National parks in Colombia

National Parks in Colombia

The 43 national parks of Colombia are a part of the National System of Protected Areas and the System of National Natural Parks. Of course, most of these areas are under the jurisdiction of the Colombian Ministry of Environment. However, some parks are under the authority of the indigenous communities that inhabit them. 

The System of National Natural Parks covers 12.8% of the total Colombian territory. Also, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities inhabit 26 areas that are part of the national park system. Furthermore, 4 of the parks are on UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve list and 2 were declared World Heritage Sites. 

List of national parks in Colombia 

The text below contains a list of all the national parks in Colombia in alphabetical order, with a short description of each park. At the end of the list, you will find a map for easier navigation. 

Alto Fragua Indi Wasi National Natural Park

The park situated on the slopes of the Cordillera Oriental protects several ecosystems. Particularly, it protects the Andean, Sub-Andean and basal forests. The temperatures range from temperate to cold. Hence, the paramo can be found at higher altitudes. Furthermore, the aim of the park is also to protect the territory and culture of the indigenous Ingano people. Alto Fragua is also a significant area for water supply. In fact, several rivers that provide water for the nearby cities, towns and municipalities originate in the forests of the Alto Fragua National Park. The park is closed to the public. 

Amacayacu National Natural Park

Centred around the flooded forests of the Amazon, the Amacayacu National Park is an extremely biodiverse place. Nearly a third of the bird species in Colombia reside in these forests, and it is an important sanctuary for several species of primates. Park authorities recommend that visitors are vaccinated against yellow fever and tetanus. Once in the park, it is possible to participate in various workshops, and attend cultural displays of the indigenous peoples’ communities who have been on this land for generations. Also, jungle exploration and various aquatic activities will impress adventure seekers. 

national parks in Colombia: Port of Amazon

Port of Amazon

Bahia Portete-Kaurrele National Natural Park

The youngest national park in Colombia was declared in 2014. The park is full of beautiful landscapes and intact nature. Wide sandy beaches, turquoise glimmering sea, seagrass beds and mangroves together create beautiful and unique scenery. Furthermore, underwater life is filled with colorful fish and many other animals. Namely, the coral formations stand out as the most delicate, yet they are important for numerous species. However, the park is closed to the public for conservation purposes

Cahuinari National Natural Park

In the tropical humid forest of the Amazon lies Cahuinari National Park. It is highly biodiverse with around 1100 species of flora and fauna identified within its borders. Cahuinari National Park also includes an important cultural aspect. In fact, six indigenous peoples’ communities currency inhabits the area and preserve their traditions. Furthermore, two significant rivers flow through the park: Cahinari and Bernardo. Additionally, petroglyphs found in the park expand the knowledge of the park’s history.

Catatumbo Bari National Natural Park  

Catatumbo Bari National Park protects the tropical rainforests and Sub-Andean rainforests. The ancestral territory of the Bari indigenous peoples is closed to the public, but it is still inhabited by several indigenous communities. Furthermore, the park is a habitat for various species of flora and fauna. Namely, the colourful orchids and other flowers are a staple of Catatumbo Bari

Chingaza National Natural Park 

In the Andes of central Colombia and a short drive from Bogota lies Chingaza National Park. Its forests, moors and lakes compose a breathtaking landscape in an area of varying climates. Moreover, the park is a popular hiking and trekking destination, albeit a challenging one at times. Because the weather can change rapidly, as does climate at higher altitudes, it is always a good idea to take a guide if you are unfamiliar with the area. The trails and landscapes of Lagunas de Siecha and Lagunas de Buitrago are some of the main attractions in Chingaza. Also, the park has a restaurant and a camping area.  

Complejo Volcanico Dona Juana-Cascabel National Natural Park 

This national park owes its name to its two main sites: the Dona Juana volcano and the Cascabel river. However, Dona Juana is not the only volcano in the area. Animals and Petacas are also volcanoes, and the three together form the system that became biodiverse in both ecosystems and wildlife. In fact, the lower altitudes of the mountain slopes are a place where Andean forests thrive, while the higher altitudes are decorated with paramo. Also, the peculiarity of this park is in its geographical position. Because it is in the Andean-Amazonian belt, the two opposite sides of the park have the least and the most rainfall annually. 

