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Join Naturalist Journeys on an introduction to the birds and cultural delights of Colombia’s Amazon: remote, difficult to access, and relatively unexplored by birders until quite recently. We explore for much of our tour from Mitú, the capital of the Department of Vaupés in eastern-most Colombia, to experience this unique area with its white sand forests and native cultures. We next proceed to Puerto Inírida, the capital of the Department of Guaina in eastern Colombia to experience the avifauna near the stunning Cerros de Mavecure. This is a magical trip where two of Colombia’s best destinations for birding in the Amazonian ecosystems collide, including the incredible Orinoco basin forest surrounding Puerto Inírida and the gorgeous, mystical Guianan Shield. We may see more than 400 species of birds, some of them considered among the rarest in Colombia.

In 2020, tour operator acquired 200 hectares of land near Puerto Inírida to establish an environmental reserve. This reserve involves the indigenous communities for the conservation of the wildlife that occur there and we are excited to meet these communities who are so involved in a successful ecotourism project.

In addition to the bountiful birds we encounter, we are also on the lookout for special mammals like Yellow-handed Titi monkey, Pink River Dolphin, Giant River Otter, and many more!

Tour Highlights

  • Marvel at two of Colombia’s best destinations for birding in the Amazonian ecosystems
  • Enjoy epic bird possibilities with a trip list that may yield as many as 400 species!
  • Experience the white sand forests of Mitú, an amazing birding destination with fascinating culture
  • Bird the famed Estrella Fluvial de Inírida, a place where three great rivers converge into to the Orinoco River, the fourth largest in the world
  • Experience the iconic Cerros de Mavecure, three sacred monolithic hills that are part of the Guianan Shield
  • Savor the classic cuisine, juices, and coffee of Colombia, including sancocho de gallina, arepas, patacones con hogao, and myriad fruit juices (maracuyá, guanábana, tomate de árbol, lulo)!

Trip Itinerary

Sun., Aug. 6 : Arrival in Bogota


Welcome to Colombia! Arrive at your leisure today at the Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG). A representative from our local operator transfers you from the airport to our hotel in Bogota. Dinner tonight is on your own due to varying/late arrival times, but please feel free to get acquainted with others on the tour through an informal dinner.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogotá (D)

Mon., Aug. 7 : Flight to Mitú | Bocatoma White Sand Forest


After breakfast, we return to the Bogota airport for our two-hour flight to the town of Mitú, capital of the Department of Vaupés and only reachable by air. We start our tour by exploring the mysterious and enigmatic white sand forests that surround Mitú on the Bocatoma Trail. This trail is located just 10 minutes southeast of town. Mainly composed of a low white sand forest, it is a unique tropical American rainforest ecosystem, growing in quartz-rich sands that are very low in nutrients. Although only a few tree species predominate, there are numerous species of endemic plants that in turn host a large number of specialist birds. The trail leads to a small “chagra” or cleared agricultural area of the community of Bocatoma. It’s easy walking and good birding here—we search for species such as Gray-bellied Antbird, Yellow-billed Jacamar, Spotted Puffbird, Yellow-green Grosbeak, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Pompadour Cotinga, Amethyst Woodstar, Ringed Woodpecker, and others among the 390 species recorded on this trail.
Accommodations at Hotel Brasilia, Mitú (B,L,D)

