Colombia’s National Natural Parks
Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, second only to Brazil. Colombia’s National Natural Parks are in abundance; the country has 59 parks, ranging from the Caribbean Islands of the Rosario National Park to the snow capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy.
Colombia’s National Natural Parks are designed to protect wildlife, preserve the fragile ecosystems, conserve culture and give tourists a unique outdoor experience.
Chingaza National Natural Park
The Chingaza National Natural Park is located around 60 kilometers (37 miles) outside of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital. This park is home to the country’s largest Páramo ecosystem, which covers an area of around 76,600 hectares (189,000 acres) including the municipalities of La Calera, Guasca, Fómeque and San Juanito.
The Páramo ecosystem is a unique environment that is predominately found in Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. The Páramo is an ecosystem located on the mountains above the rain line, yet below the snow line usually at an ranging from 800 meters (2,600 ft) to 4,020 metres (13,190 ft).
The Páramo’s main purpose is to bring water down from the sky to the earth. The area is filled with over 2,000 unique and endangered fauna species such as moss and frailejón (Espeletia), which have adapted to absorb as much water as possible.
The Chingaza National Park is an ideal place to go bird watching, hiking, visit untouched land or just breathe in the fresh air.
Tayrona National Natural Park
Tayrona National Natural Park is one of the most well-known of all of Colombia’s National Natural Parks. It is located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, around 34 kilometers (21 miles) from the city of Santa Marta.
The park is well known for its beautiful beaches like Cabo San Juan, La Piscina and Arrecifes, as well as its jungle environment, which contains over 108 species of mammals, over 770 plant species and around 300 different bird species.
Tayrona is made up of two parts: 150 square kilometres (58 square miles) of land and 30 square kilometres (12 square miles) of maritime area, which includes a tropical coral reef with over 110 types of coral and over 400 fresh and saltwater fish species.
Tayrona is the perfect location for snorkelling, diving, relaxing or hiking through the forest. There are a large number of marked hikes including a hike to Pueblito – the ruins of an indigenous village.
Los Nevados National Natural Park
The Los Nevados National Natural Park covers the Colombian departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindio, and Tolima. All of Colombia’s National Natural Parks are home to unique environments and Los Nevados is no different.
It covers an area of 580 square kilometres (58,000 hectares) and has a number of different landscapes, such as páramos, endless valleys and prime coffee growing environments. The park is home to the Volcano Nevado del Ruiz, a 5,300 meter (17,400 feet) active snow-capped volcano. The park is also home to seven other active volcanos and the Valle de Cocora.
Los Nevados is home to over 1,930 plant species including Colombia’s national tree and the world’s tallest palm tree – the wax palm. Los Nevados is a great place to learn about Colombia’s coffee culture, hike the valley, visit the volcanos, go horse riding and visit waterfalls.
Macuira National Natural Park
The Macuira National Natural Park is located on the northern most point of Colombia and is a unique mix of forest and semi-desert ecosystems. Macuira is 250 square kilometres of Caribbean coast that stretches eastwards from Palomino. The area covers the La Guajira department of Colombia and borders Venezuela.
This area is home to over 350 species of flora and over 140 species of birds, as well as the indigenous Wayuu community. Macuira is an ideal place to discover the history, culture and traditions of the Wayuu people, as well as take part in activities such as hiking, bird watching, surfing, and kitesurfing.
The National Park has a large number of beaches including Cabo de la Vela, Pilon de Azucar, the cliffs of Ojo de Agua, and the lighthouse at El Farro – a picturesque sunset spot.
Macuira is a great place to experience the unique red/orange sand and the contrasting turquoise Caribbean ocean joining together. The area is also home to a salt mine in Manaure.
Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo National Natural Park
The Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo National Natural Park is located in the Caribbean Sea, off the coast of Colombia’s Caribbean city, Cartagena. This National Natural Park covers an area of 1,200 kilometres squared, and predominantly consists of maritime area and small islands.
This National park contains over 53 species of coral, around 170 species of fish, and 60 species of birds. The Corales del Rosario y de San Barnardo contains over 27, mostly uninhabited, islands that have white sandy beaches and some eco lodges.
This area is an ideal place for bird watching, snorkelling, diving, swimming, and other water activities. You can also relax on beaches such as Playa Bonita. Laguna Encantada on Isla Grande is an amazing place as it’s home to bioluminescent plankton that light up the water at night.
Colombia’s National Natural Parks are great places to visit and you can discover Colombia Eco Travel’s tours to these parks.