Being the second most biodiverse country on the planet makes for some pretty spectacular scenery which is the reason why hiking in Colombia was so high up our list of travel priorities! With so many stunning places to visit in Colombia, each area we travelled to we tried to fit at least one hike in. We’ve put together our top 5 epic experiences to show you just how amazing hiking in Colombia really is….
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Hiking In Colombia
Colombia’s most popular hike & for very good reason, it was our favourite experience in Colombia & a must-add to anyone’s itinerary! Trekking through the jungle for 5 days to the lost city of Tairona people was magical, we passed by indigenous villages, waded through rivers, crossed rickety bridges & made our way through thick, lush & very beautiful jungle all the way to the Cuidad Perdida, which is believed to have been founded in 800CE & after many years of being “lost” was only “discovered” again in the 1970’s.
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Lost City Trek – Day 2 ??? So grateful for all of the amazing experiences we share ♥️ Here we are crossing the Buritaca River over a very rickety old bridge. There are plenty of rivers to cross over the 3 days it takes to hike to Colombia's Cuidad Perdida, most of them by removing your boots & crossing by foot so this bridge was actually a little luxury for us. When the Tairona people formed the lost city in 800 BC (some 650 years earlier than the famous Machu Picchu!!) the location in relation to the Buritaca River was very important due to life that it brought to the 2000-8000 people that are believed to have lived there. Other important factors for this settlement was its position in relation to the mountains, sun & moon which ancient cultures such as the Tairona & many more worshipped, & through it's descendents still do to this very day ☀️?⛰ We think it's fascinating that such cultures have lived on & have remained so strong through thousands of years & found learning of all of this this one of the most interesting parts of our 5 day trek ? • • • • • #lostcitytrek #cuidadperdida #culturebuff #historygeeks #natureaddicts #traveltoeducate #magdelena #colombia #colombiamagicisrealism #hikingadventures #jungletrekking #goexplore #exploreshareinspire #seetheworldthroughoureyes #optputside #lifeofadventure #adventuretravel #travelbloggers #travelcouple #travellove #cutetravelcouples #travelcouplelife #liveunscripted #pursuehappy #makememories #liveauthentic #leicacamera #leicam #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
The feeling of climbing 1000 steps up to the Lost City just as the sun was rising is a memory that will remain us forever. It was not however just the Lost City that amazed us but everything else along the way, stopping for a swim in the river, seeing the indigenous people going about their daily lives, sitting with a shaman & hearing all about his forms of worship & way of life were some of the many things we loved about this hiking in Colombia experience.
This trek can be done by guided tour only, we opted for 5 days rather than 4 so we had more time to take it all in, you can read more about our Lost City experience right here.
The Lost City Trek In Short……..
Hike From – Most tours go from Santa Marta, we booked & went from Minca.
Days – 4 to 6
Distance – 46 km (28 mile) round trip
Difficulty – Moderate
2) Cocora Valley
The tall, leaning wax palms of the Cocora valley have become somewhat an icon of this area & a must-visit for anyone staying in Salento. Although a very popular trek we really liked the fact that you can do this totally independently & therefore take in those views all by yourself!
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Never lose your sense of wonder ? Hiking in Colombia's Cocora Valley amazed us, even with the rain & mist we experienced, the views were epic! The wax palms you can see can grow anywhere from 45 – 60 m in height & are native to the Andes of Colombia & northern Peru ? What have you seen recently that's amazed you? @thenorthface • • • • • #waxpalms #tree_brilliance #cocoravalley #valledecocora #salento #colombia #colombiavibes #ig_colombia #igerscolombia #hikingadventures #hiking #naturephoto #artofvisuals #awesome_earthpix #landscape_captures #natureaddict #awesomeearth #nature_prefection #fantastic_earth #unlimitedplanet #adventuretravel #adventurecouple #adventuresforever #goexplore #neverstopexploring #exploreshareinspire #leicacamera #leicacraft #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
There are 2 options when visiting the main area where these impressive palms are situated, both involve taking a Willy’s Jeep from Salento’s town square an experience in itself & either walking just 1 km from the drop off point or taking the full day hike option, 7 km through the valley, up & over & back down to take in the spectacular views of these palms from above. The latter would be the option we recommend, it’s a moderate hike but really gives you chance to take more in & adds another hiking in Colombia day to your itinerary! More details on how we did this and what else we got up to in Salento can be found right here.
