cerro kennedy sunset, hikes colombia

When you hear about the best hikes in South America, Colombia isn’t often brought up. People will often bring up countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. What many don’t know is that Colombia is one of the best places to hike in all of Latin America. That may just be an opinion of mine but so be it. I’ll stand by that until the day I die.

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the entire world. This means you will have many different environments you can hike through and experience. It is truly a one-of-a-kind place to travel to.

A majority of hikes on this list I have done personally and others I have been recommended to by friends and fellow travelers.

cabo san juan tayrona

Where is Colombia Located?

Colombia is the 4th largest country in South America. It borders Venezuela and Ecuador in the Northern part of the continent.

In 1830, Gran Colombia collapsed and this turned into the three countries of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

Best Time to Hike in Colombia

The best time to hike in Colombia depends on what you want to experience. We didn’t plan this but you were in Colombia during part of its rainy season in April/May. The rain might not be ideal sometimes but brings the environment to life.

If you want dryer weather then I would recommend coming to Colombia to do a bunch of hikes during the months of December through March.

ear of the world minca, minca waterfalls, hikes colombia

Things to Know Before Traveling to Colombia

Before planning your hiking trip to Colombia, you might be wondering a few things about the country. Some of the details I will go over are the safety in Colombia and what the transportation is like.

Is Colombia Safe?

In short, yes Colombia is safe to travel to. With that being said, you will want to be careful of your surroundings, especially in big cities like Medellin.

Pickpockets or robberies can happen if you are too flashy with your belongings. This can be true for many places around the world and even in places in the United States.

Overall, the majority of people you will run into in Colombia are extremely nice and don’t want to harm you at all. The best tip to not getting yourself into trouble is to refrain from excessive alcohol consumption.

What is the Currency Exchange?

Before we start, let’s go over the current conversion rate of COP (Colombian Peso) to USD (United States Dollar).

At the time of writing this blog, USD 1 = $4,876 Colombian Pesos. You can find the current conversion here.

To put into perspective the level of inflation, I visited Colombia from April until June 2022. The conversion back then was around $1 USD to $3800 COP.

Transportation in Colombia

The beauty of Colombia is the cost of transport throughout the country. If traveling from big city to big city, I would suggest taking a plane. They are super affordable and will save you a bunch of time.

When traveling in the coffee region, it is best to always take a bus. These are very cheap and in my experience seem to be on time mostly.

The best advice is always to take night buses as this will cut costs on accommodation.

All the bus prices are using the site Redbus.

Buses in Colombia

  • Medellin to Cali (11 hours): $91,000 COP (day bus) and $66,000 COP (night bus)
  • Bogota to Medellin (9 hours): ~$100,000 COP
  • Medellin to Salento (8 hours): $73,000 COP
cerro quitasol hikes medellin, hikes colombia

17 Unique Hikes in Colombia

Many hikes on this list aren’t the most popular in Colombia. There are many different sides to this amazing country. With a handful of them being in Medellin, it’s a different way to see this city that others don’t.

If you want more information on these hikes, then there will be a link to their Alltrails or a respective blog of theirs.

1. Cabo San Juan in Tayrona National Park

Hiking to Cabo San Juan in Tayrona National Park was one of if not my most memorable experiences in Colombia. Certain portions of the hike made it feel like you were hiking on a deserted island.

There is nature everywhere and I even saw my first poisonous frog in the wild. I was stoked.

You will be surrounded by monkeys a lot while in Tayrona National Park. There are even some rare species located here.

The park is open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm unless you decide to spend the night here. Hammock camping in the park is a great experience and I highly suggest you check it out. For only $40,000 COP you get to sleep in one of the most beautiful areas of Colombia.

Hiking details for Cabo San Juan:

  • Distance: This hike is around an 8.1-mile loop trail. This depends slightly on if you take a bus to the trailhead.
  • Duration: On average it will take people 3 hours to finish. Expect to stop more with humidity & seeing wildlife.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as easy to moderate. The humidity can make this hike difficult at times.
  • Incline: There isn’t much elevation gain since you are hiking along a beach. A total of around 692 feet.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
cabo san juan tayrona, hikes colombia

2. Lost City Trek

Lost City Trek is on the list of most unique hikes in Minca and maybe even Colombia too. Some compare this trek to the Machu Picchu trek in Peru.

This must be done with a tour company as it is impossible to do it on your own. Some travelers come to Colombia solely for this hike alone.

