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9 Must-Visit Spots in Colombia for Toucan Watching

Lettered Aracari - toucan in 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!

From the Sierra Nevada to the Amazon: Your ultimate guide to finding toucans in Colombia!

Emerald Toucanet In Caldas Colombia
Emerald Toucanet

Where to Spot Toucans in Colombia

Tucanes Natural Reserve

Location: In the municipality of Gachantivá in Boyacá in the Andean forests, 17,3 miles from Villa de Leyva and 34 miles from Tunja.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

Tucanes Natural Reserve is a protected area in Colombia where you can immerse yourself in nature. The primary goal here is to raise awareness among visitors about environmental care and conservation.

You can spot toucans here during the dry season, which spans from December to March and from July to August. During these months, toucans venture closer to inhabited areas, making them easier to observe.

I recommend that you go early in the morning at 8:00 or 9:00 a.m., which is the time of day when the toucans are most active and sing the most.

Services and activities

  • Roundtrip private transportation.
  • Restaurant and cafeteria.
  • Accommodation.
  • Entry to the Natural Reserve with all activities included.
  • Guided hike along a 1,600-meter trail.
  • Visit to Los Yátaros Waterfall, the tallest in the region at 80 meters.
  • Access to natural pools.
  • One-hour stop in Villa de Leyva municipality.

Please note that pets are not allowed.

How to get there

From Tunja or another city, head to Villa de Leyva municipality, then follow the route towards Gachantivá. About 3,1 miles before reaching the municipality, you’ll see a Texaco service station. At that point, turn left and continue towards the park.

From there, follow the road towards Moniquirá. After about 15 minutes on La Caja trail, you’ll come across a left turn with a sign for the Reserve. Walk 2,624 feet to finally reach the Reserve.

For further information, you can visit the official website.

Rio Ñambí Natural Reserve

Location: It is situated at kilometer 155 between the San Juan Pasto – Tumaco road in the department of Nariño.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

Rio Ñambí Natural Reserve is also a protected natural reserve known for its diverse flora and fauna, especially birds, 44 of which are endemic to the region.

Toucans are no exception; you can access various ecological trails that traverse the forest and reach the Ñambí River to spot them, all while enjoying nature and taking a refreshing dip.

Here, you can stay in cabins equipped with basic amenities and continue birdwatching from your room balcony, which in fact has quite a lot of privacy.

Services and activities

  • Accommodation.
  • Restaurant and cafeteria service.
  • Hiking.
  • Birdwatching.
  • Night outings.
  • Visit to the orchid garden.
  • Ziplining (extreme sport in waterfalls).
  • Howler monkey jump, where you can hang from the lianas growing in the treetops.

How to get there

  • From Pasto, you can take the road to Tumaco and turn off at kilometer 156, where there’s a sign indicating the entrance to the reserve. The journey takes about 4 hours.
  • From Tumaco, you can take the same road towards Pasto and turn off at kilometer 44, where there’s also a sign indicating the entrance to the reserve, about 2 hours away.

Once you reach the reserve entrance, you must walk along a 1.5 miles trail to reach a cabin offering accommodation.

For more information, you can visit the official page.

Refugio Corazones Verdes Natural Reserve

Location: It is located at kilometer 13 on the Alto Dapa Yumbillo road in Dapa, about 8 miles from Cali in Valle del Cauca.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

Refugio Corazones Verdes Natural Reserve is a private reserve focused on ecological conservation through the ancestral wisdom and knowledge of indigenous peoples. Here, you’ll encounter native species in flora and fauna.

Here you will find bird watching tours where the guides take you into the forest, and lend you binoculars to have a better view of the toucans and other birds of the region.

In the hammock area, one of the resting spots, you’ll also witness the passage of many birds, and if you’re lucky, toucans, the main attraction of the reserve. It’s the perfect place to relax and disconnect from big cities.

Services and activities

  • Glamping.
  • Camping.
  • Eco-rooms.
  • Restaurants.
  • Play areas.
  • Picnic areas.
  • Hiking.
  • Flora and fauna observation.