Tues., Aug. 8 : Micro Centro Hidroeléctrica | Mitu Road


After breakfast at our hotel, we visit the road and trail system near a small hydroelectric plant. These trails are some of the most iconic in the entire Mitu area, given the high diversity of bird species it’s normally possible to see. The 2km road is inside the community of Santa Cruz, featuring a permanent lek of the beautiful Guianan Cock-of-the-rock. The trail is through a beautiful forest and at the end of it, we have the opportunity to climb a large rock from which we can have spectacular views over the surrounding Colombian and Brazilian Amazon rainforests. This trail is managed by the Tucano and Cubeo ethnic groups, who are very friendly and interested in bird watching. Likewise, the community offers food and local guiding services, so our visit contributes importantly to local ecotourism efforts. The path has a small incline that does not affect the comfort to walk it, however, if it is important to emphasize that to reach the Cock-of-the-rock lek the requirement is a little higher. This trail is usually muddy, so rubber boots are important. In addition to birding along this path, we visit a lek of the Fiery Topaz on a black water stream. Highlight species here include Tawny-tufted Toucanet, Blackish Nightjar, Fiery-tailed Awlbill, Gould´s Jewelfront, Pavonine Quetzal, Amazonian Motmot, Collared Puffbird, Orinoco Piculet, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Red-fan Parrot, White-shouldered Antshrike, Dusky-throated Antshrike, Yellow-throated Antwren, Banded and White-plumed Antbirds, Common scale-backed Antbird, Thrush-like Antpitta, Amazonian Barred Woodcreeper, Chestnut-winged Hookbill, Brown-winged Schiffornis, and Royal Flycatcher.
Accommodations at Hotel Brasilia, Mitú (B,L,D)

Wed., Aug. 9 : Pueblo Nuevo


Following an early breakfast at our hotel, we visit the Pueblo Nuevo community located on the road that accesses the Mitú hydroelectric power station. Pueblo Nuevo is quite isolated from the comforts of town, which has made this community conserve its ancestral customs to a greater extent compared to other communities that live closer to the urban area. They have a beautiful maloca (a type of long house used by indigenous peoples in Amazonian Colombia and Brazil) in which food is taken and we can rest after bird watching. In Pueblo Nuevo, two paths are used inside the primary forests; both have excellent reputations for bird watching, thanks to the ease of viewing and number of species found there, including many antbird species. This path is dry practically throughout the year; but we wear rubber boots because we must cross a small creek. Trees here exceed 50 meters in height! Among the species we search for here are Chestnut-crested Antbird, Great Tinamou, Spix’s Guan, Black-throated Brilliant, Gray-bellied Hawk, Brown-banded Puffbird, Rusty-breasted Nunlet, Great Jacamar, Red-necked Woodpecker, Dusky-billed Parrotlet, Black Bushbird, Imeri Warbling Antbird, Black-faced Antbird, Dot-backed Antbird, Rufous-capped Antthrush, White-chinned Woodcreeper, Bar-bellied Woodcreeper, Rufous-tailed Xenops, Amazonian Umbrellabird, White-browed Purpletuft, Golden-crowned Spadebill, Lemon-chested Greenlet, Masked, Opal-crowned, Opal-rumped, Yellow-billed, Turquois, Paradise, and Green-and-gold Tanagers, White-bellied Dacnis, Red-fan Parrot, Olive and Green Oropendolas.
Accommodations at Hotel Brasilia, Mitú (B,L,D)

Thurs., Aug. 10 : Mituseño | Flight to Bogota


Following our final breakfast in Mitú, we visit the community of Mituseño. This birding site is particularly rich in bird species from secondary and disturbed forests and is only 15 minutes from the town center. All bird watching is done by the access road to the community of Urania and around the houses of the community, which are located next to the Vaupés River. In this area, we expect to see some good wetland and riverine birds, with one vantage point being a beautiful wooden bridge constructed by the indigenous people of the region. We buy drinks and snacks here, which helps the local economy. In the afternoon, we return to the airport for our return flight to Bogotá. Among the diverse species here are Azure-naped Jay, Yellow-bellied Dacnis, Red-and-green Macaw, Scarlet Macaw, Orange-cheeked Parrot, Point-tailed Palmcreeper, Blackish-grey Antshrike, Rusty-fronted Tody-Flycatcher, Moriche Oriole, Spotted Puffbird, Rufous-bellied Euphonia, White-banded Swallow, Slender-billed Xenops, Red-throated Caracara, Black-chinned Antbird, Amazonian Tyrannulet, Amazonian Scrub-Flycatcher, Yellow-crowned Manakin, Striated Manakin, Golden-headed Manakin, White-headed Manakin, and Blue-crowned Manakin.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogota (B,L,D)