Cocora Valley Hike In Short……..
Hike From – Jeeps leave from Salento
Days – 1/2 or 1
Distance – 2 km return / 7 km loop
Difficulty – Easy / Moderate
3) Los Pinos Trek
From the gorgeous little mountain town of Minca we started off early morning for an hour long hike followed by a dip in the peaceful & calming Cascadas de Marinka, a spot we were advised to arrive at before anyone else so that we could make the most of it & that’s exactly what we did!
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And we're back ? After a few days of hiking around the small Colombian town of Minca & 5 days of trekking through the jungle to the Lost City of the Tairona (story now up, go check it out!) we are up, running & ready to share our adventures & views with you lovely people ? These are the "Cascadas de Marinka" just an hour's walk from Minca, we stopped by here for an early morning swim before spending the day hiking in the area. It was amazing to have the whole place to ourselves & to be there as the sun was starting to shine bright in the sky as it made for the most incredible light. Afterwards we enjoyed breakfast with big smiles on our faces, the kind that come when you take the time to appreciate the moment ? Which moments recently have been memorable for you? • • • • • #cascadademarinka #minca #morninglight #keepitwild #wanderlust #keepexploring #hiking #waterfall #chasingwaterfalls #waterfall #nature_brilliance #EarthVisuals #artofvisuals #welivetoexplore #natureaddict #naturediversity #allnatureshots #igerscolombia #ig_colombia #colombiaismagicalrealism #travelcouple #travellove #travelmemories #makememories #feedyoursoul #soulfood #leicam #leicaq #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
After our early morning swim we headed off up to the Los Pinos viewpoint, through cloud forest with the added bonus of practically having the trails to ourselves all day. This moderate hike took us around 8-9 hours in total, a lot more than the recommend 5-7 hours due to the muddy terrain after a lot of rainfall, which in this area, is common. The landscape constantly changing was what we found most fascinating about this hiking in Colombia experience with the icing on the cake being not only Cascadas De Marinka to stop off at pre-hike but also the waterfalls of Pozo Azul on our way back into Minca. You can choose to do this hike either way around with a stop off at both waterfalls too should you so wish!
Los Pinos Hike In Short……..
Hike From – Minca
Days – Recommended 5 – 7 hours, although it took us 8 – 9 with stop offs & the muddy terrain, leave enough time!
Distance – 20 km round trip
Difficulty – Intermediate.
4) Cerro Kennedy Hike
Our first proper “off the beaten” track experience whilst hiking in Colombia & one that we found challenging & exhilarating! Day 1 consisted of a complete uphill slog, all 7 hours & 20 km of it! We stayed at some very basic huts at what we can only describe as a weather testing centre when we got to the small “village” of San Lorenzo, this in itself was such an experience, it was just us & the family that lived up there, above the clouds,, it was all so serene & utterly peaceful. We woke up at 4:30 am to hike up to the peak of Cerro Kennedy for what we had come for, mountain, sunrise views! Our Cerro Kennedy trek was one of our favourite Colombian hikes for sure!
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Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synscronistic parts of life & the universe will keep giving them to you #quote Waking up at 4am to hike up to the peak Cerro Kennedy, a mountain close to the Colombian town of Minca definitely required some focus but the reward was this glowing sunrise, cascading clouds & snowcapped mountains peeking through in the distance, just MAGICAL ✨ If you're in the area we would highly recommend this hike, a 6 hour uphill slog to San Lorenzo from Minca where you can stay the night in a basic hut then a 1.5 hour hike up to Cerro Kennedy in the morning. Our recommendations, use the app maps.me to navigate, take plenty of food & water with you & enjoy the views ? • • • • • #magicalviews #instasky #skyporn #earlybird #mothernature #sunrise_and_sunsets #cerrokennedy #minca #ig_colombia #igerscolombia #colombiaismagicalrealism #naturephoto #landscape_captures #awesome_earthpics #natureaddicts #hikingday #hikingadventures #adventuretravel #adventuretravelcouple #optputside #exploremore #exploreshareinspire #seetheworldthroughoureyes #liveauthentic #liveunscripted #leicacamera #leicacraft #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
After soaking up as much of the mountain atmosphere as we could we headed all the way back down to Minca, another full day of hiking at 23 km. This hike was recommend to us through the awesome Casa Loma where we were staying in Minca, more details on this place & both our Cerro Kennedy trek & the Los Pinos hike can be found right here.
