December 5, 2020

The swamp of Santa Marta in Colombia, a paradise to discover

The swamp of Santa Marta in Colombia is an extension of mangroves full of birds and fish that make the space a haven of peace difficult to forget and that paradoxically has been left out of the great tourist routes that cross the Caribbean region.

Of geological origin, it is part of the Magdalena River, the largest in Colombia, and provides sustainability to more than 300,000 people for the ecosystem services provided by the mangrove.

Today it is a system that struggles to sustain itself due to the different problems generated by environmental, human and natural effects.

In the 50s, a road was built that connects two cities, Santa Marta and Barranquilla, the work covered all the communication between the estuary and the sea and generated a water disaster of the ecosystem.

"The fresh water did not enter so it began to salinize and a death of approximately 50% of the mangrove forest began, that loss was the main impact on the environment," the coordinator of marine resources research programs told Efe of the NGO Marine Research Institute (Invemar), Mario Ruedas.

The main occupation of the area is artisanal or small-scale fishing. Some 4,500 fishermen now work in the swamp with an annual production of approximately 5,000 tons, work that has decreased so that the species that live in the swamp are not lost.

On the other hand, so that communities do not leave the area, as happened in the 90s because of the demobilized guerrillas of the FARC, the authorities are implementing other livelihoods such as bird watching.


Palaphitic communities live in the swamp, in generally wooden houses supported by water and distributed in three villages: Nueva Venecia, Trojas de Cataca and Buenavista.

The smell of fresh water along with the silence are broken when the tourist passes through Caño Grande and arrives in Buenavista, where the houses, some of striking colors and others where the moisture has eaten the color of the wood, make the site a place unique and in which its people receive the few tourists who arrive with what little they have.

There lives Nabil Rentería, 36 years old. He was born in the nearby and also Caribbean Barranquilla, although his roots are from Buenavista, where his parents were born.

Three years ago his father passed away, he says that of a disease "which he prefers not to remember," a week after the burial, he took suitcases and decided to return to the town of his origins to settle in another way of life and "follow the path that had not long since I found. "

Nabil set to work in fisheries and a year later, thanks to the local sustainable development and peace governance project financed by the European Union with the support of Invemar, he managed to be the local birdwatching informant.

"This project is different, we have seen a fairly important change, I never imagined being the local informant, the projects that arrived here lasted three months and the community had no hope with what was done," he said.

"They told us about implementing a tourist hostel here in the palafitos, at first I hesitated because I had the experience of past projects, but I decided, I learned about birds and tourism," he added.

The largest lagoon complex in Colombia will soon have a center of amphibious culture, will receive tourists and will introduce the world to the beauty of the swamp.


This Thursday the swamp has been visited by ten ambassadors and diplomats of the European Union to analyze environmental conservation plans.

Tomorrow they will visit Tayrona Park together with the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development Ricardo Lozano.

Since 2016, the European Union has invested 55 million euros for the care of the environment in Colombia, with which 653 green businesses were obtained, more than 21,000 jobs were generated throughout the country and in addition 1,200 families from Afro-Colombian communities were benefited from the implementation of sustainable economies, the European Union reported.

From 2020, they will invest another 20 million euros for environmental projects.

David Casasús Márquez

. (tagsToTranslate) cienaga (t) Santa (t) Marta (t) Colombia (t) discover

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