Lost City Trek spans across 4-days which all of the accommodation and food will be taken care of. During this trek, you will be walking through dense forests, passing indigenous communities, and seeing plenty of wildlife.

If you have the money and time to do this trek, I highly suggest making it a priority.

If you want more information on this trek as well as reviews then you can find it on Alltrails.

Hiking details for the Lost City Trek:

  • Distance: This hike is around a 29.2-mile out & back.
  • Duration: It will take 4 days to get to the Lost City and back with your guides.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult. The humidity can make this hike difficult at times as well.
  • Incline: Over the entire hike you will increase your elevation by 8,690 ft.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is needed for this hike and is impossible to do it without one.
animals tayrona

3. Cerro de La Tres Cruces

The Cerro de la Tres Cruces hike is a must when visiting Medellin. It is a shorter hike compared to some and offers great views of the city.

You will most likely be staying in the El Poblado district of Medellin. From here it is only a 15-minute drive. It is a little bit closer if you are staying in the Rosales area as we did.

This is a popular park amongst locals who are looking for a good and fun workout. At the top of the hill, you will find multiple pieces of gym equipment.

Hiking details for Cerro de la Tres Cruces:

  • Distance: This hike is around a 1.4-mile loop trail. This varies slightly depending on if you do the entire hike or not.
  • Duration: It should take no more than 45 minutes to reach the top of the hike. The hike down is much faster and overall Cerro de Las Tres Cruces in Medellin should take 1 hour and 15 minutes. This depends on how long you stay at the top.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate because of the length, slight elevation gain, and potential heat. There are many areas to stop and rest. You will definitely get your sweat on.
  • Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1,100 feet or 335 meters. It is very steep at parts but nothing too crazy.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
cerro de las tres cruces

My Suggested Hiking Gear

Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.

  • KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
  • Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
  • Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
  • Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.

4. Parque Arvi in Medellin

Medellin is often called “the city of eternal spring” and for good reason. During our month-long stay here, there were many rain storms. With this name comes a lot more nature than people realize.

Parque Arvi is a nature reserve park in Colombia that is full of hikes. It is 2 adventures in one because the easiest way to arrive at the park is by sky rail.

This will give you some of the best views of Medellin and the surrounding area.

As I said, there are many trails you can take and other activities to do in Parque Arvi. We chose to do Ancestral Trail as it offered what appeared to be some of the best views of the city.

Hiking details for Ancestral Trail in Arvi Park:

  • Distance: This is a 2.7-mile point-to-point trail. If you walk to the trailhead like us, it will add on even more.
  • Duration: It should take no more than 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete this trail. This all depends on how long you sit for lunch and how often you take in the beauty of this park.
  • Difficulty: This hike is rated as easy on alltrails. I completely agree with this rating as the majority of this hike is on flat land.
  • Incline: The elevation gain is around 472 feet or 143 meters. This elevation gain is spread far along the trail that you will barely notice it.
  • Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public
cable cars medellin

5. Tatacoa Desert in Huila

The Tatacoa Desert may not be known by many but it is becoming increasingly popular among travelers recently. This area of Colombia located in Huila showcases the vast diversity of this country and its hikes.

There are many trails you can choose from when visiting here. It is popular to take a tour from the town of Neiva to truly get the full experience.

You will be blessed with rock formations ranging from red to white in this canyon. It reminds me somewhat of certain areas in Arizona.

It is a desert so make sure to bring 45-minute water with you!

6. Marinka Waterfalls

Marinka Waterfalls is located in the small mountain town of Minca, very close to Tayrona National Park. It is only a short 45 minute drive from the town of Santa Marta.

This is a lovely town that I would go back to in a heartbeat. This region of Colombia boasts some of the country’s best hikes.

Marinka waterfalls is a shorter hike than others on this list but you can add in other spots like Ear of the World waterfall.

Hiking details for Marinka Waterfall:

  • Distance: This hike is a 4.7-mile out & back trail. This depends if you visit the Ear of the World waterfall along the way.
  • Duration: It will take around 2 hours to complete this hike.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as easy to moderate. While this is mainly all on the road, there are some parts with an incline.
  • Incline: The elevation for this hike is 944 feet or 287 meters.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
marinka waterfalls, minca hikes, colombia hikes

7. Cerro Kennedy

Cerro Kennedy is a hike in the same region as the previous entry on this list. Located in the Northwestern region of Colombia is a large mountain range where Pico Cristóbal Colón is nestled.

