Discovering the Melcocho River: A Hidden Gem of Antioquia, Colombia


Tucked away in the eastern region of Antioquia, Colombia, the Melcocho River is a natural spectacle that enchants all who witness its stunning beauty. Straddling the municipalities of El Carmen de Viboral, Cocorná, and San Francisco, the river is a jewel in Colombia’s impressive crown.

Famous for its crystal-clear waters and the unique landscapes it carves, the Melcocho River stands as an unparalleled attraction in the area. As one of the most beautiful and surprising rivers in Colombia, it offers a spectacular display of nature at its finest. The river gains its fame from the striking transparency of its waters, creating majestic waterfalls adorning this natural paradise. Framed by the lush vegetation, the river and its surroundings offer a serene sanctuary for visitors to forge a deep connection with nature.

To embark on this wonderful adventure, accessible routes from Medellín lead you to the heart of the Melcocho River. A bus ride to Cocorná’s municipality followed by a short trip to the El Retiro village, will bring you to the crystal clear waters of the Melcocho River. Alternatively, a 2-hour drive from Medellín to the entrance of Cocorná municipality, right turn towards San Francisco at La Piñuela sector, followed by a ride in local 4×4 trucks from Pailania, brings you to the base location. From there, a 3-kilometer trek or a mule ride unveils the enchanting river.

Visiting the Melcocho River imparts a responsibility to protect and preserve its natural beauty. Visitors are advised to engage with the Antioquia de Aventura travel agency, which not only offers a well-planned hiking experience to the Melcocho River canyon but also ensures responsible tourist management in the area. Supporting the local tour operators by making reservations or scheduling visits also promotes sustainable tourism in the region.


Keeping in mind the obligation to protect the natural environment, visitors are also advised to maintain cleanliness, abide by the rules and regulations formed by the local authorities, and respect the guidelines provided by the tour operators.

El aumento de turistas ha llevado a establecer límites en el número de visitantes para preservar el área alrededor del Río Melcocho. Esta medida busca minimizar el impacto ambiental y mantener la belleza natural y biodiversidad. La gestión sostenible del turismo es esencial para proteger este tesoro natural para futuras generaciones.

Foto: @andresandariego

The CAICA (Center for Attention, Information, and Environmental Culture) manages a directory of approved service operators for tourists in the Melcocho River. This resource is invaluable, ensuring a safe and environmentally respectful experience. By choosing these individuals/companies, you also support local efforts for sustainable tourism management and the protection of biodiversity. Phone: +57 321 326 0333, website:

These are the approved service providers for the Melcocho River (It may not be up to date):

The Melcocho River in the eastern region of Antioquia is more than a destination; it’s an experience. With its pristine waters, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and verdant forests, it is the place to be for those seeking the best of Colombia’s natural landscapes. This breathtaking gem in Colombia’s eastern region is indeed an adventure waiting to be discovered!