A chance to photograph Andean Cock-of-the-rock at an active lek, requiring a short, 20-minute hike in the afternoon, is unique opportunity to get one of Colombia’s most attractive birds. This tour also takes you to a prolific wetland area in the Cauca Valley in search of an assortment of dry forest species as well as shorebirds and aquatic birds.
The Sonso Lagoon is one of Colombia’s largest wetland reserves and home to Little and Dwarf Cuckoos, Jet Antbird, Blackish Rail and even the elusive Horned Screamer. With luck one may encounter endemics such as Bar-crested Antshrike, and the endemics Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet.
The route then climbs to the central Andean range, to the world-renown Rio Blanco Reserve near Manizales, where there are excellent chances for some of the antpittas at the feeders, plus many other cloud forest and montane birds.
After more ascending, one can soak in hot springs overlooking the scenic Central Andes, and look for species adapted to high elevations in Los Nevados National Park with the beautiful Nevado del Ruiz as a backdrop.
Hotel accommodations for
9 nights of single accommodations
All breakfasts, lunches,
and dinners (All meals)
Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
Snacks Throughout the Trip
Airport transfers and all internal transportation.
One on One instruction and critiques will be offered during this trip
Professional Bilingual Bird Guide
Entrances to Parks and Reserves
*Price is per person, single occupancy.This workshop is limited to 10 students.Airport transfers and airfare from/to your home cities are not included. A deposit of $ 500 is required to reserve you space.
Guests will be picked up at the airport and driven to the Araucana Lodge.
Lodging: Hotel Araucana Lodge
Today we spend the morning around the famous El 18, located on an 1800-meter (5,900-foot) pass 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Cali along the road that connects Cali with the port city of Buenaventura. Birding can be very productive here, and we will look for four endemics – Chestnut Wood-Quail, Colombian Chachalaca, Grayish Piculet and the spectacular Multicolored Tanager. This area is a tanager paradise, where we have a good chance to see Purplish-mantled, Summer, Beryl-spangles, Flame-rumped, Golden, Metallic-green, Saffron-crowned, and Golden-naped tanagers as well as Ashy-throated Bush-Tanager and Blue-winged Mountain-Tanager.
We hope to be dazzled by an impressive show of hummingbirds at a private house along the same road, including the beautifully ornate Long-tailed Sylph, Booted Rackettail, Blue-headed Sapphire, Green Violetear, Fawn-breasted Brilliant, Speckled Hummingbird, White-necked Jacobin. Brown Violetear and Tawny-bellied Hermit. Birding the forest can also produce many near-endemics such as Scrub Tanager, Purple-throated Woodstar, Nariño Tapaculo, Purplish-mantled Tanager and Yellow-headed Manakin.
Lodging: Hotel Araucana Lodge
The morning is spent photographing birds at the Araucana Lodge feeder stations and the surrounding forest. After lunch at the lodge we take a 1 hour drive to the edge of the Farallones National Park to a private reserve where we will visit an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek for some close-up views of this magnificent bird’s display. This 20-minute hike will take us down a steep trail to their lek near the river, and we return to the vehicle on the same trail.
Lodging: Hotel Araucana Lodge
La Minga Lodge is located within the Rio Bitaco forest reserve, which results in the house being surrounded by a very well preserved cloud forest. There is a 3 km private road leading to the house with superb birding, with species observed (more than 300 on record!) such as Green-and-black Fruiteater, Chestnut-breasted and Blue-naped Chlorophonia, the inconspicuous Golden-headed Quetzal, Scarlet-fronted Parakeet, Red-faced Spinetail, Spotted and Rusty-winged Barbtails, Streaked Xenops, and the noisy, inquisitive Crimson-rumped Toucanet. We will also listen and search for species with interesting calls and songs, like the hawk-like whistle of the Scaled Fruiteater, warbling song of Black-billed Peppershrike, and beautiful flute-like song of Andean Solitaire. Other species we may find are Chestnut-breasted Wren, Greenish Puffleg, Montane Woodcreeper, Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant, and the hyperactive Cinnamon Flycatcher.
