Thinking of trekking Colombia? Well if you aren’t, then you really should be! Hiking in Colombia is pretty awesome, and the best part is it’s as diverse as the country itself. From the gentle Valle de Cocora hike to hiking in the jungle on the Lost City tour. Colombia really does have a hike for everyone to enjoy.
As I’m still working my way through the best hikes Colombia, I asked a few fellow adventurous bloggers to share with me their best hikes in Colombia.
Ready to trek Colombia? Here’s what they chose!
Lost City Tour Colombia
Looking for adventure in Colombia? Then this is the best hike in Colombia for you. It’s not a Colombia jungle tour for the faint-hearted as it is a 4-day hike minimum (you can spread it out over 7 days if you like). After day 1 of the hike, you are off-road and deep in the jungle. The only way out is on a mule or on foot, so there really is no turning back. The Lost City tour is otherwise known as the Ciudad Perdida Tour and it’s Colombia’s version of the Inca trail.
In my opinion, this is the harder trek just because there is no real trail. You are literally just walking through the jungle! You will climb to a decent elevation, but that’s not what will get you on this trek, it’s the heat and the jungle itself! That said this is quite possibly one of the most rewarding hikes I’ve done, it’s right up there with hiking Acatenango. Throughout most of the hike I had the Indiana Joans theme tune on loop in my head, and at times I whooped in joy as I was clambering over boulders, running across swing bridges, and wading across rivers. I don’t think I’ve had that much fun as an adult EVER.
The Lost City Colombia trek is for all of the travelers out there looking for some Colombia trekking that will push them mentally and physically while feeling like a superhero. I wrote a full detailed write-up on the Lost City that you can read here. It has everything from what to expect to what you need to pack!
Claire – Claire’s Itchy Feet
Need to book transportation in Colombia?
I highly recommend booking all of your Colombia transportation with GottoGo. You can search for buses, shuttles, ferries, and Flights on their website. What I love most about them is their customer service. I know these guys personally from my time living in Guatemala and they really do look after their customers. So if anything happens and you get delayed and miss your bus, you can just call them and they are always there to help.
If you book through them you will pay a little more than if you book in person at the bus station. But it’s worth it for the ease and security in my opinion. Click here to search for transportation in Colombia.
Hike and Spend the Night in Tayrona National Park
Along the jungle-laden shores of Colombia’s Caribbean coast lies the jaw-dropping Tayrona National Park. There are plenty of things to do in Tayrona National Park, but you’ve got to check out the hikes. Some of the best hikes in Colombia are in Tayrona National Park. The most exciting hike takes you to Cabo San Juan, a small beach camp nestled in the jungle.
The trek is about 5 miles one way. Although the trail isn’t difficult, it’s muddy and sometimes confusing. Stay close to the coast to avoid getting lost in the jungle. Make your way through dense jungle forests where if you listen closely you’ll hear the Howler Monkeys calling in the trees. Lucky visitors will have a chance to spot these amazing creatures. We saw one troop in the morning, so plan on arriving early for the best chances at spotting wildlife.
The trail winds its way through exceptionally muddy jungles to beautiful sandy beaches. The mud is a bit of a challenge, you’ll certainly want proper footwear to deal with the mud. Some hikers go barefoot, but your chances of getting an infection is rather high. All of us ended up ditching our shoes only to come home with mystery bacterial infections, likely caused by the jungle mud getting into cuts we got on our feet from stepping on roots.
Although it’s an adventurous journey, it’s well worth the effort to reach Cabo San Juan. Opt for an adventurous night sleeping in hammocks right on the beach. Due to the many strong currents in the area, you can’t swim at most of the beaches within Tayrona.
However, you’re allowed to swim at Cabo San Juan so it’s recommended to stay overnight to make the most of your time. There are toilets, showers, a very small locker room, and a restaurant at Cabo San Juan. The accommodation is very basic, but it’s all you need for the night. Hammocks cost around $7 US each.
Staying in a hammock lets you have plenty of fresh air and is certainly recommended over the tents and small lean-tos also available for rent. Enjoy a morning stroll through the lively jungle and listen to the symphony of birds. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your way up the steep trail to the Pueblito or native village. Here you’ll get an insight into the lives of the local indigenous tribes that call this jungle home. Just be sure to be respectful and ask before taking photographs.
As far as hiking Colombia goes, overall Tayrona National Park is one of Colombia’s best adventures and most scenic landscapes. Hiking in and spending the night is an experience you’ll never forget.
