Colombia: Peace of Mind Tour

We know that many of you are itching to get out and explore the world, and at Colombia Photo Expeditions we believe leisure travel will return and can be done safely. For this reason, we have designed a set of “Peace of Mind” tours that we think are the safest way to get you back out there when international air travel resumes:

  • We are strictly following the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Colombian government’s biosafety protocols at the Araucana Lodge and in the field. The lodge has very spacious rooms with open hallways and common areas, excellent ventilation, and is only operating at 40% capacity.
  • Our revised cancellation policy allows you to book with much flexibility and peace of mind.
  • Exclusive and private. A private guide means you will not share activities with others and you will always be transported in a private vehicle.
  • Flexibility in Daily Activities – This itinerary is merely a suggestion of activities; please contact us for more options.
  • Minimum Contact: Surely, we have designed the tours to visit sites where contact with other travelers will be minimal.  We understand that contact with the locals it what makes traveling an enriching experience, so this will happen only in open areas and outdoors where we can practice social distancing.

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About This Tour: This tour celebrates the grand opening of Colombia’s newest eco-lodge. The Araucana Lodge is designed specifically for birders and nature lovers, with spacious rooms and all the comforts to ensure a good night’s rest. Nestled in a bamboo and palm grove on a ‘Finca’ in the Western Andes of Colombia at 1600 meters above sea level, the lodge is located about a 40-minute drive from Cali. On 20 acres of Andean forest, a vegetable farm, and gardens with a cool climate, our ten-room eco-lodge is the perfect place to bird watch, take leisurely walks and eat delicious meals from our organic farm to your table.

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All activities on this tour are possible as day trips from the lodge, and we have designed this tour specifically to have minimal contact with other tourists and much flexibility regarding daily activities. Your options are numerous and diverse, so the following is just a suggestion of daily activities that can be enjoyed safely, returning every night to our beautiful lodge. Join us in a land where everyday life is very real but visitors can easily escape into a magical world as they explore the culture and natural richness found in Colombia.

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DAY 1

Arrive in Cali (CLO – Alfonso Bonilla Aragon Airport)

Guests will be picked up at the airport and driven to the lodge in a private vehicle. International flights into Cali direct from Miami and Panama City.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

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DAY 2

Araucana Lodge Trails and Organic Gardens

You will not have to travel far on the first day of this adventure, as we will spend it exploring the lodge grounds, consisting of 30 acres (13 hectares) that have been in the family since our grandfather purchased the tract of cow pastures in 1955. His vision was to bring back the forest whilst keeping a portion of the property in the production of food and ornamentals. Today, as a family we aim to carry on his legacy, doing it in a sustainable and organic manner. After breakfast we hike the trails that meander through the restored forest, passing through bamboo groves and the two creeks that border the property. After lunch, we head to the organic vegetable and herb garden to learn about tropical farming, including coffee and ornamental plant production.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Colombia Photo ExpeditionsCloud Forest of San Antonio

DAY3

Birdwatching and Hiking in the Cloud Forests of the San Antonio Forest – The Hummingbird Paradise

On this day the group starts the morning with a visit to the San Antonio Forest, which is designated as an Important Bird Area. A hike through the well-preserved cloud forest to a panoramic viewing area is always a favorite, as we enjoy views of Cali, the Cauca Valley, and the Farallones National Park. This area is of importance in Colombia’s ornithological history. More than 100 years ago, Frank Chapman, of the American Museum of Natural History, spent some time researching the bird diversity of this forest.

The afternoon is spent at the world-renowned Hummingbird Paradise, a small chalet with an impressive feeder set up that attracts hundreds of hummingbirds and colorful tanagers.  This place is incredible for practicing your bird photography skills! The only problem is having too many subjects to choose from! The array of colors is awe-inspiring, with tanagers lining up to have a chance at the bananas and hundreds of hummingbirds visiting more than twenty feeders throughout the property.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Crossing a hanging bridge with Colombia Photo Expeditions heading to Las Brujitas

DAY 4

San Cipriano

After a 90-minute drive to Zaragosa and a pleasant 20-minute ride on “brujitas” (motorcycle-powered wooden carts on rails), one arrives in the town of San Cipriano. The ride is exhilarating and will surely get the adrenaline pumping as the “brujitas” travel through luscious tropical rainforest, one of the most biologically diverse on the planet. The area is a protected reserve and is the source of drinking water for the nearby port city of Buenaventura. Located in the Choco Bioregion, it is known for being one of the wettest places on the planet.

