Adventuring at Cañon de la Cristalina in Medellín

Adventuring at Cañón de la Cristalina in Medellín

TLDR? The Cañon de la Cristalina is located in one of the few rainforest ecosystems in Magdalena Medio!

Colombia is undoubtedly a country that offers hundreds of adventure activities, making it a hotspot for eco-tourism.

For example, in Antioquia alone, there are many activities ranging from places to see the paramos to quiet seaside villages. 

One activity that I personally think is worth checking out, however, is canyoning. In this guide, you’ll larn everything about the Cañon de la Cristalina in Puerto Boyacá. Let’s check it out!

Where Is Cañon de la Cristalina Located and How to Get There

Cañon de la Cristalina

This Canyon is located in Puerto Boyaca, in the Parque Natural Regional Serranía Las Quinchas. This is one of the few rainforest ecosystems in a part of the Magdalena River.

Puerto Boyaca has a strategic location. Even though it’s actually located in the Department of Boyaca, it borders Antioquia and Santander. So, it’s known as a meeting point for different cities in the country.

Coming from Medellin, it’ll take you about 4 hours and 15 minutes. Of course, there are a couple of different ways to go about this: 

Just note that If you drive your own car, you’ll have to pay 3 tolls. Make sure you have spare cash on hand.

Once you make it to Puerto Boyaca, you’ll have to go another hour and a half to the Cañon de la Cristalina. You can go by car or take a typical Colombian form of transport called the chiva.

There are also travel agencies that include direct transportation within their packages. These are great picks if you’re worried about getting lost. 

What’s in Cañon de la Cristalina

Cañon de la Cristalina

This area, which sits at about 350 meters above sea level, has become an ecotourism hub thanks to the locals. The community has decided to implement natural conservation techniques since it was a conflict zone in the past.

The level of effort for the routes and hiking activities that people usually enjoy in the area is medium to low. So, almost anyone is qualified and trained to do it, except for those with reduced mobility!

Waterfalls and Nature 

At the canyon, there’s quite a lot to see.

For one thing, you’ll find waterfalls with crystal clear waters (as the name would suggest), as well as long rock formations that form walls. These are known as the canyons, which is where most of the hiking trails are. The canyon consists of a 4.8 km (about 3 miles) trail.

You can also see some pretty cool natural phenomena such as ammonites or fossil inlays in the rocks. These are from the Cretaceous period, 60 million years ago.

As for the falls, you can enjoy more than 7 waterfalls, natural wooded slides, and% natural pools. So, bring your waterproof camera and get ready to take beautiful pictures in one of Medellin’s hidden natural paradises.

Extreme Sports

Extreme Sports

Practicing extreme sports in natural spaces is quite an adventure! And of course, in the Cañon de la Cristalina, there are guides and agencies that offer tours with all plenty of things that will get your heart racing. 

For instance, a couple of things you can check out here include:

  • Canyoning: A tour through the Quebrada La Cristalina.
  • Hiking: An 8-hour hike along the creek trails
  • Camping: Open-air sites at about 600 meters above sea level.
  • Canyoning: Rappelling and climbing in waterfalls of up to 50 meters


The wildlife of humid forests like Cañon de la Cristalina are great places for fans of bird watching. And of course, there are other cool animals too. 

It’d take me a long time to list out everything you can see there, but here’s a start:

  • A wide variety of bird species of all sizes and colors, some of them are toucans, and Blue Peak Paujil.
  • Insects, toads, and frogs that are native to the region.
  • Exotic traditional plants such as cocoa

Remember not to touch any animal or plant unless your guide indicates otherwise. Moist forests are home to many species that can be dangerous to humans. 

Pro tip: Bring binoculars to so you can spot the animals better!

Recommendations for Visiting the Cañon de la Cristalina

Visiting the Cañon de la Cristalina

If you’re planning to head out to the Cañon de la Cristalina, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Here are a few tips I wish I’d known about before I went:

  • Wear comfortable and waterproof clothing as well as walking or mountain shoes.
  • Wear sunscreen, a hat, and, if possible, long-sleeved shirts.
  • Bring a change of clothes for after all the adventure activities.
  • Carry enough hydration as well as snacks.
  • Go with a guide, especially if you want to try extreme sports.
  • Bring a lot of bug spray with you.
  • Don’t take unnecessary valuables with you, and expect to come home muddy.
  • Bring a light backpack.

Other than that, just have fun!

Stays & Nearby Hotels

Stays & Nearby Hotels

The closest lodging to Cañon de los Cristales is approximately an hour and a half away in Puerto Boyacá. However, you may find some hostels and farms along the way where you can spend the night near the road. 

I’d just take some care with these. They can be pretty bare-bones if you’re not used to roughing it.

Now, if you want some more comfort, I recommend staying in the village. There are a wide variety of hotels where you can rest up. Here are a couple of them.

La Joya Eco Tourism Farm

This is a small finca about half an hour from the village. It’s the best option if your goal is to stay as close to the canyon as possible.

For very reasonable prices, you can enjoy its cabins with access to the pool, bar, and restaurant. Plus, you’ll get comfortable amenities such as a TV, air conditioning, and a fridge.

Overall, this is a pretty simple accommodation. But, it’s got everything you need to rest before or after the adventure at the canyon.

Address: Vereda La Balastrera Km 15 Vía, El Marfil, Puerto Boyacá

El Palmar Resort Hotel

This is a very rural lodging that’s only 10 minutes from the village. That makes it perfect for those who prefer to stay in a more rural place at very low prices.

The rooms only have TV service and air conditioning, just what you need to rest from the noise of the city and enjoy the stunning landscapes of the region.

Ecotourism Agencies

Ecotourism Agencies

There are plenty of tourist agencies that offer adventure tours so that you can fully enjoy Cañon de la Cristalina and the natural wonders that surround it.

Here are a couple of agencies that will take you out to the canyon.

Ruta Dorada

The Ruta Dorada is a tour that includes transportation from Puerto Boyaca, lunch, a tour guide, and risk insurance. Depending on your group size, you’ll pay $100,000 COP or $120,000 COP  per person (subject to change).

As always, things can change depending on the weather and how the day goes. Usually, the tours take about 8 hours. However, it’s better to have the whole day off to fully enjoy the adventure.



Kundurimarka takes you to go canyoning through the waterfalls and natural pools of Cañon de la Cristalinas.

In addition, they take you to know the lost town of Falan, a magical destination lost among the tropical forest.

The adventure includes a guide, lodging, safety equipment, breakfast & lunch, insurance, and transportation.

Other Things to Do in Puerto Boyaca

Puerto Boyaca

There are other things to do besides going out to the Canyon if you want to visit Puerto Boyaca. A couple of the best things to do nearby include: 

  • The Johnsons dock: Ideal for boat trips.
  • The Palagua Swamp: A swamp located 40 minutes from the town
  • Natural pools of clear waters in the village of El Marfil: A two-hour hike out to a natural swimming hole.

And of course, don’t forget to take a walk through the town to visit tourist spots such as:

  • San Jose Obrero Church
  • San Pedro Claver Church
  • Puerto Boyaca fluvial port

Visit the Cañon de la Cristalina

If you are a lover of nature, adventure, and expedition activities, the Cañon de la Cristalina is undoubtedly a must-see that promises different activities and offers natural settings of the tropical humid forests of Colombia.

Travel to the Serrania las Quinchas from Medellin or any other department, and enjoy the waters, the walks, and the beautiful landscapes that this place houses. It’s one of the hidden gems of the country!

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