The park is still only accessible by air. Although some overland routes do exist, park officials advise against arriving by land because the road passes through the red zone. You can take a plane from BogotÃ¡ to Villavicencio (30 min) and then another plane from Villavicencio to La Macarena (1 hr). Additionally, some travel agents in Villavicencio arrange fly-in tours complete with lodging to the one corner of the national park, which is said to be safe.
The Sierra de la Macarena is in the red zone of Colombiaâ€™s civil war fighting, and the area is largely controlled by the FARC. Trekking and climbing in the park alone is not recommended due to the probability of land mines and other dangers. Go only with an organized tour or guide, who can safely lead you through the park. Guides typically charge $21 per day. Most hikes to CaÃ±o Cristales last two or three days. Also, check with the national park office in BogotÃ¡ about current conditions.
The delicate algae that grows at CaÃ±os Cristales is a protected species, so be careful not to disturb it. Do not take any rocks or plants home as a souvenir, and donâ€™t leave any trash behind. Stay on the paths and follow your guideâ€™s instructions.
Location: Near Villavicencio, Villavicencio , Colombia
Other Activity Types: Natural park
An all-inclusive tour with flight costs $470 per person.
Relative price: High End
Travel Skills: None
You Need to Bring:
Bring binoculars for birding; camera; swim gear to take a dip in the pools; insect repellent, sun block, hat; loose, light-colored, cotton clothing.
Villavicencio; Bioparque Los Ocarros; wildlife tours into the llanos; stay at an agro- or eco-tourist country inn.