Coral reefs, mangroves, tropical and Andean forests, golden deserts, immense savannas, wetlands, stunning moorlands and glaciers… This variety of ecosystems allows a great assortment of wildlife.
These appear like photogenic landscapes, right? You can find all this photography destinations and much more in Colombia, the second most biodiverse country on the planet. If nature photography is your passion, you cannot miss visiting Colombia for Photography Tours.
Colombia’s geography is so diverse that it is divided into 6 natural regions, each one with totally different landscapes, weather, fauna and flora. There is always something new to see and shoot in all regions. Here are the most common destinations to do nature photography tours in Colombia.
Photography tours in the Caribbean Region
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Tayrona Park
The Caribbean region, north of Colombia, is blessed by nature and is the home of most ecosystems of the tropical zone of the planet. This produces high diversity of fauna and flora, climates and cultures.
Photo expeditions commonly go to Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Tayrona Park, thanks to their scenic views and abundant wildlife. In addition, these lands are inhabited by indigenous communities that have a sacred relationship with nature.
There is a lot to be marveled at: the intense blue sea becomes a tropical forest and the land rises up to 5,700 meters above sea level and suddenly you see a snow-capped peak! This is a sight difficult to find anywhere else in the world.
It is possible to find the ruins of the most important archaeological and historical finding in Colombia: The Lost City, which makes a great scenery for photographs.
You can even get pictures of jaguars, tapirs, howler and titi monkeys, white eagles, royal flycatchers and more. Clear night skies full of stars are also perfect to be framed.
La Guajira is another marvelous place to be at. Its vast golden desert, along with its stunning white-sand beaches, rock formations and green highlands standing out from the dry plains are a paradise on earth. Two of its ecotourism highlights are Serrania de Macuira National Natural Park and Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary.
Macuira boasts primates, ocelots, blackbirds, blue-gray tanagers and more wildlife in the only highland of the region. Los Flamencos is a place full of swamps where bright pink flamingos live and are commonly photographed. Riohacha, Cabo de la Vela and Punta Gallinas are nice destinations to practice landscape photography.
Travel to other National Natural Parks and amaze yourself with the astonishing natural landscapes of the Caribbean region of Colombia.
Photography tours in the Amazon Region
The Amazon jungle has become a famous ecotourism and ethno-tourism destination and here you can practice landscape, portrait and wildlife photography.
The Amazon department is to the south end of Colombia, below the equator and it is a meeting point between 3 countries (Colombia, Peru and Brazil). It belongs to the basin of the Amazon river, that with 6,800 km is the longest in the world.
Apart from being in the middle of the world, this is a fertile land covered by a thick jungle and mighty rivers, wildlife and ancient indigenous communities… A perfect landscape to frame.
All tours start from Leticia, the capital, and travel by boat to nature reserves such as the Amacayacu National Natural Park or Monkey Island. Anyway, you will find amazing scenes to shoot all around, from pink dolphins swimming along with your boat, to playful monkeys and colorful macaws.
The fauna combined with immense mahogany and cedar trees, indigenous communities settled on the riverbanks and beautiful sunsets make the ideal postcard for you to take home.
In Guainia department, about 3 hours by speedboat from Inirida, Cerros de Mavecure dazzle with their majesty. Part of the Guiana Shield (some of the oldest rocks on the planet), these 3 huge granite rock hills are known as tepuyes, which means ‘home of the gods’.
Despite the rocky features, it is possible to see orchids, armadillos and king vultures on the hills, and Amazonian wildlife inhabits the surrounding jungle: tigers, tapirs, big snakes, macaws, among others. Do not miss the opportunity to shoot the extraordinary El Mono, El Pajaro and Mavecure hills.
Guaviare, the department located in the transition zone between the Orinoco and the Amazon regions, offers unparallel sites for admiring and photographing nature.
Some biodiversity reserves such as Serrania de Chiribiquete NNP and Nukak NNR are closed to the public, but you can visit the 12 meter rocky outcrop of Puerta de Orión, which boasts mazes, caves and rock formations, from where you can sight the vast savanna with natural bridges and tunnels. Every December, from 7 to 9 pm, you can see the Orion’s Belt from there, hence its name.
