Tolima, a Little Known Destination in Colombia with a Lot to Offer!

Tolima is a department in Colombia where music is its distinctive expression… until now. In recent times, nature tourism has drawn the attention as a new attraction.

Birdwatching and nature tourism are new there, and emerged after the signing of the peace process. With it, people began to see bird watching and nature tourism as an economic opportunity.

Where is Tolima?

Tolima is located in the center-west of Colombia, in the Andean region. Its capital city is Ibagué, and it locates on the eastern flank of the Central Andes, in the center of the department. It is known as the Musical Capital of Colombia.

Tolima department borders to the north with Caldas, to the east with Cundinamarca, to the south with Huila and to the west with Valle del Cauca, Quindío and Risaralda departments.

So, if you are in the coffee region, or in Bogota or Cali, it will be very easy for you to visit this region by car, or by plane.

Perales National Airport is located in the east of the city of Ibagué and is the main airport in Tolima. It is in the process of becoming an international airport.

Rare food alert: One of the most famous meals in Colombia is the lechona. The lechona borned in Tolima. This is a dish based on pork meat, stuffed with peas and rice, and mixed inside the pork itself.

Lechona dish served in a Bijao leaf.
Lechona dish served in a Bijao leaf, with lemon and arepa.

It is baked in the oven, leaving the pork skin browned and toasted. It is served with a portion of the skin, in a Bijao leaf, previously passed through the fire, as a plate. This leaf is similar to the banana leaf, but it is not edible.

What does it mean Tolima?

The are several stories about the name Tolima. One of them tells that the word comes from the Panche term tolima, tulima or dulima, which means river of snow or cloud.

Another story refers to an indigenous woman called Tulima, or Yulima. Yulima was an indigenous queen and priestess who protected a religious sanctuary. This place was very rich in gold deposits, near Machín Volcano and Nevado del Tolima.

The Spaniards assaulted her and took her as a prisoner. They led her in chains to Ibagué, in whose main square the conquerors burned her alive.

While she was dying she received blessings from Father Cobos to help her soul elevates to heaven. The department preserved her legendary name as a perennial tribute to her martyrdom.

Tolima as a Nature Destination

Tolima covers an area of 149,800 hectares. It extends from the upper Magdalena valley in the east to the Tolima snow-capped mountain in the northwest.

Thus, the department of Tolima has a huge variety of ecosystems and life zones. There you will find tropical dry forests at 2800 meters above sea level, to the paramo life zone, at approximately 5280 meters above sea level.

Machín Volcano, Toche, Tolima, COlombia

This broad altitudinal variation arises into a great variety of climates and topographic aspects. This variation, in turn, results in a high number of habitats for a wide diversity of species, birds among them.

Additionally, the mountainous landscapes of Tolima makes it a very good region to visit for hiking.

Los Nevados Natural National Park in Tolima.

Also, the Magdalena River, the most important river of Colombia, crosses Tolima from south to north enriching the landscape. The city of Honda was one of its main ports in the colonial past (watch the video below).

The natural wealth of Tolima has allowed the development of several important tourist activities. Furthermore, several national natural parks belong to the department of Tolima and are reserves of water, flora and fauna: Los Nevados National Natural Park, Las Hermosas National Natural Park, and Nevado del Huila National Natural Park.

Aquatic Tourism

There are several aquatic parks in the lowland areas of Tolima you can visit with your family.  Also, you can do rafting on the Sumapaz river in Melgar, Carmen de Apicalá, Coello, Flandes and Suárez.


In the north, at Mariquita, Honda, Ambalema and Falan towns, you can combine historical colonial tourism with water parks.

Sport Fishing and Water Sports

To the south is the Prado reservoir focused on sport fishing and water sports. This region also has a lot of indigenous history. There you will find Amerindian expressions in ceramics made by the Pijao communities.

Prado reservoir, Tolima, Colombia

The area also has incredible landscapes such as the Pacandé Mountain and the northern side of the Tatacoa Desert.

Hiking and Trekking

In the center of the department, Ibagué, Murillo and Líbano towns are close to Los Nevados National Park. There, mountaineering is the main attraction.

