Colombia is a nation in South America and is one of the world’s megadiverse regions. It hosts a large number of endemic species. In fact, about 10% of the world’s species live in this country. 18% of the world's bird species, 10% of the world's mammalian species, 14% of the world's amphibian species, as well as a great diversity of invertebrates and fish can be found in Colombia. Therefore, given its immense natural wealth, it is not surprising that Colombia has many protected areas. As of 2017, Colombia has 59 nationally protected areas. Some of the country’s most visited national parks are highlighted below.
5. Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which is separated from the main Andes chain in Colombia. One of the highest coastal ranges in the world, the Sierra Nevada occupies an area of 17,000 square km. Established in 1964, it is the second oldest national park in Colombia, and was later designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979.
4. Isla de La Corota Fauna and Flora Sanctuary
Located in the La Cocha lagoon, Isla de La Corota Fauna and Flora Sanctuary is the fourth most popular national park in Colombia. The island and its surrounding water host a rich diversity of flora and fauna. The island is also associated with the culture of the region, as it hosts a chapel that serves as an important pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics. The island is accessible by boat from the village of El Encano.
3. Los Nevados National Natural Park
Los Nevados National Natural Park is located in the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes. The Nevado del Ruiz volcano, which reaches an elevation of 5,300 m, is the park's central feature and highest point. 51,000 annual visits are recorded at the Los Nevados every year. The landscape of the national park has been shaped by glacial erosion for over millions of years. A great diversity of plant and animal life exists in the park. Birds in the park's forests are renowned for their unique appearances and behavior, and notable birds include the Andean condor, yellow-eared parrot, Fuertes's parrot, and ruddy duck. Animals of note include the cougar, oncilla, mountain tapir, and white-eared opossum.
2. Tayrona National Natural Park
With 395,000 annual visitors, Tayrona National Natural Park is the second most visited national park in Colombia. It is a protected area located in the northern Caribbean region of the nation. The park hosts several endemic species, including the montane solitary eagle, Mantled howler, oncilla, military macaw, and white-bellied antbird. Furthermore, 108 mammalian species, 300 bird species, 31 species of reptilians, 15 amphibian species and hundreds of invertebrate species inhabit Tayrona National Natural Park.
1. Corales Islas del Rosario
Corales Islas del Rosario is Colombia’s most popular national park. The park is an archipelago located off the country’s coast in the Caribbean Sea, and was established in 1988 for the purpose of protecting coral reefs in the region. The park now hosts an open-sea oceanarium and an aquarium in which visitors can observe the marine flora and fauna. Visitors to the national park can also enjoy a number of activities like snorkeling, swimming, and fishing. The park records about 1 million visitors each year.