Located approximately 45 minutes north of Bogotá, Bioparque La Reserva is an excellent day trip destination. Visitors will enjoy lush green scenery, close interactions with animals, and a guided tour of the reserve. The reserve originally opened its doors in September 2008 with an eye towards educating visitors about the biodiversity of Colombia, conversation of resources, and the science of animal wellness.
The cost of entry is $22.000 pesos for adults and $19.000 pesos for children ages 3-12. Children under three receive free admission. You’ll probably have to wait a few minutes after paying for your entrance tickets, as visitors must participate in a mandatory guided tour and are not allowed to walk around the park unaccompanied. Depending on the number of visitors and congestion, tours typically start every hour. While you wait, you can check out the parrots located by the entrance or head over to the cafeteria. The cafeteria offers very basic condiments such as drinks, empanadas, and potato chips, so don’t expect to have anything substantial while you wait.
The guided tour is quite interesting. Tours are offered in Spanish only, so be prepared with your pocket dictionary if necessary! Our guide was a young lady studying biology at one of the local universities, and she found herself working at Bioparque La Reserva as part of a university internship. It was heartening to know that our tour guide was knowledgeable about the subject and wasn’t somebody who simply memorized and rehearsed lines. Our group had a number of small children who had an endless volley of questions, and she expertly and patiently answered all types of questions. The tour began with an introductory brief introductory video, followed by a visit to a hut with snakes, frogs, lizards, and spiders.
The rest of the tour included a visit to a closed aviary, a close-up view of the parrots, and a visit to a greenhouse with different plant species. One of the interesting things about some of the animals at the reserve is that many of them have been saved and rehabilitated from former owners who mistreated and abused them. As an example, the parrots we visited were saved from illegal trafficking and mistreatment.
The final leg of the tour included a bird show. As the visitors sat on benches at the far end of a field, a bird trainer came out and on command, several species of birds would fly out from seemingly nowhere to land on either the fence or the trainer’s arm. The birds flew extremely close to where we were sitting and we were advised multiple times to stay still and quiet as the demonstration was in process.
Behind Brazil, Colombia is the country with the second-highest biodiversity. Although for the serious nature enthusiast there are likely more expansive and complete areas to explore, Bioparque La Reserva is an excellent introductory course to Colombia’s biodiversity and a stone’s throw from Bogotá. If you do end up visiting, as a bonus, there are a number of rustic, traditional restaurantes nearby, making for a nice lunch spot on your way back to the city.
Bioparque La Reserva is located at Vereda el Abra Km 1,2 Cota Cundinamarca / Colombia. More information can be found at www.bioparquelareserva.com.
Dr. Wallace Ting is an experienced teacher, Principal, School Director, and University-level Researcher who has worked in Texas, New York City, Colombia, Guatemala, Nigeria, and Florida. He helped co-found SchoolRubric and serves in an advisory role for the non-profit organization. He currently resides in Orlando, Florida with his young son, Phillip.