Corales de Profundidad National Natural Park

The stunning coral reef lies in the warm waters of the Colombian Caribbean, and it is the heart of this maritime national park. The primary goal of the park is to protect the fragile coral reef and its ecosystem. Furthermore, corals are not the only animals that need protection. The reef also serves as a habitat for many different types of colourful fish. The park welcomes visitors. However, since this is a maritime park there are no tourist services available. 

Corales del Rosario y de San Bernardo National Natural Park 

Centred around the most diverse coral reef in the Colombian waters of the Caribbean, Corales del Rosario National Park is a piece of paradise on Earth. It also protects four islands covered by mangrove trees and soft, white sandy beaches. As such, the park is popular as a quiet destination where many come to relax. Of course, the underwater is in this park is a bit more interesting than the land. Visitors can see the abundance of colourful fish, algae and other maritime species in the areas of Grande and Tintipan islands, where snorkelling and scuba diving are allowed. In addition, the park has a campsite, accommodation options and restaurants. 

Cordillera de Los Picachos National Natural Park 

Cordillera de Los Picachos is nestled in the very centre of the region with an abundance of protected areas. In particular, this national park is surrounded by Tinigua National Park, Amazon Forest Reserve Zone, Siberia-Ceibas Regional Natural Park and Anari Guayabero DMI. Furthermore, the Caguan River flows through the park and is a significant source of water and habitat for many species. However, the park is closed to the public. 

Cueva de los Guacharos National Natural Park 

The oldest national park in Colombia protects the area in which guacharos, birds that come out at night, live. It is also a part of the Cinturon Andino Biosphere Reserve. Interestingly, the caves in which the guacharos live are surrounded by beautiful forests and rivers. The four hiking trails of medium to high difficulty pass by several stunning waterfalls, and through fantastic landscapes. Furthermore, the caves – albeit dark – have beautiful cave decorations. Visitors can also camp in the camping area or enjoy the food offered by the restaurants. 

El Cocuy National Natural Park 

Sierra Nevada de Guican, El Cocuy and Chita make up the largest glacial mass in Colombia. Its 25 peaks are attractive to many hiking enthusiasts, but one must be careful. The park authorities recommend arriving at least a day before visiting the park – the three trails are at high altitudes and require acclimatization – and hiring a guide. However, some areas of the park are off-limits. Namely, the U’wa indigenous peoples reserve. Furthermore, Services include an accommodation cabin where visitors can spend the night and enjoy food and a camping area

El Tuparro National Natural Park 

The heart of El Tuparro Biosphere Reserve is a remote, rarely visited, untouched land. Its rivers are the habitats of a pink dolphin, a species found in the Amazon basin. Furthermore, the park has several sandy beaches, but also some stunning torrents. Hence, visitors can choose between relaxing on the soft sand or experiencing the adrenaline rush of the river’s course. However, one particular location stands out – the Maipures Torrent. Alexander von Humboldt described it as the wonder of the world, and visitors can reach it by hiking on the Cucurito trail. The park has no restaurants or accommodation, and only single-day visits are possible. 

Farallones de Cali National Natural Park 

The national park in the Cordillera Occidental also serves as a natural barrier between the Colombian Pacific and the Caura River basin. Interestingly, there are 30 rivers in the park and many endemic and endangered species. Thus, its natural riches are the main subjects of protection. Furthermore, there are three hiking trails in the park. Two of them are of medium to high difficulty, and one is of low difficulty. However, visitors are recommended to be careful because high altitudes can seriously affect one’s body. Additionally, one of the beloved attractions lies in the Anchicaya Canyon. There, visitors can enjoy spa-like natural pools. 