Fri., Aug. 11 : Flight to Inírida | Caño Culebra


After breakfast at our hotel, we transfer back to the Bogota airport for a 1.5-hour flight to Puerto Inírida. After checking into our hotel, we explore the nearby area of Caño Culebra. This birding area near Puerto Inírida includes the typical low, white-sand forest that houses specialty birds with low plant diversity but high overall biodiversity. The bright, white sands, which can be incandescent in the sun, are a great attraction. We look for unique species such as Black Manakin and Pale-bellied Mourner. Open places predominate in Caño Culebra, which makes it ideal for the observation of birds such as macaws and guans, as well as some birds like cotingas and tanagers, which perch on tall, scattered trees. The grasslands of Caño Culebra at sunset are usually a good place to see different species nightjars and owls. Some of the highlight species we expect to encounter today include Cinereous Tinamou, Least Nighthawk, Brown Jacamar, Slender-footed Tyrannulet, Red-shouldered Tanager, Mealy Parrot, Black-eared Fairy, White-necked Puffbird, Golden-spangled Piculet, Ringed Woodpecker, Plain-throated Antwren, Black-crested Antshrike, Black-capped Becard, Lafresnaye's Piculet, Spix’s Guan, Citron-bellied Attila, Plumbeous Euphonia, Spangled Cotinga, Pompadour Cotinga, Amazonian Black-Tyrant, Plain-crested Elaenia, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, Spot-backed Antwren, Blue-and-yellow and Red-and-green Macaws, Plain-breasted Ground Dove, Yellowish Pipit, and White-chinned Sapphire.
Accommodations at Fuente del Guainia, Puerto Inírida (B,L,D)

Sat., Aug. 12 : Caño Carbón | Sabanitas


Following an early breakfast, we start the day by exploring the Caño Carbón trail, which belongs to the Curripaco de Sabanitas indigenous community. Caño Carbón is a 5km long path through varzea forest. These forests flood during the rainy season, in some areas exceeding 5 meters in depth! The varzea forest houses some of the most important species of Inírida. Although this is not a very biodiverse forest from a plant perspective, it is the only known place to easily and reliably see Capuchinbird, the region’s flagship bird. At this time of the year, we may see a lek of several males and females vocalizing, feeding, and interacting in the morning hours. Despite the low plant biodiversity in the forest, more than 225 bird species have been recorded in the Caño Carbón region, among them numerous antbirds and flycatchers. This path is completely flat and very easy to walk, however, there are some places that are muddy throughout the year even in the dry season. We spend most of the morning on the trail trying to find Chestnut-fronted Macaw, Variegated Tinamou, Crimson-crested Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Woodpecker, Black-headed Parrot, Olivaceous Woodcreeper, Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin, White-crowned Manakin, Screaming Piha, Bare-necked Fruitcrow, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Green-tailed Goldenthroat, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Golden-spangled Piculet, Brown-headed Greenlet, Cinereous Tinamou, Undulated Tinamou, Amethyst Woodstar, Brown-winged Schiffornis, White-vented Euphonia, Golden-bellied Euphonia, White-winged Becard, Yellow-crowned Manakin, Rufous-tailed Flatbill, Helmeted Pygmy-Tyrant, Yapacana Antbird, Chestnut-capped Puffbird, Spot-winged Antbird, Duida Woodcreeper, Yellow-green Grosbeak, Amazonian Streaked-Antwren, White-browed Antbird, Wire-tailed Manakin, and Red-stained Woodpecker.

