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9 Places in Colombia to See the Condor – Largest Flying Bird in the World

Flying condor in Purace National Park, Colombia

Updated on 06/12/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Did you know that the condor is the animal that watches over the entire Andean mountain range and Colombia is its home? In this blog, we reveal the places where you can see it live and direct.

Where to spot the Condor in Colombia?

Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta National Natural Park

Location: It is situated in the departments of Magdalena, Cesar, and La Guajira between the Don Diego and Palomino rivers.

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

The Sierra Nevada National Natural Park is one of Colombia’s most important protected areas. Additionally, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

If you want to spot the Andean condor, I recommend visiting recommended sites within the park such as the San Lorenzo Moorland, the Cumbre Moorland, and the Sabana Rubia Moorland.

Here, you’ll find lookouts where guides will educate you about the behavior and conservation of this species. The condor usually flies early in the morning and late in the afternoon. I suggest arriving early.

Make sure to dress warmly, as it gets very cold in the mornings. Also, bring binoculars and a camera if you don’t want to miss this spectacle. The condor is the largest bird on the planet and is also the national symbol of Colombia.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Accommodation in cabins, rooms, or hammock areas.
  • Hiking.
  • Trekking.
  • Flora and fauna observation.

How to Get There

From Santa Marta, take the road towards the Minca district to the El Campanario path and then to the Bellavista path, about 26 miles away. Turn towards the San Lorenzo Experimental Station, one of the many entities that manage the National Parks; this point is located outside the protected area.

The first 15,5 miles are paved, but the remaining stretch requires a vehicle with four-wheel drive. The total journey from Santa Marta to San Lorenzo takes about 3 hours.

For more information, visit the official website.

Pisba National Natural Park

Location: Between the municipalities of Mongua, Socha, Tasco, Jericó, Pisba, and Socotá in the department of Boyacá, about 111 miles from Tunja.

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

Pisba National Natural Park is a very important reserve characterized by ecosystems such as moorland, sub-moorland, and high Andean forest, where important hydrological systems of the Orinoco and Magdalena basins originate.

This is one of the places where you can spot the Andean condor. I recommend visiting the Laguna de la Plaza area, where there is a lookout from which you can see the condors flying and hundreds of species of flora and fauna.

Remember to wear warm and comfortable clothing for the cold and for walking.

Services and Activities

  • Trekking.
  • Flora and fauna observation.

However, you must coordinate the activities with the protected area team through [email protected] so that they can provide you with the corresponding assistance.

How to Get There

  • From Tunja, follow the Paipa-Duitama-Paz del Río route. Along this route, travel to Los Pinos or El Cardón. From these points, take the mule tracks that cross the Pisba Moorland for over 5 hours.
  • From Yopal, there is also a route from the bus terminal that leads to the Pisba town. From there, you can take the roads that go into the moor, more than 3 hours of travel.

For more information, visit the official website.

El Cocuy National Natural Park

Location: It is located northeast of the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes, forming the departments of Arauca, Boyacá, and Casanare, 153 miles from Tunja and 221 miles from Yopal.

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

El Cocuy National Natural Park is incredible; it is the largest glacial mass in Colombia. It is composed of more than 25 peaks covered with ice and snow. Did you think there was no snow in Colombia? This is not the only place.

If you are going to see the Andean condor, it is recommended that you visit the park between December and March, which is the dry season and has better visibility.

Some hiking routes you might consider for spotting this bird include those from Portón de Lagunillas to Laguna Grande de la Sierra or from Valle de los Frailejones to Sendero Lagunillas Púlpito. These routes last between 4 and 6 hours and require good physical condition.

Services and Activities

  • The park does not offer accommodation or restaurants, as they only receive day visitors.
  • Induction talks (mandatory)
  • Hiking.
  • Flora and fauna observation.
  • Geological observation.

How to Get There

  • From Tunja, you can take a bus and follow the Duitama-Santa Rosa-Cerinza-Belén-Susacón route until you reach Soatá. From there, you can take 2 routes that head towards the municipalities of Cocuy and Guican, a 6-hour journey.
  • From Bucaramanga, you can go by private car or take a bus from the bus terminal to Málaga, then to Capitanejo, El Espino, Panqueba, and finally El Cocuy or Guican, an 8 to 12-hour journey.
  • From the Eastern Plains, you can access through Yopal, Belén, Sogamoso, Duitama, Belén, Soatá, and from there to El Cocuy or Guican, a 10 to 12-hour journey.

We invite you to check the El Cocuy National Natural Park for more information.

Los Nevados National Natural Park

Location: In the central mountain range of the Andes in the heart of the Coffee Axis in the municipalities of Villa María (Caldas), Salento (Quindío), Santa Rosa de Cabal (Risaralda), Líbano, Villa Hermosa, Santa Isabel, and Ibagué (Tolima).

