6.2226° N, 77.4012° W
EXPLORE THIS ULTIMATE ADVENTURE GUIDE FOR EL TIGRE WATERFALL, ONE OF THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN EL VALLE, CHOCO, COLOMBIA.
When planning our travel itinerary to El Valle, Colombia - a small colorful town on the little-known Colombian Pacific Coast - we knew we wanted to head out into the jungle to check out as many waterfalls as possible. Luckily, the area around El Valle, and its larger neighbor Bahia Solano, have plenty of cascadas to offer.
But one waterfall stood out in particular: El Tigre. With a name as epic as that - el tigre means the tiger in Spanish - we knew we had to make the journey out to see it for ourselves. Luckily, we found a guide willing to do the four hour jungle hike with us.
The hike, which crosses black sand beaches, rocky tidepools, thick jungle and many other waterfalls, is an absolute dream adventure. While it is rather tough, we were so incredibly happy we took it on. For by the end we both agreed that this hike was one of our favorite adventures in all of Colombia.
If you are planning a trip to El Valle or Bahia Solano in the Pacific Region of Colombia and are looking to combine a day in the jungle with a couple of waterfall swims, then this hike is for you. Below is a breakdown of everything you need to know about hiking to El Tigre Waterfall in El Valle, Colombia.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO | EL TIGRE WATERFALL
\\ Do You Need a Guide to Visit El Tigre Waterfall?
As you might guess from other articles on the site (like this one) we are usually very much the type of people who like to adventure alone - aka without a guide. We just really enjoy the freedom that comes with hiking by yourself. But with that being said, while we originally did want to do the El Tigre Waterfall hike sans guide, we ended up booking one after looking at both the terrain and learning more about the actual trail conditions.
But in the end we were so glad we got a guide because we not only got through the jungle mostly unscathed, but we also learned so much about the area, the culture and the wildlife that calls this part of Choco, Colombia home.
| COST: 130000 - 150000 COP per person, or around $33 - $39 USD / €29 - €34 Euros; this includes lunch and the boat ride back to El Valle
| FINDING A GUIDE: we found our guide after talking to our host, Jhon at Utria Hostel. Our guide, Kiko, was absolutely amazing. He knew so much about the area, including the different plants and animals, as well as the overall history of the region - including where the name El Tigre came from.
\\ Time Needed to Hike to El Tigre Waterfall
There are two options for reaching El Tigre Waterfall: hiking and boating. We of course recommend doing the hike (that is what this adventure guide will cover), but if you are short on time but still want to see the stunning waterfall then taking a boat out is not a bad idea. We still suspect that you will need a guide to go with if taking a boat since we don't know if you can just hire a boat in town on your own.
The Hike: the whole hike takes around 4 hours to go from El Valle to El Tigre. The trail meanders its way across sandy beaches and up jungle mountains, and therefore it is rather slow going.
Taking a Boat: it takes about 15 minutes to reach El Tigre from El Valle (and vice-versa) so if you are short on time then this is a great way to see the waterfall and the beach without spending a lot of time.
\\ When to Do the El Tigre Waterfall Hike
If you want to do the hike to El Tigre - which of course we highly recommend - then you will need to start early in the morning when the tides are usually lower (the first bit is on the beach). In terms of weather and time of year, unless you are visiting during the dry season (February and March) then you will likely be doing a majority of the adventure in the rain. Luckily, even during the rainy season the temperature always hovers around 26° C / 79° F.
💬 INSIDER TIP: we originally wanted to take a boat out to the waterfall first and then hike back to town, but after talking with our guide we were told that that would likely be impossible because of the tides. We don’t know if this is always the case, so if you are looking to maybe do that route then it doesn’t hurt to ask just in case it is possible. We also tried to see if we could hike both ways, but again we were told that the tides would be a problem. But more so it likely wouldn't be that fun of a time because we would already be tired from the hike to the waterfall. After doing the hike we would actually agree with this sentiment.
\\ What to Bring On the El Tigre Waterfall Hike
This is an absolute must for this hike. Most of the trail is done either along slick rocky beaches (especially during or after a rainstorm) or in the thick jungle. Similarly, the trail is very much up and down and there are a couple of sections that are incredibly steep and slick. Make sure to have shoes with good grip and enclosed toes.
We wore our running shoes and they handled the terrain relatively well.
Light Rain Jacket and Rain Protection
If you are someone who doesn’t mind being a bit wet during your adventure then a light rain jacket is probably all you need. While this region of Colombia is incredibly wet, it is also very warm and humid. You do NOT want to be hiking around the jungle wearing a thick rain jacket even if it is downpouring. Instead, carry a light rain jacket (or clothes that wick moisture really well) and a rain cover for your bag and/or gear.
Sunscreen and Sun Protection
While the Choco area doesn’t experience much sun most of the year, there is still always a chance of being blasted by the sun while hiking - especially on the wide open beaches. Make sure to bring sunscreen that is good for you and the planet (like these ones). Or take the easy route and wear sun protective clothing or bring an umbrella that works well as a sun guard.
This is a MUST for all adventures in this part of Colombia (and really everywhere else in the country). We recommend finding the strongest bug spray you can and bringing it with you on the hike so you can reapply it after swimming in the many waterfalls and natural pools.
Clothes You Won’t Mind Getting Dirty, Sweaty, and Wet
If you are doing this adventure right, then you will likely find yourself soaked from either the rain or the numerous waterfalls you can swim in, muddy from the jungle trail and sweaty from the long, somewhat arduous hike. Therefore, make sure to wear clothes that can handle all three.
We wore simple active shorts and wicking shirts for the hike and brought two light jackets in case the rain really picked up. In the end, we never really needed the rain jackets but were glad we wore wicking t-shirts that dried out quickly after swimming in the pools.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: you can also bring a swimsuit if you don’t feel like swimming in the clothes you hiked in. There are changing rooms available at the building you will eat lunch in right next to El Tigre Waterfall. Or you can also just hike in your swimming clothes. Or, you can go the Luke route and just swim in your underwear :)
🗣 What’s In A Name?
You might expect that the name El Tigre Waterfall comes from an actual tiger for el tigre literally translates to the tiger. But actually, tigers do not and have never lived in this part of the world. Instead, according to local legend, the name comes from way back in the day when a couple of locals (possibly local women) were relaxing near the waterfall and they saw a big cat in the jungle nearby.
From then on the waterfall and the area around it - which has over time become a quasi-nature reserve - has been given the name El Tigre. It is more likely that the animal seen was a jaguar, which, though highly elusive, has been spotted in the El Valle area.