After lunch, we visit the indigenous community of Sabanitas, one of the most organized communities around Inírida. This community not only has incredible birds but also offers an established ecotourism program, well-prepared guides, and excellent service. The birds and community live in harmony here. Early in the morning it is possible to see the Bare-necked Fruitcrow on the roofs of the houses and in the trees of the community and the people who live here get almost as excited as the birdwatchers arriving to see these amazing birds. This place is very good for observing open area species. Along some of the streams we see species such as the Yapacana Antbird, which is already well-known within the community. We enjoy a meal here called ajicero, which is a fish soup with different types of peppers, or another called pescado moquiado. Some of the species we hope to find include Speckled Chachalaca, Black-bellied Cuckoo, Gray-fronted Dove, White-bearded Hermit, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, Black-bellied Thorntail, Versicolored Emerald, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Sungrebe, Spectacled Owl, Amazonian Trogon, Black-throated Trogon, Collared Puffbird, Ivory-billed Aracari, Cream-colored Woodpecker, Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Dusky-billed Parrotlet, Black-headed Parrot, Pearly Antshrike, Silvered Antbird, Ocellated Woodcreeper, Slender-billed Xenops, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Dwarf Tyrant-Manakin, Short-tailed Pygmy-Tyrant, Thrush-like Wren, and Black-faced Dacnis.
Accommodations at Fuente del Guainia, Puerto Inírida (B,L,D)

Sun., Aug. 13 : Matraca Trail | Laguna Negra


We begin the day with a boat ride to the Matraca Trail, the best birding place in all of Inírida. Its entrance has typically wild vegetation that houses some very rare species of birds. The trail is easy walking and we concentrate on trying to find several local specialties, including Rose-breasted Chat and Orinoco Softtail, a species recorded in Colombia for the first time in 2012. Other species we may encounter on this trail include Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Crestless Curassow, Festive Coquette, Gray-breasted Sabrewing, Slender-billed Kite, Green-tailed Jacamar, Golden-green Woodpecker, Black Bushbird, Black-spotted Bare-eye, Spotted Antpitta, White-chinned Woodcreeper, Long-billed Woodcreeper, Black-banded Woodcreeper, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Varzea Schiffornis, Royal Flycatcher, White-rumped Sirystes, Hauxwell's Thrush, Cocoa Thrush, Amazonian Grosbeak, Red-capped Cardinal, Masked Crimson Tanager, Orange-fronted Yellow-Finch, and Slate-colored Grosbeak.

Later in the day we visit Laguna Negra. In this lagoon, we can truly appreciate the fullness of what the aquatic ecosystems of the Amazon mean. This is a beautiful lagoon in the forest on the right bank of the Guaviare River and located about 45 minutes by boat from the city of Inírida. Here, we look for wetland species such as screamers, Hoatzin, Osprey, and other species. In addition, the tranquility of the place makes the Laguna Negra a true paradise for the observation of Pink River Dolphin and Giant River Otter, sightings full of excitement. Yet this is still not the most exciting thing in Laguna Negra! In the nearby Finca La Rompida, owned by Don Rafael, you can see wetland bird species such as the White-eared Jacamar and a species of antbird not yet described to science: the "Inírida Antshrike" which is beautiful to see and hear. Highlight species we look for include Blue-throated Piping-Guan, Festive Coquette, Sungrebe, Sunbittern, Jabiru, Anhinga, Capped Heron, Black-fronted Nunbird, Rusty-backed Spinetail, Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Amazonian Umbrellabird, Amazonian Black-Tyrant, Drab Water Tyrant, Black-capped Donacobius, Solitary Black Cacique, Velvet-fronted Grackle, Hooded Tanager, Lesson's Seedeater, and Lined Seedeater.
Accommodations at Fuente del Guainia, Puerto Inírida (B,L,D)

Mon., Aug. 14 : Cerros de Mavecure | Remanso


After breakfast at our hotel, we visit the Cerros de Mavecure, three monolithic hills, located 50 km from the city upstream along the Inírida River. They are made of volcanic rock and are ancient, eroded parts of the Guianan Shield. The three cerros are called Pajarito, Mono, and Mavicure and they are a sacred place for Amazon tribes like the Curripacos and Puinaves. Seeing them from the base is amazing and climbing on them to contemplate the Amazon rainforest is magnificent. The cerros are an icon of tourism in Colombia and it’s quite emotional when you first see them. In the hills of Mavecure, we both observe the majesty of the Amazon rainforest and learn a little about the indigenous culture of the region. Our 1.5-hour transport to the hills of Mavecure is by speedboat on the Inírida River—fun!

