Northern Sierra Nevada Region and Rivers

Santa Marta is more than sun, beach, and history. Thick jungles also account for a big portion of the territory, carrying through them the rivers that descend from its highest mountains. 

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is divided into three large basins or macro-basins made up of a system of 30 main rivers. The macro-basin of the Caribbean includes all the rivers that flow directly into the sea. Río Piedra, Mendihuaca, Guachaca, Buritaca and Don Diego are the city’s touristic highlights. 

From massages to kayaking, immersing yourself in these rivers is an alternative plan packed with nature, adventure, and total relaxation.

Paddle, kayak, and tubbing activities are possible amongst the other rivers. Mendihuaca is the slowest flowing and has the shortest paddle circuits. Rio Don Diego is the quietest especially in the week so it’s a great chance to see the wildlife. On Rio Buritaca you might be able to see the Howler Monkeys. Surfers gather in Los Naranjos right of Rio Piedras, but due to the presence of alligators, activities in the river are not recommended, so keep out of the water.

Don Diego

The Don Diego River is located 56 kilometers from the city of Santa Marta. The river connects from the snowy peaks to the sea in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Sport And Artisan Fishing in The Don Diego River

Fishing tours allows you to understand, experiment and connect with local communities and their environment.

The tour begins in Tayronaka where you take a boat downriver while observing the fauna and flora. Howler monkeys, endemic and migratory birds can be spotted until you reach the fishing spot. Local fishermen will briefly explain how to place the bait, cast the hook, and how to get the fish out of the water. In the meantime, you will learn about the species found in the region (white snapper, goat, grunt, etc.).

You can ether release the fish or take it with you for a local fish cooking lesson.


The Buritaca river runs through the heart of the Sierra, passing through Teyuna, until it empties into the sea. Its small delta is frequently visited by locals.

Done Travels


The Guachaca River Basin is located via Santa Marta to Riohacha, Kilometer 49. Here you will find Gotsezhy, Indigenous Village famous for its Cultural Conservation, upriver.


The Guachaca River is found via Santa Marta to Riohacha, Kilometer 37. Touristic hotels and hostels are found walking distance from the Mendihuaca River.

Río Piedras

With cold waters and huge stones, hence this name, it is located at kilometer 28 via Santa Marta – Riohacha, near Tayrona Park flowing into the Naranjos Beach. Visitors can surf on the Los Naranjos Beach, next to the edge of Tayrona Park in the far north, a place to find good quality waves. This place is often used to hold sport championships and is surrounded by exclusive hotels and resorts, concentrating a major part of the high-end accommodation options in the Tayrona area.