The Gateway to the Colombian Amazon: Putumayo

Putumayo is one of the most beautiful and promising post-conflict scenarios to enjoy nature tourism.  has a perfect harmony between the rainforest and the Andes mountain range. In the south of the department is the city of Villagarzon where rivers begin to take the shape of a snake along with flat green landscapes; in the west of the capital, Mocoa, is the Sibundoy Valley.

Putumayo has an incredibly high biodiversity, it offers you the opportunity to meet species such as parrots, toucans, monkeys, tapirs, capivaras, tigers, panthers, spectacled bear and a great variety of birds. This is because its territory occupies a Andean – Amazon Piedmont, and numerous rivers.

Mocoa

Mocoa is Putumayo’s Capital City. It is a city that offers a combination of jungle walks, waterfalls, ecotourism, adventure sports, ancestral wellness, bird watching and Amazonian fauna.

What to visit staying in Mocoa?

Fin del Mundo Waterfall

It is one of the main tourist attractions in Mocoa. The waterfall is located in the Dantayaco stream and has a drop height of 70 meters forming two beautiful natural pools.

To get there you must hike up the mountain for 1.5 – hours, and when you are at this point apart from taking beautiful pictures you can do water activities such as canyoning.

Mandiyaco Cañon

Located at km 25 of the road that leads from Mocoa to Pitalito very close to the Caqueta river. This natural wonder is a rock formation of volcanic origin, called “Mandiyaco” in the Inga language.

The rock formations that can be observed are possible to see different faces like the lion, the tiger’s claws, the nose of the bear, among other figures, in this wonderful place full of positive energy where you can take a boat ride.

Suruma Park

This reserve and preservation center of the Amazonian flora and fauna is located 8.3 km from Mocoa, has an area of 131.6 hectares of which 90% is forest.

There you will be able to take tours to learn more about the flora and fauna found in the Amazon as well as gain knowledge of the species that are endangered and those that are already in recovery.

Paway Butterfly Farm

If you want to learn about the evolutionary process of butterflies, this place is ideal for you. It is located 7.7 km from Mocoa; there you will be surrounded by nature and many species of butterflies.

In addition the butterfly farm offers you the opportunity to stay in a cabin built in a Ceiba “sacred tree”, you can spend a night surrounded by nature and wake up with the original sounds of the Amazon rainforest.

Hornoyaco Waterfall

To get to this beautiful waterfall of 55 m of fall you must make a 2 hour walk from the center of Mocoa. It is known because its inhabitants say that the guardian of this waterfall is the rainbow, since most of the time when the rainbow appears you can see how it surrounds the waterfall. It is a place of tranquility and peace where you can spend a wonderful afternoon.

Licamancha Caves

In Putumayo it is also possible to do caving activities, in the limits between the departments of Putumayo and Cauca on the banks of the Caqueta River is the access point to the caverns; it is advisable not to visit in rainy seasons due to the risks that can be run by the increase of the current of the river.

During the one hour tour it is possible to appreciate paleontological vestiges of more than millions of years old, besides walking through internal halls inside the cavern of 15 meters high.

At the moment it is an area that is in constant investigation for the discovery of more caverns or internal tours inside the already known ones.

El Salto del Indio

In the Kuriyaku ravine (in the indigenous language of the sector means “golden water”) just 19 km from Mocoa it is possible to find this natural wonder. It is formed by 2 waterfalls where a natural pool of emerald green water is generated.

Thanks to the fact that the inhabitants of the cabildo Tigre Playa offer the service of canoe to cross the river, the hiking time was reduced from 1 hour to 20 minutes, so now you will have more time to enjoy this natural wonder.

Donde se Oculta el Sol waterfalls (where the sun hides)

Located 22 km from Mocoa, when you arrive at the indicated point you will hike 2 km to reach the waterfalls that are formed in the Sardinas Creek; the waterfall “Mohano” (in indigenous language “Jaguar Man”) has 18 m of fall and the waterfall “Wakana” (in indigenous language “Llanto de la Mona”) has 17 m of fall.

Between the two waterfalls it is necessary to cross a stone bridge and a stone tunnel that connects the two waterfalls.

There you will be able to go bird watching, there is a camping area or if you prefer rural lodging.

How to arrive to Mocoa?

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city.

Where to stay in Mocoa?

In Mocoa you will find a great diversity of accommodation options depending on your budget and personal taste. Our recommendations as follows:

  • Posada Turistica Dantayaco

Orito

It is located in the Amazonian foothills, there you will be able to meet and have contact with the Kofan indigenous community, you can acquire knowledge of the ancestral wisdom of the hand of them, also you will be able to know the Pijili River, noted for its emerald green waters.

What to visit in Orito?

Isla Escondida Nature Reserve

There are about 25 kms of walking trails in and around the reserve. Apart from the trails there are many tracks for walking and exploring!

