Community-based Ecotourism in Colombia: A Bet for Local Development

Have you heard about community-based ecotourism? If not, here we will tell you about it. Community-based ecotourism aims at harmony between nature conservation and people, where ecotourism activities provide greater benefits to local communities.

For more than 10 years community-based ecotourism in Colombia exists, being promoted by the Colombian government and organizations such as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, National Parks of Colombia, USAID, and AUDUBON.

This whole process of tourism development hand in hand with local communities involves training, organizational strengthening, promotion, and marketing of destinations.

Over time, difficulties, lessons learned, and developing a process that involves a community-based private organization and public institutions have been revealed and overcome.

Visiting Usiacurí and Luriza Reserve

The Importance of Community-based Ecotourism

These are the great advantages of community-based tourism:

  1. Tourism generates opportunities outside the big cities,
  2. Helps preservation of the cultural and natural heritage of rural communities, indigenous peoples, and many other historically marginalized populations around the world.
  3. For many rural communities around the world, tourism is a major generator of employment and opportunity, especially for women and youth.
  4. In some places, ecotourism is one of the few viable economic and legal activities.
  5. Tourism also enables rural communities to celebrate their unique cultural heritage and traditions.
  6. Community-based ecotourismis a vital sector for safeguarding habitats and endangered species.
  7. Economic income goes directly to the native lodges, to the local transporter, to the people who carry out daily activities, such as traditional cooking workshops, or traditional fishing activities, etc.
  8. Communities are transformed by learning to do responsible, differentiated, and environmentally friendly tourism, and they are more and more convinced every day of having beautiful territories.
  9. From your side, you are contributing to cultural or wildlife conservation programs, such as sea turtles, whales, birds, or pink dolphins.
Community-based tourism Usiacurí, Atlantico, Colombia

The High Impact of the Pandemic

2020 has been a very hard year for this type of tourism. Many families dedicated to this business were ruined. Some communities are able to survive because they can return to their old trades such as agriculture and fishing.

However, many of them are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to reopen their doors to travelers. It depends not only on them but also on new challenges such as the implementation of biosecurity protocols on their part.

Communities within the Protected Areas of Colombia

In Colombia, many of the protected areas have communities within them or in their areas of influence, i.e., border zones. For example, Afro-descendant communities in Utria national park in the Pacific, or the indigenous communities living in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta national park in the Caribbean.

Indigenous People from the Sierra Nevada, picture by Banco de la Republica

These local communities have become valuable allies for the conservation of natural values in parks, reserves, and sanctuaries.

At the same time, the communities represent cultural values that in many cases are also object of conservation in the protected areas.

Who is involved, and what they do?

Entire families and young people establish community associations and are trained to provide eco-tourism services with the support of the Colombian National Parks System, or by foundations such as USAID or AUDUBON Society.

Thus, some learn about the natural values of the protected area to provide environmental interpreter services, others specialize as ecotourism guides, some improve their knowledge of typical gastronomy, and others explore handicraft production techniques.

Picture from Audubon: “Wayuu indigenous students and teacher Alvaro Jaramillo are bird watching in La Guajira, Colombia. The program teaches locals to become tour guides for travelers interested in spotting birds. Photo: Carlos Villalon”

Moreover, many of them are trained in the application of clean technologies that they will later use for the sustainable management of all ecotourism activities.

In recent years, the most successful processes have been the Colombian Birding Trails designed in the Caribbean and the Andean regions, where Audubon Society developed hand in hand with the local communities important birding trails around Colombia.

Ongoing projects are the Riqueza Natural Award, where local people, technology, and innovation were the main components to design new nature tourism offers in Colombia. Find out more about these destinations in our entry The Top Post-Covid-19 Destinations for Conservation Lovers in Colombia.

Community-based Ecotourism in Colombian National Parks

Today there are seven protected areas of the Colombian National Parks System that have the active participation of community organizations that offer their services to tourists. These areas have very diverse natural environments and a great variety of cultural manifestations:

  1. Iguaque Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, with the community organization Natural Iguaque, formed by farmers from the municipality of Arcabuco (Boyacá).
  2. Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, with the El Santuario Association formed by residents of the village of Camarones (Guajira).
  3. Otún Quimbaya Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, with the Yarumo Blanco Association formed by a group of young people from the village of Floridablanca (Risaralda).
  4. Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park, with the community organization Nativos Activos, formed by inhabitants of the community of Orika (Isla Grande).
  5. Utría National Natural Park, with the Mano Cambiada Corporation, formed by inhabitants of the municipality of Nuquí (Chocó);
  6. Chingaza National Natural Park, Siecha sector, with the Asociación Ecoturistica Suasie, formed by young people from Vereda Trinidad (Cundinamarca).
  7. El Cocuy National Natural Park, with the Guías de Güican and Cocuy Association formed by farmers from the municipalities of Güican and Cocuy (Boyacá).

All of them offer several different services, such as multi-day packages to explore the region. You can book directly with them, or with our help. In general, the main objective is increasing sales of community products. In SULA, we help them, and you, making reservations more efficient.

La Guajira – Los Flamencos National Natural Park

Other Community-based Ecotourism Destinations in Colombia

Community-based tourism initiatives around Colombia, picture MinCIT, 2017

Of the many beautiful places that Colombia has, we recommend:

  1. Chocó, a unique place with indigenous and afro traditions, as well as a huge biodiversity richness. The Chocó municipalities of Nuquí, Bahía Solano, Capurganá, and Sapzurro are developing this kind of tourism.
  2. The islands of San Andres, Providencia, and Santa Catalina, with its Raizal community.
  3. In Valledupar with the communities of Pueblo Viejo, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
  4. La Guajira with groups of Wayuu women, who develop their activities within their tourist ranches.
  5. Birding trails such as:
    1. Northern Colombia Birding Trail,
    2. the Central Andes Birding Trail, and
    3. the Southwestern Andes Birding Trail.
  6. Mitu, Vaupes, with their ethnic touristic proposal.
  7. San Jose del Guaviare, with Econare, a local association of community-based tourism in charge of preserving the Amazon pink dolphins.
Indigenous handicraft, Mitú, Vaupès

Of course, there are many more places! If you want to plan your trip to Colombia do not hesitate to contact us, visit our Plan your trip page!

  • MinCIT
  • Radio Nacional
About the author

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.


The Northern Caribbean Birding Trail of Colombia

The north of Colombia borders the Caribbean Sea and has a continental area of almost 133,000 square km. Try not to get excited with this fantastic video about the northern birding route in the Colombian Caribbean: Northern Caribbean Birding Trail of Colombia!


Colombia’s Caribbean coast is home to some incredibly special birding hotspots. One of them is the highest coastal mountain range on the planet, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, with a wide elevation gradient, offering all thermal floors and a great biodiversity, it concentrates a large number of endemic species.

In front of it, the Serranía de Perijá, another mountain range that also has a very different avifauna and is very rich in endemisms.

Between these mountains are the threatened dry forests of Cesar and La Guajira, which also harbor very special birds and ecosystems.

Fianlly, also located there, between the Caribbean Sea and the dry forest of La Guajira, is the Los Flamencos flora and fauna sanctuary, an area of coastal lagoons watered by streams. This is an important feeding area for the birds that give it its name: flamingos.

Thus, in the Northern Caribbean of Colombia you can find most of the ecosystems of the tropical fringe of the planet: Tropical dry forest, Tropical humid forests, Low dense forests, Mountain forests, Páramos, Grasslands, Savannas, Wetlands, Mangroves and Coral reefs in the Caribbean islands.

The Northern Caribbean Birding Trail

 The National Audubon Society the largest bird conservation organization, along with the US Agency for International Development (USAIDand the Colombian bird study and conservation association, Asociación Calidris developed a sustainable bird watching itinerary in Colombia in order to achieve economic development and nature conservation: the Northern Caribbean Birding Trail. 

Clink in the following link to see the suggested itinerary proposed by them:

Birding Spots of The Northern Caribbean Birding Trail

The birding spots included in the Northern Caribbean Birding Trail are:

  • Los Besotes Ecopark,
  • Serranía del Perijá, 
  • Los Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary,
  • Tayrona National Natural Park and
  • Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

In Serranía del Perijá, Los Flamencos and Sierra Nevada, birdwatchers and bird photographers will be delighted with the avian diversity and will be able to shoot unique and gorgeous species. 


Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta offers one of the most known birding lodges in Colombia and around the world, El Dorado Birding Nature Reserve. Located in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, it is the best place to stay for a birdwatching tour in this area. 

Serranía del Perijá offers a simple birding lodge with basic amenities. It is called Chamicero del Perijá Reserve. However, if you dont mind to wake up very early in th morning to get to the highest area, you can stay at the lower part in the town of Manaure.

Finally, the accommodation in the cities of Valledupar and Riohacha is intended to be at local hotels. We recommend you Casa Rosalia Hotel Boutique in Valledupar and Hotel Taroa in Riohacha. 


The trip lasts 10 days, it starts in Valledupar and ends in Santa Marta, and includes experienced tour leaders and trained local guides in every location. 

Paramo and Dry Forest in Cesar

Los Besotes Eco Park

Ten kilometers from Valledupar, in the direction of Patillal, is the natural reserve Los Besotes, which treasures a large part of the fauna and flora of this region of the Colombian dry forest in the department of Cesar.

Los Besotes Eco Park, Valledupar, Cesar, Colombia.

Established in 1993 by the lawyer and historian Tomas Darío Gutiérrez, the ecological park is the result of an extraordinary, almost individual effort of a man with a passion for nature.

Toucans, macaws, chachalacas, condors and other typical Caribbean species live in this region. One of the most important highlights is the Blue-billed Currassow, Crax alberti.

The 14 kilometers of trails that run through the park allow you to circulate through the massif of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, between the Murillo and Los Besotes hills, and access points of almost 2,000 meters high, such as the Alto del Condor.

Serranía del Perijá: Páramo

Cerro Pintado, Perijá Mountain Range, Manaure, Cesar

Perijá is an isolated offshoot of the Eastern Andes that forms the border with Venezuela and was a key spot during the Colombian internal conflict before turning into a paradise for birders all around the globe.

Since it has not always been accessible, scientists are still discovering and classifying many local species. The endemic species are  the Perijá Metaltail, Perijá Thistletail, Perijá Sierrafinch and Perijá Tapaculo.

Perijá Thistletail – Asthenes perijana, endemic

However, it has been found that common species such as the Rufous Spinetail and the local variety of the Yellow-breasted Brushfinch are endemic.

Other birds that can be spotted are Crested and Goldenheaded Quetzal, Barred Fruiteater, Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Plushcap, Buffbreasted Mountain-Tanager, Hook-billed Kite, kinds of Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager and Golden-bellied Starfrontlet.

Luckily you may see  the White-rumped Hawk or even Black-and-chestnut Eagle. The Chamizero del Perijá Reserve is the birding lodge that receives tourists that want to explore this remote area full of avian surprises. 

Dry Forest and Wetlands of La Guajira

Los Flamencos Flora and Fauna Sanctuary 

In La Guajira peninsula, characterized by vast desert areas, this nature reserve has shallow ponds that fill with rain and evaporate during the dry season.

American Flamingo – Phoenicopterus ruber at Los Flamencos Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, Colombia

The salt water is the proper habitat for brine shrimp, which attract the American Flamingos —the stars of the sanctuary—, as well as Scarlet and White Ibis, gulls, terns and other shore birds.

Birds of La Guajira – Royal Tern – Thalasseus maximus

Caribbean Dry Forest

Orinocan Saltator – Saltator orenocensis at Camarones, La Guajira, Colombia

The bright-color pattern continues with the Vermillion cardinal found in the dry forest and other species that can be seen are the White-whiskered spinetail, the Chestnut piculet, the Slender-billed inezia, the White-tipped inezia, the Buffy Hummingbird and the Orinocan Saltator. 

Buffy Hummingbird – Leucippus fallax, Camarones, La Guajira, Colombia

Find out more details about these destinations in our entry Discover the Caribbean Dry Forest Birding Trail of Colombia.

Mountain Forest and Páramo of Santa Marta

Tayrona National Natural Park

Tayrona National Park is a place full of myths and legends of the ancient communities that inhabited the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is a place for those seeking new and amazing ecotourism experiences.

Tayrona Park, picture by David Paez

Around 396 species of birds have been recorded here, including Little tinamou (Cripturellus soui), King vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), Road hawk (Buteo magnirostris), Yellow-headed Caracara (Milvago chimachima) and Pale-vented Pigeon (Patagioenas cayennensis).

Find out more details about this destinations in our entries Best Time to Visit Tayrona Park to Avoid Crowds and Bad Weather and Travel Guide to The Lost City Trek – Ciudad Perdida – in Colombia.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta 

The Santa Marta mountain range is isolated from the Andes and the highest coastal mountain in the world! With 19 endemic bird speciesit is also among the most important endemism centers in the world

W Santa Marta Antbird – Drymophila hellmayri, endemic. Minca, Colombia

Many endemics have the Santa Marta moniker, such as  the Santa Marta Parakeet, Santa Marta Antbird, Santa Marta Foliage-Gleaner, Santa Marta Warbler, Santa Marta Woodstar and Santa Marta Brush-Finch.

There is a screech owl unnamed but endemic, and species such as the Santa Marta Wren, the Santa Marta Sabrewing and the Santa Marta Blossomcrown are difficult to spot.

Santa Marta Brushfinch – Atlapetes melanocephalus. Minca, Colombia

If you are lucky, you will see  Black-backed Thornbill,  Santa Marta Woodstar,  Santa Marta Antpitta and Black-fronted Wood-Quail, but there are others that are more common: Santa Marta Brushfinch, Yellow-crowned Redstart, and Rusty-headed Spinetail. 

