Colombia is becoming increasingly well-known for it’s incredible ecotourism and wildlife-watching opportunities, as travelers flock to the country to enjoy watching humpback whales, pink river dolphins and over 1,900 species of bird. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that you don’t need to head hundreds of miles outside the cities to enjoy world-class wildlife watching: within an hour of Bogota, and within the city itself, there are great places to watch birds, and even see endemic species (species you cannot see anywhere else!). Sure, El Dorado Reserve in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is home to more than 20 endemics(!), but if you’re keen on birds and wildlife with a day or two to spare in Bogota then check out these options for a unique experience:
This small urban park is located near El Dorado Airport, and can be reached in at most an hour from the centre of Bogota. What was once a marshy, wetland area has been largely developed but some of the marshland remains, and is the perfect place to spot the regions marsh species. Endemic species include the Bogota Rail, Silvery-throated Spinetail, Apolinar’s Wren and Rufous-browed conebill. Come early in the morning to be in with the best shout of seeing the more elusive reedbed species.
Chingaza National Park
About half an hour from La Calera on the edge of Bogota, this park is not easily reached without your own transportation or an organized tour, but is well worth a visit anyway. A mountainous area of paramo, lakes and montane forest, the cite is great for hiking and bird-watching. Endemics include the Bogota Rail, Flame-winged Parakeet and Matorral Tapaculo. The elevation is high, and the climate is overwhelmingly wet and cold, so dress warm!
One hour from Bogota on the road to La Mesa lies this small lake surrounded by forest. It’s a fairly modest little site, but is an excellent place to to view 2 endemics (the Black Inca and Turquoise Dacnis) as well as a number of other woodland species (Gorgeted Woodstar, Mustached Puffbird, Scrub Tanager).
Parque Simon Bolivar & Jardin Botanico
These parkland areas are perfectly combined for some amazing inner-city birding, and a range of species practically on your doorstep. With Great Egret, Blue-winged teal and Vermillion Flycatcher commonly seen in the park, and the Botanical Gardens filled with hummingbird species such as Sparkling Violetear and Black Flower Piercer, a simple stroll around the area will yield a good number of species.
Humedal La Conejera
Located just north of Bogota this obscure wetland area is a great place to observe numerous species of waterbird, such as Ruddy Duck, Bare-faced Ibis and Common Gallinule. It’s a bit out of the way (Cra. 136D #153), but it’s worth the trip for the range of species to bee seen.
So grab your binoculars and happy birding!