Insects !? Who wants to talk about mosquitoes and sandflies? I feel itchy just thinking about it! Please, do not be so quick to think the only insects along the trail are those annoying blood-sucking bugs. (Here you can read the first part of this article about birds in the Lost City trail)

Without any doubt the animals you will see most often will be butterflies

The “Yellow butterflies”, Tailed sulphur (Phoebis neocypris)

This butterfly that you could also find in other regions of Central and South America is characterized by being found in parts of the road near a river or stream. Because they suck up minerals from the wet soil and their courtship dances are performed in large groups, you will most likely find them doing a humble and delicate aerial show somewhere along the trail.

88 Butterfly88 Butterfly (Diaethria clymena)

This zebra-like butterfly has a black and white pattern in the shape of the numbers 8 or 9 on their underwings and a red “stain” over the stripes as they were painted to make that monochromatic pattern more appealing.

Seen from above their upperwings are black crossed by a thick iridescent stripe and a fine line of the same color on the distal margin. Doing the math, you have an 88% of probabilities to see it at rest and admire its particular pattern.

Blue Morpho (Morpho helenor)

It is a large butterfly easily distinguished by its bright blue wings. Although it makes its appearances by flapping its wings in some corner of the forest, it disappears quickly which makes it difficult to capture in a photo.

Owl Butterfly (Caligo telamonius)

Owl butterfly at Paraíso camp near Lost City
This owl butterfly was “looking at us” at Paraíso Camp.

This butterfly takes its name from the particular fake eyes that can be seen in its wings. These eyes are surrounded by textures in brown shades. Curiously when seen from above, their wings have a beautiful striking blue. In spite of this, you will most likely find it at rest, letting you see the patterns on her wings that give it its curious name. These eyes serve to confuse its predators by making them believe that a larger animal is watching them.

Ants, many ants

Leafcutter ants

The leafcutter ants belong to the genus Atta and are widespread throughout America, that means a visitor to our continent can find this workaholic bugs very interesting.

The first time you see these tiny leafcutting machines you can think immediately they eat leaves (it looks obvious), but the real thing is, they depend mostly on a kind of fungus that thrives on a substrate of the leaves the are cutting all day long. So, they have cultivated even before humans learned how to do it.

These ants are strong biters but fortunately they inject no venom nor toxins and as we can expect, based on the forementioned info, they are not going to eat anybody alive, nor are any other species of ants of the trail… We hope this does not ruin your expectations of living an Indiana Jones experience to the Lost City of the Tayronas.

Leafcutter ants

For a good reason these bugs can catch your attention during the tour to the Lost City, so remember not all the insects you find along the trail are undesirable vermins. Nonetheless, bring a powerful mosquito repellent to keep the unpleasant ones far from you.

The tropical rainforest of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is inhabited by an interesting variety of animal species. However, since so many people pass through the trail daily (which scares off the local fauna) wildlife sightings will be scarce. Even so, we will leave you with a list of the animals you might encounter on the trail, we hope this information will help make your trip to Ciudad Perdida even more fascinating. In the first part of this article we will talk about the species of birds you can see during the Lost City tour.*

Most common birds in the Lost City trail

The sunrise on the trail will be accompanied by a musical concert performed by the infinite species of birds found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, despite the variety, at the beginning of this article we mentioned that little can be seen, remember that to increase the probability of a sighting someone in the group must know how to identify the bird by its vocalization (sounds).

Crested Oropendola (Psarocolius decumanus)

It is member of the orioles and grackles’ family. It’s a big bird, easy to identify, its body is mainly black, has a long pointed yellow bill and a yellow tail. Whether you can see this bird or not you surely will see its hanging nests high in the trees, which are woven meticulously reaching up to one meter long.


At least 16 species of hummingbirds can be seen in this area but the most common is the Rufous-tailed hummingbird (Amazilia tzacatl), as its name suggests it has a rufous (reddish brick-like color) tail and a red bill, what makes it easier to identify. It is more abundant along the lower part of the trail.

Other species of hummingbirds: White-chinned Sapphire (Hylocharis cyanus), Long-billed Hermit (Phaetornis longirostris), Band-tailed Barbthroat (Threnetes ruckeri).

White-bearded manakin (Manacus manacus)

Even if you cannot see them on the road, perhaps you can hear them in the distance, they emit a sound similar to the clash of several stones, hence they call it “Pistolero” (gunman) locally. In the video you can listen this “inorganic” sound and see one of the birds performing its courtship dance into the bushes (unfortunately it was taken using a smartphone so, the zoom was very limited).


You can find them high up in the trees, or flying over the forest. The most colorful of the species mentioned here is the keel-billed toucan.

Keel-billed Toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus)

If the most interesting approach to a toucan in your life has been the mascot appearing on a cereal box (as it is my case, sadly) we really hope the stars aligned to give you the chance to have a glance of this beautiful bird. Even when its body is not colorful, “who needs it when your bill has such a dazzling combination of red, green, blue, yellow, orange…” a keel-billed toucan would say us.

Other species of toucans and toucanets: Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus), Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus).

We will continue our wildlife adventure talking about the amazing insects you can find in the Lost City trail. See you later!

Note: This article is not intended to provide information for experts birdwatchers, we know they need more details than the forementioned.