NATIONAL PARKS TOURS COLOMBIA

ALL CULTURAL HIGHLIGHTS COMBINED WITH FABULOUS NATURE

 

 

 

 

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 Caribbean region of Colombia or Caribbean coast region is in the north of Colombia and is mainly composed of eight Departments located contiguous to the Caribbean.[1] The area covers a total land area of 132,288 km2 (51,077 sq mi) including the San Andres Island Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina in the Caribbean sea and corresponding to approximately 1/10 of the total territory of Colombia. The Caribbean region of Colombia is home to approximately 9 million people according to the Colombian Census 2005.[2]

The Caribbean region coast extends from the Gulf of Urabá to the Gulf of Venezuela. Straddling the coast are Colombia's two main Atlantic port cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena. The administration of the region is covered by eight department governments; Atlántico, Bolívar, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, Magdalena, La Guajira and San Andrés y Providencia. These 8 departments also cover approximately 182 municipalities, 1093 corregimientos and 493 caserios according to the 2005 Census by DANE. Most of its inhabitants speak a dialect of Caribbean Spanish with variations within its subregions.

 

Demographics

The predominant ethnic group in the region is the pardo, a mixture of European, mainly Spanish, the indigenous peoples and Afro-Colombian. During the early 20th century, a wave of immigrants came from Europe and the Middle East, mostly from Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. A second wave followed during World War II. Most of the immigrants settled in the main urban centers or trade port towns such as in Barranquilla, Santa Marta, Cartagena, Sincelejo, Santa Cruz de Mompox, El Banco, etc. The two most populous indigenous ethnic groups are the wayuu in the Guajira Peninsula and the Arhuacos, Koguis and Arsarios. Black population is mostly concentrated near Cartagena predominantly in the town of San Basilio de Palenque, which was proclaimed Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO for preserving its African heritage.

There are 9,746,886 inhabitants in the Colombian Caribbean Region of Colombia in 2010, with a population density of 73.71 inhabitants per square kilometer. According with Dane population projection there will be 10,441,463 in 2015 and 11,142,852 in 2020. The principal metropolitan area is Barranquilla Metropolitan Area with 1,836,331 inhabitants.

 

The economy of the Caribbean region is based mainly in the exploitation of natural resources such coal and natural gas, salt, agricultural products mainly bananas, coffee and oil palm, cotton, tropical fruits among many other products, livestock raising which is practiced extensively in almost all the territory, in Córdoba, Sucre, Atlántico, Magdalena, Bolívar, Cesar and southern La Guajira. There is also a service industry and a local import-export industry mainly in the ports of Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta. Another major part of the economy is tourism, which concentrates also in Cartagena and Santa Marta along with San Andres and Providencia Islands.

Due to the complex geologic history of the northwestern part of South America, the Colombian coasts include a variety of coastline types, ranging from high-relief, steep-plunging cliffs typical of igneous and metamorphic massifs, to low, sandy barrier islands and extensive mangrove swamps characteristic of deltaic areas of both coasts. The geological variety of coastline types is further augmented by regional climatic differences (ranging from desert conditions to high rainfall of about 10 m/yr), and by regional and local neotectonic influences, including the effects of historical earthquakes/tsunamis and mud volcano eruptions.

Although mostly undeveloped and with a low population density, the recent evolution of the Colombian coastal regions has been strongly influenced by human activities both along the shore and in the watersheds. Channel excavation and river diversions dating back to the 18th century altered the sediment budgets of all the major deltas of the country and induced extensive morphological and biological changes in the littoral zone. Shoreline retreat 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 the inhabited areas of practically all major coastal cities and villages.

 

Best places to visit on the Caribbean Coast in Colombia Last Updated: November 19, 2018 by Guest Poster

Because of its bloody past, Colombia has the reputation of being a dangerous country, full of Narcos and Paramilitaries. And getting rid of an unpopular notoriety is hard. But things are progressively changing thanks to travelers who spread the word around them. Colombia is much more than Cocaine and FARC. It’s a country with incredible landscapes and Colombians are the most friendly people I’ve never met in my life.

The Caribbean Coast is the first region that showed the beauty of Colombia to the world with the golden walls of the old city center in Cartagena, the sultry Bachata movements in small bars, the white sandy beaches of Rosario islands and the green maze of Tayrona National Park.

But did you know the Caribbean Coast has a lot more to offer? The region could easily deserve a 3-weeks itinerary. And today, I want to share with you the best places to visit on the Caribbean Coast in Colombia. Let’s travel from West to East.

Capurgana Dock over the Caribbean Coast in Colombia Capurgana and Sapzurro

Have you heard about the Darien Gap? If you check out the area on the government’s websites, you will probably see a bloody red color and a forbidden sign.

And it’s true that I wouldn’t recommend you to wander alone in the jungle. Spiders, snakes, and paramilitaries. They are not the friends you want to play cards with.

But there are two towns on the Caribbean coast in Colombia, only accessible by boat or plane, that Colombians love. Capurgana and Sapzurro are two peaceful places where the time seems to stop. I lived there for many months when I was backpacking in Colombia. I’ve never felt unsafe.

