Pelecanus

Logo Pelecanus

9 Must-Visit Places to Discover Golden Frogs in Colombia

Golden poison frog in the forest

Updated on 06/07/2024

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!

Colombia, recognized as a paradise for golden frogs, boasts an impressive diversity of these fascinating creatures, ranging from vibrant natural habitats to impressive reserves. Thus, the country stands as a true sanctuary for these amphibious jewels. As you explore this blog, you will discover the 9 best places in Colombia to admire and marvel at the amazing golden frog.

What you should know about the Colombian golden frog

Colombia is the country with the second largest number of amphibians in the world, with 10% of the total number of this fascinating group of vertebrates. Among the most prominent is the golden dart frog, better known as the golden frog. This is a small amphibian of less than 5 cm (1.97 inches) poisonous, belonging to the poison dart frogs (phyllobates terribilis), characterized by its striking golden yellow color.

Golden frog characteristics

  • The golden frog can come in three color varieties: yellow, green, and orange. The yellow color is the most common and gives it its popular name.
  • Considered the most venomous vertebrate in the world, the golden frog’s skin contains a substance called batrachotoxin, which can cause paralysis or death to predators attempting to eat it.
  • The golden frog is endemic to Colombia, although some have been found in Panama. Its habitat is the humid forests of the departments of Chocó, Valle del Cauca and Cauca.

Importance and Threats of the Golden Frog

  • The golden frog contributes to ecosystem balance by controlling pest populations and serving as part of the food chain for other animals.
  • It has piqued scientific interest due to the analgesic properties of its venom, which could be used in pain medication research.
  • The golden frog is endangered due to habitat deforestation and pollution, as well as illegal trafficking of species.

Where to Spot Golden Frogs in Colombia

Colombia offers various locations to encounter the golden frog. Here are some you shouldn’t miss:

Utría National Natural Park, Chocó

Location: El Valle township

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Utría National Natural Park

Utría National Natural Park is a natural reserve boasting unique mystery and beauty. Its intriguing geography features mountainous slopes covered in tropical rainforest extending to the sea. The calm, warm waters here provide a suitable habitat for diverse migratory species such as sea turtles, birds, humpback whales, orcas, and it’s also known as an ideal spot for fish spawning.

Additionally, it’s home to hundreds of species including anteaters, jaguars, spider monkeys, tapirs, howler monkeys, and amphibians such as:

  • Geckos
  • Harlequin toads
  • Golden frogs
  • Glass frogs, and many more.

Services and Activities

  • Land hiking
  • Light boat rides
  • Whale watching
  • Scientific research
  • Snorkeling
  • Diving

How to Get There

First, you need to reach Bahía Solano or Nuquí by direct flights or with layovers. Then, from either of these points, head to El Valle township. For instance, it’s about a 40-minute bus ride or 3-hour walk through a humid jungle trail from Bahía Solano.

Gorgona Island National Natural Park, Guapi

Location: The island is in the Pacific Ocean.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Gorgona Island National Natural Park

Gorgona Island National Natural Park is situated on Gorgona Island, famous for its lush tropical rainforest. In the past, this area used to be a prison, but it was closed down. In 1983, it was turned into a protected area for resident wildlife. Although these animals are not exhibited like in previous mentioned places, you can observe over 168 types of birds, 11 amphibians, 18 terrestrial mammals, and more than 56 types of reptiles living freely in their habitat.

Among these amphibians are:

  • Golden frogs
  • Salamanders
  • Lizards
  • Caecilians
  • Anurans

Services and Activities

  • Light boat rides
  • Geological observations
  • Fauna and flora observation
  • Whale watching
  • Birdwatching
  • Non-commercial photography
  • Snorkeling
  • Accommodation
  • Restaurant services.

How to Get There

You can reach the island in two ways: via Guapi by boat, which takes nearly 2 hours, or via Buenaventura, also by boat, but it takes 4 hours.

Amacayacu National Natural Park, Puerto Nariño

Location: Located in the Amazonian Trapezoid.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Amacayacu National Natural Park

This park is a natural reserve of wildlife and natural resources, covering an area of 293,500 hectares. It represents nearly 40% of the total area of the Amazonian Trapezoid, located between Puerto Nariño and Leticia. Likewise, the reserve shares territories with the indigenous Tikuna ethnic group.

The park encompasses a warm tropical rainforest ecosystem and floodable forests. These forests are home to the greatest diversity of primates on the planet. Additionally, there are over 5000 species of plant and numerous estimates of birds and mammals recorded. Furthermore, there are numerous amphibians such as:

  • Golden frogs
  • Orange-thighed poison dart frogs
  • Golden toads
  • Marine toads
  • Horned toads
  • Lizards

Additionally, you may encounter species like the cotton-top tamarin, manatees, pink dolphins, caimans, blue morpho butterflies, and the world’s largest water lily.

