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7 Undiscovered Destinations in Colombia – Hidden Gems for Adventurers

Local guy standing in Cerro Guacamaya

Updated on 05/16/2024

Dear reader,
I would also like to recommend our Colombia travel guide, which provides a perfect overview of the tourist attractions in Colombia. Enjoy reading it!

Why are some places in Colombia off-the-beaten-track? 

There are several reasons for this, such as:

  • Remoteness: Some places are located in very isolated or hard-to-reach areas, where the transport options are limited or expensive.
  • Lack of infrastructure: Some places have very basic or no tourist facilities, such as hotels, restaurants, or guides. This means that travelers have to be more adventurous and self-reliant, and sometimes arrange their own accommodation or tours with local communities.
  • Security issues: Some places have a history of violence or conflict, which may deter some travelers from visiting them. However, the security situation in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, and many areas that were once considered dangerous are now safe and open for tourism.

Why should you visit these off-the-beaten-track places in Colombia? 

There are many benefits and advantages of visiting these hidden spots in Colombia:

  • Unique biodiversity: Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, and many of its remote ecosystems are virtually untouched. Here you will see native flora and fauna that you won’t find anywhere else. In short, these places boast some of the most stunning landscapes and wildlife that Colombia has to offer.
  • Authentic culture: By visiting these places, you can learn more about the rich and diverse culture of Colombia and interact with local people who have preserved their traditions and customs for centuries.
  • Main cities: Bogotá, Medellín, and Cartagena are just the beginning, as they are the most popular cities and serve as starting points for thousands of adventures.
  • Caribbean Coast: Here you find postcard beaches, turquoise seas, and traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms.
  • Amazon Rainforest: Venture into the world’s lung, this is one of the most popular places for nature lovers.

But wait, there’s more. If you like less traveled or unexplored paths, Colombia is full of hidden gems that few tourists know.

Top 7 destinations off the beaten track in Colombia

Nuquí, Chocó

Nuquí is a small town in the department of Chocó, located about 184 kilometers from Quibdó, the capital. Yes, it’s a bit remote, but it’s worth it. This corner of the Pacific is one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet.

Its economy revolves around ecotourism, fishing, and agriculture. Here, aphrodisiac fruits like chontaduro and borojó are commonplace.

Among its most interesting traditions are ancestral herbal medicine and the traditional practice of midwives. Fascinating culture and tradition!

You will get more information once you land into Nuquí on our Chocó travel guide.

landscape of beach in Nuqui Chocó

How to get to Nuquí

There are two ways to get to Nuquí:

By Air:

  • From: Fly from Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, or Quibdó.
  • Costs: From $230,000 COP ($65 USD) in low season to $850,000 COP ($237 USD) in high season.
  • Flight Duration: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes from major cities, and 15 minutes from Quibdó.
  • Destination: Land at Reyes Murillo Nuqui Airport. Enjoy a unique view of the dense jungle aboard small planes.

 By boat:

  • Departure Point: Buenaventura.
  • Options: Sail on small passenger boats (18-24 hours) or choose an 8-hour journey on speedboats.
  • Costs: Passenger boats from $150,000 COP per person ($34 USD), and speedboats from $200,000 COP per person ($56 USD).

Things to see and do in Nuquí

Whale watching
From July to November, whales from the cold Antarctic visit the Pacific coast in search of the warmth of the Pacific. You can get tours from various providers on site.

Hike to the Three Falls Waterfall in Nuquí
This hike leads into the beautiful primary and secondary jungles, where exotic flora and fauna can be seen. It is best to book a tour locally.

Guachalito beach
This is the nicest beach Nuquí has ​​to offer.

Diving
This area of ​​the Pacific Ocean is perfect for diving as the water is clear. You can spot corals, turtles, starfish and other species. You need a PADI certificate as the currents in the Pacific are a bit strong and not ideal for amateurs.

Surfing
It is said that Chocó has the best waves in Colombia. The best beaches are Pico de Loro and Juan Tornillo. You will hardly have to fight for the wave there either.

Kayaking
Nuquí has ​​not only sea but also rivers. These are perfect for kayaking.

Sport fishing
The variety of marine diversity in this area of ​​the country is impressive. So if you like fishing, we recommend the season between May and June. At this time, more species come to the coast in search of warmer waters.

Where to stay in Nuquí

El Cantil Ecolodge
This hotel offers a unique experience surrounded by natural beauty. You are between the tropical jungle and have a view of the sea. It is an environmentally friendly and sustainable hotel. There are 7 bungalows.

