The Oak Route: Community based ecoturism

Peasant communities that promote the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of black and white oak forests in the Buffer Zone of the Guanentá Alto Río Fonce Flora and Fauna Sanctuary (SFF-GARF)

Visit the Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora Guanenta Alto Río Fonce 260 km from Bogota in the eastern Andes) Trek Paramo La Rusia an exotic ecosystem with an endemic plant which absorb and storage water call frailejones Visit a nursery garden to see 23 species of these plants, one of them 500 years old and 5 mt tall Walked through Andes and Subandean Forests, habitat of 250 species of birds, the Andean bear Tremarctos Ornatus and other endangered species Visit wonderful red rivers (It’s color is because of the tannin from the Andean Oak Quercus humboldtii).

Visit a local orchids museum where you’ll see more than 100 different species, some are so small that you need a magnifying glass to see them.

Learn about the organic coffee and cheese produced locally and about an ancient artisanal tradition involving natural cotton and dyes in products showcased in a local museum. During this experience you’ll shared with the local community. Visit one of Colombia’s prettiest towns, one of the deepest canyons in the world and the Farm that produces the more valuable coffee of Colombia, Rainforest Alliance Certified.

You will visit the regions of Boyacá and Santander; The Chicamocha Canyon, Heritage towns and the Sanctuary of Fauna and  Flora Guanentá Alto Río Fonce where you will learn about the Conservation corridor of Andean Oaks Guantiva La Rusia, zone with great biodiversity and the following characteristics regarding the ecosystem itself:

  1. Magical Lagoons plus frailejones valleys (23 species – natural water fountain at 4.000 masl – Páramo de la Rusia).
  2. Andean Forests (represents 10% of Colombian Andes) and SubAndean Forest (represents 2.9%)
  3. Endemic species, amount others Black Oak (Trigonobalanus excelsa) one of the last remnants of the forests of this species.
  4. Red-water rivers.
  5. Black and White Oak Forests with:
    • 550 especies of vascular plants.
    • Habitat/shelter of a multiple medium-big siza mammals including the Andean bear.
    • 255 species of birds
    • 31 species of amphibians that represents 8% of the species registered in Colombian Andean Region, 18 species of them are endemic of this ecosystem.
    • Regulations and water protection are one of the main functions of oak forests.

Conservation activities during this trip

Tree planting activity with the local community during the itinerary on day third and visit to Corpolienzo, a fabric and museum that preserve and promote an ancestral tradition involving natural cotton and dyes. Also, you are supporting Agro-Solidaria, a peasant non-profit association that works with ZAIA DMC to promote the Oak Route Internationally, contributing directly with the conservation and protection of 2.000 hectares of Andean and Sub-Andean Forests, that are part of private peasants natural reserves in the limits of the Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna Guanenta. To learn more about the importance of preserving this ecosystem, read the Paper of the Humboldt institute: click here

About the tour operator

ZAIA is an inbound tour operator in Colombia which specializes in experiences that bring people closer to nature, history, and culture. ZAIA Team is passionate, lovers of nature, who knows the country better; 100% of our staff are multilingual Colombians

Learn more about the destinations of the Ruta del Roble


Historical and Cultural Heritage of Colombia

Charalá, the historical heritage of Colombia and its Biodiversity, is the municipality of Santander where the highest number of endemic species in Colombia have been observed (Source: It is located in a strategic site, at the intermediate point between San Gil and Duitama, connecting Santander and Boyacá. Cradle of freedom by characters like José Antonio Galán, José Blas Acevedo and Gómez and the crucial Battle of Pienta. The richness of culture and landscapes is given by its remarkable water resources, which are born in the Páramo Guantiva – La Russia and form the Fonce River in the vicinity of the urban area, a journey from 4000 m.s.n.m. up to 1250 m.s.n.m.

The main living heritage is the cotton fabric that is produced in the hands of the master craftswomen of Corpolienzo and its Museum of Cotton and the Canvas of the Earth, work that recovers the guane fabric and has won great recognition for the quality of its designs textiles.


