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WINGS Birding Tours – Itinerary

Colombia: The Chocó

An introduction to the megadiverse Colombian Chocó

Tuesday 21 January to Saturday 1 February 2025
with Fabrice Schmitt as leader
January 2026
with Fabrice Schmitt as leader
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Black Solitaire, an elegant Chocó endemic. Photo: Fabrice Schmitt

The Chocó area of Western Colombia and Ecuador encompasses the Pacific slope of both the Colombian West Andes and the main Andes. Most of the habitat here is characterized by wet forest, and with up to 630 inches of rain per year in some places, mostly falling from April to June and from October to December, it is perhaps the wettest place on earth. The Chocó has one of the world’s richest lowland biotas, with exceptional endemism in a wide range of taxa including plants, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and obviously, birds. For example, 10% of 80-90,000 plant species recorded in the Neotropics have been found in the Chocó, and 25% of these are endemic to this narrow band of land. The Chocó also supports the largest number of restricted-range bird species of any area in the Americas, with more than 60 species being endemic.

On this exciting new itinerary, we’ll bird at various elevations on the western slope of the Colombian Cordillera Occidental, from the brilliant white sand beaches near Bahia Solano to the montane tropical forest of the Las Tangaras ProAves Reserve and to the temperate forest at La Eme at about 9,000 feet, expecting to find spectacular birds at every elevation.

We’ll also visit several hummingbird feeding stations (many of them in our lodge gardens), to enjoy great views of as many as 30 species (40 species of hummingbirds are possible during the tour). In addition to the Chocó area, we’ll visit the dry Cauca valley looking for species restricted to that habitat and the temperate forests near the colonial town of Jardin, looking for the vulnerable Yellow-eared Parrot and visiting an antpitta feeding station attracting both Chestnut-naped and Chami Antpitta!

Our short trip should provide a snapshot of the wonderful Chocó region with its fantastic birding and extraordinary biodiversity.

Day 1: The tour begins at 6 pm this evening in Medellin. Night in Medellin.

Day 2: We’ll fly this morning to Bahia Solano on the Pacific coast, perhaps getting great looks at the extensive pristine tropical forest of the Western Cordillera, a habitat we’ll be exploring later on in the trip. Once in Bahia Solano, we’ll transfer to the little coastal hamlet of Mecana. Right on the grounds of our accommodation, we can see Dusky Pigeon, Choco Toucan, Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Black-crowned Antshrike, Spot-crowned Barbet, Rufous-tailed Hummingbird or Purple-crowned Fairy, some of them even coming to the feeders! Night Mecana.

Day 3: We’ll spend the morning along on the trails at ‘Jardin Botanico del Pacifico’, a private reserve near Bahia Solano. Birding the trail system here is always exciting, and we have good chance to find Dusky-faced Tanager, Spotted Antbird, Checker-throated Stipplethroat, Velvety Manakin, or the very localized Humboldt’s Sapphire. There is also a slim chance of finding the unique Broad-billed Sapayoa, a species recently placed in its own family, the Sapayoidae, closely related to the Old World Broadbills.

After lunch we’ll head to the village of El Valle for some deserved afternoon rest at our comfortable hotel situated just meters from a wonderful white sand beach where you can enjoy a a swim! In the evening, we’ll explore the surrounding birdy tropical forest, looking for Gray-headed Chachalaca, pompous Pied Puffbirds and stunning Black-tipped Cotingas. The mixed-species flocks here usually include Golden-hooded, Plain-colored and Rufous-winged Tanagers, Red-legged Honeycreeper, Blue Dacnis and Tawny-crested Tanager. Night El Valle.

Day 4: After a pre-dawn breakfast, we’ll take a boat to Utria, one of the most beautiful Colombian National Parks. Here, the fabulous and pristine forest covering the coastal hills dives into the tropical waters with a line of white sand beaches separating the green forest from the emerald water. Even though Utria NP doesn’t offer an extensive trail system, we have a good chance of finding the elusive Brown Wood-Rail, Blue-chested Hummingbird, White-tailed Trogon, the beautiful Cinnamon Woodpecker, the fancy Blue Cotinga, or even the uncommon Scarlet-thighed Dacnis.

As the bird activity slows down as the day’s heat rises, we’ll have time during the morning to do some snorkelling in the magical turquoise waters whose fish diversity exceeds that of the birds! We could spend days under water trying to put a name to all of them. After returning to El Valle for an afternoon break, we’ll look for more birds including White-necked and White-whiskered Puffbird, Red-lored Parrot, Collared Aracari, Pacific Antwren, Chestnut-backed Antbird, Spot-crowned Antvireo, Tawny-faced Gnatwren, the recently split Choco Sirystes, and Orange-billed Sparrow among many others. Night El Valle.

