The protected areas of Colombia are grouped in the National System of Protected Areas. As of 2008, it has 58 natural national parks which cover about 12,579,081 ha and represent more than 10% of the country’s continental land. The National System of Protected Areas comprises four broad groups: National protected areas, most of them in the Natural National Park System, Regional protected areas, Local protected areas and Private protected areas. The National Natural Park System is divided into natural national parks, fauna and flora sanctuaries, natural reserves, unique natural areas and one vía parque (park along a road).
List of national parks and national forests in Colombia:
1. Cueva de los Guácharos National Park and national forests
The Cueva de los Guácharos National Park (spanish for cave of oilbirds), created in 1960, is the oldest of the 51 protected areas of Colombia. The park is located in the western face of the Colombian Eastern Andean Range (Cordillera Oriental) in the departments of Huila and Caquetá. It covers an area of 90 km2 corresponding to the karstic zones of the Magdalena and Caquetá Rivers. The park is intended to protect the cloud forest and páramo ecosystems.
2. Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park and national forests
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta) is Colombia’s second oldest national park, established in 1964. It is located in the Cordillera Oriental range, between the departments of La Guajira, Magdalena and Cesar, in the mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is a sanctuary as well as a tourist attraction, because it offers different climate, terrain, flora and fauna environments, ranging from beaches to snowy mountain peaks.
3. Salamanca Island Road National Park and national forests
The Salamanca Island Road Park (Spanish: Vía Parque Isla de Salamanca) is a national park located in the Caribbean Region of Colombia, on the eastern outskirts of the city of Barranquilla in the Magdalena Department. The flora and fauna is in abundance because of the confluence of sweet water Magdalena River and saline water Caribbean Sea. It was created in 1964 to protect the abundant bird life and coastal mangroves.
4. Farallones de Cali National Park and national forests
The Farallones de Cali National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Farallones de Cali) is the largest national park in the Valle del Cauca Department, Colombia. More than 30 rivers that supply the southwestern Colombia with water originate here. It is located around the area of the city of Cali, in the Cordillera Occidental range. The ecosystems in the park face several threats including commercial logging, agriculture, tourism, forest fires, hunting and road construction.
5. Puracé National Park and national forests
The Puracé National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Puracé) is a national park located in the Andean Region of Colombia, southeast of the city of Popayán in the Cordillera Central range. Its main feature is the active stratovolcano Puracé, one of Colombia’s most active volcanoes. Four of the country’s most important rivers originate within the area: Magdalena River, Cauca River, Japurá River and Patía River.
6. Tayrona National Park and national forests
The Tayrona National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona) is a protected area in the Colombian northern Caribbean region and within the jurisdiction of the Department of Magdalena and 34 kilometres (21 mi) from the city of Santa Marta. The park presents a biodiversity endemic to the area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range presenting a variety of climates (mountain climate) and geography that ranges from arid sea level to 900 meters above sea level.
7. El Tuparro National Park and national forests
The Tuparro National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural El Tuparro) is a national park located in the Vichada Department in the Orinoquía Region of Colombia. It is the only protected area in the Eastern Plains (Llanos Orientales) under Colombia’s Natural Parks System. One of its main attractions is the mighty stream Raudal de Maypures, called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” by German explorer Alexander von Humboldt in the 19th century.
8. Serranía de la Macarena National Park and national forests
Serranía de la Macarena (Macarena Mountains) is a Colombian mountain range located east of the Andes in the Meta Department. The mountains are separated by about 40 kilometers at their northern extreme from the Cordillera Oriental (3°1′30″N 74°0′30″W). The range is orientated from north to south and is 120 kilometers in length and 30 kilometers wide. The highest peak, which is unnamed, reaches 2615 meters above sea level and is the highest point of the Llanos.
9. Los Katíos National Park and national forests
Los Katíos National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional de Los Katíos) is a national park located in northwest Colombia which covers 278 square miles (around 720 km², or 72,000 hectares). It is a part of the Darién Gap, shared by Panama and Colombia and is contiguous to Darién National Park in Panama. The Pan-American Highway when completed as proposed will pass near or through Los Katíos National Park. The park was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994 due to the extraordinary diversity of plant and animal species represented.
10. Los Nevados National Park and national forests
Los Nevados National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados) is a national park located in the Cordillera Central of the Colombian Andes. The 5,300-meter high volcano Nevado del Ruiz is dominating Los Nevados. Out of the 55 protected areas in Colombia, Los Nevados National Natural Park was the third most visited in 2009, with 50,045 visitors. The most visited was the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park followed by the Tayrona National Natural Park.
Other National Park and national forests in Colombia
There’re some other national parks and national forests in Colombia, that we don’t have enough time and information to list them here. There are 58 national parks and national forests in Colombia.