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The Colombian Andes - March 2008
The Colombian Andes - June 2007



Santa Marta Route
Good all year; 5 days travel; 350+ species occur, 17 endemics, 11 threatened species

This route begins in Santa Marta town and ascends into the foothills of Santa Marta Mountain, where several good dry forest species can be seen in the patches of forest and coffee plantations around the pleasant town of Minca. Birding remains good from Minca up to El Dorado lodge, and the real endemic-fest begins in the montane forests above the lodge. After two to three days on Santa Marta Mountain, this route drops back down to the coast and heads east towards the arid scrub and waterbird-filled lagoons of the Guajira Peninsula. These exciting habitats are best sampled at Los Flamencos Sanctuary, named for the migratory Greater Flamingos that congregate there.

Santa Marta is the most endemic-packed site in Colombia, and this route contains a plethora of Santa Marta’s special endemics in a gorgeous setting. Travel is generally easy on this route, although the road up to the excellent El Dorado lodge itself is rough. Facilities are good; the El Dorado lodge is very comfortable in an exquisite location: perched in cloud forest with a view of the Caribbean Sea far below.

This is a rapid route that can take just four full days at a fast pace, although five to six days allow for a more leisurely (and complete) sampling of the region’s birds. Expect hot muggy weather along the coast and cool climes at El Dorado. This route is possible any time of year but is most popular in the (relatively) dry months of December through March. There is lots of good roadside birding in addition to the key sites. 

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