To the south of the capital San José del Guaviare, Serranía La Lindosa is admired by tourists and researchers, since it also features canyons, rocky outcrops adorned with pictographic art made by pre-Columbian groups, caves, tunnels, bridges and plateaus.
Photography tours in the Pacific Region
The Biogeographic Chocó
In the west side of Colombia, and bordered with Panama, this remote area is one of the major biodiversity hotspots in the world.
We are specifically talking about the Biogeographic Chocó, an area that represents 2% of the earth surface and yet it hosts 10% of the world’s biodiversity!
Chocó is the only department in the country with access to both Pacific and Caribbean oceans. Here you will be awe-struck by the pristine natural landscapes suitable for nature and wildlife photography.
Get lost in the Darien jungle that merges with the sea, visit the Utría National Park and the capital Quibdó, on the banks of the Atrato river and enjoy a dream sunset. Your journey will be accompanied by African rhythms played in drums by the vigorous locals.
Other towns to travel to in search of green landscapes and white-sand beaches are Capurganá and Sapzurro.
However, the event most tourists are eager to photograph is the arrival of humpback whales, which travel from Antarctica to the Pacific coast of Colombia each year from July to October to mate and give birth to their calves. A completely worthy sight.
You can experience this in Nuquí and Bahía Solano. This region is also great for bird and turtle watching. Wherever you go, you will face crystalline rivers, nice springs and unspoiled forests and beaches that will get you the best pictures.
Photography tours in the Andean Region
Photography tours in the Coffee Region
Eje Cafetero (or Coffee Region) is to the central west of Colombia and belongs to the Andean region, on the Western and Central Andes Ranges. Given its name, it is easy to infer that this region is renowned by its production of high-quality coffee.
As one of the most visited destinations in Colombia, there are different activities for tourists in the three departments that conform the region: Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío. For amateurs to professional photographers, the rural scenery is wonderful.
Visit a coffee farm is a must. Here you will be shown the coffee production process from its cultivation to its harvest and how it is toasted. Local farmer families welcome you with open arms and let you contemplate the extensive green mountainous landscapes.
Los Nevados National Park
You can shoot the bright red coffee beans standing out in the plantations. However, it is not all about coffee, there are beautiful natural destinations such as Los Nevados National Natural Park.
Here you will discover páramo wildlife and get the perfect shot of imposing mountains whose peaks appear to be covered by clouds.
Photography tours in Huila
To the southwest of Colombia, in the Colombian Massif, is this department that offers a great nature tourism experience. In the former territory of native communities such as Pijaos, Andaquíes, Yalcones, Paeces and Tamas, there are tons of photogenic landscapes.
Along with the Magdalena river -the longest in the country-, this land is blessed with many rivers and streams that are source of economic development for the inhabitants.
Nevado del Huila, the highest peak of the central mountain range, is also there. You can spot it’s -still- snow-capped peak at over 5,000 meters above sea level.
One of the main tourist attractions in Huila, also for photography, is the Tatacoa Desert. To the north of the capital Neiva, many tourists get to this tropical dry forest for hiking, camping and doing astronomical observation, therefore, astrophotography and night photography are also common.
The gateway of Tatacoa is the Paleontological museum Villavieja and on the way, you will find three sectors. The soil erosion makes Cuzco a place full of reddish natural sculptures with vestiges of ancient fossil deposits.
Hoyos, on the other hand, shows differently shaped mounds of gray tones and leads to a pool of mineralized water built by locals.
Finally, El Cardón sector offers nice landscapes of sub xerophytic vegetation, including cactus, and possibilities for wildlife and bird photography. Take advantage of the clear night sky to take your best shot.
Another attraction for photographers is going on a tour for the Eco-Archaeological Route in the southern part of Huila. Around this area, you will find many water streams, hills, canyons and foggy forests.