On the main square, kids play football between dogs and a horse looking for the last pieces of grass. Behind, the bakery welcomes the clients with warm loaves of bread. The groceries sell the few vegetables available and the products brought over from the mainland.

In the streets, restaurants serve fresh fish and coconut rice. The inhabitants sit on plastic chairs to play dominos, hitting the table loudly after each move. Others listen to Vallenato songs, a cold beer in the hand and the tee shirt rolled up on their stomach.

Capurgana and Sapzurro are perfect examples of the Caribbean life.

Take the time, don’t rush to the different activities and enjoy the present. There is no car or moto. The only two options are to walk or to wait for a speedboat on the dock to explore the beaches around, the natural fresh pools and the cool diving spots. If you have a travel drone this would be a great spot for some aerial footage.

There are several places to rent on Airbnb in Capurgana as well, click here for $40 off your booking. Capurgana Budget:

Taxi Speedboat to Capurgana: 10,000 COP Yacht from Necocli – Capurgana: 70,000 COP / takes 90 minutes Average night in a dorm: 30,000 COP

Isla Fuerte

In the past, Isla Fuerte was a hiding place for pirates and narcos. Even today, only a few people are aware of its existence on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia. From Paso Nuevo, speedboats leave after lunch to bring visitors, locals, and mountains of chips and beers. And after a quick 30 min boat drive, they berth in the little town established in the South of the island.

Locals load the commodities on donkeys before leading them to the different paths cutting across Isla Fuerte. The legend says that donkeys usually bray at the exact time of their birth. I guess it’s right once a day.

On the right, La Playita is a famous hostel welcoming the backpackers. Cabanas made of wood are scattered among palm trees, and the few tables along the coast allow the visitors to savor their breakfast in front of the ocean. At night, the lights around the outdoor bar bring a friendly atmosphere to the scenery.

Isla Fuerte is well-known for its unique trees like the “walking tree.” Its branches sink into the ground and take roots around him. Follow the different paths leading to hidden beaches, ask a local to drive you around the island with his boat and book an incredible dive to the Bushnell reef. Isla Fuerte Budget:

Boat Drive Paso Nuevo – Isla Fuerte: 15,000 COP / 30 min Night in a dorm in La Playita: 45,000 COP 2 Dives to Bushnell Reef: 330,000 COP Colombian Caribbean Coast by San Bernardo islands The Archipelago of San Bernardo

The San Bernardo islands, located 1 hour away from the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, are a piece of heaven made of mangroves, sands and palm trees. At dusk, a cool breeze refreshes the tanned skin of the rare travelers while the sun goes down in the ocean, with the colors of the sunsets reflecting on the waves. It gives a great feeling of fullness.

Only a few tourists realize they can spend the nights on the islands. Therefore, you have the beach for yourself most of the time. Isla Mucura offers the best options for accommodations. Backpackers choose the hammocks while lovers enjoy their honeymoon in the luxury hotel Punta Faro.

Another option is to sleep in Casa En El Agua, a house surrounded by water. Travelers listen to techno music, their butt stuck in inflatable buoys while drinking their Margarita.

On Isla Tintipan, there is the most beautiful beach in the Archipelago de San Bernardo. Tours usually like to drop their clients there for lunch.

In front, Islote de Santa Cruz hosts more than 1,400 inhabitants. With the highest density population island in the world, there is not a single meter square available on this tiny artificial island. The archipelago of San Bernardo Budget

Boat from Tolu – Isla Mucura: 40-50,000 COP / 1h30 Boat from Rincon – Isla Mucura: 100 – 150,000 COP (Max 6 pers) / 1 hour Hammock in Isla Mucura: 35,000 COP Hammock in Casa En El Agua the coolest hostel in the world in the middle of the ocean: 70,000 COP 1 Night in Punta Faro hotel: 900,000+ COP

Church in Cartagena de Indias on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia Cartagena de Indias

Cartagena de Indias attracts many 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. Inside, no cars are allowed. Foreigners wander on the cobblestone streets, between impressive churches, luxury restaurants, and flourish balconies. Large wood doors hide private courtyards of bright colorful buildings, and street sellers speak 6-7 languages to convince visitors to buy a hat.

Near the old city center, there are the two other famous districts of Cartagena de Indias. In Boca Grande, huge buildings welcome the wealthy Colombians and American tourists. Backpackers looking for cheaper options in the district of Getsemani. At night, Trinidad square is the meeting point for fantastic dancers and bands to perform while travelers drink beers from the shops and taste the different street foods.

Because the beaches around Cartagena are without interest, many tours offer to visit the Rosario islands, located 1 hour away. The white sandy beach of Isla Baru can quickly be overcrowded during the weekends. To fully appreciate the islands, you should spend 1 or 2 nights on Isla Grande and buy your boat ticket at the dock.