The reserve has more than 350 bird species, with many range-restricted species. Among the main targets are the  Nocturnal Curassow (Nothocrax urumutum), Salvin’s Curassow, Chestnut-headed Crake, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Napo Screech-owl, Buff-tailed Sicklebill, Pavonine Quetzal, Collared Puffbird, Spot-winged and Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Fulvous Antshrike, Hairy-crested Antbird, Spectacled Bristle-tyrant, Foothill Elaenia, Black-&-white and Golden-winged Tody-flycatcher, Grey-tailed Piha, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Foothill Schiffornis, Musician Wren and Fulvous Shrike-Tanager.

There are registers of  jaguar, margay, trumpeters, deer, opossums, nocturnal curassows, kinkajous (Potus flavus), olingos (Bassaricyon alleni), pacas (Cuniculus paca), night monkeys (Aotus), band-bellied Owls (Pulsatrix melanota), etc.

Maloka Oso Kofan

It is a meeting center of the Kofan indigenous community, the name of this Maloka is due to the fact that the Taita Oso Kofan is located there; also if you visit the department in January you can have the opportunity to participate in the annual camp where the indigenous community offers visitors the Amazonian ancestral knowledge along with the Yage ceremony supervised by members of the indigenous community.

Ma&Ju Ecotourism Center

In Ma&Ju you will learn about the agricultural processes of planting and harvesting of pepper and cocoa that takes place in the department. You can also do activities such as Canopy and walk on Tibetan bridges over the jungle.

If you wish to spend the night in this center there is a camping area or private cabins in the middle of the jungle.

Corunta Ecotourism Center

In the center you will be able to enjoy a private waterfall, La Silvania, you can also go horseback riding in the middle of the jungle, enjoy a natural pool and take tours in rural areas and have contact with the farmers of the sector.

Pijili Stone

It is a huge stone located in the flow of the Pijili River, is one of the most visited resorts for the majesty of the stone along with the tranquility and beautiful scenery offered by this river.

How to get to Orito?

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city.

Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 3-hours ride (118 Km) to Orito.

Puerto Asis

It is the municipality with the largest population of the department, besides being known as the commercial capital of Putumayo due to the development of commercial activities of great importance for the economic development of the department.

Moreover, Puerto Asis was the national center in the development of the Colombian-Peruvian war or known as “the conflict of Leticia” between 1932-1933.

What to visit in Puerto Isis?

La Esmeralda Pier

This important dock is the place where all the boats connect with Puerto Leguizamo, being one of the most important fluvial connection points of the department. You can also take a tour through the Putumayo River where you will be able to appreciate the immensity and enjoy the scenery during the tour.

Playa Rica Village

During your journey through the Putumayo River you can enter this magical trail where you can do bird watching, appreciate various species of the jungle in this part of the country and learn about Amazonian fruits.

How to get to Puerto Asis?

Bogota – Mocoa – Puerto Asis

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city. Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 2-hours ride (87 Km) to Puerto Asís.

Bogotá- Puerto Asís

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Tres de Mayo Airport (PUU) at Puerto Asís city. Keep in mind that the airlines that fly to Puerto Asis are: EasyFly (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and Satena (Sunday through Friday).

Puerto Leguizamo

It is called the exotic garden of the universe, as it is surrounded by the Amazon jungle, the Putumayo River and has borders with Ecuador and Peru. Formerly known as Caucayá, since it was the name it received when it was founded in 1920 and in 1950 it received its current name.

What to visit in Puerto Leguizamo?

El Guardian de la Selva (The Guardian of the Forest)

A magical ceiba tree 60 meters high and 40 centimeters in diameter. The inhabitants of the sector consider it to be the grandfather tree, being the sacred tree that is full of positive energy and is raising requests to heaven.

Caucayá River

It is located at the entrance to the Amazon, from here you will be able to observe the pink dolphin, river otters, different species of birds and Amazonian monkeys.

Laguna Azul

It is a body of water located in the deepest point of Puerto Leguizamo, it is said that its waters are healing, also rituals of cleansing and purification of the body and spirit are performed there.

La Argelia Fish Farming Station

In this station you will meet and feed the Amazonian fish Pirarocu, one of the largest freshwater fish and can measure up to 3 meters, this experience is possible with the support of the inhabitants of the sector.

How to get to Puerto Leguizamo?

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Caucayá Airport (LQM) at Puerto Leguizamo city.

Keep in mind that the only airline that operates to this airport is Satena on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Villagarzon

It is part of the Amazonian Piedemonte region, surrounded by the rivers San Juan, Conejo, San Vicente and Guineo, is 15 minutes from Mocoa; it is also known as the heart of Putumayo for being one of the most diverse areas of the department.

What to visit in Villagarzon?