Be ready to focus your lens on the stunning White-tipped Quetzal, Band-tailed and Sickle-winged guans, Rosy Thrush-Tanager and Golden-breasted Fruiteater. El Dorado Bird Reserve is the lodge where you will stay and relax while birds are not around. 

San Lorenzo Ridge – Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Watch our birding experience in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta here. Find out more details about this destinations in our entry Colombia’s Prime Birding Destination: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

As time goes by, the list of Colombian birding trails has grown and you can be sure that you will find fantastic birds in any region of the country.

Check all of our Birding Routes here

 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

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.

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.

Ultimate Guide to the Best Birding Lodges in Colombia

In our entry Complete Guide to the Best Eco lodges in Colombia, we tell you about the best eco-lodges with specialized services in Colombia, focused on sustainable development through the conservation of biodiversity, the support to local communities, among other things. Here I will tell you which are the best Birding Lodges in Colombia.

The birding experience is enriched by facilities and services that help to generate an inimitable experience. Just in central and south America there are wonderful examples of this such as the Chan Chich Lodge in Belize, Sacha Lodge in Ecuador, Cristalino Lodge in Brazil, or Yacutinga Lodge in Argentina.

Facilities for bird watching, as well as the comfort, gain a lot of importance when it comes to satisfy a client. Facilities such as:

  • Rooms with private bathrooms.
  • Hot water and comfortable beds.
  • No t.v., no radio, no noise.
  • Wi-fi and mobile connection.
  • Restaurant service with flexible hours.
  • Specialized services as bird libraries.
  • Local guides with complete knowledge of the local bird life.
  • Complete bird lists of the place.

Also, the infrastructure is also very important. It is necessary the presence of observation towers, canopy roads, and well demarcated trails with good viewing angles and easy access. This is what defines a specialized lodge for birders.

There are many options throughout Colombia for birding tourism, mainly in nature reserves. The majority of nature reserves have simpler infrastructure, most of them are conditioned for birding tourism, and some of them can offer reasonable good lodging and food service. Examples of these are: Río Ñambí Nature Reserve, La Planada Nature Reserve, Isla Escondida Nature Reserve, or Montezuma Lodge among the most known and remarkable.

Rio Ñambi Nature Reserve

Here there are some of the most outstanding lodges in Colombia specialized as birding lodges, capable of offering a wide range of facilities and services required for all birders and bird watchers.

Birding Lodges of the Coffee Region and Central Andes of Colombia


Tinamú Birding Nature Reserve

  • +40 years conserving nature.
  • +260 bird species registered. 
  • Facilities for bird photography.
  • Accommodation in the middle of nature.
  • Private and safe trails.
  • Home service with local people.
  • Reinvestment in conservation.
  • Strategic location in Caldas. 

If you want to know more about this birdlodge read our entry: The Nicest Bird-lodge of Colombia: Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve.

Lodge features
  • +3 km of private and safe trails
  • Bird library for consultation.
  • Space for workshops with audiovisual equipment.
  • Giant screen for reviewing photographic and video archives.
  • Hummingbird garden.
  • Bird feeders.
  • Hides for photography.
  • Lake only for birds.  
Things to do

Restaurant service starts at 5.30 am. Additionally, it offers typical dishes of the region, and also vegetarian or international dishes. 


Ten spacious rooms with capacity for 21 people in individual accommodation (1 person per bed) and 33 people in shared accommodation (16 double beds and 5 single beds). Each room has a private bathroom and hot water.  


Rates start at USD 90 per person, per night, based on occupancy.  

Location and weather

The reserve is in the middle of the Coffee Region in the department of Caldas. Protects a tropical rainforest of 11 ha/27 acres. It is located between 1,200 and 1,300 meters / 3950 and 4265 ft above sea level with a warm climate of 25°C/77°F.  

How to get there

The Tinamu hotel is located in the San Peregrino village, 30 minutes from the city of Manizales. It is only possible to arrive by land transport. The lodge offers airport – Tinamu – airport transportation service (additional). 

Birding Lodges of the Western Andes of Colombia

Valle del Cauca

Araucana Lodge 

©Araucana Lodge Website
  • Modern infrastructure developed to make the most of birding.
  • With high and wide glass windows.
  • It is in a region of great diversity of birds and near to other highly interesting places for bird watching.
  • +150 species of birds registered in the lodge. 
Lodge features
  • There are 8ha/20 acres of Andean forest and gardens.
  • Large spaces in an area of 836 m2 / 9,000 ft2.
  • Several social areas to relax.
  • Wood burning oven for pizza parties.
  • Organic farm with vegetables, fruits, and coffee.
  • Walking trails through the forest, streams and gardens. 
  • Rare plant collection and gardens.  
Things to do
  • Take specialized birding tour around Valle del Cauca, which ranges from the pacific coast, the Chocó forest and the western Andean mountain range ecosystems. 
  • Visiting around for cultural tours, city tours, salsa tours, river tours and more.
  • Take custom botanical and/or horticultural tours.
  • Go for relaxation.
  • Enjoy ecological walks.  

Kitchen starts early for birders. Farm to table organic food. Custom made cuisine. 


8 suites with gorgeous views, luxurious king-size beds, and private balconies. Each room has artwork from local artists and photographers. Additionally, there are two extra rooms, smaller, but with the same quality standards. Each room has a private bathroom and hot water.  


Rates start at USD 170 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

Location and weather

The lodge is Located in the Chocó bio – region of Colombia. It is within the cloud forests of the Andean western mountain range, at 1600 meters/5600 feet above sea level, with a temperate to cold climate of 21° C/73°F, on average.  

How to get there

Araucana lodge is located 40-minute drive from Cali on the way to Bitaco and Lomitas, in Dagua municipality of the Department of Valle Del Cauca. It is only possible to arrive by land transport.  

La Minga Ecolodge

  • 17 species of hummingbirds and up to 30 species of colorful tanagers arrive to the house’s gardens and feeders.
  • The main attraction is the presence of five endemic and near endemic species: Multicolored tanager (Chlorochrysa nitidissima).
  • Some species of the Chocó can be observed from time to time.

Bird Highlights: Purplish-mantled Tanager (Iridosornis porphyrocephalus), Chestnut Wood Quail (Odontophorus hyperythrus), Cloud-forest Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium nubicola), and the Yellow-headed manakin (Chloropipo flavicapilla).

Additionally, the Crested quetzal (Pharomachrus antisianus) and the Golden-headed quetzal (Pharomachrus auriceps), Rufous-crested Tanager (Creurgops verticalis), Golden-naped Tanager (Tangara ruficervix), Saffron-crowned Tanager (Tangara xanthocephala), Red-headed Barbet (Eubucco bourcierii), Scaled Fruiteater (Ampelioides tschudii), Crimson Rumped Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus haematopygus) and Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus), Sickle-winged Guan (Chamaepetes goudotii), Chestnut-breasted Wren (Cyphorhinus thoracicus), Uniform Antshrike (Thamnophilus unicolor) can be observed relatively easy.

Lodge features
  • It is a two-floors house made with bricks and wooden details inside.
  • It has two fireplaces: one in the living room on the first floor, and the other in the lounge between the rooms on the second floor.
  • Covered terrace for photography.
  • Library specialized in birds and ecosystems of the region.
  • Atmosphere for small groups.
Things to do
  • Bird photography.
  • Specialized bird watching tour.
  • From the house to the main road, there is a 3 km private road, where you can do day and night walks for bird observation. (Check our Valle del Cauca tour)

Homemade food, based on local gastronomy. Coffee.  


It has two double rooms, each with a double bed and full private bathroom. There are additional rooms, each with two bunk beds and a single bed and an adjacent full bathroom. There is a shared bathroom in the living room. Each room has a private bathroom and hot water.  


Rates start at USD 70 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

Location and weather

The lodge is located within the forest reserve of the Bitaco river, which is a protected area in the upper part of the western Andean mountain range. Well preserved cloud forest. Elevation of 1500 meters/5500 ft above sea level. Moreover, the weather can be unpredictable during the rainy season (February to June) and there is a lot of cloud cover. However, during the summer luminous blue skies can be seen (June – August, December – February).

How to get there

The Minga eco-lodge is located 45 minutes from Cali and 60 minutes from the airport, in the municipality of la Cumbre, department of Valle del Cauca. It takes 40-minute drive from Cali on the way Bitaco and Lomitas road, in Dagua municipality. It is only possible to arrive by land transport.

Birding Lodges of the Eastern Andes of Colombia 


Gyrola Birding

Red-billed Emerald – Chlorostilbon gibsoni ©Gyrola Birding Website – Fractal Wladimir Giraldo
  • Comfort surrounded by gardens, ecological trails and viewpoints designed for bird watching.
  • Design with advanced concepts of sustainability.
  • Highly efficient construction with very low environmental impact.
  • Bioclimatic design to minimize energy consumption, with materials that allow for a prolonged life of the construction without increasing the heat island effect.
  • Drinking water and wastewater treatment plant.
  • Use of rainwater to minimize the use of fresh water. 
  • Intensive  reforestation with native and endangered species aimed to protect the fauna and the surrounding environment. 
  • +170 registered bird species. 
Lodge features
  • Boutique hotel & spa with exclusive villas.
  • There are lush gardens and ecological trails with terraces for bird photography throughout the year.
  • One-story buildings for the comfort of the elderly.
  • Environment of total privacy, exclusivity and security.
  • Spectacular view to the beautiful bucolic landscape.
  • Swimming pool.
  • Jacuzzi.
  • Densely wooded boulevard with tropical vegetation and a profusion of colors to attract birds. 
Things to do
  • Photographing birds from your room’s balcony or from the hotel’s terraces without having to move.
  • Birding tour in the native dry forest. 
  • Take romantic getaways. 
  • Go with your friends or family for celebration of special dates, including accommodation, water circuit and relaxation massage.
  • Plan your business activities, executive meetings in boardroom or conference room format.
  • Plan your wedding celebrations and social events. 

À la carte menu. 


The lodge has 12 modern, spacious rooms with balcony and private bathroom. Additionally, there are 10 private villas with 3 to 4 comfortable rooms, large living-dining room open to the deck, pool and gazebo. The villas have their, own water fountain and water treated, to high standards of care. Each room has a private bathroom and hot water.  


Rates start at USD 90 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

Location and weather

Hotel located 4.5km from Bogotá, on the way La Mesa / Cundinamarca. It is located in the middle of remnants of tropical dry forest.  It is about 1200 meters/3900 feet above sea level, with a warm climate of 27°C/80°F, on average.  

How to get there

Gyrola birding hotel boutique & spa is located 2h drive from Bogotá via la mesa, in the department of Cundinamarca. It is only possible to arrive by land transport.  

Birding Lodges of the Northern Caribbean Birding Route of Colombia


El Dorado Bird Natural Reserve

Santa Marta Brushfinch – Atlapetes melanocephalus

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta snow cape is declared the “most irreplaceable site on earth”. It is one of the places with the greatest record of endemic bird species in Colombia.

Read our post: Colombia’s Prime Birding Destination: Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, to know more about this Biosphere Reserve of Colombia.

  • The reserve protects 21 endemic bird species and 55 endemic bird subspecies.
  • The lodge is located within one of the most important biodiversity reserves in the world. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve.
  • Protects the populations of 9 endemic amphibian species.
  • Is the most important private protected area in the tropics.

Biodiversity in the protected area includes the Santa Marta parakeet (Pyrrhura viridicata), the target conservation species of the reserve. Artificial nests have been installed over palms and trees to help their conservation since lack of enough trees for nidification is the main reason they are endangered.

Parakeets are monitored to guarantee if the artificial nests are working. Another highlight is the Santa Marta mountain tanager (Anisognathus melanogenys), the White-lored Warbler (Myiothlypis conspicillata), the Black-billed flycatcher (Aphanotriccus audax), the Santa Marta Blossomcrown (Anthocephala floriceps) as well as some amphibians as the San Lorenzo harlequin frog (Atelopus nahumae) another endemic species protected by the reserve.

For more information read our entry: Next Travel Ideas? Visit the Biosphere Reserves of Colombia.

Lodge features
  • Specialized birding guide.
  • Specialized library for consultation of birds and ecosystems of the area. Internet access when possible.
  • Trails, observation towers, terraces, and rest areas.
  • Giles mini pub with wine and cocktails located on the second floor of the restaurant from where you can see the spectacular sunsets of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.  
Things to do

There are plenty offer of activities related with observation of endemic species of birds as well as different species of mammals and wildlife. You can enjoy different activities such as:

  • Watch the sunrise and the sunset on the terraces of the koguihabs.
  • Bird watching from the observation tower, on the San Lorenzo Ridge and along the trails.
  • Observe hummingbirds on the terrace and feeders.
  • Do for nocturnal birding and wildlife observation.
  • Visit to Cerro Kennedy for bird watching.  

Fixed menu of Colombian food. The food can be tailored to the needs of the client.  


It can accommodate up to 36 people. Includes 10 rooms with single, double and triple accommodation, depending on the necessity: 2 balcony room, 4 rainforest room, 2 double room, 1 triple room and 1 dorm room.

Additionally, it has five individual cabins, inspired by the architecture of the indigenous Kogui tribe called koguihabs. Each room has a private bathroom and hot water.


Rates start at USD 190 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

Location and weather

Humid subtropical and premontane high Andean forest at the snow capped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the nearest mountain to the sea in the world, with 5800m / 19000 ft above sea level.

Near to the municipality of Minca, it is located at the San Lorenzo Ridge, with an altitude between 900 and 2600 meters/2950 and 8530 ft above sea level. On the other hand, climate is warm, with around 18°C/65°F on average, and cold at night with around 10° – 15°C/42°- 47°F.  