But the must-visit sites are the archaeological parks located in the townships of San Agustin and Isnos on volcanic cones. The San Agustin Archaeological Park is the most famous one and leaves you amazed by the monumental stone carvings, tombs, petroglyphs and monoliths left by the native cultures.
You will find waterfalls and natural reserves nearby. Practice your archaeological and landscape photography skills in Huila!
Photography tours in Bogota and Cundinamarca
Bogotá is the country’s capital, founded in 1538, is a cosmopolitan city that combines tradition and modernity. With high buildings hiding big colonial houses and lots of urban infrastructure, it is surprising that you are able to see nature all around the city.
It is situated on the Eastern Andes, in a region known as the Savannah of Bogotá, a high plateau at 2,630 MASL. Because of this, you can find Andean forests with crystal-clear streams minutes away from downtown, a total privilege for nature lovers.
Eastern Hills of Bogotá
The Eastern Hills (Cerros Orientales) are a good place to shoot wildlife. Among the animals that can be observed here are bats, squirrels, rabbits, weasels, opossums, páramo mice, lizards, iguanas, frogs, hummingbirds, owls, the great thrush, the brown-bellied swallow and the eared dove.
The vegetation is mainly frailejones (Espeletia), the encenillo tree (Weinmannia tomentosa) and different native shrubs.
Wetlands of Bogotá
You can also visit several wetlands that house big amounts of bird species. This is what remains after the time when half of the city’s territory was covered with wetlands and lagoons. Wetlands such as La Florida, Santa María del Lago and Córdoba can be nice settings for a nature photo tour, specifically bird photo tours.
Other destinations near to Bogotá
Nearby Bogota, there are lakes, cloud forests and moorlands, including the Páramo of Sumapaz , the largest páramo in the world.
The flora here is similar to that of the Eastern Hills, but you can spot other animals such as the endangered spectacled bear, little red brocket deer, tapirs, coatis, the golden eagle, torrent and Páramo ducks.
There is the possibility to visit towns on the outskirts of Bogota that offer great landscapes to photograph: Zipaquirá with its Salt Cathedral, the Lake Guatavita, the cloud forest of Chicaque, among others.
Photography tours in Boyacá and Santander
North of the capital, Bogotá, departments of Boyacá and Santander boast colonial cities and marvelous sights.
In Boyaca, capture the aquamarine pools surrounded by desert-like areas and a pine forest in Pozos Azules, visit El Cocuy National Natural Park to photograph the scenic beauty of the glacier environment or travel to the Iguaque Flora and Fauna Sanctuary to take shots of the sacred Lake Iguaque, the cradle of humanity according to Muisca mythology, where you will find variety of fauna and flora.
In Santander, one of the largest canyons in the world, the Chicamocha Canyon constantly receives many visitors thrilled to witness the breathtaking landscape of this place.
The Chicamocha National Park is focused on ecotourism and offers extreme sports as well as ostrich and goat parks where you can take nice shots of these animals with an incredible background.
Photography tours in Antioquia
Medellín and surrounds
Antioquia, a department in central northwestern Colombia, is a renowned tourism destination. With huge mountains, valleys and access to the Caribbean Sea, the offer of photogenic landscapes is wide.
Starting from the “city of eternal spring”, you will find the perfect spot for bird watching in Arví Ecotourism Park. It is a public park to which you can easily get by Metro and start an amazing photo expedition.
From two watchtowers, and accompanied by local guides, you can spot 69 bird species such as Masked Trogon, Andean Motmot, and Swainson’s hawk.
Along several hiking paths, you will discover the fauna and flora that inhabit the territory, for example there is one called Orchids, Anthuriums and Bromeliads.
Rio Claro Canyon Reserve
Around Medellin, there are other places with natural beauty such as Rio Claro Canyon natural reserve, which protects tropical forests in the region.
This reserve is one of Colombia’s 58 endemism centers and keeps plant species such as Adelobotrys antioquensis and Caryodaphnopsis cogolloi and 100 mammal species, 350 birds, 45 amphibians, 50 fish and many kinds of bugs and invertebrates.
