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Bears in Machu Picchu
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Can I see bears in Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is considered a Historical and Natural Heritage by UNESCO. In addition to its incredible structures, during your visit you will be able to see beautiful species of animals, plants and insects. Among its numerous species, its more than three hundred species of orchids stand out. It also stands out for its bird and mammal species such as the spectacled bear and the cock-of-the-rock. Spectacled bears are famous for their rare visits to the Inca archaeological site. Can I see bears in Machu Picchu? Yes.

Spectacled bear
Spectacled bear in danger of extinction

The spectacled bears

  • The spectacled bear is the only one of its kind that inhabits the Andean Cordillera region of South America.
  • Its scientific name is tremarctos ornatus. It has black fur and a white spot at eye level, which popularized its name.
  • The spectacled bear can reach a height of 1.8 meters. They inhabit the eastern tropical region of the Andes Mountains. Their diet is mainly based on fruits and plants.
  • The spectacled bear can live up to fifty years in its natural habitat. Their customs are solitary. Males and females usually spend a fair amount of time until copulation and subsequent separation.
  • This mammal is considered in a ‘vulnerable situation’ mainly due to illegal hunting in its natural habitat.

Spectacled bear: general information

El oso de anteojos
EspecieTremarctos decorated
HabitadHigh moist forests of the eastern Andes Mountains of South America.
DistributionPeru, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia.
MachosFrom 100 to 200 kilos. Black fur with white spots on the eyes, neck, face and chest (varies depending on the individual).
HembrasFrom 35 to 85 kilos. Its reproduction is approximately two individuals per gestation period.
FoodWild fruits and plants (omnivores).
ComportamientoSolitary and diurnal habits.
PeligroVulnerable situation.
Especies en Machu Picchuapproximately 70.

The spectacled bears in Machu Picchu

  • The spectacled bear is recognized worldwide for its white fur on its face, as if it were glasses. It is estimated that in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu there are approximately seventy species.
  • The spectacled bears are protected by the Peruvian State by promoting the creation of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. This protected area has a total of 32,592 hectares of mountains and Cusco jungle.
  • It is a mammal on the list of species in a vulnerable situation. His image was included in the Peruvian one sol coin, recently included in the collection of limited edition coins of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru.
Machupicchu bear
Sighting of a spectacled bear in Machu Picchu

Where to see spectacled bears?

  • It has become common to see spectacled bears with their cubs playing near the buildings of Machu Picchu. They can be seen from very early until around 4 in the afternoon, but they only stay for a few minutes. After attracting all eyes, they return to the forest in search of another place to play.
  • On a good lucky day, the spectacled bear can also be seen along the Camino Machu Picchu Inca 4 days.
  • In addition, the spectacled bear can be seen at the Andean Bear Conservation Center of the Inka Terra Association in the town of Aguas Calientes. Up to four Andean bears with names have been registered there: Pepe, Kina, Coquito and Josi.

Pepe and Kina are in captivity, living alone, being groomed and on their way to procreate. Coquito and Yosi (Kina’s sister) are in a situation of semi-freedom. They prepare so that, in a not too distant moment, they can re-enter the Cusco jungle to live on their own. Meanwhile, these species are protected by the Peruvian authorities.

Caring for spectacled bears in Machu Picchu

  • Spectacled bears are protected by the authorities of Machu Picchu, Cusco and Peru. Only people authorized by the Ministry of Culture of Peru can enter the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. At each point there are security booths with park rangers in charge of ensuring the safety of the flora and fauna of the place.
  • The spectacled bears that inhabit the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu are duly registered. They live in freedom and their reproduction is of interest to the respective authorities. What is sought is its conservation.
Spectacled bear
Peruvian one sol coin alluding to the Andean spectacled bear

What to do when you see a bear in Machu Picchu?

  • The tour guides are in charge of guiding the tourists in case of encounters with the spectacled bears.
  • In the case of spotting a spectacled bear, the tourist must keep the proper distance and limit himself to taking the photos he deems necessary.
  • Spectacled bears are harmless animals that only react aggressively if threatened.

More information on spectacled bears

  • Hunting spectacled bears is illegal and punishable by Peruvian justice.
  • Monitoring of spectacled bears was carried out in Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, from August 2014 to September 2016. Bear tracks, fecal residue, feeding sites and other tracking techniques were searched for. This sampling covered an approximate area of 368 square kilometers within the Machu Picchu National Park and its buffer zone.
  • Monitoring of spectacled bears was carried out for more than two years and revealed the presence of spectacled bears in more than ninety-five percent of the Machu Picchu national park, in stark contrast to the thirty percent of previous studies.
  • Peru is home to 10 protected natural areas whose main conservation species is the spectacled bear (Andean bear).
  • The conservation of the spectacled bear brings with it the preservation of other species in the protected natural area, in this case Machu Picchu in Cusco.
Spectacled bear
Spectacled bear photographed on Machu Picchu Mountain


By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, October 7, 2022