El Escondite Natural Reserve

It is a Private Natural Reserve, which has a protected area of approximately 124 hectares, of which 70% is in natural regeneration or in a state of conservation located in the village of La Joya. Here you can go bird watching, as it has a record of 299 species of birds, you can also observe frogs and insects and primates.

Kayaking on the Guineo River

You can do this activity surrounded by a landscape of Amazon jungle and pure waters that invite us to have fun and connect with mother earth.

Rio Vides Archaeological Park

In the park you can observe stones with petroglyphs that show motifs of stars, plants and animals and other classified carved by indigenous ancestors.

How to get to Villagarzon?

Bogota – Mocoa – Villagarzon

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city. Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 30 – minutes ride (17 Km) to Villagarzón.

Where to stay in Villagarzon?

In Villagarzón you will find a great diversity of accommodation options depending on your budget and personal taste. Our recommendations as follows:

  • El Escondite.

Sibundoy Valley

It is one of the cultural epicenters of Putumayo, with the presence of the indigenous cultures Kamentsá (men from here) and Ingas (close), unique in the world.

The inhabitants of the sector say that the missionaries arrived there during the colonial period, leaving numerous educational centers of great importance for the region.

What to visit in Sibundoy Valley?

The Interculturality Park

Known as the meeting point for the inhabitants of the municipality, it is adorned with eight sculptures made of wood by the indigenous communities, being an ideal place to spend the afternoon and visit the headquarters of the Municipal Administration.

Ambiaku Tourist Center / Colón Hot Springs Center

Termas Colón is a place where you can visit during the day or at night; you can experience shock therapies between hot and cold water, you can also have an outdoor mud therapy.

Ayen Botanical Garden

The place is ideal to learn about medicinal plants; you can also participate in harmonization or cleansing activities through the taita Juan, you can also participate in a yage ceremony with a previous reservation.

Villa Beatriz Viewpoint

From this wonderful viewpoint you will be able to watch birds and hummingbirds, besides having a panoramic view of the immense and magical valley of Sibundoy.

How to get to Sibundoy?

Bogota – Mocoa – Sibundoy

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city.

Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 3,5-hours ride (81 Km) to Sibunday.

If you want to know more about Colombia, or wants to book your trip, please contact us.

References
About the author

Luisa Martin

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

2-days Trip Hanging around Minca in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

In our entry Minca Ultimate Travel Guide, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta we tell you all about this wonderful destination in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Two weeks ago (mid May 2021) I made a quick visit with my friends and here I will tell you how my experience was hanging around Minca.

To get to Minca initially I took a 1-hour flight from the city of Bogota at El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to the Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) in Santa Marta. From the airport I took a cab to Mamatoco, 17 km away (30 minutes). Once in Mamatoco I found there are 3 possibilities to get to Minca: bus, cab or motorcycle.

Getting to Minca

In my case I took the alternative of motorcycle, the fastest option. After 30 minutes and a distance of 16 kilometers I arrived at the village of Minca.

To get to the Costeño River Hostel the motorcycle had to travel on a dirt road for 10 minutes. There is an alternative to reach the hostel walking just 10 minutes walk, but you must cross the river Minca.

It is worth mentioning that the hostel is Gay Friendly. The atmosphere in its facilities and the management of the staff is very friendly with the guests. The hostel has private and shared rooms, in my case I took one that had a view of the river from the bathroom. There is not need for hot water since the warm environment keeps the water warm and suitable for bathing.

Costeño River has a space that has 2 terraces in the form of meshes where you can appreciate the mountains of the Sierra de Minca, besides being able to easily appreciate species such as Iguanas, Squirrels and Geckos.

The lodge administrators, in support of the inhabitants of Minca, offer the tours that can be done, supporting the ecotourism in Minca.

Hanging around Minca

Hanging around Minca can be done on foot, but if you have little time you can do them on a motorcycle with a local guide. In my case I did the tour on a motorcycle, since I only had two days to visit all the places.

Pozo azul

Pozo azul is located a 45 minutes to walk from the center of the Minca with a medium intensity, the road reaches the entrance of the well 100 meters away from the contact with the water.

When you reach the entrance of the well you will find a bridge that is currently closed for maintenance, when you reach the well there is a waterfall of no more than 2 meters.

It is possible to appreciate different species of butterflies along with several coffee crops, the water is very cold in the well because the entrance of sunlight is scarce.

Pozo Azul, Minca, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Finca La Victoria (Farm)

Finca La Victoria has its origin in 1892 as an association of 5 investors among them an English couple that after their admiration to Queen Victoria wanted to call it that way. The farm has 1223 hectares, 217 hectares are dedicated to the cultivation of arabica coffee, 300 hectares of pasture land.

Also the facilities of the farm is the craft brewery La Nevada, which is in operation since 2015; has 4 beers in its portfolio: black coca leaf-based (Happy Coca), golden (Happy Nebbi), red (Happy Tucan) and a coffee-based (Happy Colibri).

