That Colombia is beautiful and has insanely beautiful nature we already knew. But did you also know that after Brazil, Colombia is the country with the biggest biodiversity in the world? And that most of the bird species as well as amphibians live here? That the smallest spider on earth is found only in Colombia? And that the tallest palm trees in the world are found in the Colombian coffee region? Yes, Colombia is truly special and has a natural beauty to die for. In this article you will read about what the country has to offer, tips for hiking in the most beautiful natural areas and tips for traveling sustainable. Colombia: a paradise on earth. Let’s go!
Magia Salvaje: a wonderful insight into Colombian nature
You can admire Colombian nature these days through the wonderful documentary Magia Salvaje. It was released in Colombian cinema in 2015 and can now be viewed on YouTube. Watch Magia Salvaje here Magia Salvaje You can also watch the trailer below, which takes you on a free trip through the natural beauty of Colombia, in 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
The natural wonder called Colombia
Colombia: the land of contrasts. From high snowy mountain peaks to white sandy beaches to red deserts. A coastline nearly 3,000 kilometers long and natural forests covering 56% of the country. A country as big as France, Spain and Portugal combined. About 10% of the world’s flora and fauna is found in Colombia. This is due to the country’s many different landscapes and ecosystems, along with its diverse climates, temperatures and altitude differences. Colombia has 59 national parks which together occupy more than 12% of the country’s area. The country has the highest degree of endemism in the world: animals, trees and plants found only here and nowhere else. Pretty unique if you ask me…
Biodiversity: the Colombian animal kingdom
About 55,000 animal species have been described in Colombia alone. For example, more than 3,500 different butterflies can be found here and more than 700 species of frogs. Also 456 species of mammals and over 3,000 species of freshwater fish live here. With 520 species of snakes, turtles, crocodiles, lizards and iguanas, Colombia is the third largest reptile country in the world. Also, nowhere do so many beetles live as in Colombia: as many as 7,000 species. Visit the Amazon and discover extraordinary animals.
Nature in Colombia: flora
No shortage of flora, either. For example, there are 270 species of palm trees in Colombia (with the most famous in Valle de Cocora), more than anywhere else in the world. Also, with 130,000 species, Colombia is a veritable plant and flower walhalla. The orchid is the national flower, of which 4,000 species grow here. Of these, 1543 are endemic. This makes Colombia the country with the most species of orchids in the world. And did you already know that Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers after the Netherlands? Around Bogotá and Medellín are about 300 flower farms situated, divided into 600 farms from where flowers are exported mainly to the United States and Europe.
The bird paradise: birds in Colombia
Some 500 different bird species live in the Netherlands. In Colombia, there are 1,900 of them, the largest number in the world and more than all the species of birds in Europe and North America combined. So a true paradise for bird lovers.
Perhaps the most famous is the hummingbird, of which there are about 150 species in Colombia. A tiny bird that can live up to 15 years old, the smallest of which weighs only 1.8 grams. The hummingbird uses its distinctive long beak to reach nectar deep inside the flower. They desperately need that energy to stay aloft with their very fast wing beats of about 60 beats per second.
Because of this speed, the hummingbird is the only bird that can also fly backwards. They can even fly straight up and down. This is why they are sometimes called the helicopter among birds. During a diving flight, the hummingbird can travel 385 times its own body length per second. Just for comparison, a jet fighter achieves “only” 150 times. So not for nothing my favorite bird! Click here for more information, beautiful photos and fun facts about the hummingbird.
Where can you enjoy nature in Colombia?
Cool all the biodiversity and documentary, but you surely want to admire this with your own eyes. As a traveler, you can totally indulge in Colombian nature. There is something for everyone. Here is a list of recommended ways to admire nature in Colombia.
Los Nevados National Park
Insanely beautiful, really. You have to acclimate to it, because here you really go up in altitude (almost 5000 meters), but it’s worth it. At the summit, you stand with both feet in the Colombian snow. Very special and highly recommended. Here you can read all about Los Nevados.
Valle de Cocora: the tallest palms in the world
In the same area as Los Nevados, namely the Colombian coffee region. Valle de Cocora is known for the tallest palm trees in the world, and yes that is amazing. You can make a beautiful hike to and hut on the mountain full of hummingbirds. Here you can read all about Valle de Cocora.
