Less than a 4-hour flight from Miami, with more bird species than any other country, Colombia owns a staggering total list of 1,900 species. This huge diversity includes a remarkable 74 endemics – and these are a result of the equally diverse range of habitats. The most unique of these is surely the isolated snow-capped Santa Marta Mountains. Here, in Colombia’s fabulous north, the Caribbean coast rises dramatically, from the lower dry forests to towering peaks above 16,000 feet at Pico Bolívar and Pico Cristóbal Colón. Still relatively little-known, it remains debated which peak is higher; but Regardless, these are the nation’s highest points, amid arguably the world’s highest coastal mountain range. Isolated from and older than the Andes, possessing a rich, unique geological history, these forested mountains bristle and burst with no less than 36 showy, endemic birds.
In 2016, the National Audubon Society together with partners in Colombia, such as the Calidris Association (calidris.org.co) and Patrimonio Natural (patrimonionatural.org.co) established the Northern Colombia Birding Trail. Funded in large part by USAID, this brand new trail hosts superb birding and a number of Audubon-trained local guides. Impact Adventures: Explore Perija tour, features in Northern Colombia Birding Trail also, and the two trips can be paired for a magical combination. These spots are great examples of how bird-based tourism leads to a more stable future for the area’s birds, the local guides employed, and local businesses, too.
The Santa Martas are utterly unique and this trip is a prime example of how birders can make apositive impact, as they are thrilled by stunning, special birds. Many experts regard the Santa Martasas the most biodiverse place on the planet, and this Megadiverse Santa Marta Mountains tour provides access to nearly every altitudinal band of habitat in the range, giving us a chance at the lion’s share of unique birds here. From the Caribbean coast – where flamingos gather and strut – to the adjacent dry forest – where Vermillion Cardinals perch prominently – to the endemic-rich heights of the Santa Martas, these 7 days teem with fascinating birds in a world-renowned area for biodiversity.
- image courtesy Rockjumper Tours, all rights reserved