Discover the Uniqueness of Tinigua Natural National Park in Colombia

Tinigua National Natural Park is a stunning protected area of Colombia where the Andean, Orinoco and Amazonian ecosystems converge in this territory, which gives it a high biological diversity, and wonderful place for ecotourism.

Today, this place can be visited together or as an alternative destination for Caño Cristales, the famous rainbow river. In the park you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes and a huge variety of flora and fauna.

The following information will be useful during your visit to Tinigua NNP.

Discovering Tinigua National Natural Park

The Tinigua NNP is located in the department of Meta, in the jurisdiction of the municipalities of La Uribe and La Macarena, between the Duda and Guayabero rivers and has an area of 2018.75 km².

The rainforest constitutes 86% of the area of Tinigua NNP, extending over an area of 184,983 ha. Flooded forest makes up 14% of Tinigua NP’s area, covering 30,184 ha along the Perdido, Duda, Guayabero and La Reserva rivers that comprise the protected area.

Furthermore, the topography of Tinigua NNP is undulating and smooth, with altitudes ranging between 200 and 500 meters above sea level. It is characterized by forests of very tall trees, with a canopy between 30 and 40 m.

The Biological Corridor of the Area

Tinigua is part of a biogeographic corridor that goes from the top of the eastern Andean mountain range to the Amazon basal zone. In other words, it is an altitudinal gradient that begins in the Andean paramo ecosystem, at more than 3500 meters above sea level, to the Amazon and Orinoco plains.

Guayabero River at Tinigua Natural National Park. Picture by Giovany Pulido

Thus, its important geographical position and connectivity made it part within the territorial planning figure of special environmental importance in the department of Meta, La Macarena Special Management Area (AMEM), which includes four (4) National Natural Parks: Sumapaz, Cordillera de los Picachos, Sierra de La Macarena and Tinigua, and three Integrated Management Districts. Additionally, it is part of the Duda River corridor in the valley of the Eastern Cordillera near the Serrania de la Macarena.

Such a corridor allows the flow of living beings and the provision of ecosystem services.

Hydric Importance

Tinigua National Natural Park is important for water because it conserves four (4) hydrographic basins: Guayabero River, Guaduas River, Perdido River and Duda River that allow the formation of the Guaviare River and the Orinoco macro basin.

Cultural Importance

Downstream along the Guayabero River is the Raudal Angostura I, a Historic-Cultural Zone, in which there are giant rocks of great scenic beauty, and other attractions such as petroglyphs of zoomorphic and anthromorphic figures, which are vestiges of the cultural legacy of indigenous inhabitants from the Tinigua and Guayabero ethnic groups in this territory.

According to studies, only one member of the Tinigua indigenous culture remains, named Sixto Muñoz Mauricio, who speaks the Tinigua language, preserves some of the customs and lives deep in the jungle of the Sierra de La Macarena.

How to get Tinigua National Natural Park

Bogotá-La Macarena

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) Bogotá to La Macarena Airport (LMC) at La Macarena city with Satena airline.

From La Macarena you have to take a road trip of approximately 7 hours to Delicias- Centro Poblado San Juan del Losada- Centro Poblado el Rubí- Cabaña Aires del Perdido

Bogotá – San Vicente del Caguán –  Tinigua NNP Sector Losada – Perdido

Take a 1-hours flight from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) Bogotá to

Eduardo Falla Solano Airport (SVI) at San Vicente del Caguan city with satena airline. Once at the airport, take an approximately 4,5-hours ride to La Macarena.

From La Macarena you have to take a road trip of approximately 7 hours to Delicias- Centro Poblado San Juan del Losada- Centro Poblado el Rubí- Cabaña Aires del Perdido

Please note that  Satena airline only operates two flights a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

What to do in Tinigua National Natural Park

Main activity at the park is hiking, but there are other complementary activities such as wildlife and flora observation, birdwatching and primate watching, geological observation, panoramic views, landscape contemplation, photography and filming.


Tinigua NNP has only authorized sector for hiking which is the Raudal Angosturas I. This tour can be done all year round, but you must keep in mind that during the winter season the Guayabero River may have restrictions due to weather conditions.

In this sector you can enjoy the Petroglyph Trail Angosturas I – La Macarena; located between the border of the National Natural Parks Sierra de la Macarena and Tinigua.

As well as it has a Low-Medium degree of difficulty, there you can observe cave paintings and petroglyphs, as well as observation of flora and wildlife. Please note that you must have authorization to enter this trail.

