NATIONAL PARKS TOURS COLOMBIA

ALL CULTURAL HIGHLIGHTS COMBINED WITH FABULOUS NATURE

 
 

BEST THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA

The Caribbean region coast extends from the Gulf of Urabá at border with Panamá to the Gulf of Venezuela, consisting of eight Departments and the San Andres Island Archipelago. The Caribbean region of Colombia is home to approximately 11 million people consisting of. The predominant ethnic group in the region is called the pardo, a mixture of European, mainly Spanish, the indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian. The two most populous indigenous ethnic groups are the Wayuu in the Guajira Peninsula and the Arhuacos, the Koguis and the Arsarios. Most of the Afro-Colombian people live near Cartagena San Basilio de Palenque, which has been nominated a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO for preserving its African heritage.

 

The economy of the Caribbean region is based mainly in the exploitation of coal, natural gas, salt, bananas, some coffee, oil palm, cotton, tropical fruitsand livestock. There is also a flowering service industry and a harbor industry around Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Santa Marta down town beache with a view on the harbor in the distance.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: The famous white Santa Martha Cathedral.

Santa Marta down town beache with a view on the harbor in the distance.

The famous white Santa Martha Cathedral.

 

Why consider booking our Colombia National Parks Tour? Because for the same price, our tour gets you to ALL places for which Colombia is famous, and on top of that, you get to see 7 National Parks/Reserves accompanied by a naturalist guide. There is nothing similar on the market. As Colombia can be combined with other countries, we organize tours in modules: Bogota and surrounding Andes, Caribbean Coast and the Amazon of Ecuador; the latter for the Colombian Amazon still not being recommended for foreign visitors. Colombia is a very large country, so you need to fly. To do so at hardly any additional costs, you need to book both Bogota and Cartagena - and Quito if you want to include the Amazon module - in your international ticket.

Destinations Overview:  Bogota old town, Cartagena, Villa de Leyva Zipaguira Salt Mine Church, Chingaza Reserve, Iguaque National Park, Flamencos Reserve, Cienega Mangroves Reserve, Lake Fuquene, Tayrona National Park, Manaure Salt Flats.

 

The coastline geology ranges from high-relief, steep-plunging cliffs with igneous and metamorphic rocks, to low, sandy barrier islands and extensive mangrove swamps and estuarine lowlands.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Mangrove lined estuaries.

Mangrove lined estuaries.

 

The regional variety of coastline types is further augmented by regional climatic differences, ranging from desert conditions at the Guajira peninsula to high tropical rainfall at the Darien Gap around the Gulf of Uraba at the border with Panama with tropical rainforests.

 

Shoreline erosion has been the predominant historical trend along most of the beaches and soft-rock segments. In the past few decades, the use of hard engineering structures became extensive in order to stabilize the main recreational beaches and major cities.

 

Tourism along the Caribbean Coast

For a long time, Colombia was a dangerous country, tainted by Narcos and guerillas. This has changed completely since the peace agreement with the FARC and not the Caribbean coast of Colombia has become quite safe. Highlights of the Caribbean Coast are:

The most famous beaches are El Rodadero Beach at Santa Marta, the islands off the coast of Cartagena and the beaches of the island San Andrés.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: The boulevard, or malecon of Santa Marta with a view on the harbor in the distance.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: The Rodadero Beach is the most popular beach of Santa Marta lined with hotels, high rises and restaurants.

The boulevard, or malecon of Santa Marta with a view on the harbor in the distance.

The Rodadero Beach is the most popular beach of Santa Marta lined with hotels, high rises and restaurants.

 

But other beaches offer a much quieter environment, such as Isla Fuerte, Riohacha and the beaches of Manaure and Cabo de Vela, where cabanas made of wood and palm leaves offer shade and freshly caught fish and cool beer.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Cabo de Vela is a pyramide shaped hill overlooking both the sea and the Guajira desert.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Manaure beach is popular for kite surfing.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: beaches along Guajira offer pleasant palm leaf covered "pergolas" where one can enjoy a simple fish meal and a beer.

Cabo de Vela is a pyramide shaped hill overlooking both the sea and the Guajira desert.

Manaure beach is popular for kite surfing, while beaches along Guajira offer pleasant palm leaf covered "pergolas" where one can enjoy a simple fish meal and a beer.

 

Over the past decade, Cartagena de Indias has become quite famous, attracting more visitors every year. Massive yellow walls surround the old city center, and travelers like to sit on them to appreciate the view and the sunset.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: watching the sun set.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA:  Lovers at the wall.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Friends watching the sun set.

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Sunset.

Just by yourself, with your lover or with friends, nothing is more romantic than starting your night in Cartagena watching the sun slowly sink into the sea!

 

Old town Cartagena is a pedestrians paradise as no cars are allowed on on the cobblestone streets, that take visitors to impressive churches, luxury restaurants, and fabulous balconies.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: The Clock tower is probably the most iconic building of Cartagena.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: The San Peter Claver Church is not only a beautiful Renaissance building but also a monument to humanity.

The Clock tower is probably the most iconic building of Cartagena.

The San Peter Claver Church is not only a beautiful Renaissance building but also a monument to humanity.

 

Across a river old town is dominated by the impressive San Felipe fortress.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: The San Felipe Fortress is the largest and most impressive fortress of colonial AmericaTHINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Beautifully restored with canons, turrets and parapets, the fortress attracts thousands of visitors every day.

The San Felipe Fortress is the largest and most impressive fortress of colonial America.

Beautifully restored with canons, turrets and parapets, the fortress attracts thousands of visitors every day.

