I spent a few days in Caño Cristales, in the department of the Meta in Colombia. You will need to fly here from Bogota. Caño Cristales is a river in the Serrania de la Macarena that is famous for being 5 colors that only a appear a few months out of the year (June to November). The town in La Macarena is a typical town with nothing very touristy about it. Your time here will consist of day trips to the river, seeing the bright colors, finding some swimming holes and taking some hikes. Highly recommend to active individuals. There is no way to access the river except by walking. However, it does live up to it's name as the most beautiful river in the world.
I also spent a few days in Puerto Lopez (within driving distance of Colombia, roughly about 5 hours). Again, the town itself is not touristy and doesn't have too much to offer, but the landscapes and the nature nearby are worth the travel. We stayed at the farm/hotel at the natural reserve called the Reserva Natural Lagos de Menegua. Here we took day trips throughout the reserve, learned about the nature, saw all kinds of birds and monkeys and drank aguardiente with locals. This is a very particular experience but highly recommended for nature lovers! Even though we were on a smallish reserve and did not leave, there was SO much to see here.
Finally, I also spent a few days in Puerto Carreño, a small town on the eastern border, right next to Venezuela. This is another town that is not very touristy (although there is a strong fishing culture). This isn't really on a lot of people's radars (not even Colombians) but this town had the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. The town is surrounded by three rivers the Meta, Orinoco y Bita and you can actually see some pink dolphins here! They'll approach your boat if they hear you crying (we had to make fake crying sounds). I should also note that it was really hard to be vegetarian here, accommodations were really hard to find. Also, the heat is almost unbearable and I think I took about 3 naps a day.
All of these destinations are worth considering if you are a nature enthusiast and are comfortable staying in a typical Colombian pueblo. Make sure to have a local guide and you will see so much magic and learn a lot about Colombia and it's biodiversity.
Q & A
What would you have changed?
I would've spent more days exploring La Macarena and visiting Caño Cristales.
How was the food?
It will be hard to find accommodations if you adhere to a specific diet. Try to plan ahead and warn your tour guides.
What tips would you give a friend?
Only because they aren't the most touristy places, they were some of my favorite, most impactful trips.
Be ready to hike, walk a lot in heat and rain.
Nope ! Our guides were always very organized and planned well.