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Explore Colombia’s 9 Best Parks for Spotting Spectacled Bear

Spectacled bear in Colombia

Updated on 06/06/2024

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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 is home to the spectacled bear. This bear has white spots on its eyes that make it look like it wears glasses. Do you want to know where to see it? We tell you about it in this blog

Where to See Spectacled Bear in Colombia

You should know that the spectacled bear, also known as the Andean bear, is very elusive and tries to avoid contact with humans, making it difficult to spot. However, there are quite a few chances that you might be able to observe them or at least follow their trail.

They generally inhabit the forests and high-altitude moors in the Andes mountain range.

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 located 36 km from Bogotá.

Entry: There is an entrance fee.

Chingaza National Natural Park is one of the places where you’re more likely to see spectacled bears. It’s not only a place to see this type of wildlife but also one of the best-preserved ecological sites on the planet, where you can engage in ecotourism activities.

If you want to see the spectacled bear, I recommend visiting the trails that go through the fog forest and moors, such as the Laguna de Buitrago trail, the Laguna de Chingaza trail, and the Laguna Seca trail. These are highly touristic trails filled with wildlife.

It’s probably the park with the most recorded sightings of this mammal, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to spot one.

Services and Activities

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

How to Get There?

  • From Bogotá, the nearest city, take the La Calera road, passing by the ruins of Cementos Samper and Buenos Aires. After 22 km, you’ll reach the attention post at Piedras Gordas, where you’ll find the park entrance and the Siecha lakes sector.
  • You can only access by private vehicle or hired transport; there is no public transportation. If you’re traveling in winter, it’s better to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

You’re invited to check the official website for more information.

Pisba National Natural Park

Location: Between the municipalities of Mongua, Socha, Tasco, Jericó, Pisba, and Socotá in the department of Boyacá, about 180 km from Tunja.

Entry: There is an entrance fee.

Pisba National Natural Park is also a sub-paramo and high Andean forest park. It’s one of the places where you’re likely to spot the spectacled bear since it connects with the El Cocuy National Natural Park, forming a huge ecotourism biological corridor.

For this, we can recommend visiting the areas where there are lakes, where this bear constantly seeks its food such as plants, fruits, and insects that abound around the lakes.

Services and Activities

  • Trekking.
  • Observation of flora and fauna.

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

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 those points, take the trails that cross the Pisba moor for more than 5 hours of travel.
  • From Yopal, there is also a route from the bus terminal that leads to the Pisba town. From there, you can take the paths that go through the moor, more than 3 hours of travel.

You can request more information by visiting the official website.

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).

Entry: There is an entrance fee.

Los Nevados National Natural Park is one of the main attractions in Colombia, as it offers postcard landscapes with glaciers and mountains with forests, truly a perfect Latin American wonder for ecotourism.

Once you arrive at the park, you should explore places like the Lunar Valley, the hot springs, Lake Otún, and the Frontino Moor if you want to see the spectacled bear or spot its trail. You must be very patient!

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants.
  • Lodging.
  • Food and hydration.
  • Hiking.
  • Mountaineering.
  • Induction talk (mandatory).
  • Birdwatching.
  • Observation of flora and fauna.
  • Geological observation.

How to Get There?

  • From Manizales, take a transport via Bogotá route, detouring at kilometer 45 towards the La Esperanza tourist stop and then to the Murillo municipality crossroads in Tolima. After 1000 meters, you’ll reach the entrance via the Brisas sector.
  • From Pereira, you can access the central and southwest sectors of the park by taking the road that goes through the Santa Rosa del Cabal – La Linda – Potosí route, then continue to Lake Otún.
  • From Armenia, take the Armenia-Salento-Valle de Cocora route, once in Cocora, you must start climbing on foot along the path that leads to the Romeral moor and the Tolima department.

If you want more information to explore this park, we invite you to check the official website.

Farallones de Cali National Natural Park

Location: In the Valle del Cauca department, approximately 12 km from Cali, near the municipalities of Dagua, Jamundí, and Buenaventura.

Access: There is an entrance fee.

Farallones de Cali National Natural Park is a protected area of great biological diversity where you’ll find more than 100 mammal species and is actually the largest protected ecological zone in the Valle del Cauca region.

In this park, you have the opportunity to spot them in areas with a higher presence of cloud forests, such as in the San Antonio moors or in areas near Pance peak. These are places where this mammal has been sighted on multiple occasions.

Services and Activities

  • Local guides with interpretation services.
  • Observation of flora and fauna.
  • Research in environmental education.
  • Hiking.

How to Get There?

  • To reach Pico de Loro in the Park, if you’re using public transportation, take a bus from the “Recreativos” company from the Cali terminal to Pance, and from there, walk to El Topacio.
  • If you prefer to go in your own vehicle, from San Buenaventura University, follow the Cali-Pance road to La Vorágine and then take the unpaved road to El Topacio.

In case you need more information, you can directly contact Farallones de Cali Natural Park website.

Picachos National Natural Park

Location: Between the departments of Caquetá, Huila, and Meta about 200 km from Neiva and 153 km from Florencia.

Access: Entry to this park is free; however, you must hire the services of a tourist guide to access the trails in the protected area.

Contact: [email protected].

Picachos National Natural Park is a very important protected area, as it is where the Amazon, Orinoquía, and Andean regions of Colombia converge.

If you want to try to see the spectacled bear, you can explore the ecotourism trails located in the western sector, San Vicente del Caguán municipality, or near the Pato River basin.

These are areas where trekking and wildlife observation are usually done; however, follow all the guide’s recommendations.