 

At only half an hour away from Santa Marta is the little town of Minca at the foothills of the rather inaccessible Sierra Nevada National Park. While not pretty, Minca offers scuba diving and snorkeling, rental of motorbikes and quads and horseback riding.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Snorkeling at Minca beach.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Going on an adventure from Minca on a motorcycle or quad.

Snorkeling at Minca beach.

Going on an adventure from Minca on a motorcycle or quad.

 

National Parks and Nature Reserves

There is a variety of national parks and nature reserves along the Caribbeancoast and nearby sea as you can see on the map below:

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Protected areas along the Caribbean coast.

Protected areas along the Caribbean coast.

 

Not all the areas are all that easy to visit, lacking access roads or trails as well as inhibitive agreements with native peoples, such is the case of Santa Marta National Park. Some of the better parks and reserves include:

  • Tayrona National Park;

  • Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta Flora and Fauna Sanctuary;

  • Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Park;

  • Flamencos  Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

All four areas are included in the Colombia National Parks Tour. Of those areas, the most famous national park on the Caribbean coast of Colombia is Tayrona National Park. 15,000 ha large, its three entrances providing access to tens of kilometers of trails and some of the greatest virgin beaches in the world, Tayrona National Park is one of highlights on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. As distances are quite doable, most visitors venture out on the trail on their way to campgrounds and beaches. Unfortunately, a number of trails are heavily trampled as they are serviced by horses, but most beaches can be accessed avoiding the smelly horse caravans. Tayrona is home to many animals like monkeys, iguanas, caimans or even jaguars.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Tairona National Park is one of Colombia's most popular national parks.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Trails offer a variety of destinations to visitors, like the "9 piedras Trail"THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: a winding trail along the coast, ultimately taking visitors to beach destinations, while showing the beautiful coastal forests, swamps and marshes.

Tairona National Park is one of Colombia's most popular national parks.

Trails offer a variety of destinations to visitors, like the "9 piedras Trail" with egg-shaped stones left behind by unknown culture and a winding trail along the coast, ultimately taking visitors to beach destinations, while showing the beautiful coastal forests, swamps and marshes.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: There are many virgin beaches along the park; some are closed to visitors to allow marine turtles  quiet reproduction.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Other beaches are frequented by visitors, but in a very ecofriendly enviroment.

There are many virgin beaches along the park; some are closed to visitors to allow marine turtles  quiet reproduction.

Other beaches are frequented by visitors, but in a very ecofriendly enviroment.

 

Another very popular national park is Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Park, which protects an archipelago of islands off the coast of Cartagena and the interlocked sea with coral reefs and abundant marine life. Many islands have beaches that are becoming increasingly popular, while other parts of those islands enjoy protection.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Some of the islands of Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Park have remarkably virgin beaches with few visitors.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Some of the shorelines are covered with forest and mangrove.

Some of the islands of Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Park have remarkably virgin beaches with few visitors.

Some of the shorelines are covered with forest and mangrove.

 

The Guajira Desert

La Guajira, the north-eastern peninsula located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is the largest desert in the country and Punta Gallina the northernmost point of South America. From Rioacha or Uribia, forwheeldrive cars take visitors to the salt lakes and beaches of Manaura and Cabo de la Vela. The former is well-known for its kite surfing, while the salt production basins host a colony of about 1500 flamingos during the non-breeding season. 

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Salt evaporation basin with accumulated salt heapsTHINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: flamingos feeding in the Manaure salt flats.

Salt evaporation basin with accumulated salt heaps.

flamingos feeding in the Manaure salt flats.

 

At the very beginning of the is the Guajira Desert near Riohacha, is the Flamencos Flora and Fauna Reserve, with brackish lagoons and interesting coastal birdlife. Most striking is the population of up to 1500 American Flamingos, that spend the breeding season there. Although not all birds breed, there is a breeding population during the nesting season.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Partially influenced by marine access and rains, the reserve has wide mud banks, lined with thorny vegetation and some mangrove shrubs.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Flamingos are present during most of the year, while peaking during the breeding season.

Partially influenced by marine access and rains, the reserve has wide mud banks, lined with thorny vegetation and some mangrove shrubs.

Flamingos are present during most of the year, while peaking during the breeding season.

 

Cienaga Grande Mangroves

Cienaga Grande is an estuary closed off from the sea, but now it has some of its tidal access recovered, thus guaranteeing a transition from fresh water inland to brackish water along the coastal side of the lagoon. The area has not been discovered yet by tourism and it has a remarkably good avifauna. Local fishermen primarily catch shrimps and coastal fish. The mangroves are actually quite good and no signs of deforestation has been observed.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Fishermen in the Cienaga Grande Mangroves.THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA: Stilted house in the waters of the Cienaga Grande Mangroves.

Fishermen in the Cienaga Grande Mangroves.

Stilted house in the waters of the Cienaga Grande Mangroves.

 

THINGS TO DO CARIBBEAN COAST OF COLOMBIA

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National Parks Tours Worldwide, a social responsibility and conservation company, is a brand name of the World Institute for Conservation & Environment, registered in the Netherlands with headquarters in the USA.

 

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Parks Man Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil is author of this website. He dedicated his life to the conservation of nature. https://www.facebook.com/DrDaanVreugdenhil, https://www.linkedin.com/in/drdaanvreugdenhil/. He was part of the team that selected the first 39 protected areas of Ecuador in the 1970s and he initiated the Cuyabeno Lodge in Ecuador's Amazon in 1985, making him one of the world's eco tourism pioneers. A speaker of 8 languages and having traveled to 80+ countries, Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil has is one of the world's greatest connoisseurs of nature and national parks in the world. 

This website and its programs have been created by the renowned conservation biologist "Parks Man" Dr. Daan Vreugdenhil