Day 5: We’ll have time for early morning birding before flying back to Medellin. Once in Medellin, and depending on when we arrive, we may visit La Romera, a fine forested area of the Central Cordillera, or just to relax in the garden of our excellent hotel. Night in Medellin.

Day 6: We’ll spend the morning at La Romera where we have a good chance of finding the noisy Colombian endemic Red-bellied Grackle as well as other species of the Central Cordillera such as Stile’s Tapaculo, Colombian Chachalaca, Greenish Puffleg, Bar-crested Antshrike and Pale-naped Brushfinch.

Later we’ll drive towards the dry Cauca valley, a major biogeographical barrier separating the Western Cordillera to the Central Andes. A number of endemics and specialties including Grayish Piculet, Apical Flycatcher, Antioquia Wren (a species only described in 2012) or Colombian (Speckle-breasted) Wren are present in this dry valley, and we’ll hope to encounter them during our stop along the Cauca. After birding these two very different locations, we’ll re-enter the Chocó zone at mid-elevation in the Western Cordillera. Night Las Tangaras Lodge.

Day 7-8: We’ll have two full days exploring the Las Tangaras ProAves Reserve and its surroundings. Along a wide track  through wonderful montane forest, we’ll be searching for mixed flocks that can be thrillingly large. These flocks here are often full of specialties; Buffy Tuftedcheek, Fulvous-dotted Treerunner, Glistening-green and Purplish-mantled Tanagers, Toucan Barbet and Yellow-collared Chlorophonias for example. We also hope to find a key endemic, the Black-and-gold Tanager, usually quite common at this site. A trail going up into the ProAves reserve will give us access into the understory where we hope to find Yellow-breasted Antpitta, Choco Vireo, Nariño Tapaculo, Choco (Tricolored) Brushfinch and Bronze-olive Pygmy-Tyrant. The elegant Black Solitaire is also sometimes seen along the trail here. We’ll also have some time to relax at the reserve’s hummingbird feeders where Violet-tailed Sylph, Velvet-purple Coronet, Brown Inca, Purple-bibbed Whitetip and Rufous-gaped Hillstar are all possible. Nights at Las Tangaras Lodge.

Day 9: We’ll visit the remote La Eme ridge looking particularly for Munchique Wood-Wren, Tanager Finch, Black-billed Mountain-Toucan and Chestnut-crested Cotinga. This spectacular temperate forest also often holds mixed-species flocks and we expect to spend much of the morning here.  Botany enthusiasts will be impressed by the orchid richness, as dozens of species can be found along the roadside. After lunch at Las Tangaras, we’ll continue on towards the picturesque colonial town of Jardin, arriving in time to visit an Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek situated on the edge of the town. The stunning males are often remarkably tame and usually offer good photographic opportunities as along with fantastic views. Night Jardin.

Day 10: We’ll need an early start for our dawn visit to the Yellow-eared Parrot roosting area. These endangered macaw-like parrots are now only found in Colombia, having become extinct in other nearby countries, and we’ll be looking for them in one of their few remaining strongholds. After our morning drive, we’ll have breakfast at Doña Luisa’s place, enjoying good views of Long-tailed Sylph and Buff-tailed Coronet coming to her feeders, and then she will show us to her famous antpitta feeding station where Chestnut-naped Antpitta is sometimes coming to take worms from visitors’ hands!

We’ll spend the rest of the day birding back down the road to Jardin. This will give us a chance to find Black-collared Jay, Montane Woodcreeper, Gray-browed Brushfinch and many more temperate forest birds. We’ll return to town in the afternoon. Night in Jardin.

Day 11: After some morning birding, and a visit to the charming town of Jardin where we can enjoy a cup of coffee on the beautiful main square, we will start our drive back to Medellin where we plan to arrive mid-afternoon. We’ll conclude our tour with a farewell dinner in Medellin. Night Medellin.

Day 12: The tour concludes this morning with transfers to the Medellin airport.

Updated: 27 September 2023


  • 2025 Tour Price Not Yet Available
  • 2026 Tour Price Not Yet Available


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Questions? Tour Manager: Erin Olmstead. Call 1-866-547-9868 (US or Canada) or (01) 520-320-9868 or click here to email.

* Tour invoices paid by check carry a 4% discount. Details here.

This tour is limited to eight participants with one leader.

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