Whilst perhaps more famous for its dynamic cities – the Andean metropolis of Bogotá and the colonial facades of Cartagena being good examples – Colombia’s natural splendour is breath-taking.
Colombia is home to over fifty stunning national parks: ranging from deserts to the Amazon rainforest, and also including páramos (alpine plains), coral reefs, the Andes mountain range and indigenous protected lands. Colombia, just like many of its South American neighbours, is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, meaning there is a lot of fascinating endangered and endemic species that must be protected within the boundaries of the breath-taking parks. While many of the parks are difficult for travellers to access, the following five parks are among the best to be explored and we have included the best places to stay nearby to each of them. Step off the beaten path and explore wild Colombia!
Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park is easily one of the most iconic and popular places to visit on any trip to Colombia. While it can get busy during peak season, there really is no wonder why. It is such a beautiful and unique place to see. Inside the Tayrona National Park you can hike through a deep green jungle filled with monkeys, birds and insects, past giant round boulders, before arriving at the white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean with the snow-capped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as the backdrop. It is an amazing contrast and a wonderful experience.
The Ecohabs are the only place you can stay which is situated inside the national park. Dotted along the coastline of Tayrona National Park, these delightful little bungalows are nestled amongst the trees, offering stunning views of the Colombian coastline. Enjoy a peaceful and comfortable stay amidst nature at its finest—whether on the beach or in the mountains. These comfortable cabins have been integrated into the natural setting, built in a way that does not damage or disturb the natural surroundings. Each hut is constructed using mainly natural materials including palm rooves, stones and wood, and ethnic elements inspired by the ancient huts of the Tayrona tribes.
Chingaza National Park
Chingaza National Park is within an hour’s drive of Bogotá and spans over two Colombian departments, Cundinamarca and Meta. It lies within the Orinoco river basin, which provides over 80% of the drinkable water in Bogotá. Part of a rich páramo environment up in the mountains, Chingaza Park offers you the chance to see some rare but exceptionally beautiful animals such as the spectacled bear, the páramo tapir and the puma, as well as hundreds of birds including the Andean condor. The park also has a number of majestic lakes and over 2,000 plant species, many unique to the area.
The two Four Seasons properties in Bogotá are our favourite places to stay in the city. For those seeking a little old-world elegance, the Four Seasons Casa Medina is a luxury 5-star hotel in the Casa Medina area of the city. Housed in a traditional building of cultural interest with stone columns and an exposed brick façade, the hotel is located in a quiet and exclusive neighbourhood. The entrance opens on to a wide, sweeping staircase and the grand, stylish décor continues throughout the hotel. The 62 rooms include three types of suite and are all decorated with classical baroque touches evoking the grandeur of a bygone era.
Los Nevados National Park
This Andean national park is dominated by the 5,300-metre (17,400-foot) high Nevado del Ruiz glacier-covered volcano and is one of Colombia’s most visited national parks. To get there, you will head up through the Andean forest into the páramo, which is without doubt one of the most amazing ecosystems on Earth (and recently confirmed as its fastest evolving). The páramo, guarded by the other-worldly ‘frailejones’ (a distant relative of the daisy that grows just 1cm a year) is a mystical place. Target species for observation here include: the Andean condor, black-chested buzzard-eagle, grey-breasted mountain toucan and the rufous-fronted parakeet. At the right time of year, you also can watch the hummingbirds sip nectar from the flowers.
The best place to stay nearby the national park is Pereira in the heart of the Colombian Coffee Zone, in Hacienda Sazagua. A visit to the National Park can therfore easily be paired with a trip to the Coffee Zone of Colombia. Sazagua is a colourful hacienda offering colonial charm and contemporary style. The beautiful landscaped gardens of Hacienda Sazagua are home to a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and spa, perfect for relaxing and enjoying the tranquil surroundings.
Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Natural Park
The Corales del Rosario y San Bernardo National Park is one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the Caribbean. This group of 27 islands is surrounded by coral reefs and is the perfect place to go snorkelling and swimming from the pristine white sandy beaches. The national park was created to protect one of the most important coral reefs along the Caribbean Coast. This marine habitat incorporates one of the most diverse and rich marine ecosystems in Colombia. The park extends over 120,000 hectares, and is associated with marine pastures, mangroves and numerous species of algae and animals in the area, all of which feed the abundant coral and fish life that inhabit the reefs.
While many opt to stay in the city of Cartagena and visit the islands on a day tour, you can actually stay on an island for the ultimate experience. Hotel Las Islas is the perfect place to reconnect and refresh your spirit amidst the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of Colombia’s Isla Barú. Located just 45 minutes from Cartagena, Hotel Las Islas is a sophisticated, environmentally conscious retreat, with luxurious accommodations and exceptional amenities.
Are you thinking of visiting Colombia? Learn more about the country and its regions here. For itinerary inspiration, explore our nature-focused Wild Colombia trip. Contact us today to plan your bespoke holiday with one of our dedicated travel specialists.