Colombia is a paradise for bird watchers. Whether for scientific purposes or simply out of curiosity, it is an amazing destination.

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Birdwatching in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

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Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (Ortalis garrula) endemic species

Chestnut-winged Chachalaca (Ortalis garrula) endemic species /Picture: Juan David Ramírez/

The tallest coastal mountain range in the world and highest summit in Colombia are found in Colombia’s Caribbean region. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta reaches altitudes of 5,700 meters above sea level. The Sierra Nevada is located in the departments of Magdalena, Cesar and Guajira and borders with the Atlantic Ocean to the north and with the Colombian Caribbean lowlands to the south, east, and west.

The Sierra is tremendously complex in terms of geology, fauna, and flora due to the fact that all neotropical habitats are present and that it is complete isolated from the Andes Mountains.

The Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa, and Kankuamo Indian communities make their home on the Sierra Nevada. The city of Santa Marta is located at its base. Although the Sierra was declared a Biosphere Reserve, most of its territory belongs to a natural national park, and it possesses the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo IBA, the threats to its natural habitats still persist.

Birding in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

A total of 635 bird species have been recorded in the Sierra Nevada de A total of 635 bird species have been recorded in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, accounting for an impressive 35% of the whole Colombia avifauna in only 1.48% of the national territory.

A unique experience to make your heart beat.


The Sierra is the most important endemism center in the world with 36 species (and 55 subspecies) of birds restricted to it. Sadly, 18 of its species face a risk of extinction at a global level and 22 at a national level. One hundred and thirty-two migratory species have been recorded in the area.

Buffy Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax)

Buffy Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax) /Picture: Oswaldo Cortés/


Birdwatching is carried out entering from Santa Marta to Minca and San Lorenzo, where most of the endemics can be spotted: the Santa Marta Parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata), the Coppery Emerald (Chlorostilbon russatus), the Streak-capped Spinetail (Cranioleuca hellmayri), the Santa Marta Antpitta (Grallaria bangsi), the Brown-rumped Tapaculo (Scytalopus latebricola), the Santa Marta Bush-Tyrant (Myiotheretes pernix), the Yellow-crowned Whitestart (Myioborus flavivertex), the White-lored Warbler (Basileuterus conspicillatus), the Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus melanogenys), and the Santa Marta Brush-Finch (Atlapetes melanocephalus), among others.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta offers the best birding option in Colombia… absolutely rapture!

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