My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!
Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world after Brazil and is, therefore, part of the Club of Super Diverse Countries. In numbers, this means:
- Around 500 different mammals
- Over 1,900 bird species
- Over 500 species of reptiles
- Over 1,400 freshwater fish
- Over 3,000 butterflies
This is just a small selection of superlative Colombia. And that’s not all, there are always new species to be found in Colombia, as the areas of the Amazon and the Pacific rainforest have hardly been researched.
I could hardly believe it myself but in Colombia, there are 38 species with another 45 subspecies. Ten of these are endemic. On my travels across Colombia, I could see monkeys in all warmer regions, whether that was on the Pacific or the Caribbean coast, or of course in the Amazon and Orinoco regions.
The howler monkey that reaches the volume of a fighter jet taking off is certainly impressive. And since the list is huge, I refer to an excellent page from Wikipedia where you can see the species, photos, and habitat.
However, if you want to be climbed and besieged by a hundred monkeys, I can definitely recommend the monkey island in the Amazon region near Leticia. On the boat tour to Puerto Nariño, you make a stop there. However, you shouldn’t be too scared or sensitive. One of the monkeys felt so relaxed on my shoulder that he also did his business there.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been lucky enough to see an anaconda in the wild. When I was in the Llanos, the guide pointed out an almost dry water hole and explained that there is an almost 5-meter long anaconda inside the mud. But we refrained from pulling it out. Despite that, I have seen many other large and small snakes during my time in Colombia. However, an anaconda is still pending.
The greatest chances in the Llanos are at the end of the dry season, as the snakes then retreat into the remaining water holes.
Anacondas occur across the east of the Andes. It is considered the heaviest and one of the longest snakes in the world. I found no clear information about the maximum length. But snakes up to 5 meters (16.4 feet) in length and over 120 kg body weight do occur. A native Indian in Leticia also told me that there are anacondas up to 12 meters (40 feet) in length in his residential area. I cannot judge whether this is true or should be placed in the world of fables.
Anyway, anacondas are beautiful animals. Interestingly, these are almost defenseless on land. In the water, however, one should avoid chance encounters. The snake would win a duel there with 99.99% certainty.
The spectacled bear is the only representative of its genus that lives in South America. It reaches a length of over 180 centimeters and a weight of over 150 kilograms. It preferably lives in the Andes at 200 to 4,500 meters above sea level (656 – 14,800 feet above sea level).
I could see a spectacled bear in Nariño, they are very pretty.
Colombia is probably one of the best countries for whale watching, as the giant mammals come to Colombia’s Pacific coast between June and November to mate or to give birth.
There are several destinations in Colombia from which you can watch whales. The offers are certainly not like in Canada, where you can dive into the sea with the most modern and highly motorized ships, but in Colombia, you can even watch the whales partially from the coast.
Chiguiro / Capybara
This animal, which is related to guinea pigs, mainly lives in water. They are excellent swimmers and the herds are usually large. Weighing up to 75 kilograms, these rodents are not exactly small.
Chiguiros can be seen in many areas east of the Andes. Their meat is very delicious and you can also get it in Bogota.
The Andean Condor is also the heraldic animal of Colombia. It can be found in individual Andean areas in Colombia, where the national population is estimated at around 180 animals. With a wingspan of over 3 meters (10 feet) and a weight of up to 15 kilograms, this lord of the air is unmistakable.
Pedro Szekely / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)
An animal that many people only know from the zoo, this fish is not uncommon in Colombia and you can find it east of the Andes. The eel can send out surges of up to 800 volts and 1 ampere. Therefore, one should refrain from touching this fish and only getting close to it in the water.
Scott / CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Sloths are also common in Colombia and in some regions they are caught and passed around as a tourist attraction. Although you don’t see the stress that arises from the animals, this is a real ordeal for them. Sloths living in captivity usually only survive for a few weeks to months and are only replaced after they have died.
I therefore strongly advise against having a sloth put on you just to satisfy the selfish need for photos.
Christian Mehlführer / CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/)
Flamingos can be found in Colombia in the department of La Guajira at 2 locations. The pink color is due to a specialized diet.
Fireflies are found in many regions in Colombia and there are over 2,000 species worldwide. The glow is of course used for mating so that the beetles can be found each other in the dark.
Terrry Priest / CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)
Praying mantises occur in Colombia in many different sizes and shapes.
Azim Khan Ronnie / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Large otters can be found in Colombia in the Amazon and Orinoco areas. The giant otter, which lives in families, is up to 2 meters long and is very curious and sociable. I have seen and heard them several times from the boat in Casanare.
I have also seen the large anteater in Casanare, several times now. When we first met, we were only about 3 meters (10 feet) apart. The animals have poor eyesight and therefore recognize people late, if you do not move.
