Thank you for your interest! This journey is either underway or complete, but we do have many other tour options for you to choose from.

Join Naturalist Journeys on an exploration of the birds and other cultural delights of Colombia’s Coffee Region: the famous “Eje Cafetero.” This area, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Landscape, offers delightful birds, landscapes, food, and accommodations. Our tour is designed to have a relaxed pace, staying at only three hotels and allowing a lot of time for personal enjoyment and enrichment. We begin in the town of Pereira in the heart of the region, a medium-sized city that now offers direct flights to the U.S., making arrivals and departures a snap. Two of our hotels are right in the middle of the coffee region, so in addition to enjoying your morning beverage “straight from the farm,” we have easy access to renowned birding areas such as Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary near Santa Rosa (with its famous flocks of Red-ruffed Fruitcrows) and the Rio Blanco Nature Reserve just outside Manizales, with a bird list of over 500 species and legendary feeding stations for antpittas.

We also include nights at the high elevations of Los Nevados del Ruíz volcano, where you can experience permanent snowfields only a few degrees north of the equator! This allows us to explore the unique area of the Central Andes above treeline, covered in a vegetation type called páramo, that is the habitat for many rare, unique, and difficult-to-find species. Although high in elevation and often damp and cold, the views can be fantastic as we search for specialties found only here such as Buffy Helmetcrest, Andean Siskin, Stout-billed Cinclodes, White-throated Spinetail, and Plumbeous Sierra-Finch. Our hotel here has natural hot springs that you are welcome to enjoy as a guest, if you are not distracted by the numerous iridescent hummingbirds to be found at the feeders just outside!

This is also a cultural and natural history tour, so we provide plenty of opportunities for interesting and unique activities other than birding. We explore the middle of some Colombian coffee plantations and we tour one of the larger ones and discuss what it takes to grow a quality coffee bean and get it to your morning cup, including an overview of sustainable and environmentally-friendly coffee production techniques. We spend one morning learning how to shop for and cook (and eat!) the famous Colombian dish called sancocho de gallina, sure to be a treat for the eyes and stomachs. Most importantly, most of the sites we stay at and visit are sites of active, community-based ecotourism and conservation projects so our presence directly contributes to their continued protection. Finally, we enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the Colombian people wherever we go.

This tour also has an optional extension to the vibrant city of Cali and the warm Cauca Valley in order to spend a few days in and around the Western Cordillera of the Andes. The parts of the Cordillera just west of the city have been legendary birding areas for years due to the combination of easy and fast access from the city, extraordinarily high biodiversity, and unique species, especially on the west slope of the Cordillera. This region, known as the Chocó, is one of the wettest places on earth, in addition to being extremely high in bird and biodiversity. Our extension is based at a lovely, small, boutique hotel on the western edge of Cali, so the extension provides a nice way to wind down from the main tour in a comfortable place. We use this hotel as our base to explore parts of the adjacent Western Cordillera and sample the fascinating bird, orchid, and amphibian diversity there.

Whether this is your first trip to Colombia or you have been there many times, we enjoy a relaxing, comfortable trip with life birds, photo opportunities, excellent cuisine, and fresh coffee “from the farm” every day.

Tour Highlights

  • Explore Colombia’s Coffee Region with its wonderful people, haciendas, mix of natural and agricultural habitats, and excellent food and drink
  • Visit world-renowned birding sites such as Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, Cauca Guan, Hooded Antpitta), Rio Blanco Nature Reserve (antpittas galore, parrots, tanagers, warblers, hummingbirds), and the páramo and hot springs of Los Nevados del Ruiz (with its permanent snowfields and unique high-elevation flora and fauna)
  • Enjoy close-up viewing of thrushes, tanagers, motmots, euphonias, toucans, and hummingbirds at the feeding stations at our lodges, allowing easy viewing, identification, and photography at close range while sitting
  • On the extension, spend time in the Western Cordillera outside Cali in search of numerous beautiful rare and endemic birds and other wildlife in the Chocó ecoregion
  • Relax in our hotels’ pools, cafes, and hot springs if you need a break from the birds and wildlife!
  • Savor the classic cuisine, juices, and coffee of this region, such as sancocho de gallina, arepas, patacones con hogao, and myriad fruit juices (maracuyá, guanábana, tomate de árbol, lulo)

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Mon., Jan. 22 : Arrival in Pereira

Welcome to Colombia! Arrive today at the Pereira Matecaña International Airport (PEI). You can arrive at your leisure; a representative from our local operator Manakin Nature Tours transfers you from the airport to our hotel in Pereira. Those arriving sufficiently early might like to explore our hotel’s grounds; it has a lovely trail around the edge of the property and a pond and many species can be found here; prior tours have encountered such species as Laughing Falcon, Cattle Tyrant, Bar-crested Antshrike, Cinereous Becard, and Crab Fox. Dinner tonight is on your own due to varying or late arrival times, but please feel free to get acquainted with others on the tour through an informal dinner.
Accommodations at Sonesta Hotel, Pereira

Tues., Jan. 23 : Coffee Farm Birding & Tour | Santa Rosa

We get an early start today, to begin our exploration of the Eje Cafetero. After breakfast at our hotel and loading our bus, we head to – where else! – the working coffee farm of Hacienda Venecia near the town of Manizales. Upon arrival, we begin with a few hours of birding in and around the coffee groves. These groves, with their mix of coffee understory, many ground plants, and a shade canopy provide rich habitat for many species, including many North American migrants. Over 270 species have occurred here and we look for Andean Motmot, Red-crowned Woodpecker, Blue-headed Parrot, Thick-billed Euphonia, and Flame-rumped, Crimson-backed, Bay-headed, and Blue-necked Tanagers. The Hacienda has feeding platforms set up which allow close observation and photography of most of these species.

