In Colombia you can visit all the popular stops on the Gringo Trail, and you should, but for those with a more adventurous spirit you also have the opportunity to visit truly wonderful and stunning places that most tourists miss during their travels in Colombia. In this article I recommend visiting seven special places that you will regret missing and you will also experience a more authentic Colombia. From the high mountains of El Cocuy to the colourful rivers in the Amazonas, to the hidden Caribbean cost and the cool mountains of the far south, Colombia has much more to offer than tourist nightlife of Medellin or the organised tours in Cartagena. 

For more inspiration for your trip to Colombia read about 15 spectacular day and weekend trips across the Bogotá Savannah.

1. Capurganá

Capurganà is a tropical seaside paradise located on the Caribbean in the north west of Colombia, close to Panama. The village is remote, on the doorstep of the Dorian gap, a  lush unspoiled jungle landscape. It is surrounded by tropical sandy beaches, is warm all year and is the perfect place to relax, hike and to get close to nature. You can spot monkeys, birds, iguanas and a multitude of species that inhabit Colombia’s jungle regions. Its the perfect place to escape from reality for a time, if you are adventurous enough to take the time to travel. The town could only be reached by boat and from here it was possible to walk across the border to Panama…more.

2. El Cocuy

One of the few opportunities in Colombia to hike amongst mountains with snow covered peaks. The huge National Park boasts of at least 15 peaks that top 5000 metres and an area of 306,000 hectares. The landscapes are truly beautiful containing unique fauna that is unseen outside of Colombia and some impressive hiking trails that are hard to beat. The park was closed from 2013 – 2017 while authorities negotiated with indigenous peoples in response to the damage and littering caused by tourists on the Güicán–El Cocuy Circuit Trek, which is a shame as the trek looked stunning. Not its possible to hike three sections of the park. A local guide is mandatory and there is a fair amount of administration, so make sure you arrive the day before you want to hike, but the effort is worth it for this truly amazing unique Colombian hiking experience….more.

3. Caño Cristales

Caño Cristales is known as the River of Five Colours due to the striking colours of the Macarenia clavigera plants on the riverbed. The best time to visit is from June to November where the river is coloured yellow, green, blue, black and red. Although it is a treat for the eyes at any time of year. Practically inaccessible by road but a short flight from Bogotá or Villavicencio its located a short boat ride outside of the small town of La Macerina, a tropical paradise set deep in the Amazonas. The town is up and coming and has the fell the a party is about to break out at an minute. Surrounded by nature you can hire bikes and visit exquisite natural pools to cool off or have lunch in one of the more remote hotels and jump into the swimming pools or take a boat trip to see monkeys, dolphins and alligators…more

4. Tatacoa Desert

The second largest arid region in Colombia is a tranquil haven where you can take a few days out to relax and soak up the picturesque landscape. Surrounded by the Andes the sunset is specular as the colours change and  lightning strikes high over the mountains. Wake to the sun rise after a night in a hammock and spend the day hiking, cycling, horse riding or relaxing in the pool cooling off from the heat of the day. Tatacoa’s wonder is it’s remoteness, in the desert you really have the sense of solitude walking amongst the wildlife and at night you can slip away from the lights of the hotel and see the stars light up the sky… more.


5. San Agustín

A UNESCO heritage site situated in the lush green Andes of western Colombia famous for its archaeological park which contains the largest collection of pre-Colombian sculptures in Latin America. Little is known about their origins but it is believed they were created between 5-400AD. The sculptures are scattered around the surrounding mountains and you can taking walking, riding or car tours of the monuments. The town is more than just a stop off for the park and has a wealth of restaurants, including Arabic, and some beautiful hotels where you can escape the world for a time and just relax in this beautiful corner of Colombia…more.

6. Popayán and Volcan Puracé

Famous for its white buildings, colonial architecture and exuberant Holy Week processions Popayan is a beautiful local town to enjoy a few days. Enjoy the art, culture, food, museums and many churches that that make up this beautifully charming town. The proximity to Volcan Puracé, a stratovolcano, topping 4600 metres is the prize of the Puracé National Park. The park offers a multitude of hikes where you can enjoy bird watching and some beautiful waterfalls if climbing to the top a 4600 metre volcano is not your thing…more

Chicamoca Canyon

Chicamoca Canyon is the second biggest canyon in the world standing at 227 kilometres long and 2000 meters deep. Its an extensively beautiful  natural wonder not often explored by foreign tourists. I was sad to realise that it was not logistically possible for me to visit on my last trip to Colombia but it will be at the top of my list, along with hiking Parque de Los Nevados, when I return. The canyon is a mecca for adventurer seekers and hikers alike. Its an excellent place to go paragliding, canoeing, ziplining or take a helicopter flight. but the hiking is why I want to visit. The highlight for me is a three day trek through the canyon from Cabrera to Los Santos. For more information visit the National Park Website.

For more inspiration for your trip to Colombia read about 15 spectacular day and weekend trips across the Bogotá Savannah.