Snow-capped mountain of Tolima

Check our tour to Nevado del Tolima here.

Birdwatching in Tolima

More and more people is discovering the biodiversity of birdlife in Tolima. Today, Tolima is 14 in the eBird’ species list of departments of Colombia, with 809 bird species reported.

Besides this, it is 8th in the Top 10 departments with more checklists, with around 14300.

5th Tolima Bird Festival – La Rivera Route ©Cortolima

In Tolima, a Bird Festival is also held every year. The most recent version was in 2019, being the fifth one. This festival features cultural and academic activities, as well as bird watching tours.

Tolima Birdwatching Routes

Private and public entities work together to protect and conserve the birds biodiversity of Tolima. Thus, since 2018, the Chamber of Commerce, the Ornithological Association Anthocephala, and Cortolima developed a total of 33 birdwatching routes in Tolima.

13 of these birding routes are near to Ibagué and the Río Viejo wetland in San Luis.

The main routes established in Tolima include:

  • Toche Canyon,
  • Combeima Canyon,
  • The northern route (Honda, Mariquita, Fresno and Falán),
  • Las Hermosas in Chaparral,
  • San Antonio,
  • Planadas,
  • Galilea forest,
  • Murillo – Armero route,
  • Roncesvalles,
  • Falán – Mariquita,
  • Clarita Botero en Ibagué
  • “Raúl Echeverry” Botanical Garden in Líbano, and
  • San Jorge Botanical Garden, among others.

One of the most important routes that you should not miss is the Toche Canyon Route. The Toche Canyon locates between the cities of Cajamarca and Ibagué.

Wax Palm at Toche, Tolima

There there are ten species of parrots, among them the Indigo-winged Parrot, the Yellow-eared Parrot and the Golden-plumed Parakeet. These species live in the ecosystem offered by the most conserved forest of wax palm in the country.

Top Birds of Tolima

Here’s a taste of what’s to come in a future post. The most representative bird species in Tolima are:

  1. Tolima Blossomcrown – Anthocephala berlepschi 
  2. Tolima Dove – Leptotila conoveri
  3. Indigo-winged Parrot – Hapalopsittaca fuertesi
  4. Yellow-eared Parrot – Ognorhynchus icterotis
  5. Velvet-fronted Euphonia – Euphonia concinna
  6. Crested Ant-Tanager – Habia cristata
  7. Yellow-headed Brushfinch – Atlapetes flaviceps
  8. Rufous-fronted Parakeet – Bolborhynchus ferrugineifrons
  9. Indigo-capped Hummingbird – Amazilia cyanifrons
  10. Apical Flycatcher – Myiarchus apicalis
  11. Brown-banded Antpitta – Grallaria milleri
  12. Buffy Helmetcrest – Oxypogon stuebelii
Tolima Blossomcrown – Anthocephala berlepschi at Ukuku Lodge, Tolima

Find the Tolima birding routes and highlights in our entry Tolima Birding Routes: from the Andean Snows to the Magdalena Valley.

So, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Tolima! In future posts we will tell you how we did during our visit.

For more information about birding trips to Colombia and the birds of Colombia, visit our entry The Complete Colombia Birdwatching Guide: Tourism & Conservation.

If you want to know more about the most incredible natural destinations in Colombia, plan your trip with us!

  • Tolima Regional Autonomous Corporation –
  • Anthocephala, Ornithology Association of Tolima.
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.

Why should you Visit Guaviare in Colombia? Remnants of a Remote Past

Guaviare is one of the least populated departments of Colombia, and one of the most pristine nature destinations in the country.  

Additionally, this department is located in the Colombian Amazon region, although part of its territory is also in the Orinoquia. Its capital is San José del Guaviare. 

Brief history of Guaviare

In the past, the colonization of Guaviare was mainly due to the enormous natural riches of its soil and the exploitation derived from these.

People came there to cultivate balata and rubber. Moreover, trade of wild animal skins, native plants and ornamental fish was also common.

Finally, the illicit cultivation of coca attracted many people, bringing also war and chaos to the region.

Today, tourism is opening as a new possibility for the economic development of the region, and it works as a good strategy for the protection and conservation of natural and archaeological areas.