Happy Colibri is in the top 10 worldwide among the best craft beers and is only available between the months of December and March.

When you arrive at La Victoria Farm you can take a tour of the entire coffee production process from the cultivation to the packaging of the final product. At the end of the tour you can enjoy a delicious freshly ground coffee or a refreshing beer while you marvel at the view and tranquility that the farm has to offer. The entrance fee to the farm is COP 15,000 for the tour, if you do not wish to take the tour you can enter and consume any of the products offered.

Mirador Los Pinos

This viewpoint is located 11 km from Minca, about 30 minutes by car or motorcycle or 3 hours walking; it must be said that the intensity is high, as it is the highest part of today’s tour; from this point it is possible to see Minca, Santa Marta and the swamp.

View from Minca, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Sierra Minca Hostel

Sierra Minca Hostel is a beautiful hostel located in the middle of the sierra where in addition to the lodging they offer tours to travelers who wish to take a picture in the famous Mano de Dios which has a panoramic view of the entire mountain, it also has a mesh terrace where 15 people can be accommodated and hanging beds where you can lie down and feel like you are sleeping among the clouds.

The entrance fee to the hostel is COP 15,000 for unlimited time.

Marinka Waterfalls

Marinka Waterfalls are two falls of crystalline waters that at the end give rise to the Marinka Lagoon. Marinka in indigenous language means “Regenerate Body”, due to its beauty and tranquility.

To get to the Arimaca House-Farm, where is the access to the waterfalls, it is necessary to make a detour from the main road 500 m. There is a payment of COP 10,000 per person.

The distance is 3.3 km from the village, if you decide to walk, it is an hour’s walk with a medium intensity.

Waterfall in Marinka, Minca, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Waterfall El Oido del Mundo

The origin of the name has 2 versions:

1. The indigenous people of the highlands said that at this point it was possible to hear what the mother earth, Pacha mama, wanted to tell men.

2. A foreigner after knowing it indicated that the rocks were shaped like ears and from there began to share this location as the “El Oido del Mundo”.

To get there is a 20 minutes walk from the town with a low difficulty.

The recommendations to enjoy these places is to wear a bathing suit, comfortable clothes and change at the end of the tour, insect repellent, sunscreen and plenty of water. At the end of the tour reach the center of Minca to taste the delicious pistachio ice cream at IL GELATO NEVADO, this artisan ice cream shop is the only one in town.

View from Minca, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Cerro Kennedy

The next day I made the trip to Cerro Kennedy by motorcycle. Cerro Kennedy is the highest point of Minca, it is 3100 meters above sea level, below you can see the cloud forest, and the temperature ranges between 8º to 18º C. At this point there is a military post so it is safe to reach it.

Cerro Kennedy is located 26 km from Minca and there are 2 ways to get to this point:

1. Cerro Kennedy by walking

You can arrive walking, it will be 2 days with a high demand. At the end of the second day you will rest for a few hours, since you will start walking again at 4 in the morning to reach the summit before sunrise. From there you will be able to marvel at the bed of clouds covering the Sierra.

Also, from there you have a wonderful view of the peaks of the Simón Bolívar and Colón snow-capped mountains, Santa Marta and part of the Tayrona National Natural Park.

2. Cerro Kennedy by motorcycle or car

You leave the center of Minca at 3 am, as the road is unpaved and it is a difficult journey due to the fact that the road is not paved. The last part of the trip must be done on foot to reach the top.

At the end of the tour to Cerro de Kennedy and back to the hostel I decided to walk around the village, where I tasted Arabic food and some delicious French muffins in a small French bakery in town.

Final remarks

It is important to note that all the excursions I did in Minca were by motorcycle. The guides give you a protective helmet during the tours. The road is partially paved and belongs to the Cincinati trail, after the crossing at the El Campano store. The rest of the road is unpaved and very muddy.

During the rainy season, the guides told me that the difficulty of mobility increases, and recommended that those who walk the trail should wear rubber boots.

Finally, I returned to Mamatoco by bus. The trip lasted more than an hour, once there I continued my trip along the Magdalena department.

If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!

About the authors

Luisa Martin

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

#1 Rafting and Natural Pools Destination in Colombia: The Güejar River


Many foreign travelers and even Colombians have no idea about the hidden treasure that the Canyon of the Guejar River isNestled in a remote zone of the Meta department, in the Colombian Llanos, the canyon formed by the Guejar river is just starting to be explored by adventurous travelers.

Some years ago, it was not possible to access the zone due to Guerrillas settlements, but now there is nothing to worry about, the place is safe and boasts incredible beauty. Turquoise waters that form natural slides, pools, waterfalls, and Jacuzzis, shaped by huge polished rock formations and surrounded by lush vegetation -these are the reasons to travel to the Guejar River in Colombia. 