Armadillos are absolutely fascinating and remind me of walking handbags. I also saw one in Casanare.
Hammerhead sharks are not found on every corner, but in the Colombian Pacific, you can find them in abundance on the island of Malpelo. Although the journey is difficult, this island is considered unique for shark watching.
Hammerheads grow up to 6 meters (20 feet) long and weigh 600 kilograms.
Kris-Mikael Krister / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
The harpy is actually not just a mythical creature. This bird really exists and is very impressive. The harpy feeds primarily on mammals such as sloths and monkeys.
I saw a specimen in a shelter in Bogota, a really impressive animal.
Jaguars are found in the wild in Colombia, but I’m not sure if I want to meet one of these animals on a hike.
These animals are at the top of the food chain and have one of the strongest teeth in the animal world. The powerfully built cats are excellent swimmers and weigh up to 100 kilograms.
In the Llanos, photos are mostly shot with photo traps to examine the stocks.
Charles J Sharp / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
Caimans are easy to see in Colombia. However, these will not be longer than 2.50 meters.
In Colombia, there are over 150 different hummingbird species and these can be found up to 4,000 meters (13,100 feet) above sea level in the Paramos. Colombia is a bird paradise and in some places, you can also feed these wonderful birds by hand.
Iguanas can be found in Colombia in various areas where there is a corresponding minimum temperature. They become up to 2 meters long and should you approach them, they defend themselves with tail blows.
Especially on golf courses in Colombia, these pretty reptiles seem to feel comfortable.
This reptile from the dinosaur era is one of the largest crocodile species in the world. Specimens with a body length of up to 7 meters (23 feet) have already been reported and rumors have it that specimens with a body length of up to 9 meters (30 feet) are to be found in areas of difficult access in Colombia.
In reality, this animal is unfortunately in danger of extinction. However, in the department of Casanare, there is a breeding station where you can see these large and powerful animals from a safe distance.
The puma is also one of the inhabitants of Colombia. It is also called mountain lion and is up to 100 kilograms. Pumas can jump from the ground up to over 5 meters (16.5 feet) high. These beautiful cats are not tied to a single habitat and can be found in all regions of Colombia.
José Urrea / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Poison Dart Frog
Who has never heard of the infamous poison dart frog? Although mentioned in many films and stories, the habitat of this amphibian is limited to a very small space on the Colombian Pacific coast.
The poison dart frog is one of the most poisonous inhabitants of the animal kingdom and is also the most poisonous frog species of all. It belongs to the tree frog family and is up to five centimeters tall.
Quartl / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Another animal from the horror cabinet and protagonist in many horror films. There are between 30 and 60 different species and only a few are dangerous to humans. The piranha is actually a scared rabbit and this despite its sharp teeth.
Piranhas are mainly found in the Amazon region. You can also fish and eat them, but they only have about as much meat as a marathon runner.
Gregory Moine / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
The Pirarucu is worshiped in regions of Colombia and is also an excellent edible fish. It is up to four and a half meters long and weighs up to 200 kilograms. In Leticia, I fed a captive Pirarucu, which is a real spectacle.
tab2_dawa / CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
Pink River Dolphin
Visiting the Amazon without seeing the Pink River Dolphins is like traveling to Colombia and not drinking coffee. You can actually see these beautiful animals on every Amazon cruise. These can also be found in the Meta department in the Llanos.
Also, you can swim with the river dolphins.
Jorge Andrade / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)
Colombia is known to be very biodiverse. There are therefore over 1,600 different butterfly species in this country.
Like the name, there are Colombia frogs that are made of glass. You have to be careful not to break them when you touch them. Of course, this is just fun but there are actually glass frogs in Colombia in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
I have never seen a glass frog myself, but I was told on-site that you can see through these frogs. It’s best to look for the frogs at night.
JurriaanH / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
I can still remember when I saw my first tapir at the zoo in Zurich. Here in Colombia, we have tapirs in the wild. I haven’t seen any here myself, but I’m sure it will come.
Different types of tapirs can be found in Colombia in different regions.
Toucans are extremely colorful and interesting birds and I’ve seen many different species here in Colombia.
The large beak, by the way, helps the bird to control its temperature. Sometimes Toucans also rob young birds of nests and eat them.
Colombia Travel Guides
If now you are super interested in traveling to Colombia and need more information, do not look any further as I have the best Travel Guides for you:
- Colombia Travel Guide
- Bogotá Travel Guide
- Medellin Travel Guide
- Santa Marta Travel Guide
- Cartagena Travel Guide
- La Guajira Travel Guide
- Llanos Travel Guide
- Providencia Travel Guide
- Coffee Triangle Travel Guide
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