The community of Remanso, in the neighboring hills, offers great birding in a fragmented forest with monolithic stone sheets full of scattered tall trees—excellent for the observation of cotingas. In this community, we can stop for a snack and a cool drink, an economic boost to the local indigenous economy. Among the many species we hope to see today are King Vulture, Swallow-winged Puffbird, Cliff Flycatcher, Orange-breasted Falcon, Black Caracara, Crested Oropendola, Yellow-rumped Cacique, Black-collared Swallow, Brown Jacamar, Bright-rumped Attila, Golden-headed Manakin, Opal-rumped Tanager, Grayish Saltator, Harpy Eagle, Pompadour Cotinga, White-naped Seedeater, Spangled Cotinga, White-browed Purpletuft, and Spot-backed Antwren.
Accommodations at Fuente del Guainia, Puerto Inírida (B,L,D)

Tues., Aug. 15 : Caño Vitina | Flight to Bogota


This is one of the most beautiful places to watch birds in Inírida, a gorgeous white-sand savanna with scattered tall trees and easy access that is the main habitat of two iconic bromeliads of the region called “Flor de Inírida.” Winter Inírida has a pyramidal inflorescence and blooms mainly during the June – October rainy season. Summer Inírida blooms during the December – March dry season and has a smaller, spherical head. Like two beautiful miracles, these species are endemic to the region of white sand sheets, where they hold their own despite poor, precarious and hostile soil. The habitat here supports some species of specialist birds, including standouts like White-naped Seedeater and Yellowish Pipit. Keep scanning the treetops for the three beautiful cotinga species: Pompadour, Spangled, and Purple-breasted. Other species we may encounter include White-throated Tinamou, Brown-banded Puffbird, Cinnamon Manakin-Tyrant, Rufous-crowned Elaenia, Wedge-tailed Grass-Finch, and Black-faced Tanager.

After lunch we return to the airport for our afternoon flight back to Bogota and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free and then we reconvene for our farewell dinner and a celebration of this truly excellent adventure in the Colombian Amazon.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogota (B,L,D)

Wed., Aug. 16 : Departures


Depart at your leisure today from Bogota. Transportation to the airport is provided in time for your flight. (B)

Bogota Pre-Tour Extension

Wed., Aug. 2 : Arrival in Bogota


Welcome to Colombia! Arrive today at your leisure at the Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG). A representative from our local operator transfers you from the airport to our hotel. Dinner tonight is on your own due to varying/late arrival times, but please feel free to get acquainted with others on the extension through an informal dinner.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogota

Thurs., Aug. 3 : Laguna Tabacal | Jardín Encantado | Parque la Florida


We begin the day at Laguna Tabacal, a municipal park near Bogotá. On the western slope of the eastern cordillera, this is a municipal park of 41 hectares, which includes a lagoon and a forested area. It is an excellent birding hotspot with more than 440 species recorded! At Tabacal, we hope to find Spectacled Parrotlet, Olivaceous Piculet, Band-backed Wren, Orange-chinned Parakeet, Gray Seedeater, Bar-crested Antshrike, and Pied-billed Grebe.

After our lunch at a restaurant serving traditional Colombian foods, we visit the Jardín Encantado, a house with a garden full of bird feeders. The owner, Leonor Pardo, is a great friend of our tour operator. It is a magical place, and a must-stop for all birders and nature photographers! As many as 27 hummingbird species visit her garden, with 10-15 seen regularly. We hope to find White-vented Plumeleteer, endemic Indigo-capped Hummingbird, Gorgeted Woodstar, White-bellied Woodstar, Black-throated Mango, Andean Emerald, Sparkling Violetear, and many more.

