Colombia: the best sites for recharging with Vitamin N

If you are interested in ecotourism and the health benefits of being in nature, these places will seem made for you

The "Vitamin N" has been called the medical prescription for all patients, no matter the age or physical condition. Natural National Parks in Colombia has launched an important public health initiative aimed at showing the benefits that direct contact with nature has for the health of citizens. This campaign aims to bring people, with any health issue or without it to contemplative tourism and contact with biodiversity present in protected areas following the example of countries like Australia, Japan and the United States, where medicine recommends a recharge of batteries through the close link with natural settings.

Breathing fresh air, walking through the forest, having contact with the fragile leaves, and quietly observing nature is absorbing the "Vitamin N". According to studies by Japanese scientists, this is one of the most efficient ways to avoid diseases and improve the quality of life when some are already suffering. In Japan, more than 50 roads destined to this type of activities have achieved a considerable decrease in the heart rate of those who practice contemplative walks enjoying nature.

In other countries this practice is known as "forest baths", which protects health and harmonizes the exchange of experiences with nature. For Carolina González, Health Coordinator of National Parks, "the pioneers were the Australians who demonstrated from the beginning that there is a direct correlation between contact with nature and the benefits for human health, is demonstrated in their health measurements as it’s one of the countries where more physical activities in natural environments are developed". However, she warns that "this does not mean that contact with nature will cure us and that we want to replace formal medicine and conventional treatments with vitamin N, but we do find a link between improving the quality of life of patients with serious diseases and visits to natural environments".

Some of the best places to practice ecotourism in Colombia

One hour away from Bogotá is the Chingaza Natural National Park, a moorland ecosystems that provides water to the Colombian capital and some of the towns of the departments of Cundinamarca and Meta. In this ecosystem you can find Andean bears, white-tailed deer, wildcats, cougars and many birds and butterflies that adorn the environment. The park also offers camping service to spend the nights and in some sector you can practice sport fishing.

If you want to visit the Amazon in Colombia, the Amacayacu National Natural Park is one of the most desired destinations for nature tourism. Hikes on elevated footbridges that cross in times of high rainfall floods generated by the great Amazon River are the appropriate scenario to observe all the fauna and flora characteristic of the mega jungle of the world. In this park we can find the largest freshwater fish in the world, the pirarucu, pink and gray dolphins, some kinds of primates among which stand out the howler monkey, the churuco and the ‘tití leoncito’, one of the smallest in the world.

On the other hand, if the preference is diving to contemplate the wonders of marine nature, Malpelo is the place where there is the widest variety of underwater organisms, the humpback whales make the great journey of more than 8000 kilometers from the frozen waters of the South Pacific to this National Natural Park to mate and give birth to their whale calves. You can see schools of more than 300 hammerhead sharks and the largest fish in the world, the harmless whale shark that lives in this "World Natural Heritage" declared by UNESCO in 2006.

The Utría Natural National Park is another place where you can observe the delicate and at the same time spectacular mating rituals of the humpback whales between the months of July and November of each year, when the migrating whales arrive to dance with their partners in cetacean romanticism in this wonderful cove.

In the extreme north of Colombia, in the middle of the desert of La Guajira, is one of the most curious oases in the world: the Serranía de la Macuira Natural National Park is an ecosystem of no more than 500 MASL in which strangely found some characteristic organisms of moorland vegetation denominated as the "cloudy dwarf forest". Dozens of rivers descend from this ecosystem declared Important Bird Area (IBA) to feed the underground aquifers that are in the northernmost department of the Colombian mainland.

In case of not liking the heat, the Colombian geography offers destinations for all tastes, because the largest glacier mass in Colombia is also a National Natural Park, the Nevado del Cocuy in the department of Boyacá has 25 snow-capped peaks in only 30 square kilometers in area.

Undoubtedly one of the areas of special management most appreciated by Colombian and foreign visitors is the famous river of the seven colors in the mountainous area of Macarena, one of the hot spots of biodiversity in the world, considered by some as one of the few shelters of the Pleistocene.

If you think of a destination of white sand beaches and coral reefs, you can visit the Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo National Natural Park, an ecosystem of coral patches that has an immense marine biodiversity in the Colombian Caribbean Sea where the infrastructure for tourism offers hotels, restaurants and a center for oceanographic studies.

Ecotourism is a very important option for travelers who want to know the northern corner of South America, from moorlands and snowy peaks, deserts, jungles, to being submerged in scenarios of rich marine biodiversity, for a high dosage of Vitamin N.


Latin American Post | Alberto Castaño

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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