The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park and Biosphere Reserve overlooks the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia. A sanctuary and tourist attraction, it offers varied climates and terrain and flora and fauna environments ranging from beaches to snowy mountain peaks.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Natural Park is Colombia's second oldest national park, established in 1964. A sanctuary and tourist attraction, it offers varied climates and terrain and flora and fauna environments ranging from beaches to snowy mountain peaks.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is an isolated mountain range separated from the Colombian Andes. It is one of the world's highest coastal ranges and is home to several ecoregions, which vary with elevation.
The Sinú Valley dry forests cover the range's lower slopes up to an elevation of 500 m (1,600 ft).
The Santa Marta montane forests lie above 500 m (1,600 ft) - 800 m (2,600 ft). The montane forests are separated from other moist forests by the lower-elevation dry forests and xeric shrublands and have large numbers of endemic species.
The Santa Marta Páramo, a high-altitude belt of montane grasslands and shrublands interspersed with marshes and acid bogs, occupies a zone between 3,300 m (10,800 ft) - 5,000 m (16,000 ft).
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve overlooks the Caribbean coast of northern Colombia. Most of the Biosphere Reserve (675,000 ha or 1,668,000 acres) lies in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and the remaining 56,250 ha (139,000 acres) comprises Tayrona National Natural Park.
Tayrona National Natural Park is a large protected area covering the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as they meet the Caribbean coast. The park covers approximately 30 sq km (12 sq mi) of maritime area in the Caribbean Sea and approximately 150 sq km (58 sq mi) of land.
It's known for its palm-shaded coves, coastal lagoons, rainforest and rich biodiversity. At its heart, the Pueblito ruins are an archaeological site accessed via forest trails, with terraces and structures built by the Tayrona civilization.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Biosphere Reserve's area stretches from the Caribbean coast with a finely preserved coral reef, extensive beaches, several bays and inlets up to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta with significant relief and steep slopes.
Independent of the Colombian Andes chain, it rises to 5,775 m (18,947 ft) above sea level at only 42 km (26 mi) from the Caribbean coast. The snowy peaks called 'tundra' are considered sacred.
Vegetation ranges from sub-hydrophyte to snow levels, including cloud forests and high barren plains. Three vegetation types can be seen at Tayrona National Park: forest/scrub with dry and humid forest. Some of them are being modified by peasants engaged in agriculture, cattle grazing, and extracting high-value timber, especially in the coffee belt.
Of the estimated population of 211,000, some 26,500 indigenous peoples, notably the Arhuaco, Kogui, and Wiwa, live in indigenous reserves, but a considerable number live outside these areas.
Ethnic groups try to develop a policy to recover their ancestral lands, strengthen their culture, and assist their traditional conservation practices.
There is no reserve management policy, and the zonation is unclear. However, scientific diagnosis and technical assessments have contributed to elaborating a sustainable development plan with the Sierra Nevada National Park programs in agroecology, fish farming and environmental health.
The area is of great archaeological value, particularly with sites such as Ciudad Perdida and many artifacts of Tayrona culture.