The best guide to Cerros de Mavecure in Colombia for what to do and how to get there—info based on my 5-day adventure with a great local guide.

🛑  Imagine a breathtaking green landscape atop an immense black granite mountain, red rivers lined with white sandy beaches, and an indigenous culture with ancestral knowledge. Welcome to the Cerros de Mavecure.

Cerros de Mavecure is an off-the-beaten-track destination for explorers curious about an area recently opened to tourists.

It’s the kind of place cut off from the world where it’s essential to go through an agency to avoid wasting days organizing logistics and getting the most out of the experience.

Is it worth it? How do you choose your agency? What can you expect?

I completely fell in love with it. Maybe you will, too?

Here’s what you’ll get if you read my guide c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y:

  • When is the best time to visit the Cerros de Mavecure?
  • Which agency did we choose, and why do we recommend it?
  • How did my 5-day adventure in Guainia go?
  • Where I learned to blow a blowpipe like an expert
  • The two places not to miss in addition to the Cerros de Mavecure
  • and more!

Who are we 👋

Since 2015, Adrien, Alejandra, and I (Tom) have been helping travelers explore Colombia. Here, you will find everything you need to fall in love with this beautiful country easily.


Cerros de Mavecure, Colombia: General Information

Cerros de Mavecure Inirida - Tom- Adrien

This section will help you understand more about Cerros de Mavecure.

What and Where Are the Cerros de Mavecure

The Cerros de Mavecure are three majestic hills located in eastern Colombia, specifically 50 km south of Inírida on the Inírida River, within the Guainia department, known as “Tierra de muchas aguas.”

This area, a breathtaking slice of Colombia’s unique landscapes, is a hidden gem on the fringes of the Amazon wilderness, attracting more visitors post-COVID, both locals and a handful of foreigners.

These three granite mountains, named El Mono, El Pájaro, and Mavecurí, are characterized by their black granite composition, which has been oxidized by rain. Interestingly, these formations are nearly devoid of vegetation due to the lack of soil formation through weathering.

They are part of the ancient Guiana Shield, that dates back to the Precambrian era, over 1.7 billion years ago—one of the oldest rocks on earth!

Not just a natural wonder, the Cerros de Mavecure are steeped in spiritual significance for many ethnic groups, considered a sacred space and a “dwelling place of the gods” (tepyues).

The surrounding region boasts a remarkable biodiversity (loved by birders), with 4,299 species of flora and 1,631 species of fauna. Guainia, an oxygen-producing corner of Latin America, spans 72,238 square kilometers, making it Colombia’s fifth largest department, with a sparse human density of 0.61 inhabitants per square kilometer.

History of the Cerros de Mavecure

Their rugged surfaces and steep inclines have captivated visitors for centuries, both for their natural splendor and the legends that surround them.

One such legend involves Inírida, a princess who is said to have retreated to these hills after rejecting numerous suitors, only to be driven to madness by a powerful elixir. She is believed to watch over the area, blessing visitors with the Inírida flower, a symbol of gratitude that blooms throughout the year, reflecting her emotions.

A fascinating tidbit about the Cerros de Mavecure is the origin of their name, which has been mistakenly called “Mavecure” due to a journalistic error. The correct name is… “Mavicure“; “Mavi” refers to a type of palm used to make blowguns, while the poisoned darts used with these weapons are coated in curare, a toxin found in the surrounding area.

When is the Best Time to Go

Credit

It rains a lot in Guainia. Therefore, you want to pick your dates wisely.

The best times to visit the Cerros de Mavecure are from December to March, when the skies are star-filled, rainfall is scarce, and white sand beaches emerge—perfect for witnessing breathtaking sunsets and sunrises.

At this period, you’ll probably camp on the beach, right in front of the giant granite hills—be ready to fight against the sandfly, though they’re less bothersome at night, and mosquitoes are surprisingly few.

The peak season between December and January sees more visitors atop the Cerro Mavicure, and it’s advisable to avoid Semana Santa due to crowds.

My visit in November was splendid, with the onset of white sand beaches and minimal rain. Therefore, I recommend visiting in November, February, March, or April for an optimal experience.

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What’s the weather in Guainia

Cerros de Mavecure Inirida Guainia Tom

The Cerros de Mavecure are extremely humid at 80%, with heavy rains from May to August and intense heat, especially in the summer months of January to March.

Expect to sweat a lot—sun and rain protection is essential.

Is Mavecure in Colombia worth visiting?

Absolutely, the Cerros de Mavecure are a must-visit, offering one of the most unforgettable experiences in Colombia—on par with watching whales on the Pacific coast, going on a safari in Casanare, or exploring rivers and canyons in Meta.