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

Los Nevados National Natural Park is the most complex mountain system in Colombia, consisting of:

  • Nevado del Ruiz.
  • Nevado del Cisne.
  • Nevado Santa Isabel.
  • Nevado del Quindío.
  • Nevado del Tolima.

You can spot the condor at the El Cisne visitor center, a trail located over 13,123 feet above sea level, which is the perfect place to see the condor flying, as it usually soars on ascending air currents and sometimes descends to feed on carrion.

It is the ideal place to spot many other bird species and local wildlife.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Accommodation.
  • Food and hydration.
  • Hiking.
  • Mountaineering.
  • Induction talk (mandatory)
  • Bird watching.
  • Flora and fauna observation.
  • Geological observation.

How to Get There

  • From Manizales, take a transport along the Bogotá route, detouring at kilometer 45 towards the La Esperanza tourist stop and then to the Murillo municipality in Tolima. After 3,280 feet, you will reach the entrance through the Brisas sector.
  • From Pereira, you can access the central and southwest sectors of the park by taking the road that goes through Santa Rosa del Cabal – La Linda – Potosí, then continue to the Laguna del Otún.
  • From Armenia, take the Armenia-Salento-Valle de Cocora route. Once in Cocora, start climbing on foot along the path that leads to the Romeral moorland and the Tolima department.

If you need more information about this park, we invite you to visit the official website.

Chingaza National Natural Park

Location: It extends through the departments of Cundinamarca and Meta, in the eastern range of the Andes. It covers nearly 10 areas of municipalities and occupies the basins of the Negro, Guaitiquía, and Guavio rivers. It is 22,3 miles from Bogotá.

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

Chingaza National Natural Park is an ancestral reserve in the heart of Colombia, full of ecosystems such as wetlands, moorlands, jungles, and humid forests that hold stories of indigenous groups such as the Muisca and the Guayupes.

If you want to spot the Andean condor, I recommend visiting the Monterredondo sector. Here, you’ll find a lookout that allows you to see condors flying over the Blanco River Valley.

You can also take a hike along the Laguna Seca trail, where there is an artificial feeding point for condors, which will facilitate their sighting.

Services and Activities

  • Restaurant.
  • Camping area.
  • Visitor center.
  • Auditorium.
  • Hiking.
  • Photography and videos.
  • Observation of wildlife and flora.
  • Geological observation.

How to Get There

  • From Bogotá, the nearest city, take the La Calera route, passing by the ruins of Cementos Samper and Buenos Aires. After 72 miles, you will reach the service post at Piedras Gordas, where you will find the park entrance and the Siecha Lagoons sector.
  • You can only access by private or hired vehicle, there is no public transport. If you travel in winter, it is better to bring a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

However, we invite you to visit the official website if you have any doubts or need more information.

Los Picachos National Natural Park

Location: It is located between the departments of Caquetá, Huila, and Meta, about 124 miles from Neiva and 95 miles from Florencia.

Price: Entrance to this park is free; however, you must enter with prior authorization and hire the services of a tourist guide or environmental interpreter to access the trails of the protected area. You can write an email requesting more information to [email protected].

Los Picachos National Natural Park has a great diversity of ecosystems that provide environmental services such as carbon storage and regulation of the water resource for the Orinoco and Amazon basins.

This park is part of the protected areas of the country where the Andean condor lives. I recommend exploring the ecotourism trails located in the western sector in the municipality of San Vicente del Caguán.

Services and Activities

  • Accommodation.
  • Transportation and luggage carrying.
  • Hiking.
  • Fauna sighting.
  • Optional bathrooms.
  • Landscaping.
  • Photography and non-commercial video creation.

How to Get There

  • By air: From Bogotá, SATENA takes you directly to the San Vicente del Caguán airport on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Then, 65 miles by vehicle to Guayabal, the gateway to the 3 tourist attractions of the National Park, where certified guides await you.
  • By land: Depart from Neiva in Huila and in 5 hours travel 58 miles of road until you reach Guayabal (San Vicente del Caguán). From there, follow the marked routes towards the 3 tourist attractions of the park, always with the support of an environmental guide.

For more information, visit the Los Picachos Mountain Range National Natural Park.

Puracé National Natural Park

Location: In the department of Cauca in the municipalities of Almaguer, Puracé, San Sebastián, and Sotará, 16,7 miles from Popayán.

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

Puracé National Natural Park is a volcanic area, where the main rivers of Colombia such as the Magdalena, Cauca, Patía, and Caquetá are born. In this park, 12 condors have been introduced, after having disappeared from the area, six females and six males.

It is one of the best national parks to spot this bird. To observe the Andean condor, I recommend visiting the Pilimbalá sector, where you will find a lookout with a panoramic view of the Coconucos mountain range, where this bird usually inhabits.

You can also hike to the crater of the Puracé volcano, the only attraction in the area, and observe the flight of the condor over the peaks that the park offers.

Condor in Purace National Park in Colombia

Services and Activities

  • Camping areas.
  • Cabin accommodation.
  • Restaurants.
  • Night star observation.
  • Hiking.
  • Observation of indigenous communities.
  • Observation of wildlife and flora.

How to Get There

By air: From the main cities of the country, you can take a flight to the city of Popayán.

Once in Popayán, head towards La Plata (Huila) by road, about 27,3 miles to reach Puracé and the San Rafael lagoon. Before San Rafael, take a detour to the Pilimbalá administrative center, 1 hour from Popayán.

You can follow the road that passes through Timbío, Rosas, La Sierra, and Pancitará to Valencia, south of Popayán. From there, take the mule track and you will reach the San Agustín Archaeological Park, surrounding the Magdalena lagoon to the south.

You can visit the official website to request more information.

Tamá National Natural Park

Location: It is located in the mountain range in the southeastern corner of the Norte de Santander department, about 249 miles from Cúcuta, bordering the municipalities of Toledo and Herrán. It borders the municipality of Cubará in Boyacá.

Entrance: There is an entrance fee.

Tamá National Natural Park is a hidden natural beauty with great tourist potential, characterized by the fog forest that gives it a mysterious aura and its 2690-feet-high waterfall, one of its main tourist attractions and one of the highest in the world.

The best times to spot this bird in the park are between December and March when there is greater condor activity in the area.

For example, you can visit the high areas of the park such as the Cobre Moorland or the Tamá hill, where you can see the nests and roosts of the condors.

Services and Activities

  • Camping areas.
  • Cabins for accommodation.
  • Guided walks.
  • Ecological interpretation.
  • Bird watching.
  • Observation of flora and fauna.

How to Get There

  • From Cúcuta, the nearest city, take the San Antonio, Rubio, Las Delicias, Tabor, Villa Paez, Betania, and Palma Sola route. You can also take the road from Herrán to the Venezuelan town of Palma Sola (Betania).
  • From there, on foot or on horseback, you must travel the path that leads to the Orocué cabin, where the park’s administrative center is located, a half-hour journey.

You can request more information through the National Natural Parks of Colombia, which is responsible for managing the reserve.

El Nido del Cóndor – Caldas

Location: It is located on the road that connects Villamaría, in the department of Caldas, with the Nevado Santa Isabel, 10,5 miles from the urban area of Villamaría.

Entrance: There is a cost for the stay.

El Nido del Cóndor is a beautiful rustic ecolodge, where you can spot the condor. Here, you can book a stay in one of the tents or cabins of the glamping offered by the ecolodge and enjoy the landscapes, flora, and regional fauna.

Here, you can participate in one of the walks offered on the property, of 2 and 3 hours, where you will see this bird flying over the region’s landscapes, while observing the Nevado del Ruiz volcano.

You can also observe one of the 3 unique condor nests currently found in the country, from the gondola that connects the ecolodge with the plateau, where the rooms are located.

This means that if you are lucky, you can see the condor couple flying over the nests under the ecolodge tents.

Services and Activities

  • Tourist guides.
  • Hiking.
  • Restaurants.
  • Accommodations.
  • Bicycle tours.
  • Bird watching.
  • Night tours.
  • Star observation.

How to Get There

  • From Pereira, Manizales, or Armenia, take transportation that leaves you in the municipality of Villamaría.
  • Once there, take the Route of the Condor, which is the route that leads to the Nevado de Santa Isabel, the journey takes 1 hour on an unpaved road, where you will find waterfalls and a lot of nature, and finally a sign indicating the arrival at the ecolodge.
  • Access to the ecolodge is via a cable car or walking along a 1,6-miles trail for 40 to 50 minutes.

If you want more information or to make a reservation, you can do so from the official website.

7 Curiosities about the Andean Condor

  • The Andean condor is the largest flying bird in the world, with a wingspan exceeding 6,5 feet.
  • It is a monogamous species, which chooses its partner and stays with it for life. Its reproduction rate is so low because it lays eggs every 2 or 3 years.
  • It feeds on dead and decomposing animals. In this way, it helps prevent the spread of diseases and the pollution of water sources.
  • It can fly more than 186 miles in a single day flapping its wings only 1% of the flight time, which means it can glide for more than 5 hours only by riding air currents, without flapping its wings.
  • It is the national bird of Colombia and is represented in the national emblem of the Colombian flag.
  • It has no feathers on its head, which makes it easier to stay clean after eating. Its skin has reddish folds that change color according to its mood.
  • It is endangered due to habitat loss and poaching.

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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