Cerro Kennedy Hike In Short……..
Hike From – Minca
Days – 2
Distance – 43 km round trip
Difficulty – Intermediate / Difficult
Even more “off the beaten track” than our Cerro Kennedy experience, we are so happy that we added this 2 day trek to our hiking in Colombia list! Starting in San Gil & taking the bus over to Barichara we started off the Camino Real on it’s most trodden path all the way to the pretty little village of Guane.
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Hiking from Barichara to Guane along El Camino Real, an old stone walking path laid by German settler Geo Von Lengerke in the Santander province of Colombia ?? ? This particular section of the path is the most popular & at only 10 km each way is a great return day hike. We opted however to remain on the path a little longer, staying overnight in the village of Villaneuva & taking in a number of pretty sights & the beautiful Colombian countryside along the way. We did the whole thing, just the 2 of us using the app maps.me to navigate & really enjoyed being able to stop off along the way & get a glimpse into traditional Colombian life. It was one of our favourite ever hikes ❤️ Tell us about a hike you done & loved…… • • • • • #caminoreal #hikingadventures #overnighthike #hikerlife #hikeitbaby #santander #colombia #igerscolombia #ig_colombia #getoutside #independenttravel #goitalone #exploremore #theglobewanderers #letsgosomewhere #naturephoto #main_vision #landscape_captures #awesome_earthpics #natureaddicts #gottalove_a_ #allnatureshots #traveldudes #travelguys #guysthattravel #travelbloggers #leicacamera #leicacraft #explorationinspiration #destinationaddict
This was just the first 10 km of a 45 km, 2 day hike through the village of not only Guane but Villanueva, Jordan & Los Santos too. For us this was the hike where we really got a taste of Colombian life, we stayed overnight in the village of Villanueva where we received a very warm welcome from the locals. We set off early on day 2 to hike over & down into the Chicamocha canyon for the most incredible views. After this we passed through the small town of Jordan which really was out in the Colombian wilderness, it was a long slog back up the canyon from here to the town of Los Santos where we managed to pick up a bus connecting to San Gil. This was one of our favourite ever hikes purely for the amount of different scenery it took in & the way we really felt that we saw part of the real Colombia. If you have the time & the stamina to take this one on we would highly recommend adding it to your hiking in Colombia list too!
Full details of our El Camino Real adventure are here.
Camino Real Hike In Short……..
Hike From – San Gil – Bus to Barichara or stay overnight in Barichara
Days – 2
Distance – 45 km round trip
Difficulty – Difficult
Our Hiking In Colombia Tips
Be prepared – The hikes we have mentioned pass through areas that don’t have many shops (with the exception of the Lost City Trek) so make sure you bring plenty of food & water with you. For the Camino Real you can stock up & eat in the towns but the distances between are not short.
Use a navigation map – maps.me is our app of choice & what we used for all of these hikes, having enough charge in your phone as well as portable chargers is also a must so that you can actually use the app!
Stay safe – Everyone knows that Colombia has a bad rep safety wise, what we would say to this is that we did not experience anything even remotely scary whilst out hiking, just the two of us BUT sticking to trails, knowing where you are going, not having anything too expensive or large amounts of cash with you are all necessary precautions to take.
Speak the lingo – As most people in remote areas only speak Spanish knowing a few words when you need to ask for directions or help can be very useful indeed, even taking a phrasebook with you or having some sentences saved in your phone so that you can ask for directions is extremely useful.
Thanks for checking out our post! We hope you have enjoyed it & we have given you some inspiration to go hiking in Colombia too!
Any questions or anything to add? Let us know in the comments!
Checkout how much we spent travelling Colombia for 52 days here!
Kelly & Adam x