Funny you should ask about Colombia right now - I was just
updating that section of my website. You absolutely cannot go wrong in
Colombia - there are 1,771 species of birds in the country, more than
any other country in the world. Unfortunately, it also has one of the
highest number of species of bad guys, mostly from the guerrilla and
drug-dealer families. The area north of Cartegena, where some of the
best birding lies, can be dangerous - better check it out with your
embassy before following any of the following hints.

In addition to the very close places noted on the website, here are a few other hints
from some of my source materials in case you have a few days. Head up
toward the Santa Marta area (about 230 km from Cartegena). The 95 km
stretch of road from Barranquilla to Santa Marta is considered very
good for birding, and passes through marshes and woodland where the rare Northern
Screamer and the localized endemic Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird occur.
There is a small national park (Tayrona NP) 35 km east of Santa Marta,
which supports remnant dry, semi-deciduous woodland and wet tropical
forest where the goodies include Shining-green Hummingbird and Black
Antshrike. But beware... Paul Salaman (of the Colombian Birding and
Ornithological Hub) tells me that this is one of the worst areas in
Colombia for bandits - and birders have had problems here.  The visitors
centre is okay-ish with a large group.

Closer to Cartagena, between Barranquilla and Santa Marta is Salamanca
National Park, which supports mangroves, tidal pools and desert scrub on
a sand spit seperating the Caribbean from Cienaga Grande. The park
entrance is on the north side of the road 10 km east of Barranquilla.
Bird the pools at the west end of the park by the Los Cocos
headquarters, the desert scrub at the east end of the park, and most
importantly, the 1-km boardwalk through the mangroves, also at the east
end of the park, the best spot for Sapphire-bellied Hummingbird. Check
also the huge Cienaga Grande (lake)  and the marshes south of the road,
esopecially opposite the Los Cocos entrance to Salamanca National Park.
More productive marshes where Northern Screamer occurs may be found
south from Cienaga on a rough road, especially between Fundacion and

You will also find some new lists of endemic and speciality birds on the
Colombia page of the web-site. There are at least 16 of these endemics
that are located very close to where you are going - all the ones
starting with Santa Marta occur on the San Lorenzo Ridge of the Santa
Marta mountains. The road leading into this area heads south from the
Riohacha road a few km. north of Santa Marta, toward Minco, and can be
impassable in the wet season and is sometimes closed at other times of
the year. But if you're feeling really brave and adventurous, you could
at least start out in that direction. Birding is good all the way from
the turnoff to Minca, and then on another 50 km to the Inderena
experimental station.

Hope this helps... I am green with envy! Good birding...

Tina MacDonald
Edmonton, Alberta