Villa Migelita Ecolodge is located in the foothills of the Andes mountains in La Buitrera in the Valle del Cauca department of Colombia. It is owned and run by Michele Huffman Carson, a former flight attendant for Delta Airlines, who took the plunge and moved to Colombia eight years ago. Having been a flight attendant for thirty years, Michele understands the service industry and she pays attention to every detail to make sure her guests have a wonderful experience. I couldn't have been happier with my five days there. I arrived at the airport in Cali and was met by Michele and Yazmin, who cooks and along with Michele's son CJ, helps her take care of the property. The lodge is about a 45-minute drive from the airport.
View of Cali from my room at sunset
Villa Migelita flies both the American and Colombian flags
Video from my first morning at the villa
I spent most of the time on the property photographing the hummingbirds. There are lots of exotic nectar-rich flowers and feeders located throughout the property, so opportunities abound for photographers. One location on the second floor deck overlooks a spot where many of the hummers like to perch, so one can get interesting photos of the birds from above. My favorite is the one of the Long-billed Starthroat shown with the other hummingbirds below.
Villa Migelita has many species that come and go at different times of the year. I was able to photograph all of the ones on the property now except for one wily Tawny-bellied Hermit that came to one feeder only when I was not there! Since most hermits are notoriously difficult to photograph anyway, there was no chance of running over to get a shot!
Michele will arrange tours and adventures catered to the needs of her guests. Since my primary interest is hummingbird photography, she arranged transportation to Finca AlejandrÍa ParaÍso de los ColibrÍes, another "hummingbird Paradise" in Cali.
My last morning there Michele, Yazmin and I decided to hike up to the top of the hill behind the Villa. The property belongs to an elderly woman who lives there with her son. No road goes up there, so you either have to hike from town or go by horseback. Much of the trail was narrow, rocky and muddy, so it was a challenge. The woman who lives up here is in her eighties so if she can do it, we have nothing to complain about!