The Caribbean region is located in the north of Colombia and is home to some of the most visited places in the country, like Cartagena, Santa Marta, the Tayrona National Natural Park, the “Lost City” or Ciudad Perdida, Mompox, Palomino, the Rosario, San Andrés and Providencia islands. Besides the well-preserved colonial towns, the Colombian Caribbean coast is famous for the stunning sandy beaches, the beautiful islands, the infinite desert of La Guajira and the different indigenous communities.
The weather in this region is warm and sunny with low levels of rainfall all year round. Nevertheless, there’s also the spectacular Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta with its snowy peaks. In general, the people here are easy-going, very open and usually enjoy dancing to the main Caribbean rhythms: salsa, vallenato, cumbia, champeta and Afro-Caribbean music, among others. As of the local gastronomy, it’s principally based on fish and seafood that can be found in abundance throughout the Caribbean and Insular region.
This is the most populated region in Colombia, where the largest urban centres of the country can be found. It’s crossed by the majestic mountains of the Andes, which in the south they split into three mountain series called cordilleras: the western, central and eastern. These cordilleras create plateaus, where cities like Bogotá can be found, and also form deep valleys on which other big cities, such as Medellín, are located.
The Andean region is also famous for the coffee plantations and the small picturesque towns well-preserved since the 19th century. Among other unique-style coffee towns, Salento, Filandia and Guatapé stand out. Places that are worth visiting as they preserve their identity and culture almost intact. In this region you’ll also find beautiful colonial towns that were founded in the 16th century, including Villa de Leyva, Honda and Popayán.
One of the most magnificent ecosystems of the Andes is the paramo, found in an altitude between 3,500 and 5,000 meters above sea level. It’s characterised by low temperatures, high humidity and a great variety of fauna and flora. The water here is collected naturally from the dense fog and the rain, and feeds most of the rivers and towns of the country. Among the animal and plant species that exist in the region, many of them endemic, there’s espeletia or frailejones, deer, mountain tapirs, spectacled bears, the paramo eagle and the Andean condor.
Colombia’s Pacific coast is a more isolated region, virgin, less touristic, and hence very interesting. This region can be reached by air or land. If you opt for the latter, be prepared for long road trips and striking landscapes, as you’d be crossing many of Colombia’s mountains.
Once you get here, expect to be surrounded by stunning beaches, dense rainforests and pure nature. It’s about an impressive scenery thanks to the lush vegetation that covers every inch of land until it reaches the blue sea. The Pacific coast is inhabited mainly by Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities with their own amazing traditions that are worth to explore.
Among the most beautiful and unique things that happen in this region is whale migration. Every year between July and October humpback whales travel from the cold Antarctica to warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean to give birth and raise their young. Also, in places like Nuquí or Bahía Solano, you can witness young sea turtles coming out of their eggs and seeing the sunlight for the first time in their effort to reach the water. Keep in mind that the turtle nesting season peaks from September to December. Undoubtedly, the Colombian Pacific is one of the best places in the world to watch whales and sea turtles and, of course, to enjoy the beauty of the nature.
Also known as Eastern Plains, this region is covered by wide plains and savannahs, and is rich in water resources deriving from the various rivers that cross it. One of the most visited places is the spectacular Caño Cristales, commonly called the “river of five colours”. Located in the Sierra de La Macarena National Natural Park, Caño Cristales features a series of rapids and rock formations. It’s famous for an unusual phenomenon that can be witnessed through its transparent waters: the red and yellow colour intensification of its aquatic plants which change colour once exposed at the sun. The result is a visual effect of being in front of a very colourful river.
Orinoquia is also renowned for the cattle breeding –ganadería– and the famous cowboys’ songs, a traditional way of calming down the animals recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. There’s also unique wildlife including various species of snakes, crocodiles and birds that can be watched wild in the nature.
The Amazonia region extends over nearly 40% of the Colombian territory and is mostly covered by dense jungle or the Amazon rainforest. This is the heart of Colombia’s rich biodiversity and natural resources, and is home to hundreds of species of mammals, reptiles, birds and more than 20,000 plant species. Its incredible wildlife includes pink dolphins, golden poison frogs, sloths, toucans, monkeys and jaguars.
The most famous destinations in the region are the river towns of Leticia and Puerto Nariño. The former is located in a point where the Colombian, Peruvian and Brazilian borders meet and is the ultimate gateway to a wildlife paradise.
Once you get to the Amazonia, you’ll have to set out on a river safari to explore the nature and incredible ecosystem. You’ll have the opportunity to observe thousands of species of flora and fauna, meet indigenous groups and visit natural reserves, such as the Amacayacu National Park. During the wet season (from January to June), the Amazonia is transformed into a vast wetland where you can navigate a boat through canals, flooded forests and even places where in the dry season would be impossible. Kayaking in the best activity to enjoy the absolute peacefulness and wilderness of the jungle.
In the jungle, one of the most remarkable sounds is the toucan’s song echoing all over the place. The lakes feature the perfect scenery for breath-taking sunrises and sunsets, as the sun reflects on the calm waters. Deep in the jungle you’ll also find indigenous communities with very interesting traditions to explore. Getting to know the magic of the Amazon is definitely a must-do experience for every nature lover, and Colombia offers the perfect opportunity to do so.