The landscapes are like stepping back in time, almost expecting dinosaurs to appear, especially when camping at the foot of the cerros.

Coupled with an incredible guide and the chance to deeply engage with the indigenous culture of Guainia, it’s an adventure for those seeking something truly extraordinary.

Tomplanmytrip note: Watch the movie El abrazo de la serpiente before coming.

How many days to visit the Cerros de Mavicure

Cerros de Mavecure Inirida Native

Considering the distances and transport costs, a 4-night stay is recommended for visiting the Cerros de Mavecure, just as we did.

Depending on the tour, you’ll spend 1 to 2 nights at the base of the Cerros de Mavecure,

A 4-night stay allows for a buffer day in case of bad weather, essential because rain makes climbing the steep slopes impossible.

Additionally, the surrounding area offers fascinating places to explore, including local culture at the Kenke center, the Estrella Fluvial, making Yuca flour, and enjoying the white sand beaches and red waters of the Atabapo River and El Caño San Joaquin.

How to visit the Cerros de Mavicure: My Review

We booked a 5-day trip to visit the Cerros de Mavicure. Here is how it went.

Day 1: Inirida and Kenke

Woke up bright and early at 6:30 am, and hopped into an Uber from our apartment in Bogotá.

Tip: Staying close to El Dorado avenue is a lifesaver for early flights. And don’t go to the wrong terminal (like we did). Satena takes off from Puente Aero.

By 9:10, we were airborne in a cozy 50-seater. A bit of turbulence, but nothing too scary. Descending, I caught sight of the winding rivers in Guainia, aptly named “land of many waters.”

Landed at 10:40 to a warm welcome and a reminder: entrance fees are cash only—47,000 COP for residents and 82,000 for foreigners. I hope it really goes to tourism.

Outside, It was alreadu scorching! Oscar, our local guide, was there to greet us.

By 11:10, we were off to our hotel, nothing fancy but clean and comfy.

At 11:50, we ventured to Kenke Natural and Cultural Park of Guania, a quick 20-minute ride.

Oscar and Francisca, our hosts, served up a feast of local specialties: fish like bagre and cachama, ajicero soup, cuajado, kasabe, ensalada de tupiro, açaí juice, and even yuca bravo for kasabe. A culinary journey through Guainia’s flavors!

After lunch, our 2nd local guide, Senora Alba from the Kubeo community, shared insights into the land’s flora, including the striking Flor de Iniridia, Guainia’s symbol.

We tried our hands at ancestral fishing techniques, archery, canoeing, and blowgun shooting. Balancing on a canoe proved tricky—Adrien ended up in the water! The precision and speed of a 2m blowgun were mind-blowing.

A walk through the woods led us to a swimming spot with hammocks and a swing over red-tinted water—thanks to tree root tannins. Absolutely magical with the sunlight reflecting off.

The day capped off with a stunning sunset, complete with Iniridia flowers and a fiery sky.

By 6:10 pm, it was dinner time again. My stomach was about to burst—send help!

Day 2: Estrella Fluvial and boat rides

Day 2 kicked off with a hearty 7 am breakfast of caldo de res—beef broth with potatoes and yuca, fueling us for the day ahead.

By 8 am, we strolled to the port, a mere 10-minute walk. During the rainy season, the water rises 4-5 meters, engulfing the entire dock!

At 8:30, we boarded our comfy-seated boat, speeding along the Inirida River to its confluence with the Guaviare, where a striking color difference between the waters caught our eye.

We then headed downriver towards the Estrella Fluvial “Fluvial Star”, where the Guaviare, Inirida, and Atabapo Rivers meet the mighty Orinoco. Hello, pink dolphins!

We perched on a rock in the middle of the Orinoco, feeling like we’d stepped into Jurassic Park.

By 10:20, we were swimming off a rock, with white sand beaches soon to emerge in the dry season. The water’s red hue from the Atabapo river made for playful GoPro antics—yep, felt like a kid again.

At 11:00 pm, we headed back, reaching Puerto Iniridia in 60 minutes. I sneakily grabbed Aleja’s birthday cake—Colombians take their cakes and birthdays seriously.

Noon saw us off to La Ceiba community, arriving by 1 pm for a smoked bagre (fish) lunch. Aleja picked up some crafts.

Departing at 2:20, by 3:05, the majestic Cerros Mavecure came into view—stunning, immense, and utterly breathtaking. We reached El Remanso, nestled at Cerro Pajarito’s base, where we’d camp for 2 nights.

At 4 pm, we crossed some rapids, a short boat ride away, perfect for sunset views. A looming storm turned our excursion into an adventure, with streams cascading down the steep, impermeable cerros. Stuck for a couple of hours, we shared stories over hot coffee before braving the rain and darkness to return to camp, marveling at our captain’s navigation skills with just a flashlight.

