Exploring Colombian landscapes – Places to visit while traveling in Colombia

JUAN MARTINEZ

March 26, 2016

Exploring Colombian landscapes – Places to visit while traveling in Colombia

Do you want to see the diversity of Colombian landscapes? Let me show you my six favorite places to see nature and wilderness in Colombia

Deserts in Tatacoa, beaches in San Andres, mountains in Cocora or rainforest in the Amazon – just name it and there is a Colombian landscape of it! Let’s not forget about Cano Cristales, Colombia’s rainbow river.

No wonder Colombia is the second richest country in biodiversity and the richest country in biodiversity per area worldwide. With surreal landscapes that look like they are from another planet, I think in this article I can give you some good reasons to plan your summer in Colombia.

Let me show you some unimaginable Colombian landscapes you could all see within one short trip with just a few hours of driving in between.

Tropical landscapes at Cocora National Park

The Cocora Natural National Park is not only a place for adventurers and trekking fans, it is also the home of the Colombian National Tree: The wax palm, a palm that can reach incredible heights of up to 80 meters and only grows in this region. Cocora is the place where you feel like you are in the middle of the latest Jurassic Park movie set and an obligatory destination if you want to see some astonishing Colombian landscapes and try the best coffee in the world.

It´s hard to believe that only a 30 min ride from the rainforest in Cocora and 6-8 hours of trekking you will find yourself in the middle of the Andean mountain range and on one of the highest peaks in Colombia and South America.

Read more: Is the Lost City trek in Colombia worth it?

Deserts in Tatacoa, beaches in San Andres, mountains in Cocora or rainforest in the Amazon – just name it and there is a Colombian landscape of it! Let's not forget about Cano Cristales, Colombia's rainbow river.
View of the Cocora National Park from its entrance. Day trips are possible every day from the popular town of Salento

Snowy peaks at the Los Nevados Natural National Park

Located only 30 minutes from the Cocora National Park, Los Nevados National Park has eight volcanos and peaks for climbers and adventure junkies – Alpine climbers come from all over the world to explore this national park and explore the wilderness of some of these Colombian landscapes.

Los Nevados National Park is one of the few places in the world where you can experience that many thermal floors in one single location. From template locations like the rainforest and the coffee plantations where temperature ranges from 15 to 23°C, to glacial locations like the Ruiz peak located 5300 meters above sea level.

Would you believe me if I told you that you can find a desert located only 300 km away?

Read more: 10 places in Colombia to pack your bags and go

Nevado del Ruiz is Colombia's highest peak.  Colombia is the place where the Andean mountains start and altitudes of 4000 m are common to see.
Nevado del Ruiz is Colombia’s highest peak. Colombia is the place where the Andean mountains start and altitudes of 4000 m are common to see.
– photo source: flickt

Visiting the peaceful and silent Tacacoa desert

With temperatures between 20 and 35°C and located only 300 km from the Colombian capital, the Tatacoa desert is the second largest desert in Colombia (the Guajira region in northern Colombia has the largest) and is home to thousands of species like turtles, eagles, snakes and rodents.

A great getaway for locals and a wonderful experience for travelers in South America, the Tatacoa desert attracts tourists looking for silence, tranquility and a night below millions of stars.

Thanks to its privileged location, the Tatacoa desert is one of the few places in the world where you can see all 88 constellations, have a chance to see nebulas, galaxies and meteor showers.

This is one of the most pristine landscapes in Colombia, as you might come here and not see a single person.

Read more: How I photograph the milky way when traveling

The Tatacoa desert is one of the most alien landscapes in the country. A great place for stargazing and explore on your own
The Tatacoa desert is one of the most alien landscapes in the country. A great place for stargazing and explore on your own
Source: Flickt

White sandy beaches and a seven-colour ocean on San Andres Islands

After so many adventurous locations, you can´t leave Colombia without enjoying some of its spectacular beaches and there is no better place to experience the Caribbean than in San Andres & Providencia and its seven colour ocean. Located only one and a half flight hours from Bogota and literally in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, San Andres is one of those small paradises Colombia has to offer.

Spend your days relaxing on the beach, snorkeling in San Andres´ crystal clear waters or try your diving skills in the middle of corals and wrecks. Enjoy some of the local Caribbean cuisine, dance through the night to the rhythms of Colombian-Caribbean music and wake up in a hammock in that paradise on earth Colombians call Providencia.

Read more: Road trip in Jamaica

The islands of San Andres and Providencia are located right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. Because of their location, fauna and flora are unique in this part of the world.
The islands of San Andres and Providencia are located right in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.
Here travelers come to explore the Caribbean side of the Colombian landscapes.

Amazon rainforest in the southern Colombia

There is no visit to South America without a small taste of the Amazon rainforest. Despite only 10% of the rainforest belonging to Colombia, this area is enough to get the full Amazon experience, located in the most southern part of Colombia and only 1 hour from Bogota by plane. Your visit in Colombia will be complete if you visit the home of more than 3 million species and at least 40.000 different plants.

Species like the howler monkey, sloths, anacondas and jaguars, yes, I said jaguars, are only some of the animals you would be able to see during your visit to the Amazonas region. Take a boat along the Amazon River and see the pink dolphins swimming next to you.

However, for many travelers the Amazon river might not be the most beautiful river in the country!

Read more: Visiting Iguazu from the Brazilian and Argentinean side

Deserts in Tatacoa, beaches in San Andres, mountains in Cocora or rainforest in the Amazon – just name it and there is a Colombian landscape of it! Let's not forget about Cano Cristales, Colombia's rainbow river.
The Colombian amazon landscape is known for its large amounts of fauna and flora. It’s one of the most untouched places in the world.

Cano Cristales – Colombia’s rainbow river

Cano Cristales is a Colombian river located in the southern central part of the country at the Sierra de la Macarena and it´s only a short flight away from Bogota. Cano Cristales, commonly called the “River of the Five Colours”, has been elected the most beautiful destination in the world by TripAdvisor a couple of years ago.

The river´s crystal clear water allows visitors to see the rock underneath covered in red, yellow and green aquatic herbs and surrounded by waterfalls and mountains this river is definitely a location to see at least once in a lifetime. Due to its unique location between three different ecosystems and in one of the most untouched landscapes in Colombia, Cano Cristales is the cherry on the top of the cake and an example why Colombia is so well known for its biodiversity.

Visit Cano Cristales from July to December and see yourself why the river is also called “liquid rainbow”. If you are planning to visit Cano Cristales during your next stay in Colombia, the easiest way to reach this destination is by plane from Bogota. There are many tourist offices in the city offering 5-day trips from 200-300 USD without flight tickets.

Read more: How to get to Cano Cristales in Colombia

Traveling to Cano cristales - Rainbow river of Colombia - Colombian landscapes.
Cano Cristales in Colombia is name by locals and tourists as the rainbow river. This is the only one in the world.
– Source: Caño Cristales: by Mario Carvajal

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