Located on the Pacific coast in the northwestern NariÃ±o Department, Parque Nacional Sanquianga contains 30 percent of Colombiaâ€™s Pacific mangrove forests. This 80,000-hectare (197,684-ac) park protects a complex estuary delta system formed by the Sanquianga, PatÃa, La Tola, Aguacatal and Tapaje Rivers. The ecosystem also includes 60 kilometers (36 mi) of sandy beaches, swamps and guadual (giant bamboo) forests.
A great diversity of marine species lives within the shelter of the red mangrove: sponges, mollusks, crabs and piangua. This sanctuary has the highest concentration of shore and seabirds on the Colombian Pacific coast and is a primary nesting ground for Brown Woodrail, Gull-billed Tern, Tumaco Seedeater and Neotropical Cormorant, as well as for Caguama sea turtles. Other fauna include sloths, iguanas, babillas and rodents. The labyrinths of Sanquianga additionally harbor small indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, with a total population of about 11,000.
While canoeing through the mangroves, you can observe the diverse flora and fauna Parque Nacional Sanquianga contains and experience one of the best preserved mangroves. Interpretive trails at El Secadero and El Carboncillo, and to Lagunas de Mulatos and de Amarales, allow you to penetrate the forest. On Playas Guascama, Barrera, Tasquita, Mulatos, Amarales and VigÃa, you may swim, and play soccer or beach volleyball. Cultural activities also await you in the villages tucked into the filagree of this coast.
Near Tumaco, Tumaco, Colombia
From Tumaco, check the various boating companies located on the pier at the end of Calle de la Merced, near Calle del Comercio for launches to the national park (4 hr, $33-42 one way). Sanquianga is also accessible by boat from Buenaventura (12 hr).
Relative price: High End
Travel Skills: beginner/easy.
You Need to Bring:
Be vaccinated against yellow fever, typhoid and tetanus; medication for diarrhea, amoebas and seasickness.
Camping equipment, food, water and flashlight.
Light-weight cotton clothing, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, tennis shoes, rubber boots, bathing suit and hat. Sunscreen and insect repellent.
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