Services and Activities

  • Species observation
  • Restaurant service
  • Canoeing
  • Night hiking
  • River and stream bathing, etc.

However, the main activity, which includes the above, is visiting the indigenous community of San Martín de Amacayacu. You can reach it by boat, but you can also hike and observe all its fauna species along the way.

How to Get There

You must take a boat from Leticia to the park entrance, which takes 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Tanimboca Natural Reserve, Leticia

Location: Cra 10 # 11 – 69 Leticia, Amazonas.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Tanimboca Natural Reserve

Tanimboca Natural Reserve is a natural area mainly offering ecotourism services. Being located in a jungle area, you can enjoy the fascinating Amazonian fauna and flora. So, you can see numerous birds, snakes, and amphibians such as lizards, geckos, salamanders, and frogs. Among the frogs, you can observe:

  • Golden frogs
  • Glass frogs
  • Harlequin frogs.

Services and Activities

  • Hiking within the reserve
  • Jungle trekking
  • Accommodation
  • Pink dolphin, monkey, frog, and other animal observation
  • Birdwatching
  • Guided tours
  • Climbing
  • Canopy tours
  • Visits to indigenous malocas
  • Restaurant service

Tayrona National Natural Park, Santa Marta

Location: Santa Marta via Riohacha.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Tayrona National Natural Park

Tayrona National Natural Park is a natural reserve that is part of the sacred territory of four indigenous communities (Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa, and Kankwamo). Therefore, this area is fundamental to the worldview and spirituality of indigenous groups.

It covers an area of 15,000 hectares where various types of forests exist, such as dry, humid, and cloudy forests. Additionally, you can observe beach ecosystems, lagoons, mangroves, and rocky coastlines. Likewise, numerous species of flying mammals, large and medium-sized mammals, and abundant bird species are recorded. For example, bats, howler monkeys, iguanas, and pelicans, respectively.

Similarly, numerous snakes and amphibians inhabit this place, including:

  • Harlequin frogs
  • Glass frogs
  • Golden frogs
  • Coral snakes
  • X-tailed vine snakes
  • Boa constrictors

Although they are free and some are venomous, they do not usually represent a danger since they tend to leave when they hear loud noises or see people. So, if you run into them, you will only be able to observe them briefly.

Moreover, ecotourism activities in the park include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Accommodation
  • Fauna and flora observation
  • Snorkeling, diving, and land hiking

There are over 30 km (18 miles) dedicated to ecological hiking. Likewise, there is lodging service.

How to Get There

Upon arriving in Santa Marta, you should take the Santa Marta – Riohacha Caribbean trunk road, and approximately 45 minutes later, you’ll see signs indicating the entrances to Tayrona National Natural Park. The main entrance, El Zaino, and the park ticket office are located 30 km (18 miles) from the metropolitan area of Santa Marta. It’s about a 40-minute drive or bus ride.

El Dorado Proaves Reserve, Santa Marta

Location: Located in the Minca township, Santa Marta.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: El Dorado Proaves Reserve

El Dorado Proaves Reserve is an impressive natural sanctuary created in 2005 with the aim of protecting and preserving the Santa Marta parakeet, an endemic bird of the area. In this place, you can observe numerous birds, over 420, and other animals, including snakes, butterflies, and frogs, such as:

  • Golden frogs
  • Harlequin frogs
  • Glass frogs
  • Red-legged frogs

Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Fauna and flora observation
  • Accommodation
  • Restaurant
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Fauna and flora photography
  • Exploration of natural trails to places like La Cumbre or Laguna Sagrada
  • Nocturnal animal observation
  • Learning about the Kogi indigenous culture
  • Native species planting activities

How to Get There

El Dorado ProAves Reserve is located on the Cuchilla de San Lorenzo in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, in the Minca township, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from downtown Santa Marta, about 38 km (23 miles) on the Santa Marta – Minca road. It’s worth noting that to reach this reserve, a 4×4 vehicle is necessary due to the terrain conditions.

Explora Park, Medellín

Location: Carrera 52 # 73 – 75 Medellín.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Explora Park

Explora Park is an educational, cultural, and research center aimed at providing visitors with immersive experiences related to astronomy, neuroscience, physics, biology, and zoology. Therefore, there are numerous environments related to these sciences. For example, the park features a journey through the world of animals from the most common to even dinosaurs. In fact, this park has a vivarium.

In this vivarium, the natural habitat of reptiles and amphibians most common in Colombia is recreated. Here, you’ll find:

  • Golden frogs
  • Turtles
  • Tarantulas
  • Axolotls
  • As well as various types of snakes.

Services and Activities

  • Planetarium tours
  • Guided tours of the aquarium, vivarium, and other park areas
  • Discussions
  • Courses and workshops
  • Corporate and school events
  • Dinosaur exhibitions
  • Restaurant service

Cali Zoo, Cali

Location: Cra. 2a Oe., Terrón Colorado, Cali, Valle del Cauca.