Gorgona National Natural Park 

The national park is composed of two islands in the Pacific, Gorgona and Gorgonilla. Although spending the night in the park is currently impossible, and it can be accessed only by boat, there are many things worth the trip. For instance, the ocean is filled with colourful marine life. In fact, the park has 11 snorkelling points in Yundigua and the old pier. Additionally, scuba diving is possible at 17 locations with a second-level certificate. Furthermore, the land also has many things worth discovering. Namely the 13th century, pre-Columbian remains and a museum that was a prison until the mid-eighties.  

La Paya National Natural Park 

The park is centred around La Paya lagoon and the surrounding wetlands. The landscape of the lagoon is breathtaking, especially during the sunsets when the colourful sky is reflected in the water. Furthermore, the park is home to four indigenous peoples communities: the Murui, the Kichawa, the Siona and the Coreguaje people. However, the park is closed to the public. Specifically, it is closed for tourists but volunteers are welcome to the park. 

Las Hermosas Gloria Valencia de Castano National Natural Park 

Las Hermosas Gloria National Park lies in the Andes. It protects the sub-Andean, high Andean and paramo ecosystems. Furthermore, at higher altitudes – from 1800 metres and up – begins the cloud forest area. The mist forms around the lush green trees and adds a mystical, magical feeling to the already beautiful landscapes. However, the park is not open to the public for conservation reasons. 

Las Orquideas National Natural Park 

Las Orquideas National Park lies in the Colombian Pacific region and it is among the areas with the highest annual rainfall. Hence, it serves as an important source of water for the nearby municipalities and areas. Particularly, Los Orquideas has several ecosystems and five large rivers. Although those rivers are a significant factor in the water supply, they are also a habitat for many species. The clear waters are surrounded by green forests – humid, Andean or paramo – abundant with wildlife. However, the park is closed to the public for conservation purposes. 

Los Katios National Natural Park 

The 72 000 hectares-large park near the Panama border is significant for many reasons. Firstly, many locations within its borders are sacred land to the indigenous and Afro-Latino communities that live on its territory. Secondly, it is extremely biodiverse. In fact, 30% of total bird species recorded in Colombia made their habitat in Los Katios National Park. In the mid-eighties, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. However, the park is nowadays endangered because of massive deforestation and is closed for the public. 

Los Nevados National Natural Park 

Although Los Nevados is a tough nut to crack, and a park one shouldn’t visit unprepared, it also guarantees some of the most beautiful experiences in a lifetime. Centred around a complex of two volcanoes and two craters, the snow-capped mountain slopes, glaciers and trails represent a challenge in many ways. Because the altitudes can get really high, visitors must keep track of how they feel to avoid potentially life-threatening situations. Furthermore, the park has three sectors and entrances. However, some of them may be occasionally closed due to volcanic activity

national parks in Colombia: Los Nevados National Park

Los Nevados National Park

Macuira National Natural Park 

In a desert of the Macuria mountain range, overlapping in its entirety with the reserve of the Wayuu people, is Macuira National Park. The landscape of the park varies significantly – from the hot desert sand and enchanting dunes to the freshwater running through the oasis. Furthermore, visitors of the park are recommended to hire a guide from the native community so they wouldn’t get lost. The Aleewolu’u dunes are undoubtedly the main attraction in the park. Although the road to get there is long, it is well worth it. Although there aren’t any restaurants in the very area of the park, you can find them in the nearby Nazareth and Siapana

Munchique National Natural Park

Munchique National Park protects many endemic species. Also, it is an important nesting location for birds, and also their habitat. They nest and live in the Andean and Sub-Andean forests that cover the mountain slopes and surround an abundance of waterfalls. Furthermore, the prominent site in the park is Cerro Santano which stands tall among the trees and other peaks of the Andes that surround it. However, the park is currently closed for the public. 