Recommendations

  • Take enough cash with you, there are no ATMs.
  • Nuquí is a wet paradise, so bring comfortable clothes and some waterproof items.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • It is mandatory to get vaccinated against yellow fever, tetanus and flu 15 to 20 days in advance.
  • Avoid waste.

 Bahía Solano, Chocó

Bahía Solano, a Colombian municipality in Chocó, is right next to the north Pacific coast, just 5 meters above sea level.

  • The economic activity here focuses on ecotourism, sports, and fishing, in addition to small-scale animal husbandry and agriculture.
  • It’s a natural treasure with a humid tropical climate, averaging 25ºC.
  • Turtle pool: These creatures are protected during their mating season. Afterward, they are released straight to the sea without any issues.
  • On February 14th, Bahía Solano dresses up to celebrate San Antonio de Padua with offerings and the tamunangue, a traditional dance that’s pure culture.

How to get to Bahía Solano

Airplane and sea route

By Air:

  • From: Flights available from Bogotá, Medellín, Pereira, and Quibdó.
  • Cost: Approximately $300,000 – 600,000 COP ($77 – 155 USD).
  • Frequency: Keep in mind that flights to Bahía Solano are not daily.

By Sea:

  • Departure Port: Buenaventura. Standard Ship: A journey of around 24 hours for $150,000 and 200.000 COP (38 – 52 USD).
  • Speedboat: From 6 to 8 hours, depending on the sea, for $200,000 – 250.000 COP (52 – 64 USD).
  • Frequency: Once a week there is a connection from Nuqui to Bahía Solano.

Things to see and do in Bahía Solano

Ecotourism on the Loma de la Virgen (virgin hill) path
It’s a short, 20-minute, uphill hike. On the way you will find wooden chairs on which you can rest. A visual spectacle over the beautiful bay awaits you at the top.

Chocolatal waterfall
With an approximate height of 7 meters, a depth of 3 meters and its fresh water in the middle of the jungle, you will feel like you are in a movie. It is best to organize a local guide.

Whale watching
The months of July – November are the mating months for the mammals that want to breed in the warm waters of the Pacific. Visit Sula’s website for more information.

Turtle sightings
One of the most popular times for tourists is September to January, when you can watch the turtles hatch and crawl out into the sea.

Huína beach
This is one of the most beautiful beaches with crystal clear waters and an abundance of colorful fish. Playa Huína is 25 minutes away by boat and costs between $ 20,000 – 40.000 COP (6 – 10 USD) one-way tickets.

Mecana beach
Mecana is a beautiful beach and is covered by large palm trees. It is also home to a freshwater river.

Utria National Natural Park
It is a park full of magic where the whales give birth to their calves, the sea in this part is very calm and the waves are gentle. The park opens its doors in a few months of the year. Visit the official website for more information.

Where to stay in Bahía Solano

El Almejal Ecolodge
This hotel consists of 10 wooden huts, a natural pool and a waterfall. It is perfect for a quiet and relaxing stay.

Recommendations

  • Hire a local guide at a time.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • You should be vaccinated against yellow fever, tetanus, and flu.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • Avoid waste.

Timbiquí, Cauca

Timbiquí, hidden in Cauca, Colombia, has an economy largely dependent on fishing, agriculture, hunting, and mining, all surrounded by rivers like Timbiquí and Saija.

Despite challenges from violence and being one of the humblest communities, it’s also one of the poorest places in Colombia. Here, you’ll notice that houses are built of wood over the water and it’s predominantly an Afro-Colombian population.

It’s the heart of tradition, pure culture, and music; if you’re looking for a highly cultural place and want to immerse yourself in tradition, you must go without a doubt.

How to get to Timbiquí

The only way to get to Timbiquí is by plane. The only connection is from Cali and takes around 45 minutes. Round trip tickets cost between 400,000 – 500,000 COP (103 – 129 USD).

Things to see and do in Timbiquí

  • Timbiquí is a municipal tourism destination and can be your ideal spot if you want to learn more about the Afro-Colombian culture and its ancestral customs.
  • Its typical food and exotic drinks make it a wonderful place. For example, the naidi and chontaduro which are aphrodisiac fruits and very popular as a base for multiple dishes. Live music is common, often featuring stories of daily life or war experiences set to the marimba’s rhythm. Popular native rhythms include currulao and bunde, being Herencia de Timbiquí a notable group.
  • Visit the Santa Barbara Church, one of the most frequent tourist spots, for its characteristic colonial design with baroque and neoclassical features.

Where to stay in Timbiquí

Hotel Río Timbiquí

This hotel with a welcoming atmosphere is in front of the main park in the San José neighborhood, which is very commercial.

