The Eight Wonder of the World at El Tuparro National Natural Park

A vast green savannah, large rivers, golden beaches, gallery forests and crystal clear waters is what you will find in the Tuparro National Natural Park, a jewel in the heart of the Orinoquia. In this publication you will find important information for your visit to Tuparro National Natural Park in Colombia.

Discovering Tuparro National Natural Park

El Tuparro National Natural Park is located in the Orinoco region of Colombia, and it is part of the department of Vichada. The Tuparro park is bathed by the Tomo River to the north, and the Tuparro, Tuparrito and Caño Maipurés rivers to the south.

Its landscapes expresses in its forms a typical image of the so-called Guiana Shield, one of the oldest geological formations of our planet shared by Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and, of course, the Guianas.

Tuparro Biosphere Reserve of the World

The park was created in 1970 to advance scientific studies and conserve the region’s biodiversity. This led to its declaration as El Tuparro National Natural Park in 1980 with 548,000 ha. The cultural and biological richness of this region made it worth to be declared a national monument, and core area of a Biosphere Reserve. Know more about biosphere reserves of Colombia in our entry Next Travel Ideas? Visit the Biosphere Reserves of Colombia.

It is also considered an Important Bird Area (IBA) site because it is estimated that there are more than 320 species of birds, many of them associated with the water bodies.

A Sanctuary for All

The park is a sanctuary for birds, orchids, monkeys, snakes and toninas (pink freshwater dolphins). There is also an ancient cemetery that belonged to the Maipur indigenous nation, which is now extinct.

Besides, there are indigenous communities surrounding the protected area: Piaroa, Curripaco, Cuiba, Puinave and Guahibo, who preserve and maintain their traditions amidst the park’s tourism.

What does it mean Tuparro?

This park owes its name to the Tuparro River. Tuparro is the name given to the small hills, rocky outcrops, of less than 900 m. high, which are remains of the ancient Guyanese shield, composed of quartz and currently considered one of the oldest mountains on the continent.

The Raudales de Maipures on the Orinoco River and at the mouth of the Tuparro River, is one of its main attractions. The Orinoco river narrows in this area and its current flows thunderously between giant rocks that extend up to 5 km.

How to Get to Tuparro National Natural Park

Via Bogotá-Puerto Carreño

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) Bogotá to German Olano (PCR) at Puerto Carreño city with Colombia´s state own airline: Satena.

Once at the airport, take an approximately 45- minutes ride to Casuarito Port. Once at the Port you should take an extra 10-minutes boat ride to Puerto Ayacucho (Venezuela). Finally in Puerto Ayacucho you should take an extra 15-minutes boat ride to Tuparro.

Via Bogotá- Villavicencio

Take a 1,2-hours flight from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) in Bogotá to Vanguadía Airport (VVC) at Villavicencio city with Satena Airline. In the airport take an approximately 1h1min flight to to German Olano (PCR) at Puerto Carreño city with Satena Airline.

Once at the airport, take an approximately 45- minutes ride to Casuarito Port. Once at the Port you should take an extra 10-minutes boat ride to Puerto Ayacucho (Venezuela). Finally in Puerto Ayacucho you should take an extra 15-minutes boat ride to Tuparro.

What to do in Tuparro National Natural Park

During the induction talk, visitors are informed about the activities carried out in El Tuparro National Natural Park, the conservation objectives, the services offered, and the ecotourism activities that can be carried out.

Hiking and Trekking

Hiking is the most exciting activity in Tuparro National Natural Park. The Attalea (Maipures) trail has a length of 3 km uphill through a palm forest and rocky outcrop. Moderate intesity. When you reach the highest point you can have the view of the Raudal Maipures. This trail is currently being managed by local indigenous communities.

The Eighth Wonder of the World Tuparro Natural Park

The Raudal de Maipures and the Balancín

Formerly called Quituna by the indigenous people of the region, the waters of the Maipures raudal belong to the great Orinoco River. There, this riverbed marks part of the extensive border limits that separate Colombia and Venezuela.

Maipures is one of the most impressive attractions that El Tuparro National Natural Park offers to its visitors. In the 19th century, specifically in 1800, the famous German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt passed through the Maipures stream. He called this place “the eighth wonder of the world”. Among its main attractions, undoubtedly, is the “Balancín”, in the sector of the Atarrayadero, a rock that remains suspended over another, despite the strong currents with which the great Orinoco lambastes there.