In this post, you will find all the information you need to know to travel to the Guejar River, such as what the charm of the Guejar River is, how to get there, the best time to visit, and what to do there. 

Discovering the Guejar River 

As already mentioned, the Guejar river is a natural treasure that remained hidden for many years until the 2010s. The view is stunning. A long river makes its way between big rock formations that easily beat the 20 meters high. 

Some of these rocks are among the oldest on the planet, because they belong to the millenary Guiana Shield, which is born in Venezuela, crosses the La Macarena mountain range, and reaches Ecuador and Brazil. 

The forest surrounding the stunning canyon is still pristine and undiscovered. The canyon is part of the special management area of La Macarena National Natural Park; hence it hosts amazing wildlife and flora. Birds and butterflies of all colors flying around you all the way. Sometimes, otters, sloths, and monkeys are spotted next to the river. 

During the tour along the river, you will find refreshing natural pools, fun slides, waterfalls, and even JacuzzisIf you like to watch wildlife in their habitat, go birdwatching, venture out into the wilderness to hike and explore rivers, mountains, forests, and plains so you have a deep connection with nature, the adventure activities, and interact with local cultures, the trip to the Guejar river is for you! 

How to get to the Guejar River 

 

There are two routes you can take to get to the Guejar river. Both pass by Villavicencio, the capital of Meta, but differ from the town you arrive in to stay the night and start your trip to the river. 

Bogotá – Villavicencio 

Depending on where you’re staying in Bogota, there are 2 highways you can take, both to the south of the city. From the southern city limits, there is 105 km (65 mi) until the city of Villavicencio, a trip of a bit more than 2 hours. 

Route Villavicencio – San Juan de Arama 

From Villavicencio, getting to San Juan de Arama means traveling 120 km (75 mi) on a paved road, a trip that takes about 2.2 hours by car. You have to take the Ruta Turística del Ariariwhich allows you to see the vast plains on both sides hosting different kinds of birds and even the Macarena mountain range. 

There are 2 tolls on the road. You can stop by any establishment to taste the local delicacies. Once in San Juan de Arama, it just takes 15 minutes to get to the starting point of the rafting tour by the Guejar river canyon, which is within the village of Mesetas. Local guides take the visitors to the Limonar bridge in their 4×4. 

Route Villavicencio – Lejanías 

The route from Villavicencio to the village of Lejanías has a similar distance to the route to San Juan Arama, 126 km (78 mi) or 2.2 hours. A popular stop, 1.5 hours from the village, is Finca El Diamante, a small lodge where you can camp, stay the night in a cabin or just eat something before the adventure.

To get there you must pay a local to take you in a 4×4 or a motorcycle since the road is very bumpy. Once there, you have the advantage of only having to walk a few minutes through the forest to be facing the Guejar river. 

Where to stay 

San Juan de Arama  

  • Hotel Palacio Real, you get a double room for COP 40,000  50,000  with an air conditioner or fan. 

Lejanías  

  • Finca El Diamante in the “Maravillas del Guejar” viewpoint offers accommodation in cabins or camping. The price per person per night is COP 50,000 in a cabin and COP 7,000 in camping. Although the cabins can accommodate up to 6 people and the overall price is COP 100,000. 

Cubarral

  • Hotel Casa Blanca Cubarral, you get a double room for COP 40,000  50,000  with an air conditioner or fan. 

Best time to travel to the Guejar River 

There are no seasons in Colombia, at least the traditional 4 seasons that you have in North America or Europe. However, there is a rainy and dry season. During the rainy season, which goes from late March to November, you can see the Caño Lajon waterfall in all its glory.

The access road, though, gets more complicated to travel along and, since the water flow rises, it is riskier to bathe or practice rafting in the river.

During the dry season, from December to Marchyou observe the color of the river get more vibrant, plus the cool water will be well appreciated because of the heat you’ll be standing.

To sum up, we consider that the best time to travel to the Guejar river is during the dry season. 

What to do there 

It is said that you can witness 5 marvels in the Guejar River, in no specific order: 

Río Guejar Canyon experience courtesy Travesía Aventura.

Pozo Escondido is found by surprise on an ascending hike. It consists of natural pools of green waters that cannot be more refreshing. 

Caño Lajón waterfall is a wonderful sight, especially when the river flow is high you can enjoy a mighty stream falling of rugged stones covered in moss. You can even stand behind the falls and freshen up with the mist. 

Sliding down the slippery stone slabs is so much fun! You can find several natural slides that flow into turquoise pools 

At another point in the river, you can get a free massage in the natural Jacuzzis of the river, areas with a strong flow of water and small falls that offer pure relaxation. Water at this point is more crystalline and seems turquoise. 

