Colombia is world famous for its biodiversity. From its dense jungles, lush rainforests and white sandy beaches to its breathtaking mountain ranges and endless deserts and plains, the country is filled with rare birds and animals. Environmentally conscious travelers can enjoy low-impact ecotourism and adventure travel in Colombia and spread the word about these species.
1. Chingaza National Park
The Colombian Andes are home to many of the country’s richest and most unusual ecosystems and Chingaza National Park is one of the best spots for ecotourism in the country. This enormous park, close to the capital, Bogotá, ranges in altitudes from 800m to 4,000m above sea level and is home to spectacled bears, jaguars, pumas, woolly monkeys, toucans and the imposing Andean condor. The best way to explore the park’s more than 40 glacial lakes is with guided hikes, especially through the sea of delicate frailejon plants that cover its vast páramo eco-system.
2. Utría National Park
Humpback whales are Colombia’s biggest and most gentle inhabitants and they travel thousands of miles to give birth on its shores every year. Utría National Park overlooks a shallow lagoon that acts as a nursery for these newborn baby whales and offers a moving and inspiring Colombia ecotourism adventure for those who watch them play. Most visitors stay in nearby Bahia Solano where sea turtles crawl onto the beaches at night to lay their eggs and leave their own newborns, when they eventually hatch, to make a solo pilgrimage back to the ocean.
3. El Cocuy National Park
El Cocuy National Park is the jewel in Colombia’s eco-tourism crown with its sacred snow-topped peaks, glaciar-gouged lakes and historic ice fields. This stunning natural park is being discovered by increasing numbers of adventurous hikers every year, keen to explore its alpine terrain. Spectacled bears have been spotted in El Cocuy too and rare and colorful Colombian birds, such as the Andean cock-of-the-rock, Andean condor, torrent ducks and multiple species of hummingbird, make for an impressive sight against this snowy backdrop.
4. Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary
It is what lies beneath the ocean waves that makes Malpelo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, a UNESCO World Heritage site, such an impressive destination for ecotourism in Colombia. This tiny volcanic island, 500km west of the country’s Pacific coast, is circled by some of the world’s most diverse marine life. Divers and adventure travel enthusiasts will discover hundreds of silky sharks and swarms of hammerheads swimming here and, if they’re lucky, the rare smalltooth sand tiger, which has been known to visit Malpelo Island too.
5. Serranía de la Macarena National Park
No trip in search of adventure travel and ecotourism in Colombia would be complete without a journey to Caño Cristales,
the unique Guayabero River tributary in Meta’s Serranía de la Macarena National Park, which is often referred to as “the most beautiful river in the world”. This liquid rainbow shimmers between red, yellow, black, green and blue thanks to a rare riverweed that alters its color as it flows. Most visitors stay in a nearby village and hike to Caño Cristales in a bid to spot the jaguars, cougars, anteaters, deer and multiple species of monkeys that are also found in the park.
What are you waiting for? These are five reasons why a Colombia ecotourism and adventure travel experience will remain in your memory forever.