The bird feeders in the house and garden are set up for photography, up to 17 species of hummingbirds and up to 30 species of colorful tanagers, flowerpiercers, and honeycreepers can be observed and easily photographed. The afternoon is spent driving to the colonial city of Buga.
Lodging: Hotel Guadalajara de Buga
We will start early to take a 10-minute drive to this wetland gem. It is one of the only remaining wetlands in the Cauca Valley and is teeming with birds, making it one of Colombia’s best wetland birding locations. Here we will search the marshes and lagoons that line the Cauca River for Fulvous and Black-bellied Whistling-ducks, Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, Anhinga, Little Blue, Cocoi, and Striated herons, Snowy Egret, Black-necked Stilt and Snail Kite. We are likely to find Wattled Jacana, which have a polyandry mating system, where females mate with many males within a breeding season. Polyandry is a fascinating adaptation that occurs in less than 1% of birds, and is most common in shorebirds.
Other interesting species we might spot include the endemics Apical Flycatcher and Grayish Piculet, Jet Antbird, Blackish Rail, Ruby-topaz Hummingbird, and Horned Screamer. Along riparian areas we may find Greater Ani, Ringed Kingfisher, Crested and Yellow-headed Caracara, Red-crowned and Spot-breasted Woodpeckers, and Cocoa Woodcreeper. Greater Anis are fascinating because two to four unrelated pairs form a nesting group that build a single nest in which all the females lay their eggs and raise the young communally.
Lunch is at the hotel with time to prepare for a 4-hour drive to Manizales, in the heart of the coffee triangle.
Lodging: Hotel Varuna
The Rio Blanco Reserve is owned by Aguas de Manizales, the local water company, and is situated along an altitudinal gradient, therefore including a wide variety of ecosystems. We could possibly observe five antpitta species at feeders located within a short hike from the lodge, including the endemic and endangered Brown-banded, and the elusive Bicolored, Chestnut-crowned, Chestnut-naped, and Slate crowned antpittas. Other feeder visitors seldom seen include Slaty-backed Nightingale Thrush and Stripe-headed Brush-Finch. Additional species observed in Rio Blanco include the uncommon and endangered Rufous-fronted and Golden-plumed Parakeet sand the very rare and sought-after Masked Saltator.
The reserve is touted as one of the top birding spots ont he planet, and species we may encounter in the forest include Tyrannine Woodcreeper, Golden-fronted Whitestart, Dusky Piha, Lachrymose and Buff-breasted mountain-tanagers, showy Grass-green and White-capped tanagers, Powerful Woodpecker, and the hard to see Ocellated, Blackish, and Spillman’s tapaculos. Other less common species that are possible are Long-tailed Black-billed Peppershrike, the handsome Plushcap, Red-hooded Tanager, Mountain Cacique, and the endangered Golden-plumed Parakeet.
Lodging: Hotel Varuna
Today a chance to visit the reserve’s several well-maintained hummingbird feeders that attract a great variety of hummingbirds. We hope to see Tourmaline Sunangel, Buff-tailed Coronet, Speckled Hummingbird, Bronzy and Collared Incas, Mountain Velvetbreast, the tiny, slow-flying White-bellied Woodstar, and the showy Long-tailed Sylph. In the afternoon we will drive up the mountain to spend two nights at Hotel Termales del Ruiz, at 11,000 feet, where we can relax in its mineral-rich, medicinal hot springs and enjoy scenic views of the central Andes.
Lodging: Hotel Termales del Ruiz
We will explore Los Nevados National Park, located on the highest part of the Colombian central Andes. We will wind through patches of forest that open up to Paramo, an ecosystem of tropical grasslands above the treeline, toward the picturesque 5,300-meter (17,400-foot) volcano Nevado del Ruiz. The scenery in Paramo is magical and surreal, with velvety Frailejon plants adding to this effect. Frailejon plants belong to the Espeletia genus and are endemic to Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.