Caño Jordán waterfall is also called ‘El vómito’ -the vomit, because of the shot that can be achieved from a precise angle in the viewpoint. This fall is a wonderful sight because of the intense green that frames it. 

Rafting experience courtesy Travesía Aventura. Río Guejar Canyon.

You can meet all these marvels on a hiking tour. However, rafting in the Guejar river canyon is the to-go option for the courageous travelers who want a rush of adrenaline in wild Colombia! A rafting tour takes about 5 hours, the distance to be covered is 17 km, 10.5 mi rowing with the hope of not falling off the boat. 

The river is classified as level 3 out of 5 in difficulty. A big plus: midway through the journey, you find ‘the Titanic’a sharp oval stone that seems like the front of a ship that has run aground in the middle of nature. This is the first stop, where there is time for having a snack, a talk, and a rest. Depending on the agency, the cost will be around 160,000 COP (40 USD) per person. 

The Titanic – Rafting experience courtesy Travesía Aventura. Río Guejar Canyon.

What to consider for your travel to Guejar River? 

For you to have an unforgettable experience in the Guejar river and no setbacks, consider the following aspects: 

  • Wear light and comfortable clothes, long pants if you want to avoid mosquito bites and scratches. But shorts are fine. 
  • Wear trekking shoes or shoes with grip soles that can get wet. Walking along the river is risky due to the slippery stones, so not wearing any shoes is not an option. 
  • Wear a hat or cap, plus sunscreen. Also, bring insect repellent. 
  • Don’t forget your swimsuit! 
  • If you prefer, bring a towel and a change of clothes. 
  • A GoPro is the most suitable equipment to record your experience, but if you bring any other device, make sure you have airtight plastic bags too.  
  • Respect the environment, do not leave trash nor remove fauna or flora from their habitat. 
  • Always book your tour with local guides and certified agencies to practice extreme sports. 

This is all you need to know to travel to the Guejar River Canyon. If you are planning a trip to Colombia, we are happy to help you have an unforgettable nature experience! Contact us!

References 
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.

 

The Most Spectacular Rivers and Waterfalls of Colombia

The water resource abounds in the Colombia rivers and waterfalls. For starters, it has two coasts that are bathed by the Pacific ocean and the Caribbean sea. On top of this, Colombia is among the privileged countries to have the páramo ecosystem, where rivers are born.

Rivers flow through the diverse landforms of the country regulating the life of those who inhabit the river banks and occasionally, when encountering a cliff, they form beautiful waterfalls.

Colombia’s aquatic wealth allows for many activities related to water tourism such as diving, surfing, rafting, kayaking, sportfishing, whale watching, diving in coral reefs.

At the same time, it provides a rich landscape for other nature tourism activities such as hiking, photography and safaris.

In this post, we will talk about the main rivers and waterfalls in Colombia.

Due to the abundant rainfall and the topography, Colombia is blessed with many rivers: it has 1,200 permanent rivers, taking into account only the ones with basins over 100 km2!

Basins of Colombia

According to the place where the basins’ waters flow into, there are 5 drainage basins in the country: Caribbean, Pacific, Orinoco, Amazon and Catatumbo.

Fluvial Stars of Colombia

Also, there are 8 “fluvial stars” (geographic zones, mostly in mountain massifs, where several rivers are born due to ice melting): Colombian Massif, Caramanta Hill, Santurbán Páramo, Sumapaz Páramo, Guachaneque Páramo, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Nudo de Paramillo and Nudo de Huaca.

Colombian Rivers

As in any other region, rivers play a vital role in the life around them. Riverside communities subsist thanks to the water and fish the river provides them, and also plant and animal life depend on these water bodies. Read on to know the most important rivers in Colombia!

Magdalena river

Río Grande de la Magdalena is the most important waterway and the longest river in Colombia. It is born in the Colombian Massif and runs from south to north until flowing into the Caribbean sea.

It is 1,558 km long, however only 1,290 km are navigable. The Magdalena basin is over 250,000 km2 and receives water from 500 tributaries, among which the Cauca river is the main one.

Importance of the Magdalena River

It was the protagonist of the settling in America. Caribbean canoes and European caravels entered through its mouth in search of agricultural and mining supplies, as well as places to settle and proclaim dominance.

The river connected the interior of the Andean territory with the Caribbean Sea and, since the 19th century, it became the commercial axis of the Colombian territory.

Today, the Magdalena has vast livestock and agriculture extensions in its valleys and it is a place for hydrocarbons and minerals extraction. It boasts natural beauty and continues to be key in the country’s development.

Cauca river

The Cauca river is the main tributary of the Magdalena river. Also born in the Colombian Massif, it is 1,350 km long and flows between the Central and the Western Andes ranges by 7 Colombian departments: Cauca,  Valle,  Risaralda,  Caldas,  Antioquia,  Sucre and Bolivar, where it meets the Magdalena.

