Our Blog: Uncover Magical Colombia

The first in the Colombia Blog Series by Colombia Photo Expeditions, in which Kike Calvo profiles interesting information, research and thoughts on Colombia for journalism, ecotourism, science, exploration and photography.

We invite you to explore our site including:

Why Colombia?

Why Us?

Upcoming Expeditions 

Colombia on the Media

Are you a journalist, organization or tour operator in need of images of Colombia? VWPics.com archives one of the best photo libraries about Colombia, including the widest range of bird photographs in the market.
Photo: Rusty Flowerpiercer © Juan Jose Arango / VWPics


The most beautiful towns in Colombia

In a recent article for CNN, Lauren Cocking listed the prettiest small towns in Colombia beyond Bogotá and Medellín. Colombia is full of gorgeous (and less crowded) towns like Villa de Leyva, Guatape, Jardin, Mongui or Barichara.


We are honored to say that the opening photograph of the piece of Boyacá’s Villa de Leyva came from our Colombia photo collection by Kike Calvo.

Read the full article


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Masks of Colombia: Mask #1

Theme: Unpainted Character

Description: This mask some signs of age but its likely unfinished as most masks like these are painted in vibrant colors. Probably from the mountains in the southwest, close to Ecuador – the masks of which are similar in style.

Size: 7 Inches


Description Robert Ibold and Troy Yohn. Photo Courtesy © Masks of the World
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Detecting and Attributing Drivers of Forest Disturbance in the Colombian Andes Using Landsat Time-Series

On a recent article about the forest disturbance in the Colombian Andes, authors Paulo J. Murillo-Sandoval, Thomas Hilker, Meg A. Krawchuk and Jamon Van Den Hoek talk about Colombia’s  “megadiversity” given its high level of endemism and species richness. However, over the last 50 years, as they explain,  the spread of informal settlements into forested regions, internal social conflict, and the growing demand for agricultural land have increased the pressure on Colombia’s forest ecosystems even in remote or protected regions.

In the end, as they present, as a consequence, between 1990 and 2015, Colombia lost more than six million hectares of forest, and more significantly, witnessed a 44% increase in deforestation in 2016 compared to 2015.

The authors conclusion in that conversion pasture is the main cause of change, especially from 2007–2014. The results of this study should encourage the remote sensing community to further develop robust frameworks using dense time-series metrics to analyze the drivers and consequences of human-induced changes.

Read full article

Learn more:

Conserving Forest Biodiversity: A Comprehensive Multiscaled Approach by David B. Lindenmayer (2002-07-31) Paperback – 1803
by David B. Lindenmayer;J. F. Franklin (Author)

Deforestation For Dummies: An In-Depth Look at the Causes Paperback – November 9, 2017 by Jackson Young (Author)


Featured photo © Kike Calvo


The Ethnobotany of Eden

Geographer Robert A. Voeks’s new book will soon be available. In the mysterious and pristine forests of the tropics, a wealth of ethnobotanical panaceas and shamanic knowledge promises cures for everything from cancer and AIDS to the common cold. To access such miracles, we need only to discover and protect these medicinal treasures before they succumb to the corrosive forces of the modern world. A compelling biocultural story, certainly, and a popular perspective on the lands and peoples of equatorial latitudes—but true? Only in part. In The Ethnobotany of Eden, geographer Robert A. Voeks unravels the long lianas of history and occasional strands of truth that gave rise to this irresistible jungle medicine narrative.

By exploring the interconnected worlds of anthropology, botany, and geography, Voeks shows that well-intentioned scientists and environmentalists originally crafted the jungle narrative with the primary goal of saving the world’s tropical rainforests from destruction. It was a strategy deployed to address a pressing environmental problem, one that appeared at a propitious point in history just as the Western world was taking a more globalized view of environmental issues. And yet, although supported by science and its practitioners, the story was also underpinned by a persuasive mix of myth, sentimentality, and nostalgia for a long-lost tropical Eden. Resurrecting the fascinating history of plant prospecting in the tropics, from the colonial era to the present day, The Ethnobotany of Eden rewrites with modern science the degradation narrative we’ve built up around tropical forests, revealing the entangled origins of our fables of forest cures.

Buy the Book


Learn more:

Ethnobotany: The Evolution of a Discipline Hardcover – Illustrated, March 1, 2005
by Richard Evans Schultes (Author), Siri Von Reis (Author)

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of PlantsSep 16, 2013
by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of EthnobotanyJul 1, 2012
by Michael Balick and Paul Cox

Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain ForestAug 1, 1994
by Mark J. Plotkin

Featured photo: © Kike Calvo


The Andean Cock-of-the-rock are frugivorous bird predators

In a recent article on The Wilson Journal of Ornithology In-Press, authors  Laura Mahecha, Nickole Villabona, Laura Sierra, David Ocampo, and Oscar Laverde-R. described the Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) as a frugivorous bird predator.

“Cotingas are considered essentially frugivorous, but a few records suggest they might include small vertebrates in their diet, mainly during the breeding season.”

In March 2015, the authors recorded a young male of an Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) chasing and eating an adult Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis) in Santa Maria, Boyacá (Colombia). The next day, they observed another adult male chasing a Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus), but they were unable to observe the end of the chase.

“Observations of hunting small vertebrates suggest this species may be omnivorous, not only during the breeding season but throughout its annual cycle,” they described. “These may be rare cases, but notably both events involved migratory species that may not recognize these colorful birds as possible predators because they are not exposed to cotingas in the temperate zone. Predation on adult birds is difficult to observe in the wild, but this information is essential to better understand the life histories of birds and the different selection pressures acting on them.”

To read the full article:
The Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus) is a frugivorous bird predatorLaura Mahecha, Nickole Villabona, Laura Sierra, David Ocampo, and Oscar Laverde

Learn more:

Birdwatching in Colombia

Field Guide to the Birds of Colombia

A Guide to the Birds of Colombia

Birds of Northern South America: An Identification Guide, Volume 2: Plates and Maps

Featured photo: © Juan Jose Arango / VWPics




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Photo of the Day: Juanchaco


Environmental Crime in Latin America: The Theft of Nature and the Poisoning of the Land

In the new journal “Critical Criminology” from The official Journal of the ASC Division on Critical Criminology and the ACJS Section on Critical Criminology, authors David Rodríguez Goyes, Hanneke Mol, Avi Brisman and Nigel South (eds) wrote the article Environmental Crime in Latin America: The Theft of Nature and the Poisoning of the Land, which talks about wildlife trafficking in Brazil and Colombia.

Learn more: Espin, J. Crit Crim (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10612-018-9393-z


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