Meg – Fox in the Forest
Cueva del Esplendor, Jardin
Nestled in the hills surrounding Jardin, Antioquia is La Cueva del Esplendor. The Cave of Splendor it’s called because of the magnificent waterfall that cascades through the center of the cave. The beautiful sound of the water rushing through the rock into the pool below is further amplified by the surrounding rock walls.
To get there you must book a tour. Within the tour, there are two options for getting to the hiking trail. You can either ride to the entrance of the trail by horseback or in a Willy Jeep. Both are fun, traditional modes of transportation in Jardin.
Whichever way you decide to get to Cueva del Esplendor, you will enjoy beautiful sweeping views of the Colombian countryside as you curve through the mountainous landscape. Near the entry point to the hike, you’ll stop at a traditional rural Antioquian house to get some fuel for the trail. A sweet corn arepa, called chocolo, is served with a slice of quesito and cafe con panela.
The house serves as more than a refueling point. It’s also a way to control the number of visitors that embark on this hike in Colombia. As a popular destination for tourists, the cave is now restricted to 40 visitors per day. The rural inhabitants imposed the cap after their untouched land became overrun with visitors. They felt the strain it put on the natural resources and thus created a system for restricting access.
The hike itself begins with a short walk downhill from the house to the start of the trail. Immediately, the wide-open pastures disappear and you’re enveloped in a humid canopy of tropical forest. The mostly single-file path is led by a rope handrail that proves itself invaluable during slippery parts of the trek.
Along the way are large flat areas to rest, take pictures, get a little wet, and ultimately enjoy nature. At this point, you are essentially following the path of the river toward the cave as the natural elements become even more rich and humid.
When you reach the entry point to the cave, you discover a beautiful rock wall draped with tiny plant life. Water droplets drip down from the top as sunlight peaks over the edge. And then as you turn into the cave, you discover its splendor. A powerful column of water pours through a hole in the top of the cave as the waterfall is illuminated by the sky above. And suddenly, you appreciate the local effort to conserve its natural beauty. Hiking in Colombia doesn’t get much more rewarding than this.
Julien Casanova – Cultures Traveled
Hike to the Cocora Valley Colombia
The one in Valle de Cocora is one of the most incredible hikes in Colombia. Easily accessible from Salento, one of the nicest places to visit in the Eje Cafetero (Colombia’s coffee region), Valle de Cocora is famous for being home to wax palm trees that can reach a height of 70 meters. The views in the valley are superb, somewhat eerie considering that the elevation and the humidity are such that it is generally wrapped in a blanket of fog.
There are two trails in Valle de Cocora hike – a short one and a long one. You can actually walk them both on the same day provided that you start early enough and you are a fast walker. If you decide to do so, walk the short trail first and then the long one, which you will have to follow clockwise.
The short trail normally takes no longer than an hour and a half. The long loop takes around 5 hours, depending on how long you stop for photos, and goes deep into the forest and all the way to a hummingbird sanctuary (for which there is a fee of 5000 COP). To follow the long trail you have to get to the blue metal door and follow the signs pointing to Los Nevados National Park.
It’s important to note that Cocora Valley receives lots of rain throughout the year – that’s why it is so green. Avoid walking the long loop after heaving rain.
Make sure to be appropriately geared for the hike, with a rain poncho, a warm sweater, and hiking boots. In fact, it’s probably better to rent a pair of rubber boots from the stand near the beginning of the trail.
To avoid getting stuck in the mud, keep walking! The slower you walk, the higher the chances you will drown in it!
Cocora Valley can be reached by jeep from Salento. Jeeps leave from the main square at 6:10 am, 7:30 am, 8:30 am, 9:30 am, 11:30 am, 2:00 pm, and 4:00 pm and cost 8000 COP for a return journey.
There is a fee of 4000 COP for the hike, regardless of which trail you follow, and another $4000 to enter the Cocora Valley park.
Claudia Tavani – My Adventures Across The World
Hike to the Marinka Waterfall in Minca, Colombia
Living in Cartagena, the pretty, green mountain town of Minca, about 6 hours to the north outside of Santa Marta, is a great escape from both the city and its blistering, Caribbean sun.
Besides the cooler weather and neat little cafés and restaurants, the best part about Minca is the opportunity to do some hiking.
There are several nice hikes in the area, but our favorite is undoubtedly the hike to the Marinka Waterfall, which has to be included on any list of the best hikes in Colombia.
