Lonely Planet Writer

Colombia now has the world’s largest tropical rainforest national park

Colombia is now home to the world’s largest tropical rainforest national park after extending the boundaries of Serranía de Chiribiquete.

The country has expanded the Chiribiquete National Park from 2.7 million hectares to nearly 4.3 million, earning it the new distinction. On top of that, the park has also been added to Unesco’s World Heritage Site list this week, recognizing both its incredible natural features and ancient rock paintings.

Serrania de Chiribiquete Natural National Park. Image by © César David Martínez via WWF Colombia

The significance of the site arises from the fact that the ecosystems of the Amazon, Orinoquía, Andes and the Guayanés shield converge at that point, according the WWF Colombia. There are thousands of different species living in the park, including some that are either endemic or threatened, like the Amazonian tapir, the giant otter and the jaguar. The remote location of the park makes it a valuable home for many species of plants and animals.

Rock paintings in the national park. Image by © FCDS Foundation

But its importance extends beyond the wildlife and natural features; the park is home to ancient murals with more than 70,000 different images, some of which are more than 20,000 years old. This represents a very important part of the country’s cultural heritage and is one of the reasons it was chosen for Unesco recognition.

The extension of the park and its new title as a World Heritage Site are aimed at protecting the park and its inhabitants well into the future. The announcement comes after decades of work from conservationists and organizations to secure its future, and has been celebrated by WWF Colombia. It will also bring international recognition to Colombia’s incredible natural heritage.