This is a 2-day hike where you will be staying at the Moncho Hostal near the top. This family-run hostal is cheap and offers a great dinner during your stay.

If you ask Moncho’s son, he might be willing to take you to a good sunrise spot as he did for us. It would have been difficult to find on our own, that’s for sure.

At this spot, you will be able to see the coastal towns as well as the famous mount range to each side of you.

Hiking details for Cerro Kennedy:

  • Distance: This hike is around 24 miles out & back trail. This depends on your starting location. We got dropped off at El Campano but some moto-taxi drivers will drop you up further. It is suggested to make this an overnight trip and stay at Donde Moncho Hostal.
  • Duration: It will take around 5 hours to get to Cerro Kennedy. Once again this depends on if you make it an overnight trip and where you’re starting location is.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult. You will be along a rocky road for most of the trek. There are a lot of inclines as well which makes it more difficult.
  • Incline: The elevation gain for this hike to the peak is 5000 feet or 1500 meters. If you stop at Donde Moncho Hostal then it will be about 1200 meters of incline to that point.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
hikes colombia

8. Valle de Cocora

One of the staple hikes in any backpacker’s itinerary for Colombia is Valle de Cocora. This is where the legendary tallest palm trees in the world call their home.

Many travelers visit the town of Salento to solely go to this one-of-a-kind park. There are many trail options but a good one to do is their loop hike.

We did portions of this hike & it offers multiple miradors to stop at along the way. If you want to read reviews of the hike then you can check it out on Alltrails.

Hiking details for the Valle de Cocora Loop hike:

  • Distance: This hike is around a 6.4-mile loop hike.
  • Duration: It will take 4-5  hours to complete depending on how long you stay at the miradors.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult. There are plenty of spots to take a break at but also a good amount of elevation.
  • Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 2500 feet or 762 meters.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
cocora valley, hikes colombia

9. Cascada La Chorrera in Bogotá

When people think of Bogota, they don’t think of nature, let alone waterfalls. Around every corner in Colombia, you can find some hidden beauty. Cascada la Chorrera is that beauty and is the tallest waterfall in Colombia.

This hike is 13 km to the east of Bogota and the closest town to these falls is actually called Choachí. It is around a 3-mile hike and will only take most hikers a maximum of 3 hours to complete.

You can either take a bus close to the town of Choachi or take an uber. Click the link above to read reviews from other hikers who did this trail.

10. Cerro Quitasol

Cerro Quitasol isn’t the most known hike in Medellin but it’s a good one. It offers some of the most unique views as it is the highest point in Medellin.

The hike is technically located in the northern part called Bello. It is extremely easy to get here as you can take the metro all the way north to the 2nd to last stop.

Don’t underestimate the hike as we did. The sun is very hot and we were dumb by not bringing enough water. Thankfully I brought my Grayl filter water bottle with me.

I highly suggest you add this to your list of hikes when visiting Colombia.

Hiking details for Cerro Quitasol:

  • Distance: This is a 6.7-mile point-to-point trail. This depends slightly on which path you take. We followed this wikiloc trail but deviated a little from this which added an extra mile.
  • Duration: It took us 7 hours to hike it but that was with multiple stops and a long lunch. 6 hours seems to be average.
  • Difficulty: This hike isn’t on Alltrails but I rate it as difficult. Many other reviews I have read are in agreement. Being in good physical shape is a huge plus on this hike.
  • Incline: The elevation gain is around 3800 feet or close to 1200 meters. The trail is straight for the majority of the time until you reach the peak.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
cerro quitasol featured

11. Salto del Angel in Envigado

Salto del Angel is next on my list of hikes in Colombia. This is the tallest waterfall in Medellin and is part of a chain of waterfalls in the region of Envigado.

The starting point for this hike is at La Cathedral. This is the old prison for Pablo Escobar.

You can take the A-line on the metro down south and get off at the Envigado stop. From here a taxi to La Catedral will cost around $25,000.

From La Catedral, you will want to go to the back of the building behind the parking lot. You will see an opening into the forest. This is the beginning of the hike.

salto del angel envigado

12. Paramo de Oceta in Boyaca

Paramo de Oceta is a unique habitat in Colombia that is home to a plant known as the frailejón. This is one of the few on this list of hikes in Colombia that it is required to hire a guide.