How to get there

It takes 3h30 minutes from Santa Marta and 3 hours from Minca. The road is rough, and it is mandatory to go up in a 4×4 truck. Many locals use motorcycle as the best way of transportation. It gets very difficult in rainy season, as you can see in the video.

If you want to schedule your birding trip in Colombia, do not hesitate to contact us, and 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.

La Planada Nature Reserve: All you Need to Know Before Visiting

La Planada Nature Reserve was created by the Foundation for Higher Education (FES) in 1982, with support from the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). The objective of its creation was to avoid genetic loss and to preserve the life of hundreds of plants and animals, which are unique inhabitants of the last remnants of the tropical cloud forest in the western andean mountain range, in the so-called biogeographic Chocó in the Colombian Pacific, which has been so badly affected by intense forest clearing.

After more than 30 years, there is a historic moment for the Awa Indigenous people, with the help of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). Since 9/27/2020 La Planada is connected to the interconnected network (internet).

Having an internet connection benefits the local community, the research and conservation processes in the reserve, and all visitors in La Planada.

9 Facts about La Planada Nature Reserve

La Planada Natural Reserve is one of the most biologically rich places in Colombia:

  1. It has 3,200 hectares of cloud forests.
  2. It has the largest concentration of native birds in South America, with more than 240 species, including rare and endangered species such as the Black-and-chestnut eagle, the Toucan Barbet, the Club-winged Manakin and the Long-tailed Sylph.
  3. It has been described by the famous botanist Alwyn Gentry as the supreme empire of the Epiphytes plants: a paradise of lichens, bromeliads, mosses and orchids.
  4. More than 1,800 species of trees and plants are found here.
  5. It is one of the places with the greatest diversity of orchids in the world with more than 300 varieties.
  6. It has registered, until now, more than 80 species of mammals, among them the Colombian white-faced capuchin (Cebus capucinus), the Mantled howler (Alouatta palliata), ocelots, deers, coatis, weasels and the emblematic Spectacled Bear.
  7. Its cloud forests are also one of the last refuges of the Spectacled bear in Colombia.
  8. Approximately 50 species of reptiles.
  9. And more than 30 species of amphibians has been registered at La Planada.

Sustainable Tourism Destination

In 2010 the FES Foundation donated the La Planada Nature Reserve to the Awá Indigenous People. Since then the community has led the recovery of the Reserve as well as projects for the conservation of biological diversity, with the development of three work programs: community organization, sustainable production and conservation.

Also, it has been able to establish good inter-institutional alliances, having technical support from important organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the MacArthur Foundation, the European Union, the Humboldt Institute, RESNATUR among others.

Know more about Sustainable Destination in Colombia in our post Recommended Sustainable Tourism Destinations in Colombia.


The premontane rainforests of the La Planada Nature Reserve are distributed in two plains, five hills and two pronounced canals. It is located between 1,300 and 2,100 meters above sea level (3937 – 6889.7 ft). It has an average annual rainfall of 4.700 mm, with a dry period between June and August. The average temperature is 20ºC.


La Planada Natural Reserve is placed 27 km from the municipality of Ricaurte, department of Nariño, in the southwest of the country.

Important Bird Area and Protected Forest Reserve

It has been declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) in 2008, under criteria A1 and A2. This means that the La planada holds significant numbers of one or more globally threatened species, and to hold a significant population of at least two range-restricted species.

Within the IBA there are about 1667 hectares declared as a Protected Forest Reserve, within the system of protected areas of Colombia. In Colombia, a reserve of this type corresponds to geographical areas where forest ecosystems maintain their function, even though their primary structure has been changed. They can be public or private and are intended for the establishment, maintenance and sustainable use of forests or vegetation cover.

In La Planada you can find almost 360 species of birds. Within this large group, 29 species are of special interest because of their restricted distribution. Some of them are under threat category in the IUCN red list.

SpeciesIUCN Red List CategorySeasonDistribution
Dark-backed Wood-quail (Odontophorus melanonotus)VUresidentRestricted
Gorgeted Sunangel (Heliangelus strophianus)LCresidentRestricted
Violet-tailed Sylph (Aglaiocercus coelestis)LCresidentRestricted
Hoary Puffleg (Haplophaedia lugens)NTresidentRestricted
Brown Inca (Coeligena wilsoni)LCresidentRestricted
Velvet-purple Coronet (Boissonneaua jardini)LCresidentRestricted
Empress Brilliant (Heliodoxa imperatrix)LCresidentRestricted
Cloudforest Pygmy-owl (Glaucidium nubicola)VUresidentna
Colombian Screech-owl (Megascops colombianus)NTresidentRestricted
Semi-collared Hawk (Accipiter collaris)NTresidentna
Plate-billed Mountain-toucan (Andigena laminirostris)NTresidentRestricted
Toucan Barbet (Semnornis ramphastinus)NTresidentRestricted
Yellow-breasted Antpitta (Grallaria flavotincta)LCresidentRestricted
Narino Tapaculo (Scytalopus vicinior)LCresidentRestricted
Uniform Treehunter (Thripadectes ignobilis)LCresidentRestricted
Fulvous-dotted Treerunner (Margarornis stellatus)NTresidentRestricted
Club-winged Manakin (Machaeropterus deliciosus)LCresidentRestricted
Orange-breasted Fruiteater (Pipreola jucunda)LCresidentRestricted
Beautiful Jay (Cyanolyca pulchra)NTresidentRestricted
Black Solitaire (Entomodestes coracinus)LCresidentRestricted
Yellow-collared Chlorophonia (Chlorophonia flavirostris)LCresidentRestricted
Tanager Finch (Oreothraupis arremonops)LCresidentRestricted
Dusky Bush-tanager (Chlorospingus semifuscus)LCresidentRestricted
Scarlet-and-white Tanager (Chrysothlypis salmoni)LCresidentRestricted
Indigo Flowerpiercer (Diglossa indigotica)LCresidentRestricted
Purplish-mantled Tanager (Iridosornis porphyrocephalus)NTresidentRestricted
Black-chinned Mountain-tanager (Anisognathus notabilis)LCresidentRestricted
Glistening-green Tanager (Chlorochrysa phoenicotis)LCresidentRestricted
Moss-backed Tanager (Bangsia edwardsi)LCresidentRestricted

Scientific Research at La Planada Nature Reserve

During its more than 20 years of history, the Reserve has developed several investigations on the natural history of tanagers and birds of prey and some threatened species such as the Toucan Barbet and the Plate-billed Mountain-toucan. Studies on the Spectacled Bear and studies of vegetation and floristics have also been carried out with the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute. Today, long-term scientific research is being carried out in the reserve to study the dynamics of the Andean forest.

Spectacled Bear rescued at La Planada Nature Reserve. Its name is Arcoiris (Rainbow)

What to do at La Planada Nature Reserve

The birds, as well as the natural and scenic wealth are the main attractions of La Planada. Tourism, as well as the reserve, is in charge of the Awá community. Enjoy one of the most beautiful natural reserves in Nariño by hiking, walking to an impressive waterfall, and resting in the middle of the forest in simple but cozy cabins. The reserve offers accommodation, food and guidance. There are also suitable areas for camping within the reserve.

Fishing and Indigenous Culture

You can make day and night tours through the reserve, and through the ancestral territory of the Awa people. You can also do recreational activities and river fishing, share with the communities the different aspects of the marimba culture and learn about their typical foods.

Orchids and Plants tour

There is a 2 km trail called El Tejón where you can find ecological stations with different attractions such as tuber crops, bromeliads, plants from which the Spectacled Bear feeds. One of the most attractive is the orchidarium with about 3,000 species of orchids.

Birding at La Planada Nature Reserve

Brown Inca – Coeligena wilsoni

Birding in La Planada can be difficult if you do it inside the forest, there are steep slopes and very tall trees. On the other hand, if it is cloudy it is even more difficult to watch the birds. So be prepared for an acoustic rather than a visual birding tour.

However, there are some trails within the reserve, and one of them, the one that takes you to the accommodations, is the territory of the Club-winged Manakin. So this bird is sure to be heard and even seen and photographed. There is also a viewpoint, the only place where you will have a mobile signal, in fact… and where you can observe the Plate-billed Mountain-toucan, and hear some wrens, along with a spectacular view of the reserve.

The other option is to watch birds along the road that leads from the village to the reserve. It is a winding road that ascends to the reserve with very good observation balconies and a drop in the terrain that allows you to see the birds of the canopy on one side and the birds of the understory on the other side.

Although the community has its own guides, we recommend you to be accompanied by a specialized birdwatching guide . If you want to know more, do not hesitate to contact us.


To have the best experience in Nariño, we recommend you to prepare your trip to La Planada Natural Reserve. Take with you:

  • Medical Insurance
  • Repellent – anti-mosquitoes
  • Camera and accessories
  • First aid kit
  • Binoculars
  • Mountain boots
  • Sunblock
  • Raincoat
  • To do camping it is recommended that you bring adequate equipment to have a pleasant time in the natural conditions of climate and vegetation of the reserve.


  • BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: La Planada Natural Reserve. 2020.
  • Tourist information system of the department of Nariño, SITUR Nariño Website.
  • Agustín Codazzi Geographic Institute (IGAC) Website.
  • World Wildlife Foundation Website.
  • La Planada Nature Reserve Blog.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Research Institute Repository

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.

Wetland Destinations in Colombia: Ramsar Areas of Colombia

What is a Wetland?

Wetlands are low-lying areas of land where water settles, gathers, and stays at or near the surface of the soil. They are kind of an “in-between” place for water. According to NOAA, there are five general types of wetlands: marine (ocean), estuarine (estuary), riverine (river), lacustrine (lake), and palustrine (marsh). Among them we can find those that we know and name as “marshes, estuaries, mangroves, mudflats, mires, ponds, fens, swamps, deltas, coral reefs, billabongs, lagoons, shallow seas, bogs, lakes, floodplains…” It depends on soil, topography, climate, water chemistry, and vegetation. But know the difference: if water runs off, then it’s just regular old land, but if the water is too deep then it might be a pond or a lake, or the sea, although many wetlands are associated with the latter.

Benefits of Wetlands

Wetlands come with some really great benefits: they collect flood water, help stem its flow, and it slowly releases it, so it doesn’t do so much damage, providing flood and erosion control. In fact, for this very reason, people who convert wetlands for human use are now required to offset their impact with water retention systems, at least in the USA.

Wetlands are also a great nursery for wildlife. Many of the threatened and endangered species depend on wetlands for survival in the early stages of their life, or during migration in the case of birds. Wetlands also play a huge role as filters of water. Within wetlands live lots of bacteria and other microorganisms that are continually breaking down matter. In addition to organic matter, wetlands absorb oil, nitrogen, phosphorus, sewage, sediments, and other pollutants before they reach rivers, lakes, and other water bodies.

Wetlands also offer several recreational activities like boating, hiking, sport fishing, nature photography, birdwatching, contemplation, among others.

Tourism in Wetlands

Wetlands, on a global scale, have offered significant opportunities for tourism and recreation, providing economic benefits to the governments, the tourism industry, the local communities, and the wetlands conservation itself (Ramsar and UNWTO, 2012).

It is estimated that half of all international tourists travel to wetlands, especially to the coast, and many wetlands are not just holiday destinations but are also tourist attractions themselves. Thus, tourism is an important and visible value provided by wetlands.

The integration of tourism in wetland conservation can be found globally. Examples are the Camargue Wetland in France, an epicenter for birdwatching in Europe, the Nabugabo Wetland in Uganda, the London Wetland Centre in the UK, the Danube Delta in Romania, or the Esteros de Iberá in Argentina with luxury accommodations such as the Rincón del Socorro reserve, among others.

The increased demands for tourism expansion have risen the alarm on the potential negative impacts on the health of wetlands. Although tourism in wetlands offers positive opportunities, it represents many challenges as well. Avoiding the direct impact of tourists on wetland ecosystems resulting from garbage accumulation, noise pollution, excessive trampling, disturbance of wild species, amongst others, is one of them. So, the necessity of a formally addressed wetland tourism with sustainable management is of huge importance. Wetlands bear recreational values and, if conserved and managed properly, they motivate visitors and generate resources needed for the development of local communities.

Wetlands in Danger

People who drain and fill wetlands have in mind they are rescuing land for more “useful purposes” like cropland, pastures, roads, homes, businesses, waterways, canals, and reservoirs. This thinking made the wetlands decrease in more than half of their territories in the last two centuries, becoming an endangered ecosystem.

Wetlands provide directly or indirectly almost all of the world’s freshwater consumption, and currently cover more than 12.1 million square kilometers, an area larger than Greenland. But only about 13-18% of them are included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance and are protected.

Ramsar, or the International Convention on Wetlands, is the oldest international treaty on environmental protection. It was signed in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar and came into force in 1975. It was ratified by 170 countries. Ramsar’s philosophy revolves around the concept of “wise use”, in which the conservation of wetlands, as well as their sustainable use and that of their resources, are at the heart of “wise use” for the benefit of humanity.

A Ramsar Site, or Wetland of International Importance, is a wetland area designated under the Ramsar Convention by the national government of a Member State. Currently, there are over 2,000 such sites covering over 192 million hectares: an impressive global network of wetlands that meet criteria related to their biodiversity and uniqueness.

Wetlands of Colombia

Colombia has about 31,702 wetlands, which are important as a source of fresh water, but only 13 have been declared as Ramsar sites. These are:

Map of Ramsar Places of Colombia. Orange dots represent their location. From

According to the Bogotá Botanical Garden, it is estimated that about 87% of the Colombian population inhabits wetland areas. The relevance of wetlands, and water systems, in Colombia is so vast that there is even a book dedicated to it, Amphibian Colombia. A country of wetlands “which seeks to promote an acknowledgment and understanding of Colombia as an amphibian territory in which a great part of its geography and culture are directly associated with water”, says Humboldt Institute of Colombia.

