November 23, 2018, 4:05 pm
When it comes to birding in Colombia, you don’t just have to take a trip to far off jungle regions in order to enjoy spotting rare and unusual species. Chingaza National Park is located outside of Bogotá and is home to some of Colombia’s most important endemic bird species, as well as a host of threatened mammals and plants. A day trip to Chingaza is a perfect way to escape the crowds of Colombia’s capital and get up close and personal with some wonderful wildlife.
What birds can be spotted in Chingaza
As with most birding trips in Colombia, the key targets on a day trip to Chingaza are the endemic and near-endemic species, and there are plenty of those to seek out in the moors and elfin forest of this huge national park. The key target is probably the threatened and endemic green-bearded helmetcrest, a hardy little hummingbird with a spiky crest that feeds on the flowers of frailejones (a type of perennial subshrub in the sunflower family, and a staple of the paramo ecosystem).
Another key endemic species in the beautiful brown-breasted parakeet (a species that is a lot more colourful than its rather dull name suggests), and the relatively common – but skittish and easy to overlook – silvery-throated spinetail. Other excellent Chingaza specialities include the near-endemic bronze-tailed thornbill, coppery-bellied puffleg, blue-throated starfrontlet, agile tit-tyrant, and rufous-browed conebill, as well as emotive and exciting species like the black-billed mountain-toucan, black-chested buzzard-eagle and scarlet-bellied mountain-tanager. A day of birding in Chingaza is a truly satisfying experience, whether you’re a hardcore enthusiast or simply someone with a casual interest.
What else is there to see in Chingaza
Besides the beautiful birds, there is some remarkable vegetation to experience, not least the aforementioned frailejones, giant plants which litter the moorland landscapes and can grow to huge heights. The paramos landscape itself is a big part of the attraction of Chingaza: the ecosystem is endemic to the northern Andes and the majority of it is found in Colombia. Chingaza is one of the largest paramos there is, and the vast, sponge-like environment acts as a huge reservoir for the country, making these threatened ecosystems indispensible for Colombia as a whole. Spending the day among the ever-changing environment of the paramo, and experiencing its astonishing biodiversity up close, is another great reason for visiting.
There’s also the chance of spotting one of South America’s most iconic – and sadly threatened – species: the Spectacled Bear. These bears, the only species on the continent, are largely herbivorous and can be seen wandering through the moors and elfin forest, stopping to feed on epiphytes and other such plant life. Although it is rare and fortunate to see one, the numbers of these beautiful animals are on the rise in Chingaza due to strict protective measures, and more visitors to the park and getting lucky and enjoying an unforgettable face-to-face (or face-to-snout) encounter with these majestic creatures. Failing that, it’s common to see other interesting species like the white-tailed deer.
A birding day trip to Chingaza National Park is definitely one of the most highly recommended eco-experiences you can have during your time in Bogotá, or indeed in Colombia. The wealth of unique ecosystems, rare and endemic bird and mammal species, as well as the joy and magic of experiencing such a raw and untouched environment, make the park an undoubted Colombian highlight.
You can visit this stunning park for yourself during our Bogotá Birding Day Tour. The experience includes a trip to Chingaza, a hummingbird observatory, a traditional Colombian lunch, a birding guide and transport. Learn more about this Bogotá day tour.
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