It offers rooms with television, air conditioning, and WIFI. You also find a restaurant with typical meals from the region and sometimes the hotel also organizes tourist excursions.

Recommendations

  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • Bring rubber boots and mosquito repellent.
  • Definitely try “hace hijos”, a typical drink.

Guapi, Cauca

Guapi is a municipality in Cauca, Colombia, located between Buenaventura and Tumaco on the Pacific coast. It boasts lush vegetation and beautiful beaches, and you should try the exotic Naidí fruit, grown locally on palms it`s like a symbol.

Declared an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Guapi celebrates the Naidí festivities annually from December 26th to 29th. Its economy is based on fishing, agriculture, mining, and recently, tourism, highlighted by Gorgona Island, a must-visit located 22 miles (35 km) offshore.

Thanks to Gorgona Island, Guapi has emerged as a key tourist spot in Cauca, boosting the local economy. The community actively seeks to improve tourism through ongoing training and educational programs to better serve visitors.

How to get to Guapi

Guapi can only be reached by plane or boat.

  • Airplane: There are flights from Bogotá, Cali and Popayán. Round trip tickets cost between 350,000 – 600,000 COP (90 – 155 USD) from Cali.
  • Boat: From Buenaventura, the trip takes about 12 hours and costs between $ 150,000 – 200,000 COP (38 – 52 USD).

Things to see and do in Guapi

  • Listen to the “cantadoras” who recite to the rhythm of the music of the Pacific and are the main transmitters of African heritage.
  • Visit Gorgona Island: Guapi’s main attraction is an ecotourism center where you can watch birds, reptiles and whales. You can also visit the old prison of Gorgona, of which only ruins remain today. You can find out more about Gorgona on our Colombian Islands blog.
  • Visit the Islote de Gorgillo that boasts many species of birds.
  • Whale watching from July to November.

Where to stay in Guapi

Hotel Río Guapi

It is one of the few good accommodations you will find. Here you will find only spacious mixed rooms and smaller ones. The spacious rooms usually come with air conditioning and are more comfortable, while the smaller rooms have a fan. Its highlight: the homemade local food (seafood dishes).

And the view from its terrace overlooking the Guapi River is a plus for this accommodation.

Recommendations

  • Hire a local guide at a time.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • You should be vaccinated against yellow fever, tetanus, and flu.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • Avoid waste.

Where to stay in Guapi

Hotel Los Delfines
This hotel in the center of Guapi has 22 rooms, all with air conditioning.

Recommendations

  • Hire a local guide at a time.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • You should be vaccinated against yellow fever, tetanus, and flu.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • Avoid waste.

Mitú, Vaupés

Mitú, the capital of Vaupés, is in southeastern Colombia, right next to Brazil. Here, the majority are indigenous people from local ethnic groups. A place rich in culture. Moreover, a large part of Mitú is an Amazon Forest Reserve.

  • Activities: Fishing for rare species and cultivating wild fruits are everyday activities.
  • Colonial history: You’ll notice that its streets are made of stone, a legacy from the settlers, and are very well preserved. Every time you walk through the streets of Mitú you will see how modernity, indigenous and colonial architecture coexist in one place.

We also made a Mitú travel guide for you to explore more.

How to get to Mitú

There are two ways to get to Mitú: by ship and by plane. We definitely recommend the plane.

Roundtrip tickets cost between 700,000 – 900,000 COP (181 – 233 USD). The flight takes around 90 minutes.

Things to see and do in Mitú

The Malecon
It is a walk of a thousand meters along the banks of the Vaupés river. On this tour, you will pass the small squares and ethnic kiosks of the indigenous people living in Mitú.

Bird watching
Mitú has more than 500 classified species, most of which have striking colors.

Exotic fruit gastronomy
You have to try the wonderful food of Mitú, such as the meat of lapa, the chive de patavá, the moqueado fish and the mojojoy, a popular worm found in this region of the Amazon.

Visit the community of Mutuseño Urania
Mutuseño Urania is 3 miles (5 km) from the city. There you can climb the magnificent hill of Odocabeba. The lookout point is at a height of 200 meters and you have an excellent view of the entire Amazon.

Visit the Guacamayas Hill
A beautiful viewpoint with panoramic views of the Amazon rainforest and a highlight for bird watching, and to get there you must pass through swamps. You should urgently hire a local guide for a visit.

Caño sangre
Imagine a natural “jacuzzi” with crystal-clear waters that take on a reddish hue thanks to the vegetation growing at the bottom of the stream.

Where to stay in Mitú

Posada Turística Quenari Wii
This hotel is one of the best in Mituwith an excellent reputation. Visitors highlight its cozy atmosphere and its connection with nature and local culture. You will also find amenities such as a jacuzzi, kitchen, and dining and living rooms. And the local food is a must-try.