Wetland tourism in Colombia

In Colombia, such natural areas are often taken for granted, and wetland tourism is not fully developed. We still need more projects that not only provide social and economic benefits to the communities but also support effective approaches to restore and conserve wetland ecosystems. Degradation of wetland areas is associated with their use for extraction of building materials, over-extraction of water, contamination by inappropriate waste disposal, and so on. The main threats to wetlands in Colombia are the expansion of the agricultural and livestock frontier, as well as illegal urbanization.

Ecotourism may play an important role in the conservation of these wetlands in Colombia, since by receiving an economic benefit through the provision of tourism services, local communities are motivated to care for these ecosystems. If you value wetlands make it a point to visit them and get involved in protecting them. Your visit adds economic value to these special places and helps to protect them for future generations.

In Colombia, you can visit any of the Ramsar places mentioned above. However, the most recommended places, due to their infrastructure and ease of visit, are:

  • Laguna de la Cocha (Nariño).
Laguna de la Cocha, picture by Sebastian David Martinez Canchala
  • Chingaza system (Cundinamarca).
Wetland System Chingaza National Park
  • Otún Lagoon (Risaralda).
Laguna del Otún Wetland
  • Sonso Lagoon (Valle del Cauca)

    Snail Kite – Rostrhamus sociabilis, juvenile., Gota de leche wetland, Valle del Cauca

  • Bita River Wetland Complex (Vichada)
Bita River Wetland Complex, picture by Jorge Garcia
Bogotá Wetland picture by Bogotá City Hall 

We’ll tell you more about these places in our next posts! Stay tuned!

If you want to know more about traveling to Colombia write us, leave us a comment, and visit our 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.

Covid-19: Let’s take care now so we can meet soon in Colombia!

Colombia is an exceptional nature tourism destination where it is possible to enjoy a variety of activities from scientific research to simple contemplation and living the natural experience. This is why Colombia is a good post-covid 19 destination for everyone who wants to connect deep with nature. Worldwide, it ranks second as the most biodiverse country on the planet, supported by its offer of protected ecosystems, unique landscapes, fauna and flora and the geographical and climatic characteristics of its six natural regions: Andean, Caribbean, Pacific Coast, Insular, Amazon and Eastern Plains.

Colombia’s Natural Resources Facts

  • 3,000 species of fish at inland waters
  • Diverse marine and coastal ecosystems covering 95% of the continental shelf with coral reefs, mangrove forests, lagoons with coastlines and deltas, phanerogams meadows, beaches and cliffs.
  • 53 million hectares of natural forest.
  • 22 million hectares of savannahs, arid zones, wetlands, and snow peaks.
  • one million hectares of inland waters.
  • 14% of the national territory is a protected area in which there are national parks, nature reserves and sanctuaries.
  • First place worldwide with 20% of bird species in the world.
  • 17% of amphibians in the world.
  • 8% of freshwater fish in the world..
  • 8% of reptiles in the world.
  • 16% of butterflies in the world.
  • 10% of mammals in the world.
  • First place worldwide with 258 species of palms.
  • Third place worldwide with +2890 species in vertebrates and 222 species of reptiles.

Additionally, Colombia is rich in heritage and culture. In the natural and rural areas of Colombia are located the vast majority of indigenous communities, afro-colombian, raizales and palenqueras, in collective territories and reserves, which include rainforests, natural savannas in the Orinoco, the inter-Andean valleys, the Caribbean plain, the vastness of the Chocó Biogeographic and the Amazon.

Therefore, nature tourism in Colombia, besides preserving the natural heritage, promotes the integral development of local ethnic and peasant communities, because tourism is their possibility of generating economic incomes, through the provision of tourism services. In return, local communities are the basis for the development of nature tourism, and this constitutes an option for enhancing economic development, environmental sustainability, social and cultural integration, and the peace process.

Tourism as a factor of sustainable development in Colombia: post-covid 19 destination

International tourism is experiencing the “worst crisis” in its history because of the Covid-19. Experts in the field point that travelers’ preferences and demands will be oriented towards sustainable tourism experiences after the crisis. We know that nature destinations can help you offset the effects on your physical and mental health during the pandemic. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) plans to make Colombia a good post-covid 19 destination, as a major tourist destination in the region, when the coronavirus crisis is overcome, since Colombia has the potential to offer a vast nature tourism activities and wellness for travelers after the Covid-19 crisis.

Regarding on this, Colombia and the tourism sector are preparing to expand the offer of sustainable tourism around activities in nature such as ecotourism, wellness, birdwatching, safari, whale watching, among others, as well as community tourism experiences. In turn, more than ever, nature tourism will help people in rural areas to recover economically from this crisis, especially local nature guides, small nature reserves, ecological parks, zoos and small towns near important nature destinations.

“Check in Certificate” Covid-19 biosafety

Colombia would be the first country in the world to agree with the organization on a biosecurity seal for post-Coronavirus tourism. The Ministry of commerce, industry, and tourism (MinCIT), with the support of ProColombia and Icontec, created the “Check in Certificate” quality seal and established the conditions for its use. This seal, which is voluntary, seeks to generate trust among travelers and consumers so that they use tourist services that comply with the protocols issued by the National Government, minimize the risks of virus infection and encourage tourism in the country. This certification seal is a logo that can be carried by an airline, service provider, area or tourist attraction, according to the certification issued by the conformity assessment body, for complying with technical standards and/or biosafety protocols and the conditions established by the Colombian law.

The purpose of the “Check in Certificate” quality seal will be to minimize the risks for workers, users, visitors and suppliers. Also, to generate confidence, to increase the competitiveness of the productive sectors and to promote the recovery and sustainability of the tourism industry in Colombia.

We want our visitors can check in with confidence, whether it be in a hotel, restaurant, bar or any tourist site. The idea is to make you feel that you are entering into a protected space. Similarly, it will be an informative and commercial tool to differentiate those establishments that offer biosecurity conditions, providing guidance and verifiable, non-deceptive and scientifically based information on compliance with biosecurity conditions. In this regard, the certificate may facilitate the surveillance functions regarding compliance with biosecurity protocols and health standards.

The stamp will also be used in several regions of Europe, Africa and America.

Let’s take care now to meet soon!

Let’s take care now so we can meet again soon!

We want you to know that tourism is an absolutely key sector for the development of Colombia. For nature tourism it is crucial for the conservation of our biodiversity and for the development of local communities. That is why we joined the campaign “#StayHome – Take care now to meet soon”.

Tourism in Colombia will continue to develop with the same strength that it has been developing in recent years, now, and once the process of reactivation takes place!

In Sula we have been taking care of ourselves, working from home. We are preparing to offer you the best natural and sustainable destinations in Colombia, with the complete safety required. We are tired of not having you around, can’t wait to see you soon again!

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.

Complete Guide to the Best Eco lodges in Colombia

The best eco-lodges in Colombia are listed in this guide. When thinking of an eco-lodge in Colombia, or anywhere else, the idea of a place in the middle of nature is not enough, but also the intention to care for and conserve nature and local culture and people, maintaining sustainable practices and involving the local communities providing economic and social development.  

Within the framework of sustainable tourism, an eco-lodge also aims to provide a unique experience for travelers and visitors.  Discover in this guide the best birding lodges and best ecolodges in Colombia.

Summary List

  1. What is an eco-lodge
  2. Best birding lodges in Colombia
  3. Eco-lodges, eco-resorts and eco-hotels in Colombia
    1. Best Eco-lodges in Colombia
    2. Best Eco-resorts in Colombia
    3. Best Eco-hotels in Colombia

What is an Eco-lodge?

The creation of sustainable lodges has been growing more and more all over the planet. These accommodations are recognized by the prefix eco-. The prefix eco- comes from the Greek word oikos which means house. Eventually, the word became a prefix used to refer to the planet earth as our home, and everything happening in it, on a biological, natural, or geological level, is related to the idea of eco.

In common language, eco is used to designate everything that is linked and committed to sustainable practices and the care and conservation of the environment. 

Types of Eco-lodges

There are several types of eco-lodges, but mainly we can mention three types: eco-lodges, eco-resorts and eco-hotels.

Eco-resorts and eco-lodges are generally located in remote places, in natural environments, and their objective is that the visitor has a deep connection experience with the place.

On the other hand, an eco-hotel is closer to or within towns or cities and aims to provide a service that ensures the use of sustainable practices.  

The Perfect Combination of Luxury and Nature

In the most iconic natural destinations of the planet it is already possible to find high-end eco-lodges, as the National Geographic Unique Eco-lodges, which provide a magical and outstanding experience to the traveler within the natural and cultural environment. 

In high-end eco-lodge the encounter with nature goes beyond the basics, being conservation a part of a whole that includes unique, intangible, and luxurious experiences of gastronomic, architectural, cultural, and contemplative type.

These places are focused on offering a direct and healthy contact with pristine places, with personalized services, with the enjoyment of local flavors and the experience of the local life authenticity above all

In Colombia, to date, we do not have places that are recognized worldwide for providing a high-end eco-lodge service. And for better or worse, our neighboring countries have a wide offer in this type of destination.

This is good, on one hand, because we have many places still very well preserved, where authenticity takes precedence over any other experience. Conversely, it also means that there is still much to do, especially for those more demanding or exclusive travelers.  

Eco-Lodges in Colombia

More than specialized lodges, as bird-lodges or eco-lodges, what prevails in Colombia is the offer of basic accommodations adapted in private reserves, sanctuaries and national parks.

There are also a few eco-resorts, with more extensive services such as private tours, spa service or different gastronomy. Fewer still, are the eco-hotels in the big cities. However, many of the hotels are implementing sustainable practices of all kinds.  

Here we will tell you which are some of the most developed places in Colombia in terms of ecological lodging and specialized services. Also, about their main attractions, where they are, what it takes and how to get there among other details. 

For information about bird lodges I invite you to read our entry: Ultimate Guide to the Best Birding Lodges in Colombia.

Eco-lodges, Eco-resorts and Eco-hotels in Colombia  

Despite the distinctions that exist between eco-resorts and eco-lodges, these terms are used interchangeably by people. The difference is in the size of the place and the variety, quantity and quality of services that can be offered, being more restricted in the case of eco-lodges.

The most important characteristic of these places, more than their name, is their green activity, related to responsible practices with the environment, the local communities and minimizing the negative impact on nature. In addition, the commitment to study and conserve the wildlife of the places where they are located. 

Colombia do not have sites with the features of an Awasi’s ecolodge in south America or of the National Geographic Unique Lodges. In general, eco-lodges in Colombia are managed by families or small groups, and are not part of large hotel chains or large companies. Many of them use tourism as a source of funding for research and conservation projects, led by foundations dedicated to these issues.

In some cases, tourists can participate in the projects, either by visiting the study areas, participating in research workshops, being a donor, or as a volunteer.  

Best Eco-lodges in Colombia  

Among the most striking eco-lodges in Colombia are: 

Best Ecolodges in the Colombian Pacific Region 

El Almejal Ecolodge – Chocó


Located in the Colombian pacific, where the forest and the sea meet. It ranks first in green tourism and has won the National Award for Sustainable Tourism granted by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism of Colombia.

El Almejal is the only lodge in the pacific with its own natural reserve. It has been reviewed by the World Tourism Organization as one of the 65 best examples in the world for good practices in sustainable development of ecotourism. +35 years of experience in local development of ecotourism and conservation. 

It offers privacy and comfort in its facilities,  +250 species of birds. 

lodge features

It has its own water purification plant and does not sell polluting water bottles. 24-hour electricity. Organic garden. It has simple and cozy wooden cabins, designed under bio-climatic concepts and “transparent architecture”.

The natural reserve has stone paths, bridges and comfortable, wide and safe wooden platforms. The lodge follows the ZERI methodology of zero emissions and implemented a similar reforestation system and policies of sustainability, social and environmental responsibility. The lodge has two boats with two engines equipped with cushions and a roof for visits to the sea. 

things to do
  • Renewal and yoga retreats. Romantic getaways. Whale watching. Release of baby turtles into the sea. Dolphin encounters. Educational excursions. Sunset contemplation at El Almejal beach.
  • Visits to Bahia Solano, especially to the village of Valle, where it is possible to find crystalline rivers, waterfalls, beaches, amazing sunsets and the Valle river, that leads to the indigenous villages.
  • Observation of wildlife migrations: migratory birds, sea turtles, humpback whales, and anchovies. The migration of anchovies brings with it larger fish, consolidating the sport fishing season. 
  • At low tide, an impressive 150-meter wide beach is discovered. Sport activities associated with tidal variations such as beach volleyball, running, tai chi, yoga, trekking. Visits to the natural reserve.
  • Behind the beach you can see branches of the Baudó mountain range with all the exuberance of the tropical rainforest. Visits to the Ensenada de Utría National Park.  

Farm to table style. It has an organic garden fed with compost that supplies the kitchen with fruits, aromatic herbs and fresh vegetables. The food can be tailored to the needs of the client. Dishes served at the table based on fresh fish and products from the region. Recipes from the Colombian pacific region cuisine. 


Up to 45 people can be accommodated in multiple accommodation. It has 10 spacious wooden cabins of 32 square meters. They are independent and sufficiently distant from each other. They have glazed wooden floors, beds with mosquito nets and superior quality mattresses, excellent private bathroom with natural lighting and terrace.