Aside from the amazing diversity of birds and the very interesting local village, the reserve is home to one of the most pristine tropical rivers on the planet.   A nice trail borders the river with various side trails that provide access to serene riverscapes. A visit to the Waterfall of Love is also in order, with a chance to take a dip in the refreshing waters. Or you can take a ride along a nice stretch of river in inner tubes and enjoy this wild and scenic gem, whilst learning about the Afro-Colombian cultures and history of the Pacific region of Colombia.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

Andean Cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus).

DAY 5

Dolmetsch Arboretum and Andean Cock-of-the-rock Lek

The morning is spent at the Dolmetsch Arboretum with the director, Alvaro Calonje.  The arboretum houses more than 2,200 plants from around the world and is world-renown for its cycad collection, containing more than 60 species.  Cycads are an ancient group of seed plants that are much less abundant than they were during the Jurassic period, and their geographic ranges have contracted, resulting in cycads being one of the most threatened plant groups in the world.

The grounds of the arboretum provide ample photographic opportunities, as does the incredible diversity of plants that adorn the impeccably manicured gardens.

At 2 pm we will visit an active Andean Cock-of-the-rock lek for some close-up views of this magnificent bird’s display.  A lek is an area where birds gather during the breeding season for community courtship displays to attract mates This 20-minute hike will take us down a steep trail to their lek near the river. After the lek, we will make our way back to the lodge.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

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DAY 6

Calima Lake and Archaeology Museum

On this day we will visit Calima, the largest artificial lake in Colombia. The reservoir was completed in 1966 in order to generate power for the region, and the area subsequently became a tourist attraction. The morning will start with a boat ride to enjoy the scenic vistas surrounding the lake, followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant and a visit to the Calima Archaeological Museum. Founded in 1981, the museum is of great importance in archaeological preservation due to years of tomb raiding in the vicinity.

The museum exhibits 1,800 pieces belonging to the Amerindian cultures (Ilama, Yotoco, Sonso, and Malagana) that inhabited the area before the Spanish conquest. After lunch, we will take a hike to a nearby waterfall in the Rio Bravo Canyon before heading back to the marvelous Araucana Lodge for dinner. Araucana Lodge prides itself on serving nutritious, delicious, and balanced meals. Our menus are inspired by the incredible selection of products and flavors of Colombia and other ingredients from tropical countries in other parts of the world.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

Colombia Photo Expeditions We know that many of you are itching to get out and explore the world, and at Colombia Photo Expeditions we believe leisure travel will return and can be done safely. For this reason, we have designed a set of “Peace of Mind” tours that we think are the safest way to get you back out there when international air travel resumes

DAY 7

Andean Villages and Cali Outdoor City Tour

Founded in 1536, Cali is known as the Sucursal del Cielo, which loosely translates to “the branch office of heaven.” We will take the long way to the city, traveling on country roads that border the Farallones National Park and pass through several charming mountain villages.  A stop for a swim in the Pichinde River is an option for those who wish.  Before arriving in Cali, you will visit the Cristo Rey monument for panoramic views of the city.

Once in the city, we will have lunch in the bohemian San Antonio neighborhood and then visit the Cat of the River and his Girlfriends, a collection of bronze cat sculptures that were designed by various Colombian artists. To end the day, a leisurely walk along the Cali River boulevard learning about the history of the city and seeing many of the churches and colonial buildings along the way. The boulevard along the river is only open to pedestrians and is quite enjoyable, with wide-open spaces, large trees, and locals enjoying the outdoors. After a long day, we return to the lodge for a nice meal and some rest.

Lodging: Araucana Lodge

DAY 8

Depart Cali

Guests will be taken in private transport to the airport to catch flights home.

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO WISH TO EXTEND YOUR TRIP, WE HAVE A VARIETY OF EXTENSIONS TO SOME FASCINATING SPOTS IN COLOMBIA.

PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU ARE INTERESTED!

Trip Includes

    • All Lodging (Double Occupancy)
    • All Meals From Dinner on Day 1 to Breakfast on Day 8
    • Bottled Water Throughout the Trip
    • All Activities Listed in Itinerary
    • Bilingual Guide During Trip
    • Internal Terrestrial Transport From Airport Pickup to Airport Drop-off
    • Limited Health and Accident InsuranceTrip Does Not Include 
    • Tips
    • Alcoholic Beverages
    • Insurance
    • Airfare to Colombia
    • Laundry
    • Items of Personal Nature

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