10 Ecotourism Spots in Colombia for Outdoor Adventurers

With beaches, deserts, colorful rivers, forests, and snowy mountains – the possibilities are endless for adventure-seekers. Our local insider Elena uncovers 10 of the country's best locations.

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Photo © Gregg Bleakney

1. The Caribbean Coast

The Caribbean Coast is bursting at the seams with outdoor adventures. Go surfing or chill out at Palomino, Costeño Beach, Las Gaviotas or Naranjo Beach.

Enjoy yoga, kitesurfing, rainforest and nature reserves like the Tayrona Park, and trek to the Lost City.

Take a 1hr trip from Cartagena to nearby El Totumo volcano, where you can take a mud bath. Visit the islands of Baru, Tierrabomba and the Archipelago of San Bernardo.

At Riohacha you can practice kitesurfing, biking or paddle with NinaKite.

2. The Tatacoa Desert

The Tatacoa Desert was once a garden for the dinosaurs. Today, it’s the perfect place to go biking, and to be mesmerized by the stars at the observatory – if the clouds don’t ruin your intensions.

3. Caño Cristales

River of five colors. Photo credit: iStock

The river of five colors is a magical mix of greens, red, and orange, created by the aquatic plant Macarena Claveria. Visit the river in the warm weather, and marvel at the rainbow before your eyes.

4. Bogota’s Nearby Outdoor Adventures

If you don’t have a lot of time or money, stick around the capital and venture to these close-by spots; Guatavita, Tobia, Villa de Leiva and Suesca for rock climbing, rappelling and biking.  

See the Páramo ecosystems, one of the world’s fastest-evolving hotspots.

Go to Chingaza, Chicaque, Iguaque, and Ocetá. The altitude might leave you feeling a little lightheaded as you look around the foggy landscapes full of rare fauna. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, whichever way you see it) a bear will pop up to say Buenos Dias

5. The Rock of Guatapé 2,135 m (7,005 ft)

Why not try climbing this monolithic mega-structure? Or, perhaps just take the stairs.

Guatape Lake. Photo credit: iStock

If heights aren’t your thing, you can go kayaking or fly-boarding at Guatapé Lake.

6. Santander Region

Santander is the region to go for extreme sports; like rafting, paragliding, rock climbing and caving – bats included. The best spots for this are The Mesa of Saints, Chicamocha Canyon, Gallineral National Park, San Gil, and La Mojarra.

7. Amazon Region

Where Colombia,Brazil, and Peru meet, you can sleep in a tree house, hold an anaconda, monkey around at Monkey Island (Isla de los Micos), or visit Agape, Zacambu, River Javari and Nariño port.

8. Green Lake El Azufral and La Cocha Lake

Visit the indigenous Nariño people’s sacred lakes. Trek in at altitude to see these two wonders for a real thrill.

9. Los Nevados Park

If you love a demanding trek, located near Salento is one of the highest mountains in the country, El Nevado del Tolima. It stands at 5,280m (17,110 ft) tall. You’ll need a guide if you want to summit this peak.

If you’d rather go horse-riding, head to the Cocora Valley, where there are some shorter hikes as well. Make sure you try fried smashed plantains with some local fish.

10. The Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast’s outgoing locals and cheerful music will welcome you with open arms. See whales, go scuba-diving, or go surfing at Nuquí, Bahia Solano, La Barra, and Ladrilleros.

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