The rooms have a living room, with an exceptional view, walking closet, and open-air waterfall showers. They were built under bioclimatic parameters and transparent architecture.  It also has a safari type cabin at 15 meters above sea level, of 58 square meters with safari-style finishes. The doors and windows are designed to let in the light that is filtered through the forest. 


Rates start at USD 80 per person, per night, based on occupancy, plans and season.  

location and weather

Ecolodge El Almejal is located on the pacific coast of Colombia, on the imposing playa El Almejal, in a small town of Bahia Solano called Valle. This place is in the bio-geographic Chocó, one of the most biodiverse sites on the planet. It is above sea level and the temperature is warm, on average 29°C/84°F.  

how to get there

It is only possible to get to Bahia Solano in small and medium sized planes. There are daily flights to Bahia Solano from Medellin, Bogota or Pereira, all of which stopover in Medellin and land at Jose Celestino Mutis airport. The flight MedellÍn-Bahía Solano is approximately 45 minutes.

From the airport you take a land transport called tuc-tuc that will take you along a paved road through the middle of the lush forest to el Valle, a journey that takes approximately 40 minutes. The ecolodge includes transportation when it has been booked in advance, and this can be by van. 

El Cantil Ecolodge – Chocó


If you are looking for privacy, surfing, unique experiences, nature, and have high environmental awareness, sensitivity to low income communities, demand proof of sustainable practices and avoid false eco-practices (greenwashing), this place can appeal to you quite a bit. 

Located in one of the most biodiverse places in the world, El Cantil has a high commitment to improving the economic and social conditions of the local community through projects related with quality of education for children, training of adult entrepreneurs, sports, among others.  It has the Colombian Environmental Seal and the High-level Certification for Sustainable Tourism granted by COTECNA, a swiss company. 

lodge features

The lodge has electric power (110 w) only in the restaurant. Power is generated by a Pelton micro-turbine to produce the least environmental impact on the site. The rest of the hotel is equipped with oil lamps. The architectural design of the construction combines with the nature surrounding. Social area with a kiosk restaurant with capacity for 35 people, and two sun terraces with sea view and hammock area are the best for sharing and relaxation.  

things to do
  • Surfing on reefs or beaches like Pico de Loro, Pela-pela, El Chorro, Juan Tornillo, Rio Terco, etc. Being the strongest waves between the months of April to December (south or south-west swells).
  • The surf guides know the optimal conditions of the waves in terms of tides, swell direction and recommended period for each break. Surfing courses are also offered. You can meet the native surfers and surf the waves with them.
  • Other activities include rest plans, sea and river kayaking, jungle survival excursions, hiking expeditions to waterfalls, hot springs, whale watching, and even honeymoon plans. 

Acknowledged and exquisite seafood menu.  It also offers a menu in accordance with the client’s diet. The service in the restaurant is English style offering delicious native dishes, balanced and abundant. There are wines to accompany your lunches and dinners.  


It has seven comfortable rooms for single, double and multiple accommodations. The cabins are built in immunized slats, with shingle tiles. There are bathrooms in each room with a view of the jungle, closet, covered beds with mosquito nets, terrace with sea view and hammock. 


Rates start at USD 90 per person, per night, based on occupancy, activities and season.  

location and weather

The eco-lodge is located on the pacific coast in the town of Nuquí, department of Chocó. High rainfall, average temperature of 29°C/84°F. The summer months are normally January, February, March and mid-August. The rest of the year there is continuous rain, with stronger periods in August and December.  

how to get there

It is possible to get there by plane from Medellin. The flight time is approximately 50 minutes. It is also possible to arrive by land through Quibdó or Pereira. 

Pijibá Lodge – Chocó 


Hundreds of streams and crystal-clear creeks run down from the jungle to the sea. In its abundance, the freshwater forms waterfalls and puddles always nearby, where you can take a pleasant bath.

The Chocó jungle is considered one of the richest and most varied in the world. A 40-minute boat ride south from Nuquí is the beaches of Guachalito, Terco and Terquito. In the latter, in an inlet about one kilometer long is Pijiba Lodge, which takes its name from the chontaduro palm (Bactris gasipaes) or Pijibá.  

lodge features

Cabins built with local materials, with a palm roof and a wooden structure. The lodge have a micro hydraulic plant to generate basic energy for the refrigeration of food and beverages, communications and to maintain or load other equipment that requires it.

The restaurant service is offered in the dining room of the lodge. It has a deck to read, rest or enjoy a drink. 

things to do
  • You can enjoy the sea, hike, go to the rivers and streams, rest in hammocks, surf, schedule whale watching excursions, go for fishing, watch colorful frogs in the forests, do snorkel or tank dive, do yoga by the sea or visit and enjoy hot springs.  

Pijibá’s diet is based on the delights of typical pacific regional cuisine with lots of fish and fruit. There is also a wide variety of other dishes. The service is buffet style, the person is served to his or her liking.  In addition, the lodge prepares cold cuts (local snacks) for when the activities require it. 


Six cabin-rooms, each with an independent bathroom, can be fitted out for single, double or multiple accommodation. Maximum capacity of up to 18 people. The bedrooms have individual awnings or mosquito nets. The cabins are illuminated by solar energy leds. 


Rates start at USD 80 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season. We recommend a minimum stay of three nights.  

location and weather

Pijibá lodge is located in nuquí, on the pacific coast of Colombia. Nuquí is located on the Colombian pacific coast in the department of Chocó, in the gulf of Tribugá, bordered by Cabo Corrientes and Cabo Huina.

The climate is changeable due to the proximity to the jungle and the Baudó mountains. The sky is cloudy almost all the time, it can alternate with torrid sun and with brief but strong downpours.  

how to get there

Charter flights cover the Medellín-nuquí-medellín route on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. For holidays and seasons, additional charter flights are available. The flight lasts one hour. Travelers are received at the Nuquí airport and transported by boat to the Pijiba lodge. 

Best Ecolodges in the Eastern Plains of Colombia 

La Manigua Lodge – Caño Cristales – Meta

La Manigua Lodge© website Familiar Cabin

This lodge is located 8.5 km from the most beautiful river in the world: Caño Cristales. It offers multiple facilities immersed in the tropical forest of the Serranía de la Macarena. Comfort and privacy with personalized attention and service.

With the profits from tourism the lodge invest in the creation of a native plant nursery whose main objective is to help recover the plant structure of the Serranía de la Macarena.  

lodge features

Use of renewable energies and sustainable constructions prioritizing low impact on the surrounding forest.

The lodge has private and family cabins, surrounded by nature and with an efficient, sustainable and original design. Wi-fi in the lobby.  

things to do
  • Activities vary according to the rainy season. The season of Caño Cristales starts in June and ends in November.
  • In the dry season other activities can be done such as visiting the Raudal de Angosturas I, and the City of Stone, seeing the petroglyphs.
  • Also you can visit the viewpoints of El Cajón, sport fishing and learning about the music and culture of the region.
  • You can also take bird watching tours, which are very special in this region.  

The lodge has a restaurant service with gourmet type dishes, valuing the flavors of the region, offering a fusion with cosmopolitan ingredients. Guests can enjoy drinks at the bar. 


3 family cabins for accommodation of 2 to 5 people. 2 cabins for couples with capacity for 2 to 3 people. All the cabins are protected with nets. The family cabins have a double bed and three single beds, each with a mosquito net.

Couples cabins have one queen size bed and one single bed, each with a mosquito net. All cabins have private bathrooms, outdoor showers and solar energy.  


Rates start at USD 150 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season and activities.  

location and weather

The ecolodge is located 13 minutes by car from the city of La Macarena in the department of Meta, on the banks of the Guayabero River, and 10 minutes by boat from the entrance to the natural reserve area where Caño Cristales is located.

Following the signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP guerrilla, the municipality has become a tourist attraction during the opening season of Caño Cristales.

The rainforest and the herbaceous vegetation of the amazon savannah are typical of this place, as well as the formation of wetlands and madreaguas. The climate is humid tropical and during the year, the temperature generally varies from 21 to 31 °C / 70 to 80 °F 

how to get there

There are commercial flights from Bogotá to the city of La Macarena lasting approximately 1h17min, departing twice a week. There are also flights from the city of Villavicencio and private charter flights.  The ecolodge offers transfer service airport – hotel – airport.  

Juan Solito Ecolodge – Casanare 

Next Jaguar Destination in Colombia. Read our entry: The Top Post-Covid-19 Destinations for Conservation Lovers in Colombia

This ecolodge is located in the heart of Colombia’s eastern plains, in Hato la Aurora. There you can find authentic safaris to meet anacondas, alligators, the Orinoco goose, capivaras, pumas, deers, among other typical animals of this region.

Ecotourism is a way to support cultural development projects, the development of ecological programs and the preservation of the environment in the eastern plains of Colombia.  

lodge features

Houses and cabins surrounded by nature, with space, privacy and basic amenities. They are designed in a sober way, maintaining the criteria of a natural reserve. There is no internet service, but satellite calls can be made.  

things to do
  • “Safari llanero” where you can observe animals in wildlife like: capivaras, deers, caimans, cattle, wild horses, herons, variety of ibis, many species of birds.
  • Horseback riding, guided walks and sport fishing are also available. 
  • Birdwatching and nature photography tours.  

Traditional llanera food based on beef and manihot. Personal food restrictions or preferences must be communicated in advance 


There is a main house with seven large rooms that can accommodate from one to 4 people each and a small eighth for one person. There are also four rustic cabins, with simple finishes to accommodate from one to five people.

All rooms have private bathrooms, light and fans. Accommodation in hammocks and camping is also available. There is no hot water for showers.  


Rates start at USD 90 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

location and weather

Juan Solito is located in the municipality of Paz de Ariporo, department of Casanare. This region is characterized by ecosystems of savannah, moriche palms (Mauritia flexuosa), canals and rivers.

It is located 350 meters/1150 ft above sea level. The climate is warm and humid with an average temperature of 28°C/82°C.  

how to get there

From Yopal, it is possible to travel alone in a 4×4 truck, on a road in poor condition and whose journey can take up to 8 hours. It is also possible to get a charter flight from Yopal airport that lands on the private landing strip of Hato la Aurora.  

Cosmogenesis Centro Permacultural – Meta

Cosmogénesis Permacultural Center

It is a space focused on wellness and healing tourism in order to find the balance of being in the midst of nature. Here you can find alternative methods to take care of your health, grow food and allow a healthy life. Cosmogenesis is a permaculture center where sustainability is manifested in natural environments, agroecology and its bio architecture.  

lodge features

The Ecolodge Cosmogenesis is located on a 6-ha/15 acres plot of land. Its design and landscaping focused on bio-architectural infrastructure. The ecolodge is located in a circular space and its structure symbolizes the yin yang, a symbol of Taoism.

The central kiosk offers restaurant service of healthy food and represents the yang, surrounded by the natural pool symbolizing the yin. Around the central circle there are four fishponds representing the cardinal points. Around this structure are the cabins and various gardens and orchards.

It has a shared living room and a tourist information desk, an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant. It also has a garden and terrace. The rooms have garden views and include bedding. The private bathroom has a shower and free toiletries. Spa service. 

things to do
  • Both in the establishment and in the surroundings, you can practice various activities, such as cycling, horse riding and fishing.
  • Tour or class about local culture. Have theme dinners. Walking tours. Have a movie night. Hiking.
  • Cosmogenesis has a “Natural Park of Consciousness” with more than 20 dimensional portals enhanced and intended with a high vibration so that people establish new ways of relating to themselves, to others and to the natural environment. In the Natural Park of Conscience, health and well-being programs are developed. In the spa you can enjoy body and localized massages. 
  • They also offer permaculture workshops, life coaching session, yoga workshops. It is a good place for spiritual retreats and ceremonies. It has a strategic position for bird watching inside the ecolodge and around the region, only 20 minutes away from the “Bosque de Bavaria” the place with more bird species registered for Meta department with +370 bird species. The place is also ideal for business meetings (mice).  

Farm to table, slow food model. They offer healthy, organic, à la carta menu with national and international dishes. Most of the vegetables and fruits are produced in the lodge’s crops. 


The cabins, with a bio-climatic design, offer ten rooms of different styles built in maloca type structures and elaborated with bio-construction techniques and totally natural materials, which gives them a fresh and healthy environment and allows for rest and high frequency connection.

They have private bathrooms, dry toilets, and cold-water showers in natural stone-built bathrooms, and water comes directly from natural springs. The residues from the toilette are used to make compost and then fertilize the vegetable gardens.   


Rates start at USD 60 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season. 

location and weather

Eco hotel cosmogenesis is located in Restrepo, 16 km from the city of Cumaral, and 30 minutes by car from Villavicencio. At Restrepo the temperature varies between 34.4 to 17.2 °C/ 93 to 62 °F, the average being 25.8 °C/ 78.4°F. Average altitude of 570 m / 1870 ft above sea level. 

Very close to the mountains of the eastern cordillera, it has a typical climate of the piedmont plains, with high relative humidity, around 83%, reaching values of 93% in the rainy season and 56% in the dry season.    

how to get there

You can get there by land up to km 8 via San Nicolás entre Restrepo and Cumaral, department of meta. From the Vanguardia airport in Villavicencio it takes 30 minutes by land, as it is 15.2 km away. 

Best Ecolodges in the Colombian Amazon Region 

Calanoa Amazonas – Amazonas 

© Calanoa Amazonas Website

Enjoying the amazon rainforest within the Amacayacu Natural Park and the island of Mocagua, offers a wide range of diverse experiences: the great river, ravines and lakes, flooded and high-altitude forest, with an extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna.