After birding, we enjoy a tasty lunch at the Hacienda followed by an introduction to the “mundo del café.” Starting with a delicious “tinto” (a cup of coffee, of course!), we receive a general introduction to the world of coffee, where we learn about the origin and history of coffee, its worldwide distribution, different varieties, its various qualities, and about the aromas and properties of coffee. After the perfect post-lunch cup and full of energy, our tour continues with a walk through the plantation to learn more about coffee cultivation and harvest. We visit the mill to learn about the processing and preparation of coffee for market. By the end of the tour, we are able to analyze and differentiate between a perfectly roasted coffee bean and a coffee bean that can be rejected in just a matter of seconds. We have the opportunity to taste and see coffee beans with different degrees of roasting to experience the very different flavors and aromas, since roasting brings out the aroma and flavor found within the green coffee beans. This heat process turns the green coffee bean into the fragrant dark brown beans we know and love. Later in the day, we transfer to Santa Rosa de Cabal and enjoy some afternoon birding around our hotel.
Accommodations in Santa Rosa de Cabal (B,L,D)

Wed., Jan. 24 : Otún-Quimbaya Flora & Fauna Sanctuary

Otún-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, located about one hour away from Pereira on the western slope of the Central Cordillera, is a sanctuary created to protect the watershed of the Otún River, including its surrounding Andean and high-Andean forests. The protected area has been going through a reforestation process for more than 40 years now, providing connectivity with the properly conserved forests of the higher elevation parts of Los Nevados National Park, hence becoming a biological corridor of great importance in the Central Andes. The elevation here is 1600 – 2000 meters (5800 – 7400 feet), with pleasant, cool evenings. The park is located in the foothills on the western slope of the central Andes and covers more than 1200 acres of native and planted forests in a mix of montane to cloud forests. The botany is also impressive here. This is a good spot for butterflies and charismatic large insects. Fruiting Cecropia trees attract fruit-eating birds like Golden-plumed Parakeet.

Well over 500 bird species have been recorded in Otún-Quimbaya and it is a must-visit site for birders and naturalists visiting this part of Colombia. Some of the flagship bird species we look for include Cauca Guan, Torrent Duck, Hooded Antpitta, Red-ruffed Fruitcrow, and White-capped Tanager with the assistance of excellent local guides. We then return to our hotel for a review of sightings for the day and dinner.
Accommodations in Santa Rosa de Cabal (B,L,D)

Thurs., Jan. 25 : Santa Rosa Road to El Cortaderal

settlement, agriculture, and livestock farming, thus leading many species towards the edge of extinction. Remnants of high-Andean forests in the central portion of this cordillera have become the last refuge for species such as the Indigo-winged (Fuertes´s) Parrot, one of the species that was rediscovered not long ago and whose population is currently considered critically endangered. The area of El Cortaderal, about two hours away from the municipality of Santa Rosa de Cabal, is home to these bird species and others that are found in these patches of forests. Due to the winding and poor nature of the roads in the mountains here, we use 4-wheel drive vehicles for our trip today and get an early start to be at the right place at daybreak for the parrot. At this high elevation location, we have a chance to spot the majestic Andean Condor, along with other montane species such as Black-billed and Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Mountain Avocetbill, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Agile Tit-Tyrant, Barred Fruiteater, and a plethora of tanagers. Besides offering a great variety of bird species, the area also provides views of some truly impressive landscapes of the Central Andes. Birdwatching is very easy here, located over a solitary and unpaved road in great conditions; we frequently observe large mixed-species flocks of birds as they travel and one may observe birds at different heights of the forest.
Accommodations in Santa Rosa de Cabal (B,L,D)

Fri., Jan. 26 : UTP Botanical Garden

Today, we have a slightly slower day. After breakfast at our hotel, we travel to the Botanical Garden of the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira on the edge of town. The botanical garden, in addition to its collection of native plant species, has some remnant pieces of the dry forest habitat that use to cover the region that Pereira is located in. Therefore, it allows for good viewing of a variety of species that we do not encounter elsewhere on the tour. Species we look for here include Turquoise Dacnis, Parker’s Antbird, Plain Antvireo, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Acorn Woodpecker, and Blue-necked Tanager. With luck, we may also hear Colombian Red Howler Monkeys sounding off, which also inhabit these relict habitat fragments. After a morning birding, we have lunch at a restaurant in Pereira, and then return to our hotel for a free afternoon or some birding on the grounds of the hotel.
Accommodations in Santa Rosa de Cabal (B,L,D)

Sat., Jan. 27 : Sancocho Experience | Tinamú Lodge

We begin the day with something completely different and completely Colombian: a unique experience in where we go to the traditional food market in Colombia to buy the main ingredients of a Colombian Sancocho and then we prepare this classic Colombian food! We will do the entire process from the market to the stomach; a very fun, super cultural, and really delicious experience all around.

We then transfer to the Tinamú Natural Reserve, located about one hour outside Manizales in the village of San Peregrino. The reserve, which is focused on shade coffee production and other different local agricultural products, has found an interesting economic alternative with birding tourism, thus promoting conservation. Tinamú Reserve is a habitat mosaic composed of shade coffee, secondary growth, and patches of native forest that have been transformed into a sustainable coffee production system that contributes to bird conservation. Tinamú is at an elevation of about 1250 meters (4000 feet) and has a bird list of 430 species, in addition to many species of plants, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

The reserve currently has very productive and even entertaining feeders and water supplies installed for different types of species. Tinamú provides great lodging accommodations and offers meals for visitors, making it one of the most desired locations by all birdwatchers, especially by many photographers who can dedicate long hours photographing the birds that arrive at the feeders. In the interior of the reserve, there is a 5 km network of trails with a medium level of difficulty, offering great photographic opportunities of bird species that do not normally occur at the feeders. Tinamú is definitely one of the best lodges in the country and one of the most pleasant places for birdwatching in Colombia. We spend some time after arrival and check-in exploring the Reserve’s trails and feeders, looking for Common Potoo, Andean Motmot, Great Antshrike, Golden-collared Manakin, Green Hermit, and many tanagers, including Crimson-backed, Guira, Bay-headed, Scrub, and Blue-necked. All this exploration works up an appetite and we enjoy our dinner at the fine dining porch of the Lodge.
Accommodations at Tinamú Birding Lodge, Manizales (B,L,D)

