Some of the mountains in Colombia are part of the larger Andes chain. None of the Andean peaks are the highest in the country, however. That distinction goes to either Pico Cristobal Colon or Pico Simon Bolivar. These two mountains are part of the separate Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, and they both top out at around 18,700 feet above sea level. It has yet to be determined which of the two peaks is higher.

The Colombian Andes split into three major mountain chains down near the Ecuador border. These chains run south to north and are known as the Cordillera Occidental, the Cordillera Central, and the Cordillera Oriental. The Cordillera Occidental runs along the western portion of the country. To one side is the Pacific Ocean, and to the other is the Cauca River basin. The Cordillera Occidental is considered to be a moderately high range. Its peaks top out at around 15,000 feet, and it is worth noting that it is the source of the San Juan River.

The Cordillera Central rises up on the eastern side of the Cauca River basin, or the Cauca River valley, as it is also known. This Colombian Andes chain is home to snow-covered volcanoes that rise to elevations of more than 17,000 feet. An example of one of these volcanoes is the Nevado del Ruiz. It can be found approximately 80 miles west of Bogota and reaches an elevation of 17,457 feet.

Moving east from the Cordillera Central, you must cross the Magdalena River valley if you wish to get to the Cordillera Oriental. This eastern branch of the Colombian Andes extends in a northeast direction all the way to the Venezuela border. Bogota is set among the mountains of the Cordillera Oriental, it is worth nothing, and the tallest peak in the chain reaches an elevation of 17,749 feet. This peak is known as Ritacuba Blanco, and it is found within the borders of El Cocuy National Park. Hiking, mountain climbing, and rock climbing are among the activities of choice in this park.

The other main mountains in Colombia are found to the north in the Caribbean region and form the snowcapped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta chain. This range near the Caribbean coast is actually the highest coastal range on the planet, and because of its lofty nature, it offers several different eco-regions. Some of these eco-regions can be explored at Tayrona National Park, and many Colombia visitors take advantage of that fact. Access to the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta chain is easiest from Santa Marta. In fact, this coastal city is a major jump off point for visits to Tayrona National Park.

Tours that include some time in the mountains of Colombia can be arranged by those who are interested. Some of these tours take their guests from Bogota to Los Nevados National Park for some high mountain trekking, and there are often opportunities to visit working coffee plantations on the side.

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