The Los Katios National Park is located on a 72,000 hectares piece of land in north western Colombia. The park is made up of 2 regions. These include the western mountains of Serrania de Darien and the eastern floodplain of Atrato River. Note that the Atrato River is the fastest flowing river in the world, emptying 4,900 cubic meters of water per second into the Caribbean Sea.
The parks topography is divided into:
The parks allure is further enhanced by the cascades of Tilupo and Tendal as well as the stops of Guillermina and Limo’n.
The park’s lowland swamp forests cover about half of its surface area while the remainder is occupied by lowland and montane tropical rainforest. The River Atrato floodplains are of special interest due to the cativo species that can grow as high as 50 meters. Note that the Catival formation is only found in Colombia, Jamaica, and south Central America. The rainforests found within the park are characterized by the guaco, Palma mil pesos and caracole wood species.
The park supports a number of species that are particular to South America such as the mouse and grey-headed chachalaca. Endemic species such as rufous cheeked hummingbird, violet capped hummingbird and the frog call the Serannia del Darien their home. Over 450 bird species have been recorded in this ecosystem.
The park supports about 550 species of vertebrates – and this excludes the fish species. Reptiles such as American crocodile and Cienaga de Tumurado are also widely found in this region. Among the threatened mammals that you are likely to encounter include giant anteater, bush dog, and the Central American Tapir.
The area has been inhabited by the Kuna People who migrated due to inter-tribal wars with the Katio-Embera people. These people occupied the region until the Spanish conquistadors came calling in 1501, led by Rodrigo de Bastidas. The Spanish culture was from then on integrated with that of the indigenous people, a situation that persists to date.
Whatever else you do during your tour of Colombia, make sure you get a chance to venture into this densely forested park. Gone are the days when Colombia was a no man’s land. The country has been able to shake the tag of a ‘drug dealers’ country to a modern country.