All travelers visiting Colombia should visit the Mavecure Hills, a marvel of the Colombian Amazon region that remains unknown for many people.
In this post, you will find all the information you need to know to visit the Mavecure Hills. A bit of its history, how to get there, where to stay, the best time to visit, and also what other attractions you can find along the Inírida river.
Discovering the Mavecure Hills
In southeastern Colombia, at some point in a river that looks like a large snake from above, three black, semi-rounded hills rise up as guardians of the pristine Amazon jungle that spans over the vast terrain. We’re talking about the Mavecure Hills -or Cerros de Mavecure– on the Inírida river in the department of Guainía.
Pajarito, Mono, and Mavecure are part of the Guiana Shield, the oldest geological formations on earth, which are thought to be around 3,500 years old! The hills are made of volcanic rock –which gives them their dark color and reaches almost 800 meters. Specifically, Pajarito is 712 m (2,336 ft), Mono is 480 m (1,570 ft), and Mavecure is 170 m (560 ft).
The region around the Mavecure Hills is inhabited by several indigenous tribes belonging to the Puinave ethnicity, which consider the monoliths a sacred site. Also, this Colombian remote travel destination became widely known thanks to the Oscar–nominated “Embrace of the Serpent”, a Colombian film that premiered in 2015 and directed by Ciro Guerra which displays a journey in the Colombian Amazonian jungle.
Legend has it that three orphan siblings lived on one side of the Inírida river. The oldest brother was passionate about birds, so he spent his days in Cerro Pajarito (Little bird).
The second brother loved primates, so he lived in Cerro Mono (Monkey). The youngest brother, however, did not have a connection with nature and used a blowgun to kill all that his brothers loved, without any regrets. Upset about the actions of the youngest, they decided to exile him to the other side of the river.
‘Mavi’ means cerbatana, a gun made of hemp that expulsed darts when blown, and ‘Cure’ refers to the poison used in the darts to kill the animals. This is the traditional story of the Mavecure Hills.
The Mavecure Hills are approximately 50 km (31 mi) south of Puerto Inírida city on the Inírida river, so they are only accessible by river. But first, here is how you can get to the city.
Satena Airline offers 5 weekly flights from Bogota to Puerto Inírida with a duration of 1 hour 45 minutes and flights 3 times a week from Villavicencio to Puerto Inírida. The Cesar Gaviria Trujillo airport is just 5 minutes from the city by car, you can take a taxi to take you downtown. The river is next to the city, so a short walk will take you to the port where you can get your boat ride to the hills. The sailing trip south lasts about 2 hours.
Where to stay at the Mavecure Hills
There are two options: staying in Inírida or staying next in the region of the hills.
Accommodation in Inírida
There are a few recommended hotels in Inírida, including Cabaña Guainiana Hotel, Toninas Hotel, Parature Hotel, Fuente del Guainía. Prices range from COP 80,000 to 20,000 per couple per night.
Accommodation in Mavecure Hills
The immense Amazonian jungle surrounding Mavecure remains virgin and has no tourist infrastructure. Hopefully, it will stay this way. However, you can spend the night in a tent on the small beach in front of the three tepuis! This is free and allows you to enjoy an unrivalled landscape.
The alternative is to stay in one of the nearby indigenous communities -El Venado and El Remanso, which offer accommodation in hammocks or simple beds.
Best time to travel to the Mavecure Hills
As Guainía and the Mavecure Hills are still undiscovered by most Colombians and foreign tourists, you can have a nearly private experience traveling there, but a general recommendation is to plan your Colombian trips avoiding the high seasons, which usually go from June to early August and from November to February.
What to do in Mavecure
Once you get to the hills, you will want to climb to the top. This is only possible in Cerro Mavecure, the smallest of all. The hike is not that long -it takes about 50 minutes to reach the top, but since it is quite steep, the difficulty of the climb is medium to high.
On top of that, the weather in Guanía is hot and humid, with an average temperature of 28°C (82°F), which makes it a bit demanding. There are some wooden and metal stairs to help visitors climb easily, though.
The 360° view from Cerro Mavecure is worth all the effort! The majestic lush jungle divided by a meandering river of dark waters and all the life these places shelter is just breathtaking.
Know the Local Culture
Two indigenous communities that live near the Mavecure Hills, are El Venado and El Remanso. They are actually guardians of the hills and offer guiding services too. You can visit the settlements to spend the night or to start alternative trips through the jungle and nearby fishing lagoons. These are rustic places that have energy during some hours thanks to a power station.
La Ceiba is another community, located some kilometers north of Mavecure, where you can have two plans. The first one is ‘the honey route’, a tour where you learn the way that locals are developing a sustainable business out of beehives (beekeeping). The other plan is a river tour to sail next to the river dolphins, known as toninas, and watch the incredible sunset from a small beach.
Now that you are in this part of Colombia, you should seize the opportunity to visit other wonderful attractions. By sailing north of Inírida, you will get to the Estrella Fluvial del Sur, the point where the Guaviare, the Atabapo, and the Inírida rivers converge to originate the great Orinoco River, one of the longest on the continent and the third–largest in the world. This happens at the border with Venezuela and the scene is amazing.
The Coco Viejo community is the place to admire -and perhaps buy, their handicrafts. Locals make ceramics and different products such as baskets and bags woven in Chiqui chiqui fiber. Also, there is where you find ancient petroglyphs (images carved on rocks) which are witnesses of the ancestral cultures.
Know the Inirida Flower
Finally, another attraction in the region is the Inírida Flower Garden in the savannas, en route to Caño Vitina. The Inírida Flower, the flagship flower of the region, has an exotic beauty that is worth a conservation project.
There are mainly two varieties: Flor de Verano (Schoenocephalium teretifolium) and Flor de Invierno (Guacamaya superba), which flower at different times of the year: December to March and June to October, respectively.
What you should consider for your travel to the Mavecure Hills
Although it is possible to travel to the Mavecure Hills independently, it is better to book with a local agency to avoid any hassles and feel safer with everything set.
- At the port, look for boats with hoods as the sun is very intense for a 2-hour sailing trip.
- Just in case it rains, pack a raincoat. It is also useful while you sail the river.
- Bring enough water for you and your travel companions. Staying hydrated is key!
- Consider the weather in the region to pack your clothes.
- Support the local communities using their services and paying fair prices. With the income generated by tourism, they can have a better quality of life and keep working towards natural conservation.
- Guainía’s official web page
- Inírida’s official web page
- Estrella Fluvial del Sur
- Inírida Flower
- Video report from El Espectador
About the authors
Ana María Parra
Current content writer for Sula. Modern Languages professional with an emphasis on business translation. Interested in the cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content. Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism, and sustainable living.