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These Are the Top 7 Places to Spot Sloths in Colombia

Sloth and tourist in Amazonas Colombia

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!

Did you know that the sloth bear is one of the most endangered mammals in Latin America and in Colombia many of them are preserved? In this blog, we tell you where you can see them.

Where to See Sloth Bears in Colombia

You should consider that sloths are not easy animals to spot; they’re usually nocturnal but can be active during the day.

Tayrona National Natural Park

Location: Caribbean region north of Colombia, more than 18,6 miles from Santa Marta.

Access: There is an entrance fee to the park.

Tayrona National Natural Park is like a natural paradise teeming with animals and plants. It’s also part of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the country’s most important ecotourism destinations.

To see sloths, I recommend exploring ecological areas like Palanga, Nenguaje, Zaino, Cañaveral, and Arrecifes, where park rangers have spotted these animals, and there’s usually an abundance of wildlife.

If you enjoy adventure, the sea, and admiring wooded and beach landscapes, this place is perfect for you!

Services and Activities

  • Restaurants
  • Hiking
  • Flora and fauna observation
  • Parking
  • Hammocks
  • Internet
  • Geological observation
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Watercraft rides and camping

How to Get There?

From Santa Marta, take a bus from the transportation terminal to one of these entrances:

  • Bahía Concha: The first park entrance, located in Santa Marta. You can reach it via the Bastidas and Altos de Bahía Concha neighborhoods, about a 15-minute drive to the entrance gate, then a 20-minute walk to the main beach.
  • Palangana: Located at kilometer 5 of the main road towards Riohacha, 5 minutes from the toll booth. From here, you can access attractions like Playa Gayraca, Nenguaje, Playa Cristal, and Cinto. It’s necessary to use a boat to reach the last two.
  • Calabazo: Take the Caribbean trunk road towards Riohacha, about a 30-minute journey. Here, you’ll access Playa Brava, Boca del Saco, and Cabo San Juan.

For more information, visit the Tayrona National Natural Park website.

Macanal Forest Reserve

Location: Located in the municipality of Bojacá in Cundinamarca, on the main road from Mosquera, 24,8 miles from Bogotá.
Access: There is an entrance fee to the reserve.

Macanal Forest Reserve is a biosphere space where you can explore over 240 hectares of forest. It’s also home to over 200 sloths and many other wild animals.

To try to see sloths in this place, you should hike the trails through the forest, where you’ll see these animals hanging upside down on the reserve’s trees.

One advantage of this place is that you can visit the main cabin of the reserve, enjoying lunch while surrounded by gardens full of regional flora and fauna.

Services and Activities

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • Guided tours
  • Restaurant
  • Hiking
  • Sports ecotourism and workshops (yoga, meditation, etc.)
  • Flora and fauna observation

How to Get There?

From Bogotá, take a bus from the transport terminal to the municipality of Bojacá, about a 2-hour journey. From Bojacá, you can take a taxi and ask the driver to drop you off at the reserve entrance.

The best option is to hire the transportation service offered by the reserve, as it’s very comprehensive. Visit their official website for more information.

Los Nevados National Natural Park

Location: Located in the Central 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).
Access: There is an entrance fee to the park.

Los Nevados National Natural Park is a protected area composed of moors, forests, and glaciers. It’s also one of the country’s largest volcanic complexes. It’s truly like traveling to Narnia.

To see the sloth, you can explore the Misty Forest or the Cocora Valley, two of the most popular and touristy sites in Los Nevados Park where this animal has been sighted, especially where there’s a higher concentration of forests and moors, as they usually seek food and shelter there.

Services and Activities

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

How to Get There?

  • From Manizales, take transportation via the Bogotá route, detouring at kilometer 45 to the La Esperanza tourist stop, and then to the Murillo municipality crossroads. At 3280 feet, 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 Santa Rosa del Cabal – La Linda – Potosí, then following the path to Laguna del Otún.
  • From Armenia, take the Armenia-Salento-Valle de Cocora route. Once in Cocora, start climbing on foot along the path to the Romeral moor and the Tolima department.

For more information about this park, visit the official website.

Chicaque Natural Park

Location: In the municipality of San Antonio de Tequendama, 26 miles from Bogotá in the Cundinamarca department.

Access: There is an entrance fee to the park.

Chicaque Natural Park is a private cloud forest reserve. It’s a perfect place for ecotourism, where you can explore over 300 hectares of just flora and fauna.

Especially if you want to camp in the middle of nature and appreciate this cloudy environment up close for a few days, this would be the perfect place.

Here, you can take an ecological hike on over 6,2 miles of trails with a guide. Sloths tend to be in the highest and wettest areas of the park, where there’s more vegetation and less noise, but your guide will let you know during the tour.

Services and Activities

  • Accommodation
  • Camping
  • Restaurants
  • Free parking
  • Transportation
  • Hiking
  • Flora and fauna observation
  • Canopy, zipline, and horseback riding activities

How to Get There?

From Bogotá, head to the Transmilenio Portal 80 station. From there, take a bus to the municipality of Soacha. The bus will have a sign that says “Soacha.” Once on the route, tell the driver to drop you off at Chicaque.

The bus will drop you off at a curve where an unpaved road begins, where you’ll find a sign pointing to Chicaque Natural Park. Finally, you’ll need to walk about 1,8 miles to reach the park.

You’ll find plenty of options in this place, so we recommend visiting their official website for more information.

Puracé National Natural Park

Location: In the Cauca department in the municipalities of Almaguer, Puracé, San Sebastián, and Sotará, 27,3 miles from Popayán.