Weather and Landscape

The dry season happens from December to February, and the rainy season during the rest of the year (especially April-July and October-November). Annual rainfall ranges from 2,000 to 3,500 mm. The temperature during the day reaches 25° to 30 °C, dropping at night to 12 °C between July and August.

Its soils are bathed by numerous rivers and a network of streams, divided mainly into two basins: Orinoco River Basin and Amazon River Basin.

Tourism in Guaviare 

Tourism is making its way in this destination dedicated to adventure and sustainability. It is an opportunity for sustainable development in he region. The natural environments for swimming, the sunsets, and its ecosystems make it a unique destination.

Archaeological places, and the fauna and flora that make up an abundant biodiversity, are the greatest attraction of Guaviare.

The Most Featured Destinations in Guaviare 

Serrania de La Lindosa and Cerro Azul

Serranía de la Lindosa @Parques Naturales

This place is one of the eight archaeological zones declared as a protected area by the Ministry of Culture of Colombia.

Here you will find the famous cave paintings, among others those of the Guayabero River and the Caño Dorado, with vivid colors. In the Cerro Azul in the Serranía La Lindosa, you can observe paintings that are twelve thousand years old.

The summit of Cerro Azul can be reached by a medium level hike of approximately 40 minutes. In Cerro Azul, there are a series of cave paintings painted with reddish pigment by indigenous people who inhabited the La Lindosa mountain range 7,250 years ago.

It is a two-hundred-meter-high peak to explore and walk. During the walk you can find giant trees and native species of flora and fauna. From the top you can see numerous streams of crystalline water and the jungle.

Raudal of the Guayabero

Raudal del Guayabero @ Juan Pablo Rozo – Wikiloc

This spectacular spot is one hour by river, and one hour and thirty minutes by land, from San José del Guaviare.

The Guayabero River, before its encounter with the Ariari, is framed in a canyon formed by walls of rocks of Pre-Cambrian origin.

From there, a current is unleashed that reaches half a kilometer in length. Although it is navigable throughout the year, the summer season is the best time to cross it.

Throughout the tour you can see the gray freshwater dolphin or Tonina (Sotalia fluviatilis), as it is called by the inhabitants of the region.

Natural Bridges

Rocky Bridges Pic. by Parques Nacionales

These natural bridges are high and have been shaped and polished by water over time. They stand on a ravine to which it is possible to descend with certified guides.

The City of Stone

Serranía de la Lindosa ©Parques Naturales

The Stone City of San Jose, is an enigmatic place that consists of ancestral rocks distributed with an impressive and mysterious symmetry.

In the company of guides, you can tour this site that has labyrinths, caves, and monoliths with very old petroglyphs. A special place for hiking and caving.

Natural Baths of Agua Bonita, Villa Luz and Tranquilandia.

Tranquilandia Bath

They are located only five miles from the city, in Caño Sabana. The ancient rock formations form pools of crystalline waters of different colors. The rich plant and mineral environment is the one that colors these waters, so it is very similar to the rainbow river in La Macarena. You can go there and enjoy a good swim and landscape.

Puerta de Orión

Puerta de Orión Pic. by Parques Nacionales

Orion’s Gate is a rock formation emblematic of the city, found 9 kilometers from San José del Guaviare. It is twelve meters high and 20 meters wide. It has two natural holes, one on top of the other.

To get to Puerta de Orión you must pass through cavities and cornices that make it an enigmatic scenery.

The particularity of this natural wonder is that in the summer solstice you can observe Orion’s Belt through the upper window, creating a unique spectacle.

Sport fishing and Kayaking at Laguna Negra 

Sunsent at Laguna Negra ©El Tiempo

Laguna Negra is located 11 kilometers from San José del Guaviare. The black color that the water projects is because at the bottom there are decomposed leaves from the surrounding forests.

Its name is due to the dark tone of its waters seen from the air. Once on land, you can see a scenario of crystalline water, according to experts, because of the thick vegetation that surrounds it.

This natural reserve, 11 km from San José del Guaviare, constitutes the ideal scenario for the practice of artisan fishing and snorkel. You can find “cachazas” and “payaras”.