The Marinka Waterfall is located about 2 hours outside of Minca. It’s easily reached by heading out of town along the road where the church is located (from the bridge at the entrance of town, turn right).
Along the way be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, especially birds. If you’re lucky, you may even see a toucan up close. Do keep an eye out for passing motorcycles as well, and if it has been raining, note it could be a muddy.
Eventually, you’ll head up in the hills around a bend to the left. Other than a bit of an incline, near the end, it’s a fairly easy hike.
Once reaching the falls, there is a small entrance fee (it was 5,000 pesos in 2023).
Inside, there’s a small café, as well as surprisingly clean bathrooms and changing areas. There are also giant hammocks overlooking the falls and a small watering hole where you can take a dip and walk under the waterfall. Be sure you walk up to the upper falls as well.
While on the shorter side, heading to Marinka has to be one of the best hikes in Colombia. You get some fresh mountain air, a chance to do some birding, and it’s shorter length and ease is accessible to everyone. Oh yeah, and you get to take a dip under a gorgeous waterfall.
There are a number of other things to see in Minca, including the smaller Pozo Azul falls, the La Victoria Coffee Plantation, and longer hikes to the lookout at Los Pinos and Cerro Kennedy higher in the mountains.
However, the can’t miss highlight of Minca has to be the Marinka Waterfalls, making it one of the best hikes to do in Colombia!
Adam McConnaughhay – Cartagena Explorer
Waterfall Hike From Medellin
Does anything sound better than a refreshing dip in a waterfall after being in a hot stuffy city? I’m willing to bet the answer is no for most people.
When you get to Medellin you’ll immediately notice the unique landscape. This is not like any other city. Deep in the valley lies a megacity and surrounding it, a wall of verdant mountains in every direction.
Not many cities have this layout and this lushness acts like a lung to the city. While its air quality isn’t the best despite the surroundings, you can very easily escape the stuffiness of the city in about 30 minutes. Just beyond the city is Arenales, a beautiful park. Here is where you can hike to a few waterfalls and even see Pablo Escobar’s personal prison. It’s now a senior living center, which is… interesting to say the least but the real highlights are the views, the escape from the city, and the hike!
I won’t lie, this hike may not be the greatest without a tour. It’s very confusing, there are no real maps (not even on Maps.Me) and numerous river crossings which only complicate the situation. I booked a guide with a local and it was an awesome experience! The gorgeous hike takes you through a lush jungle (how is there a huge city 30 minutes from this?!) and there were plenty of deviations along the way to get you lost if you don’t know where to go.
In the end, the reward was a beautiful rushing waterfall. The water was crisp and cold and after a sweaty hike, I ran in! It felt amazing and while the waterfall doesn’t seem too powerful, it’s raging once you’re up close to it.
This definitely one of the cooler Medellin day trips you can do and I highly recommend it as something a bit different and for a much-needed city break!
Nina Ragusa – Where in the World is Nina?
The Tatacoa Desert
If you are thinking of going hiking in Colombia one place you won’t want to miss is the Tatacoa desert. This is definitely not a hike for the faint-hearted, not because of the difficulty of the trails but more so due to the blistering heat that you will encounter. The great thing about coming to this location is that you’ll have the choice of doing various hikes that take different amounts of time. The desert is split into two parts. The red area called Laberinto de Cuzco and a gray area known as Los Hoyos.
My favorite was the Laberinto de Cuzco hike which goes right through the red desert. Along the way you’ll see many different cactus and other living things, think snakes and scorpions, which are unique to the area. There are also many different signposts that give detailed explanations of the area. Depending on what time of year you come you won’t find much variation in temperature. After traveling over 10 hours to Tatacoa desert from Medellin, I was more than ready to stretch my legs.
Note that the surrounding area is quite secluded with the nearest town being Villavieja. From there you can buy food supplies. It is important that you arrive at the desert equipped for a full days hike.
I recommend staying 2-3 night and challenging yourself to do the other hikes, some of which you can hire a local guide to take you around so you get a full explanation of the trails which are not accompanied by signposts. Not only will you receive a great sense of achievement from doing these hikes, but you’ll also get some amazing pictures and most of your friends and family won’t believe you were in Colombia. The landscape literally looks as though you were on another planet. So while ever you’re looking for a change from lush green mountains hill the Tataoco Desert awaits you.
Daniel – Layer Culture