Sun., Jan. 28 : Río Blanco Nature Reserve

Today we visit the Río Blanco Nature Reserve, a designated Important Bird Area, outside the city of Manizales. The Andean and high-Andean ecosystems on the reserve’s grounds, which are framed on a cloud forest that belongs to the city of Manizales, have been protected for many years due to the importance of the water resources provided to the city. This is a legendary birding destination in Colombia and, to date, over 500 bird species have been recorded! Many of these species are endemic to Colombia and many have very restricted geographic ranges. In fact, the main attractions of this reserve are the antpitta and hummingbird feeders (almost 50 species of hummingbirds are known from the reserve!). For birders world-wide, it is known to be one of the most famous places to observe antpittas at very close range, including Brown-banded, Bicolored, Chestnut-crowned, and Slate-crowned. Rio Blanco one of the most popular places in Colombia to observe birds, so it is no coincidence that it is also one of the most visited places by birdwatchers.

Birding options here include observing the hummingbird feeders at the main lodge, which attract a frenzy of species like Buff-tailed Coronet, Sparkling Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Tourmaline Sunangel, and White-bellied Woodstar. Fruit feeders nearby may bring in Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager, and Slaty Brushfinch. We interrupt this great watching with timed visits to the antpitta feeding stations, where different species are fed at different times, and slow walks on the nearby road system. The roads are fabulous birding, with the possibilities almost endless including Masked Trogon, Sharpe’s and Mountain Wren, Plushcap, and flocks of tanagers including Blue-and-black, Beryl-spangled, Metallic-green, and Blue-capped. We bring a picnic lunch to be eaten on the lodge of the reserve’s porch in order to maximize our time at this famous birding and natural history destination. At the end of the day, we return to our lodge for our checklist and dinner.
Accommodations at Tinamú Birding Lodge, Manizales (B,L,D)

Mon., Jan. 29 : La Romelia Reserve

Located about 45 minutes away from the city of Manizales, the Finca La Romelia offers a great place to appreciate the agricultural landscape of the Central Andes, walking around the local field crops and learning about them. In addition to birds, La Romelia also provides an incredible private collection of native and exotic species of orchids for visitors to enjoy, showcasing hundreds of rare and endemic specimens. The beautiful gardens are excellent to sit down and enjoy the almost 270 bird species that have been recorded here. Some of the avian highlights we search for include Ultramarine Grosbeak, White-vented Plumeleteer, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, and Flame-rumped Tanager. The owners of the Finca, the Londoño Arango family, are definitely lovers of nature and they enjoy sharing their passion with visitors. While wandering the trails, you not only observe birds but also learn about citrus crops, orchids, and the history behind the cultural landscape of the coffee area. One of the benefits of visiting La Romelia is an excellent lunch served right on the outside patio, so we can eat and enjoy the feeder traffic at the same time!
Accommodations at Tinamú Birding Lodge, Manizales (B,L,D)

Tues., Jan. 30 : Tinamú Lodge | Nevados del Ruiz National Natural Park

We spend the morning today exploring the grounds of Tinamu Lodge in search of species we may have missed or to try to get better views or photos of some previously found. Or, you may choose just to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of this lovely birding lodge. After lunch at the Lodge, we transfer to Los Nevados del Ruiz, one of the major snow-capped volcanoes of the Central Cordillera with a high point of 5,311 meters (17,425 feet)! We stay at the classic Hotel Termales del Ruiz (which is at an elevation of 3,500 meters/11,500 feet), originally constructed in 1937 and located in the Park’s buffer zone. The hotel is famed for its therapeutic baths filled with naturally hot water from nearby springs. For the birder and naturalist, the hotel also maintains hummingbird feeders which attract a variety of high elevation Andean hummingbirds hard to easily find elsewhere, such as Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Shining Sunbeam, Great Sapphirewing, Buff-winged Starfrontlet, and Black-thighed Puffleg. Fruit feeders here also attract a variety of mountain-tanagers, brushfinches, flowerpiercers, and Andean Guan. We take all our meals right in the hotel’s elegant dining room.
Accommodations at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, Manizales (B,L,D)

Wed., Jan. 31 : Los Nevados del Ruiz National Natural Park

This natural area is located in Central Andes, about 1 hour away from the city of Manizales. Its landscape is surrounded by three snow-capped peaks that are considered to be active volcanoes: El Ruiz, Santa Isabel, and Tolima. Although habitat conversion has occurred in areas that are adjacent to the national park, the patches of very high elevation, above tree-line sub-páramo and páramo habitat are well preserved within this protected area. These habitats are an extremely important reservoir of biodiversity of bird and plant species restricted to these ecosystems. Without a doubt, the park is one of the most beautiful places in the country, with incredible landscapes and a gorgeous diversity of birds, making this location in Colombia a must-visit for any kind of birdwatcher. The plants of this area are also a great attraction, with an immense amount of rare and unique species that blend in the with wild volcanic landscape which is home of the largest and most important active volcano in the country. We prepare for cold, wet weather today as we explore the higher elevations in search of the unique birds found there, like Tawny Antpitta, Buffy Helmetcrest, Many-striped Canastero, White-chinned Thistletail, Band-tailed Seedeater, and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. The scattered high elevation wetlands also harbor unique birds we have not found before such as Andean Teal, Andean Duck, Noble Snipe, and Stout-billed Cinclodes. We typically spend a full morning at the higher elevations of the Park, then return to the hotel for lunch. In the afternoon, you may choose to do some more birding on the trails and roads around the hotel or simply sit back and enjoy the natural hot spring outdoor pool that we have access to. Dinner is tonight at the hotel.
Accommodations at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, Manizales (B,L,D)

