Visiting Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area In Colombia

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area Colombia South America

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area is a National Park in northern Colombia that is known for unique geological formations and incredible landscapes.

Los Estoraques is one of the smallest preservation areas in Colombia. Here visitors can walk amongst towering rock columns, deeply carved canyons, explore caves, hike on nature trails, go camping, and enjoy the magnificent scenery of this region.

Despite being one of the most interesting locations in Colombia, this landmark rarely gets mentioned in guidebooks or on ‘must visit’ South America lists.

If you’re planning a trip to Los Estoraques, I cover all you need to know to visit this small, yet impressive park!

Table Of Contents:

Área Natural Única Los Estoraques in Colombia.

About Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area is a great place to visit if you love geology and landscape photography. Los Estoraques National Park consists of formations that look similar to the sandstone columns at Zhangjiajie in China or Cappadocia in Turkey, just on a smaller scale.  

The terrain at Los Estoraques has formed over thousands of years with erosion from water and wind. This area is considered to be a ‘dry forest’ and the ground here is covered in orange-colored sand with some green vegetation.

Orange rock formations at Los Estoraques Unique Nature Reserve.
Some parts of Los Estoraques Park have green vegetation.

Área Natural Única Los Estoraques is open to visitors Monday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

During opening hours visitors can hike around on various trails that weave through the park and enjoy the beautiful nature. Some of the trails follow along the flat ground on the bottom and others climb up to the top of various hills offering incredible panoramic views.

This entire area is open to explore on your own but make sure to wear slip-resistant hiking shoes for safety.

Some of the trails that lead to viewpoints are very narrow and slippery. It started raining during the first day of our visit and the dirt turned into slick mud which can be a bit dangerous since there are many steep drop-offs.

Viewpoints along hiking trails at Los Estoraques.

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area Location

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area is located in northern Colombia next to a small colonial town called La Playa de Belén. This attraction is a bit out of the way from most major cities but is well worth the trip if you love discovering hidden gems.

We stopped by Los Estoraques on our way between Cartagena and El Cocuy National Park. It took us around 2 days of driving to get there from Cartagena. We mostly took toll roads which added up in cost but at least the highways were nice and pothole-free.

Another popular city nearby is Bucaramanga, around 5 hours south. Overall there isn’t much else to do in this region so not many people know about it.

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area is located on the outskirts of La Playa de Belén town. Despite its name, there isn’t a beach nearby, but the town itself is very charming. Most buildings in this village are still preserved in their colonial style with white façades and red tile roofs.

La Playa De Belen has a few small shops and restaurants along with some cabins for visitors, a plaza, and an adventure park. La Playa De Belen town itself is only a couple of streets wide but has everything to make your stay comfortable. The locals were so welcoming and even offered to help us with our laundry after we realized that we were down to our last pair of clothes.

If you’re worried about safety while traveling in this part of Colombia, we had no issues and felt very safe. La Playa De Belen is a quaint little town where all the cobblestone streets are super clean and the colonial-style houses are well taken care of to preserve their original looks.

The entrance to Los Estoraques is located just a couple of minutes’ drive from La Playa de Belén. We drove there ourselves but you can also walk to Los Estoraques from town.  

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area Entrance Fee

For international visitors, the current fee to enter and hike around Los Estoraques is 5000 pesos (1 USD) per person. If you’re a local, the entrance fee is a little bit cheaper at 3000 pesos (50 cents).

If you wish to hire a guide to learn more about the history of this region, a Spanish-speaking guide charges around 20,000 pesos (5 USD) per group. These guides can be hired by the entrance but are not mandatory. Do note that if your Spanish is limited, you might be better off going on your own.

We explored Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area on our own.

During our Colombia road trip, we were traveling around in our Promaster campervan so our camping options were flexible. We decided to stay one of the nights at the Los Estoraques parking lot so we could wake up early in the morning and go shoot photos before more people arrived. It was also raining heavily during the first day of our visit so the exit road was completely flooded and we couldn’t leave even if we wanted to.

