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Top 5 Fascinating Spots for Pink Dolphin Watching in Colombia

Native Amazon river dolphin in Amazon, Colombia

Updated on 06/14/2024

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 July 23rd is International Whale and Dolphin Day? That’s right, this celebration is held in order to stop their hunting and protect them. Well, get ready for a unique journey as you dive in search of the enigmatic pink dolphins.

More than just ocean dwellers, these cetaceans are guardians of the aquatic area. In this blog we will guide you through 5 must-see destinations to observe pink dolphins in Colombia.

Where to spot pink dolphins in Colombia

Here are the best places for you to encounter pink dolphins. Don’t miss out!

Puerto Nariño, Amazonas

Location: Located in the department of Amazonas.

Price: Tours for spotting pink dolphins in the water are charged.

Puerto Nariño is a small municipality near the confluence of the Loretoyacu and Amazon rivers, deep within the Amazon rainforest. Therefore, this picturesque town stands out for its focus on ecotourism and sustainability, serving as a starting point to explore the region’s fascinating biodiversity.

Regarding pink dolphin observation, Puerto Nariño offers river excursions where visitors have the opportunity to spot these unique cetaceans. The pink dolphin, also known as the boto, is a species native to the Amazon basin and inhabits the rivers around Puerto Nariño. Thus, this site is ideal for witnessing the playful behavior of these dolphins and observing their natural processes.

One of the highlighted places for dolphin observation is Lake Tarapoto.

Services and Activities

  • Pink dolphin observation
  • Observation of fauna and flora
  • Visiting nature reserves
  • Land hiking
  • Swimming
  • Boat rides
  • Accommodation
  • Cafeteria and restaurant services

How to Get There

To reach Puerto Nariño, you first need to get to the municipality of Leticia by plane, and from there, take a boat to Puerto Nariño. The journey along the Amazon River takes 2 hours.

Leticia, Amazonas

Location: Leticia is located in the department of Amazonas.

Price: Tours for spotting pink dolphins in the water are charged.

Leticia is the capital of the Amazonas department in Colombia and is located at the triple border with Brazil and Peru, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. It is the largest city in the region and serves as a strategic point for exploring the tropical jungle. Additionally, the city has a unique cultural blend due to its border location and diverse population, including indigenous communities.

Leticia is known as a gateway to the Amacayacu National Natural Park, a natural reserve that houses a great diversity of Amazonian flora and fauna and is the site for numerous ecotourism activities. And there, as in other aquatic areas of Leticia, you can observe pink dolphins, just like in Puerto Nariño.

Also, river excursions are offered along the Amazon River and other affluents, such as the slopes of Lake Tarapoto, where visitors can have the opportunity to see pink dolphins and enjoy their fascinating behavior.

Services and Activities

  • Pink dolphin observation
  • Observation of fauna and flora
  • Visiting nature reserves
  • Land hiking
  • Swimming
  • Boat rides
  • Accommodation
  • Cafeteria and restaurant services

How to Get There

To reach Leticia, it is recommended to take a flight from major cities such as Bogotá.

Puerto Gaitán, Meta

Location: Puerto Gaitán is located in the department of Meta.

Price: Tours for spotting pink dolphins in the water are charged.

Puerto Gaitán is located in the Orinoquía region, known for its vast plains and rich biodiversity. The economy of Puerto Gaitán has historically been linked to the oil industry, as it is located in an area with significant crude oil reserves.

Although Puerto Gaitán is not in the Amazon region but in the Orinoquía, observing the local fauna remains an attractive activity for visitors. In this area, it is possible to spot pink dolphins in the Manacacías River, as well as various species of birds, mammals, and reptiles typical of the plains ecosystems.

Services and Activities

  • Pink dolphin observation
  • Observation of fauna and flora
  • Horseback riding
  • Llanero safari
  • Walks
  • Visiting nature reserves
  • Land hiking
  • Swimming
  • Boat rides
  • Accommodation
  • Curiara rides (small boats)
  • Artisanal fishing
  • Observation of llano work
  • Llanero party
  • Vaquería songs
  • Caballicianza
  • Night of myths and legends
  • Cafeteria and restaurant services

How to Get There

You can reach Puerto Gaitán by bus or car, although the journey is long, more than 12 hours. Therefore, I recommend taking a flight to Villavicencio and from there, heading by car or bus, which takes about 6 hours.

San José del Guaviare, Guaviare

Location: Located in the department of Guaviare.

Price: Tours for spotting pink dolphins in the water are charged.

San José del Guaviare is the capital of the Guaviare department and is similar to Puerto López and Puerto Gaitán. Thus, it is located in a region of plains and tropical rainforest, with a unique biodiversity adapted to the Orinoquía ecosystems.

This area has historically been affected by armed conflicts, but in recent decades, it has experienced sustainable development and has become an emerging tourist destination. Tourists visit San José del Guaviare to explore the natural beauty of the region, which includes rivers, jungles, and rock formations known as “tepuyes”.

Tourist activities in San José del Guaviare often include observing pink dolphins and other endemic species of fauna in the Guaviare River affluents.