Ending the day, we visit Parque la Florida, one of the most outstanding city parks in western Bogotá. A high diversity of urban birds (355 recorded species) has been found in its 267 hectares. We hope to see Bogotá Rail (endangered and restricted to the Bogotá area) and Spot-flanked Gallinule here. Many other waterbirds are present, including potentially Andean Duck, American Coot, Bare-faced Ibis, and Neotropic Cormorant.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogota (B,L,D)

Fri., Aug. 4 : Chingaza National Park | Observatorio de Colibries


Chingaza was first declared a National Park in 1977 and today covers approximately 76,600 hectares. This enormous park is home to more than 400 species of birds, 260 mammals, 44 amphibians, and 29 reptiles, a true mecca for wildlife viewing and nature enthusiasts. We visit several sites at different elevations in the park in search of species such as White-capped Dipper, Eastern Meadowlark, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan, Black-capped Hemispingus, Black-eared Hemispingus, Barred Fruiteater, White-banded Tyrannulet, Andean Pygmy-Owl, Bluish Flowerpiercer, Masked Flowerpiercer, Smoky Bush-Tyrant, Scarlet-bellied Mountain Tanager, Muisca Antpitta, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, Rufous-breasted Chat-Tyrant, and Brown-breasted Parakeet.

After lunch we visit the Observatorio de Colibríes, a true jewel of a hummingbird garden. While here, we enjoy amazing hummingbirds such as the incredible Sword-billed Hummingbird, while sitting in the gardens of a beautiful house owned and decorated by a local artist. Located near the town of La Calera at 3000 meters, the observatorio has recorded 39 species of hummingbird visiting its feeders and gardens. We look for Black-tailed Trainbearer, Green-tailed Trainbearer, Tyrian Metaltail, Glowing Puffleg, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Great Sapphirewing, White-bellied Woodstar, Smoky-brown Woodpecker, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Great Thrush, Pale-naped Brushfinch, and Glossy Flowerpiercer, among many more.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogota (B,L,D)

Sat., Aug. 5 : Chicaque Natural Park


Chicaque Natural Park is well-known for its cloud forests and is located just a few minutes from Bogotá. Some 20 km of ecological trails cover its 244 hectares, transporting us to the time when the Muiscas, the indigenous ancient inhabitants of the area, walked these mountains. Chicaque is another amazing place for birding and wildlife watching and has almost 480 species of birds recorded. We spend the full day here and enjoy lunch at the park’s restaurant. At its feeders, we look for hummingbirds such as Golden-bellied Starfrontlet, Tourmaline Sunangel, Black Inca, Collared Inca, and Mountain Velvetbreast. Other species we search for include Plushcap, Brown-billed Scythebill, Moustached Brushfinch, Pale-edged Flycatcher, Flame-faced Tanager, Beryl-spangled Tanager, Black-capped Tanager, Metallic-green Tanager, Golden Tanager, and Fawn-breasted Tanager.
Accommodations at Hilton Garden Hotel, Bogota (B,L,D)

Sun., Aug. 6 : Free Day | Main Tour Starts


We have a casual day today, with perhaps some local city park birding and exploring on your own. Meals are on your own today too. The rest of the group arrives for the main tour at leisure today and some may assemble for a casual dinner tonight.

Cost of the Journey

The cost of the main tour is $TBD DBL / $TBD SGL from Bogota, based on double occupancy and includes: airport transfers, accommodations for 10 nights, meals as specified in the itinerary, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees, all internal flights, and miscellaneous program expenses. The cost of the extension is $TBD DBL / $TBD SGL.

Tour cost does not include roundtrip airfare to or from Bogota, or items of a personal nature like laundry, telephone, drinks from the bar, or gratuities for porterage or personal services.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Please arrive in Bogota at the Bogota El Dorado International Airport (BOG) at your leisure on August 6. Please plan departures at leisure from Bogota on August 16. If you plan participate in the Bogota pre-tour extension, please plan arrivals into Bogota at your leisure on August 2.

Our local operator will provide transfers to and from the airport on arrival and departure days.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Colombia

Map for The Colombian Amazon

Photo credits coming soon.

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