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Manizales, Colombia - Birdwatching At Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

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Map location: Manizales, Colombia
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Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - May 2018   » View Photoset (34 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
After 3 weeks on the road backpacking in Colombia I was excited to arrive in Manizales. I knew I wanted to do something special but I didn't know exactly what yet. However, it didn't take long to work out what I would do, after some internet reading and research. Undoubtedly the best thing to do in Manizales is to get out of the city and into the surrounding countryside to go walking, birdwatching and to enjoy nature. For me it was time on this trip to relax a little and have a serious change of scenery (and peace and quiet). Manizales is located in the mountains several hours south of Medellin in the northern part of Colombia's famous coffee region. I arrived in Manizales from Buga, southward, via Cartago and Periera, 3hrs 30mins in a co-op taxi-van.

Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve

The 'something special' I decided to do in Manizales was to go to Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve just 21kms west of Manizales city center. It's a paradise for bird watching and a good place to relax. The hotel is very nice, extremely posh compared to the budget hotels I am used to. I paid $452,000 pesos (around $150USD) for 2 nights and this included food. I was picked up at my hotel in Manizales and dropped back into the city afterwards by a lady friend of Tinamu which cost $50,000 pesos (around $17USD) each way. When I arrived at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve there was a group of serious birdwatching photographers from Costa Rica there with huge telephoto lenses and cameras on tripods and who wore clothes to camouflage themselves in the forest - pretty scary. Luckily they didn't have guns, just cameras and binoculars! The meals at Tinamu are good and quite healthy. Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs, an arepa, bread rolls, cheese, butter, mango, hot chocolate, coffee and juice. Lunch consisted of chicken with vegetables, soup and juice. Dinner consisted of meat, tomato pasta, platano, cucumber salad and juice.

Birdwatching At Tinamu

The list of birds you can see at Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve is extensive with over 260 birds having been registered. Tinamu has a hummingbird garden right outside the rooms, these birds are definitely fun to watch and quite a challenge to photograph. I have a 250mm zoom lens on my camera but really for serious birdwatching you need something like a 300-500mm lens. I did see quite a few birds during my stay and got some reasonable photos of some including a bright red bird called the Crimson-backed Tanager, the Scrub Tanager with blue feathers and orange head, the Green Honeycreeper which actually has blue feathers and a black head and the Thick-billed Euphonia - a small black and yellow bird. I also enjoyed looking for insects and small flowers in the garden to make a few macro photos with my iPhone. Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve has over 3km of private and safe trails for walking and exploring. The reserve was once a banana tree and coffee plantation (over 40 years ago) that was allowed and helped to naturally become a forest which has attracted wildlife such as the armadillo, porcupine, fox, sloth, squirrel, opossum, monkey and an assortment of reptiles such as iguanas. I had a great time at Tinamu, the birds and also for the tranquility, peace and quiet. I can absolutely recommend a stay here while you are in Manizales! (see Tinamu website)

Plaza Bolivar / City Center

Manizales city center didn't hold so much interest for me apart from the fact that Plaza Bolivar looks pretty amazing at night with the lights of the cathedral (Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary) and the breathtaking sculpture of a man-condor and mask-like face of independence leader Simon Bolivar. Around the plaza are a few historic buildings such as the government building but not much. Plaza Bolivar also has some interesting cultural plaques and a very large sculpture of Adam and Eve. In the streets around Plaza Bolivar are a couple of old churches - Basilica Inmaculada Concepcion (white and brown) and Parroquia Los Agustinos (greyish blue). The Metro cable car makes it easy to get from the center of the city up in the hills down to the bus terminal.

Bus Manizales To Medellin

From Manizales I headed north to Medellin, the distance is not huge but the time it takes to travel the 200kms between the 2 cities is. 6hrs 15mins is what it took in total this time. I actually stopped in La Pintada south of Medellin for the night. Manizales to La Pintada 4hrs and then 2hrs 15mins up to Medellin. The reason it takes so long is because this road is fraught with landslides. Enjoy the bus ride!


View all photos in the Manizales Photoset

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My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Manizales, Colombia:

Casabella Hotel, Manizales, Colombia - Large Photo
Casabella Hotel, Manizales, Colombia (May 2018 - 1 night) - A nice room in central Manizales for $60000 pesos. I knew from previous experience that I needed to spend a little more to get a nice room in the city center. Private room with bathroom, tv, wifi and comfortable bed. Window opened to the street. Located not far from the cathedral. Recommended.
Hotel Tinamu, Manizales, Colombia - Large Photo
Hotel Tinamu, Manizales, Colombia (May 2018 - 2 nights) - Hotel in the countryside located on private property for $453000 pesos for 2 nights including food! Tinamu Birding Reserve is a farm located in the hills around Manizales, a place to come birdwatching and relax which is why I came here. Beautiful spacious bedrooms with big beds, good food, nice people, open the doors to the gardens - a great experience! Recommended.
Hotel Nevado y Cafe, Manizales, Colombia - Large Photo
Hotel Nevado y Cafe, Manizales, Colombia (May 2018 - 1 night) - Central city, noisy street and the worst, most horrible bed of the whole trip. $35000 pesos for a private room with bathroom but more than one night here was out of the question! I made a serious change of plan and got out of the city center the next day and went to a hotel in the countryside!

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Manizales, Colombia - Birdwatching At Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve. Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve is a great place to enjoy bird-watching and nature in Manizales. Walk in the forest and explore 3kms of safe private trails!