Thurs., Feb. 1 : Hacienda el Bosque, Pereira

Time permitting, we may have a short bird walk on the grounds of the Hotel Termales and adjacent roads before departing. Our primary site today will be Hacienda El Bosque, a relatively newly opened place for birding, located about one hour outside Manizales. It contains large patches of high-Andean forest that blend with meadows used for livestock and potatoes. Hacienda El Bosque has recently become even more popular due to the incredible feeders installed for antpittas, tanagers, and hummingbirds, and also because many species of mountain-tanagers and mountain-toucans tend to occur in the vegetation around the main house. The Hacienda provides great meal services, which primarily include traditional regional cuisine. The reserve also has excellent trails that are pleasant for walking and observing birds with ease. It currently has a bird list of over 200 species, including highlight species like Purple-backed Thornbill, Crescent-faced Antpitta, Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan, Ocellated Tapaculo, and Plushcap. While there, we enjoy a classic Colombian lunch in their elegant dining room with its majestic views over the valleys below. After lunch, we drive the few hours back to our hotel in Pereira for a mid-afternoon arrival. Those leaving the next day may choose to organize their things while those continuing on the extension may choose a short walk around the grounds or a dip in the pool.
Accommodations at Sonesta Hotel, Pereira (B,L,D)

Fri., Feb. 2 : Departures

For those not continuing on the extension, you can depart at your leisure from Pereira (PEI) this morning. Transportation to the airport is provided in time for your flight. (B)

Cali Post-Tour Extension

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Fri., Feb. 2 : Travel to Cali

For those participating in the extension, we spend the day traveling by vehicle to Cali, following the scenic valley of the Cauca River. We stop for birding, wildlife viewing and lunch along the route at the Parque Nacional de la Uva (Grape Park). The Park is an iconic park in Cauca Valley where you can see some of the unique species of tropical dry forest, among which is the incredible Ruby-topaz Hummingbird. This species is a frequent visitor to a small agave farm where it is usually easily seen and poses phenomenally for photos. Here, it is also possible to see many other species of birds, such as Grayish Piculet, Apical Flycatcher, Merlin, Yellow Oriole, Crested Bobwhite, and Jet Antbird. In addition to enjoying the wonderful birding in the park, those so inclined may enjoy learning about the local wine culture. Leaving here in late morning, we continue our drive south, stopping for lunch at a restaurant along the way.

After lunch, we continue on to the city of Cali, third largest in Colombia, for an early afternoon arrival in time to get settled in and enjoy an informal happy hour on our hotel’s lovely patio before dinner there that evening. Our hotel is nestled in a leafy neighborhood on the west side of Cali, tucked into the slopes of the Western Cordillera in which we will spend the next several days. The hotel is quiet and, if you are lucky, you may see a Blue-headed Parrot or Chestnut-fronted Macaw perched in the tree branches outside your room!
Accommodations at Hotel Movich Casa de Alférez, Cali (B,L,D)

Sat., Feb. 3 : Western Cordillera

We begin the day with an early breakfast at the lodge, so that we can get a head start on our exploration today of the west slope of the Western Andes. Located about two hours outside of Cali, the Anchicayá River Canyon is next to the small municipality of El Danubio, over the old road that leads to the coastal port town of Buenaventura. The climate in Anchicayá is framed within the characteristics of the Pacific Coast of the Cauca Valley, described as being tropically humid, with high temperatures, although not excessive, and humid air due to its relatively high level of humidity and heavy rains. The overall area for birdwatching is located between 400-1000 meters (1300 – 3250 feet) elevation, located on an unpaved road surrounded by primary and secondary forests. The old road to Buenaventura is one of most famous places to observe birds in the Western Andes with a species list approaching 500! Birding and wildlife watching is very easily done right from the dirt road in average conditions; there is very little vehicular traffic and it’s the perfect to spot great bird species, in addition to being easy to hike and a very safe place for observers. Along this road, we encounter the highly biodiverse avifauna of the Chocó ecoregion and hope to find such specialties such as Baudo Guan, Choco Toucan, Orange-breasted Fruiteater, Golden-winged Manakin, and numerous tanagers, including Golden-chested, Scarlet-and-white, Gray-and-gold, Scarlet-browed, and Glistening-green.

We base our activities for the day at the Descanso Doña Dora, which is an incredible place to relax and enjoy the feeders for hummingbirds and tanagers. We also enjoy lunch here; the food is amazing and it provides spectacular photographic opportunities (you may find it hard to decide whether to feed your eyes or your stomach!). The Doña Dora house is located at a mid-high elevation range (1600 meters/5250 feet) where there is a confluence of Andean species as well as species from wetland forests in the adjacent Chocó. Doña Dora has become the must-see place to visit in the Anchicayá River Canyon is the top place to see Toucan Barbet, a species restricted to the western Andes of Colombia and Ecuador. The hummingbird feeders there are fantastic, with numerous birds repeatedly visiting the feeders and bickering with each other; common attendees include Green Thorntail, Crowned Woodnymph, Purple-bibbed Whitetip, Empress Brilliant, Velvet-purple Coronet, and Rufous-gaped Hillstar. The fruit feeders, not to be left out, offer Silver-throated, Rufous-throated, and Golden Tanager; Black-chinned Mountain-Tanager; and Tricolored and Black-headed Brushfinch. We also spend some time walking on the lightly-trafficked road that runs by Doña Dora’s in search of species that do not come to feeders such as Yellow-throated Chlorospingus, Uniform Treehunter, Cinnamon Flycatcher, and Choco Tyrannulet. After exploring this beautiful place, we return to our hotel in Cali for a short rest, an optional happy hour, bird list review, and dinner.
Accommodations at Hotel Movich Casa de Alférez, Cali (B,L,D)