Thanks to this, you will be eager to take pictures all over the place. Guatapé is a little known with an incredible view from the Peñol Rock, the main attraction. To get to the top, you must climb over 700 steps, but the view is worth it. You can shoot the landscape made up of blue lake with small green islands.
For bird and wildlife photography, Urabá is the right place. Being an unspoiled territory due to past armed conflict, it hosts huge biodiversity and you can spot endemic birds such as the Sooty-capped Puffbird or the Northern Screamer, as well as marine turtles, poisonous frogs and jaguars.
Photography tours in the Orinoquia Region
Part of the ecoregion of tropical grassland plains, known as Los Llanos, belongs to Colombia. Los Llanos belong to the Colombian natural region of Orinoquia, located in the Orinoco river basin and characterized by vast savannas, marshlands, llaneros (Colombian cowboys), joropo music and great sunsets.
It is an important biodiversity reservoir worldwide where visitors can live the cowboy experience, so you should come well-equipped to capture the most incredible scenes of your visit.
If you want to do wildlife photography, you just get into a jeep and navigate the endless savannas in search of species such as anaconda, giant river otter, puma, crestless curassow, jabiru, jaguar, Orinoco crocodile, Orinoco goose, giant anteater, capybara and 200 bird species.
Visiting los Llanos is an unforgettable experience where you can also observe how the llaneros keep the tradition of herding cattle for living and singing folklore songs to the rhythm of guitars, harps and maracas.
We recommend choosing operators that work with locals and reinvest in the region, so that tourism can help local development and nature conservation.
In Casanare, there are several possibilities for sustainable nature photography tours. For example, the Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) Altagracia is suitable for a photographic safari, since you can tour the flooded savannas and take amazing photographs of sunrise and sunset landscapes.
On the trips to nearby places such as the Buenaventura estuary, the Lagunazo lagoon natural reserve, Yatea canyon and other Civil Society Natural Reserves, you will easily capture pictures of deer herds, otters, howler monkeys and giant anteaters.
Also, it hosts about 142 bird species, including 31% of the world population of Orinoco goose and 1% of the hemispherical population of Large-billed tern and Buff-breasted sandpiper. Check our Wildlife Aerosafari in Los Llanos here!
El Encanto de Guanapalo, on the other hand, is a reserve 110 km from Yopal with almost 9,000 hectares, that comprises 3 hatos (cattle ranches): Hato Mata de Palma, Hato Altamira and Hato Montana.
Whether you choose touring the area on horseback or by tractor or 4×4, this 5-hour experience lets you photograph mammals such as: capybaras, deer, spectacled caimans, wild horses, giant anteaters, southern tamanduas, scarlet ibis, iguanas, ducks, howler monkeys, owls, armadillos, red-footed tortoise, foxes, wild pigs, pumas, hundreds of bird species and, of course, cattle.
This is a great llanero experience that you can book with us here!
Other private reserves worth visiting on the Eastern plains are Hato La Aurora, located in the town Hato Corozal with an eco-lodge called Juan Solito along the riverside of the Ariporo river.
Lagos de Menegua shelters more than 800 animal species, including mammals, fish, reptiles and birds in 1,000 hectares of plains, lakes and hills.
Another great scenery in Meta is Caño Cristales, “the most beautiful river in the world”. Here you can shoot postcards of this river in Sierra de la Macarena whose aquatic plants exposed to the sun make it seem a 5-color river.
There are far more destinations in Colombia suitable for photography tours, this was just an overview for you to know all the possibilities this country offers. In Sula, we focus on nature tourism, check our sample photography tours here!
- Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Turismo
- Huila Tourist Guide – Department of Huila, Culture and Tourism Departmental Secretariat
- Instituto Distrital de Turismo. (2018). El color de Bogotá. 2600 metros más cerca de las estrellas. iM Editores: Bogotá.
- Secretaría Distrital de Planeación
- Secretaría Distrital de Ambiente
About the author
Ana María Parra
Modern Languages professional with emphasis on business translation. Interested in cultural adaptation of written and audiovisual content. Passionate about knowing new cultures and languages, tourism and sustainable living.