Nevado del Huila National Natural Park 

Nevado de Huila National Park protects the area of Nevado de Huila volcano and the second largest glacier in Colombia. The glacier is also the largest one in the central Andes, and an important source of water for Upper Cauca and Upper Magdalena river basins. Furthermore, UNESCO declared Nevado del Huila as a Biosphere Reserve. The snow-capped volcano peaks and the surrounding paramo and forests are closed to the public. Particularly, because Nevado del Huila is one of the most active volcanoes in Colombia with frequent eruptions.  

national parks in Colombia: Nevado del Quinido

Nevado del Quinido

Old Providence McBean Lagoon National Natural Park 

Located in the northern part of Providencia Island, Old Providence National Park protects the coral reef of the island’s surrounding waters. Also, it protects the McBean mangrove swamp on Iron Wood Hill. The swamp, furthermore, lies right in front of the lagoon that the coral reef forms. Interestingly, the sea in front of the island shimmers in various shades of blue. Hence, it bears the name of ‘The sea of seven colours’. Visitors of the park can enjoy both the trails on Iron Wood Hill and the colourful underwater file. However, snorkelling and scuba diving are only allowed in designated areas.

Paramillo National Natural Park 

The national park protects rainforests, flood plains, and Andean and sub-Andean forests. Also, there are some other habitats, such as wetlands and paramos, that create the scenery or Paramillo National Park. Furthermore, many rivers significant for the Cordoba department spring in this park, continuing their journey towards the Caribbean. Hence, there are many streams and cascades of crystal clear, blue water. However, the park doesn’t have a developed tourist infrastructure. So, there are no campsites, accommodation cabins or restaurants in Paramillo National Park. 

Pisba National Natural Park 

Pisba National Park lies in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes, on the altitudes between 2000 and 3800 metres. This park, closed to the public, is a significant water sanctuary and habitat for many species. In fact, there are 11 rivers that flow through the park and serve as water supplies and regulators for the surrounding municipalities. Furthermore, the lagoon of glacial origin is very important for migratory birds. Also, the ecosystems of cloud forests and paramos are home to some endemic species of flora and fauna. 

Purace National Natural Park 

The volcanic zone of stunning natural beauty and sulphur springs is one of UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves. The area numbers 11 volcanoes in total, with only a single active one. Because the soil surrounding volcanoes is extremely fertile, the surface of the national park is covered by various floral species. However, the beauties of the park also lie in its waters, not just its volcanoes. The sulphur hot springs are easy to access and a great site. Furthermore, the rivers that spring here are crystal clear and turquoise. On their journey, they also form beautiful waterfalls. Visitors who wish to spend the night in the park can camp or stay in one of the cabins. 

Purace National Park

Purace National Park

Rio Pure National Natural Park 

The climate in Rio Pure National park is warm and humid. The park is centred around several rivers. Namely, around the Pure River basin and Coqueta and Putumayo rivers. Furthermore, four different formations form the overall landscape of the park. Particularly, the La Pedrera formation surrounding the headwaters of La Pedrera River and the Pebus formation with its colourful and flat mudstones. Also, the other two formations are the Amazonas between Putumayo and Puro, and the terrace-alluvial plains formations scattered on the riverbanks. The park is closed to the public. 

Sanquianga National Natural Park 

The large mangrove system of the Sanquianga National Park makes up 20% of the total mangrove population in the Colombian Pacific. Furthermore, the mangroves surround the estuary-delta complex that serves as an important nesting and reproduction location for many species. The territory of the park is populated by Afro-Latino communities, and the park also works on the conservation of their traditions. However, the park is currently closed for the public. 

Selva de Florencia National Natural Park 

This relatively small national park protects the tropical rainforest surrounding the La Mien and Samana Sur rivers. It is divided into three different sectors: Florencia, Samara and Pensilvania. Furthermore, it is one of the rainiest areas in the entirety of Colombia. Also, the park was established in 2005 and has since been closed to the public for conservation purposes. 

Serrania de Chiribiquete National Natural Park

The largest protected area in Colombia is known under two names. The first is the simple ‘Chiribiquete National Park’. The second, ‘The Maloca of Jaguar’, comes from the important archaeological discoveries in the park. The 75 000 rock pictograms are thousands of years old and include many depictions of a jaguar, possibly a sacred animal. Also, it is a rainforest park that serves as a corridor between three different regions. Because of the archaeological remains and biodiversity, UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site. The area is only open to scientists, recreational and tourist visits are prohibited. 

Serrania de los Churumbeles National Natural Park 

The full name of this national park is Serrania de los Churumbeles Auka Wasi National Natural Park. It lies in the south of Colombia, between the Eastern Cordillera and the Amazon basin. It is very biodiverse and is a habitat of several endangered species. Furthermore, birds and amphibians stand out as some of the most numerous animals. The park overlaps with the Villa Maria de Anamu Reserve of the Yanacona people. Also, the jungle of Serrania de los Churumbeles is home to the uncontacted Andaki people. The park is closed to the public

Serrania de Los Yariguies National Natural Park 

The national park in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes stretches between altitudes of 700 and 3400 metres. The park is completely uninhabited by humans. However, it has several types of forest ecosystems. Thus, it has very varying landscapes and is very biodiverse. Furthermore, it serves as an important water source for the surrounding municipalities. The basins of Suarez, Sogamoso and Opon all lay in the park. Sierra de Los Yariguies is closed to the public

Sierra de la Macarena National Natural Park 

The river of many colours seen in Disney’s Encanto is not a product of someone’s imagination. In fact, it was inspired by Cano Cristales or ‘River of Five Colours’ in Sierra de la Macarena National park. While the dreamlike river is undoubtedly the main attraction of the park, Sierra de la Macarena hides many other gems. Particularly, the archaeological remains – petroglyphs and pictograms – and beautiful waterfalls and cascades of the Guayabero river. Visitors can explore the park on ten trails that lead to different parts of the park. 

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park 

Separated from the Andes and rising above the Caribbean waves, the Sierra Nevada Santa Maria National Park is a jigsaw puzzle of various sceneries. Sandy beaches, thick forests, archaeological remains and snow-capped mountain peaks all exist within the park. Hence, visitors can pursue many different activities. Undoubtedly the most popular location is the trail to the Lost City of Teyuna, also known as Ciudad Perdida. The days-long journey to the ruins older than Machu Picchu is somewhat challenging but worth the breathtaking ruins. Of course, there are several accommodation options on the trail. 

Sumapaz National Natural Park 

The Sumapaz National Park encompasses 43% of the Cruz-Verde Sumapaz moorland, the largest moorland complex in the world. It is situated in the tropical part of the Andes, and it also protects the paramo and Andean forests that surround the moorland. Thus, Sumapaz is significant for the preservation of many endemic and endangered species of the area. Because the environment is so fragile, the park is not open to the public

Tatama National Natural Park 

The intact, beautiful Tatama moorland is the very heart of Tatama national park. It is one of the most intact moorlands in Colombia, as the traces of human hand are not visible in any way. Furthermore, the park is formed around San Juan and Cauca rivers, which are both crystal clear. Thus, Tatama is a perfect location for nature enthusiasts who wish to explore the world’s beauties in their original, intact form. However, there is barely any tourist infrastructure beside the visitor centre at the park entrance. So, there are no restaurants or similar facilities. 

Tayrona National Natural Park 

Whether you seek to explore ancient ruins, experience beautiful nature or just relax and spend a day at the beach, you will enjoy Tayrona National Park. The park at the foot of Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria prides itself in its crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and its clean, soft beaches. Furthermore, it is a beloved hiking location with several trails leading to different areas of the mountain. As for the services, the park has several restaurants with WiFi, camping areas, a diving centre and hammock rentals. The park authorities recommend the yellow fever vaccination before visiting. 

national parks in Colombia: Tayrona National park

Tayrona National Park

Tinigua National Natural Park 

Tinigua National Park represents the corridor from the eastern Anes towards the basal part of the Amazon. It is an inhabited area and has been inhabited since pre-colonial times. Furthermore, Tinigua conserves four rivers that serve as major sources of water. Particularly, it protects the Guayabero, the Gaudas, the Perdido and the Duba rivers. Also, the rivers Losada and Lagartija o La Reserva flow through the park. However, Tinigua National Park is not open to the public. 

Uramba Bahia Malaga National Natural Park 

An island in the Colombian Pacific and Malaga Bay make the heart of this national park. Accessed only by boat from Buenaventura, the island and the bay are a remote natural gem well worth visiting. While the shore is decorated with soft, white sand beaches brushed by the ocean waves, the inland of the island is covered with rainforest vegetation. Furthermore, the island has several streams and many beautiful waterfalls and cascades. In fact, some of the freshwaters falls off the tall cliffs into the ocean. Thus, it creates beautiful and unique waterfalls on the edge of the island. However, there are no restaurants or accommodation options on the island. 

Utria National Natural Park 

Ultria is a gem on the Pacific coast, a place where beautiful rainforests meet the soft sandy beaches and blue ocean waves. It is a place filled with the history and culture of the indigenous communities, as well as stunning wildlife. Moreover, visitors can take a walk through the park and along its beaches, or hike deeper into the forest. Also, scuba diving and snorkelling are possible – and a great way to see coral reefs, various fish and sea turtles. Additionally, visitors can spend the night in one of the cabins and enjoy local food at the restaurant. 

Yagioje Apaporis National Natural Park 

The nature of Yagioje Apaporis National Park was protected at the request of the indigenous authorities from the community that lives there. Interestingly, the indigenous peoples of the area recognize many sites in the park as sacred, which adds to its cultural importance and not just natural. Furthermore, the most recognized location of the park is the complex of waterfalls. There, the water falls over several rock formations that look like steps, creating a breathtaking view. 

Colombia National Parks by size

National parks in Colombia vary in size. While some are quite small and ideal for single-day visits, many are vast and have many sites worth exploring. While the largest protected area in Colombia is in fact Puinawai National Natural Reserve, the largest national park is Serrania de Chiribiquete National Natural Park

The list below contains the 10 largest national parks in Colombia

  1. Serrania de Chiribiquete National Natural Park
  2. Yagioje Apaporis National Natural Park
  3. Rio Pure National Natural Park
  4. Sierra de la Macarena National Natural Park
  5. Cahuinari National Natural Park
  6. El Tuparro National Natural Park
  7. Paramillo National Natural Park
  8. Cordillera de Los Picachos National Natural Park
  9. La Paya National Natural Park
  10.  Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park

Entrance to National Parks in Colombia 

Most of the national parks in Colombia are closed to the public. There are many reasons for that – some are closed temporarily as precautionary measures during the pandemic. However, most of them are closed because the nature and wildlife in these areas are fragile or endangered. Thus, tourist presence – and overall human presence outside the communities that already live there – could potentially harm the ecosystems. 

However, 16 national parks welcome visitors. Some have a limited number of visitors, once again for conservation purposes. However, others can welcome an unlimited number of people. Also, many of the parks require or recommend visitors to take yellow fever and tetanus shots at least 10 days before visiting

Furthermore, most of the parks open for visitors have entrance fees. While children under the age of 6 can enter the parks free of charge, adults must pay entrance fees. However, the entrance fees differ from park to park. Furthermore, the prices range from 29 000 pesos for foreigners and 12 000 pesos for national residents to 59 000 Colombian pesos for foreigners and 29.500 pesos for national residents

Additionally, children over the age of 6 and young adults under the age of 25 can enter at a discounted price. In those cases, the prices range from 6 000 pesos to 18 000 pesos

Map of Colombia National Parks

National parks in Colombia FAQs

How many national parks are in Colombia?

There are 43 national parks in Colombia.

What is the largest national park in Colombia?

The largest national park in Colombia is Serrania de Chiribiquete National Natural Park.

What is the oldest national park in Colombia?

The oldest national park in Colombia is Cueva de los Guacharos National Natural Park.

What is the newest national park in Colombia?

The newest national park in Colombia is Bahia Portete-Kaurrele National Natural Park.

Are national parks in Colombia open?

While Colombia has many national parks, around half of them are open to the public. Others are closed for conservation purposes. Those parks closed their door at the beginning of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since reopened

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