Types of Tourism in Colombia
The most popular Colombian excursions are trips to the archaeological parks of the Lost City, which is located 50 km from Santa Marta in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta; San Agustín and Tierradentro in the vicinity of Popayán; travelthrough the coffee plantations of the “Coffee Triangle”, which includes the cities of Manizales, Pereira and Armenia, as well as visits to the original Indian villages of the mountainous region and the Amazon.
For many years Colombia occupies a leading position in terms of biodiversity: the country has more than 100,000 plant species, about 3,000 vertebrate species, more than 1,800 bird species and about 3,000 fish species. Colombia has several dozen protected areas that cover about 15% of its territory. The country can be divided into 5 natural regions with unique ecosystems: the Andes, the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Amazon and the Eastern Plains of the Orinoco Valley. Check top-medical-schools.org for travel information in Colombia.
The Amazon is the richest natural region in the country. It occupies 1/3 of the territory of Colombia. This area, unique in its natural world, is often called the “lungs of the planet” because of the dense rainforests that cover it. About 52% of the entire territory of the region has the status of a protected area. Numerous excursions to tropical forests and swamps are arranged from the local city of Leticia. Most often, tourists go to the Amakayaku National Park.. The swampy areas of the park can be traveled by motorboat or canoe, while hiking trails have been laid out in drier areas. Huge trees grow in the local forests, the height of which can reach 50 m: mahogany, hevea, red and white cedar and balsam tree; and in the swamps – the largest water lily in the world, Victoria Regia. In the park you can see the smallest primate in the world – the lion marmoset monkey, the world’s largest freshwater crocodiles and turtles, jaguars, tapirs and deer. Lake Tarapoto is interesting, where freshwater pink and gray dolphins live. From Leticia, you can also take a motorboat to the “Isle of the Monkeys” (Isla de los Micos), home to over a thousand monkeys, and to the national parks of Kahuinari and Rio Pure, where you can see black caimans and the largest freshwater turtles in the world in the rivers.
To the north, the Eastern Plains region of the Orinoco Valley is occupied by the llanos savannas. Llanos are home to one of the largest predators in South America – the Orinoco crocodile (body length up to 7 m), giant armadillos (weight up to 60 kg), the largest rodent on the planet – capybara (weight reaches 50 kg) and the world’s largest snake – anaconda (length up to 6 m). The western part of the country is occupied by the Andes mountain ranges. In this region, you can see snow-capped mountain peaks, among which mountain valleys, volcanoes, dense forests, high-altitude steppes and extensive plantations where coffee, sugarcane, rice, bananas and tobacco are grown. From the capital of Colombia Bogotás can go to the parks of the Eastern Cordillera: Sierra Macarena, Chingaza and Kokuy, which are designed to protect the mountain forests of the Andean zone with bears, jaguars, cougars, deer, monkeys, anteaters and numerous birds living in them. In addition, Kokui National Park with its 25 mountain peaks will appeal to outdoor enthusiasts. Active tourists will also be interested in the national parks of the Western Cordillera, where the majestic volcanoes are located: Los Nevados (40 km from Manizales) and Puras (east of Popayana).
National parks and reserves The Caribbean and Pacific coasts are protected by colorful coral reefs with their inhabitants, picturesque lagoons and mangrove forests. The most famous protected areas of the Caribbean coast are the Tayrona National Park (32 km northeast of Santa Marta) with beaches that are considered among the most beautiful in the world; the Los Flamenco Nature Reserve and the Macuira Mountains National Park on the Guajira Peninsula; the country’s only underwater park is the National Park of the Rosario and San Bernardo Islands (south of Cartagena) and the protected island of Salamanca (north of Barranquilla). The protected areas of the Pacific coast are represented by those located to the north Buenaventura by the Ensenada de Utra National Park and the Gorgon and Gorgonilla Islands in the ocean. The main attraction of the national parks of the Pacific region are humpback whales, which swim in the local waters from July to October.
The most popular resort area of Colombia is the San Andres and Providencia archipelago, which is located 750 km north of the Caribbean coast. It has wide sandy beaches that wash the clear green-blue waters of the Caribbean Sea and protect coral reefs. On the beaches there are small resort villages where vacationers are accommodated. The best beaches of San Andres Island located in the vicinity of the capital city of the same name; on the islet of Johnny Cay, which is a few kilometers from San Andrés; on the east coast in San Luis, Sound Bay and Rocky Cay, as well as in Kokoplam and Aquario. The most popular beach areas of Providencia Island are located on the north coast of Frashuter Bay and located on the southwest coast of South West Bay and Manzanillo.
