by Oliver | February 18, 2010
After years of trying to get into the Macarena region of Colombia this December it was finally possible. The Sierra de La Macarena is a unique formation that was once part of the Guyana Shield, but lies close to the eastern foothills of the Andes not far from Villavicencio in the Meta Province of Colombia. This unique geographic position means that it is home to a large number of endemic species of plants and animals.
Unfortunately the region is also one of the major fronts of Colombia’s battle against guerilla groups. In 2009 the towns of San Juan de Arama and Macarena have been secured by government troops and I was among the first people to visit some of the spectacular sites of the region. I hope that a lasting peace and stability will return to this spectacular part of Colombia to allow local people to open the region to ecotourism. For now the region is still heavily militarized.
The most spectacular site is the Cano Cristales, a small river on the top of the southern Macarena plateau. The river is colored in bright red hues because of an endemic riverweed (Podostemaceae) called Macarenia clavigera. Local fish include Apistogramma alacrina and a new not yet described Rivulus species.