Due to its excellent location, infrastructure and experience Calanoa has hosted international teams for film productions. The project seeks to support indigenous communities with education processes related to conservation of biological resources, sustainable economic practices and the conservation of ancestral knowledge and cultural practices. 

lodge features

The settlement is in wood and is small in scale, to minimize the impact. The architecture is built with local materials and techniques, and is designed for the comfort and safety of the visitor, favoring natural lighting and ventilation, sustainability and minimal impact on the forest ecosystem.

The roofs are in woven palm, the use of solid walls has been minimized to improve natural air circulation, and the structures are raised on piles to improve the view and favor ventilation. Local materials and resources are used for construction and the trees and palms used for building maintenance are replanted. Rainwater is collected and used.

There is no drinking water, it is offered in the kitchen gallons. Limited electric power combining solar energy and generator. There is a social pavilion, with a canopy and a large central table, for social gatherings and meetings, with hammocks and benches for rest. There is a wooden terrace that connects to the kitchen.

An elevated path connects the lodge’s cabins with the social area, and has platforms for the contemplation of river life, and for bird and primate watching. 

things to do
  • Activities may vary according to weather conditions or river level. The lodge offers trips through the Calanoa Natural Reserve and the Amacayacu National Natural Park, with expert local guides, boat trips on the amazon river, streams and lakes, exploring different types of forests, camping in the jungle and visits to nearby communities, such as the Mocagua: the village of the painters. 
  • The place offers special honeymoon plans.
  • Arts and crafts workshops focused on visual art are also offered: fibers, ceramics, photography, painting and sculpture.
  • Bird watching with a professional guide. Sport fishing.  

The kitchen is an open space for visitors who want to participate in the preparation of meals. They promote an experience focused on the senses. Calanoa’s cuisine is a fusion of local Amazonian traditions with Brazilian, Colombian and Peruvian cuisine. Local, organic and fresh products.  


The cabins have a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor, and an attic, with a capacity of 6 people per cabin. They are lined in ring and the beds have a net for mosquitoes. 


Rates start at USD 200 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season, and activities.  

location and weather

Calanoa is located in the upper amazon, 60 km from Leticia, on the banks of the Amazon River. The climate in the amazon forest is equatorial, hot and humid, due to the proximity to the equator, with the temperature varying little during the year, annual average of around 26ºC/78°F and high relative humidity.  

how to get there

You can get there by plane from Bogotá to Leticia, with an average flight time of two hours. From Leticia the transfer is easily done by the amazon river, using public or private boat services. 

Best Eco resorts in Colombia 

To date, we have in Colombia a recently built eco resort located in the Colombian Caribbean, specifically in Barú, municipality of Cartagena, in the department of Bolivar. It is very close to the historic city of Cartagena.

Unlike a conventional hotel, the resort allows greater privacy, entertainment and experiences during the stay, the eco component is given by the characteristics of its construction and immersion in a pristine environment or unique in nature.  

Best Eco-resorts in Colombia Northern Caribbean  

Hotel las Islas – Cartagena, Bolívar


This exclusive place offers an experience of luxury and nature in a place that coexists with the environment in the middle of the Colombian Caribbean Sea.

You can relax with spa services, a yoga room, hammocks, private beaches and a solarium. From the accommodations you can enjoy the nature in suites and bungalows with designs totally integrated with the environment. 

lodge features

The eco-resort is huge, built on a 50ha/123.5 acres land area, and there is in total 54 bungalows. The bungalows are at sea level with a private swimming pool, bicycles, wifi and more! Some of them are built as treehouses with jacuzzi, all designed and decorated in an elegant Colombian style, and surrounded by vegetation.

Three restaurants, three bars and a kiosk on the beach (watch the video above!). There are welcome services and amenities, concierge service, electric transportation in the hotel, parking, two bikes per bungalow. Activity center. 100% non-smoking. Swimming pool(s). Water sports equipment. 

The meeting center called “Baru room” has air conditioning, capacity for 120 people, ideal for conferences or to be used as a meeting room. Terrace with capacity for 70 people, it is another place where meetings can be held but outdoors. Craft shop with different articles made by Colombian artisans. 

At the Bar and kiosk Monaprieta, in front of the sea, musical groups are presented or you can listen to classical music while watching the sunset. Bar las Islas, located at the top of the club house, offers a 360-degree view of the Baru island. Wellness services at the Spa “Niña Daniela”.  

things to do
  • The hotel has several leisure areas: the gymnasium with treadmills, elliptical trainers, exercise bikes, multi-force machine, dumbbells, etc, it is available 24 hours a day.
  • The spa Niña Daniela offers a facial treatment room, massage room, easy dream relaxation, saltwater pool, a T-BA 2026 neurostimulation equipment, thalassotherapy jets, jacuzzi, Turkish bath, sauna, saltwater pool, various activities and personalized treatments, and a yoga room.
  • The yoga room is available 24 hours a day and private classes are offered there upon request. Water sports can be practiced at “La Tiburona” diving center, where diving and snorkeling are practiced.
  • Excursions through the Cholón swamp in kayaks or canoes typical of the area, accompanied by local guides. Transfer to Isleta for a night tour of bioluminescence, tour at the mangroves, canoe or bicycle ride with environmental guides.
  • There are also tours to Cartagena, visits to the National Aviary, tours to the Rosario Islands, tour to the San Bernardo de los Vientos archipelago, helicopter tours, golf plans and diving courses. Cooking classes. Astrotour.  

The hotel offers several restaurants:

  • Tía Coco” located on the sea. And it offers dishes of the Caribbean cuisine, such as fish, ceviche and grilled seafood. 
  • “Las Guacas” Restaurant, a place for breakfast, lunch or dinner surrounded by vegetation and orchids, ideal for groups.
  • Bar restaurant “Choco” on the beach, to eat sandwiches, skewers, grilled seafood, tropical drinks, and pizzas cooked in a wood oven. 

There is also a cafetería called “Los mangos” and an ice cream shop. 

  • Beachfront bungalow (2 persons). This type of bungalow is at sea level, has a private pool. There are three bungalows that also have access to the sea. There are two intercommunicated bungalows, one with a pool and the other with a jacuzzi (a children’s room with a jacuzzi). 75 sq mts room and a deck.  
  • Bungalows in the heights (2 people), at the height of the trees, have a jacuzzi for two people with a view of the tropical forest and in most cases the sea, allowing a unique panorama. Grand tree top bungalow, two 70sq mts separate bungalows, jacuzzi and a private deck with a 360-degree view. 
  • Sailing house (from 2 to 5 people). Private sailing house with two separate rooms, living area, bar, jacuzzi and a deck. All rooms have a double bed and private bathroom.  

Rates start at USD 500 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

location and weather

It is located in the Ciénaga de Cholón, 57 Barú, Cartagena de Indias, department of Bolivar. It is on the sea level, with an average temperature of 27°c/79°F.  

The principal ecosystem you can find here is the mangroves systems, tropical dry forest relicts, and in the proximity of the eco-resort it is the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park, which is a valuable ecosystem of the highest productivity and biodiversity, forming the largest coral platform in the Colombian continental Caribbean (about 420 km2).

There you can find the most important continental reef formations in the country, unique samples of coastal mangrove forests, extensive sea grasses that border the islands, a diversity of invertebrates and a multitude of multicolored reef fish. 

how to get there

From Cartagena you can get there by private boat or go by car to Punta Iguana and from there by boat to the hotel. Las Islas has several boats that leave from the La Bodeguita dock in Cartagena and will take you to the hotel in approximately 45 minutes. 

There is also the possibility to arrive by boat from town, this service leaves at 8:30 a.m. from the pier located in the Bazurto market in Cartagena. The return from the hotel is at 5:30 p.m. And the cost per trip, per person, is approximately 15,000 pesos. 

You can also arrive by land, through taxi or private vehicle to Punta Iguana, a journey that takes between 45 minutes and an hour and a half from the Cartagena airport. From there, guests are transferred by private boat to the hotel (10-minute trip). 

There is also a Heliport at the Hotel Las Islas, it offers the service of the transfer in helicopter from Cartagena to the Hotel. 

Best Eco-hotels in Colombia 

As mentioned before an eco-hotel is closer to or within towns or cities and aims to provide a service that ensures the use of sustainable practices. 

Eco Hotels in Southern Colombia – Putumayo 

Hotel Dantayaco – Mocoa, Putumayo


It is located 100 meters from the entrance to the Fin del Mundo waterfall, the main tourist attraction of Mocoa in the department of Putumayo. It is an epicenter for birdwatching tours and natural tours around the area.  

hotel features 

The hotel has a large house and several rooms and cabins for all kinds of services from hostel with shared rooms and kitchen, to luxury private cabins. It is located on the road and extends to the rear bordering the Mocoa river, providing a spectacular view of the forest.

Dantayaco has an area for nightly meetings and social activities, and a hammock area. Free parking. Hot water service in 60% of the rooms in the complex. Free high speed WIFI in all the rooms of the inn.  

things to do 
  • The location of the hotel is central to all the tourist attractions of Mocoa. From there you can make excursions to the different wells, rivers and waterfalls abundant in the region, the main attraction being the end of the world waterfall to which you can go and return in a day’s walk from the hotel.
  • Other waterfalls are Hornoyaco, Ojo de Dios, Donde se Oculta el Sol, Charco del Indio, among others.
  • You can kayak down the Guineo river, Villagarzón, or the Mandiyaco river canyon.
  • Visit the healing center Maitus Wasi Inga ethno-tourism center.
  • Visit the Bajo Putumayo in Puerto Leguizamo. Visit the Paway butterfly farm.
  • You can also arrange tours to visit the Licamancha caves to practice speleology.  

The restaurant serves fast food. You can also visit the surrounding restaurants where you can enjoy typical regional food.  


There are several lodging options at Dantayaco Hotel:  

  • Dantayaco suite. Cabin of 60 sq meters with private balcony, view to the river, hammock area, handmade bathtub, Wi-Fi, refrigerator and sound. 
  • Eco-lodge cabins. Cabins that have a 2×2 bed of artisan construction, hammock area, mountain and river view, fan, fridge, sound and Wi-Fi. 
  • Cabin with hot tub. This cabin has a 2×2 bed, an additional bed, a tub with hot water, hammock area, mountain view, fan, fridge, and Wi-Fi. 
  • Deluxe cabin. Impressive view of the river given the height and central location on the coast, has Wi-Fi, fan, refrigerator and Wi-Fi. 
  • Family cabins. They have a 2×2 bed of handmade construction and cabins, hammock area, mountain and river view, fan, refrigerator, and Wi-Fi. 
  • Single room. It has a 2×2 bed of handcrafted construction, hammock area, mountain and river view, fan, fridge, sound and Wi-Fi. 

Rates start at USD 20 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

location and weather 

Km 6 via Mocoa – Villagarzón, department of Putumayo, the summers are short, hot and cloudy; the winters are short, comfortable and mostly cloudy and it is wet all year round.

Throughout the year, the temperature generally varies from 19 to 29 °C/66 to 84°F and rarely falls below 18 °C/64°F or rises above 31 °C/ 87.8°F Average altitude of 500 m/1640 ft above sea level. 

how to get there

You can take a plane from Bogotá in a 1h40 minute flight to the city of Mocoa. From Mocoa it will take you 11 minutes by car on the via Villagarzón -Mocoa / road 45. You can also get there by land from the city of Pasto via Villagarzón.  

Eco hotels in the Colombian Northern Caribbean  

Playa Koralia Hotel – Magdalena

Playa Koralia Nagual © Playa Koralia Website

Playa Koralia is located in a paradisiacal place, on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, where the shade of the palm trees and the sinuousness of a virgin beach merge with the Caribbean Sea.

It is the only Colombian hotel certified as sustainable and selected as a hip hotel. Hip hotels are selected for being unique, characterful and charming, capable of offering exciting, rewarding and memorable trips. 

hotel features 

Playa Koralia strives to be a destination for those who seek a unique and relaxing experience. The hotel’s architecture, nestled in palms, integrates with nature without invading it.  It was thought with organic forms, with curved walls that harmonize with the natural forms.

The construction is made with local woods in combination with woven palm, cane and bamboo, creating spaces full of sensations, carefully designed both inside and outside the rooms.

There is also a mural and mosaic decoration that mixes antiques and art with ethnic elements. The hotel offers a spa service. Bar on the beach. Complimentary Wi-Fi in the reception area and bar. Parking lot.  

things to do 
  • The hotel is located fifteen minutes from the Tayrona Natural Park, one of the most emblematic parks in Colombia and the most important within the national system of natural parks of Colombia.
  • Playa Koralia offers guided recreational and cultural excursions to nearby natural parks and reserves: all include transportation, entrance fees, refreshments and guides specializing in the history, fauna and flora of the area. 

Buffet-style feeding, no menu.  Farm to table. Exotic fruits and vegetables, mostly grown in the organic garden of the hotel. Playa Koralia offers a gastronomy that merges local food with that of other cultures.

It is especially based on tropical recipes with poultry, fish and seafood, and no red meat or pork is served. There are special adaptations for vegetarians, vegans, celiac and other restrictions.  


The hotel has three types of rooms: suite, junior suite and standard room, in double accommodation and up to 3, 4 or 6 people depending on the client’s needs.

Each room comes with shampoo, conditioner and “Terragua” soaps created with natural ingredients, filtered drinking water, ceiling fan, awning, safety box, 110v plugs and private bathroom. 


Rates start at USD 150 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

location and weather

The hotel is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and facing the Caribbean Sea, just 48 kilometers from the city of Santa Marta. The closest city to the hotel is Buritaca.  The temperature is warm and pleasant all year round. 

how to get there 

It can be reached by land transport following the Troncal del Caribe road up to km 47 via Ríohacha, in the municipality of Buritaca, department of Magdalena.

