The tourism industry in Colombia is gradually growing, with more tourists than ever before visiting the country to enjoy everything it has to offer. With beautiful landscapes, stunning beaches and national parks in abundance, there is so much to see and do in this wonderful South American country.
Whilst hiking may not be what Colombia is most well known for, there are many interesting, challenging and scenic hikes and walks to enjoy during your trip. And the best part? Because the hiking and tours are still relatively unknown in the traveller / tourism industry, they are quieter and less crowded than a lot of other South American hikes.
We spoke to Nidia, our Colombia expert, and asked where she recommends for hiking in the country, and where her stand-out and best hikes and walks are in Colombia. She gave us some amazing suggestions.
This stunning hike is often compared to Machu Picchu in appearance and history, and the ruins you’ll find during this amazing and historic hike are actually 650 years older than the ones at Machu Picchu. This hike is a challenging one, but a varied and beautiful one too. You’ll encounter river crossings, steep hills, and rainforests and jungle environments. For most people, the hike takes around 4/5 days, and it’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Nidia gave us a little more history of the area, and told us what to expect:
“The Tayronas used to live in this area, but it was only recently that they discovered The Lost City in 1976. It’s a series of terraces that were built by the Tayrona civilisation. Usually when people go there, the whole trip takes four days, 3 days going up and 1-2 days coming back down (depending how fit you are). This trip is really, really good. The objective is obviously to reach the Lost City, but the most interesting part is going up because the landscape is beautiful, there’s natural swimming pools on the way, and also going up you see indigenous communities living there, like the Koguis. It’s also a way to learn about the Tayrona civilisation and how these indigenous communities live in this area today”
Caño Cristales is perhaps one of Colombia’s most memorable and striking locations. The unique river (in the Serrania de la Macarena province of Meta), is often called the “River of Five Colors” or the “Liquid Rainbow”. It’s not hard to understand why when you visit!
The river is a striking blend of magical colours and patterns, and the views on offer as you hike along the river are unique and breathtaking. It’s so much natural beauty, that many people feel overwhelmed by how unique and striking the views are. Nidia says:
“Caño Cristales is really special because of the river, the river is known as ‘the river of the five colours’ and it’s because literally in the river you see five colours, red, yellow, blue and black. It’s mainly because the special plants on the ground near the river, but it creates a beautiful effect. From June-Nov the colour changes, so now the colour is completely normal. But from June-Nov all the plants change the colour of the river, and offer all those amazing colours… it’s really good”
The Cocora Valley hike
This is one of the most popular hikes in Colombia for tourists and travellers – especially as the landscapes and views are so beautiful. Most travellers exploring the route depart from a small coffee town called Salento, and the hike then takes them through farmland, cloud forest and evergreen woodland. Eventually the hike leads to the stunning Cocora Valley, which is famous for growing some of tallest palm trees in the world (some reaching 60 metres high).
Tayrona National Park, is one of the most well known national parks in Colombia and is a protected ecological area too. Because of this, the landscapes and beautiful beyond belief, and Nidia says the park is one of the best places to visit in Colombia, and is a hike suitable for a range of abilities too – which is great news if you’re a beginner or new to hiking.
“Tayrona park is a fairly easy hike and hiking from one beach to another is not that difficult. The beaches are amazing, and some of the best in Colombia”
Purace National Park
Purace is one of Colombia’s most beautiful high-altitude National Parks. Located in the south of Colombia, it offers incredible views of the amazing volcano too. If you’re a professional climber (and you’ve brought the needed equipment) it’s possible to climb the volcano itself. For everyone else though – there are many beautiful (and easier) trails in the lower altitude sections of the park. You’ll pass by natural springs, lakes and forests, and it’s a truly memorable experience.