Orchids, red waters & black oak

A magical place that allows you to travel to prehistoric landscapes of aguacos (Cyathea Multiflora) and rivers of red waters stained by the tannins of white oaks (Quercus humboldtii) and black oaks (Trigonobalanus excelsa). Virolín was a deforested place at the end of the 20th century and then left in oblivion, now it has been recovering its forests and is greening with community work. Traveling to Virolín will allow you to find a space for relaxation, contemplation in a warm climate accompanied by rainy afternoons and electrical storms, ideal for meditation. The visit would not be complete without knowing the orchids that group more than 100 species.


Productive land, biological reserve and experimental farm

El municipio de Encino, Santander cuenta con un gran porcentaje de bosques alto andinos y páramos en buen estado de conservación y aunque sus actividades son principalmente agropecuarias, se han venido desarrollando notables proyectos de conservación. En este municipio se encuentra la Reserva Biológica Cachalú de la Fundación Natura y también la Finca Experimental Casa de Teja, una experiencia de turismo rural (agroturismo) donde toda la familia podrá disfrutar del campo, mientras aprende en compañía de majestuosos paisajes.

Encino town in Santander has a large percentage of high Andean forests and páramos in a good state of conservation and although its activities are mainly agricultural, notable conservation projects have been developing. In this municipality you will find the Cachalú Biological Reserve of the Natura Foundation and also the Casa de Teja Experimental Farm, a rural tourism experience (agrotourism) where the whole family can enjoy the countryside, while learning in the company of majestic landscapes.


Artisans who are guardians of the Andean bear

It could be said that this remote area has its back to the municipality of Gambita, but this location has been key to becoming a great refuge for the Andean, high Andean and páramo forest ecosystems, where the spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) travels. and associated species such as pumas, tigrillos, deer and the endemic Inca Negro hummingbird species (Coeligena prunellei). Here the local communities have decided to stop deforestation and protect the white oak forests (Quercus humbodtii), growing clean or organic food and making handicrafts through sustainable use of the forests.


Páramo communities and agroecology for conservation

At 3400 m.s.n.m. life is not easy at all, but community work alongside majestic landscapes make it bearable and give it a transcendental meaning. Communities that work hand in hand with National Parks of Colombia looking for strategies to conserve and restore the Páramo (Andean moorland) that provides water to a large population in the south of Santander and that is essential for the ecosystems that feed on its channels.

The tourist can enjoy the enjoyment that these places offer, drinking panela water or chocolate with an exquisite cheese prepared in the Avendaños plant or handmade in one of the rural inns, a delicious and unique experience, with the familiar warmth that is found in all rural agrosolidarity inns on the Ruta del Roble.


Coffee, panela and waterfalls

Cincelada is the land of historical figures who left the mark of the spirit of Santander. Currently its character is noticeable in the peasants who produce coffee, banana, cassava and cane, the latter used for the production of panela, an outstanding product of the region. It has a great water and forest wealth. A visit to Cincelada on The Oak Route will allow you to get to know the coffee farms of the Alto Río Fonce, the artisanal mills, waterfalls with red water wells and trout that allow sustainable fish farming that avoids contamination of the rivers.

Visit us!

Coming to the Oak Route contributes to the community conservation of our ecosystems

Travel Advise

No Vaccinations requiered for this destination Light Luggage Include swimsuit sunscreen eco friendly repellent bottle to refill with water trekking shoes Fall and Summer Clothes sunglasses cap (temp from 2 3535°C) Physical conditions fit and healthy treks will take 2 to 4 hours, some treks in places with altitude 4 000 msnm.

In development of the provisions of article 17 of law 679 of 2001, we warn tourists that the exploitation and sexual abuse of minors is unacceptable, in the country they are penalized and administratively sanctioned. We comply with Law 17 of 1981 and Res. 1367 of 2000 against the commercialization and trafficking of species of wild fauna and flora. We reject the illegal commercialization and trafficking of regional and national cultural goods, Law 103 of 1991 and its decree 904 of 1941, Law 397 of 1997 and its decree 833 of 2002, Law 1185 of 2008. We protect smoke-free spaces Law 1335 of 2009 We reject discrimination or acts of racism against the vulnerable population, Law 1752 of 2015 and Law 1482 of 2011. The personal data that has been collected through this channel will be treated in accordance with the provisions of Law 1581 of 2012.