Traveling the Magdalena River

By Karla Miliani, marketing specialist for The Nature Conservancy in South America

Join a team of Nature Conservancy staff and scientists as they navigate Colombia’s Magdalena River and bring to life its rich communities and culture through this series of blog posts.

At nearly 1,000 miles long, the Magdalena River is born in the Andes mountain range and runs across a large part of Colombia (covering 24% of the national territory), generating life and serving as an economic life-force for the more than 30 million Colombians that live throughout the basin.

The Magdalena River has been a major source of food for the country, but the river faces a series of threats: overfishing, deforestation, agricultural and urban runoff, soil erosion and unprecedented flooding, which affected millions of Colombians in 2010.

Today, this basin generates 85% of the country’s GDP. Around 55% of its 200 species are endemic, only found in the Magdalena. It also provides drinking water to 30 million Colombians.

The Nature Conservancy has embarked on a major project: protecting the Magdalena River Basin. Today, the Conservancy is the only international conservation organization working in the Magdalena River Basin. With the help of the Ministry of Environment and the river’s environmental authority, Cormagdalena, the Conservancy is implementing conservation strategies throughout the basin.

Follow this ongoing blog series as we travel the Magdalena and keep track of the river’s pulse.

Day 1: the Llanito Lake

The team goes fishing with a group of local fishermen at the Magdalena River’s Llanito Lake, where fishermen still practice the “corral” fishing technique, a more sustainable and collective way of fishing.

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Day 2: Illegal Mining

Colombia wants to be a top mining country, but is this country really prepared to assume such challenge? We travel to an illegal mine to learn more.

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Day 3: Zapatoza

The Magdalena River team explores Zapatoza, the biggest freshwater marsh in Colombia, and spends a day talking to local fishermen about the loss of fish.

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Day 4: Dique Canal

For our final stop along the Magdalena River, we sail along the Dique Canal, which connects Colombia’s interior with one of its most important ports: Cartagena. .

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