Colombia has earned a reputation for nefarious reasons over the last 40 years. Due to its infamy, Colombia is a country many travelers steer clear of despite it being a beautiful nation to visit. Today, Colombia is far different than it used to be and areas have been opened up to travelers. Birdwatchers are now able to visit regions once cut off to explore the riches of the South American nation.
Colombia is considered one of the world’s best countries for birdwatching. Why is this? It is estimated that Colombia is home to over 1,851 bird species. No other country on the planet can make that claim. Many of the bird species that can be seen in Colombia are migratory birds but there are still 79 species that are endemic to the South American country. With a reputation as one of the best birdwatching countries in the world, more people are finding out just how perfect Colombia is when it comes to natural beauty.
What is the best bird watching location in Colombia?
1. Santa Marta Costal Forests
Situated in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the Santa Marta Costa Forests are located on the Caribbean shores of northern Colombia. The ecosystem that has evolved in the area has made for a unique set of species that call the forests home.
The entire Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range has been called “irreplaceable” due to the biodiversity that is located within its borders. The forests are home to 22 endemic bird species. Due to the elevation of the mountains and other ecological reasons, the forests may be the only areas in Colombia to spot some of these bird species.
A visit to the Santa Marta Costal Forests could yield major bird spotting finds. Colombia’s national bird, the Andean Condor, has been spotted in the forests. You may be able to see the condor in flight or nesting. You may also see the endangered Black-and-Chestnut Eagle and Blue-billed Currasow.
As you move into the mountains around the coastal forests, you will find the ProAves El Dorado Bird Reserve. Local birdwatching guides are on hand at the reserve and can give tours in a variety of languages.
2. Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados
Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados, also known as Parque Los Nevados, is situated in the heart of Colombia’s coffee growing region. The national park is filled with beautiful natural landscapes that can be explored by visitors. You will find volcanoes with snow-capped peaks, lakes, forests, and glaciers inside the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados. In total, the park has over 4,000 different species of plants making it another one of Colombia’s rich biodiverse areas.
The Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados is another prime region that is home to the Andean Condor. The Buffy Helmetcrest Hummingbird also calls the park home and can be spotted when birdwatching. One of the true finds when visiting the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados is the Fuertes’s Parrot. The Fuertes’s Parrot is an endangered bird that is endemic to Colombia. You may never get the chance to see it outside of the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados.
The national park is large and extends over 58,300 hectares. Opened in 1973, the Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados was created to protect Colombia’s various ecosystems. Along with birdwatching, the park’s many trails are ideal for trekking.
3. Antioquia Rainforest
The Antioquia Rainforest is a short daytrip from Medellin and the city can be used as a base for birdwatching trips to rural areas outside of it. Antioquia is technically the name of the department, or district, in which Medellin and the rainforest nearby are located. The area has a river system that winds down into the Magdalena River Valley and it is there that a unique rainforest exists. According to researchers, the area’s rainforest is comparable to that of the Amazon Rainforest in terms of biodiversity.
Two rare bird species can be spotted in the Antioquia Rainforest and those are the Magdalena Antbird and Sooty Ant-Tanager. If you want to see the two rare bird species, you better rise early in the morning to do so. Many of the birds in the area are most active during the morning hours before a large number of tourists and birdwatchers are out.
Birdwatching may bring you to the Antioquia area but there are other activities to enjoy. The town of Cocorna has become well-known for adventure activities. Although it is a lesser-visited destination, Cocorna has become popular due to being off the beaten path.
4. Aviario National Park
The Aviario National Park is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you may not see a more diverse selection of birds in one place. The park is man-made and is an aviary rather than a lush, wide-open park for birds to come and go freely. The Aviario National Park is North and South Americas’ largest aviary, so if you want to get bang for your buck when it comes to spotting bird species, then you can’t get much better.
The park has trails that wind through it taking you on a tour of different ecosystems such as jungles and beaches. There are around 138 bird species in the national park including Harpy Eagles, Caribbean Toucans, and Crane Coronas.
The park is over six acres in total and each habitat has been carefully constructed to give it a truly authentic look and feel. You may forget you are in the Aviario National Park and not the desert when spotting birds of prey. The park also has a restaurant, so you can stop off for a snack and drink after exploring the bird habitats.
Although man-made, the Aviario National Park provides visitors a very unique birdwatching experience. Most importantly, the birds are living well in the surroundings.
Colombia is one of the most important countries in the world when it comes to bird species. If you want to see some of the most unique birds, then a visit to Colombia is a must.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!