NATURE AND CONSERVATION TOUR
This tour will take you around different ecosystems and lanscapes of Colombia, from dry tropical forests to the mystical highlands of Paramos, while learning about their ecology, huge biodiversity, the threats facing this incredible areas and the conservation iniatitives and projects that have been built to protect them. During this tour there are also plenty of photographic opportunities, and we will find tons of different interesting species of fauna and flora in each site.
Day 1. Arrival to Cali
We will pick up you at the airport Alfonso Bonilla Aragón in Palmira and head to Cali.
Night: Hotel Pensión del Oeste, Cali.
Day 2. San Antonio Cloud Forest and Km 18
This mythical cloud forests has been a complete laboratory for biodiversity research during more than 100 years- At the morning we will start an inspiring and moderate hike towards the top (40 minutes). During the walk we will talk about the research in the area, the key findings and their impact, and what we have learned from the site after many years when the first explorers came to the area. We will also discuss the most important conservation processes here. We will then go to km 18 to a private farm where you with bird feeders where you catch up to 10 different hummingbird species and tanagers, including the much sought after multicolored tanager (Chlorochryssa nitidissima). We’ll talk about feeders and they’re impact, or not, in the ecosystem.
Night: El Faro, km 18.
Day 3. The striking Dagua Valley
An enclave of dry xerophytic vegetation surrounded by humid vegetation up in the mountains. Truly unique, at this site we will enjoy different forms of cacti specially Melocactus curvispinus subsp. loboguerreroi. The site is ideal to talk about ecotone systems, why this area is so dry next to the Pacific, the wettest area in the world, and the conservation issues facing dry tropical forest.
Night: Hotel Pensión del Oeste
Day 4. Sonso Lagoon
In the morning we’ll visit the Sonso Lagoon, one of the largest wetlands remaining in the Cauca Valley. We’ll go deep into how this unique ecosystem works, the unique species that harbors, and why it is one of the most threatened ecosystems. We’ll also discuss the profound, landscape transformations that have occurred in the are, and how things were so different at the start of the XX century. We’ll then take our way to the beautiful town of Salento, right in the Coffe Cultural landscape of Colombia, and enjoy a fantastic evening here.
Night: Salento, Quindio.
Day 5. Valle del Cocora
We’ll start early and drive to the near Valle del Cocora, where we will appreciate the beautiful landscape full of wax palms (Ceroxylon quindiuense). This is one of the most visited areas in Colombia and for good reasons! Whoever, this dreamy area holds a daunting secret that most people don’t know, and we will make sure to let you know about it.
Night: Salento, Quindio.
Day 6. The Barbas-Bremen Biological Corridor
We will visit the most successful experience of ecological restoration in the Andes, where 5 different biological corridors with native species where designed to connect two large forest remnants (Barbas & Bremen) to avoid forest fragmentation. This day we will learn the basics of forest restoration, how it should be done and how not, the importance of native species , and a lot on tropical ecology. But off course, you will experience yourself the incredible, positive transformation that the area had after the biological corridors.
Night: Filandia, Quindio.
Day 7. Los Nevados National Natural Park
At this day we will reach high elevations (around 4000 m or 13.000 ft) to the alpine tropical grasslands called Paramo, exclusive to only some Andean countries with the majority of this ecosystem occuring in Colombia. For the first time visitor this is an unforgettable experience, with a view of the active Ruiz volcano and the unique vegetation above the treeline, where the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest (Oxypogon stubelii) steals the show taking nectar from the famed frailejones (Espeletia hartwegiana) one of the world’s most unique plants. Today we will learn the strategic importance of Paramos for the well being of rural communities and city dwellers alike, and the threats facing this important and unique ecosystem. We’ll also discuss how is it possible to have so much biodiversity at this high elevations, when in other parts of the world there is none.
Night: Hotel Termales del Otoño, Manizales.
Day 8. Yellow-eared parrot reserve
We will go this day to the beautiful, colonial town of Jardín (“The garden”), home to the endangered Yellow-eared Parrot (Ognorhynchus icterotis) where a succesful conservation program made possible the recovery of the species to good, healthy numbers. We’ll visit the reserve made for the species, and we’ll experience first hand how the people at the NGO Proaves achieved this impossible task of protecting the bird, plus we’ll get to have good opportunities to see this impresive parrots.
Night: Valvidia plaza, Jardín.
Day 9. Jardín to Medellin
From Jardín we will make our way to Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia.
Night: Medellín, Antioquía.