Day 3: Cerros de Mavecure & Caño Joaquim

We woke up at the crack of dawn—3:00 am to be exact! The mission? To catch the sunrise from the top of the smaller Cerro Mavicurí.

Despite the rumbling thunder and a slight drizzle, we decided to brave it. Our guide Oscar and Rebecca from the El Venado community, was all set to go.

Climbing in pitch darkness, it took us an hour. The initial 45-degree steep ascent, followed by a trek through a thicket and up several wooden ladders, was no small feat.

At the summit, the skies gradually cleared, revealing the breathtaking view of the Mavecure hills bathed in sunlight. Facing us were the other two cerros—Pajarito and Mono—and a mysterious fourth called Diablo. It was a sea of green forest, with rivers meandering through. Beyond, possibly unexplored cerros peeked through.

Clouds weaving through the cerros created a mesmerizing scene. Rebecca crafted fans and a bird from Pavaco stems, sharing Mavicure legends passed down through generations, like the story of the three orphaned god cerros and Princess Iniridia.

We were the only ones there and we spent three hours in total—also because we had to take tons of video for this guide.

Tomplanmytrip note: In the peak season, each group is timed so that everyone can make the most of the site (the space at the summit of mavicure is not very large). That’s why it’s important to come on weekdays, and in private groups.

By 11:00 am, we were back at camp for breakfast, then headed to Caño Joaquim at noon—20 minutes away, past the Raudal de Mavecure. Despite a sudden downpour, we continued swimming in the warm red waters and white sandy beach.

Back at Marcelino and Leticia’s by 1:15 pm, we toured the community at 2:30 pm and learned to make Kasabe from Lili. This crispy, circular bread made from yuca flour, a staple since pre-Hispanic times, involves peeling and washing sweet yuca, mixing it with fermented Yuka Brava, grating, resting, juicing, sieving, and finally, cooking.

As a Frenchman, I must admit, I miss my fresh baguette, but when in Rome—or rather, in Mavecure—kasabe is the way to go!

Day 4: white sand beach and dolphins

Aleja’s birthday kicked off bright and early at 7 am—thank goodness for the neighbor’s freezer for keeping the cake chilled!

By 7:45, we were on our way to circle Cerro Pajarito, with Oscar and Gabriel, a guide from the community.

As we trekked, deer and ocelot tracks appeared, and we wove between the cerros, passing a latex-producing tree. After a three-hour hike, we encountered a pristine white sand beach opposite Cerro Mavicure. Swimming with the cerros surrounding us was unforgettable—the view never gets old.

By 2 pm, it was time to head back to Inirida. We made a pit stop to watch the dolphins, a serene moment that was another highlight of the journey.

Arriving back at 4:30 pm, I was thoroughly worn out. A quick bite at a local restaurant was all I could manage before hitting the hay. What a day!

Day 5: Amarru Rupestre Park

Day 5, our final day, brought a slight twist with our flight rescheduled to 11 am—Oscar had wisely checked for any changes the night before, as Satena is known for its surprises.

Starting early at 8 am, we headed to the Paujil reserve to explore the market and grabbed breakfast. There, amidst the hustle, were gambling games resembling roulette, but photos were a no-go.

Next up was a quick 10-minute journey to Coco Nuevo for the Amarru Rupestre Park with Melbino guiding us—he spent is life trying to decifer them.

The petroglyphs there bridged past to present, narrating indigenous rituals of learning and education.

Oscar then escorted us to the airport, marking the end of our incredible journey to the Cerros de Mavicure.

Where will you sleep

During your adventure to the Cerros de Mavicure, you’ll have a mix of accommodations.

In Inirida, you’ll stay in hotels. It’s nothing fancy but it’s comfortable. Another good option would be to stay in the surrounding area like at Kenke.

Once you venture towards the cerros, your sleeping arrangements take a more rustic turn. Depending on your chosen agency, you’ll find yourself in either Remanso or El Venado communities. We stayed in Remanso, right next to Cerro Pajarito, where the living is authentic, with houses made from palm leaves and wood, all nestled along dirt roads, even boasting a tiny hospital. El Venado, we’ve heard, offers a similar vibe but with a slightly more structured setup.

Sleeping will be in tents (with a mattress inside).

If you’re visiting in the dry season (December to March), you might even find yourself camping directly on the beach under the stars.

Who will you meet

During your adventure in Guainía, you’ll meet indigenous communities and locals deeply intertwined with their land and culture, making up about 75% of the 50,000 inhabitants.

The region has seen a blend of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples living together, especially after efforts by Sophia Muller 60 years ago. Although much of their indigenous culture was lost, there’s a strong push towards cultural preservation through various programs.

