• Colombia!

    Colombia: Caribbean Sea coast. Go Now!

    Although most of the people live inland, Colombia also has its share of coastline along the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea (pictured). Go Now!

  • Ecuador!

    Ecuador: Sally Lightfoot Crab. Go Now!

    The Galapagos Islands and Ecuador are home to incredible wildlife, such as the famous Galapagos Turtle and the lesser known, but more common Red Rock or Sally Lightfoot crab (pictured). Begin Your Journey!

  • Chile!

    Chile: Torres del Paine National Park. Go Now!

    The Andes dominate much of Chile, including the breath-taking Torres del Paine National Park (pictured). However, the country also hosts the world's driest desert and a thriving metropolis. Begin Your Journey!

  • Venezuela!

    Venezuela: Los Roques. Go Now!

    Rooted in Europe, Venezuela boasts an impressive history, culture, and beauty, including the Caribbean Coast (pictured). Explore Venezuela!

  • Bolivia!

    Bolivia: Salt flats. Go Now!

    This hidden gem is full of surprises, from the impressive salt flats (pictured) to the migrating flamingos. It also clings to the most historic indigenous culture on the continent. Explore Bolivia!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Colombia

WARNING: Drug trafficking violence is a risk in Colombia, please read this travel warning before going!


Colombian Geography - Cocora Valley
Cocora Valley

Colombia, like many other countries on South America's west coast is consumed by the Andes Mountains. However the country also boasts a great deal of coastline, along both the Pacific Ocean as well as the Caribbean Sea. The Pacific coast is fairly wet and low, while the Caribbean coast is drier. No matter the weather, this access to water and transportation has always been attractive to settlers and is home to numerous cities.

The mountains are also well populated; in fact they are better populated than the coasts and are home to many of the country's largest cities. Just inland, the Andes Mountains rise in elevation and these mountains are cut by numerous rivers. These valleys provide water, plants, and animals as the higher elevations provide cooler temperatures and hence ideal living conditions. Dividing these valleys are the mountains, which reach heights of over 18,800 feet (5,700 meters).

Further east and south of the mountains, the elevation falls dramatically, leading into the rain forests and the Amazon and Orinoco River Valleys. These dense forests in some places and open lands in others can be hot, humid, and rainy; for these reasons, the region is sparsely populated.


Colombian Geography - Cotopaxi

Sitting right on the equator, Colombia's temperatures are fairly steady year round, as weather variations are more determinant on seasonal rains and differences in geography. Due to the extreme heat throughout much of the year most people have made their homes in the mountains, which offer cooler temperatures year round. The mountains also get a fair amount of rain, which gives the people, plants, and animals fresh water year round, making the country quite livable at elevation.

What the Colombians call their summer, other people call the dry season. However when this occurs is a mystery given the differing geographic variations within Colombia. Along the coasts this season runs from about December to March, but in the mountains there are two dry seasons, with the drier of the two running during these same months. The other dry season in the mountains runs from about July to August. The only true difference between the dry and wet seasons is rainfall as temperatures are nearly identical year round throughout the country. For example, Bogota has an average daily low of about 45° F (7° C) and an average day time high of about 65° F (18° C) year round. Likewise, along the Caribbean Sea coast year round lows are about 75° F (24° C) and year round highs are about 93° F (34° C). At elevation the temperatures are also fairly consistent year round, but cooler, as temperatures get colder at higher elevations and many mountain peaks remain near or below the freezing point year round.

Colombian Geography - Amazon River
Amazon River

The wet season, or what the Colombians call their winters, along the coasts peak in August to November, while in the mountains there are again two wet seasons. The wetter of the two wet seasons in the mountains runs from about September to November and the drier wet season runs from about April to June. Again, during this time the temperatures throughout the country are nearly identical as they are during the dry season.

One thing to note is that the seasons in the far eastern part of the country aren't always in line with the seasons elsewhere in Colombia. In the Amazon River Basin the humidity and rains tend to peak from October to May or June, while the rest of the year tends to get less rain and humidity; however "less" is only a relative term as rains and high humidity are common throughout the year in the Amazon Basin. Temperatures here tend to range from about 70-90° F (21-32° C) throughout the year for daily lows and highs.


Colombian Geography - La Guajira
La Guajira

Colombia has a very diverse variety of wildlife since the country has landscapes that include tropical coastline to the high Andes Mountains as well as the beginnings of the Amazon River, which is a rain forest in the country's southeast. These differences in geography and weather attract a large number of animals and allow many different plants to grow.

Many of the more common mammals are woodland animals, such as squirrels, mice, rats, bats, opossums, deer, rabbits, tapirs, sloths, and others. However, the mountains and rain forests attract these animals as well as others, including llamas, alpacas, vicunas (a camel species), cougars (puma), beers, armadillos, porcupines, monkeys, jaguars, and wolves. There are also some rodents unique to South America in Colombia, such as the chinchilla and capybara.

Colombia also has a huge variety of sea life in the Caribbean Sea, the Pacific Ocean, and in the rivers that lead to the Amazon River. The saltwater bodies are home to mammals, like whales, dolphins, and manatees as well as fish, shellfish, and coral reefs. The corals bring in a lot of different animals, including surgeonfish and butterfly fish. Other animals roaming these waters include sharks, marlins, tuna, barracuda, mahi-mahi, snapper, mackerel, grouper, puffer fish, shrimp, crabs, seahorses, starfish, eels, rays, jellyfish, and sea urchins. In the fresh waters, including the rivers flowing east are additional species of fishes. The sea life here includes trout, pike, catfish, and others, but these animals aren't as diverse as much of the Amazon River.

Colombian Wildlife - Vicuna

The bird life is almost as diverse as the sea life since woodland, mountain, sea, and rain forest birds are all common. Among these are egrets, eagles, condors, partridges, coots, geese, sandpipers, ibis, herons, finches, hummingbirds, toucans, macaws, wrens, owls, sparrows, cardinals, jays, orioles, frigate birds, pigeons, parrots, parakeets, flamingos, and woodpeckers.

The reptilian, amphibian, and insect life in Colombia are also diverse, but the variety of species is still somewhat limited. Many of these animals are spiders, including the tarantula and black widow, and snakes, including the rattlesnake, boa, and anaconda. In or near some of the rivers, especially those in the rainforests, the amphibian population spikes as a number of frogs, iguanas, and lizards are present. The number of insects is quite substantial, including flies, mosquitos, butterflies, ants, and more.

Colombian Wildlife - Porcupine

When it comes to native plant life, South America is home to many famous edible plants and these plants quickly spread throughout Colombia, South America, and beyond. The pineapple is from the region where Brazil and Uruguay meet while potatoes and tobacco originated in the Andes Mountains. A few others, including cacao trees (used to make chocolate), peanuts, and tomatoes are also from South America, although their actual origin is unknown. Peppers, both sweet and hot peppers are from Central America or northern South America while vanilla, avocado, papaya, and corn (maize) are likely from Central America itself. No matter each food's origin, what is known is that these foods spread throughout the continent and to the country of Colombia with the help of pre-historic people, animals, and winds. These people have had these foods for nearly as long as people have inhabited the region and each makes an important part of the people's diet and culture now and for thousands of years into the past.

Many other plants are also present in Colombia. Orchids, lilies, rosewood trees, mahogany trees, mangrove trees, rubber trees, walnut trees, cedar trees, oak trees, and thousands of other trees, flowers, ferns, and plants can be found in Colombia.

This page was last updated: March, 2013