Kayaking and sailing, among other practices, are part of the new offer.

Chiribiquete National Park

Jaguar Petroglyph Chirbiquete ©Parques Nacionales Naturales

Because it is a complete planetary treasure, in 2018 it has been declared a mixed heritage of humanity.

It is located in the departments of Caquetá and Guaviare, and preserves the largest sample of rock art in the world.

In Chiribiquete there are approximately 70,000 paintings and 50 panels of an average height of 7 meters.

These have served to distinguish a cultural tradition of roots, apparently very old, of the Paleo-Indian. Therefore, they have been associated with groups of hunter-gatherers of the Tropical Rainforest and semi-dry enclaves of the Guianas and the Amazon.

Other Attractions

Guayabero Pic. by Juan Pablo Rozo – Wikiloc
  • Rural and community tourism: Finca Chontaduro, Finca Diamante, replacement of coca for fruit.
  • The “Flor del Guaviare” (Paepalanthus formosus Moldenke) is one of the emblems of the department.
Guaviare Flower, ©Gabriel Arroyo – iNaturalist
  • Thermal waters, unique in the Orinoco and Amazon;
  • The Inírida River;
  • The natural National Parks of Chiribiquete and Nukak; and
  • An endless number of lakes and lagoons where pink dolphins and fishing abound.
Nukak ©Nathaly Londoño – Parques Nacionales

How to get to Guaviare

The trip Bogotá – Guaviare by plane takes about 1.20 hour. The tourist sites are easily accessible by 4X4 vehicles. The capital, San José del Guaviare, has become a center of operation with a wide range of lodging facilities: three stars hotels, hostels, and camping.

Where to stay in San José del Guaviare

We recomend you the following hotels in San José del Guaviare:

  • Hotel Quinto Nivel
  • Hotel Aeropuerto

If you want to know more about the most incredible natural destinations in Colombia, plan your trip with us!


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.

Where to Go for Spinning, Trolling and Fly Fishing in Colombia

Here you will find brief information about the main modalities of sport fishing and where you can practice them in Colombia.

If you want to know more details about the destinations, the fish, and the fishing seasons in Colombia, visit our entry Simple Guide to the Best Sport Fishing in Colombia.

Sport fishing has different modalities as they are: Spinning, Trolling, and Fly Fishing.


This fishing technique consists of casting an artificial lure and collecting it by imitating the movements of a small fish that may have difficulty swimming.

Hooks from Pixabay


Spinning can be practiced from the shore or aboard a boat, and it is practiced both in fresh water and at sea.

The environments where the fishing takes place, the existing meteorological conditions, and the characteristics of the different species must also be taken into account.

Technique and Equipments

A rod and a reel are used to make the cast. The imitation of the fish with “difficulty” to swim is achieved by making slight pulls or jigs of the rod while rolling  the artificial lure.

The rods used to practice this technique are very light, manufactured with very resistant elements like carbon fiber. Rod’s lengths vary from 1.80 m. for small rivers, streams or torrents, to up to 3.30 m for more open scenarios like big rivers or the sea.

The reels and lines used are also light and, in many cases, they are specific to this fishing modality.

Finally, regarding the decoy or lure, it varies in weight, color, shape and material (steel, wood, plastic) depending on the species being pursued and the action being attempted.

As the fish move at different depths, the lures to be used can act on the water surface, or at various depths.

Additionally, it is important to take into account that fish are “territorial” and defend their habitat from any foreign invader. For this reason, it is recommended to use lures instead of spoons, because lures tend to imitate small and young fish, which are part of the diet of older fish.

Spinning destinations in Colombia

  • Rio Bita, Puerto Carreño, Vichada.
  • Tomo and Orinoco river, Puerto Carreño, Vichada.
  • Punta Brava, Nuquí, Chocó.
  • Leticia, Amazonas.
  • Guatapé, Antioquia.
  • Siecha Lagoons, Cundinamarca.
  • Chingaza National Natural Park.

Trolling or trawling

Trolling is another form of freshwater sport fishing. However, this modality questions its sporting essence, since the fisherman only has to wait for the fish to be hooked.