How to get there

  • From Cali, take the old Cali-Yumbo road northward, until you reach Dapa Mall. There, turn left.
  • About 42.6 feet away, approximately 13 minutes, you’ll reach the Reserve. During this journey, you’ll enter the Arroyohondo area, where you’ll see schools and houses along the way.
  • Cross the bridge over the Arroyohondo River, marking the beginning of the steep ascent. When you reach kilometer 9, turn right, marked with signs indicating the route to Corazones Verdes.
  • Continue another 1,640 feet and you’ll find another left turn, also marked with a Corazones Verdes sign. Follow “La Fontana” street and you’ll arrive directly at the Reserve.

We recommend visiting the official page for more information to plan your visit to the reserve.

Amacayacu National Natural Park

Location: It is 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 city.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

Amacayacu National Natural Park is one of Colombia’s most important protected areas, home to around 468 bird species, nearly a third of the country’s total bird population.

To see toucans in this place, I recommend visiting the park’s visitor center, where there’s a bird observation tower allowing you to appreciate the diversity of regional fauna.

Here, you’ll take a tour through the park’s ecological trails to observe toucans in their natural habitat, among trees and jungle flowers. Another option is to take a boat along the Amacayacu River, where you can see toucans flying over the water or perched on tree branches.

Services and activities

  • Hammock accommodation.
  • Food.
  • Transportation.
  • Guided tours and environmental interpretation.
  • Hiking along terrestrial and aquatic trails.
  • Craft workshops.
  • Cultural demonstrations (dances, songs, games, etc.)

How to get there

  • You must reach Leticia, which has an international airport. Then, from the city’s port, take a boat along the Amazon River to Quebrada Matamatá, about a two-hour journey. This is the only available route.
  • You can also arrive by hydroplane over the Cotuché River.

Visit the Amacayacu National Natural Park website for more information.

Chingaza National Natural Park

Location: It extends across 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’s 22,3 miles from Bogotá.

Entry: Entry requires a fee.

Chingaza National Natural Park is practically a natural and cultural treasure of Colombia, known for its moors, submoors, and high Andean forests, the best preserved in the country, where you can also enjoy ecotourism.

If you want to see toucans, visit the sub-Andean forests where various species like the plate-billed mountain toucan, the emerald toucanet, and the groove-billed toucanet reside. These forests can be found in the municipalities of Fomeque, Choachí, La Calera, and Guasca, located in the department of Cundinamarca. Your guide will show you the way.

Services and activities

  • Restaurant.
  • Camping area.
  • Visitor center.
  • Auditorium.
  • Hiking.
  • Photography and videos.
  • Observation of wild 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 13,6 miles, you’ll reach the service post at Piedras Gordas, where you’ll find the park entrance and the Siecha lagoons sector.
  • You can only access by private or hired vehicle, there’s no public transportation. If you’re traveling during the rainy season, it’s best to use a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

However, you can find more information on the official page.

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: Entry requires a fee.

Los Nevados National Natural Park is one of the most complete mountain systems in Colombia, composed of glaciers, moors, volcanoes and forests, one of the main tourist attractions in the country.

To see toucans in this park, you can visit places like El Bosque, El Cedral, and El Roble. Here, you’ll find trails with lookouts to observe all kinds of birds and, of course, toucans.

Highly recommended as you’ll enjoy the breathtaking views offered by this park, one of the most fascinating in the entire country.

Services and activities

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

How to get there

  • From Manizales, take transportation on the Bogotá road, detouring at kilometer 45 towards the La Esperanza tourist stop and then to the Murillo municipality in Tolima. At 3280 feet, you’ll reach the entrance through the Brisas sector.
  • From Pereira, you can access the park’s central and southwestern sectors by taking the road 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 road. Once in Cocora, start climbing on foot along the path leading to the Romeral páramo and the Tolima department.

If you want more information about this park, we invite you to visit the official page.

Manantiales del Campo

Location: In the municipality of San Rafael, about 56 miles from Medellín in Antioquia.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

Manantiales del Campo is a boutique hotel and natural reserve where you can rest, stay in luxurious rustic cabins, and connect with nature, as it boasts over 480 hectares of humid forest and excellent tourist infrastructure.

Here, you can see toucans and other birds through an ecological hike or horseback riding along the ecological trails offered by Antioquia. All activities are guided by a local expert.

Usually, the hike lasts more than four hours, during which the guide takes you to see waterfalls, landscapes, and all the local fauna. It’s worth it and ideal for couples.

