Andean Condor and Paramo Highlands tour

This tour will take us to the awe inspiring, high-andean landscapes around Purace National Natural Park, that Hilty catalogued as the best place for highland birding in Colombia. The tour will be crowned by magnificent views of the andean Condor, the king of heights. We will also enjoy the colonial city of Popayan with its internationally renowned food.

Day 1. Condor Watching at Purace National Natural Park.

We leave Cali early in the morning, crossing Popayan and reaching the Natural National Park Puracé in a 3 1/2 hour drive. We will go directly to “piedra del condor” to watch the mythical Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) and appreciate its greatness and beauty. After some good views, we’ll start birding along the road that goes to the visitor center of Pilimbala, and after checking in the rooms we will continue looking for birds around the site. Good birds include Golden-breasted puffleg (Eriocnemis mosquera), Blue-backed conebill (Conirostrum sitticolor), Scarlet-bellied (Anisognathus igniventris) & Lacrimose Mountain Tanagers (Anisognathus lachrymosus), Pearled Treeruner (Margarornis squamiger), White-throated Tyrannulet (Mecocerculus leucophrys), Slaty (Atlapetes schistaceus) & Pale-naped Brushfinch (Atlapetes pallidinucha) and others.

Night: Pilimbala visitor center, Purace National Natural Park.

Day 2. Termales de San Juan

We will rise early and start birding along the road that takes us to the incredible site of San Juan thermals. Our route will take us through watery scenary, first into San Rafael Lake where we will look for specialites like Noble Snipe (Gallinago nobilis) and Andean Lapwing (Vanellus resplendens) and then a short stop at San Nicolas Waterfalls. The road is very productive and to name some, we can find birds such as Mountain Velvetbreast (Lafresnaya lafresnayi), Purple-backed Thornbill (Ramphomicron microhynchum), Agile Tit-Tyrant (Uromyias agilis), Hooded (Buthraupis montana) and Buff-breasted Mountain-Tanagers (Dubusia taeniata), Black-backed Bush Tanager (Urothraupis stolzmanni) Black-capped Hemispingus (Hemispingus atropileus), Crowned (Ochthoeca frontalis), Slaty-backed (Ochthoeca cinnamomeiventris) and Rufous-breasted (Ochthoeca rufipectoralis) Chat-Tyrants, Tawny Antpitta (Grallaria quitensis) plus several others.

Night: Pilimbala visitor center, Purace National Natural Park.

Day 3. Coconuco road.

We will leave the comfortable Pilimpala and take the road and bird along the roads to the village of Coconuco. This open areas host birds of the high andes such as Golden-plumed parakeet (Leptosittaca branickii), Andean Guan (Penelope montagnii), Gray-breasted Mountain-Toucan (Andigena hypoglauca), Tourmaline sunangel (Heliangelus exortis), Sierran Elaenia (Elaenia pallatangae), Grass-green Tanager (Chlorornis riefferii) to name a few. We’ll also visit the hummingbird feeders at finca Leguaro, where the star is the Green-tailed Trainbearer (Lesbia nuna), accompanied by White-bellied Woodstar (Chaetocercus mulsant), Speckled Hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys), Sparkling violetear (Colibri coruscans), Long-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus kingii) and others. Then we will go to Popayan at night and have a good rest.

Night: Hotel Camino Real, Popayan

Day 4. The White city of Popayan and return to cali.

We’ll visit in the morning the colonial center of Popayan especially some places like “Pueblito Patojo”, some churches and plazas all painted in white. Then we’ll go the Natural History Museum of the city, which hosts one of the most complete bird collections of South America. Popayan is also the only city in latin american appointed by UNESCO as City of Gastronomy, and we will have a wonderful lunch at a local restaurant to taste the local cuisine, a fusion of spanish, african and indigenous foods. Then we will leave to Cali.

Night: Hotel Pensión del Oeste, Cali.


Tour leader: Rubén Darío Palacio