Want to see wild pink flamingos in Colombia (flamencos)? Here’s a quick guide on where to go to see these beautiful birds in their natural environment.
I think it’s safe to say that flamingos are among the most spectacular birds on the planet. Their spectacular color and strange characteristics mean that spotting them can be one of the most unique travel experiences you can have in Colombia.
But, where can you see Flamingos in Colombia?
In this guide, I’ll give you a complete rundown of where to go to see these spectacular birds in their natural habitat and how to get here! I’ll also include some photographs to inspire you to take this fun wildlife tour in the Colombian Caribbean.
About the Colombian Flamingos
Flamingos in Colombia are actually quite rare. However, there is one particular spot on the northern coast of Colombia where visitors can spot flocks of the American flamingo.
These pink flamingos are generally not migratory birds, which means they stick around this region all year round.
A fun fact is that these guys get their color from their diet! This is the result of metabolized microscopic algae containing carotenoids. As the flamingos eat this algae and brine shrimp (which also feed on the algae), it results in its famous pink feathers.
Where to See Wild Flamingos in Colombia
The best place to see wild flamingos in Colombia is at the Los Flamencos Sanctuary (Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Flamencos) near the village of Camarones in La Guajira.
This is close to the main northern port city of Santa Marta.
This sanctuary is a protected wetlands region just outside of the desert peninsula. This is quite a remote region of Colombia, and visitors will need to hire a licensed guide to enter the sanctuary.
How to Get to Los Flamencos Sanctuary in La Guajira
While it is possible to drive or get a bus to Camarones from Santa Marta, the best way to see flamingos in Colombia is to take a tour from the backpacker town of Palomino. You can click that link for detailed information on how to get here first.
Flamingo Tour From Palomino
While there aren’t currently any tours available to book online, you can simply pay a local tour operator to take you to the flamingo sanctuary. We shopped around a little in town and found that the best price was 160,000 COP per person.
While initially, this seems a little steep, you definitely get your money’s worth. The tour includes:
- Private transport to Camarones (1 hour)
- Sailing tour with a local guide to spot flamingos
- Lunch included at Camarones
- Return transport.
Our local guide’s name is Jose and you can contact him on WhatsApp: +57 313 7016 088. He’s a member of the local community near Camarones and is a very friendly guide.
What to Expect on a Palomino Flamingo Tour
Interested in spotting flamingos from Palomino? Below I’ve summarized my experience so you know what to expect!
The Road to the Flamingo Sanctuary
From Palomino, you can expect a drive of approximately 1 hour to reach the turn-off to the flamingo sanctuary. This turns off at the town of Perico in La Guajira, just before Camarones.
Along the way, you’ll get great views of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range to your right. Also, since there are no ATMs in Palomino, it might be a good idea to ask your driver to stop by one at Mingueo.
The Sailing Journey
From Perico, we took a dirt road for approximately 20 minutes before arriving at the beach inside Los Flamencos Sanctuary. Here, our local guide Jose rigged up his traditional sailing vessel before embarking on a journey out to find the flamingos. Unfortunately, this region of Colombia has been suffering a severe drought for the past few years. As a result, the banks have receded and the flora has turned to a mostly dry forest.
However, Jose told us that these beautiful pink birds are still always hanging around here, and you have a very high chance of spotting them. We sailed quickly across the shallow water and within 20 minutes we spotted a huge flock of flamingos!
We were fortunate enough to spot many different bird species on our adventure to find the flamingos. We noticed that many species had turned red or pink, even the ibis!
Jose lowered the sail as we approached the pink flamingos. He told us that these birds can be frightened easily, so it’s best to approach slowly.
Below are some photos that I was able to capture during my visit.
Side-Trip to Camarones
After approximately 2 hours of sailing and bird spotting, we were back in the car and on our way to Camarones. Our guide took us to a local spot on the beach called Pastora Choles, where we enjoyed a seafood lunch with coconut rice.
More Wildlife Photos from Los Flamencos Fauna & Flora Sanctuary
More Colombian Travel Inspiration
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide on how to find wild flamingos in Colombia. For more South and Central America travel guides, check out the useful list below!