Recommendations

  • Hire a local guide at a time.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • You should be vaccinated against yellow fever.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • Avoid waste.
  • Take enough cash with you.

Capurganá, Chocó

Capurganá is a small population in the Acandí municipality located near the border with Panama in the Urabá Gulf. It belongs to the Chocó department.

  • The main economic source is community tourism and fishing, and some locals grow their own food.
  • Eco-spot: The region is known for its quiet bays surrounded by very green rainforests. And the sea in this part of the country is warm and turquoise.
  • Safety: Capurganá is a focal point for migrant flows through Panama towards the US. The Colombian Navy is on site.

How to get to Capurganá

To visit this small town, you can arrive by plane and boat.

  • By Air: Flights depart from the city of Medellin and are only available on Mondays and Fridays, the trip takes 2 hours and prices between the 150,000 – 400,000 COP (38 – 103 USD) each way.
  • By boat: Boats depart from Obaldía port. The journey takes 45 minutes and costs between 50,000 – 100,000 COP /one way ticket (12 – 25 USD). There are also boats that leave from Turbo and Necoclí, prices vary.

Things to see and do in Capurganá

  • El Aguacate Bay: Known for its quiet beach and crystal-clear waters, it’s perfect for relaxing and enjoying local food made with seafood ingredients.
  • The pool of the gods: This is a natural pool formed by rocks and the sea where you can enjoy the beauty of the Gulf of Urabá and observe colorful fish.
  • Capurganá – Sapzurro Ecotourism Trail: A trail that connects the indigenous communities of Capurganá and Sapzurro, you will enjoy panoramic views of the sea and have the chance to visit La Diana Waterfall.
  • Capurganá is a spot of sea turtles birth and exotic species migration.

Where to stay in Capurganá

Hotel Casa Costa
The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, a typical breakfast and air-conditioned rooms. It has a bar terrace. It is the preferred hotel for travelers.

Recommendations

  • Hire a local guide at a time.
  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • You should be vaccinated against yellow fever.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • The planes have a weight limit for baggage.
  • Avoid waste.
  • Take enough cash with you.

Isla Fuerte, Cordoba

The small island is located in the Gulf of Morrosquillo and belongs to the Córdoba department, at the end of the Cartagena island system. Most of its residents are Afro-Colombians. The island is home to Colombia’s most beautiful tree, the Bonga. Most of the houses are made of wood with palm roofs.

How to get to Isla Fuerte

  • By sea: The only way to get to Isla Fuerte. You have to go to Paso Nuevo to take a boat.  These usually leave in the morning and we recommend contacting the accommodation in advance.
  • How long does it take? The drive to the island takes 30 minutes.

Things to see and do in Isla Fuerte

  • Visit the Bonga, it is the most beautiful tree in Colombia.
  • The sea at Isla Fuerte is said to have some of the best waves in Colombia.
  • Kayaking in the crystal clear sea of ​​Isla Fuerte is an adventure not to be missed.
  • Birdwatching: The island is home to 83 species, making it a haven for bird watchers and wildlife lovers. Highlights include the brown booby, the red heron, and the giant North American kingfisher.
  • Isla Fuerte has 17 dive sites where you will observe large colonies of fire and horn corals, barracudas, nurse sharks, and whitetip sharks, among others.

Where to stay on Isla Fuerte

Hotel Ecohouse
The hotel is of a good standard. It offers a restaurant and a bar, a terrace and 12 rooms.

Recommendations

  • Protect yourself from the sun.
  • Protect yourself from insect bites.
  • Avoid waste.
  • Take enough cash with you.
  • Do not climb the lighthouse of death.

How to Travel to Colombia’s Undiscovered: Destinations & Tips

While many travelers flock to the popular destinations such as BogotáMedellínCartagena, and the Caribbean coast, many hidden gems await the adventurous and curious travelers who want to explore the less-traveled paths of Colombia.

If you are one of those travelers willing to discover the unexplored destinations of Colombia, here are some tips on how to prepare for your trip:

Transportation

  • Internal Flights: Fast and to everywhere! Colombia has a network of domestic flights that connect you to a lot of places. But, beware, some rural areas in the Amazon, the Pacific and the Llanos are not covered.
  • Buses: The economical option. They are cheap and frequent, but be prepared, the journey can be long and a bit uncomfortable depending on the coach. Safety is also a topic to consider. Most likely you will be okay.
  • Taxis: Comfortable and direct to your destination. Although they can be a bit expensive and hard to find in less touristy areas.
  • Private Drivers: Want luxury, comfort, and safety? This is your best bet. Of course, you’ll have to open your wallet.
  • Vehicle Rental: If you’re up for driving, you can rent a car or a motorcycle. You just need your valid license and insurance. But I warn you, driving here is quite a challenge due to traffic, the local driving culture and less-than-optimal road conditions.