Sun., Feb. 4 : Western Cordillera

We dedicate another full day to exploring the Western Cordillera of the Andes. After breakfast at our hotel, our first stop is La Florida Bosque de las Aves, located on the road that connects Cali with the port city of Buenaventura. One area along this road through the ridge of the cordillera is the most famous roadside birding area in Colombia, known simply as “Km 18”, and it has been declared as an Important Bird Area, due to the diversity of bird species that are found there. La Florida is a private tourism and conservation project in which the owner is very dedicated to and passionate about providing the best viewing for visitors possible for tanagers, toucans, and woodpeckers. La Florida also has probably the best feeders for seeing the amazing Chestnut Wood-Quail (a Colombian endemic) where a very stable population of this hard-to-see species comes to eat corn almost every day; Sickle-winged Guans also come close to eat here. In addition to these and other ground-foraging species, La Florida is one of the best places to take pictures of the unique (and aptly named!) Multicolored Tanager, Andean Motmot, Crimson-rumped Toucanet, and a diverse group of tanagers, hummingbirds, and other birds. La Florida is also known for the amazing services and the wonderful special coffee and food recipes which contribute to an unforgettable experience.

After enjoying our stay at La Florida, we continue on to our next stop for the day, the La Minga Ecolodge. La Minga is located in the small town of Dapa within the Km 18 Important Bird Area in cloud forest at 2200 meters (7200 feet). This area is close to the summit of the Western Cordillera of the Andes, with a forest that is protected inside and outside of the reserve. We have lunch here upon arrival, then proceed to spend the afternoon birding the grounds and watching the feeders. The access route to La Minga is a rural unpaved road and provides more excellent birding, being flanked by primary and secondary forests and fields of tea plants. The tanager and hummingbird feeders are probably the biggest attractions at La Minga, offering fantastic opportunities to photograph and observe great species at a very close distance, such as Golden, Saffron-crowned, Golden-naped and Flame-rumped Tanager; Red-headed Barbet; Green Jay; Booted Racket-tail; and Brown Violetear. La Florida and La Minga make a perfect combination that makes this a great day of birds and nature. After finishing birding here, we return to Cali for our farewell dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
Accommodations at Hotel Movich Casa de Alférez, Cali (B,L,D)

Mon., Feb. 5 : Departures

Depart at your leisure for home or your final destination from Cali (CLO). Transportation to the airport is provided in time for your flight. Those leaving in the morning can proceed directly to the airport. For those with late afternoon or evening flights home, we spend the day exploring the Cauca Valley itself. Our primary destination is the Laguna de Sonso, is an oxbow of the Cauca River. Sonso is the most important bird reserve in the Valle del Cauca region, as it is one of the last remnants of riverside habitat that has survived the heavy impact of the sugar cane industry over many years. While extensive conversion of natural habitat to crop fields and livestock farming along the edge of the Cauca River have critically transformed the wetlands of this region, the Laguna is a protected area and provides the perfect habitat for many lowland birds and species from the surrounding dry forests from the Valle del Rio Cauca. Therefore, the Laguna de Sonso has become a biodiversity oasis in the middle of an industrial expansion area. The site is located a few minutes away from the city of Buga with easy access. Its wetlands and dry forest ecosystems provide a habitat for a diversity of bird species with well over 400 species known currently. We look for characteristic wetland species of the Cauca Valley such as Horned Screamer, Masked Duck, Buff-necked Ibis, and Snail Kite along with many restricted-range dry forest birds such as Apical Flycatcher, Grayish piculet, Jet Antbird, and Dwarf Cuckoo.

  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Amazon River, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Andean Condor, ltshears; Colombia Birds and Nature in the Coffee Region, Otún-Quimbaya, Quindío Botanical Garden, Malecón de Cameguadua, El Color de Mis Rêves Reserve Naturalist Journeys
  • Multicolored Tanager, Mateo Gamble; Colombia Birds and Nature in the Coffee Region, Otún-Quimbaya, Quindío Botanical Garden, Malecón de Cameguadua, El Color de Mis Rêves Reserve Naturalist Journeys
  • Tamayo, Alejandro Bayer; Colombia Birds and Nature in the Coffee Region, Otún-Quimbaya, Quindío Botanical Garden, Malecón de Cameguadua, El Color de Mis Rêves Reserve Naturalist Journeys
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Andy Morffew; Colombia Birds and Nature in the Coffee Region, Otún-Quimbaya, Quindío Botanical Garden, Malecón de Cameguadua, El Color de Mis Rêves Reserve Naturalist Journeys
  • Andean Siskin, Alejandro Bayer Tamayo; Colombia Birds and Nature in the Coffee Region, Otún-Quimbaya, Quindío Botanical Garden, Malecón de Cameguadua, El Color de Mis Rêves Reserve Naturalist Journeys
  • Cauca Guan, Zieger M; Colombia Birds and Nature in the Coffee Region, Otún-Quimbaya, Quindío Botanical Garden, Malecón de Cameguadua, El Color de Mis Rêves Reserve Naturalist Journeys
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching
  • Colombia, Colombia Nature Tour, South America, Coffee Region, Naturalist Journeys, Wildlife Tour, Birdwatching

Cost of the Journey

$5590 DBL / $6290 SGL from Pereira, based on double occupancy and includes: airport transfers, accommodations for 11 nights, meals as specified in the itinerary, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees, and miscellaneous program expenses. Cost of the extension is $1850 DBL / $2050 SGL. Tour cost does not include roundtrip airfare to or from Pereira, 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.

Arrival and Departure Airport: Pereira Matecaña International (PEI)

Arrival Details:  Plan to arrive January 22, at your leisure

Departure Details: Plan to depart February 2, at your leisure

Extension Departure Airport: Cali Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International (CLO)

Extension Departure Details: Plan to depart February 5, at your leisure.

Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, we can book an early night for you at our first night tour hotel, the Sonesta Hotel. This modern hotel has restaurants, bars, and a pool and is great for relaxing after a long flight. If you want to do some exploring around Pereira, the Ukumari Park is a zoo very close to the hotel. They have an array of animals from around the world as well as a bird exhibit. The Pereira Art Museum is small, yet has diverse exhibits from contemporary Colombian artists. Bolivar Plaza is another great place to visit if you want to see one of the major city squares and do some shopping, eat local food, or see the beautiful Our Lady of Poverty Cathedral. The hotel is located about 25 minutes outside the city and the best method of transportation is a taxi. If you are joining us for the Cali extension and would like to stay an extra night at the end of the tour, we can book a room for you at our last night tour hotel, the Hotel Movich Casa de Alférez. Cali has a famous zoo, similar to the San Diego Zoo, that is worth a visit if you have extra time.

Visa Requirements:  US Citizens do not need a visa for tourist stays of this length in Colombia.

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


Map for Colombia: Birds & Nature in the Coffee Region

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport will be valid on the date of your arrival through the date of your return home. A visa is NOT required for U.S. citizens visiting Colombia. If you are traveling with a passport from another country, please contact the Embassy of Colombia website for guidelines.
  • You must fill out your Colombia immigration form before arrival. Visit Migración Colombia’s online Check-Mig form within 72 hours of boarding an inbound or outbound flight from Colombia.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Colombia and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance.
  • Plan your flight reservations to arrive into Pereira Matecaña International Airport (PEI). Those on the main tour will also depart from PEI. If you are going on the extension, your departure will be from Cali Alfonso Bonilla Aragon International Airport (CLO). 
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are preferred as luggage, for ease in loading vans. Please pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Pereira Matecaña International Airport (PEI)

Please note: If you are delayed in travel, please refer to your emergency contact list, and contact your ground operator, with a back-up call to our office. You may also WhatsApp message, phone or text your Naturalist Journeys guide.

Upon arrival into the Pereira Airport, you will pass through immigration and customs and meet an assigned driver who will wait with a sign with your name on it once you exit to the main terminal area. Your emergency contact sheet will be useful at Immigration should they ask where you are going. ATMs are in the main airport area.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Main Tour Departures from Pereira (PEI)

Please plan to depart from PEI after the main tour at your leisure. Because international travel requires arriving at the airport at least three hours ahead of your scheduled flight, we do not advise booking early morning flights - though we can work with whatever schedule works best for you. Transfers to the airport will be provided.

Extension Departures from Cali Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO)

After the extension, please plan to depart from Cali (CLO) at your leisure. Because international travel requires arriving at the airport at least three hours ahead of your scheduled flight, we do not advise booking early morning flights - late-morning is fine, though we can work with whatever schedule works best for you. Transfers to the airport will be provided.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

If you are from another country, please contact the Colombian Embassy’s website for guidelines. Current Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:

Passports: **At the time of writing, you are required to have a passport that is valid on the date of your arrival into Colombia and through to the date of your return home.** Please check your expiration date carefully! We advise having at least one blank passport page per entry stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted.

Visas: Travelers with a U.S. passport do not need a visa for stays of this tour's duration. It is always smart to check 60-90 days ahead of your tour departure for changes in passport or visa requirements.

As a precaution for lost or misplaced documents you carry on your person during travel, we highly recommend you keep electronic backup copies on your phone (either photo or PDF scan), as well as a copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), vaccination records, travel and health insurance cards, and even the airline barcode on your luggage. Having these copies kept in a separate location will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary. We hope everyone will keep their primary travel documents close at all times (such as in an under-clothing document pouch) to reduce this risk.

General Health & Inoculations Information Be Prepared!

We will share a copy of the health information that you provided with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important in case of a medical emergency.

Anti-malarial drugs are not required for any area visited on the main tour, but may be needed on the extension. There are occasional reports of Dengue Fever in lower elevation areas, for which there is no vaccine. Dengue fever, Zika, and other diseases are contacted by mosquito bites so be sure to use mosquito repellant containing DEET or Picaridin. Travelers can reduce their risk of disease by protecting themselves from mosquito bites in lower elevation areas by using protective clothing.

Vaccinations: Bring copies of your current vaccination records with you. Although there are no required vaccinations to enter Colombia at the time of this writing (see note on yellow fever below), the CDC recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. Check the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) webpage for helpful information or reach them by phone at (800) CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

Note: Yellow fever vaccination is required to enter Colombia only for travelers coming from certain countries in Africa or South America, or visiting certain national parks. Check the CDC's Yellow Book for more information.

Prescriptions: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad. You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers. 

Allergies: To be prepared for environmental triggers to allergies or breathing difficulties, please bring your allergy and/or asthma medication(s).  If you have severe allergies talk to your doctor about carrying an EPI pen and notify your guides. It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).  Altitude sickness can affect some and, if there is a concern, be prepared.

Weather & Climate

Colombia is a vast country of northern South America, crossed by the Equator in the south and the Andes Mountain range in the west. The country has many different climate zones, and while the plains may be hot year-round, the biggest differences are due to the elevation, which affects temperature and rainfall, often dramatically.

In general weather in Colombia is variable where we will travel. At the mid-elevations of the Central Andes where we’ll spend most of our time, temperatures tend to be mild, with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-60s. A lightweight fleece is a good idea for some evenings. At higher elevations such as on the Nevados del Ruiz, highs may only reach 40, with mist and fog, and even snow is possible! Good quality rain gear, a heavy fleece, and even gloves and a hat may seem crazy, but the weather at higher elevations can be extreme. Good shoes that provide ankle support and traction are essential.

Annoyances & Hazards

Mosquitoes can occur in the forests, therefore, a supply of insect repellent containing DEET is essential. In grassland or farm locations you may encounter chiggers; if so, spray your shoes with repellent, and tuck your pants into your socks, which can help a lot. That evening, be sure to shower and air your field clothing. Do listen carefully to any advice given by your local guide. And remember, the sun is strong so dress accordingly and apply protection from sunburn.