The scarlet macaw (Ara macao)

Birdwatching and Wildlife Tours

Tinigua NNP has a record of 441 bird species including 18 migratory birds and five southern migratory birds. Of the most representative birds that you can get to observe are:

  • Crax alector
  • Mitu salvini
  • Crax tomentosa
  • Ara macao
  • Ara ararauna
  • Ara militaris
  • Ara severa
  • Touit stictoptera
  • Neochen jubata
  • Coturnicops notata
  • Falco deiroleucus
  • Aburria aburri
  • Xiphocolaptes promeropirhynchus macarenae
  • Chlorospingus ophthalmicus macarenae
  • Tinamus tao
  • Pteroglossus castanotis
  • Ramphastos culminatus
  • Pionites melanocephala

Tinigua NNP has recorded 32 species of mammals, among which carnivores are the most representative specie with 9,  followed by primates with 7 species. So you can enjoy your stay in Tinigua NNP discovering species such as:

  • Lontra longicaudis
  • Panthera onca
  • Puma concolor
  • Lagothrix lagotricha
  • Ateles belzebuth
  • Tayassu pecari
  • Tayassu tajacu
  • Bradypus variegatus
  • Tapirus terrestris
  • Alouatta seniculus
  • Saimiri sciureus

Regarding the presence of amphibians, it has been established that there are 14 species and 63 species of reptiles; where we highlight the Caiman (Crocodylus intermedius), Morrocoy (Geochelone denticulata), Anaconda (Eunectes murinus), among others.

Where to stay in Tinigua National Natural Park

Tinigua National Natural Park does not currently offer accommodation for travelers, nonetheless you are able to stay in La Macarena. Our recommendation of hotels for you:

  • Tinigua Finca Recreacional y Ecoturistica.
  • Hotel la Fuente JN
  • Casa Hotel Real
  • La Manigua Lodge.

Best time to visit Tinigua National Natural Park

It is recommended to visit the park during the 2 dry seasons, between the months of December and March, and between August and September. Keep in mind that Tinigua National Natural Park has an average temperature of 25º C (77º F).

Tinigua National Natural Park Entrance fees

Currently, Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia does not charge entrance fees for visitors to Tinigua National Park, Raudal Angosturas I Sector in the Municipality of La Macarena.

What to consider before visiting Tinigua National Natural Park

  • You must carry plastic bags for the disposal of NON BIODEGRADABLE waste (bottles, batteries, cans, etc.).
  • It is recommended that you bring: backpack, light cotton clothing, sunscreen and hat, biodegradable soap, rubber boots.
  • Domestic animals are prohibited.
  • Don’t use of flash when taking photographs.
  • Use binoculars to watch animals’ behavior.
  • Bring along valid identification documents and health insurance.
  • It is recommended to be vaccinated against yellow fever and tetanus.
  • If you take specific medications, take them with you a personal first aid kit.

Some prohibitions

Feeding, bothering or hunting animals, alcoholic drinks and drugs, throwing cigarette butts, burning garbage, felling, and capturing wildlife.

  • Parques Nacionales
  • Colparques
About the authors

Sara Colmenares

The 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.

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Responsible Travelers and Nature Reserves in Colombia

One of the great attractions of Colombia is, without a doubt, the beauty of its nature reserves. These places offer a unique sensory experience in which visitors can contemplate the landscapes, let themselves be carried away by the sounds of nature, participate in ecotourism activities and disconnect from the routine and noise of the city. According to the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, IDEAM (2014 and 2015), Colombia has a total of 98 marine and terrestrial ecosystems (74 natural and 24 transformed). The creation of protected areas has had a very beneficial impact in terms of protecting water resources and water supply. However, the country needs it to serve as much, if not more, for the effectiveness of these areas in conserving Colombia’s rich biodiversity.

Protected areas and their systems contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, and provide space for recreation and ecotourism development, benefiting local populations, regions and the business sector (Natural National Parks of Colombia, 2014). In addition to the protected areas, there are several figures aimed at the conservation of Colombia’s natural and cultural wealth, such as Ramsar sites, biosphere reserves, Peasant Reserve Areas, among others.

Nature Reserves in Colombia

There are three types of nature reserves in Colombia: UNESCO-declared biosphere reserves, public reserves and private civil society nature reserves. The Biosphere Reserves in Colombia are places that innovate and demonstrate the relationship that human beings can achieve with nature in the effort to combine conservation and sustainable development. Currently, Colombia has five biosphere reserves recognized by UNESCO: The Andean Belt (Cinturón Andino – 1979), El Tuparro (1979), Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (1979), Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta (2000) and Seaflower (2000). We will tell you about them in another entry.