Airbnb first-timers, if you sign up through my referral link you get $40 credit when you book your first trip! –>> sign up here! Cartagena de Indias FAQ:

Delicious Ceviche: 35,000 COP Night in a dorm in the old city center: 45,000 COP Boat to Isla Grande (1 way): 40,000 COP / 1 hour Night in a dorm on Isla Grande: 60,000 COP

View of Minca on the Colombia Caribbean Coast Minca

From Santa Marta, jeeps only leave the Calle 11 con Carrera 12 when there is no more seat available. In 30 minutes, the passengers say goodbye to the busy streets of the city and hello to the blue of the Caribbean Sea to venture into a new environment.

Minca is a little town in the Sierra Nevada. The lush vegetation host hundreds of different species of birds and El Dorado is a fantastic Eco lodge for bird lovers. Minca isn’t a lovely village. But within a few years, excellent hostels have been built to welcome the visitors. They offer healthy and vegetarian food, yoga or permaculture lessons. Moreover, they usually have a great view above the valley, where you can sight Santa Marta and the sparkle of the ocean.

From town, accessible trails lead the travelers to the waterfalls, the coffee plantations or the different hostels around. And for saving time, moto-taxis are always ready to drive them anywhere for a few thousand pesos. Minca FAQ:

Jeep from Santa Marta to Minca: 8,000 COP / 40 minutes Moto Taxi: Around 7,000 COP Hotels in Minca: 30,000+ COP check rates here

Tayrona National Park view the best place on the Caribbean coast of Colombia Tayrona National Park

With an area of 150 km square, three entrances, tens kilometers of trails and many beaches, Tayrona National Park is one of the favorite highlights on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia.

Once the security checkpoint has been passed, visitors are free to wander anywhere, following the different indications on the trees. Some travelers are brave and decide to hike through the park. Others are lazy and choose to pay for a horse.

But they all head to the same direction, the astonishing beaches of Tayrona. Massive boulders protect the area from the strong currents, and palm trees offer significant protection against the sun, especially on the white sandy beaches. Because they attract more and more people, you should avoid going during the weekends and holiday periods.

Along the coast, a few restaurants offer meals and hammocks to welcome the visitors who stay more than one day in the National Park (strongly recommended). Tayrona hosts many animals like monkeys, iguanas, caimans or even jaguars. To maximize your chance to spot them, start the hike early from Calabazo entrance and don’t forget to look up! Tayrona National Park FAQ:

Tayrona National Park entrance fee: 43,000 COP Hammock in Cabo San Juan: 25,000 COP Bus from Santa Marta to Tayrona National Park: 7,000 COP / 1 hour Cost of a meal in Tayrona National Park: Around 25,000 COP White sandy beach on the Caribbean side of Colombia in Palomino Palomino

Palomino is a beach town on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia, located 1 hour away from the Tayrona National Park. From the main road, a dirt path of 1 km leads to the beach. Moto-taxis patiently wait for the travelers to get off the bus. They load the big backpacks between their arms on the handlebar and drive expertly between potholes. On both sides of the road, hostels, and restaurants display colorful signs to catch the attention of the new visitors.

Life is simple in Palomino. During the day, backpackers go tubing for 2 hours with a bag full of cold beers. The river slaloms among dense vegetation and birds enjoying the coldness of the water. The activity ends directly into the ocean. Then the tomatoes travelers, burnt by the sun, have to walk back to their hostel with the inner-tube.

At night, bonfires are occasionally set up on the beach, and backpackers share beers, stories, and songs. On weekends, a few hostels organize friendly parties, and the power cuts add romantic moments and opportunities to speak without screaming.

Related Article: Best Beaches in Belize Palomino FAQ:

Bus from Santa Marta to Palomino: 9,000 COP / 2 hours Tubing down the river: 20,000 COP Night in a dorm: from 25,000 COP

islands and ocean in the Caribbean off of Colombia Punta Gallinas Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas

La Guajira, located on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, is the largest desert in the country. From Rioacha or Uribia, jeeps pick up foods, water, locals and tourists to drive them to Cabo de la Vela. There is no roads or signs to indicate the right direction. Drivers only use their memories and the landscape. As Paulo Coelho says, the desert speaks to everyone, but only a few know how to listen.

Cabo de la Vela is a well-known town by the kitesurfer community. The wind blows every day of the year, and the sea is as flat as a lake. In the desert, fresh water is a scarce resource and visitors learn to use it with parsimony. Therefore, the best method to take a shower is to use the bucket.

In town, tours offer a 2-days trip to Punta Gallina, the northernmost point of South America. Through the trip, travelers discover astonishing sceneries like colorful lagoons, massive dunes, and unforgettable sunsets. At night, the stars and the moon progressively appear in the sky and enlighten the camp. It’s time to listen to the silence of the desert. Punta Gallinas FAQ:

2-days trip to Punta Gallinas: 125,000 COP (transport only) Uribia – Cabo de la Vela: 20, 000 COP / 2.5 hours Hammock in Cabo de la Vela: 10,000 COP Hammock in Punta Gallinas: 15,000 COP Meals in Punta Gallinas cost: 15,000 COP

 

 

 

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