-headed Tody-Flycatcher, Black-bellied Wren, and Shining-green Hummingbird



Night at Blue-billed Curassow reserve

Day 6½ day at the Blue-billed Curassow Reserve and drive to Río Claro reserve

We will continue birding the reserve in the morning to complete the list of specialties, leaving in the early afternoon for a 3.5 hours drive towards the Río Claro Natural Reserve located in the other side of the Magdalena Valley, foothills of the Central Andes Cordillera. We will be birding this fabulous hotspot for the next two days.



Night at Los Colores Ecopark

Day 7Río Claro Nature Reserve

The reserve is located at an elevation of 1,950 fasl and covers an area of 250 ha. A dirt road provides great birding opportunities, with chances for specialties such as the endemics White-mantled Barbet, (E) and range-restricted Antioquia Bristle-Tyrant and the motionless Barred Puffbird

Other birds of interest include (E) Beautiful Woodpecker, (E) Magdalena Antbird, (E) Sooty ant-tanager, (NE) Yellow-browed Shrike-vireo, (NE) Scarlet-browed Tanager, (NE) Saffron-headed Parrot, Antwren species such as Checker-throated, White-fringed, Moustached, Dot-winged, and Rufous-rumped, and Broad-billed Motmot among others. Over 490 bird species have been recorded on this Reserve

Later in the day, we will drive for 15 mins to visit La Cueva del Condor. Although No Condor inhabits the area, the cave is home to a very noisy, bizarre, eye-catching, nocturnal Oilbird colony. This very interesting night bird uses sonar to navigate, and it is a delight to see. The path to the cave follows a small creek through the forest, where large mixed flocks are common and many species are possible, among them Slaty-winged Foliage-Gleaner, Pacific Antwren, One-colored Becard, Trinidad Euphonia, Thrush-like Schiffornis, and the always spectacular Blue-crowned and White-bearded Manakins engaging in their curious displays


Night at Los Colores Ecopark

Day 8Morning birding towards the city of Medellin

This morning will be dedicated to complete the list of specialties from the Magdalena Valley and driving towards the marvelous Medellin City. In the afternoon and after checking-in at a nice colonial-style hotel, we will go on a city tour that can include birding time at the Botanical Garden, visiting the Botero Square, Pueblito Paisa, and riding the picturesque Metrocable up the mountains of Medellin.



Night at Hacienda Hotel la Extremadura in Medellin

Day 9Birding and driving towards Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

From Medellin, we will drive our way to the fantastic Chestnut-capped Piha reserve making promising stops to continue to see a variety of birds from the Magdalena Valley. Actually, this route is very interesting because of its strategic location between the limits of the Magdalena Valley, the Central Andes Cordillera, and the Choco Bioregion, we get to see a nice mix of birds from all 3 ecosystems

After arriving at the municipality of Anori, we will have a late lunch and will continue birding around the lodge until late afternoon


Night at the Chestnut-capped Piha “Arrierito Antioqueno” Reserve

Day 10Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

It wasn’t until the year 2001 that the elegant and endemic Chestnut-capped Piha was described in a tiny fragmented forest in the northeast extreme of the Central Andes. In 2006, the local NGO ProAves with support from ABC (American Bird Conservancy) acquired an area of approximately 3,271 acres to support the conservation of the Piha and established a network of trails to find this and other key species. The reserve is located in the El Roble, Anorí (Antioquia), with an altitude between 4,593 and 6,069 fasl, 479 bird species have been recorded on this location

Key species at the reserve include (E) Chestnut-capped Piha, (E) Black-and-gold Tanager, (E) White-mantled Barbet, (E) Chestnut Wood-quail, (E) Parker’s Antbird, (E) Red-bellied Grackle, (E) Multicolored Tanager, (NE) Scarlet-and-white Tanager, Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager, (NE) Purplish-mantled Tanager, Ochre-breasted Antpitta and (NE) Sooty-headed Wren among many others



Night at the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve

Day 11Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve and back to Medellin

Birding in the morning we should have time to complete the list of bird specialties at the Chestnut-capped Piha Reserve before heading back to Medellin in the afternoon, birding and driving. We will finally, spend the night at a nice colonial-style hotel in Medellin before heading to the beautiful town of Jardin “The garden”


Night at Hacienda Hotel la Extremadura in Medellin

Day 12 Birding la Romera and Jardin

La Romera eco-park is located just 30 minutes away from our hotel and one of the best birding sites in Colombia to see the highly restricted and endemic Red-bellied Grackle and the (E) Stiles’s Tapaculo. Besides, is one of the very few locations in Colombia to try and find the Near Endemic Yellow-headed Manakin

In the late morning, we will drive for about 3 hours to reach one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia, Jardin (The Garden)



Night at eco hotel La Divina Providencia in Jardin

Day 13Jardin and Yellow-eared Parrot reserve

Jardin is one of the best places in the country for birding as it caters to all levels of bird enthusiasm. On the edge of town is a display site of the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, one of the most iconic and brightly colored species in South America. The Yellow-eared Parrot Reserve on a stunning road just above the town is also home to a strong population of Yellow-eared Parrots, which were formerly thought to be extinct and remain one of the rarest birds in the world. The list of specialties on this part of Colombia includes (E) Turquoise Dacnis, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager, Speckle-faced Parrots, Masked Flowerpiercer, White-capped Tanager, near-endemic Tanager Finch, Chestnut-crested Cotinga, and endemic Dusky Starfrontlet


Night at eco hotel La Divina Providencia in Jardin

Day 14Birding Jardin and back to Medellin

On our last day of birding, we will take the higher parts of a road in the outskirts of Jardin. Birding at Dona Lucia place we will find an Antpitta paradise with species like Chestnut-naped & Slate-crowned Antpitta coming often to the feeders. Other birds of interest include Chestnut-collared Swift, Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, Green Jay, Citrine Warbler, and Scarlet-rumped Cacique

In the afternoon we will drive for 3 hours back to Medellin and will make sure you stay the night in a hotel nearby the airport for your next day flight connection



Day 15Flight to Bogota and end of the tour

Depending on what your plans are moving forward we include a flight back to Bogota for you to take your international connection back home. You may also want to spend some more days in Medellin for birding or leisure (highly recommended). Rest assured we will take care of you until the very end, just let us know how we can help

Photo day 2
Black-billed Mountain-Toucan
Blue-throated Starfrontlet by Nick Athanas
Sword-billed Hummingbird by Doug Greenberg
White-chinned Thistletail by Francesco Veronesi

Photo day 4
Ruby-topaz Hummingbird by Budgora
Russet-throated Puffbird
Thick-billed Euphonia by Luis Fdo Serna
Wattled Jacana by Dave Curtis

Photo day 6
Blue-billed Curassow
Blue-crowned Manakin by Luis Fdo Serna
Chestnut-backed Antbird by Nigel Voaden
Sooty Ant-tanager by Nick Athanas

Photo day 8
Beautiful Woodpecker by Felix Uribe
Beryl-spangled Tanager by Doug Greenberg
White-bib Manakin by Luis Fdo Serna
White-mantled Barbet by Luis Fdo Serna

Photo day 10
Chestnut-capped Piha by Charles Davies
Chestnut-capped Piha landscape
Mustached Puffbird
Ochre-breasted Antpitta by Doug Greenberg

Photo day 12
Chestnut-naped Antpitta
Red-bellied Grackle by Luis Fdo Serna
Yellow-eared Parrot by Felix Uribe

Photo day 14
Botero Square Medellin
Jardin Antioquia
Slaty-backed Chat-Tyrant
Jardin landscape

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