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: Cali Zoo

Cali Zoo is one of the most important and visited zoos in the country. It focuses on species conservation, environmental education, and research. It houses a wide variety of animals, estimated at over 2,500, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.

Among the species you can find are jaguars, hippos, monkeys, and of course, golden frogs, as well as other amphibians like:

  • Common toads
  • Colorful harlequin frogs
  • Caecilians

Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Workshops
  • Sports activities
  • Myths and legends storytelling
  • Educational programs and activities to raise awareness among visitors about the importance of biodiversity conservation
  • Restaurant service

One special thing about this zoo is how they team up with experts to rehabilitate animals that have suffered from trafficking, abuse, or even losing their entire group. And you know what’s even cooler? They regularly give us a peek behind the scenes on platforms like TikTok. For example, they have shared the process of an orphaned baby otter named Kirpa.

It truly is a fascinating place!

La Reserva Bioparque Foundation, Cota

Location: Vereda el Abra Km 1.2 Cota, Cundinamarca

Price: Entrance fee required. Check current rates.

Website: La Reserva Bioparque Foundation

La Reserva Bioparque Foundation is a non-profit organization aimed at contributing to the conservation of Colombian wildlife. Basically, it offers environmental education activities and research on the diversity of Colombian ecosystems. Its main attraction is a tour through the different Colombian ecosystems and their species rescued from the illegal wildlife trade.

Among the fauna and flora species you can observe are golden frogs, carnivorous plants, owls, hummingbirds, and many more.

Services and Activities

  • Fauna and flora observation
  • Hiking on Cerro Majuy
  • Restaurant service

Although it’s not a service, this reserve offers something I love, and that’s the opportunity to “sponsor” an animal from the reserve. So, you can contribute a small monthly fee used for their care.

Recommendations for spotting golden frogs in Colombia

Spotting golden frogs in Colombia, whether in a natural reserve or in the wild, can be an exciting and enriching experience. Here are some recommendations to enjoy this activity safely and respectfully towards the environment:

  • Visiting Zoos or Conservation Centers: Visit zoos or conservation centers dedicated to preserving endangered species. Never observe them through individuals who have illegally taken them from their natural habitats.
  • Join Guided Tours: Many conservation centers offer educational guided tours. Join these excursions to learn detailed information about golden frogs, their natural habitats, and conservation efforts.
  • Don’t Disturb or Feed Them: While these reserves simulate natural habitats, you might get close to the frogs. Refrain from touching or disturbing them, as they are extremely sensitive animals.
  • Respect the Environment: Follow the rules and guidelines to maintain a healthy environment for the frogs. Avoid smoking, drinking, shouting, and always follow staff instructions.
  • Tips for Seeing Golden Frogs in the Wild: If you wish to see these creatures in their natural habitat, keep the following in mind:
    • Hire Local Guides: These experts know the specific habitats and can facilitate an ethical and respectful observation experience.
    • Research Specific Habitats: Research the specific habitats of the golden frogs you want to see. Some species prefer certain types of forests, altitudes, or climate conditions.
    • Follow Conservation Regulations: Make sure to comply with local conservation regulations. In some areas, special permits may be required to enter protected zones.
    • Choose the Right Time of Year and Natural Cycles: Know the time of year when the frogs are most active and visible. Some species have specific breeding cycles that can influence their behavior.
    • Keep Your Distance and Don’t Interfere: When observing frogs in the wild, maintain a safe distance and avoid disrupting their natural behavior. Do not touch or handle the frogs, and always respect their habitat.
    • Use Proper Equipment: Bring observation gear like binoculars and cameras with zoom lenses to enjoy a detailed experience without getting too close. Wear comfortable clothing and bring hiking gear, as hiking is often necessary to observe these amphibians.
    • Join Ecotourism Tours: Participate in ecotourism tours guided by experts. These tours are usually educational and conservation-focused, providing valuable information about golden frogs and their natural environment.

Interesting facts about golden frogs

Golden frogs are incredible amphibians that amaze anyone who wants to learn more about them. Here are some curiosities about these colorful animals:

  • In the past, Emberá indigenous people used the poison of these frogs on the tips of their spears and blowgun darts, hence their name, to hunt and defend themselves from dangers.
  • It is believed they have enough poison to kill 10 adult men.
  • When in warm environments or near heat sources, they tend to release their poison more quickly.
  • Golden frogs that inhabit natural reserves or are outside their natural habitat do not develop poison.

More Nature Tourism Experiences in Colombia

Here is a list of incredible destinations for hiking and other nature activities in Colombia:

Where to see animals in Colombia?

Search

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!

youtube Facebook Instagram Pinterest Tiktok