Community Tourism in El Chocó, Colombia

When arriving in Chocó via small plane, I was immediately given a reminder of the history of the region; the majority of the population (80-90%) is made up of Afro-Colombians, for the most part the descendants of escaped slaves brought to the area by the Spanish for gold-mining and farming. Standing on the runway, Latin music with strong African undertones could be heard from the streets of nearby Nuqui. The majority of Chocó is made up of thick forest and scattered towns and villages, many of which are only accessible by small plane and boat. Over the next few days, we visited several of these villages, led by representatives of the Chocó Community Tourism Alliance. This alliance is made up of representatives from five communities in the Nuqui area. Proceeds from tourism in the area are split between communities of the alliance, fostering cooperation and a sustainable business model as tourism in the area slowly grows.

Colombia ecotourism Reefs to Rockies
View from Playa Blanca Beach in El Chocó, Colombia.

Because the Nuqui area is still developing their tourism industry, it remains a rustic but pristine destination that will please travelers wanting to combine eco-tourism, community tourism, and a budget-friendly destination. The people are friendly, the food is simple but fresh and delicious, and the scenery is spectacular. Accommodations in the area are quite basic, but clean and comfortable. If getting far off the beaten track and enjoying the simple life is worth a few cold showers, Chocó may be the place for you!

Colombia ecotourism Reefs to Rockies
Typical breakfast of arepas and Colombian coffee.

Highlights of a trip to this area can include a soak in hot springs surrounded by forest in the village of Termales, visits to local schools, a relaxing river trip in traditional dugout canoes, swimming in waterfall pools, hiking to see endemic poison dart frogs, visiting an internationally-recognized surf program for local children, and spectacular views of humpback whales along the coast (in season).

Colombia ecotourism Reefs to Rockies
Traveling by dugout canoe in in El Chocó, Colombia.

We work with local agencies that partner directly with the Community Tourism Alliance, so travelers can be sure they’re directly supporting the local communities they visit. It’s a quick one-hour flight to Chocó from Medellin. Day trips highlighting the huge transformation in the last 20 years of Medellin are a great add-on. Medellin was one of the most dangerous cities in the world a few decades ago, but now has transformed into a city internationally recognized for its innovation in public transportation and industry.

This blog post was written by Amy Englert, one of Reefs to Rockies’ travel consultants. Earlier this year, she was a participant in the 2015 Colombia Travel Mart.

Are you thinking of a trip to Colombia? We’d love the opportunity to help you in the planning process!