The next most popular resort area of the country is the Caribbean coast, which has a length of 1600 km. Here you can relax on the beaches of Santa Marta and its environs: Playas Cristal, Playas Grande, Arrecifes, El Rodadero, Taganga, Baia Concha, Neguanje and Canaveral (the last three are located in the Tayrona National Park), on the beaches of Cartagena in the urban area of Bocagrande, located just south of the protected the islands of Rosario and San Bernardo or on the island of Baru.
Pacific beaches and coastal waters are different from the Caribbean. On this coast, the sand is darker, the beaches are surrounded by tropical forests, some beaches are difficult to access, as the coast is overgrown with mangroves, there are strong ebbs and flows, the bottom is mostly rocky, and the coastal waters are less salty, as numerous rivers flowing here, originating in Andes, and cooler ones. The beaches of the Pacific coast are less developed compared to the beaches of the Caribbean, but recently the tourist regions of this part of the country have been developing at a rapid pace. The main resort areas of the Pacific coast extend north of the city of Buenaventura . These are Guachadito, secluded Boca Wage, Terquito, Termales, Verde, La Bocana, Nucuy, El Valle and Baio Solano.
Diving in Colombia is possible all year round, but on the Caribbean coast and in the San Andres and Providencia archipelago, the best visibility is observed from December to April.
In the waters of the Caribbean Sea there are colorful coral reefs. Underwater visibility here can reach 40 m. Tayrona National Park, located 34 km east of Santa Marta, is famous for its dive sites. Diving enthusiasts can find more than 100 species of coral and several hundred species of fish here. Diving depths on the local dive sites vary from 5 to 25 m. 40 km south of Cartagena is the National Park of the Rosario and San Bernardo Islands. In coastal waters, you can see a variety of corals (mostly soft corals), sponges, mollusks, crustaceans and fish (parrotfish, angelfish, butterflyfish, snapper, groupers, surgeonfish, tuna and barrkuda). Local dive sites are suitable not only for experienced divers, but also for beginners. Diving can also be done in the vicinity of the nearby island of Baru, which is surrounded by entire coral gardens. Other popular dive sites are located in the vicinity of the beach area of Santa Marta – Taganga: Punta Venado (coral gardens, underwater caves), Casa Camargo (largest coral formations on the coast, night dives), Aguja Island (best underwater visibility, barracudas, lobsters, moray eels), Morrito Largo (black corals, diving depth up to 40 m) and the sunken cargo ship “El Barco Hundido” (immersion depth 29 m, vessel length 33 m); and 100 km south of Cartagena in Morroskillo Bay near the islands of Keizen, Tintipan and Mucura, which are surrounded by some of the most beautiful coral reefs inhabited by cat sharks, dolphins, turtles and a variety of tropical fish.
Around the islands of San Andres and Providencia there are about 50 dive sites. There are coral reefs, underwater rocks, underwater caves and shipwrecks. The best places for diving are considered the western, northern and southern coasts of San Andres Island, the northern coast of Providencia Island (mainly Freshwater Bay) and the coastal waters of small islands.
The Pacific coast does not have extensive coral reefs, but it is known for its large marine life: between July and October, humpback whales and dolphins come to the local waters to mate. Underwater visibility of the Pacific waters varies from 15 to 30 m. The best places for observing humpback whales are the Baio Solano beach area, located north of Buenaventura, and the islands of Gorgon and Gorgonilla. At 500 km from Buenaventura Bay in the Pacific Ocean, the small rocky island of Malpelo (area 0.35 sq. km) is of interest. Malpelo is considered one of the best dive sites in the world. Its coastal waters are home to a wide variety of shark species (silky sharks, frilled sharks, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, sharptooth sand sharks), rays and tropical fish. Diving on Malpelo Island is more suitable for trained divers.
The calm waters of the Pacific Ocean are perfect for surfing. Tidal forces are the cause of fairly high waves. For vacationers, this can become an obstacle to swimming, but for surfers, this will only be “on hand”. The wave riding season is January-February. Surfing can be practiced on the beaches located north of Buenaventura Terkito and Nukui.
In addition, windsurfing is possible on the east coast of San Andres Island, which is located 750 km north of the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The season is December-February.
Fishing season starts on the Pacific coast between May and June. Here you can catch fish such as dorado, flying fish, blue marlin, swordfish, tuna and snapper.