In Colombia, a Trip to a Natural Marvel Few Tourists Ever See


Due to the fact Expanding UP in the flatlands of southern Minnesota, I have gravitated to mountains. Now I live in the Colombian Andes, the place clouds envelop my property. On holiday vacation, I want a snow-capped peak to a solar-dappled beach front. Even my current tour to the Colombian rainforest turned into a large-altitude adventure.

The location was Los Cerros de Mavecure, 3 significant rock formations that incongruously heave up from the jungle flooring of japanese Colombia. The buttes, the major of which rises 2,360 ft previously mentioned sea amount, are religious totems for the region’s Puinave and Curipaco Indians, and for website visitors, they can feel as majestic as Machu Picchu. But compared with the crowds that clamber up that Incan citadel in the Peruvian Andes, not numerous vacationers make their way to Mavecure.

For most of the past fifty percent-century, Colombia’s guerrilla war fearful absent foreigners the comparatively few people caught to the country’s Caribbean shorelines, steering very clear of the jungle, in which drug-trafficking rebels often lurked. But Mavecure has usually been peaceful. The guerrillas were more interested in areas, contrary to Mavecure, that were being rife with coca bushes, whose leaves can be turned into cocaine. “The space was often considered off-boundaries [to tourists] even however it was risk-free,” mentioned Fernando Carrillo, a Colombian biologist who has lived and worked in the location for two a long time.

The Inírida River winds as a result of the Mavecure. At suitable is the smallest hill, just termed Mavecure.



Desire in Mavecure began to pick up in 2016 when the Colombian authorities signed a peace treaty that disarmed the guerrillas and opened up large swaths of the countryside to tourism. An additional enhance arrived that identical year when the Colombian film “Embrace of the Serpent” was nominated for an Academy Award. Beautifully filmed in black and white, the film tells the story of an Indigenous shaman who guides two experts by way of the rainforest on a quest to heal them with a sacred hallucinogenic plant located atop Mavecure. Even though I’d lived in Colombia for 25 yrs, I understood nothing about the area until eventually I saw this mesmerizing film.

In December, when Jennifer, a childhood friend from Minnesota arrived, keen to see the marvels of my adopted homeland, it appeared the best justification to last but not least scale Mavecure. Following paying out $380 a man or woman for an all-inclusive 4-working day excursion with Aroma Verde, a tour agency and progress foundation run by Mr. Carrillo and his wife, we took a one particular-hour flight from Bogotá to the jungle town of Inírida. Motorcycle rickshaws then whisked us to a chaotic port on the Inírida River the place our manual welcomed us aboard a 20-foot aluminum boat with an outboard motor. Our celebration of 3, which provided me and my spouse, Alejandra, and Jennifer, noticed egrets and kingfishers on the riverbank while parrots soared in formation overhead.

Our flight experienced arrived late and the sunshine was setting, so instead than pushing on to Mavecure, our tutorial pulled ashore at the hamlet of La Ceiba, which is household to 34 Puinave and Curipaco families. We were being led to supper in a spacious makeshift dining/assembly room beneath a thatch roof, and introduced to the village leader Fabio Pérez. Even though we all ate fried fish, green plantains and refreshing pineapple, he advised us that, for hundreds of years, the Puinave and Curipaco experienced resisted the encroachment of outsiders, together with rubber barons who sought to enslave them and missionaries who tried to reduce their religious beliefs. But Mr. Pérez insisted that visitors are welcome. Due to the fact the peace treaty was signed, he explained, about 40 Mavecure-sure guests stop by La Ceiba each month with some of them, like us, overnighting in a bunk household constructed a handful of years again, in which communal rooms are furnished with beds and mosquito nets. People also provide woven baskets, wooden carvings and honey from an apiary task, and the revenue has permitted them to forego the environmentally damaging procedures of logging the rainforest and dredging rivers for gold. Tourism “has improved our high quality of existence,” Mr. Pérez mentioned.

A team of tourists with the Sawa journey agency on the summit of Mavecure.



The future early morning, we built a swift excursion in dugout canoes, paddling to a bend in the river to view dolphins feed and frolic. These freshwater mammals improve up to 8 feet long, with bulbous heads and narrow, tooth-loaded snouts. Playful as puppies, they set on a display by leaping over the surface area and next our canoe. Back again on our motorboat we sped south along the river for a different hour right until the horizontal tree line was out of the blue damaged by the three rounded bulges of Mavecure. The buttes are aspect of the Guiana Defend, a 1.7 billion-12 months-aged geological formation that underlies much of northeast South The united states and provides rise to a series of tepuis, cliffs and cataracts which include Angel Falls, the world’s optimum waterfall.

In accordance to researchers, the distinctive white streaks working down the sides of the 3 mountains are the consequence of rainwater washing away lichens and exposing the lighter-colored rock surfaces beneath. Puinave and Curipaco legend retains that the streaks are tear stains from an Indigenous princess who was held captive at Mavecure and cried herself to loss of life.

We stayed in Remanso, a village at the foot of the buttes that functions several rustic lodges and restaurants. There ended up no law enforcement, however we did appear across the Guardia Indigena, a volunteer stability force of Indigenous gentlemen armed with bows and arrows who posed for images. Not that law and buy was an problem in the course of our keep: Practically everybody was in bed by 10 p.m.

Through a stopover on their way to Mavecure, tourists acquire woven baskets, necklaces and blowguns in La Ceiba, a village that is property to 34 Puinave and Curipaco.


John Otis

Two of the buttes, acknowledged as “Monkey” and “Little Bird” need special devices to scale. So early the upcoming early morning, our tutorial took us to the smallest bluff, known as just “Mavecure,” a reference to the poison-dart blowguns utilised by hunters to destroy match. Any individual fairly in shape can tackle it. We had been accompanied by about a dozen Colombian travelers of all sizes. The hardest sections are rigged with manual ropes and wooden ladders, and there are lots of places to end, rest and consider in the 360-degree views of the jungle in both equally Colombia and close by Venezuela.

A stunning orange sunrise was our reward for building an early start out. When we achieved the summit, the clouds that obscured the two other mountains’ peaks quickly lifted and the sight of their substantial domes entranced our complete team. Jennifer, my fellow Minnesota flatlander, threw up her arms in triumph. Another member of our team, Bogotá social employee Cristina Mora, declared, “This place is entire of surprises. We Colombians will need to get to know it greater.” As I reflected on its marvels—mountainous jungles, dolphin-loaded rivers, sacred healing plants and mythological tear stains—I thought to myself: So do we Us residents.

The author’s spouse, Alejandra de Vengoechea (in crimson), and good friend Jennifer Johnson, climbing to the prime of Mavecure. The steepest sections of the route are outfitted with picket ladders and tutorial ropes.


John Otis

THE LOWDOWN // Visiting the Mavecure Hills

Covid Constraints:

Foreign tourists to Colombia need to existing evidence that they have been fully vaccinated at minimum 14 days prior to journey. Unvaccinated foreign travelers will not be allowed entry. Experience masks are expected in community areas through Colombia.

Receiving There:

Satena airways gives day by day flights from Bogotá to Inírida on Embraer jets that seat 50 passengers. Outdoors of Inírida there is no mobile phone service, so placing up a journey by way of a tour operator is very encouraged. Tour operators presenting all-inclusive trips and English-language guides incorporate Aroma Verde, Fundación Antrópico Amazónico and Sawa Travel.

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