The secret is in who operates the boat, more than in who holds the rod.

Picture by Sportfishing Colombia


Trawling is also the preferred method for catching large fish in salt water. This requires a boat capable of navigating in the sea, equipped with good seats and special and resistant fishing gear.

Technique and Equipments

When trolling, the fisherman casts the lure, which can be either soft or hard-bodied, into the water. As the boat slowly advances, the lure is left drifting away from the boat.

When it is about fifty meters away, the fisherman blocks its reel, either from the front drag or twist.

In this way, the traction of the boat’s movement makes the lure “work” in the right way, with the turning movements it was designed for.

The fish are captured by dragging the bait, which is also attached to a hook. Trawlers use heavy rods and dacron or steel fishing lines.

Trolling destinations in Colombia

  • Bahía Solano, Chocó.
  • Cartagena, Bolívar.

Fly Fishing

Without a doubt, fly fishing is the ultimate expression of sport fishing. For many fishermen, more than a fishing technique, it is an art form. This is possible due to the elegance and aesthetics that the angler shows when casting his fly.

If you care about fish wellness, let me tell yoo that fly fishing allows to apply efficiently the techniques developed for catch and release, being the best alternative for this practice.

Fly fishing by Steve Buissine from Pixabay


Fly fishing is typically on moving water, but it is also frequently done on lakes and ponds.

Technique and Equipments

This technique has a more sportive character. Unlike other techniques, fly fishing demands:

  • the fisherman a greater physical effort,
  • the mastery of complex casting techniques,
  • sophisticated equipment, and
  • a meticulous study of the place.

Fly fishing consists of throwing a lure called “fly” utilizing a line of variable diameter known as “mouse tail”. At the end of it, a nylon section of around 3 m long, called “leader”, will be tied to the end.

The “fly” is tied to the thinnest part called “tippet”. Understanding the climatic factors and many other variables will be fundamental at the time of choosing the fly to be used.

The flies of the fishermen

Flies are artificial lures that try to imitate insects or small fish that represent the food consumed by trout, dorado, or any other fish.

In this modality, the presentation of the fly is essential, and it needs a correct technique since the fish -especially the trout- know perfectly most of the insects and the way they fall into the water.

There are several types of flies:

  • Dry flies, which work on the surface of the water, imitating adult insects or those that have fallen into the water.
  • Humid flies, that work under the water, imitating diverse stages during the life of the insects before they grow and arrive at the surface.
  • Streamers, which imitate small young fish that are attacked by other fish.

Nymph, product by Sierra

The flies must “fall” or land in the water in the most natural and delicate way possible, so that fish do not notice the trick.

It is necessary to have a good knowledge of the life cycle of the fish as well as a minimum knowledge of the life cycle of the insects it is imitating.

It is said that a good fly fisherman ties his own flies. But do not worry, everything is learned through experience. There are schools and courses that teach fishermen how to tie a fly and how to cast it.

Fly-fishing destinations in Colombia

  • Rio Bita, Puerto Carreño, Vichada.
  • Tomo and Orinoco river, Puerto Carreño, Vichada.
  • Punta Brava, Nuquí, Chocó.
  • Leticia, Amazonas.

If you want to know more about the most incredible natural destinations in Colombia, plan your trip with us!

About the authors

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.

Simple Guide to the Best Sport Fishing in Colombia

Sport fishing in Colombia is an activity that is gaining more popularity among locals and tourists. Also known as recreational fishing, it consists of fishing for pleasure or competition.  

The best season in Colombia for fishing in saltwater is from September to November, when you can catch Billfish, Dorado, and Tuna. Meanwhile, the star fish of freshwater is the Peacock Bass, which abounds from January to March. There are other game fish species in the rivers and oceans of Colombia that attract anglers from all over the world. 

In Colombia it is necessary to obtain authorization for competitions, areas, species, boats, seasons, systems, quantities and other aspects related to the entertainment activity or sport fishing competition. This authorization is granted by the AUNAP (National Authority for Aquaculture and Fishing) and has a cost depending on the type of user and the scope of the activity to be performed, and is valid for up to 6 months for foreigners not domiciled in the country. 