Its navigable area is about 620 km; anyway, it is the second longest river in Colombia. Along the river, productive activities such as sugar cane, cacao, corn, rice and coffee growing, farming, mining and hydroelectric activities are developed, which support the regional economy.

Atrato river

This mighty river, over 700 km long with 500 km navigable, is the main communication path in Choco and has a basin of 35,000 km2, which is rich in gold and wood, being a very fertile region.

It originates in Cerro Plateado, in the Western cordillera and flows northward through a humid valley into the Gulf of Urabá in the Caribbean Sea. Riosuio, Murri, Arquia and Truando are its most renowned tributaries.

The city of Quibdo in Choco, is the main port of the Atrato river.

Amazon river

Born in the Peruvian Andes, the Amazon river traverses 6,788 kilometers (4,211 miles) before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean.

Its 7 million km2 (2 million square miles) basin is the largest in the world and is covered by the largest tropical rainforest on the planet: the Amazon rainforest.

Out of the 6,788 km, 116 km (72 mi) belong to Colombian territory, from the mouth of the Atacuari river to the confluence of the San Antonio gorge.

Puerto Nariño

 If you fly to Leticia, the capital of the Colombian Amazon department, you can get to sail the river up to Puerto Nariño. Your breath will be taken away by the life surrounding the Amazon: ants, tigers, pumas, tapirs, monkeys, crocodiles, turtles, snakes, all kinds of birds and fish.

Several indigenous groups inhabit and preserve the ecosystem that is being harmed by uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources.

The Amazon river and its basin are a paradise of life and history in the South American continent. Visiting its greatness is something that every human being should do once in their lifetime.

Caquetá river

Páramo de las Papas, in the Colombian Massif, is the source of the Caquetá river, which is 2,200 km long, but only 1,200 km traverse Colombian territory.

It flows to the east through the southern part of Colombia, where it meets the Amazon river, before reaching Brazil and adopting the name ‘Japura’. It has a great basin of nearly 200,000 km2 and its main tributaries are Apaporis, Caguan and Orteguaza rivers.

Putumayo river

Being a main tributary of the Amazon river, the Putumayo river serves as a border with Peru and Ecuador. Its source is Nudo de los Pastos, from where it runs about 2,000 km eastwards, through Colombian territory mostly.

Since 1,650 km are navigable, the Putumayo river is used as a transportation path. Among the productive activities carried out in its basin, cattle farming and rubber trade stand out.

Orinoco river

The Orinoco river originates in Venezuela, in Sierra Parima, and flows through 2,900 km, of which over 1,900 are navigable. This makes it one of the longest rivers in South America.

The Orinoco basin, of over 750,000 km2, is one of the greatest in America! The river drains into the Atlantic Ocean, on Venezuelan ground, with about 50 mouths.

Although most of it is in Venezuela, the Orinoco has several Colombian tributaries, among which are Arauca, Meta, Vichada and Guaviare rivers.

It houses an immense biodiversity, including the unique Orinoco crocodile.

Meta river

In the Colombian LLanos Orientales, or Eastern Plains, the Meta river is the most important. Its length is 1,000 km and is navigable for the most part.

The stunning Sumapaz Páramo, in the Eastern Cordillera, is the place where the Humea, Guayuriba and Guatiquia rivers get together to originate the Meta river.

It runs towards the northeast of Colombia until its mouth at the Orinoco river. Also, it is useful for commerce in the region. Cravo Sur, Casanare, Cusiana, Upia and Manacacias are some of its tributary rivers.

Guaviare river

1,350 km in length make the Guaviare river the longest in the Orinoco region in Colombia. Its basin has an area of over 160,000 km2 and small vessels can navigate through 620 km.

It originates from the junction of the Ariari and Guayabero rivers, which come from the Eastern Cordillera, and then flows into the Orinoco river.

The plains and the jungle are delimited by the Guaviare river, whose main tributary is the Inirida river, a 1,300 km long river with black waters that bathe the Guainia department.

San Juan river

In the Pacific drainage basin, the San Juan river basin is the most important one, with 15,000 km2.

The river originates in the department of Antioquia, in the Cerro de Caramanta, and runs 380 km through Risaralda, Choco and Valle del Cauca before flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

Colombian Waterfalls

We know the rivers themselves might not be that appealing to all tourists. However, the waterfalls that originate from them are! Here are 5 waterfalls you should visit in Colombia.

La Chorrera

The highest tiered waterfall in Colombia and the 6th highest in South America, with a 590 mt fall, is called La Chorrera and is located in the municipality of Choachí, Cundinamarca. This is about 1 hour from Bogota by road, at 2,500 MASL approximately.

To get there, you can take a bus to Choachi for COP$8,000 and get off at La Victoria, where you will see a banner of the adventure park La Chorrera.