Páramo de Ocetá
Also called the most beautiful Páramo in the world, and for a reason. Páramo is a special natural phenomenon, but something many tourists skip in Colombia. And Ocetá is really impressive. You’ll find this piece of Colombian nature on the other side of the country, in Boyacá. Read all about Páramo de Ocetá here.
Chingaza National Park
Right next to Bogotá you will find one of Colombia’s most famous national parks. This huge stretch of nature is ideal for bird watching and for if you want to hike through Páramo. You will be surprised how impressive nature is around the corner from Bogotá. You can take many walks there. Read all about the hike to Lagunas de Siecha here.
The highest waterfall in Colombia: La Chorrera
Another gem close to Bogotá. A beautiful hike leads you past a small waterfall to emerge after a few hours at the highest waterfall in Colombia. Beautiful nature and perfect for a day trip from Bogotá. Read all about La Chorera here.
Recinto del Pensamiento
This natural park can be found near Manizales and is full of beautiful flowers, plants, trees and small animals. Fun to visit if you’re in the area. Here are some of my photos and here you can read all about visiting Recinto del Pensamiento.
Colombia’s most popular nature reserve: Tayrona. A place every traveler wants to go to. Although it is extremely touristy, you will find beautiful nature and many wild animals living here. The chances of seeing them are very low, but occasionally a tourist will come face to face with a caiman. Read more about Tayrona here.
Safari in Yopal
Did you know that you can also go on safari in Colombia? You have to go pretty off the beaten path for this, but it seems to be amazingly beautiful. I have not been here yet, but a safari in Yopal is very high on my list. I would then arrange this here.
Even more nature in Colombia
And you’ll find much more nature in Colombia. Think about National Park Puracé, the lake La Cocha, Sumapaz National Park, Río Claro and, of course, Cocuy National Park. Also around San Agustín nature is beautiful and the Tatacoa Desert is also worth a visit.
7 Tips for traveling sustainable
Colombia: a country I fell in love with. A country so beautiful, so green, so diverse. So many different landscapes, so many animals. A country I have come to love. Where I can enjoy the beautiful nature so intensely. Which is also unfortunately threatened. Jungle disappearing due to fires and trees being cut down. All that waste that is so polluting. Even though all of Colombia still only emits half of allCO2 compared to the Netherlands: there is a lot of danger to biodiversity. A danger not only to Colombia, but to the entire world. Therefore, it is necessary for all of us to live consciously to preserve our beautiful earth. Every little change already matters. After all, a better world starts with yourself.
- Always throw trash in the trash can or bring a bag to put it in on the go.
- Take a sustainable water bottle with you when you travel, then you won’t have to keep buying plastic bottles of water, you can just drink the water from the tap. I myself use the Water To Go drinking bottle and I like it very much.
- Colombia has an excellent bus network that allows you to get literally anywhere. So flying is not always necessary.
- Slow travel also helps: staying in one place longer.
- Treat animals responsibly. In many tourist spots, for example, the horses are not well cared for. Better not use it. Better stay away from animal-unfriendly attractions anyway, anywhere in the world.
- Eat vegetarian as much as possible. Yes I know, this is a tip that is not for everyone. However, since the meat industry is the most polluting industry in the world, it’s definitely worth considering. And yes you can also eat vegetarian food in Colombia just fine. Here vegetarian tips.
- Choose camping or eco-hotels. This eco-hotel in San Agustín for example.
Here are more tips for environmentally conscious travel. A good environmentally conscious travel company is Local Hero Travel.
With love and pride
I end with a beautiful powerful song, which I would very much like to share with you. Sang by several well-known Colombian singers, each in a different part of the country. In the lower left corner you can see who is singing, where it is, at what altitude and at what temperature. Sung with love and pride. One of Colombia’s most famous songs and one of my favorites. Enjoy a little more of a piece of paradise on earth: Colombia!
Traveling around Colombia? Look here for many more tips and itineraries!
* Update: This article first appeared on Sept. 27, 2015 and was updated on Sept. 29, 2020.
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