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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Colombia: Central

The Eastern and Central Cordilleras and the Magdalena Valley

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space. The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING COLOMBIA: US citizens must have a passport, valid for at least six months after your date of departure from Colombia. A the present time, no visa is required for US citizens visiting Colombia for 90 days or less.

Visitors from other countries may need a visa; please contact your nearest Colombian embassy or consulate for further information.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at and the CIA World Factbook background notes on Colombia at

PACE OF TOUR: The aim of this trip is to enjoy Colombia’s incredible biodiversity at the most relaxed pace possible. Of course, as on any birding tour, expect early starts and sometimes long drives, but we will also enjoy quiet and prolonged time at feeders! The pace of our tour will be set to the rhythm of the tropical birds, which means we’ll be out in the field as soon as the sun rises. Most of our days will begin between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. (On the first morning, we will be leaving at 4:30 a.m.) Some breakfasts will be taken in the field, others will be eaten at our hotels and lodges. On some days we will take a picnic lunch in the field and on others we will stop at roadside restaurants. Participants should be able to walk at a slow to moderate pace for four or five hours at a time; we may walk in the sun on some roads, though most of our trails will be in the shade. Most of our walking is along roads, and there’s generally no major change in altitude. When we’re in the mountains, we always try to walk downhill. Our vehicle will almost always follow the group at a distance, and so it’s possible to return to the vehicle for a rest if necessary. There’s only one outing where the vehicle won’t be able to follow us, and where participants will commit to a 4-5 hour walk (without going farther than 1 mile from the vehicle). Sturdy shoes or boots are necessary and a walking stick may be helpful at times. Be aware that on most days you will not be able to return to the lodge on your own should you become tired. Because the forests of the Colombian Andes are highly fragmented and only a few scattered sites remain accessible, there will be a few long drives between birding localities. We usually drive 3-4 hours between two birding sites, but drive could be as long as 6 hours from Bogota to Victoria. Traffic in Colombia can also be very hazardous, and at any moment traffic jams, roadworks or demonstrations can delay our movements. We will spend most of our time in mountain areas, and people can be subject to motion sickness on these mountain roads. The long drives will be broken up by restroom breaks and lunch stops. The group will typically return to our lodgings around 5:00 p.m., with dinner generally starting around 6:30. On most days there will be a break of at least one hour between getting back and meeting up for dinner. The leader will call a list of the birds recorded during the day either just before or just after dinner.

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Please contacting your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s Travel Health website at

Smoking: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: Temperatures in Bogotá range from about 45 F to 75 F year around, while the Magdalena valley sees highs in the 90s F; Otun Quimbaya near Armenia, is cool – a fleece, scarf and gloves are recommended here and might also be useful at other high elevation sites such as Manizales and Chingaza National Park. Our highest birding location is Nevado del Ruiz at 13,000 feet, where fog and rain are possible at any time of year and where the temperature especially in the morning is always very cold, reaching freezing point. 

ACCOMMODATION: All of our lodges have electricity and all have hot water. In Bogotá, Ibagué, Manizales and Pereira, we stay in comfortable modern accommodations. Hotels in Victoria and near Otun Quimbaya are more basic but acceptable. Private bathrooms are available everywhere but at the hotel near Otun Quimbaya where it happened once that two rooms had to share a restroom. Outside of the cities, many of our accommodations are in very birdy settings, and some exciting birding can be had right from the balconies. Some of the hotels we visit on this tour have swimming pools, so guests may wish to come suitably prepared. We will also visit a hotel which has thermal springs – this will be a daytime visit and we will mainly be looking at hummingbirds and possibly having lunch, but there will be time to enjoy a thermal bath if any guests would like to make use of the springs.

FOOD: Colombian Cuisine is very diverse and varies depending on the different regions of Colombia. In some areas you will find specialties like roasted ants or guinea pigs while in other areas Colombians wouldn’t even touch those dishes. Colombia is not a paradise for vegetarians as the Colombian diet includes a lot of meat. The offer of fresh fruit is overwhelming and many of the varieties you have probably never heard of before. In general breakfast is quite important in Colombia and consists of fruit juice, coffee or hot chocolate, fruit, eggs and bread. 

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip.

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

TRANSPORTATION: Travel will mostly be by minibus, with 4WD jeeps used at Otun Quimbaya. Note that jeep rides can be rough and cramped for short distances. The leader will arrange a seating rotation. Participants must be willing to take their turn to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 11 July 2024