The Raudal de Jirijirimo (or Jirijirimo waterfall) is a regional nature reserve between the limits of the amazonian departments of Vaupes and Amazonas in Colombia. It is located in the middle-lower course of the Apaporis river.
The reserve is named after the waterfall that is located there, the Jirijirimo, which is one of the most beautiful and impressive in Colombia.
The Apaporis River: The Anconda Trail
The Apaporis River rises in Mesa de Pardos, in the municipality of La Macarena, department of Meta. It results from the union of the Tunia and Ajajú rivers, and has a length of 1,200 kilometers.
This river serves as the northeastern limit of the department of Caquetá with the department of Guaviare. It is of black water and has a general NW – SE direction throughout its course.
In the upper part of its course it serves as a natural boundary between the departments of Caquetá and Vaupés.
It bathes the lands of Caquetá, Guaviare, Vaupés and Amazonas and serves as Colombia’s border with Brazil. It is little used for navigation because of its streams, among which is the Jirijirimo.
Raudal de Jirijirimo (or Jirijirimo Waterfall)
Jirijirimo is a waterfall in the form of gigantic steps, and it is about 100 meters wide and almost 100 meters high.
The word “Jirijirimo” is an indigenous word that means “Bed of the guio”. The guio is an indigenous word to call the Anaconda. They are aquatic boas, which can measure up to 10 meters and feed on large animals. Their scientific name is: “Eunectes“. The Anacondas are often found in this place.
The Apaporis River at this point reaches a width of 100 meters. It splits in two by surrounding an island in the middle of the river. Just there, the Raudal de Jirijirimo (Jirijirimo Waterfall) begins. There, the river falls furiously through a rocky and deep gorge. It is a route of impressive waterfalls and rapids.
It is a sacred place of the Macuna, Tanimuka, Letuama, Cabiyari, Barazano, Yujup Maku and Yauna peoples of the Apaporis, who are spread out in about twenty communities along the river.
The spiritual practices of the indigenous people and their management of the territory have made this region one of the best preserved natural destinations in Colombia.
The river closes at about 40 meters beyond, and rushes between rocky walls with impressive force. Then, it runs for several kilometers until it reaches a tunnel where it backwaters.
The Apaporis Tunnel
Either because the river found it, or because the river itself carved it, the fact is that, after the Jirijirimo, the Apaporis ends in a tunnel about 60 meters high, 20 meters long and 10 meters wide.
It is the mythical tunnel of the Apaporis, which is also sacred to the indigenous people of the region and the subject of many legends.
It is an impressive place due to the scene formed by the black rocks, the vegetation, and the light crossing the tunnel. The river, which before rushing down the waterfall was several hundred meters wide, is now reduced to a mere 10 meters and therefore the depth is incalculable.
Local people affirm that the depth of the Apaporis is several tens of meters inside the tunnel.
Morroco Mountain Range
Near the raudal flows the black water river called Cananari. In the background, the Morroco mountain range frames the landscape of the river. This mountain extends for 5 km, and reaches a height of 500 meters above sea level.
The Morroco Range breaks the Apaporis River to form the Jirijirimo waterfall, a few kilometers from the mouth of the Cananari River.
You can hike to the top of the Morroco mountain range. From the top, it is possible to observe the landscape of the raudal of Jirijirimo, the Apaporis river and the jungle in all its splendor and extension.
There are many macaws in Morroco, and these have become emblematic birds of the destination.
Expeditions to the Jirijirimo
Since the late 19th century, Jirijirimo has been admired by travelers, scientists and tourists. One of its most famous visitors was the British botanist Richard Evan Schultes, in the 1940s. And most recently, the botanist Wade Davis, who made a documentary, along with Martin von Hildebrand.
In the documentary they follow the steps of Schultes through the jungles and rivers of the Colombian Amazon. The documented journey is called El Sendero de la Anaconda, which is available on Netflix.
In the last Colombia Bio expedition, which results were presented in July 2019, scientists recorded around 2,335 species of flora and fauna, and 228 of which were new records for the country.
In the reserve is possible to observe the exotic Amazonian fauna. It is perfect to find anacondas, macaws, deers and large mammals such as Amazonian tapirs.
How to get to Jirijirimo
To get there you will have to take a plane from Bogota to Mitu, the capital of Vaupes. From there, you have to take another plane to the region where the raudal is located. The flight covers 179 km from Mitú to the municipality of Taraira.
You can also arrive by boat from the municipality of Pacoa in the Amazon. The trip lasts 4 hours.
Weather at Jirijirimo
The climate in the region is warm and humid, with a temperature between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius (+/- 83 F).
Best time to visit Jirijirimo
The best time to visit this place is between November and January, after the rainy season. Before is not recommended since it can be very dangerous, and the landscape get lost below the strong waters.
This destination is part of the deep Colombia, and it is a place that recently opened its doors to tourism. For this reason, and for being in the middle of indigenous settlements, the environment is preserved unaltered.
Sometimes, visits are restricted or closed, so it is important you get informed about that in advance.
Do not expect to find hotels, or a great infrastructure. You will have to stay in the nearby towns to spend the night, or you can also camp in the places allowed by the indigenous community.
The Cabiyari indigenous people inhabits these area of the reserve. They will be your guides, and you will learn a lot about their customs and traditions.
Recommendations for your visit
- Take yellow fever and tetanus vaccines before arrival.
- Do not forget the mosquito repellent, it is highly recommended.
- Rubber boots, raincoat, long-sleeved shirts, sunscreen.
- Leave no trace.
If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!
- Colombian Airforce Website
- Colparques Website.
- Caracol TV Youtube Channel
About the author
Current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism – environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.