From Santa Marta it takes 1 hour, from Barranquilla 2.5 hours, from Cartagena 4.5 hours, and from Ríohacha 2 hours.

The hotel offers transportation assistance from and to Santa Marta, Barranquilla or Cartagena.

Best Eco Hotels in Bogotá 

Biohotel Organic Suites  – Bogotá


Eco-friendly, eco-efficient hotel in Bogotá, unique in the city, designed with the most rigorous standards for environmental protection. It belongs to the hotel chain GHL hotels. It combines luxury, comfort and rest, being a pioneer in applying sustainable processes in the construction and operation of the hotel.

The bio hotel aims at a total commitment to contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals. It supports local suppliers for the promotion of fair trade and economic prosperity, and it contributes to the development and conservation of the cultural, social and environmental heritage of the region, promoting the participation of guests, collaborators, suppliers and the community for the development of sustainability actions, integrated to the provision of services in the hotel. 

hotel features 

The hotel is an 8-story building that is absolutely environmentally friendly. It has 70 rooms with enough luxury and comfort of a 5-star hotel. It is powered by solar energy, water saving systems, vertical agriculture, wood finishing, recycled materials, PVC free upholstery, bamboo floors, curtains made of recycled pet, thermo-acoustic windows and metal curtains that reduce energy consumption, the latest technologies in energy saving, recycled fiber carpets, amenities and biodegradable materials, recycled glass sheets and organic cotton linens. 

The hotel also have sauna, massage, solarium and a circuit of organic hydrotherapy on the terrace of the hotel. It has a vertical agriculture garden offering organic vegetables from the restaurant and bar. The gym is equipped with sustainable machinery, where each training generates renewable energy for the environment. The terrace on the eighth floor of the hotel has a bar. If offers free Wi-Fi connection 24 hours a day, and 24-hour reception and parking.  

things to do

Plans for groups of friends and couple plans with massage services, special gastronomy, and rest plans. It also encourages the guest to make ecotourism plans in the city like: 

  • Visit the wetlands to practice birdwatching, among them Juan Amarillo, Torca Guaymaral, Niza – Córdoba, Santa María de Lago, among others. 
  • Visit parks and ecological forests in Bogotá, the lungs of the city, being these the Independencia park, the National park, the Simón Bolívar park, the Los Novios park, the La Florida park, among others.  
  • Hiking in the eastern hills of Bogotá for visitors who want to practice ecological walks and learn about the richness in fauna and flora, native and typical of the place.  
  • Plan to cycle through Bogotá on bike-routes (cicloruta), or on weekends on the ciclovía.  

Farm to table model. The hotel has its own organic garden and all the gastronomy is organic, with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus, all made from our own produce.

The hotel’s restaurant, called green piece, offers organic cuisine, offering healthy food menus, vegetarian and vegan menus, meat, fish and poultry from certified suppliers, vegetables and spices grown in the hotel’s organic garden just 10 meters from your table. The terrace bar offers healthy and original drinks.  


The hotel has 70 rooms that range from 24 to 64 sq meters and are distributed in 5 categories: standard room, twin room, deluxe soap, junior suite with jacuzzi and master suite with jacuzzi. The capacity per room is from 1 to 4 people.

All rooms are equipped with 400-thread-count organic cotton linens. Private bathroom, coffee maker, cable tv, 24 hours Wi-Fi internet, safe, minibar service, international calls to 60 countries and local calls to landlines free. Soundproof windows. Some give the possibility to connect with another room for groups or families.


Rates start at USD 50 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

location and weather 

The Bio hotel is located in the area of Usaquén, Carrera 7 bis # 124 – 36, in Bogotá. The city of Bogotá, at 2,600 meters above sea level (8530 ft), is recognized as the business capital of Colombia, but it is also a city with wetlands, parks and forests, eucalyptus scents and country trails.

Depending on the time of year, the city can have a dry or very rainy climate, with an average temperature of 18°C/64,4°F.  

how to get there 

The hotel is located 25 min. drive from El Dorado International Airport, in the northern area of Bogotá. This time may vary depending on the time of day and traffic.  

Best Eco Hotels in the Eastern Plains of Colombia 

Hotel and Bioreserve Lagos de Menegua – Meta

Lagos de Menegua Hotel & Bioreserve

1,000 hectares/ 2471 acres of natural reserve with native savannas, gallery forests and echoes of the amazon to discover the true magic of the Colombian plains. It is the closest place to Bogotá where you can live an authentic experience of the nature of the plains, with the comfort of a hotel.

Lagos de Menegua is home to more than 800 species of mammals, fish, reptiles and birds. As allies of the environmental corporation of the department of Meta, Cormacarena, they work to return more than 200 animals to their natural habitat safely, offering them a sanctuary in the bioreserve.

Alternatively, fish farming, one of the most important economic activities in the region, is a real attraction, with a sustainable and balanced model of production with care for the environment. Part of the income from guests and visitors goes directly to the conservation of the reserve.

+235 bird species including the Crestless Curassow (Mitu tomentosum), which is declared as vulnerable, as well as showy birds such as the sun heron, red, white and black corocoras (ibis) and kingfishers.  

lodge features 

The hotel has a swimming pool, game room and bar. The rooms are located in a two-storey building in front of the swimming pool. Within the reserve are also the accommodations of the hotel workers. 

things to do 
  • The main attraction is the Lago del Silencio, which can be reached on foot, in a guided tour, by bicycle or on horseback.
  • You can practice artisan and sport fishing, kayaking, use water bikes in the lake and enjoy the natural pools and waterfalls, the latter during the rainy months.  
  • There are different routes and trails in the reserve to explore and connect with nature. The routes have different degrees of difficulty, designed for all types of people.  
  • Take a safari in 4×4 truck all over the reserve to get to know the ecosystems of the mountains and the forest, as well as the fauna and flora of the region, with picnics in the mountains. 
  • Go for a guided horseback riding and horse rental for hours to explore ravines, lakes and mountains.  
  • You can do astrotourism, since the reserve still has black skies suitable for the observation and photography of the night sky and the stars. Its privileged location allows the simultaneous observation of both the northern and southern hemispheres.  
  • Take a bird watching tour within the reserve and by boat on the Meta River and some of its arms.
  • Meet the pink dolphins through a Safari along the Meta, Manacacias and Yucao rivers where it is common to see monkeys, turtles, otters, reptiles and especially pink dolphins.  
  • Organization of adventure races for groups. 

Concept of “slow food”, in which the gastronomic offer is based on the ecological calendar and the products that are in harvest. Variety of dishes from the region, including local fish from the farm’s fish farming operation.

Inputs of local origin or harvested within Lagos de Menegua by means of clean agriculture.  


Capacity to accommodate up to 100 people, with 24 double or multiple rooms. Each room has: television, air conditioning and mini bar. There is no hot water shower service.   


Rates start at USD 50 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season.  

location and weather 

Lagos de Menegua is located in the municipality of Puerto López in the department of Meta. In this place you can find the main ecosystems of the Colombian Orinoco: gallery forests, wetlands and morichals, savannahs and mountains, in a very high state of conservation.

The average temperature is 29°C/84°F, and there are dry and rainy seasons. The best time for night sky watching is between December and March, which corresponds to the dry season.   

how to get there 

You can get there by private or public transport, or by air to the city of Villavicencio and then by public transport or to the Lagos de Menegua hotel. The road is totally paved, and it takes approximately 1h40min to get there. It is 90 km from the airport of Villavicencio. 

Mururito Ecological Hotel Farm Meta

Mururito Nature Reserve

2000 ha/4942 acres of natural reserve and farm bordering the Manacacias river, where there are forests, streams, lagoons, savannas, marshes and mountain ranges in a very good state of conservation.

For this reason, it is home to a great diversity of flora and fauna. It has the advantage of offering several activities without having to leave the reserve. The walks are done on foot, on horseback or by bicycle, the use of trucks is prohibited in the reserve. 

lodge features

It’s a country house built with noble materials. It has one floor and two large rooms to rest in hammocks. Terrace and outdoor showers offer the possibility to relax, sunbathe or share a drink.

Around the house there is a garden of flowers, orchids and fruit trees that attracts birds and butterflies. The farm has electricity day and night through solar panels. The whole house is integrally protected by mosquito nets, there are no glass windows, at least in the common areas.

For its sustainability, it has a livestock activity of 250 cattle, 12 horses, 45 tropical sheep, chickens and backyard chickens, as well as organic gardens and beehives. Hydraulic feeding system to produce electric energy.  

things to do
  • Walks in the forest or in the savannah by day or by night. Watch the colorful sunset in the mountains or a beautiful sunset over the river.
  • Horseback rides to discover the most distant places of the reserve, its pastures, its marshes and its lagoons.
  • Learn the work of a cowboy.
  • River ride, with swimming in the clear water of Caño Tigre or in the Manacacias river.
  • All terrain bike ride on two large marked trails.
  • Fishing for piranhas and other fish in the lagoons or in the river.
  • Participate in farm activities such as feeding animals, milking, harvesting in the ecological gardens.
  • Bird watching in the forests of the reserve and along the river.  

Homemade food based on local traditions. All inputs are produced on the farm. Special foods or drinks must be ordered in advance or brought in on your own.  


The hotel has six rooms and a maximum capacity of 16 guests. The rooms are named after typical animals of the region: “Otter”, “Ocelot” and “Corocora” are two-person rooms ideal for couples without children.

The “Bien Parada” and “Mochilero” rooms are for three people and the “Howler” room is for four people. Each room has a private bathroom with toilet and shower, wardrobe, table, and bedside table, with a view of the garden.  


Rates start at USD 60 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season. 

location and weather

Located in the Colombian eastern plains in the department of Meta, 1h30 from Puerto Gaitán. Los llanos, as an ecological region, is a large depression located between Venezuela and Colombia covering 150,000 km².

In Colombia this region called “llanos orientales” comprises 28% of the territory. There are no heights above 500 m a.s.l. (1640 ft a.s.l.) in the whole plain. The reserve is located between 130 and 180 meters above sea level (426 to 590 ft a.s.l.).

Temperatures are always around 27°C/80.6°F, and 95% of the rain falls between April and November. The dry season occurs between January and April.  

how to get there

Via land transport takes 5 hours from Bogotá and requires a 4×4 truck due to the poor road conditions near the entrance to the reserve. You can also arrive using a charter service from Bogotá to Puerto Gaitan, and it takes 1h30min. It is also possible to enter by water, by the Manacacias river, a 2-hour trip from Puerto Gaitán.  

Best Eco Hotels in the Western Andes Mountain Range of Colombia 

La Huerta Hotel – Valle del Cauca


This is the only official hotel of the International Bird Fair of Colombia in recent years, with an eBird list of its own forest reserve. There are 7 ha/17 acres of forest reserve and organic crops on the slopes of the Calima Lake. 

It has a privileged location in the middle of four birding hotspots in Valle del Cauca department, where the Andes and the Biogeographic Chocó converge: The Yotoco Natural Reserve, the Sonso Lagoon, the Calima Lake and the Rio Bravo Reserve. 

hotel features

The hotel has an event room with capacity for 80 people, 24-hour free private parking and reception, a wet area with sauna, Turkish bath, jacuzzi and heated pool. it has several terraces for hanging out or eating.

It has a forest area with trails for hiking or bird watching, a lake where they grow their own fish and an area dedicated to organic fruit and vegetables, hence its name La Huerta. All rooms have balconies, wi-fi, hot water and comfortable beds. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all facilities. 

things to do
  • This is a place to rest and relax. It is also the best place to stay in the region, and from there visit the most important birding hotspots in Valle del Cauca (see our tour here). 
  • From there you can also visit the Calima Lake to practice water sports such as sailing, water skiing, windsurfing, kitesurfing among others, as there are the best winds in America and third worldwide. 
  • You can enjoy the outdoor swimming pool open all year round with views of the mountains.
  • The hotel also has a barbecue at your disposal.   

Farm to table and slow food service, with all supplies produced in the orchard of the hotel, with 25 cultivars of organic fruits and vegetables, and their own production of eggs, dairy and fish, all chemical free. 

Specialized service for birdwatchers. It has a chef that will make you know and enjoy the best flavors of the region.  


The hotel has a maximum capacity of 75 people, in triple accommodation, but can also be double or single. it has 24 rooms. All rooms have flat screen TV and private bathroom, balcony window, hot water, wi-fi, and safe. 


Rates start at USD 70 per person, per night, based on occupancy and season. 

location and weather

The Hotel La Huerta is located on the outskirts of Yotoco, in the Valle del Cauca region, 43 km from Palmira. The temperature is warm, on average 25°C. At night and in the early morning it can get quite cold.

Due to its proximity to the western mountain range and the biogeographic Chocó, there can be high humidity and rain. 

how to get there

The Hotel is located on the slope of Lake Calima closest to the most developed areas of the region. You can arrive by land transportation, and it takes only 60 minutes from the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport, 80 minutes from Cali. The nearest town is Buga, just 19 km far.  

Final Remarks

To be honest, it is important to recognize that, in general, in Colombia the international tourism industry is very young and the quality of services in some places is still not very high. This is in part because for most of the local people, the national tourists, the price is more important than the quality of services, and so many locations still not adapt to international tourism standards, which seems to be too much compared with common local standard. This is something that still needs improving in Colombia, especially in the Caribbean and some remote areas.  

We are on the way to improving, and there are many places that can offer unique experiences, as you found in this guide, linked to the conservation of ecosystems and the promotion and development of local cultures and communities.

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.

Recommended Sustainable Tourism Destinations in Colombia

Being the world’s most biodiverse country per square kilometer and having an outstanding cultural heritage, Colombia is a potential world-class sustainable tourism destination.

