Tuesday, September 12
We arrive Cali, Columbia a day early (per usual) and met our driver who took us to the Araucana Lodge where we will be staying for the next few nights.
Wednesday, September 13
Since so many of the trip participants arrived early, Hector set up an optional tour of the San Felipe Birding Center for the morning where we saw the little tinamou, and a chestnut capped bushfinch. In the afternoon we visited the Dona Dora Birding Center and saw a variety of tanagers and thrush, bay wren, hummingbirds, euphonia, toucan barbet, tyrannulet, brushfinch, an acorn woodpecker, and an Andean mot-mot. Not a bad start to the trip.
Thursday, September 14
Today we did our photography on the grounds of the lodge. Our group was split up; one half would be photographing barbets, tanagers, toucanets and other assorted birds, while the other half focused their efforts on the hummingbird setups. We made sure that the two of us were in different groups to maximize our chances of catching something unique.
Friday, September 15
Today was a repeat of yesterday, however, the groups that were concentrated on the morning hummingbird activity yesterday were doing afternoon sessions today and visa versa.
Saturday, September 16
Our destination today was the La Florida Private Bird Sanctuary and Reserve. Here we concentrated on the multi-colored tanager and the Andean motmot, but my favorite bird of the day was the white-booted racket-tail.. However, this location turned out to be very disappointing as far as variety. We were supposed to spend two days at this spot but the bird activity was so sparse that we only spent one day here.
Sunday, September 17
After the disappointment from the La Florida Private Bird Sanctuary we spent another day on the lodge grounds instead and had much better luck with the hummingbirds.
Monday, September 18
After an early breakfast we start on our way to the city of Manizales. Today’s drive time was around 5 hours. We stopped en route at Recinto del Pensamiento for photography.
Tuesday-Wednesday, September 19 – 20
Today we are photographing at Hacienda el Bosque. Here we photographed the gray-breasted mountain toucans, various antpittas, and brushfinches. Of course, there are always a variety of hummingbirds to photograph – the stunning shining sunbeam and the swordbill hummingbird were some of the standouts.
Thursday, September 21
Today we went to El “Color de mi Reves” Glamping. In order to get to this location we will be transported in multiple 4X4 vehicles to this high mountain destination. Our targets here are a new antpitta, different tanagers and always new and different hummingbirds, such as the long-tailed sylph. Karen also tried her hand at a longer exposure during sunset in order to get the pattern of the hummingbird’s wings in flight.
Friday, September 22
Today was a travel day as we head to Jardin. This was to be our longest travel day at about 6 hours. However, this turned into a much longer travel day than we expected. The road that we were traveling on to get to Jardin was crowded with traffic and it was very slow going at places. We stopped once for 10 minutes. Then again for 20 minutes. Then, after a total of about 4 hours of travel we came to a complete stop. We thought that we were held up due to construction or a bad accident, however we later learned that there was a protest going on and the protesters had blocked the road, and were planning on staying there for three days. Since this is the one main (paved) road between Manizales and Jardin, there were not a lot of other options – we needed another plan. One option was to backtrack and spend another 8+ hours on a go-around road – which would have put us in Jardin by around midnight. Hector and his crew were resourceful thought and came up with another option. He hired transportation to take us up and over the mountain’s 4×4 only road (the cars we were in could not handle that road). At first we thought we would be in an open air vehicle, but we ended up with a bus. This detour was to be “only” about another 2-3 hours in length, but ended up being 3.5 hours – and about 1 million bumps. Very soon it was getting dark and we were traveling on this one-lane bumpy road along the side of a cliff, in the middle of nowhere. What could go wrong? During the journey the bus driver stopped the bus and opened a panel to the underside and starts working on the innards, with Hector holding his phone’s flashlight so the driver could see. No this isn’t iffy at all. At this point we are pretty sure we have violated all the advisories that the state department puts forth about traveling in a foreign country. But we finally arrive at our destination without further incident.
Saturday, September 23
This morning we visit the private Bambusa Bird Reserve and Sanctuary. We photographed more tanagers and an Andean motmot. Again this did not turn out to be all we had hoped for as far as bird activity.
After lunch we went to the Cock-of-the-Rock Lek that we were originally supposed to visit yesterday afternoon before we were rerouted.
Sunday, September 24
We went back to the Cock-of-the-Rock Lek again this morning before heading out to Medellin for our trip home.