In relation to the other types of reserves, the public reserves are known as Nature Reserves and the private reserves are known as Civil Society Nature Reserves. In Colombia there are only two public Nature Reserves which are the Nukak Nature Reserve in Guaviare, and the Puinawai Nature Reserve in Guainía, both of which are not open to tourism. For this reason, in this post I will focus on the private reserves, since they are mostly the ones that offer the main services and destinations for ecotourism in Colombia.

What is a Civil Society Nature Reserve?

Colombian legislation defines this type of nature reserve as “a part or as the whole of the area of a property that conserves a sample of a natural ecosystem and is managed under the principles of sustainability in the use of natural resources”. In Colombia, any person who owns a rural or natural property can register a natural reserve as long as they demonstrate that they have the interest and commitment to conserve a sample of one or several natural ecosystems and, at the same time, develop sustainable production activities with low environmental impact and friendly to biodiversity. It does not matter the size of the reserve as long as it represents a sample of natural ecosystem.

When a nature reserve is registered with the National Parks of Colombia, it is legally recognized and becomes part of the National System of Protected Areas (SINAP), and incorporated into the National Registry of Protected Areas (RUNAP). One of the main benefits of Colombia’s protected areas is the preservation of natural resources and the promotion of the care of flora and fauna species, especially those at risk of extinction. The owner who registers a natural reserve in Colombia gains: (1) participation rights in the planning processes of development programs, (2) prior consent for the execution of public investments that affect them, and (3) the right to receive government incentives, among others. At the same time, the owner must safeguard the integrity of the territory and report any activity or situation that is endangering the protected area.

Importance of Private Nature Reserves in Colombia

Much of Colombia’s natural ecosystems are being radically transformed. Factors such as deforestation, the expansion of the agricultural frontier and the accelerated growth of extensive cattle ranching have directly affected the country’s natural ecosystems. Many reserves have gone from being a farm divided into paddocks, with severe erosion, to become recovered and well-developed ecosystems that are home to countless species of birds and mammals, attracting international tourism. But its scope has gone beyond, and many reserves have developed sustainability programs related to waste management, organic plantations, permaculture, planting agroforestry crops. They have even specialized in receiving illegally trafficked wildlife and conducting environmental education programs.

Civil Society Nature Reserves are recognized by the Colombian Government as recipients of (1) compensation measures for biodiversity loss, (2) investments in environmental control, (3) payment for environmental services, and (4) tax exemptions through ecotourism. These benefits have encouraged natural and legal persons of all kinds to create or support nature reserves in Colombia, and this is how, to date, there are more than 900 civil society nature reserves in all the Colombian territory that protect around 202,550 ha of land and marine territories (Source RUNAP). All the civil society nature reserves in Colombia belong to IUCN category IV. Many IUCN category IV protected areas exist in densely populated regions, with relatively high human pressure in terms of potential illegal use and visitor pressure. Category IV reserves require management undertaken voluntarily by local communities or private actors. They also require constant and successful management to sustain them over time, because they normally protect only part of an ecosystem.

This is why ecotourism plays a fundamental role in their maintenance. Private nature reserves help to fill the gaps that public reserves cannot fill. They serve as connectors between patches of natural habitat that have become disconnected from each other. In addition, they foster the development of local communities around them by providing common objectives of conservation and sustainable production. Thus, activities such as bird watching, ecotourism, agrotourism, experiential tourism, wellness tourism, sustainable coffee and cocoa production, sport fishing, among others, have become an employment engine for hundreds of rural citizens who depend directly or indirectly on the guarantees provided by the nature reserves. Likewise, the reserves are important actors in the construction of rural scenarios of peace and dignified life for the farmers.

How is the ecotourism experience in most of Colombia’s  nature reserves?

As we mentioned in a past entry, what prevails in Colombia is the offer of basic accommodations in private reserves, sanctuaries and national parks. Despite the importance for environmental protection and local development of the regions, not many places have a full infrastructure for the development of ecotourism. In many of them the accommodation is basic, with rustic houses, built in wood and served by the local farmers themselves, who do not have much idea on how to provide a first class service. In any case, the natural charisma of the Colombian can far surpass these shortcomings. You will see and feel that you will be attended as if you were one of their own family.

There are other services that do not depend only on the community, but on the action of local and national governments. So, many times, the service of drinking water and electricity is limited, especially in the reserves that are located in remote places. The same goes for access roads, which are not maintained, or even exist, and you will have to get there on foot or by horse.

Your visit to a nature reserve in Colombia is very important, because it not only benefits the quality of life of local communities that provide services of any kind, or the protection of the environment, but also encourages and facilitates people’s investments to increase the quality of services. This way, every time you visit them again you will have something new to discover, experience and enjoy!

Check out our trips and also find in our blog the best reviews about the nature reserves you can visit in Colombia.


About the author

Sara Colmenares 

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.