In general, a fishing tour includes lodging in a specialized hotel, full meals with breakfast and dinner on land and lunch on the boat, with snacks, soft drinks and fruit, hydration throughout the fishing day, complete crew on the boat with captain, sailor and accompanying guide, and fishing permits issued by the AUNAP. 

Fishing Seasons in Colombia

Fishing Seasons in Colombia in the Pacific Ocean- Picture by Santiago Isaza – FishIn Colombia

River fishing:

  • December, January, February, March in the Vichada,
  • September, October, and November in the Amazon 

Sea fishing: All year round. 

Best sport fishing destinations in Colombia 

Here are the best fishing destinations in Colombia. 

Orinoquia Region 


The Department of Vichada has the Orinoco, Meta, Bita, Vichada and El Tomo rivers as well as the Juriepe and Terecay streams making it one of the most appreciated destinations for sport fishing lovers. The Bita River in Puerto Carreño is one of the main sceneries hosting endemic species of the region, which is why it is expected to be the first protected river in the world, in a study under development, led by the Von Humboldt Institute and the Government of Vichada. The Pavón, the Payara, the Sardinata, the Cachama and the different species of Bagres, are some of the specimens you can find. 

Puerto Carreño

This is an off the beaten track fishing destination that has its productive season from January to March. Here you can fish giant Peacock Bass, Payara, Catfish, Matrinxa, Tambaqui, Bicuda, among others.   

The Vichada River surprises with its colors at sunset and with all the virgin nature that surrounds it. Photos: Filiberto Pinzón / EL TIEMPO

Tucunare LodgeFish the Butterfly Peacock Bass, that reaches up to 26 pounds, in the Vichada River! These are unexplored waters perfect for sport fishing, since it has a variety of large sized fish. Tucunare Lodge offers an amazing experience in this place. Their cabins are strategically located on the river banks for your comfort, so you can fish all day long. For this activity to be sustainable, the lodge made an agreement with the Sikuani indigenous community and has special permits to operate in the river and 16 lagoons. Actually, the guides belong to the Sikuani community and they know the jungle and the animals like the back of their hands. Only groups of maximum 8 anglers are allowed per week. The Raudales del muerto zone in the Orinoco River is nearby and here you can fish Payaras, Amazon pellona, Catfish and other species. 

Anakay Natural Reserve.  In this private natural reserve located in the Orinoquia, you will have a comfortable sport fishing experience. Like Tucunare, Anakay is in the department of Vichada, this time in the upper Bita River. The main target here is the Peacok Bass, but you can find other species such as Payara, Pacu, Arowanas, Piranhas and different Catfish too. It is a reserve with 6,000 acres with little public access so you can always catch fish, besides having the lodge just 15 minutes from the fishing spots, which allows 12-hour fishing days. The high season for fishing is from January to April. You stay at wooden cabins with basic amenities and the motorized boats have a capacity of 2 anglers plus the guide, which is always from the region and has experience in fishing and tourism. In addition, the host is an English speaking experienced angler. 

Vichada River – Season 2016 –

Bita River

The Bita River is the first river in Colombia to be protected with civil rights. Apart from that, you will have an unforgettable encounter with nature, now that the Orinoco region boasts diverse wildlife including capybaras, peccaries, tapirs, ocelots, monkeys, deer, jaguars, exotic birds and reptiles! 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and lures artificial), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), hat or cap, sunscreen, glasses, pants, all terrain shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Pacific region  

Large predatory fish inhabit the Pacific Ocean of Colombia. The Colombian Pacific is particularly flexible to allow year-round fishing. The main ecosystem is mangrove and tropical rainforest, with an average temperature of 25°C. The Pacific Region is in the Biogeographic Choco, a world biodiversity hotspot with unspoiled landscapes, so all of this makes it a great fishing destination.  

Picture by Sportfishing Colombia

Bahía Solano.

The municipality of Bahia Solano boasts pristine jungles and beautiful beaches bathed in rich waters that host the best saltwater fish for sport fishing. During your sportfishing trip to Bahía Solano you will be able to observe the attack of yellowfin and blackfin tuna, the Mahi Mahi of good size and eccentric color, the jumps of a sailfish, the shape of a rooster, among other fish.  

