Like the United Kingdom, Colombia doesn’t disappoint when it comes to boasting breathtaking landscapes where fond memories can be made via long, adventurous hikes. The country offers versatile geography with lush jungle trails, arid desert landscapes, spectacular mountain ranges, and pristine beaches.
These trails offer a perfect fusion of all the elements nature has generously gifted Colombia with. Consequently, the diverse topography provides a wide variety of terrains for enthusiastic hikers.
When considering the best hikes in Colombia, the country offers an impressive and globaly diverse range of hikes to immerse oneself in. Enclosed by the vast Amazon rainforest, the spine of the Andes, coastal curves of the Carribean, and the Pacific coastline, Colombia’s hiking trails are ready for exploration.
From easy walks through ancient indigenous paths to the testing ascents of high-peaked mountains, Colombia offers something for every type of trekker. However, with an array of trails offered, it can get overwhelming deciding where to begin. Therefore, by considering factors like scenery, difficulty level, trail length, and unique attractions offered by the trail, a list of the top ten best hikes in Colombia has been compiled.
So lace up your boots and get set to explore the awe-inspiring beauty of Colombia’s most scenic and culturally diverse hiking trails.
- Colombia presents an amazing wealth of hiking trails suitable for different abilities, from easy walks through ancient indigenous paths to challenging hikes up to the high peaks of the Andes.
- Top-rated trails to explore include the Ciudad Perdida Trek, Paramo de Oceta, Los Nevados Trek, El Cocuy National Park, Iguaque Sanctuary, La Candelaria Desert, Cocora Valley, Pico Cristobal Colon, and the Pacific and Caribbean Coast hikes.
- The difficulty and trail lengths vary widely, offering something suitable for everyone. Beginners or families can enjoy an easy hike through the Cocora Valley or along the Caribbean coast, while experienced hikers can seek the challenges of the Nevados Trek or Pico Cristobal Colon.
- These trails offer a range of experiences, from dense jungles and towering mountains to desert landscapes and coastal vistas.
- Preparation is key for hiking in Colombia due to the country’s varying topography and weather. Essential gear includes sturdy, waterproof hiking boots, layered clothing, and a reliable waterproof jacket.
- A map or guide is handy for more challenging hikes. Safety precautions should also be taken, and respect for the environment is paramount, adhering to the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles.
- Lastly, the best time to hike in Colombia is typically during the dry months of December to March and July to August, ensuring more suitable weather.
Ciudad Perdida Trek
A hike to the Lost City, or Ciudad Perdida, is a spectacle not to be missed. This 28-mile trail winds through the lush jungles of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Built around the 8th century AD by the Tayrona people, this ancient city offers a blend of history and nature, making it one of the country’s most spectacular hikes.
With sites like Buritaca-200 and Paraiso-Teyuna, the trail takes you on a memorable journey through dense forest, steep ascents, clear cascading rivers, making it an adventure of a lifetime. Though the five to six-day trek is demanding physically, the sight of the hidden city veiled by a curtain of mist is truly rewarding.
Paramo de Oceta
One of Colombia’s hidden gems, Paramo de Oceta is a stunning hiking route in Boyaca province. Widely considered one of the most beautiful highlands in the world, this trail covers Andean forests, moss-covered rocks, and labyrinthine sandstone formations.
A one-day hike is typically sufficient to traverse this trail, stretching only about nine miles. This hike is a must-do for nature lovers who want to witness Colombia’s plant kingdom’s extraordinary biodiversity.
Los Nevados Trek
One of the most challenging yet fulfilling hikes in Colombia is the Los Nevados trek, stretching across the central Andean region. Gazing at snow-capped peaks, walking through cloud forests, and dipping in natural hot springs make this a perfect recipe for an unforgettable five-day trek.
Covering around 31 miles, this route will test your mettle and acclimatization skills. However, the strenuous nature of this trek is rewarded with scenic landscapes that change dramatically from tropical valleys to páramo ecosystems and glacial peaks.
El Cocuy National Park
With more than 25 snow-capped peaks and numerous glacier lakes, El Cocuy National Park offers one of the best mountaineering experiences in South America. The park’s many trails venture through cloud forests, páramos, and up to snow-covered summits with the main trek taking you around the park’s giant peaks, Ritacuba Blanco and Ritacuba Negro, for a truly exhilarating experience.
The hike usually takes eight to ten days to complete, making it an ideal choice for seasoned mountaineers. However, due to global warming, the area’s glaciers are melting rapidly, making it an essential destination for hikers to visit before it changes forever.
