Serranía de la Macarena

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Serranía de la Macarena
Serranía de la Macarena is located in Colombia
Serranía de la Macarena
Highest point
Elevation 2,615 m (8,579 ft)
Coordinates 2°19′55″N 73°53′12″W / 2.33194°N 73.88667°W / 2.33194; -73.88667Coordinates: 2°19′55″N 73°53′12″W / 2.33194°N 73.88667°W / 2.33194; -73.88667
Length 120 km (75 mi) north-south
Width 30 km (19 mi)
Country Colombia
PNN Serranía de la Macarena
IUCN category II (national park)
Location Meta Department,  Colombia
Nearest city La Macarena
Area 6,200 km2 (2,400 sq mi)
Established 1971

Serranía de la Macarena is an isolated mountain range located in the Meta Department, Colombia. The mountains are separated by about 40 km (25 mi) at their northern extreme from the East Andes. The range is orientated from north to south and is 120 km (75 mi) in length and 30 km (19 mi) wide. The highest peak, which is unnamed, reaches 2,615 m (8,579 ft) and is the highest point of the Orinoquía Region. The first national reserve in Colombia was established in the central part of the mountain range in accordance with a Congressional Law promulgated in 1948.[1] The status of National Natural Park was designated in 1971 and the protected area encompasses 6,200 km2 (2,400 sq mi).


The national park encompasses the ecologically unique meeting point for the flora and fauna of the Amazon, Orinoco and Andes regions. The area is of tropical climate and temperatures range from 42 °F (5.5 °C) to 88 °F (31 °C). These aspects help to maintain a high level of biodiversity with numerous endemic and rare species.[2]

The ecosystems found within the park include rainforest, dry forest,[3] shrublands and savanna.[4] The mountains are home to around 50 known species of orchids, and botanists studying the area have identified more than 2000 other species of plants.

Mammal species include anteaters, jaguars, cougars, deer, 8 species of monkeys [5]

There are recorded 550 species of birds including the rare Gray-legged Tinamou.[2]

100 species of reptiles

1,200 species of insects and


The La Macarena National and Ecological Reserve Park is internationally known the Caño Cristales, labeled one of the most beautiful rivers in the world, which has been chronicled by the Colombian journalist and explorer Andrés Hurtado García.[citation needed]

There are also other important waterfalls such as Angostura I in the Guayabero and Caño Cafre rivers, surrounded by rocky edges with a great amount of petroglifos. Many waterfalls area difficult to spot due to the steep topography.[citation needed]


Basement rocks on the east side of the Macarenas include the Precambrian granite of the Guyana Shield in the Guaviare River valley and the San Jose del Guaviare area. The rocks of the shield are overlain by sandstones and conglomerates of the Vaupes Formation of Lower Paleozoic to the lower Oligocene age.[6]

Colonization and conflict[edit]

The integrity of the national park has been historically threatened by the arrival of colonists seeking land since 1970. The town of Buenavista, Meta dates from this period.

In recent years, portions of the park have been used both to grow coca, plant landmines and to house irregular rebel forces, because it is difficult for Colombian authorities to access and control the area.

By 2005 an estimated 45 km² of the Park's extension was used to grow drugs as part of the illegal drug trade. Increased coca cultivation has contributed to damaging the Park's ecosystem and diversity.[citation needed]

Despite the existence of drug crops, for many years the Park had never been subjected to controversial glyphosate fumigation, as it had been forbidden by law to do so in National Parks. Later reforms relaxed the law's restrictions, allowing for the use of fumigation only after a set criteria has been met, including viability and ecological impact studies.

In late 2005, after FARC guerrillas ambushed a number of Colombian security forces near the park, the Colombian government publicly announced the beginning of a manual coca eradication campaign in La Macarena as a form of retaliation. Manual eradication efforts, consisting of a heavy police and military presence on the ground as a way of protecting workers, began in January 2006. These efforts lasted until the middle of the same year, manually eradicating an estimated 29.1 km² of coca from the Park.[citation needed]

After a number of workers and Colombian law enforcement authorities were wounded and killed due to ambushes, mines and other forms of guerrilla attacks, the government announced that fumigation would be employed to eradicate the remaining 17 km² of drug crops.[citation needed]

This decision has been criticized, because environmentalists fear that fumigation will contribute to the further deterioration of the park's ecosystem.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Colombia's Sierra de la Macarena". 
  2. ^ a b "BirdLife International - Parque Nacional Natural Sierra de la Macarena". 
  3. ^ "Northern South America: Colombia and Venezuela". 
  4. ^ "PNN - Nature & Science Macarena". 
  5. ^ "Exploraciones - Fundación Colibrí - Serranía de La Macarena" (PDF). 
  6. ^ Pinson, W. H., Jr., et. al., K-Ar and Rb-Sr Ages of Biotites from Colombia, South America, Geological Society of America Bulletin 1962, v. 73, pp. 907-910

External links[edit]

(Spanish)Sistema de Información Ambiental Territorial de la Amazonia colombiana SIAT-AC