The best time to enjoy all the splendor that Maipures offers is during the summer months (low water season due to the few rains that fall in this region), that is, between the months of December and March.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Tours

El Tuparro National Natural Park is a perfect place for those interested in fauna and flora. However, it is not easy to spot wildlife because most of them have crepuscular habits (dawn and dusk) and are elusive.

Birdwatchers will be able to enjoy some of the species since there are records of more than 300 species of birds. Research and monitoring have found 74 species of mammals, 17 species of reptiles, 229 species of fish, and up to 828 species of plants in the protected area. Insects have not yet been surveyed, so all the data that you document during your visit (citizen science) will be of help to continue to nourish the park’s lists.

The main ecosystems present in the park are typical of the Orinoco, including dry and flooded savannah, gallery forests, riparian forests, and rocky outcrops.

Aquatic Tourism

Finishing the hiking activity through the Anaconda trail, you can go through a path in the savannah where meters ahead the visitor will find the attractive blue well, ideal for a refreshing swim. The bathing activity can also be developed in the attractions of Bocas del Tomo, Raudal del Tuparro and caño Peinillas. Kayak can also be practiced in the Raudal del Tuparro.

El Tuparro

Research and Environmental Education

The protected area’s exuberant biodiversity and its conservation status make it a suitable place for scientific research. In addition, activities related to the Environmental Communication and Education Plan are carried out in coordination with educational institutions and in the development of the lines prioritized for the fulfillment of the institutional mission.

Where to stay in Tuparro National Natural Park

Tuparro Natural National Park does not currently offer accommodation for travelers, but it is possible to stay in Puerto Carreño. Therefore we recommend the following hotels:

  • El Lago
  • Cacique Samanare
  • Voragine

Best Time to Visit Tuparro National Natural Park

The best time to visit El Tuparro is the dry season which starts at the beginning of June until late of September and from the beginning of April until late of November, with temperatures around 25º C (77 ºF).

Tuparro National Natural Park Entrance fees

The entrance fee varies depending on the nationality and age of the visitors. These are the entrance fees for 2021:

  • Colombians, resident foreigners and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru (ages 5 to 25): COP 10,000
  • Colombians, resident foreigners and tourists from Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru (over 25 years old): COP 16,000
  • Non-resident foreigners (over 5 years old): COP 46,500
  • Children under 5 years old and Colombians over 65 years old have free entrance presenting their IDs.

Before Visiting Tuparro National Natural Park Consider:

  • The entrance of Visitors only will be allowed if it is accompanied by an authorized touristic operator that meets the law requirements, the visitor who enters the park without a touristic operator will be returned by the Staff of the protected area.
  • Due to the security of the visitors and uncomfortable situations that have been presenting with our neighboring country, national parks authorities recommend not traveling to Venezuela.
  • You should avoid taking harmful elements that go against biodiversity, such as aerosols, guns, alcoholic beverages and hallucinogen substances.
  • The staff of the Park reserves the right of entrance and/or permanence to the people that are not mentioned in the entrance permit, this measurement also works for the cases when the total number of people does not matches the number indicated in the permit.
  • Due to evacuation of BIODEGRADABLE trash (bottles, batteries, cans, etc.), it is necessary to carry plastics bags.
  • If you enter through Venezuela, you must do so through a registered tour operator and under their security.
  • Consider wearing personal protective items (sunscreen, sunglasses, towel, insect repellent, and hat).
  • Bring along valid identification documents and health insurance.
  • It is recommended to be vaccinated against yellow fever, measles and tetanus.
  • If you take specific medications, take them with you a personal first aid kit.
  • Photos or videos for commercial or publication purposes must have prior permission from Parques Nacionales. The use of DRONES is not permitted in the Protected Areas for filming and/or photography activities of a private-recreational nature, without prior authorization.

Some prohibitions

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

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.

Jirijirimo Waterfall and the Anaconda Trail in Vaupes, Amazon Region, Colombia

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.

El Sendero de la Anaconda – Trailer from Laberinto Producciones on Vimeo.

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

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.