This section of the Paramos is located in the Boyaca region, near the town of Mongui. It is here that you can find a guide to exploring this region of Colombia.

This hike will take you all day and the hardest part about this one is the altitude you’ll be at.

13. Los Pinos

Los Pinos is the last hike on this list in the town of Minca. This is the most popular viewpoint in the town because it is very accessible by a vehicle as well as foot.

You can combine this hike with one previously on this list, Marinka Waterfalls. If you want, you can get a ride up here through the moto-taxi service or hike as we did.

Very close to this viewpoint is a small cafe where you can enjoy a drink and another view.

Hiking details for Los Pinos:

  • Distance: This hike is around a 14-mile out & back trail. This depends on visiting the Ear of the World waterfall along the way and Marinka Waterfalls.
  • Duration: It will take around 6-7 hours to complete depending on how long you stay at the top.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult for some. While this is mainly all on the road, some parts have an incline. This is especially true if you take a slightly different route.
  • Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 900 meters
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public
los pinos minca

14. Cascada El Silencio

Cascada El Silencio is the last on this list of hikes in Colombia that are located in Medellin. Salto del Angel flows into this next waterfall.

Instead of taking the ropes up to the entrance to Salto del Angel, you will want to keep walking down the path. You will come across ropes leading down. Keep following this path until you get to an open field.

Once at this open field directly across from you is the river. Hop across it and keep following the river upstream. You’ll have to hop across a few times but as long as you keep following the river upstream you will find it.

We had the help of some locals, otherwise, this wouldn’t have been one of the hikes that we would have known about in Medellin.

cascada el silencio

15. La Piedra Del Penol – Guatape Rock

La Piedra del Peñol isn’t as much of a hike as others on this list but it’s a must-see. The famous Guatape rock is probably already on your itinerary as it is one of the most popular destinations in Colombia.

The rock is in the town of Guatape and you will not be able to miss it when driving by. There are around 700 stairs that you will be taking to the top in a very unique natural beauty.

la piedra del peñol steps, colombia hikes

16. Cascada La Escalera: Jardin’s 4 Waterfall Hike

Cascada la Escalera is the first of 4 different waterfalls located in Jardin. This quaint town is located just south of Medellin.

La Escalera reaches 60 meters and you can also pay to go down it with a tour guide on ropes. This first waterfall is very easy to get to and the other 3 are more of a hike.

The other three waterfalls are called fall of the dragon, Cueva de Los Guacharos, and Salto del Angel. I suggest you download maps.me as it is the best tool to use for offline maps in this region.

Adding this to your list of hikes in Colombia will add on a hell of an adventure.

Hiking details for Cascada La Escalera: Jardin’s 4 Waterfall Hike:

  • Distance: This hike is around a 6.1-mile loop hike. This depends on if you go to the other waterfalls or not. This could add on another potential 5 to 8 miles.
  • Duration: It will take 2-4 hours to complete depending on how long you stay at the waterfalls.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as easy – moderate for the first waterfall. If you go to the other waterfalls then it becomes more difficult. This is mainly due to the soft terrain and mud.
  • Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1400 feet or 425 meters.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
cascada la escalera

17. Cerro Tusa

Cerro Tusa was very high on my list of hikes but I was unable to make time for it. This hike is famous because it looks like a natural pyramid.

This is only a 2-hour bus ride from Medellin and it is technically possible to do this whole trip in one day.

The kilometers hiked isn’t too much but what makes this hike so difficult is how steep it is. It is highly suggested to wear gloves during this hike because chances are you will have to grab onto trees to help keep you from sliding.

Once at the top you can enjoy amazing views of Colombia and feel extremely accomplished about what you just went through.

Popular Activities in Colombia

Colombia is full of adventures. Whether that be from long boat excursions throughout the Caribbean or seeing some of the world’s tallest palm trees at Valle de Cocora. The cost of travel in Colombia can be as cheap as you want it to be and you’ll see have a blast. Below are some of the most popular activities in Colombia with great tour guides.

Final Thoughts on the Most Unique Hikes in Colombia

Colombia is a place that will capture your imagination and is full of adventures around every turn. This is my personal list of hikes I think are very unique compared to others I have done in the past. I spent 2 months in Colombia and I still have so much I need to see. I highly suggest picking a handful of hikes on this list and completing them for yourself.

Thank you for reading my guide on the most unique hikes in Colombia. I hope this has helped any adventure enthusiast make the most of their trip to this country.