The fish offer depends on the technique used. The most common species are Amberjack, Tuna, Cubera, Sea bass, Tarpon, Roosterfish, Blue and Black Marlins, Sailfish, Dolphin and Wahoo. You can try techniques such as spinning or casting, jigging, trawling, fishing with live bait and flyfishing.  

The boat offer is varied and guides are experienced captains and skilled anglers, specialized in all types of fishing. The lodges where you can stay also offers the possibility to do diving, bird watching and humpback whale watching! 

Picture by Santiago Isaza – FishIn Colombia

Among other fishing techniques, in Bahia Solano, you can practice mainly the following: 

  • Trolling: Large catches are fished by dragging lures or baits around large spaces so predatory fish are tempted to bite them. 
  • Jigging: Named after the lure called ‘jig’, which is made of lead and has the shape of a fish. Anglers use jigs to recreate the vertical movement of a fish heading to the surface, this is why this technique is also known as ‘vertical fishing’. 
  • Popper: The popper fly on the surface attracts predatory fish who mistake it for prey fish. This is a dynamic and physically demanding fishing technique. 

Depending on the season, you can catch Tuna, Amberjack, Dolphin, Bluefin trevally, Jack, Marlin, Cubera Snapper, Rooster fish, Sailfish, Tarpon, Spanish mackerel or Wahoo. The opportunity to go on offshore or inshore fishing trips also depends on the season. You can choose to go fishing inshore or 35 miles offshore and catch Blue and Black Marlin, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi, and more. The best season for offshore fishing is at the end of the year, in December, due to the sea currents.  

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, coral friendly sunblock, sunglasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Punta Brava

Another destination in the Pacific region is Punta Brava, in Nuquí. There you can fish all year round, but the month of May is recommended. Here you can fish for Tuna, Sailfish, Roosterfish, Dorado, Snapper, Bravo and Horse Mackerel. 

Picture by Santiago Isaza – FishIn Colombia

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and artificial lures), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, sunscreen, glasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Caribbean Region 

Marine sport fishing as an alternative for tourism development in the Colombian Caribbean is a proposal to promote the economic development of local communities and a conservation strategy. In a study carried out by the Tropical Fisheries Science and Technology Research Group (CITEPT), from the Magdalena University, it was found that there is a great deal of seasonality in the catches of pelagic fish that are important for sport fishing, confirming their migratory behaviour, with the highest catches being made between the months of March – April and August – October. This study concluded that the recommended seasons for sport fishing tournaments and tours coincide with the decrease of trade winds and better navigability, and would be one between March and April and another between August and October each year.

Cartagena de Indias

Islas del Rosario – Cartagena, Colombia

In the waters of Cartagenathis gorgeous Caribbean city, you can go fishing inshore or offshore What can you get close to the shore? Barracuda, Snapper, Grouper, Jack Crevalle, and King Mackerel. Also, Permit, Tarpon and Bonefish, although its numbers have decreased due to overfishing. These trips are apt for beginners and families, since they will be safe within 10 miles of shore.  However, if you go beyond 10 miles, you can fish Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Yellowfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi and Wahoo, especially from March to May. Offshore fishing is preferred by experienced anglers. 

Among the services you can find in a fishing tour there are offshore trolling trips to catch migratory fish such as Mackerel, Crevalle Jacks, Tuna and Marlin. These can last from 4 hours to a complete day or multiple days, when it is required to go to deep seas. If you go wreck bottom fishing, you may catch game fish species such as Mangrove Snapper, Yellowtail Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Gag Grouper, Black Grouper, Cobia, Permit, and Jewfish. Deep drop and jigging trips allow you to catch predatory fish that roam deep down beyond 1000 feet! Huge Snappers and Groupers are the trophy. 

With bots with a capacity for up to 10 anglers, as s Yate Fortuna,  you can leave the bay of Cartagena to sail into the deep waters of the Caribbean.  In a trip, you will be able to catch Marlin, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, Amberjack and even sharks. 