Food & Drinks

There will be a variety of foods available, with choices to accommodate most dietary requirements. At all restaurants you will find a good variety of foods reflecting the contributions of American, European, Spanish and local cuisines.

Although major cities have excellent running water services, we recommend that you avoid tap water, and instead drink bottled water. Plan to purchase this at your hotels, and there will be water on the bus as needed for day trips. If convenient, to reduce the extra use of plastics, we would appreciate it if you can bring a reusable water bottle – one option is a LifeStraw filtered water bottle. And you might consider bringing a SteriPEN or other product to purify drinking water.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our hotels. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day. All the restaurants we will visit are fine with casual clothing at meals. Sandals are acceptable footwear for the vehicles on travel days but in the field you will need sturdy shoes to protect your feet and provide secure footing.

Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we’ll be moving around a lot, and you just do not need much to cope with tropical life! Please do not bring anything more than you must. Lay out the items you hope to take and then do a serious paring down please, with the goal of bringing one soft-sided duffel bag and one carry-on bag.

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. On your flight, wear your most important shoes for the field, have one day’s change of clothing, and a change of underwear! And please, do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

Spending Money

The official currency in Colombia is the Peso COP. We advise that you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card and a credit card. For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like, or your bank. Shopping for smaller handicrafts necessitates using local currency. Bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) that will give you the better rate when exchanging to local currency.

When using the ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards, and there are often transaction fees for withdrawals. Check with your bank before departure and be sure that you know your PIN number ahead of the journey. Also, ATM limits in Colombia are very low and average around $125. It may be easier to use exchange larger sums of money at the airport.

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at hotels and restaurants to pay any bar or gift tabs. Not every location accepts every card, and smaller shops, restaurants or taxis often require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. We recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes or charges. Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted, and we do not advice that you use them.


Tipping throughout the tour is at your discretion. Some guidelines follow. At larger (mostly city) hotels, tip maids and bar service as you would at home. At smaller hotels, there is typically a staff tip box in a public area; the going rate per person is $6-$10 a day, which is shared among staff for maid service, and general staff service at the hotels. Gratuities for group meals are already included. Your Naturalist Journeys host will take care of smaller tips such field trip services by boat drivers, night drive outings, single activities. Your additional tip is encouraged for birding tour guides and drivers who are with you for several days or the full trip; $10-$15 per day per guest is standard for guide service, and half that for a driver. If you have more than one local guide at a location, they will share the daily amount. We encourage tipping for the local teams hosting you; anything extra for your Naturalist Journeys host is at your discretion.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

You can make International calls from most of our hotels. The country code for the USA is 1, and for Colombia, it is 57. From Colombia:

International calls: Dial 00 + (9) or (7) + country code + area code + number.

National calls: Dial 0 + (9) (5) or (7) + city code + number.

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Options include activating international roaming, purchasing a local SIM card at the airport (newer phones may not accept SIM cards), or simply turning off cellular service and relying on Wi-Fi to make calls and access the internet.

Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi in their common areas, at least. Although generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions in more remote locations. Consider downloading smart phone apps like WhatsApp, Skype or Viber to send text messages, and make voice or video calls via Wi-Fi. (If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.) Renting an international phone may also be an option.

If you plan NOT to use your cell phone, we highly recommend that you turn off your cellular data. This will ensure that you do not incur international roaming charges. Another technique is to put your phone in airplane mode when not connected to WIFI, you can still use it for photos and the battery will last longer too.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it is an emergency.


The standard in Colombia is the same as in the United States and Canada: 110 volts AC (60 cycles). Plugs are set up in the same style; however, three-pronged outlets can be scarce, and existing three-prong outlets may feature even-sized flat blade plugs, so it's helpful to bring along adapters for both two- and three-prong outlets. More information can be found at


Colombia is on the same time as Eastern Standard Time (EST), the country does not observe Daylight Savings. Check before leaving home for your conversion.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!


Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.


Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.


As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.


Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.


Packing List +

Please pack light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please pack light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage.  Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle.  It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to pack your personal medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items in your carry-on bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

Check your favorite weather website for the cities of Pereira, Manizales, (and Cali if you are taking the extension), closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure. At the mid-elevations of the Central Andes where we’ll spend most of our time, temperatures tend to be mild, with highs in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-60s.  That said, please remember that we spend two nights and a day at the high elevations of the Central Andes on the Nevados del Ruiz where highs may only reach 40°F, even with the possibility of snow!  

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. Dressing in layers is the best way to be comfortable. For the milder weather, lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants make ideal field clothing as they are more protective from sun and vegetation.  But if you like to wear them, by all means bring some shorts. For some evenings, a lightweight fleece is a good idea. Choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy and things that are comfortable and easy. For higher elevations, you'll be glad you bring good quality rain gear, a heavy fleece, and even gloves and a hat to layer with. This may seem crazy, but the weather at the higher elevations can be extreme and cold. Good shoes that provide ankle support and traction are essential.

Note on clothing colors and insect repellent: We recommend muted colors of tan, brown, khaki, grey or green, as they are spotted less easily than white or bright colors, though camouflage clothing is not recommended, and in some countries, not legal to wear. It is possible to purchase field clothing permeated with insect repellent such as the Craghoppers Insect Shield collection. Another approach is to purchase Permethrin spray (online or from REI) to treat your field clothing and socks before your departure.