Overnight camping at Los Estoraques cost us 10,000 pesos (2.50 USD). While the road coming in was a bit rough, there was a flat grassy area by the entrance where we parked for the night.

Camping at Los Estoraques with friends that we met during our Pan-American Highway road trip.

There is a sign at the entrance that Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area is camping-friendly, but I will note that some overlanders have had issues staying here in the past.

While the local man who runs this place and collects entrance fees has no problem with people sleeping here at night, the park rangers are not as welcoming. Thankfully none came to check on us during our visit.

There are also restrooms on site but if you wish to use them, you will need to pay an additional 500 pesos (15 cents).

My Experience Visiting Los Estoraques

After paying the entrance fee and parking our car we entered Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area. There is a trail that starts right next to the parking lot that leads into the park.

As soon as we stepped into the trail we were surrounded by unique rock formations all around us as far as we could see. We hiked to some viewpoints situated above canyons so deep that we couldn’t even spot the bottom. Probably not the best place to hang out for those who don’t like heights.

Scenic viewpoint of the park.

At the top, we were able to get some incredible drone footage of the rock patterns and the scale of this place.

Unlike most National Parks, Los Estoraques didn’t have any signs against drones. At the entrance, there was a sign that photography is welcome although that can always change in the future.

Drone photo of rocky pinnacles at Los Estoraques.

If you don’t feel comfortable hiking up to these viewpoints there are plenty of trails to explore on the bottom that pass through various formations and caves.

Deep cave along the trail.

Although Los Estoraques is a small National Park compared to others, some of the trails can be a bit confusing and there are very few signs indicating which way to go. If you choose not to go with a guide, be sure to download an offline Google map so you can find your way back to the parking lot.

We recommend setting aside at least a few hours to explore the various trails at Los Estoraques National Park. This region can get very hot so wear light clothing, sunscreen, a hiking hat, and bring plenty of water bottles.

Where To Stay For Visiting Los Estoraques

La Playa de Belén is a small town so the choices for where to stay are pretty limited. Unless have a campervan and plan to sleep at the Los Estoraques parking lot, there are a couple of accommodations that you can book in the area:

As an option, you can also stay in Ocaña City, around 45 minutes away from Los Estoraques. Ocaña is a much bigger town than La Playa De Belen so it has more choices for hotels.

Dramatic views at Los Estoraques in Colombia.

Things To Do Nearby

Here are a few other great things to see and do in the area:

Parque Natural Yaraguá

Los Estoraques is a protected park so dogs are not allowed to enter it. If you’re looking for a dog-friendly place to hike around and see similar formations check out Parque Natural Yaraguá located within La Playa de Belén city.

Parque Natural Yaraguá is a fun adventure park with zip lining, suspension bridges, walking paths, and 360-degree views of amazing rock formations.

This park also offers cabins for overnight stays and has a restaurant on the property. If you’re interested in a thrilling adventure, zip line here costs around 25,000 pesos (7 USD) and a walk across the suspension bridge is 15,000 pesos (4 USD).

Los Pinos La Playa De Belen

Another location worthy of checking out near La Playa De Belen is Los Pinos.

Los Pinos La Playa De Belen is a pine forest on the outskirts of the town where visitors can see panoramic views of Los Estoraques formations from afar. We drove up here after visiting the park and spent a couple of nights camping and unwinding in the forest with other overlanders.

Los Pinos is located just a short drive from the town. The entrance to visit and camp at Los Pinos costs 2000 pesos (50 cents). We enjoyed camping here since the trees provided shade from the sun and it wasn’t as hot as being down in the town.

Area Natural Unica Los Estoraques is one of the best-hidden gems in Colombia.

Looking for more South America travel inspiration? Don’t forget to check out some of our other popular Colombia posts below:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m the founder of the Fun Life Crisis travel blog and I’ve been traveling the world for the past 7 years. Here I share my experiences and tips to help 100,000 people a month turn their travel dreams into reality! Read more about me here.

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