Thanks to their design, climate and diverse landscapes, the golf courses of this Latin American...
A Guide to Enjoying COLOMBIA
With coasts on two oceans, snow-capped peaks, verdant mountains and lush jungles, Colombia offers a incredible selection of nature parks, where tourists can relax and explore, in harmony with the country’s ecosystems.
The Chilly Charm of the Mountains
(Parques Naturales Nacionales Los Nevados & El Cocuy)
It’s a balm for the soul. If you wake up at 5:00 a.m., you’ll be able to feast your eyes on a truly unique natural spectacle: jagged mountain peaks, capped by eternal snows, jutting out from the high plateau mists, which appear thick and substantial in the first rays of sun. Dress warmly, because Los Nevados is situated at an altitude of 13,000 feet. The cold is intense, but the scenery is so gorgeous, you’ll hardly notice. Three peaks – Ruiz, Tolima and Santa Isabel – make up this spectacular site located at the intersections of the departments of Tolima, Quindío, Caldas and Risaralda.
Los Nevados is an ideal spot for adventurers eager to explore steep trails that run past native vegetation (like frailejones), jagged craters, deep blue lakes and bubbling hot springs. Revel in the snow, make snowmen (or snow angels) or go tobogganing. There are several lodging options, including comfortable heated cabins and more rustic campsites. You can also go rock climbing, sport fishing and mountain biking.
At the other end of the country, between the departments of Boyacá and Arauca, El Cocuy boasts 22 snow-capped peaks, astonishing glaciers, legendary lakes and slender waterfalls. Horseback riding – a favorite activity in this region – affords a more intimate glimpse of the country, with a behind-the-scenes look at rural life.
How to Get There
Parque de los Nevados
From Manizales (in the department of Caldas, a 30-minutes flight or an eight-hours drive from Bogotá), you can hire a guide for a day trip or book a package tour through an agency. A daylong excursion starts at US$70 per person. Cabins start at US$120 a night.
Parque El Cocuy
An eight-hour drive from Bogotá, this park is only accessible by land, unless you charter a plane. An all-inclusive, three-day/two-night package from Bogotá starts at US$250.
The Depths of the Jungle
The mystical and tranquil parque Nacional de tayrona”]Parque Nacional de Amacayacu; Parque Nacional Corales del Rosario is a World Heritage Site; Parque Nacional de Tayrona.
(Parques Naturales Nacionales Amacayacu y Tuparru & Santuario de Fauna y Flora Iguaque)
Pink dolphins? Yes, that’s right. At Parque Amacayacu, in the heart of the Colombian Amazon, visitors have a chance to spot this unique species. These friendly mammals inhabit the lakes of Tarapoto and are just part of the charm of this 725,000-acre jungle reserve, where tourists can experience nature in its purest form but with the finest amenities.
An exciting boat ride along the Amazon River offers a chance to interact with otters, monkeys, manatees, tortoises and even jaguars and pumas. You can also meet the local indigenous peoples and learn about their legends and simple way of life. If you visit, be sure to ask about the 300-year-old ceiba tree, which you can scale by means of ropes and ladders. From the top, you may spot flying herons or some of the 468 other bird species that make this park their home.
In the valley of the Orinoco River, Tuparro beckons: rushing rivers with sandy banks and powerful currents, crystalline steams and forests with lush vegetation. This 1.3-million-acre park is located in the eastern part of the department of Vichada, near the border with Venezuelan. When German naturalist and explorer Alexander Von Humboldt saw Tuparro for the first time, he declared: “This is the eighth wonder of the world.”
Located three hours (143 miles) from Bogotá, the Santuario de Fauna y Flora Iguaque does not allow electric light. This nature reserve is home to deer and centuries-old frailejon plants. The Muisca peoples also believe that this was the birthplace of their gods. The main attraction is the sacred, silvery lagoon on top of a mountain. Muisca legend says that Bachué, the mother of humanity, emerged from its waters. A pilgrimage to the lagoon is said to cleanse the soul and purify the spirit.
How to Get There
From Bogotá, fly to the city of Leticia, where you can get information from local tour operators. You must be vaccinated against yellow fever. Lodging options include comfortable cabins and indigenous dwellings called maloka. All-inclusive tours from Bogotá start at US$800.
All-inclusive tours from Bogotá start at US$1,000. Another option is to fly on your own to Puerto Carreño, in Vichada, and hire a guide.
Head to Villa de Leyva (Boyacá), which is a three-hour drive from Bogotá. There are a number of tours and packages available (including lodging), starting at US$100 a day.
Water, Wind and Mystery
According to local mythology, the Santuario de Fauna y Flora iguaque is the birthplace of the gods.
(Parques Nacionales Naturales de Tayrona, Corales del Rosario y Gorgona)
Beaches with fine sand and turquoise waters. Peaceful bays and mangrove swamps. Coral reefs and wooded mountains. Four hundred species of bird and at least as many fish and reptiles. Legendary archeological ruins. Believe it or not, this can all be found in a single location: Parque Nacional de Tayrona, a national park where lovers of sun and surf can enjoy a relaxing getaway from the bustle of city life, immersed in the mystical world of the Taironas, the original people who inhabit this corner of Colombia’s Atlantic Coast. Tourists can choose to stay at a five-star hotel, a cabin, a hostel or even in a straw-roofed hut.
A three-hour drive from Tayrona, the famed city of Cartagena has much more to offer than murals, beaches and vibrant social life. Cartegena is home to the only underwater park in the country: Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo. This spectacle of blue waters and multicolored underwater gardens is like a fairy tale rendered in coral reefs. The tranquil waters and shallow depth make the reefs perfect for diving and snorkeling.
In the southwestern part of the country, on the Pacific Ocean, is Gorgona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once home to a fearsome prison, this volcanic island is surrounded by mountains and covered with virgin forests that are home to hundreds of animal species, like the blue lizard. The island park is perhaps best known for the species of marine mammals that visit its warm waters: dolphins, humpback whales, porpoises and seals. This aquatic wonderland is best visited between July and September.
How to Get There
The park is located 22 miles northeast of the city of Santa Marta, where you can book tours starting at US$200 a night
Parque Corales del Rosario
This park is a 45-minute drive from Cartagena. Day-long tours start at US$50 (including transportation and food, plus another US$30 for water activities). Lodging starts at US$120 a night (per person).
A tour departing from Bogotá with everything included – even air transportation – starts at US$700 per person. Tours also depart from the city of Cali.
Daily flights from Bogotá to Lima. Six times a week from Santiago and three times a week from Miami.
For more information, visit lan.com