Santa Marta

Sportfishing at Taganga picture by Thui Tours

Offshore fishing is also great in Santa Marta, Magdalena. The best fishing spots are found 40 miles from the shore and offer Marlin, Sailfish, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Amberjack and Sharks. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, coral friendly sunblock, sunglasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

Andean Region 

There are many places in the Andean region where you can practice sport fishing. These places are not very well known internationally, but they are well known in the country. Here we will tell you about the most recognized ones.


El Peñol reservoir in Guatapé, Antioquia is the world’s paradise for fishing “largemouth bass”, a natural predator, only carnivorous and very enjoyable to fish. Its first bite is exciting and you have to pick it up in jumps, as if giving the fight. Tilapia and mojarra are also fished in the reservoir.

El Peñol, Guatapé, Antioquia

From October to December, you can target Roosterfish and Tarpon.  Water bodies such as Guatape, San Rafael or Nare River are perfect to go on an angling expedition. Local guides will help you catch Golden Dorado, Peacock Bass, Payara, Tilapia, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, among other species, using jigging, floating baits, fly fishing, trolling, deep fishing or popping techniques. In boats arranged for up to 3 anglers. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and lures artificial), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), hat or cap, sunscreen, glasses, pants, all terrain shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.


Siecha lagoons

Cundinamarca has several places for sport fishing without affecting the environment. The first obligatory stop is in Lagos del Siecha (Siecha lagoons), located in Guasca, Cundinamarca. The Siecha lagoons are a group of three lagoons located in the jurisdiction of the Colombian municipality of Guasca, in the department of Cundinamarca. Currently the three lagoons are called: Fausto, America, and Siecha (the largest of the three). In the ancient language of the Muiscas, Siecha means “Man of Water”.

National Natural Park Chingaza 

Chingaza National Park

In the 40’s the brown trout (Salmo trutta) was introduced and in the 70’s the rainbow trout (S. gairdneri) was introduced in the Tota lagoon. Today the two species cohabit in the Chingaza lagoon, in the Chuza reservoir and in the upper part of the Guatiquía and Blanco rivers, where fishing seasons with minimum catch size have been determined. The fishing plan includes fishing in Laguna Seca and Chuza Lagoon in Monterredondo, with the option of camping near the fishing site. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: cold weather clothing, hat or cap, sunscreen, glasses, all-terrain shoes or waterproof boots.

Amazon Region  

The Colombian Amazon is an incredible destination for fishermen since this region is crossed by majestic rivers that facilitate trade, travel to places in the middle of the jungle, remote populations, resguardos, parks and nature reserves. The Amazon is a habitat with high biodiversity like no other ecosystem in the world and also has the vast cultural diversity of its indigenous peoples, and the life that originates and is nourished by the multiple banks of the Amazon River, the largest, widest and deepest river in the world. The fishing season in the amazon is between September and November. There you can fish Pavón, Bagre, Mojarra, Pirarucu, Arawana, Piraña, Payara, Moncholo and Chachama. 

Sunset at the Amazon River

In Leticia you can visit the Heliconia reserve, sailing for approximately three and a half hours on the majestic Amazon River and then on one of its largest and most important tributaries in the area “The Javari River”, natural border between Brazil and Peru. In the Heliconia Reserve you can do sport fishing in one of the many spectacular lakes and channels that are part of the Amazon rainforest of Brazil and Peru: Lake San Antonio Ox-Bow, Canal Furo Zacanbuzinho, Lake Cristina Ox-Bow, Lake Caoti, Lake Socó Ox-Bow, Lake Socózinho, Canal Mata Mata, Lake Pombao Ox-Bow, Tartaruga Channel and Beaches of the Javari River. 

RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT: Fishing equipment (Fly, Spinning or Casting and artificial lures), light clothing (fishing shirt and trousers), cap or hat, sunscreen, glasses, trousers, off-road shoes or sandals and ecological insecticide.

At this point, you may have noticed why sport fishing in Colombia is something you have to try if you like adventure in nature! Hopefully this post was useful for you to know which fishing destinations to visit in your next trip to Colombia.

About the authors.

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.

Ana María Parra

Current content writer for Sula. 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.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]