Clothing & Gear

  • Lightweight long pants, 2-3 pair
  • Shorts (optional, not generally recommended)
  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, 2-3 (Loose fitting keeps you cool. Quick-dry fabrics are ideal, and you may wish to spray with repellent or try those made of bug repellant fabric)
  • T-shirts, short-sleeved shirts or equivalent (2-3)
  • Casual clothing for travel days and evenings, skirts for women may come in handy in the city
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – lightweight and easy to wash and dry (Long enough to tuck your pants into, for protection from chiggers)
  • Wool socks
  • Comfortable walking/hiking shoes such as tennis shoes, and lightweight hiking boots – 2 pairs.  Please note that forest trails will be on uneven terrain and may be muddy – good tread and support are essential!
  • Comfortable sandals or light shoes for evenings, travel days
  • Good quality rain gear
  • Heavy fleece jacket / sweater for highlands
  • Gloves
  • Knit cap and scarf
  • Hat with broad brim
  • Bandana (optional, great for cooling off when you are hot and sweaty)
  • Field vest (optional), a great source is Big Pockets

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Airline tickets or e-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance info, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person at all times (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack to carry your field gear while hiking
  • Walking stick – (optional, but recommended if you have one, or we’ll try to cut you one on the trail)
  • Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
  • Small flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries (important as cabins may be up the hill from our dining areas). Make sure this is in good working order.
  • Alarm clock (if you use your phone, be sure to turn off data roaming)
  • Sunscreen/Chapstick or equivalent
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Insect repellent (something containing DEET, and sulphur powder or other for chiggers)
  • Toiletry articles
  • Binoculars (a shower cap is great to cover these when raining)
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional, your guide will have one)
  • Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location)
  • Notebook or journal and pen (optional)
  • Field guides (optional)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Earplugs – in urban and even rural areas barking dogs and traffic noise can be annoying
  • Gallon-size zip-lock bags to keep things dry
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)
  • Steri-Pen or other UV water treatment device to help cut down on the use of plastic bottles (optional)


WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing, and your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medication (and copy of vital prescriptions, including glasses – or have at easy reference to call or fax from home)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van, drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments and stomach ailments
  • Foot powder, lotions, general “comfort” items
  • Band-Aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibacterial hand soap, small vial
  • Heath insurance and vaccination information (kept in personal pouch with other travel documents)
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Altitude sickness medication (optional)


Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Colombia; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Colombia; the following are a few that we have enjoyed as an introduction to the natural and cultural history of the country.

Top Picks

Birds of Colombia

Colombia: A paradise for birders: Stunning birds of the Andes: Hummingbirds, hawks, owls, tanagers, ducks, guans, woodpeckers, manakins, euphonias, quetzals and more

Birds of Colombia (Helm Wildlife Guides)

Merlin App – Colombia Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from the app, download a "pack" for either "Colombia: All" or "Colombia: Andes".

The New Neotropical Companion

Field Guides

Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia

A Guide to the Birds of Colombia

Birds of Northern South America: An Identification Guide, Volume 2: Plates and Maps

Birdwatching in Colombia

Checklist of the Birds of Colombia

Wildlife & Nature

Birds of Tropical America. A Watcher’s Introduction to Behavior, Breeding, and Diversity

Tropical Nature

Colombia Natural Parks

History & Culture

The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself

Colombia: A Concise Contemporary History

More Terrible Than Death: Drugs, Violence, and America's War in Colombia

Colombia - Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

Moon Colombia

The Rough Guide to Colombia

Michelin Green Guide Colombia

National Geographic Traveler: Colombia

Colombian Spanish: Phrases, Expressions and Tips to Help You Speak Like a Local

Quick Guide to Colombian Spanish


Colombia: A Rosen-Cooney Travel Story-No Passports Required: Bogota, the Coffee Zone, Cartagena, and Tayrona National Park

Your guide will have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.


Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more



Santa Rosa de Cabal


Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Birding Colombia – Locations and Checklists

Avibase Bird Checklist of Colombia

Tinamú Birding Checklist

The Endangered Indigo-winged (Fuertes’) Parrot

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Otun-Quimbaya Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Technological University of Pereira (UTP) Botanical Garden

Los Nevados National Natural Park

Amazon Conservation Team’s Work in Colombia

Fundacion ProAves

Geology & Geography

Geology of Colombia – Encyclopedic Overview

Geography of Colombia – Encyclopedic Overview

History & Culture

History of Colombia

Culture of Colombia

Pre-Colombian Civilizations

Food of Colombia

Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia (by UNESCO)

Post-Tour Extension to Cali

Santiago de Cali – An Encyclopedic Overview

Andes Mountain Range

Depart: Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO)

Helpful Travel Websites

Pereira Matecaña International Airport (PEI)

National Passport Information Center

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information – Colombia

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Colombia

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories – Colombia

Travel Health Pro (UK) – Colombia

Electricity and Plugs – Colombia

Date, Time, and Holidays – Colombia

Photo credits: Banners: Andean Condor, Francisco Gonzalez Taboas via Wikimedia Commons, Sword-billed Hummingbird, Andy Morffew via Creative Commons, Spectacled Bear, Francisco Muñoz, Coffee Cherries, Felipe Quijano via Wikimedia Commons, Velvet-Fronted Euphonia, Ron Knight via Wikimedia Commons, Torrent Tyrannulet, Bob Hill, Eje Cafatero, Petruss; Andean Condor, ltshears; Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Felix Uribe; Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Hector Bottai; Multicolored Tanager, Mateo Gable; Moustached Puffbird, Julian Londono; Mountain Tapir, Fernando Game; Many-striped Canastero, Francesco Veronesi; Hooded Antpitta, Zieger M; Great Sapphirewing, Ben Tavener; Golden-plumed Parakeet Felix Uribe; Flame-rumped tanager Felix Uribe; Gray-breasted Mountain Toucan, Dominic Sherony; Mountainscape, Alejandro Bayer Tamayo; Crested Ant-Tanager, Francesco Veronesi; Citrine Warbler, thibaudaronson; Buffy Helmetcrest, Juan Jose Arango; Andean Siskin, Alejandro Bayer Tamayo; Cauca Guan, Zieger M; Buff-winged Starfrontlet, Andy Morffew;


Like what we do?

Sign up for our weekly eNews to stay up to date!

Get to know our favorite destinations each week. We promise no spam.

No Thanks