There you will find locals that offer to take you to the entrance for COP$25,000 (if more than 5 people, each one will pay COP$5,000), but that is not all. From the point where the car leaves you to the actual entrance, there is a steep path you walk in about 10 minutes.

The facilities are simple but cozy, in the ticket office you can buy different packages that can include extreme activities such as the zip line, rappel, Tibetan bridge or an Indiana Jones-like bridge.

Hiking

Hiking to La Chorrera waterfall is a must, evidently. The round trip takes 3 to 4 hours, depending on your rhythm.

It is an amazing hike, a bit demanding by the way, in which you will witness an ancient royal road that connected Villavicencio with Bogota, a cloud forest ecosystem with high trees and several bird species, a smaller waterfall of 55 m called El Chiflon, a cave with hanging stone formations called Cueva de los Monos and finally, after several ups and downs, the majestic La Chorrera appears in the landscape.

The sight from the viewpoint rock is amazing and the water splashes on your face. However, take into account there is a dry season, from late November to March, more or less, so you might get disappointed if you visit and don’t find the mighty waters running down the mountain.

You can still go hiking and enjoy the other activities in the park anyway.Salto de Bordones

In the department of Huila, the Purace National Natural Park hosts this marvelous  400 meter waterfall, ranked as the highest uninterrupted fall of Colombia.

Salto de Bordones originates from the Bordones river, in the border of Isnos and Saladoblanco municipalities. Its name is due to the bordones (Spanish for staffs) used by former settlers to cross the river from one shore to the other.

You can walk down a road to the base of the waterfall in the village Alto Medianias, to enjoy the view and the water splashing. There is a namesake hotel where you can spend the night.

Salto de Mortiño

A nearby waterfall you can also visit is Salto de Mortiño, located in the municipality of Isnos too. Born in the Colombian Massif, La Chorrera gorge forms this Salto, with a 170 m fall. The landscape is amazing: a huge cliff, topped with green, which emanates pure water.

El Duende

Huila is so rich that it has another touristic waterfall between Bordones and Mortiño: El Duende. Although it is smaller, you will be amazed when you get to see the 22 meter cascade surrounded by lush vegetation and hanging nests from the Yellow-rumped Cacique (Cacicus cela).

Salto del Tequendama

Some Muisca tales say that the Salto del Tequendama was created by divine action to drain the water that once flooded the Bogota savanna. Who knows?

This famous waterfall is located in the municipality of Soacha, Cundinamarca, about 30 km southeast of Bogotá. Its 157 meter fall, fed by the Bogotá river, is known to have been traversed by Gonzalo Jiménez the Quesada (founder of the capital), José Celestino Mutis during his Botanical Expedition and even the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt.

The other attraction of the place is the spooky abandoned hotel that lies on the roadside, opened in 1928 and now turned into a museum.

Salto del Tequendama has had bad times, since its flow has decreased over the years and the pollution of the river has caused unpleasant odors in the area.

However, tourists keep visiting this waterfall, perhaps because they are interested in the stories of indigenous mythology, the many suicides that happened in the past century right there or perhaps because they just want to appreciate the natural beauty of this place.

Fin del Mundo Waterfalls

In the Amazonian department of Putumayo, of pristine jungles and biologic wealth, the Fin del Mundo waterfalls impress everyone who travels to the region.

This land of humid tropical climate is home to 12 indigenous communities and many natural treasures, such as this fall of 75 meters that flows between the mountains that separate Mocoa from Villagarzon towns.

To get there, you must cross a wooden suspension bridge over the Mocoa river that leads to the Huaca family house, owners of the territory.

There you hear a 20 minute talk about the history of the community tourism system of the area and you can rent horses and rubber boots.

The road amid the jungle goes up and down, but the highest point is only at 800 MASL. After one hour hiking, a natural pool announces the proximity of the waterfall.

The pozo negro is 8.5 meters deep and you can bathe in it. Then, a natural stone bridge helps you cross over the Dantayaco gorge, after passing by the Almorzadero cascade.

The 4 km journey ends where the mountain ends, this is the end of the world: the water has no alternative but to fall from 75 meters into the void. The peace you feel on the edge of the mountain is indescribable and the violence that once afflicted these lands is gone.

Salto del Indio

13 kilometers south, Salto del Indio receives adventurous tourists that want to dive into the cold water pool that is formed after falling for 35 meters. The indigenous settlements around give the waterfall its name.

Now, 27 km north of Fin del Mundo, you will find the stunning Mandiyaco canyon, whose rock formations have animal and human shapes with mythological background.

These were just some of the most representative rivers and waterfalls you find in Colombia. If we were to talk about all of them, we would probably have to publish an entire book. Anyway, we hope this post has left you eager to visit the gorgeous rivers and waterfalls of Colombia!

References
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.