The Cienaga grande de Magdalena: my favorite site in Colombia

Where is the Cienaga Grande?

The Cienaga Grande de Magdalena (or Cienaga Grande de Santa Marta) is located in northern Colombia in the department of Magdalena near Santa Marta.

What is the Cienaga Grande?

It is a nature reserve of 26,810 hectares, lakes, marshes, lagoons and mangroves. It is a refuge for migratory birds that come from North America.

Mangrove ecosystems support the different life-cycle phases of shellfish, crustaceans and fish. These mangroves also contribute to the conservation and survival of endemic species: caimans, monkeys, manatees, iguanas, otters, brown herons, needle ducks, pelicans, snake-birds, great blue herons …

Cienaga grande my favorite colombia site
mangrove into the big cienaga grande de magdalena
mangroves in Cienaga grande my favorite colombia site

Lake Villages of the Cienaga Grande

Located 2 hours by boat, 3 villages (Trojas de Cataca, Buenavista and Nueva Venecia) reign over this nature reserve. About 300 families of fishermen live on wooden houses on stilts of all colors. This authentic and very welcoming people live mainly from fishing. Far from everything, he seems forgotten by the world …

An other beautiful Village in Cienaga grande de Magdalena or de Santa Marta
quiet life into the village of the cienaga grande de magdalena
Village in Cienaga grande de Magdalena or de Santa Marta
1 day into the cienaga grande de santa marta

The people of the Cienaga Grande

My love at first sight for the inhabitants of Cienaga Grande !

We had the chance to discover this nature and this people in a very confidential way. Indeed, we were the only tourists in the mangrove and were even a curiosity for the inhabitants of Nueva Venecia. We surprised people at the windows photographing us!

We were accompanied by a convention guide of the national park who told us with all his heart the history of his people (himself lives in Nueva Venecia). From his ancestors, to the massacre of 37 fishermen in 2000 by an armed group, to the ecological disaster they are trying to overcome … It was exciting!

We went from house to house, met the people, talked with them and ate at their table. We were at the football field, see the billiard halls, the police station, the school and the church. On the wall of the church, we stop in front of a commemorative plaque. It is a tribute to the 37 fishermen victims of terrorism in 2000 (paramilitaries shot them to show the population what they would continue to do if they did not obey them …).

A day rich in discoveries, human exchanges and emotions … They were proud that we are interested in them and that we take pictures. When they left, they thanked us for coming to see them. I still have tears in my eyes …

The cienaga grande de Santa Marta and their inhabitants
people of the cienaga grande de santa marta or de magdalena
Nice people living in the cienaga grande de magdalena
A child in the cienaga grande

How to go to the Cienaga Grande?

Tourism is not developed at all in this mangrove and that’s good! But suddenly, it’s much more complicated to get there.

I had mailed requests to many local agencies to organize a day trip, but I received only one positive response. It’s Aventure Colombia who took up the challenge!

Adventure Colombia – Aurélie Justine LETORT – aurelie@aventurecolombia.com Mobil: (+57) 314 357 2545 – (+57) 311 671 9552 (Whatsapp)

Aurélie was very responsive because she worked on a Sunday to offer us on Monday morning this wonderful excursion. I say a big BRAVO to Aurélie for his professionalism and the quality of his services!

She will have made this day a memory that will remain deeply and long in my heart.

And tomorrow direction for a breath of fresh air with our stay at

MINCA into the Sierra Nevada

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