By Soren Rivero
Colombia has some of the world’s most extravagant landscapes that people from all walks of life are welcome to venture through. Some of these landscapes have been turned into National Parks, but with Colombia being home to over 50 National Parks, it can be hard figuring out which one(s) to visit.
Here are the top 5 National Parks in Colombia to make your trip unforgettable!
Parque Tayrona (also known as Tayrona National Park) is a huge park that covers over 35,000 acres of land. Included in the area are several beaches (all with multiple reefs), dozens of mangroves, a rainforest, and even ancient archeological sites built by the indigenous Tayrona people. The park is so vast that it's tough to see all the highlights in one day. Fortunately, there are plenty of camping sites located all throughout the park where you can stay overnight.
Please keep in mind that Parque Tayrona is home to native tribes who regard the park as a sacred spot. Be mindful of what you do and how you treat the area. The park closes every February so that these native tribes can perform sacred cleaning rituals.
Bosques de Cocora
If camping under the shade of hundreds of tall palm trees that arise from a sea of green grass and hills sounds like your idea of a great time, we highly recommend visiting Bosques de Cocora.
This beautiful National Park is located in the Western half of Colombia in the city of Salento. Because of its location, this National Park has plenty of plains and hills that are smothered with bright green grass and loads of different flowers. There aren’t many bodies of water, though visitors might see an occasional pond or lake. The most magical time is early dusk. The fog that drips from the atmosphere onto the grassy canvas is a truly remarkable sight that feels almost otherworldly.
Visitors can tour the vast landscape by foot or horse. Bird watching is also popular here, especially when the land's native humminbird population comes out to play.
Parque Nacional de Chicamoca
Parque Nacional de Chicamocha (also known as ‘Panachi’ by the locals) is more of an amusement park/bazaar hybrid that sits atop tall mountains. Within this park are a few shops, restaurants, museums, and some monuments that honor the struggles that the indigenous people lived through before the 19th century.
Visitors can take the three-mile zipline down into the base of the canyon all the way to the opposite rim. There’s also a mirador (a lookout) on top of one of the mountain’s tallest peaks where people can get a jaw-dropping 360-degree view of the entire canyon.
Recently, the officials added a water park at the central park that allows general admission for both adults and kids.
Puracé National Natural Park
Purace National Natural Park is known for its volcanoes and plentiful mountainous terrains that make for great hiking trips, so be prepared to put on those hiking boots!
The temperature at this park has a tendency to flucuate between very cold and fairly warm. Visitors claim that the diverse weather makes Purace one of the most unique places to visit in all of Colombia. If hiking isn’t your thing, there’s also plenty of shallow ponds and lakes, low level trails for biking, and ample space for car rides (which you can even take up to the volcanoes).
Getting to this park can prove to be a challenge, as some places only operate one bus every day (at which the only departure time is around 6:00 AM). This National Park is totally worth it though, so be sure to plan your trip well in advance and make time for getting there!
Iguaque National Park
Iguaque is beautifully diverse in plants, wildlife, and has its own lodge for staying once you’re done hiking — which you may need, as this park is not for the faint of heart. Driving up to the lodge is a treacherous path and should only be attempted by confident drivers. People can very well hike up to the lodge and down to the lake, though the path is a little dangerous and takes about 5-6 hours. Be sure to bring your best hiking gear, snacks, water, and something to rest on.
While this trail is recommended more for experienced hikers, it’s not completely closed off to those who aren’t. You can enjoy leisurely walks on the lower terrain or simply bask in the glory of this magnificent park.
Please Note: Most National Parks in Colombia will require your Passport for entry.