The Colombian Red Howler Monkey Sanctuary Los Colorados, just 90 km from Cartagena

Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary is the largest and most conserved area of dry tropical forest in the department of Bolivar, in the region of Montes de María, or Serranía de San Jacinto.

The sanctuary’s name alludes to the presence of the Colombian Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus), which live along with tamarin monkeys, deer, ocelots, sloths, and other mammals.

This is not a very well known destination among tourists, but it has all the necessary natural attractions to be a very good natural destination, and only 90 km from Cartagena!

Discovering Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Los Colorados FFS is located in the Colombian Caribbean, in the department of Bolivar, in the municipality of San Juan Nepomuceno. The sanctuary has an area of 10 km².

It contains a representative area of the largest tropical dry forest of the Montes de María or Serranía de San Jacinto, a geological formation isolated between the coastal plain of Bolívar and the savannas of Corozal and Sincelejo.

You will find a small mountain system, with several peaks such as La Cañada, El Escondido, San José, El Yayal, La Gervedera and Tamarindo de Mico.

The sanctuary is also an important provider of water to the region, and there are several mini reservoir built in the surroundings. Los Cacaos and Salvador are two small rivers which flow around the park, there are are also countless creeks that flow into these streams.

A Sanctuary for the Conservation of Tropical Dry Forest and Monkeys

It contains one of the best preserved relicts of dry forest in the region and is an important refuge for the organisms of this habitat, such as some primate and mammal populations.

Los Colorados FFS as an Important Bird Area

The Galeras FFS is an Important Bird Area (IBA/AICA) recognized by BirdLife International, since Globally threatened species and Restricted-range species are present in the area. It is also a feeding station for migratory birds and it has more than 280 reported bird species, 46 of which are migratory.

Archeological Importance

Within the sanctuary’s facilities you can visit places of great cultural importance such as ceremonial sites of local indigenous communities.

The Malibú Mokaná or Malibú Serraneros ethnic group inhabited this area in the past XVI century. You can see some archaeological vestiges found in the area of influence of the Sanctuary, such as ocarinas and petroglyphs, and also the well-known “centellas” stones.

The inhabitants of the region have established an important relationship with Los Colorados hill, impregnated with beliefs and cultural practices evident, for example, in the treatment given to medicinal plants.

How to get to Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

Bogotá – Cartagena – San Juan Nepomuceno

Take a 45- minutes flight from El Dorado Bogotá (BOG) to Rafael Nuñez International Airport (CTG) at Cartagena city.

From Cartagena take the road to Sincelejo passing through the towns of Turbaco, Arjona, Sincerin, El Viso, Malagana, San Cayetano and Carreto until you reach the municipality of San Juan Nepomuceno, 90 kilometers from Cartagena.

From there you can access the entrance road to the eastern side of the Sanctuary by motorcycle or vehicle (5 minutes) or walking (20 minutes) to the operational headquarters.

What to do in Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

The Sanctuary and surrounding area is an ideal destination for photography, bird watching, and enjoying the natural beauty and culture of the region.


As a visitor you can tour the mountain from east to west, through trails such as ‘El Yayal’ or ‘Planeta Bosque’, along the banks of Los Cacaos stream, paths to bring out the wild soul and become environmentally conscious.

You can visit the following tourist attractions within the sanctuary: Los Chivos waterfall, El Mirador, Los Cacaos stream, Escondido gully, Tigre’s cave, Piedra del Toro and Tinamú.

Planeta Bosque Trail

Planeta Bosque is an interpretative trail, which has a duration of 3 to 5 hours with a low degree of difficulty. It is ideal for bird watching.


The number of bird species recorded in the sanctuary is 152 species divided into 40 families. Among the species that you can see are:

  • Macaws (Ara macao, Ara chloropterus, Ara severus, Ara ararauna)
  • Guans (Penelope purpurascens)
  • Chachalacas (Ortalis ruficauda)
  • Red-throated caracara (Ibycter americanus)
  • Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus).
  • Black-crested antshrike (Sakesphorus canadensis)

Wildlife Tours

Los Colorados FFS is considered a great refuge for species characteristic of the local dry forests, there are records of more than 40 mammals. Among the species of mammals that can be seen are:

  • Alouatta seniculus
  • Saguinus oedipus
  • Bradypus variegatus
  • Choloepus hoffmanni
  • Pecari tajacu
  • Dasyprocta punctata
  • Leopardus pardalis
  • Leopardus wiedii
  • Potos flavus

The sanctuary is also the transitory habitat of the Jaguar (Pantera onca).

Los Colorados FFS has records of 29 amphibian species, 20 genera and 10 families, and 21 families of reptiles.

Where to stay in Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary?

Los Colorados FFS does not currently offer lodging services for visitors. But it is very close to the towns of San Juan Nepomuceno and San Jacinto where you can stay. Our recommendations for you are:

  • San Juan Nepomuceno: Hotel Malibu
  • San Jacinto: Bello Horizonte and Hostal las Palmas

Best time to visit Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

It is recommended to visit the park during the 2 dry seasons, between the months of December and April, and between July and August.

Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary Entrance fees

These are the entrance fees for 2021:

  • Los Colorados FFS has a single entrance fee of COP 6,500.
  • Children under 5 years old and Colombians over 65 years old have free admission upon presentation of their identity documents.

What to consider before visiting Los Colorados Flora and Fauna Sanctuary

  • You should wear long pants, t-shirt or long sleeve shirt and comfortable shoes. In the rainy season, we recommend marsh boots.
  • The entry of pets or domestic animals is prohibited.
  • The use of flash when taking photographs is prohibited.
  • Use of binoculars to watch animals’ behavior is recommended.
  • Bring along valid identification documents and health insurance.
  • It is recommended to be vaccinated against yellow fever and tetanus.
  • If you take specific medications, take them with you a personal first aid kit.

Some prohibitions

Feeding, bothering or hunting animals, alcoholic drinks and drugs, throwing cigarette butts, burning garbage, felling, and capturing wildlife.

  • Colparques
  • Parques Nacionales
About the authors

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.