Colombians are beginning to realize that natural wealth is the key to the country’s development, when managed with responsibility and respect.

Following the guidelines of sustainable tourism can be challenging, however there are numerous destinations apt for sustainable tourism in Colombia and communities willing to preserve the environment while showing to the world the beauty of the country’s biodiversity.  

Let’s talk about what sustainable tourism is, why it is important in recent times and some sustainable destinations in Colombia.

Defining Sustainable Tourism   

The World Tourism Organization defines sustainable tourism as a form of “tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities”.

In this way, there has to be a balance between these three dimensions for sustainability to exist and last. In 3 concepts, sustainable tourism is: conservation of biodiversity, social welfare and economic security. 

To understand better, think of these principles of sustainability in the tourism industry: 

  1. Natural resources are a crucial element in the development of tourism, they should be optimally used as long as there are processes that guarantee the conservation of biodiversity and natural heritage. 
  2. Tourism should respect the sociocultural heritage of host communities, ensuring the preservation of their traditions and the promotion of interculturality. 
  3. Tourism-based business models should generate economic benefits fairly distributed among all stakeholders, representing opportunities to the host communities to develop a better quality of life. 

With the tourism sector gaining importance in Colombia, more tourists coming each year and generating more employment and income, it is essential to regulate how the operators and travelers impact the environment and the host communities’ welfare and economy.

Colombia has an immense natural and cultural wealth that needs to be preserved for the future generations. 

How to Support Sustainable Tourism 

If you are interested in supporting sustainable tourism, but don’t know how apart from visiting these certified sustainable tourism destinations in Colombia, here are some tips:  

  • Do research. Making informed decisions when choosing a tour operator, a hotel or any other service is the key. Choose those who are local based and that return profits to the community. 
  • Prefer local agencies, local restaurants and local guides. Who knows better the region that its inhabitants? 
  • Appreciate the work of natives. Buy crafts and souvenirs hand-made by local communities, it is their way to obtain income. 
  • Choose activities with low environmental impact. Ecotourism activities such as hikes, camping, wildlife tours and interaction with host communities are becoming more popular just as the eco-friendly trend. 
  • Be aware of your habits. Don’t depend on the destinations or the hotels’ sustainability policies, but adopt ecological and socially responsible habits in your everyday life so you don’t leave a negative footprint in the places you visit. 

Sustainable Tourism Destinations in Colombia 

Governmental bodies such as the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT), the Ministry of Environment and the Vice-ministry of Tourism, along with the ICONTEC and Universidad Externado de Colombia issued a technical standard to certificate tourist destinations as being of tourist quality, once they met all the sustainability requirements.

This certificate complies with the Colombian Sectorial Technical Standard NTS TS 001-1, which includes the necessary environmental, socio-cultural and economic requirements.

This technical standard seeks to promote sustainable tourism, where economic, social and aesthetic needs can be met, while respecting cultural integrity, ecological processes and diversity.

Today, there are 20 certified sustainable tourism destinations in Colombia, as specified in the official document here.

Here you have a brief of what you can experience in each of these amazing destinations.

Parque Arví, Medellín 

Bird Watching during the Bird Festival of Medellín, at Parque Arví, 2018

Parque Arví is a public park where everyone can have a great time in contact with nature. It is on the outskirts of Medellin, easily accessible by cable car, which is connected to the city’s public transportation system.

It has a wide sustainable tourist offer that includes day and night hiking, bird watching, picnics, bike tours, archaeological and cultural tours, and even obstacle course races!

Within its commitment to the environmental conservation, Parque Arví offers an environmental and cultural agenda in its Ignacio Vélez Escobar Center, has educational tours to learn about traditions, flowers, birds, recycling and much more! 

Jardín, Antioquia 

Jardín, Antioquia, Colombia

Another Colombian Heritage Town, Jardin, attracts hundreds of national and international tourists for its beauty, but recently, for its sustainable tourism offer. It is located 130 km away from Medellin, which means a 3-hour ride south.

What stands out the most are its bright-colored houses that match the joyful inhabitants. All tourist activities are engaged in protecting natural resources and using them adequately, and fostering the job creation by employing locals with fair conditions and supporting the commercialization of local goods and services.

This is an important bird watching destination in the western Andes of Colombia, here you can find the Gallito de las Rocas Reserve, where there is the Andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruvianus), and the Proaves Bird Nature Reserve Loro Orejiamarillo (Ognorhynchus icterotis). 

Jericó, Antioquia 

This colorful little town appeared on the radar of Colombians when Madre Laura Montoya, born in Jericó, was canonized by Pope Francis in 2013, becoming the first Colombian saint. Apart from visiting her house museum, you should climb the Cristo Rey hill and enjoy the view of the village from the top, where a statue of Christ with open arms lies.

The main square in front of the church has big trees and the houses are embellished by bright colored designs. 

The verification process to certify Jericho as a sustainable tourism destination lasted a year and a half. This qualification was endorsed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the National Tourism Fund (Fontur).

One of the aspects that deserved the recognition of this population was the preservation of the historical center and the environmental actions to preserve it.

Armenia, Quindío 

Siproeta stelenes (malachite) at the Mariposario of the Botanical Garden of Quindío

Armenia is a major city of the coffee region and the Coffee Cultural Landscape, apart from being an important trade and tourism center of the Western part of Colombia. In Armenia, the process of certification as a sustainable destination began in 2017 and ended in December 2018.

The city hall and its surroundings make the sustainable tourist zone up and include spots such as the Bolivar square, the Cathedral, the metropolitan cultural center, some museums, parks and malls. You can visit the Park of Life, one of the largest green lungs of the Quindian capital.

With a total area of about 8 hectares, this eco-tourist space serves the inhabitants of the city as a paradise amid the concrete and chaos of daily life. You can also visit The Botanical Garden of Quindío, 30 minutes from Armenia, in Calarcá, a significant pole of scientific exploration and environmental training.

This garden has one of the largest collections of butterflies and palms of Colombia and the earth. 

Salento, Quindío 

Colorful Streets of Salento

Salento is home to the Quindío wax palm that serve as bridges between the ground and the sky, reaching up to 60 meters. The Cocora Valley is Salento’s biggest attraction, is known as ‘the first natural wonder of Quindío’, and borders Los Nevados National Park.

The landscapes and natural wealth of this valley dazzle every tourist that gets there to hike or go bird watching. The architecture of the town maintains the colonial style typical of the coffee region. 

Filandia, Quindío 

Filandia is a village northwest of Salento that gained recognition for its model of sustainable tourism. Before, it was inhabited by the Quimbaya indigenous group, now it offers several cultural and natural attractions.

Viewpoints with jaw-dropping sights, the main church, the Bolívar square, the artisan neighborhood and museum, the Rio Barbas canyon and religious festivities make Filandia worth visiting. 

Santa Rosa de Cabal, Risaralda 


15 km from Pereira, the capital of Risaralda, is this beautiful town part of the Colombian Coffee Triangle. Although coffee is the axis of its economy, the tourism activity has increased in recent years.

The main attractions are hot springs resorts, a lake of medicinal mud, the typical 20th century houses with flowered balconies, the main square with its church and park and let’s not forget the chorizos santarrosanos -the specialty of the village. 

Also near to this town, there is an interesting birding point, at Finca Cortaderal where the Fuertes’s parrot (Hapalopsittaca fuertesi) is easy to observe.  

Marsella, Risaralda 

Marsella has a national reputation of being a green town and it is a main destination in the department of Risaralda.

Apart from being the only village in Risaralda with its own botanical garden, it has La Nona municipal park and hundreds of hanging gardens in the balconies of the colonial houses.

Landscapes vary from the riverbanks of the Cauca river to a forest reserve over 2,000 MASL. 

Manizales, Caldas 

Tinamú Birding Lodge, Manizales, Colombia

The capital of Caldas, Manizales, is located in the Central Andes range, in the central western part of Colombia. Today it has great economical, industrial, cultural and tourist importance and hosts the famous Feria de Maniales and the Theater International Festival.

The historic center has tourist spots such as Bolivar Square, the Cathedral Basilica, historic houses, cultural centers and streets such as Calle del Tango. Its proximity with Nevado del Ruiz and Los Nevados NNP makes Manizales a good destination for ecotourism.

Take a look on our Coffee triangle Birdwatching tour here.

Buga, Valle del Cauca 

The historic center of this small town, about 1 hour northeast from Cali, is quite visited by Catholics, since there is the Señor de los Milagros (Lord of the Miracles) Basilica. Pilgrims go there to ask for favors and thank for the blessings granted.

Guadalajara de Buga -its actual name-, is one of the Heritage Towns of Colombia and boasts a classic architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries. Also, it has natural attractions around such as Laguna de Sonso natural reserve, Lago Calima and El Vinculo Regional Natural Park. 

Usiacurí, Atlántico

Community-based tourism Usiacurí

Usiacurí is one of the oldest towns in Colombia’s Atlantic coast, founded in the most important indigenous territory of the region. The name is made up of Usía (lordship) and Curí (name of the regional indigenous chief).

Mineral water wells

Its medicinal water sources are the town’s most known attraction, since visitors from all over have come to treat their diseases. Other tourist spots are the Santo Domingo de Guzman church, Julio Florez museum and square, and the Panama hat plant handicraft stores. 

Luriza Reserve

Here it is also posible to visit the Luriza Regional Integrated Management District, where conservation objects are the artisan tradition with Iraca palm (Carludovica palmata) and the protection of the tree species Carreto (Aspidosperma polyneuron), the typical bird communities of the Tropical Dry Forest, the bodies of water, and the ancestral knowledge about medicinal plants.

Ciénaga, Magdalena 

This town nestled on the shores of the Caribbean Sea, close to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is an strategic site of transit of people travelling to La Guajira, Barranquilla and the center of Colombia.

It boasts many water bodies such as lagoons, rivers, hot springs and, of course, the sea. Among its attractions are the beaches, cultural heritage sites including churches and historic buildings, and an archaeological zone.

La Piscina Beach, Tayrona NNP 

La Piscina is one of the few beaches in Tayrona National Natural Park where you can have a relaxing and private bath, far from tourist spots. Although small, this beach is gorgeous and is between Cabo San Juan and Arrecife beaches.

Its name comes from the rock barrier that surrounds the place, reducing the waves and simulating a pool. 

Mompox, Bolívar 

Santa Cruz de Mompox is a remote heritage town in the Caribbean region of Colombia that is worth visiting. Goldsmithing, architecture and gastronomy are some of its highlights.

Go visit its several swamps and gorges, tour the streets to find artisans of different disciplines, a lot of churches and go looking for exotic birds. 

Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar 

‘The heroic city’ of Cartagena is perhaps the most visited city in Colombia, thanks to its history, architecture and 11 km of Caribbean beaches that offer plenty of options for luxury travel. 

The historic center and Getsemaní neighborhood, where the wealthy families used to live, are the sustainable tourism destinations in Cartagena. The San Felipe Castle and the walled city are a must. 


From Cartagena it is possible to depart to Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park where marine-coastal ecosystems are protected in order to contribute to the provision of environmental and / or ecosystem services.

You will find Coral Reefs, Seagrasses, Sedimentary Funds, Tropical Dry Forest, Coastal Lagoons, Rocky and Sandy Coastline and Mangrove Forest and its associated species. 

To know more about nature destinations is Cartagena visit our entry The Most Awesome Nature Destinations to Visit in Cartagena.

Villa de Leyva, Boyacá 

Villa de Leyva is one of the top tourist destination in Colombia. It is a must-visit when you are travel to Colombia, thanks to its architecture heritage and natural wonders around the town. Its central square is the largest in the country, with 14,000 square meters.

Cobbled paths keep unchanged the colonial style, while the plenty museums preserve landmarks of the Colombian history.

Fossil, El Fósil Museum, Villa de Leyva, Colombia

Paleonthology, archaeology, astronomy and adventure tourism play an important role in the success of Villa de Leyva in national tourism. 

From Villa de Leyva you can visit Iguaque Flora and Fauna Sanctuary, where you can find the Sacred Lagoon of Iguaque that, according to Muisca mythology, is the cradle of humanity. 

There are a total of 7 lagoons of glacier origin in the Sanctuary, altitudes between 2,400 and 3,800 MASL, and one of the main areas of oak in the country. Visit our entry Discover the Natural Attractions of Villa de Leyva, Colombia to find more nature attractions in Villa de Leyva. 

Monguí, Boyacá 

Páramo de Ocetá

Monguí is part of Colombia’s heritage towns list and is known as one of the prettiest towns in Boyacá. Its architecture is incredible and well-preserved, religious landmarks stand out and nature is well-represented by the wonderful Paramo de Ocetá, a water factory and biodiversity shelter.

Craftsmanship is big in Mongui, since it is the mecca for the hand-sewn soccer balls. 

La Macarena, Meta 

To he south of Meta department, part of Los Llanos Orientales, is La Macarena. The municipality shelters a great natural heritage, being Sierra de la Macarena and Caño Cristales -the 5 color river– its highlights in ecotourism.

Other tourist spots are Parque Los Fundadores, Salto del Aguila, Los Pailones, Caño Intermedio, Caño Escondido and Los Pianos trails, and Cristalitos viewpoint.  

La Tatacoa Desert, Huila 

Tatacoa Desert

A 40-minute ride north from Neiva takes you to Villavieja, the municipality where La Tatacoa Desert is.

Out of the 3 zones of this amazing dry area, Cuzco, a reddish zone of 256 hectares, is a certified sustainable tourism destination.

This place is quite attractive because of its eroded soil adorned with mazes of gullies, cactuses and little wildlife. 

Colombia offers quite a lot of ecotourist destinations for all tourists, if you want to learn more about them, click here.

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.

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.