July 1, 2019, 4:03 pm
The small town of Mitú sits on a curve in the Vaupes River deep in the heart of the Colombian Amazon rainforest. Almost completely cut-off from the rest of Colombia – the town is only accessible by air or a boat journey of 15 days through the jungle – Mitú is about as far from a typical tourist destination as it gets. But Mitú has a magical secret: it’s home to some of Colombia’s rarest and hardest to find bird species, and a birding adventure in Mitú should be high on any dedicated birder’s Colombia hit-list. Here’s why:
The Unique Mixture of Habitats
When people think of birding in the Amazon they tend to think of one homogeneous habitat: the rainforest. The reality of birding in this region is that it is home to a wonderful variety of different and distinct ecosystems, including varzea forest, terra firme jungle, and white-sand forest. Each of these unique habitats is home to different species, many of which can’t be found elsewhere. The best part is that all of these habitats are accessible within an hour of the town of Mitú, and many of them are literally on the edge of town. With a week in Mitú you could explore the full range of ecosystems, giving you a fair shot at spotting most of the top bird targets for the area.
The Startling Specialty Species
Thanks to all of these diverse ecosystems, Mitú is home to a wealth of wonderful species that can hardly be found anywhere else in Colombia. If you want to spot species like Chestnut-crested Antbird, Black Manakin, Tawny-tufted Toucanet, Brown-banded Puffbird, Azure-naped Jay, Pompadour Cotinga, Fiery Topaz, and Orinoco Piculet, then Mitú is basically your only option in Colombia. And that means that for any serious Colombia birder, Mitú is essentially a must-visit destination.
It’s Still Waiting to Be Discovered
Although Mitú has been on the lips of birders in the know in Colombia for many years, it’s only just taking its first steps as a real birding destination. There are only a handful of local guides and operators, and it is still considered an extremely adventurous destination for travellers. If you’re looking to go beyond the normal birding spots in Colombia and explore a destination that barely sees any outside visitors, then Mitú is just about the best trip you could undertake in Colombia.
The Best Local Guide in Colombia?
Local guide Miguel Portura is a local Indigenous man who has been working as a local birding guide for the past few years. His knowledge and understanding of the myriad species with which he shares his home are truly unparalleled within Colombian birding circles. A birding trip with Miguel at the helm is not only sure to produce views of Mitú’s top species, but to teach you something about the wonder of birds at the same time. He likes to recount Indigenous legends about Mitú’s birds in breaks between birding, and his eye and ear are as finely tuned to locating birds as it gets. Visiting Mitú doesn’t just mean rare and exotic species, it means birding with one of Colombia’s best local guides.
There are More Than Just Birds on Offer
If you’re more of a casual birder and don’t fancy spending days on end trekking through the forest in search of skittish antbirds and flycatchers, then Mitú still has plenty to offer. Why not combine a birding trip at Mitú Cachivera community with a climb up Cerro Guacamayas to enjoy the astounding panoramic views of the endless jungle that engulfs Mitú? Or take a break for a dip in Cano Sangre, a refreshing creek of blood-red water flowing through the jungle. And don’t forget to pop into the riverside market for a lunch of local Indigenous dishes. Mitú has much more to offer than just birds.
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