Services and Activities

  • Accommodation.
  • Transport and luggage portage.
  • Optional bathroom (medicinal or therapeutic baths).
  • Hiking.
  • Fauna sighting.
  • Landscaping.
  • Photography and video creation for non-commercial purposes.

How to Get There?

  • By air: From Bogotá, SATENA takes you directly to the San Vicente del Caguán airport on Saturdays and Tuesdays. Then, 105 km by vehicle to Guayabal, the gateway to the 3 tourist attractions of the National Park, where certified guides await you.
  • By land: Leave from Neiva in Huila and in 5 hours cross 94 km of road to reach Guayabal (San Vicente del Caguán). From there, follow the marked routes to the 3 tourist attractions of the park, always with the support of an environmental guide.

For more information, visit the Cordillera de Los Picachos Natural Park website.

Tatamá National Natural Park

Location: The entrance to the protected area is only enabled by the Montebello sector, in the municipality of Pueblo Rico, in the Risaralda department, 70 km from Pereira and 90 km from Manizales.

Access: Entry to the park is free. To visit this park, you must make a reservation at least 5 days in advance by writing an email to: [email protected]

Services and Activities

  • Birdwatching.
  • Activities on the bike route along the trail.
  • It does not have infrastructure for lodging; nonetheless, you can camp in predetermined ecological areas.

How to Get There?

  • From Pereira and Manizales, which are the nearest cities, you must take a vehicle along the road that leads to the sanctuary or to the Los Planes de San Rafael village.
  • Once there, take a road that passes by the Ministry of Environment cabin for about 1 to 2 hours.
  • Then, head to the paramo region, approximately 7 hours away.

You can visit the official website for more information.

El Cocuy National Natural Park

Location: It is located northeast of the Eastern Andes, forming the departments of Arauca, Boyacá, and Casanare, 247 km from Tunja and 357 km from Yopal.

Entry: There is an entrance fee.

El Cocuy National Natural Park is one of the most important protected areas in Colombia. Here you’ll find the largest extent of ice and snow in the entire country, and it’s also home to species in danger of extinction.

If you want to see spectacled bears, you can visit the main ecotourism areas that have paramo and Andean forests, such as La Esperanza sector, the Laguna Grande sector, and Pulpito del Diablo.

Services and Activities

  • The park does not offer accommodation or restaurants as they only receive day visits.
  • Induction talks (mandatory).
  • Hiking.
  • Flora and fauna sighting.
  • 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 go to the municipalities of Cocuy and Guican, about 6 hours of travel.
  • From Bucaramanga, you can go by private car or take a bus from the terminal, arrive at Málaga municipality, then to Capitanejo, El Espino, Panqueba, and finally El Cocuy or Guican, 8 to 12 hours of travel.
  • From the Eastern Plains, you can access through Yopal, Belén, Sogamoso, Duitama, Belén, Soata, and then to El Cocuy or Guican, 10 to 12 hours of travel.

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

Puracé National Natural Park

Location: In the Cauca department, in the municipalities of Almaguer, Puracé, San Sebastián, and Sotará, 44 kilometers from Popayán.

Entry: There is an entrance fee.

Puracé National Natural Park is a volcanic area declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve in 1979. Here, the main rivers of Colombia are born: Magdalena, Cauca, and Caquetá, and its landscape is composed of 11 volcanoes.

To see the spectacled bear, you can visit the sector near the San Rafael Lagoon or in the Puracé paramo, where park officials have sighted the spectacled bear on multiple occasions.

Services and Activities

  • Camping areas.
  • Cabins for accommodation.
  • Restaurants.
  • Night sky observation.
  • Hiking.
  • Observation of indigenous communities.
  • Observation of flora and fauna.

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) along the road, about 44 kilometers 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’ll 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 extreme of the Norte de Santander department, about 402 km from Cúcuta, bordering the municipalities of Toledo and Herrán. It borders the Cubará municipality in Boyacá.

Entry: There is an entrance fee.

Tamá National Natural Park is an area that harbors enormous biodiversity in moors, forests, and tropical jungles.

The trail to Laguna de los Patos, the paramo trail, and the Andean forest trail are excellent paths to try to spot this mammal as closely as possible. Generally, it is accustomed to dense and humid forests, where it finds refuge and food.

Services and Activities

  • Camping area.
  • Cabins for accommodation.
  • Guided walks.
  • Ecological interpretation.
  • Birdwatching.
  • Observation of flora and fauna.

How to Get There?

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

You can request more information through the National Natural Parks of Colombia website, which is in charge of managing the reserve.

7 Interesting Facts about the Spectacled Bear

Spectacled bear in Ocarros Biopark Villavicencio Colombia
Pelecanus S.A.S
  • It is the only bear that inhabits South America. It is found in the high forests of the Andes, moors, and areas with high humidity.
  • The spectacled bear is an omnivorous animal; 90% of its diet is based on plants and seeds.
  • It is a solitary and shy species, so when it finds itself in risky situations, its first reaction is to flee.
  • Its average height is between 1.80 and 2 meters; its fur is brown with small ocher spots on its back, face, and stomach. It weighs between 80 and 140 kg.
  • It plays an important role in seed dispersal since it eats fruits and excretes them elsewhere. This helps plants reproduce and spread throughout the forest.
  • It is an excellent climber, thanks to its strong and curved claws. It can climb trees and rocks easily, allowing it to search for food and escape from predators.
  • It is an endangered species due to poaching, and it is estimated that there are 18,000 specimens worldwide.

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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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