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7 Amazing Spots for Watching Capybaras in Colombia

Capybara or Chiguiro at Casanare 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 capybaras, also known as chigüiros, are the largest rodents in the world? That’s right, this fascinating species can grow to over 3 feet (1 meter) in length. They are also one of Colombia’s most iconic animals, with structures like tunnels named after them and large graphic representations. Have you seen the movie Encanto?

Wildlife enthusiasts love observing these rodents due to their curious and social behavior. Capybaras are known to coexist with crocodiles, turtles, ducks, and birds, earning them the title of “the world’s friendliest animals.”

Capybara or Chiguiro at Casanare Colombia

Join us today as we explore 7 incredible places to observe capybaras.

Where to see Chigüiros in Colombia

These are some of the best places where you can observe capybaras in Colombia. Don’t miss out on them!

Hacienda Nápoles Theme Park, Medellín

Location: kilometer 165 on the Medellín-Bogotá highway.
Price: There’s an entrance fee to the park. Check updated rates.
Website: Hacienda Nápoles

The Hacienda Nápoles Theme Park is a park and natural reserve with an incredible history behind it. It was established in 1978 by the infamous drug lord Pablo Escobar. However, over time and with governmental intervention, it transformed into what we know today—a recreational area for the whole family, focusing on cultural and environmental aspects.

Among its many attractions, one of the highlights is its wildlife sanctuary. Here, various species reside, including some intriguing ones from Africa. For example:

  • Elephants
  • Hippos
  • Bengal tigers, and other endemic species like capybaras.

And how much do you know about capybaras? Well, at the Capybara Lake, you can observe them in an environment that mimics their natural habitat and become quite the expert on their habits, diet, predators, among other things.

Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Accommodation
  • Tours of the natural reserve
  • Animal feeding
  • Butterfly garden
  • Safari
  • Water park
  • Cafeteria and restaurant service
  • African museum
  • Jurassic Park
  • Events
  • Talks
  • Memorial museum

How to get there?

You must reach Doradal, a municipality of Puerto Triunfo, which is 3 hours and 30 minutes away from the center of Medellín.

El Encanto de Guanapalo, San Luis de Palenque

Location: via Yopalosa – Orocué, Casanare.

Price: There’s an entrance fee to the reserve. Check updated rates.

Website: El Encanto de Guanapalo

El Encanto de Guanapalo is a natural reserve spanning nearly 9 thousand hectares, aiming to conserve the natural richness, tradition, and llanera culture. Among its many activities, the one that will allow you to observe capybaras the most is horseback riding across the plains or wildlife watching, where you can encounter incredible crocodiles and the friendly capybaras, who enjoy the refreshing water and feed on vegetation.

Services and Activities

  • Horseback riding
  • Bird watching
  • Llanero safari
  • Wildlife watching
  • Curicara boat rides
  • Artisanal fishing
  • Observation of llano work
  • Llanero festivity
  • Cowboy songs
  • Caballicianza
  • Night of myths and legends
  • Restaurant service

How to get there?

It is located 110 km (68 miles) from Yopal, via Yopalosa.

Quindío Botanical Garden, Calarcá

Location: Av. Centenario # 15-190 Km. 3 via Valle del Cauca, Quindío.

Price: There’s an entrance fee to the garden. Check updated rates.

Website: Quindío Botanical Garden

The Quindío Botanical Garden is a non-governmental reserve and organization aimed at preserving the different endemic landscapes of the area, including the native plants and birds of Colombia. Here, you can enjoy the famous butterfly garden, an insect zoo, and three astonishing structures for birdwatching.

Therefore, among the thick vegetation it is common to observe different species of fauna, for example:

  • Capybaras
  • Hummingbirds
  • Butterflies
  • Pigeons

This is because this garden is the natural habitat of numerous species. Additionally, at the garden entrance, there are several feeders and water troughs that attract them. So, watching them eat and drink together is a true visual spectacle. And if you’re a capybara lover, this place is perfect because you can see them with your family.

Services and Activities

  • Garden tours
  • Workshops
  • Talks
  • Bird watching
  • Fauna and flora observation

How to get there?

It is a 38-minute drive from Armenia, the capital of Quindío.

Cali Zoo

Location: cra. 2a Oe., Terrón Colorado, Cali, Valle del Cauca.
Price: There’s an entrance fee. Check updated 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 hosts a wide variety of animals, estimated to be more than 2,500 specimens, including mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. Among the species you can find are:

  • Capybaras
  • Jaguars
  • Hippos
  • Monkeys

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 amazing aspect of this zoo is that with the help of professionals, they rehabilitate animals that have fallen victim to trafficking, abuse, or the murder of their herd. They often share these processes with their followers, for example, on their TikTok account, they share Kira’s process, an otter victim of species trafficking. It’s truly a memorable site you shouldn’t miss!

