Marisol and I took her nephew, David, to Bioparque Ukumarí for the day. Ukumarí is a huge nature complex in Colombia’s coffee region that’s currently under construction. When finished, it will have a zoo, a veterinary center, nature museum, anthropology museum, aquarium, 4D attractions, interactive games, and nature-related extreme sports. It will be the largest complex of its kind in Latin America. As of our visit (October 1, 2016), I would estimate only 10% is done.
The zoo is the only section of the park that’s open to visitors. It houses all of the animals from the old Matecaña City Zoo in Pereira, which closed in mid-2015. The complex will consist of five different habitats: Andean Forest, African Savanna, Amazon Rain Forest, Caribbean, and Asia. For our visit, only the Andean Forest and African Savanna were open.
After purchasing our tickets (COP$19,000 for children and COP$27,000 for adults), we were greeted by an employee who explained a bit about the park and what we would be able to see. From there, we walked through the main entrance where there are several food trucks and a gift shop.
After a short walk through a bamboo forest, the first section we visited was the African Savanna, which is only about 40% complete. I was happy to see that the pens holding the animals were much more spacious than most other zoos I had visited. I was also impressed with the concrete work done to create formations depicting African trees and giant boulders. It’s clear a lot of money was invested in this project.
In the African section, we were able to see ostriches, zebras, antelope, lions, rhinos, and wildebeest. The elephants were still getting acclimated to their new surroundings while other animals, including giraffes, were still awaiting transfer from the San Diego Zoo.
After lunch, we visited the Andean Forest section. It was much more complete than the African section, but about ⅓ of the attractions weren’t ready. We were able to see otters, spectacled bears, tapirs, pumas, ocelots, and foxes.
Overall, Marisol and I were impressed with what we saw in our short three hours at Ukumarí and David was excited to see all the animals (and eat ice cream). I wouldn’t recommend visiting until at least 2018, but it’s obvious that this park will rival the best in Latin America, including the Cali Zoo, when completed. I look forward to returning in the future to see the progress and visit the new attractions.
To get to Ukumarí, you can take a taxi from Pereira directly to the park or any Pereira city bus heading towards La Virginia. If taking the bus, get off at the Santa Barbara service station, cross the highway, and follow the road to the park. It’s about a 10 to 15 minute walk. Supposedly, Ukumarí has complimentary vans operating between the service station and the park but we never saw one during our walks to or from the park.