Services and activities

  • Accommodation in rooms and cabins with private balconies.
  • Buffet restaurants with local cuisine and minibars.
  • Swimming pool.
  • Jacuzzi.
  • Turkish bath.
  • Spa.
  • Hiking.
  • Birdwatching.
  • Horseback riding.
  • Airport transportation.
  • Specialized guide.
  • Extreme sports in waterfalls and rivers.

How to get there

From Medellín, you can take transportation along the Medellín-Bogotá road and detour towards Guatapé at the La Esperanza return.

Once in Guatapé, follow the road towards San Rafael until you reach the entrance of the Guatapé Hydroelectric Central. There, turn right and travel 1.5 miles to the reserve entrance.

BOOK NOW AT MANANTIALES DEL CAMPO

Ukuku Rural Lodge

Location: In the Combeima Canyon, 10,5 miles from Ibagué and 0,7 miles from the urban center of the Juntas Corregimiento in Tolima.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

Ukuku Rural Lodge is a place created by biologists and photographers in the mountains of Ibagué. Here you will enjoy a break in nature where you will be able to observe the Tolima snow-capped mountain.

It’s like waking up to the trills and colors of over 150 species of birds as you explore the orchid garden and walk in the nearby rivers. Not only will you see toucans, but they also have a special place prepared with night views of the stars and bonfires. It’s a perfect family plan.

Services and activities

  • Accommodation.
  • Restaurants.
  • Tourist guide.
  • Flora and fauna observation.
  • Extreme sports.
  • Horseback riding.
  • Hiking.
  • Stargazing.
  • Camping areas.

How to get there

It’s quite simple: from Ibagué, you can take a route at the transportation terminal to the Juntas Corregimiento, in the Combeima Canyon. From there, you can walk about 20 minutes to the lodge, following the Ukuku signs.

You can find more information at Ukuku Rural Lodge and inquire about the offers they have prepared for you.

Quindío Botanical Garden

Location: In the municipality of Calarcá, 9,3 miles from Armenia in Quindío.

Access: Entry requires a fee.

The Botanical Garden of Quindio is an organization dedicated to environmental research, however, it is a very popular tourist destination in the Coffee Axis, since you could say that it is as if you were attending a school where you will learn all about the environment.

I recommend visiting the trail that crosses the natural forest, the elevated bridge, and the maze. Toucans usually appear from 8:00 a.m., so if you want to see them well, try to arrive early. You can also visit the three specific sites for bird and toucan watching:

  • Laguna viewpoint.
  • Forest viewpoint.
  • Mountain viewpoint.

Services and activities

  • Butterfly garden (butterfly watching)
  • Birdwatching.
  • Hiking.
  • Palm museum.
  • Insect museum.
  • Geology museum.
  • Parking.
  • Restaurants and cafes.

How to get there

From Armenia you must drive or take a bus from the transportation terminal to Calarcá, which is where the garden is located, approximately 20 minutes. Finally, you will tell the driver to drop you off at the entrance of the botanical garden.

If you visit Quindío Botanical Garden, you’ll find more information there.

Recommendations

  • Always carry sunscreen and mosquito repellent.
  • Bring your drinks or hydration; you’ll need it as the hikes are generally long.
  • Wear comfortable sportswear, such as sweatshirts, sports shoes, caps, or hats.
  • Always respect local or community rules.
  • They are not difficult to spot. On the contrary, they always appear in large numbers in the morning hours, try to arrive early wherever you want to see them.
  • Always carry a pair of binoculars; this will make it easier for you to see them from kilometers away.

7 Toucan Facts

  • Toucans have enormous bills, which can be larger than their own bodies; they use them to reach fruits or seeds on branches and to attract mates.
  • They are not good long-distance fliers, but they are skillful at maneuvering among trees with their wide, short wings.
  • Toucans are monogamous and form stable pairs for life.
  • They do not build their own nests but rather take advantage of the holes left by woodpeckers or other animals in trees.
  • They are very social and live in groups of up to 20 individuals. They communicate with each other through sounds and gestures and help defend themselves against predators.
  • They are native to Central and South America and inhabit tropical and subtropical forests. It’s believed that there are more than 40 species of toucans in the world.
  • They are born with closed eyes and without feathers, but eight weeks later, they can already observe the world and fly.

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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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