We work in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta region, just off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The Sierra Nevada is the highest coastal mountain range in the world. It´s considered sacred land and is home to four indigenous groups: the Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa and Kankuamo. Its biodiversity, variety of ecosystems, high number of endemic species and hydrological resources make it a critical area for conservation.
We work in four rural communities: Taganga, Minca, Bellavista and Vista Nieves.
Colombia is a tropical country of incredible diversity and charm. For many reasons, including its ever-changing geography, mysterious history, and vibrant culture, Colombia has fascinated the world for centuries.
Situated in the northwest corner of South America, Colombia is the only country in the region with coasts on both the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean, with a continental area of 1,141,748 km2 and 928,660 km2 of maritime dominions.
The country enjoys constant luminosity throughout the year, with an equal duration of daylight and nighttime hours.
It shares borders with Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador and maritime limits with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti.
People and Culture
The richness of Colombia lies in the cultural diversity of its people. Throughout history, the indigenous population of pre-Hispanic origins has increased the number of immigrants which settle in these lands, making it their home.
The diversity of races has not only produced cultural richness, but also an intelligent, hard-working, cheerful and hospitable community, which enjoys one of the highest educational levels in South America and a literacy rate of over 92%. Populations of European origin, mainly Spaniards, as well as persons of African ascendance, have interacted among them, enriching their cultural backgrounds in the process. Colombia is a multi-ethnic and pluri-cultural nation, where each region has its own characteristics that distinguish it from the others.
Thus, we can talk of an Andean culture that strongly feels its European ancestry; of a Caribbean culture that is a mixture of Indian and African inheritance; a Pacific culture with African roots, and of the culture of the Orinoquia and the Amazon.
This complex process of cultural integration is not only expressed in the country’s traditions, handicrafts and cuisine, but also in its arts; from architecture, painting and sculpture to literature, film and photography.
Colombia is an equatorial country whose climate is determined by trade winds, humidity and altitude. The temperature drops as the altitude increases and the seasons are characterized by rainfall. In most of the country, there are two rainy seasons – from April to June and from August to November. On the Caribbean coast, the dry season is from December to March.
In the South, there is less rain in June and July, and on the Pacific Coast it rains almost throughout the year. The beaches along the Caribbean coast of Colombia are quite hot with temperatures ranging from about 25-35°C (77- 95° F).
The country provides excellent coverage of basic public services. Ninety percent of the population has access to drinking water and good-quality sanitation, a high percentage compared to other countries in Latin America.
In rural areas and small cities (i.e. Santa Marta and Minca), it is better to buy water. If the water is to drink, it is best to boil and/or purify it first.
Banks and Currency
Local and international banking services are available at private and public banks. The official currency is the "Peso Colombiano". The exchange rate against the dollar varies daily. Credit cards are accepted throughout the country, however if you want to exchange foreign money or traveler's checks, it's best to do so in major cities. In rural locations, it can be hard to find an ATM, so it is always better to carry cash or ask before you travel. There are no ATMs in Minca.
Any foreigner who is temporarily in the country can receive health care at hospitals and clinics in the case of an emergency, sudden illness or chronic disease. We recommend having international medical and accident insurance.
Colombia's electricity supply is 110V AC at 60 Hz.
Colombia is the second most diverse country on the planet, making it an exceptional nature destination. It has five regions where you can find distinct landscapes, fauna and flora: the Andes, the Caribbean, the Pacific Coast, the Amazon, and the Eastern Plains.
Colombia offers the world a laboratory for the conservation of life. Its one million hectares of continental waters contains 3,000 species of fish in diverse marine-coastal ecosystems that cover 95% of the continental platform.
Among them are coral reefs, mangrove forests, coastal and delta lagoons, phanerogamic prairies and beach and cliff systems. Colombia’s continental platform includes 53 million hectares of natural forests and 22 million hectares of savannas, arid zones, wetlands and snowy peaks. Fourteen percent of the country consists of protected national parks, as well as natural parks and sanctuaries.
In Colombia, you can find 20% of the bird species in the world (the most in any place worldwide), 17% of amphibians, 8% of freshwater fish, 8% of reptiles, 16% of butterflies and 10% of mammals.