A relatively easy one-day hike in the Boyaca province is Iguaque Sanctuary, an ideal choice for hikers who want to witness páramos without rigorous physical exertion. An enchanting eight-mile route takes you from a quaint Andean forest to the sacred Laguna de Iguaque, a place of spiritual significance for the Muisca people who believed it to be the birthplace of humanity.
Though the altitude can be a challenge, the trail’s short length allows enough time to take breaks and acclimatize. It’s also an excellent opportunity to spot rare Andean Condors soaring in the sky.
La Candelaria Desert
For a change of scenery from forests and mountains, the La Candelaria Desert presents a fascinating arid landscape blended with a slice of history. An easy six-mile hike takes you through this lunar-like desert, punctuated with 8,000-year-old rock paintings adding a cultural feature to the trail.
You can safely complete this trail in a day, making it favorable for those seeking a unique, relatively relaxed outdoor adventure amid ancient natural art galleries.
Located in Colombia’s coffee region, Cocora Valley presents an iconic image of the country with its towering wax palm trees. This accessible one-day hike takes you through blissful landscapes marked by hummingbird sanctuaries, cloud forests, and the world’s tallest palm trees. Stretching over 10 miles, this moderate hike is an excellent option for hikers interested in Colombia’s coffee culture and its distinctive natural beauty.
Pico Cristobal Colon
For those seeking extreme adventure, Pico Cristobal Colon, situated in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, is the ultimate challenge. As Colombia’s tallest peak, this strenuous hike takes you through dense jungles, indigenous tribes, and ultimately, a snowy peak. Hikers require a local guide, good physical fitness, and at least six days to undertake this off-the-beaten-path adventure.
Colombia’s Coast Hikes
Offering a unique hiking experience amid coastal landscapes, Colombia’s coast, both on the Caribbean side and the Pacific, is adorned with trails for all levels. Hikes like the Punta Gallinas trek in La Guajira showcase the country’s desert coastal regions, while Pacific coast hikes in Choco will lead you through humid jungles to pristine beaches where you might spot humpback whales breaching in the distance.
While trails vary in length and difficulty, hiking along Colombia’s coasts allows you to experience the country’s varied ecosystems and cultures.
Tips for Hiking in Colombia
Due to varying climates and topographies in Colombia, it’s essential to prepare properly before embarking on a hike. This includes considering the time of year, understanding the climate, having necessary gear, and knowing how to navigate the trails.
Safety precautions, including respect for local traditions and nature, can enhance your hiking experience and ensure that Colombia’s trails remain unspoiled for future generations. Before starting your hike, consider the trail’s length and difficulty, and always inform someone of your plans.
Remember to respect local fauna and flora and always adhere to the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles.
A Colombian hiking adventure awaits!
Despite being overlooked as a hiking destination in the past, Colombia has emerged from the shadows to boast an array of captivating hiking trails that charm nature lovers and adventurers alike. With diverse terrains, rich history, and vibrant local cultures, Colombia undoubtedly offers an unmatched hiking experience.
Whether it’s the historical intrigue of the Ciudad Perdida Trek, the natural splendor of the Paramo de Oceta, or the dramatic vistas of Los Nevados, preparation and suitable gear can greatly enhance your hiking experiences.
Lace up and lose yourself in the landscapes that Colombia offers, walk into a wonderland like no other. Embark on an unforgettable journey that will engrain images of the country’s stunning wilderness in your memory for a lifetime.
How difficult is each trail?
1. Cocora Valley – 3/10 : The path is clearly signposted and offers only minor challenges despite high altitudes.
2. La Candelaria Desert – 3/10 : This six-mile trek through arid landscapes is an easy undertaking for those who want to explore a completely different face of Colombia.
3. Iguaque Sanctuary – 4/10 : Despite high altitudes, this 8-mile trek through scenic Andean landscapes is relatively accessible and can be completed in a day.
1. Paramo de Oceta – 6/10 : Although the hike is steep, you’ll not cover a great distance and can complete it in one day.
2. Caribbean and Pacific Coasts – 6/10 : Hiking along coastal trails varies widely in difficulty but generally can be completed in a day.
3. Ciudad Perdida Trek – 7/10 : This demanding five to six-day hike through dense jungle requires good physical health to complete.
1. Los Nevados Trek – 8/10 : This high-altitude, five-day trek through various landscapes is challenging physically, but the spectacular views make the effort worthwhile.
2. El Cocuy National Park – 8/10 : The most challenging hikes in El Cocuy involve ascending snow-capped peaks and are ideal for seasoned mountaineers.
3. Pico Cristobal Colon – 9/10 : This extreme high-altitude and physically demanding hike should only be undertaken by experienced mountaineers with a local guide.
Everything you need for your next trip: