Known for its white sand beaches and Spanish Colonial architecture, Cartagena is Colombia’s Caribbean welcome mat. Yet the city offers much more than museum hopping and beach bumming. It also serves as a gateway to many of the country’s natural wonders. So, if you want to add ecotourism to your itinerary, here are three easy day trips from town.
La Boquilla Mangroves Tour
Slather on some mosquito repellent and hop in a creaky old canoe to find one of the most peaceful places: The Mangroves. As you paddle through the gnarled roots of their tunnels, you’ll find birds, crabs, and other creatures who call it home. Aside from bird chirps and insect buzzes, you won’t hear anything but paddles dipping in and out of the still lagoon.
Once you make it through, you’ll see fisherman who are hard at work, yet friendly enough to wave to ‘hi’. Pull up to the shore to visit the village of La Boquilla, and you’ll learn more about their way of life.
Distance from Cartagena: About 30 minutes North.
If you want to book a tour: https://www.alternativetravelcartagena.com/tours/tour-through-the-mangroves-in-la-boquilla/
The National Aviary of Colombia
Located on The Isla Barú, The National Aviary of Colombia is home to over 1,800 exotic birds. Walking trails that wind through the 17-acre conservation center transport you to tropical rainforests, deserts, and the coastal zones. Best of all, the birds aren’t camera shy. They’ll happily show off their beauty as they pose for you.
The one-way journey takes about two hours to navigate through its 21 exhibitions. And don’t be surprised if you make a few feathered friends. A Phasianidae tried to follow me out of the park!
Distance from Cartagena: About 40 minutes South.
If you want to book a tour: https://www.aviarionacional.co/en
Volcano of Totumo
The beaches are great for getting a tan. But if you really want to relax, try a volcano mud bath. Yes, you read that right.
Despite its name, the Totumo is less of a volcano and more of a 15-meter mound with a giant mudhole. Climb to the top, and you’ll enjoy an afternoon of dog paddling in mineral-rich mud. It’s great for your skin and offers a unique outdoor spa experience.
Distance from Cartagena: About 1 ½ hours North.
If you want to book a Tour: https://www.ticartagena.com/tours/totumo-volcano-tour/
Of course, these are just three of the many ecotours (and ecotour companies) in Cartagena. If you’re looking for a little adventure instead of a typical Caribbean vacation, this city is more than happy to oblige!