Services and Activities

  • Pink dolphin observation
  • Observation of fauna and flora
  • Visits to archaeological sites
  • Horseback riding
  • Walks
  • Visiting nature reserves
  • Land hiking
  • Swimming
  • Boat rides
  • Accommodation
  • Curiara rides (small boats)
  • Artisanal fishing
  • Night of myths and legends
  • Cafeteria and restaurant services

Native Amazon river dolphin in Amazon, Colombia

How to Get There

You can reach San José del Guaviare by car or bus, the journey takes 8 hours. Alternatively, you can take a flight to Villavicencio and then travel by car or bus to this municipality, which is a 4-hour route.

Puerto Carreño, Vichada

Location: Puerto Carreño is located in the department of Vichada.

Price: Tours for spotting pink dolphins in the water are charged.

Puerto Carreño is the capital of the Vichada department and although it is a small city. It stands out for its proximity to the Orinoco River, which is home to a unique population of pink dolphins, also known as “bufeos”.

Spotting pink dolphins in Puerto Carreño is a fascinating experience where visitors have the opportunity to witness their playful behavior and natural environment while enjoying a boat ride. The conservation of these pink dolphins is crucial, and the local community works to promote sustainable observation practices that protect and preserve this unique habitat.

Services and Activities

  • Pink dolphin observation
  • Observation of fauna and flora
  • Visiting nature reserves
  • Land hiking
  • Swimming
  • Boat rides
  • Accommodation
  • Cafeteria and restaurant services

How to Get There

To reach Puerto Carreño, you can travel by car or bus, the journey from Bogotá takes 21 hours. However, you can also take a flight to Puerto Carreño airport.

Recommendations for spotting pink dolphins in Colombia

To avoid setbacks and fully enjoy observing these cetaceans, I advise you to follow these recommendations:

  • Observe dolphins in authorized areas: To observe dolphins in their natural habitat, you must visit authorized areas and follow the instructions of park rangers. Here are some examples: Amazon River, Putumayo, Caquetá, Loretoyacú, and the Tarapoto wetlands.
  • Choose the right time to observe dolphins: The best time to spot dolphins is during the rainy seasons, from December to March when the waters are high.
  • Choose whether you want to observe dolphins from land or water: you may observe pink dolphins a few meters from the riverbank, although it’s not as exciting, it still allows for observation. However, it’s more common to spot them from the water, requiring swimming skills and patience. Remember that swimming with dolphins or observing them while diving is not allowed in Colombia.

To observe dolphins from the water:

  • It is essential to hire an agency that offers services with pink dolphins and other aquatic animals. To ensure this, use the services of agencies that follow the Responsible Watching Guide for Aquatic Mammals in Colombia made by the Ministry of Environment.
  • Many nature reserves or agencies offer guided tours led by local wildlife experts. Joining these tours will provide you with detailed information about dolphins, their behaviors, and the ecosystem they inhabit.
  • Make sure to comply with all local conservation regulations. In some places, it may be necessary to obtain special permits to access certain protected areas.
  • If dolphins are jumping or performing any behavioral maneuver, move away because they need space. Approaching more than allowed could cause accidents.
  • If you see people mistreating, playing with, or trying to hunt dolphins, report it to the animal cruelty hotline (123) or the authorities at the nature reserves.

The following actions are prohibited:

  • Approaching dolphins with their calves, during childbirth, or mating.
  • Never chase, touch, or enclose a dolphin.
  • Do not approach closer than 25 meters (8202 feet) to dolphins.
  • Taking dolphins out of the water.
  • Swimming with dolphins.
  • Separating or interrupting the swimming and direction of dolphins.
  • Enclosing or cornering them.
  • Observing them in the dry season (from July to November).
  • Attracting dolphins with food or toys.
  • Making loud noises and using alarms or whistles.
  • Sailing in low light hours, for example, from 6 pm to 6 am.
  • Throwing any object, liquid, or garbage into the rivers.

Checklist for Dolphin watching in Colombia

Here are some essential items for spotting dolphins. However, this list focuses on marine observation.

  • Life jacket
  • Cap for sun protection
  • Binoculars (for land observation)
  • Sunglasses with UV filter
  • Sunscreen
  • Provisions of hydrating beverages and light food
  • Bags for collecting trash
  • Waterproof bag to protect belongings and store wet clothes
  • Good camera, preferably with zoom lens for close-up shots and excellent photos
  • Motion sickness pills
  • Cash

Curiosities about pink dolphins

These curious facts will further inspire you to observe the incredible pink dolphins.

  • Unfortunately, pink dolphins are endangered, threats such as illegal hunting, livestock, mining, irresponsible fishing, climate change, and the destruction of their habitats are some of the causes. So, it is essential to observe them responsibly.
  • The pink dolphin is the largest freshwater dolphin in the world.
  • They are a polygamous species.
  • Dolphins do not sleep.
  • Pink dolphins are known for their distinctive coloring, ranging from pale pink to a more intense color, especially in the belly area. It is believed that this color comes from the blood vessels near the skin.
  • Pink dolphins are very intelligent and empathetic animals. It is believed that they use 40% more of their brains than humans.
  • Pink dolphins have developed unique adaptations to live in freshwater environments. They have flexible dorsal fins and long necks that allow them to navigate shallow and tangled waters of the Amazon rivers.
  • They use a variety of sounds, including clicks and whistles, to interact with each other and for echolocation, which helps them navigate and find prey.
  • In some indigenous cultures of the Amazon region, it is believed that pink dolphins have the ability to transform into humans. It is said that they come out of the water in human form at night and seek to enchant people.

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?

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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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