The Tropical Pacific Coast of Colombia
Seen from the air, the Colombian Pacific is an intricate labyrinth of rivers, mangroves, gigantic deltas such as the Patia and San Juan Rivers. At the same time it is a fascinating and fragile ecosystem.
The Colombian Pacific is region with exceptional conditions and characteristics. It is located in “sandwich” between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountain Range. An interesting combination of factors such as the marine currents, the tropical sun regime and the high levels of evaporation in the Ocean, results in converting this region in one of the places where it rains the most in the planet.
At the same time and for the same reason, The Colombian Pacific is the second region with more biodiversity in the world per square kilometer. It is an explosion of live, the exuberance of the tropic at its highest expression, with about 45 thousand species of plants and hundreds of indigenous animals. It is also one of the richest places in terms of species of birds.
Parque Nacional Ensenada de Utria (Utria Cove National Park)
The secret kingdom of the mangrove forest.
The richness of mangroves and the abundance of the Pacific Ocean’s marine wildlife converge in a fascinating way in the Utría National Natural Park, located in the department of Chocó, in the Nuqui and Bahia Solano municipalities. South of the Utría Cove, foothills covered with thick tropical jungle, semi-hidden in the mist, break into the sea while the landscape of the inlet itself changes as the tide rises and falls.
The Utría Park is a privileged area for nature tourism due to its countless natural attractions, the beauty of its landscapes, the excellent condition of its ecosystems and its great cultural wealth, all part of the unique heritage of the Pacific Region of northern Colombia. Many activities such as trekking, observation of whales and other fauna, canoeing snorkeling, and diving are among the multitude of activities that visitors engage in.
Parque Nacional Bahia Malaga (Malaga Bay National Park)
The Bahia Málaga Uramba National Park was added in 2012 to Colombia’s National Park list as number 56. It is one of the richest in flora diversity per square hectare in the world and home to 360 species of birds and 148 varieties of fish.
The 47,600 hectares of tropical rainforest include empty beaches, sweet-water waterfalls and estuaries crowned by rocky islands, such as Isla Palma. This delicate ecosystem is also a reserve for tree sloths and the very endangered Icotea turtle. Kayaking and hiking tours in Isla Palma and other small islands and beaches along the Malaga Bay (such as Playa Dorada or Tasqueros) is possible, and many such as San Juan De Dios offer camping facilities.
Natural wells spur from the earth, making this region one of the richest fresh water enclaves in the world. With 225 days of rain every year accounting for 15 meters of water, don’t mind the weather as it is part of the Pacific experience.
High tide swims.
The Sierpes waterfalls are a must see when the tide is high as hot and cold currents converge in the bright mangrove, and you can swim between salt and freshwater pools. When the tide retreats, the beaches of the Pacifico are home to many crabs and mollusks, which survive on that delicate balance between an ecosystem and sustainable tourism.
Bahía Málaga is an off the beaten track paradise for the experienced traveler. Just two and half hours from Cali, the capital of Valle de Cauca, by bus and a 45 minute boat ride from Buenventura, this region offers a unique opportunity to experience nature from a close and intimate setting. The sparkling ocean and the magnificence of giant mammals at play is just one of the many reasons you’ll fall in love with Colombia’s Pacífico.
Gorgona Island National Park
Gorgona is a small 25 km² island that is home to a natural paradise and a mecca for eco-tourism and fauna and flora research due to its coral reef and tropical rainforest ecosystems. For this reason, it is known as the “Science Island”. Gorgona is surrounded by Gorgonilla Island and three islets, among which El Viudo and Rocas del Horno stand out.
Prior to this, from 1959 to 1982, it was a maximum security prison for the country’s most dangerous criminals. The island was discovered in 1524 by Diego de Almagro, who, due to the large number of reptiles and inspired by the Gorgons from Greek mythology – woman-demons with the hair of snakes – gave the island its name.
The natural wealth of the island is made up of 147 bird species, over 100 insect species, more than 500 species of marine fauna, and hundreds of species of marine and terrestrial flora. The surrounding sea offers tourists a great opportunity to observe dolphins, porpoises, cachalots, sharks, sea wolves, and even the yubarta whales that visit the Colombian Pacific from October to November to give birth to their young.
The island’s enormous coral reef provides tourist divers with a multi-colored spectacle. Among terrestrial animals, there are the following: sloths, blue lizards, fresh water turtles, snakes, babilla alligators, and the endemic fresh water crabs. Additionally, divers will enjoy a spectacle of colors in the most developed and diverse coral bank in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, which is also the largest in the country’s Pacific region.
Gorgona’s rugged topography includes several hills, the tallest of which is La Trinidad, at 388 meters. The eastern side of Gorgona is full of perfect white-sanded beaches, perfect for admiring beautiful sunrises, while the western side is characterized by cliffs that are lashed by the sea.