Colombia is one of the
countries which is doing the most to preserve its natural resources. A
large part of the country possessing the greatest biodiversity, situated
in both hot, jungle regions, and in "páramos", nevados
and deserts, is prtotected by the State through the National Park
System. At present there are 34 National Parks, 8 Sanctuaries of Flora
and Fauna, 2 Natural Reserves and a Unique Natural Area in the System,
covering an area of over 34,000 sq. miles, equivalent to 9% of Colombia,
managed by the Special Administrative Unit of the National Parks System
of the Ministry of the Environment.*
These 45 natural reserves
are located throughout Colombia providing a broad choice for ecological
tourism: from the hot Guajira on the Caribbean to the thick jungles of
the Amazon, and from the Pacific islands to the jungles of Vichada and
Guainía on the border with Venezuela.*
The following are the most
important Parks in the System:
Tayrona National Park is situated on the Caribbean coast, north-east of
Santa Marta, in the state of Magdalena. Covering an area of 37,000 acres
of which 7,000 correspond to coastal waters, Tayrona Park has a dry
tropical climate with temperatures which vary between 59 an 84 F. The
majority of the park is covered by virgin tropical forest and inhabited
by over 100 species of mammals, 200 species of birds and 50 species of
The paujil, a kind of hen, is often represented in Tayrona gold
work and is indigenous to the area, as is the majestic condor which
nests in the high peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Monkeys, squirrels and a variety of snakes also inhabit the park, with
which the tourist must co-exist. Abrupt coastlines with cliffs alternate
with gentle, beautiful bays and inlets. Coral reefs are an important
part of the wonderful underwater world which awaits diving enthusiasts.
Katíos National Park*
Darién National Reserve in Panama and Los Katíos National Park in
Colombia join at the border; the latter covers an area of 227 sq. miles,
divided between the states of Chocó and Antioquia. The bi-national
objective in the area of the Darien Gap is to research, protect and
preserve the region from the environmental impact of building the
Panamerican Highway. The region was originally the settlement of the Cuna
Indians, who during the Conquest were displaced and forced to migrate
towards the regions of Panama and the Chocó by the Katío-Embera
Indians, from whom the reserve takes its name.
del Rosario Park*
The Corales del Rosario Park is 30
miles southwest of Cartagena Bay, an area of 48,000 acres with an
average temperature of 27-30 C. Visitors can stay on the islands and go
snorkeling or diving, sail and swim.
Nevada de Santa Marta*
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta
is an area of over 900,000 acres from the coast to coast to the
snow-capped peaks of the massif, with all kinds of climate and
temperature. This is the highest coastal mountain in the world, and is
inhabited by the kogi, arhuaco and arsario communities. Around the base
of the mountain there are traces of the vanished culture of the Tayronas.
Nevados National Park*
The entire coffee region spreads out over the Central Cordillera, the
highest of the three cordilleras which cross Colombia. Los Nevados
National Park, created in 1974, is situated in this mountainous massif
and crosses part of the states of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Tolima.
It covers an area of 220 sq. miles, with high points which range from
8,000 to 18,000 ft. above sea-level, and has a variety of climates which
include those corresponding to high Andean forest, páramo, and
Nevado del Huila is another Park on the Central Andes, with an area of
390,000 acres at altitudes between 8,000 and 17,000 ft. above sea level
and temperature of 3- 13 C.
Puracé Park is 200,000 acres lying between 8,000 and 16,000 ft., with
temperatures between 12 C and -2 C, another good place for trekking and
for climbing above the snowline.
The Iguaque Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna lies 126 miles from Bogotá and
5 miles from Villa de Leyva, at the heart of the state of Boyacá, near
the lake of Iguaque, a sacred ceremonial site of the Muiska culture
which inhabited the area. According to mythology, Bachué, the goddess
of fertility, emerged from this lake hand in hand with a three year-old
child. When he grew up they were married and the offspring of this union
populated the Earth.
Some time later the original couple submerged themselves in the lake in
the form of snakes.
For this reason to climb up to the lake of Iguaque is almost mystical,
and in its honor the park preserves the area, which possesses a rich
variety of plants, animals and minerals. Typical fauna includes four
kinds of deer, and large numbers of birds, oppossums, bats, rabbits,
ocelots, squirrels and armadillos. The flora consist of four broad
categories: low and thick vegetation, oak forests, cold-climate bushy
woodland and the vegetation of the páramo.
El Tuparro National
Park covers an area od 2,100 sq. miles, situated in the state of Vichada,
in the district of Puerto Carreño, on a broad savanna bathed by the
Orinoco River. Different types of forest line the water courses. The
savannas which cover the major part of the park can be divided into
floodable and "High Llano".
Situated in the southern
sector of the Colombian Amazon, between the Cotuhé River in the north
and the Amazon to the south, Amacayacu borders on the west with the
Cabimas and Pamaté streams and on the east with the Amacayacu River,
which gives its name. The park covers an area of 11,350 sq. miles and
has a mean temperature of 81 F. The place is rich in animal and
vegetable species: to date nearly 500 species of birds have been
recorded, among which there are 11 classes of heron; 150 mammals and two
of the four aquatic species of mammals: the Amazon manatí and
the bufeo, a freshwater dolphin. There is also a large variety of
fish which provide a plentiful food supply for the inhabitants.
In the Region of the Orinoquía. La Macarena National Park is of notable
scientific value since it is the oldest of the cordilleras in the
country, and is home to different species of flora and fauna which later
dispersed throughout American territory. The great biodiversity of this
range of hills is due to its proximity to the Andes, which has permitted
many Andean species to emigrate to La Macarena.
Annual mean temperature of the range is 77 F in the lowland areas and 54
F in the highest parts. The rainy season is between April and November
and the dry season between December and March.
Located in the state of Chocó, the
park covers an area of 210 sq. miles with topographical features such as
the Utría Fiord and the Baudó Hills. The temperature at sea-level is
82 F and it is humid, due to the mists off the hills and the fact that
the area has one of the highest rainfalls in the world.
The park consists of areas of rain forest, inlets, estuaries, mangrove
swamps, coral reefs and 43,000 acres of Pacific coastline. Marine fauna
is very diverse, including 105 species of crustaceans and several
species of whales which visit the coral reefs, among them the famous
hump-baked whales. In addition there are two Indian reserves in the
"Colombia" , published by Corporación Nacional de Turismo
Colombia. Information provided by Permanent Mission of Colombia to the
Source: "Colombia, Turist Guide" , published by Fondo
de Promoción Turística de Colombia. Ministerio de Desarrollo
Económico, Viceministerio de Turismo. Information provided by Permanent
Mission of Colombia to the OAS.