Colombia, August 2022 (Venkat Sankar)

Hi all,

Here’s a report of a fun 2-week trip to the Colombian Andes last August, during which I recorded 31 species including many rarely reported mammals. Highlights were close views of Spectacled Bear and Mountain Tapir, Olinguito, Brown Dwarf Hairy PorcupinePanama Mouse Opossum, and the remarkable White-tailed Olalla Rat.



Colombia VSankar August 2022

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  • Jon Hall

    Great report Venkat (squirrel bashing aside) – the first for the new website. I particularly love the Dwarf Porcupine and the ‘Oh la la’ Rat as I will now call it. Looks like you have got yourself a new camera too – great photos! Not sure I can imagine your mind is ever idle (at least compared to mine). I clearly need to get back to Colombia.

    • vnsankar

      Thanks, Jon! Same camera actually (my Olympus mirrorless), but I’ve just slowly gotten better at using it 🙂 Maybe I should’ve said “idle with respect to mammals.” Haha.

  • tomeslice

    How have I missed this report? I have been looking forward to it!
    Great stuff Venkat! I was convinced that my next trip to South America would be to Ecuador, but as you told me, I should now consider Colombia instead…
    Thanks for all the great info, and I’m happy for you for the very successful trip.
    It sounds like the infrastructure in Ecuador is much more well-established, so I wonder if/when mammal watchers start re-tracing this itinerary one-after-the-other, what other species would become highly reliable there. Hoping oncilla would become reliable too 😀

    • vnsankar

      Thanks, Tomer – you didn’t miss it, just took me a while to finish the report… I’d love to see Oncilla become reliable in Colombia too. They are certainly common (in terms of abundance, not sightings) at a few sites. But it will take a lot of groundwork to sort out the right spot & strategy, and even then it could still mean a week of spotlighting for a sighting.

  • Antee

    I was in between of going to Ecuador or Colombia this upcoming July. Ended up with Ecuador. Maybe wrong choice… 🙂

  • Sandra H

    Hi Venkat
    Great report. Do you remember the name of the lodges for the spectacle bears and especially the mountain tapir at Otun? And do you mind telling me the budget you had to spend for your itinerary? And is it safe to travelalone as a woman? I would love to go to Colombia soon. Best, Sandra

    • Curtis Hart

      The place to stay for the Tapirs is Cabañas El Cedral. It is reachable by public transport from Pereira. You can reach them by Whatsapp at +57 323 5091882. Communication is in Spanish, but you can use Google translate. They don’t always have service so it may take a few days to answer. We had three sightings over 4 days on foot. Also saw a Jagurundi. Budget for doing this part independently is cheap. As low as $14 per night for the room and around $4 per meal. Transport from Pereira was less than $5 I think. As far as traveling alone as a woman, I can’t speak from experience, but there are certainly plenty of women traveling independently. My wife says she would feel safe on the tapir road. Pereira does have rough parts, but we didn’t go to them. If needed I can recommend a very nice, reasonably priced hotel with close food options a short walk from where the public transport leaves.

    • vnsankar

      Hi Sandra – sorry for the late reply. For Spectacled Bear, the lodge is called Albergue Corpochingaza. You’ll want to organize your visit through the park and hire one of their guides (the guide I used, Betty, was very knowledgeable on the bears), otherwise you’ll have a hard time seeing anything. Everything (car, driver, food, guide, etc.) is included but this is not a cheap excursion (expect approx. 1200USD for 4 nights if you just use the park guide, and more if you work with someone like Rob). Personally I don’t think this part can be done independently – the park is an exceptional place for seeing Spectacled Bears but is not at all geared toward wildlife tourism and is confusingly bureaucratic. You need to work with someone who can get you onto the roads before “official” opening times etc. for best chances of the bears, and even the park guides struggle with this sometimes from what I’m told. Rob was able to do this for me; you need to have the right contacts within the park.

      Mountain Tapir on the other hand is much easier. Just stay at El Cedral for a few days and walk the road. Curtis’s info has all you need for that.

  • Sandra H

    Thank you so much for these nice replies. This is extremely helpful! All the best for your future mammal watching holidays

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