Barranquilla Zoo, Barranquilla

Location: cl. 77 #68 – 40, Nte. Centro Histórico, Barranquilla, Atlántico.
Price: There’s an entrance fee. Check updated rates.
Website: Barranquilla Zoo

Barranquilla Zoo is a space committed to biodiversity conservation and environmental education, housing a varied collection of over 600 animals, from mammals to birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Among its residents, the following stand out:

  • Capybaras
  • Lions
  • Elephants
  • Tigers
  • Monkeys
  • Snakes

Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Fauna exhibition
  • Educational programs
  • Workshops
  • Talks
  • Cafeteria and restaurant services

Cafam Zoo, Melgar

Location: Cl. 6 #23-13, Melgar, Tolima.
Price: There’s an entrance fee. Check updated rates.
Website: Cafam Zoo

Cafam Zoo is a natural reserve that, along its numerous paths, houses more than 350 animals of 80 rescued species from illegal wildlife trafficking. Among its species, you can observe:

  • Capybaras
  • Turtles
  • Marmosets

In fact, this zoo has a great merit for being the natural reserve with the highest reproductive rate of the gray titi monkey, a threatened species. Therefore, this is the ideal place to connect with nature and spend time with your family and friends. And most importantly, you can raise environmental awareness.

Services and Activities

  • Guided tours
  • Accommodation
  • Vacation center
  • Water park
  • Cafeteria and restaurant service

Guátika Biopark, Tibasosa

Location: Km 1, Vía las Antenas, Tibasosa, Boyacá.
Price: There’s an entrance fee. Check updated rates.
Website: Guátika Biopark

Guátika Biopark is a zoo with over 1,000 animals and 100 exotic, wild, and domestic species that can no longer live in their natural habitats due to various reasons related to human intervention. Among its animals are:

  • Capybaras
  • Tigers
  • Lions
  • Ostriches
  • Snakes

Services and Activities

  • Guided tours through the reserve
  • Buggy races
  • Lodging
  • Aerial swing
  • Family and business tours
  • Horseback riding through ecological trails
  • Climbing wall
  • Children’s attractions
  • Zip line
  • Feeding domestic animals
  • Restaurant service

This park is perfect for family fun!

How to get there?

It’s suggested not to use Waze to get there; the biopark is 3 hours from Bogotá and just 10 minutes from the center of Tibasosa via km 1.

Recommendations for Spotting capybaras in Colombia

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

  • Visit natural reserves: If you want to observe capybaras in their natural habitat, consider visiting natural reserves and national parks that harbor these creatures. Make sure to respect local regulations and follow the instructions of park rangers or staff.
  • Join guided excursions: Many natural reserves offer guided excursions led by local wildlife experts. Joining these excursions will provide you with detailed information about capybaras, their behaviors, and the ecosystem they inhabit.
  • Respect conservation regulations: 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.

To observe them in nature

  • Do not interfere with their natural behavior: It is essential to maintain a safe distance and avoid interfering with the natural behavior of capybaras. Do not touch them or offer them food, as this could affect their natural behavior, whether you are in a reserve or in nature.
  • Research their specific habitats: Before embarking on your trip, research the specific habitats of the capybaras you wish to observe. Some move to wetter environments during drought seasons, so you need to be aware.
  • Respect conservation regulations: 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 or to take photos and videos.
  • Choose the right time: Know the time of year when capybaras are most active and visible. Some species have seasonal activity patterns or specific reproductive cycles that affect their behavior.
  • Use appropriate equipment: Bring observation equipment, such as binoculars and cameras with zoom, to enjoy a detailed experience without disturbing the capybaras. Similarly, wear comfortable clothes, non-moisturizing shoes, and bring hiking gear; this activity is common for observing these animals.
  • Participate in ecotourism tours: Join ecotourism tours guided by local experts. These experiences are not only educational but also conservation-oriented, providing valuable information about capybaras and their natural environment. Additionally, this is useful for your safety, as capybaras share habitats with species such as crocodiles or caimans.

Curious Facts about Capybaras

Here are some curious facts about capybaras that will further pique your interest in getting to know them.

Chiguiro Capybara in Casanare Colombia
Pelecanus S.A.S
  • According to the Humboldt Institute, it is estimated that around 1,037 herds of 20 capybaras each usually inhabit the Atlantic Ocean slopes in Colombia because they need humid environments such as the Magdalena River valleys.
  • In their habitats, these creatures play an important role in local ecology by contributing to ecosystem balance and aquatic vegetation control.
  • When they feel threatened, capybaras can submerge in water to evade predators. They are also capable of running at surprising speeds on land.
  • Capybaras have a communal parenting behavior.
  • Capybaras have a relatively long lifespan for rodents, being able to live up to 8-10 years in the wild.
  • Capybaras communicate with each other through numerous grunts, squeaks, and soft barks.
  • It has been observed that capybaras often transport themselves on the backs or bills of crocodiles; they are very brave!
  • It is essential to bear in mind when observing capybaras that they face challenges similar to other species, such as:
    • Capybaras are sensitive to changes and invasion of their ecosystems.
    • They face threats such as habitat loss due to urban and agricultural expansion.
    • Illegal hunting and capture for the pet trade are growing concerns.
    • Due to the severe droughts that have been occurring in their natural habitats, many capybaras have died of thirst or heat.

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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