Throughout this trip, we engaged with many locals—from the welcoming family at Kenke, our insightful tour leader named Oscar, to our hosts in the Remanso community, and all the other local guides.

These interactions revealed a keen desire to preserve and share their rich culture. We even got to make our own Kasabé!

It’s a unique chance to immerse yourself in their way of life, offering a deeper understanding and appreciation of their world. And this is why I recommend a 5-day stay.

What will you eat

Get ready to eat fish and yuca-based dishes—reminiscent of Amazonian flavors. You’ll also indulge in exotic fruits like wild lulo and açaí, alongside specialties including:

  • Ajicero: A savory boiled fish dish with chili peppers, accompanied by mañoco and Kasabe.
  • Pescado Moquiao: Smoked fish wrapped in leaves, paired with Kasabe.
  • Casajillo – Yuca Brava: A crispy Kasabe arepa toasted with butter, garlic, and salt.
  • Chicha de Pijiguao: A refreshing cold drink made from Pijiguao fruit, a unique taste experience.

Portions are generously sized, ensuring you’re well-fed after a day of adventure. I think I left fatter than when I arrived haha.

How to get to the Cerros de Mavecure

To reach the enchanting Cerros de Mavecure, your journey begins with a flight to Inirida, accessible from Bogota or Villavicencio via Satena Airline. Booking a few months in advance is wise, as ticket prices can soar; we paid 750,000 COP for a round trip per person.

In Inirida, tuk-tuks are a cool and convenient way to get around town. For longer distances around Inirida, you usually take vans.

The real adventure happens when you switch to a boat to explore Guainia’s highlights.

The journey to the Estrella Fluvial takes about 1 hour from Inirida, while reaching the Cerros de Mavecure is a 2-hour boat ride. We boarded a small but powerful motorboat, equipped with a roof and comfortable seats, ensuring a pleasant voyage to these breathtaking destinations.

Are the Cerros de Mavecure safe?

Tom y Adrien in El Remanso, Cerros de Mavecure in Guainia

Due to its remoteness, Inirida and the surrounding area were for many years under the control of illegal armed groups. But that’s all in the past—at least around Inirida.

When we went there, I didn’t feel any danger, and two local guides always supervised us.

Be a bit careful when climbing the smallest cerro (170m high), just watch your step.

Extra tips for the cerros

Cerros de Mavecure Guainia

Here’s a little extra for you:

  • Claro has the best phone signal, even in Mavicure, so keeping in touch with family is not an issue.
  • Prepare well for water (boat rides, rain) and sun exposure. Trust me, you don’t want to learn the hard way.

Visit the cerros de Mavicure in Guainia with This expert

Cerros de Mavecure Guainia - Tom Adrien Aleja and natives Guides

My journey into this off-the-beaten-path destination, was both eye-opening and exhilarating, largely thanks to our local guide, Oscar, whose deep knowledge and love for his homeland enriched our experience.

And you’ll need a travel agency to assist you with the logistics of this remote area. While I love my independence when traveling, the truth is, trying to arrange transport and lodging in Guainia without local expertise is a recipe for frustration—and can end up being more costly in the long run.

Here are a couple of key takeaways if considering this experience:

  • Choose your agency wisely: The insight and respect for the local culture that a good guide brings cannot be overstated. It truly transforms your trip. You want to go with an agency that hires the best local guides.
  • Tour options: Based on my experience, a private tour offers flexibility and personalization that greatly enhances the visit. However, for those on a tighter budget or looking to meet other travelers, group tours are a viable and enjoyable option.
  • Stay 5 days if possible: you’ll learn a lot more about the indigenous culture of the region and have more time to admire the Cerros de Mavicure. Believe me, it’s worth it.
  • The importance of sustainable travel: With areas like Mavecure under threat from environmental pressures like illegal mining, opting for tours and services that prioritize eco-friendly practices and support local communities is crucial.

Why and how to contact him?

Cerros de Mavecure Guainia - Tom Adrien Aleja

We have invested time and resources to curate the ultimate Inirida experiences, ensuring you the adventure of a lifetime.

The best part? Booking through our favorite experts is not only convenient but also budget-friendly. You’ll pay the same public prices, without any extra cost. It’s a win-win situation that lets you enjoy the very best the Cerros de Mavecure have to offer. And you’re sure they’ll do a great job!

Getting started is a breeze – just fill out our simple online form in under 2 minutes. We’ll swiftly connect you with trusted local experts, giving you the chance to ask questions and explore options. No obligations, no pressure – just the information you need to make an informed choice.

Your satisfaction is our priority. Once you’ve found the perfect adventure, you can secure your spot with a deposit. It’s that easy.

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