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Top 6 Recommended Places to Visit Indigenous Communities in Colombia

Wayuu family from La Guajira Colombia

Updated on 06/01/2024

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!

Can you imagine immersing yourself in a remote community that has its own language, culture and worldview? In this blog we show you some of the places in Colombia where you can make it happen.

Why Should You Visit Indigenous Communities in Colombia?

  • It’s an opportunity to get to know some of the more than 115 indigenous communities currently existing in the country.
  • If you enjoy learning new things, it’s the best way to delve into the traditions, customs, and lifestyles that have preserved their identity and resisted colonization, violence, and marginalization.
  • It’s a way to support the autonomy of these communities facing territorial, economic, and political challenges.
  • And as if that weren’t enough, the landscapes from snowy mountain ranges to tropical jungles where these communities reside are simply breathtaking.

Places to Visit Indigenous Communities in Colombia

Wayuú Indigenous People – La Guajira

Location: Punta Gallinas in La Guajira, northern Colombia, marks the northernmost point of Colombia and South America.

The Wayuú community is Colombia’s largest indigenous group with over 390,000 individuals. They live in La Guajira desert, being some of the region’s earliest inhabitants.

Punta Gallinas is also one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. Thanks to tourism, Wayuú culture is now quite popular nationwide.

In this land of pure sun, sand, and winds, they have preserved their customs, way of life, and traditions.

Wayuu family from La Guajira Colombia

Activities during your visit to the Wayuú:

  • In this tribe, you’ll always be integrated into their traditional practices, such as weaving the famous Wayuú backpacks and hammocks, or participating in the Yona or Chichamaya Dance.
  • You can taste a dish of friche, a typical goat-based dish, and toast with chirrinchi, a distilled liquor made from panela, a sugarcane juice.
  • Locals will invite you to spend a night in their Rancherías, typical Wayuu dwellings, under the stars, where they share their ancestral stories with you.
  • The use of facial paintings with figures representing a connection with nature and their ancestors is quite common. If you’ve seen YouTube blogs about this journey, it’s normal for visitors to join in this ritual.

Kogui, Wiwa, and Arhuacos Indigenous People – Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Location: The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is located north of Colombia on the Colombian Caribbean coast, 42 km from the beaches of Santa Marta.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a very spiritual place in the country, it is like visiting a Shaolin monastery in China.

The Tayrona civilization settled here between the 11th and 12th centuries, before the arrival of the Spanish in 1498. Their descendants, the Kogui, Wiwa, and Arhuacos, currently inhabit this place.

Activities during your visit to these tribes:

  • One of the highlights of visiting these communities is being taken on a trek to the Lost City, an ancient city from 700 B.C., recently discovered and considered sacred.
  • In this adventure, these communities invite you to participate in their famous purification and spirituality rituals, which serve to relax or bring you good luck on your journey. Some tourists even get married following the traditions of these communities.
  • Community leaders often ask visitors to participate and engage with the community and its activities. Of course, it’s normal to receive a lot of food all the time.

To visit the Arhuacos

  • You can visit Nebusimake, a settlement with 60 houses made of straw and stone walls, quite popular for tourism.
  • You must show respect and a genuine interest in getting to know the place, otherwise, it would be difficult to enter their sacred lands.

To visit the Wiwa

  • The Gotzeshy settlement in the Guachaca river basin is one of the best places to visit this community. Inhabited by around 50 families, it’s also very touristy to bathe in rivers and waterfalls.

To visit the Kogui

  • Seydukwa is one of the few places where tourism is allowed, just a 2-hour walk from Palomino. If you want to experience authentic Kogui life, this is the best place.

Tikuna Indigenous People – Amazonas

Location: This tribe is located near the Amazon River and its affluents, near the border with Peru and Brazil, in the Amazonas region.

The Tikuna are a tribe with more than 20 groups inhabiting the Amazon jungle in Colombia and Brazil.

Visiting this tribe can be enriching as you’ll immerse yourself in a community with an enormous ancestral culture and a way of life based on nature unlike any other tribe.