The tour reaches elevations up to 3,950 meters (13,000 feet), so it will be cold. Here the goal is to find species adapted to high elevations like the endemic Buffy Helmetcrest and the near endemic Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, both of which sometimes forage on the ground. Also possible are Viridian Metaltail, Stout-billed Cinclodes, Brown-backed Chat-Tyrant, the beautiful Golden-crowned Tanager, near endemic Black-backed Bush-Tanager, and Glossy Flowerpiercer. We may also find a variety of seedeaters in the Paramo, including Plumbeous Sierra-Finch plus Paramo and Plain-colored seedeaters.
Lodging: Hotel Termales del Ruiz
The drive from the hotel to the airport is 3.5 hours so there will be some birding in the morning if time permits. Evening flight to Bogota.
Lodging: Hotel Habitel
Depart for Bogota
Clients may pay for the workshop directly online or by check.
If the client chooses to pay by check, click here to get more information.
Photographic equipment: bring your normal photographic gear: a camera, lenses, and a flash if you have one.
Please make sure your photography equipment is in good working order before leaving home, and be sure to bring extra batteries. There is nothing more frustrating than having your equipment quit during a workshop week, particularly in a foreign country where repair or replacement is challenging. Check with your insurance company and make sure your equipment is covered while you are in Columbia.
Please be aware that you will need to be technically self-sufficient and bring the following equipment with you:
- digital memory cards with reader
- power adapters and cables for laptop and digital camera
- camera manual
- batteries and charger for rechargeable batteries
- USB flash drive or external hard drive
It is expected that you know how to download images from your camera to the laptop, edit images using your software, and organize the edited images.
Participants will be given “standards” to follow during the trip.
Closer 30 days before the start of your trip you will receive a letter from us with more specific details on photo and computer gear.
Client’s participation in the workshop is not guaranteed unless and until payment is received in full by raul touzon. Unless otherwise agreed below, workshops are non-transferable and non refundable.
If you cancel and the workshop is otherwise filled, we will refund you the full amount you have paid towards the tuition, minus a $250 service charge. If you cancel, you will be refunded according to the following schedule, based on the full fee of the worksho
- If requested more than 60 days from the start date of the workshop: full refund minus $250 fee.
- 31 days – 60 days: 50% refund
- Less than 30 days: no refund
- Refunds will be paid by the same method that the original payment was made.
- Refunds will be initiated within 72 hours of the time that the request is approved.
TERMS & CONDITIONS
Photography workshop policies and general liability waiver
Please read the following document carefully. Each individual participating in a photography workshop conducted by Raul Touzon Photography must submit a signed copy of this form as part the registration process.
Participants under 18 years of age must also include the signature of a parent or guardian.
“The photographer” shall mean the organizer known as “Raul Touzon Photography”.
“The client(s)” shall be those who attend the workshop.
The information presented in this contract cannot be altered in any way by the client(s) unless such conditions are expressly agreed upon by Raul Touzon Photography and provided in writing prior to the commencement of the workshop.
- Health & safety: I am aware that the courses and activities related to the workshop in which I am participating present certain risks including, but not limited to, bodily injury, death, illness, loss or damage to personal property, and other safety-related dangers. I further understand that these outdoor photography courses in certain instances present inherent risks of personal injury or sickness, such as falling, falling rocks, getting lost, traveling in rough terrain, forces of nature such as lightning strikes, wild animals, absence of prompt medical attention, if needed, and travel by automobile or other conveyance. I understand these risks, recognize that these dangers cannot be eliminated, and acknowledge other dangers not mentioned may also exist. I understand the physical requirements of participation in these activities and affirm I meet these requirements, and that my physical and mental health is good, and that I am not under a doctor’s care for any condition that might endanger other participants or me. I understand that instructors may not possess the required training or equipment to handle incidents that may occur. In case of injury, accident, illness, or my inability to complete these activities, I will bear the full cost of any additional transportation or evacuation procedures performed by Raul Touzon Photography, its instructors or the national park services.
- Copyright & license: all photographs created by the client during the workshop remain the intellectual property of the client. The client retains full copyright of these images. Client images may be used to promote future workshops without compensation to Raul Touzon Photography or the client.