Access: There is an entrance fee to the park.

Puracé National Natural Park is a vast volcanic area of the Colombian Andes with ecosystems such as jungles, moors, and supermoors, where the country’s main rivers such as the Magdalena, Cauca, Patia, and Caquetá are born. This is a perfect place to see national ecosystems.

If you’re looking for sloths, you can spot them in the tropical areas of forest or Andean jungles, where there’s a higher concentration of plants and trees like the Puracé Volcano trail or Las Orquideas trail.

Not only sloths but many mammals prefer this type of dense vegetation as they avoid contact with humans. Ideally, make no noise to avoid alerting them, so you’ll have a better chance of sighting them in this place.

Services and Activities

  • Camping areas
  • Cabin accommodation
  • Restaurants
  • Night sky observation
  • Hiking
  • Observation of indigenous communities
  • Observation of wild flora and fauna

How to Get There?

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

Once in Popayán, head towards La Plata (Huila) via the highway, about 27,3 miles to Puracé and the San Rafael lagoon. Before San Rafael, take a detour to the Pilimbalá administrative center, about 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 bridle path and you’ll arrive at the San Agustín Archaeological Park, going around the Magdalena lagoon to the south

You can visit the official website for more information.

Amacayacu National Natural Park

Location: Located in the Colombian Amazon region near the Amazon River in the so-called “Amazonian Trapeze” between the border with Brazil and Peru, 37,2 miles from Leticia, the nearest capital and city.

Access: There is an entrance fee to the park.

Amacayacu National Natural Park is a tropical humid forest. It’s characterized by its great scientific importance, as many species of fauna in the Amazon region are studied here.

Currently, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Colombian Amazon, and since you’re in the Amazon, you have even more chances of seeing sloths because in this dense jungle habitat, they concentrate in large numbers, especially in the trees.

If you want to see sloths and other mammals, you can hike trails like the Mocagua Island or the Yahuarcaca Lagoon trail, where there’s denser vegetation.

Sloth in Amazonas Colombia
Pelecanus

Services and Activities

  • Hammock accommodation
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Guide and environmental interpretation service
  • Ground and water trail tours
  • Craft workshops
  • Cultural demonstrations (dances, songs, games, etc.)

How to Get There?

You must arrive in Leticia, which has an international airport. Then, from the city’s port, take a boat on the Amazon River to the Matamatá creek, approximately a two-hour journey. This is the only available route.

You can also arrive by seaplane over the Cotuché River.

If you want to contact the park, you can visit the Amacayacu National Natural Park website and request more information.

Ukumarí Biopark

Location: Located at kilometer 14 of the Cerritos road, 20 minutes from Pereira in Risaralda.

Access: There is an entrance fee to the park.

Ukumarí Biopark is like a green classroom where you’ll learn a lot about the environment.

In this park, you’ll find thematic regions like the Andean Forests and African Savannah, where you’ll encounter different animal and plant species.

If you want to spot sloths, you can also visit the trails where there are forests, as you have a better chance of seeing them hanging in the trees resting. The tour lasts approximately 3 hours, and you can observe over 90 animal species and 6,000 types of plants.

Services and Activities

  • Botanical garden
  • Veterinary clinic
  • Natural Sciences Museum
  • Souvenir shop
  • Restaurant
  • Guided tours
  • Personalized transportation
  • Educational demonstrations
  • Flora and fauna observation
  • Interactive games
  • Hiking

How to Get There?

  • From your city, make sure to get to Pereira. Once there, you can take public transportation from the Integrated Mass Transit System (SITM) with routes 27, 31, and 37, or 18 trunk road, which connects Pereira, Dosquebradas, and La Virginia, passing near Ukumarí Biopark.
  • If you prefer a more direct means of transportation, take a taxi from any point in the city and ask the driver to drop you off in front of Ukumarí Biopark.
  • You can also hire the direct transportation service offered by Ukumarí Biopark.

If you have any doubts or would like to learn more, you can visit the official website, where they will provide you with personalized attention.

Recommendations

  • Respect park rules; do not feed or disturb the animals. Remember, they are protected and vulnerable species.
  • It’s easier to spot them at dawn or dusk when they come out of the trees in search of food. Usually, during the day, they take a long nap, so you can arrive early at the parks.
  • Park hikes are often long, so we recommend wearing very comfortable sportswear, such as sports shoes, hoodies, sun hats, and insect repellent.
  • Always carry drinking water or some liquid to hydrate during the tours. Try not to use disposable plastic bottles, as they are prohibited in many places.
  • In many places, you can pay with credit cards; however, we always recommend that visitors carry cash.

7 Sloth Curiosities You Didn’t Know

  • The sloth is not really a bear but belongs to the order Pilosa Ursidae, along with armadillos and porcupines.
  • This mammal has a very slow metabolism and moves at a speed of only 0.14 mph, making it one of the slowest animals in the world.
  • It has a large number of additional vertebrae at the base of its neck, allowing it to turn its head at a 270-degree angle and see its surroundings almost completely.
  • It has fur that goes in the opposite direction to that of most mammals, from the belly to the back. This helps it prevent water from accumulating in its fur when it rains.
  • It is covered in green algae that grow in its fur, allowing it natural camouflage against predators and providing it with additional nutrients.
  • It is an excellent swimmer and can move in the water up to three times faster than on land. It can stay underwater for up to 40 minutes.
  • It is a folivorous animal, meaning it feeds on leaves, but some species also consume insects or small reptiles to supplement their diet.

More Nature Tourism Experiences in Colombia

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