Ticuna indigenous hut in Colombian amazon

Activities during your visit to the Tikuna:

  • The San Antonio de los Lagos and San Sebastián reservations in the Colombian Amazon are some of the most touristic places for your Tikuna immersion.
  • Upon arrival, members welcome you with open arms and perform a welcoming ceremony, cleansing you of negative energies and discussing nature and its connection to the universe.
  • One of their most notable activities is natural painting extracted from plants and minerals, used for crafts and rituals. Participating in an art workshop with this tribe becomes truly fascinating.
  • The community invites you to explore natural trails where you learn about the medicinal power of plants and their importance in their daily lives. If you fall ill, you can meet traditional healers who use native plants to cure their people.
  • “The minga” are very important community activities practiced in this tribe. The more you participate in daily chores, the more respect and trust they’ll show you.

Wounaan Indigenous People – Chocó

Location: This tribe is generally located in the north of Chocó, in the area of the San Juan River, where its affluent flows.

The Wounaan are one of the tribes inhabiting the Colombian Pacific coast, primarily known for their expertise in agriculture, basketry, body painting, and wood carving.

They usually organize socially into extended families and a magical-religious authority called Jaibaná. They’re very sociable and entirely open to tourism to showcase their way of life.

Activities during your visit to the Wounaan:

  • You’ll be welcomed to this community for the first time with servings of food such as fish, corn, and plantain, which are the main crops harvested throughout the year.
  • Another activity is exploring trails to observe native flora and fauna, as it’s a richly biodiverse jungle area.
  • They invite you to engage in typical activities like crafting with body painting, and they’ll also take you to the jungle to gather essentials like water or food.
  • At night, they practically insist you participate in their dances and healing rituals, where chicha, a fermented ancestral drink, is involved. Don’t refuse it! They’ll also provide you with lodging space in their traditional cabins.
  • Out of respect, you should ask permission if you want to take photographs or videos this time.

Misak or Guambiano Indigenous People – Cauca

Location: In the southeast of the department of Cauca in the Resguardo de Guambía, in the municipality of Silvia.

The Misak, also known as Guambianos, are a very particular indigenous group. You’ll notice their distinctive clothing with vibrant colors.

They’re highly skilled artisans in textile production and always try to represent or showcase to tourists their cultural identity, as well as their connection to the land through their way of dressing.

Artistry in textiles and in agriculture, such as potato farming, coffee, and other grains, are essential parts of their daily lives.

Activities during your visit to the Misak:

  • Firstly, Misak women are in charge of welcoming tourists and explaining the typical cultivation process, inviting you to participate.
  • They’ll show you their homes, being very open to foreigners and teaching you everything from their kitchen to their bedrooms.
  • In many cases, these families often have their clothing factories in their own homes. Misak women will teach you the manufacturing and embroidery styles they use to make their typical garments.
  • Of course, they also believe in natural medicine, so you’ll learn the process of making medicines with plants like the frailejón, a floral jewel that they venerate in this place.
  • In Silvia, Cauca, you can not only interact with them but also find markets with Misak and other indigenous products from other regions of Colombia.

Nasa Indigenous People – Cauca

Location: In the municipalities of Inza and Belalcázar in the Tierradentro territory in Cauca, southern Colombia.

The Nasa are one of the strongest and largest communities in the country, one of the few that fully resisted Spanish conquest, with a characteristic rebellious attitude.

At one point, they even assassinated the son of a Spanish crown leader and often caused many problems for the Spanish.

In the Tierradentro territory, there are over 36,000 families you can visit, preserving their worldview, language, and most ancient customs. It remains an ethnic group with a warrior and rebellious spirit.

Activities during your visit to the Nasa:

  • Once you arrive in the community, the elders welcome you and invite you to join the “Yuwe” ritual at night, around a bonfire, to harmonize your negative energy.
  • Coffee and panela, extracted from sugarcane, are essential for daily diet in this community. Leaders will take you to a local farm to show you the extraction process and its ancestral uses.
  • They’ll also take you to the Nasa ancestral reserve, where you can directly integrate with the community and join their daily practices like farming, weaving, cooking, playing instruments, and meeting their ancestral musicians.
  • Like the Tikuna, community activities in this tribe are highly appreciated. Some people within this community even prefer your participation in these activities over receiving money.

Recommendations for Visiting Indigenous Communities in Colombia

  • Wear comfortable sports clothing like sneakers, sweatshirts, and sun hats.
  • Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent, preferably biodegradable.
  • During your expedition, always carry cash.
  • You can bring a reusable water bottle or canteen to hydrate yourself and avoid generating more waste.
  • Always be open-minded and willing to interact with other local cultures, respecting everyone.
  • Don’t litter. Show respect for the environment, as it’s a sacred symbol for these communities.

More nature tourism experiences 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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