- Prices: prices for the workshops are available online and are non-negotiable. Amenities may vary for individual work- shops and it is the client’s responsibility to read the course details carefully. Airfare is not included in the workshop fees.
- Payments: you can make payments directly online or by check. We cannot guarantee your placement in a workshop unless we receive full payment. Unless specified, workshops are non-transferable.
- Refunds/cancellation by the client(s):
Cancellations will receive 100% refund minus a cancellation administration fee of $ 250.
Cancellations made within 31 days to 60 days prior to the start of workshop dates, are entitled to a 50% refund based on the full tuition fee of the workshop.
Cancellations made within a 30 days period prior to the start of a workshop will not be entitled to a refund.
In the unlikely event a workshop cannot be conducted for reasons defined in item (6), the client will receive a 100% refund, or the choice of an alternative workshop of equal value. No further compensation is required.
- Refunds/cancellation by Raul Touzon Photography due to an insufficient number of participants: if insufficient bookings are made, Raul Touzon Photography reserves the right to cancel or postpone a workshop. Notice will be given to the client no less than 10 days prior to the workshop date. In this circumstance an alternate workshop of equal value, or 100% refund be offered to the client.
Force majeure: (typically, force majeure clauses cover natural disasters or other “acts of god”, or the failure of third-parties such as suppliers and subcontractors to perform their obligations to the contracting party.)
The due performance of the contract is subject to alteration or cancellation by Raul Touzon Photography owing to any cause beyond their reasonable control (e.g. sudden illness/injury/victim of crime).
Raul Touzon Photography may substitute another photographer in the event that the assigned instructor is unable to attend the workshop due to such factors. However, it may prove difficult or impossible to find a skilled replacement at short notice. As explained in item (6), 100% refund, or an alternate course will be offered if no workshop can be performed.
- Valuables: all valuables belonging to the client including camera equipment are the clients’ responsibility. Raul Touzon Photography and its instructors cannot be held liable for any lost or damaged equipment (camera or other) while participating in a workshop.
- Complaints: any complaints regarding the workshop or its instructors must be made in writing within seven days of the workshop. All complaints will be taken seriously and acted upon accordingly.
- Logistics and accomodation: whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities.
- Our itinerary is intended as an example only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by tour leader.
- Governing law: the laws of the state of Montana shall govern this agreement. Any notices required or permitted under this agreement shall be in writing and shall be deemed given if (I) delivered in person, (ii) sent by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, with proper postage affixed, or (iii) sent by overnight mail service with confirmation of delivery. In the case of (I), notice shall be deemed effective upon delivery; in the case of (ii) and (iii), notice shall be deemed effective upon confirmation of receipt or delivery.
- Concealed weapons: in February 2010 the federal government lifted the ban on loaded and concealed weapons in our national parks. While we respect the rights of those who wish to carry firearms, Wild West photos will not allow individuals who participate in our workshops to carry firearms of any kind. If you have questions or concerns regarding this policy please contact us by phone or email prior to registration.
- Participation: I certify that I am voluntarily participating in these activities and assume all risks, consequences, and potential liability for this participation. I hereby release Raul Touzon Photography, its instructors, any landowner, employee of the landowner in which we hold the workshop, the us forest service, the national park service, and other land managers where these activities occur from any and all liability claims, causes of action, debts, and demands that may arise as a result of my participation in these activities. This document shall also serve as a release and assumption of risk for my heirs, personal representatives, executors, administrators, and members of my family. Raul Touzon Photography reserves the right to cancel or change activities without prior notice, and reserves the right to cancel the registration of any participant it determines fails to meet the requirements of these activities.
- Responsibility: Raul Touzon Photography act only as agents for the passenger in regards to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.
They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provided are for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely.
Signature of participant: ______________________________________________________
Print name: ______________________________________________________
As a parent or guardian of the participant indicated above, I acknowledge reading this form and agree to all the provisions above. In addition to the above release and assumption of risk, I also give my permission for instructors, staff, volunteers, and emergency personnel to make necessary first aid decisions in the event of an accident, injury, or illness to the above named participant.
Signature of parent/guardian: ______________________________________________________
Print name: ______________________________________________________