Quick Tips:

  • Evaluate the distances and the time you want to invest in each transfer carefully.
  • Always check local conditions before venturing on the road.
  • Safety comes first: Inform yourself about the best travel practices, especially on buses or in less-known areas.

Visa

If you’re considering Colombia as your next destination, I have good news for you:

  • No visa: If you come from North America, European Union member countries, Australia, or New Zealand, or most Latin American countries, good news! You can enter without a visa and stay for up to 90 days as a tourist.
  • Passport: Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from your date of entry.
  • Exit tickets: You may be asked to show your return ticket or proof of your next trip. So have it handy.
  • Exit fee: When leaving Colombia by air, remember there’s an airport tax you must pay.

What if you want to stay longer than 90 days?:

  • Visa extension: Go through the immigration office or process it online before your visa expires. It’s simple!
  • Other visas: If your plan is to work, study, volunteer, or invest, research the visa that best suits your adventure.

Quick tips:

  • Always check the official info before your trip, just in case there are changes.
  • Plan your exit: Make sure you have your return itinerary or your next destination.

Safety

Colombia has made huge strides in safety and stability, but it is still not a risk-free destination. Some areas of the country are still affected by armed conflict, drug trafficking, crime, and violence. Follow these 7 simple rules:

  1. Be informed: Before traveling, take a look at your government’s travel advisories and avoid the regions that are considered unsafe or restricted. Better safe than sorry.
  2. Be street smart: When moving around the country, especially in large cities, on public transport, crowded places, or at night, use your common sense.
  3. Travel light: Don’t carry too much stuff like cash or valuables.
  4. Keep your eyes open: Avoid areas you don’t know or that look deserted, especially at night.
  5. Do not trust easily into strangers: Don’t accept alcohol or food easily from strangers. For example, especially if you are invited to spend the night somewhere you have never heard of before.
  6. Rural guides: In this case, you can hire a rural guide and it is the safest option. At least until you already know which places to go and which not to go.
  7. Say no to illegal activities: Avoid drugs or getting involved in shady dealings. It’s not only dangerous but can also get you into serious trouble.

In case of emergency:

Call the local police (123) or contact your embassy if you need help.

A few extra tips:

  • Map apps can be your best friends to avoid tricky areas.
  • Share your itinerary with someone you trust. It’s always good for someone to know where you are.

Language

There’s something super important you should know: Spanish is Colombia’s official language, but more languages are spoken:

  • Linguistic diversity:  In certain regions, indigenous communities use their native languages.
  • English: Between us, it’s not very common, especially outside of big cities. So, if you find yourself lost in a charming town or in nature, English might not save you.

Tips for a limitless experience:

  • Learn a bit of Spanish: Knowing some basic phrases will make a HUGE difference. And not just for ordering your coffee, it will also open doors to new friendships.
  • Use a translation app: In the digital age, your best friend might be an app that gets you out of sticky situations. Give it a try! Colombians love it when you learn their local expressions. Even if you make mistakes, they’re likely to respond with a smile and appreciate your effort.

Culture

  • Colombian culture reflects its history, geography, and ethnic diversity. You will find that Colombians are generally warm, friendly, hospitable, and proud of their country.
  • Caught your attention? Check my guide to Colombian customs, where I fully explore this topic.
  • Last but not least: As a traveler, you have a responsibility to be respectful and responsible when visiting these undiscovered destinations. Always respect local laws, culture, and environment, and support the local economy and community.

More Nature Tourism Experiences in Colombia

Here is a list of incredible destinations for hiking and other nature activities in Colombia:

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About Author

Frank

Frank

Hello! I'm Frank Spitzer, the founder and the heart behind Pelecanus, a specialized tour operator for Colombia travel. My journey in travel is vast and rich – I've explored over 60 countries, absorbing cultures, experiences, and stories along the way. Since 2017, I've been channeling this wealth of global experience into creating unforgettable travel experiences in Colombia. I'm recognized as a leading authority in Colombian tourism, with a deep-seated passion for sharing this beautiful country with the world. You can catch glimpses of my travel adventures and insights around Colombia on my YouTube channel. I'm also active on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, where I share the vibrant culture and stunning landscapes of Colombia. For professional networking, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Join me on this incredible journey, and let's explore the wonders of Colombia together!

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