ORINOQUIA OR LLANOS REGION

The Eastern Llanos (“Plains”) in Colombia is an extensive savanna and a part of the Orinoco River watershed, also known as the Orinoquia. A vast network of rivers and marshes provide top notch birding opportunities, not to mention the white sand and galley forests. The area receives around 100 inches of rain every year, but under a monsoonal regime where it mainly rains between April and November with large portions of the savannah flooding. The region borders Venezuela to the east and the Eastern Andes to the west and composes three-fifths of Colombia’s total land area.

Due to the proximity to the country’s capital and to the wide variety of options for birding in the plains and the eastern slope of the eastern Andes, the region is fast becoming a go-to destination for birders. Close to 470 bird species inhabit the region, and a good day of birding can yield up to 130 species. Specialties of the area include the prehistoric looking Hoatzin, Horned Screamer, and the only goose found in Colombia, Orinoco Goose. Thousands of aquatic birds, such as Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Jabiru, Scarlet Ibis, Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, and Roseate Spoonbill gather in ponds, creating a colorful spectacle that contrasts with the green of the plains. Other specialties include White-bearded Flycatcher, Pale-headed Jacamar. The plains also for some of the best wildlife viewing in Colombia, where Capybara, Cayman and White-tailed Deer scour the flats. Transportation and mobility in the plains is easy due to the good roads, so reaching the birding destinations is hassle-free.

Hato La Aurora

Hato La Aurora is a 16,400 ha (39,500 ac) private reserve in the Casanare department of Colombia. Located in the vast eastern plains, the reserve is a working cattle ranch that offers amazing birding in addition to fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. White-tailed Deer, Jaguar, Capybara, Caiman, Iguanas, and Giant Anteaters are a few of the species that roam the area. This destination has been dubbed by many as the "Colombian Safari", and its beauty is sure to leave you speechless. If you are a wildlife or bird photographer, this is a Colombian destination you do not want to miss.

Targets bird species include Orinoco Goose, Jabiru, Wood-stork, Sunbittern, the mindboggling Scarlet Ibis, Rufous Tiger-heron, Violaceous Jay, Pale-headed Jacamar, and Horned Screamer. The owner and staff at t ha hotel are adamant about keeping the "llanero" (eastern plain cowboy) tradition and culture alive, immersing visitors in thay way of life, culinary delicacies and traditional music of the area. Imagine yourself being woken up to the sound of a harp before a great day of birding in search of Hoatzin or King Vulture.

San Jose del Guaviare

A variety of excellent birding areas can be reached easily from the city of San Jose del Guaviare, along the banks of the Guaviare River. The Buenavista trail, within the municipality, is home to White-eared Jacamar, Sungrebe, Scarlet-crowned Barbet, Glittering-throated emerald and Black-fronted Nunbird. Other possibilities include Green-backed Trogon, Little Cuckoo, and Black Bushbird. Another destination is Playa Guio, where one of our main targets will be Bare-necked Fruitcrow. Hoatzin dot the creek, and a productive day can yield species such as Cream-colored Woodpecker and Long-billed Woodcreeper. Other species of interest include Black Caracara, Black-capped Donacobius, Purple-throated Fruitcrow, and Magpie Tanager.

La Lindosa is a reserve where Amazonian Umbrellabird is possible, and species such as Swallow-winged Puffbird, Masked Tanager, and Burnish-buffed Tanager are always a pleasure to run into. Other targets include Blue Dacnis, White-throated Manakin, Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Brown-throated Parakeet and Speckled Chachalaca.