Don Diego river, Colombia's great place for tubing, birding and more

16 August, 2022

Visiting the Don Diego river is a great way to relax and forget about the routine. However, in case you decide to travel to this destination, you are about to discover that the surroundings of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta have a lot more to offer you. In this post, we share with you all the information you need to have the best experience: location, budget and recommendations.


The Don Diego river is northeast of Santa Marta, about 37.2 miles (60 km) from the city's historic center . Arriving there will take you around 1 hour and 20 minutes. The road that leads to this destination is Troncal del Caribe. On your arrival, you have the chance to sight the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada.

In this area, there are hotels like Taironaka, where nature conservancy is a must. This vision is similar to that the indigenous communities of the region promote. Hotels like this are great options for staying with your family and friends.

The Taironaka hotel is the best option to be close to the Don Diego river. Furthermore, you have activities to make your stay even better, like tubing, preparation of typical soup (over a wood fire), and visiting their archaeological museum. Birding is another excellent option since this area is a hotspot where around 300 species of birds have been sighted.

How to get to the Don Diego river?

Depending on where you are, there can be different ways to get to the Don Diego river, let us show you all of them:

From Santa Marta

To get to Don Diego from Santa Marta, you can take a bus in the public market (See on Google Maps). You can arrive at the public market by taxi. The fare is determined by a taximeter or by bargaining with the driver. Taking a public bus is another option, the fare is $2,000 COP (Around 0.46 USD).

Once you are in the public market, you have several options to get to the Don Diego river: buses, vans or motorcycle taxis. Even if you take a bus, you will have to tell the driver your destination, and according to that, they will set the fare.

Another option is to depart from the bus station or 'Terminal de Transporte,' where you can take a bus that can drop you off in Don Diego. Its hours of operation are 4 am to 11 pm, and the address is Calle 41 No. 31-17, Troncal del Caribe (See on Google Maps).

From Riohacha, La Guajira

If you are in Riohacha, you must go to the bus station to take a trip to Santa Marta. The taxi fare to the bus station is about $7,000 COP (1.62 USD), and the ticket to Santa Marta is about $30.000 COP (7 USD). The trip will take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. You can tell the bus driver to drop you off in the Don Diego river or close to Taironaka.

The trip will take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.

You can tell the bus driver to drop you off in the Don Diego river or close to Taironaka.

From Palomino

This is the closest point of the three we mention in this post. Palomino is only 10 miles (16 km) from Don Diego. You can get there in only 16 minutes by taking the bus to the public market of Santa Marta. The bus fare is about $5,000 COP (1.17 USD). Another option is to take a taxi.

By doing a private tour with Visit Santa Marta

A tailored-made tour to río Don Diego lets you get the most out of this experience. With Visit Santa Marta, you can enjoy an ecological hike, visit a natural pool known as the Sacred Pool or Poza Sagrada, and visit archaeological remains of the pre-Hispanic indigenous tribes. Walk by the sandy banks of the Don Diego river, surrounded by the lush vegetation of the tropical rainforest.

The tour starts at 7:00 am with the pick up at your accommodation, then a trip of 1 hour and a half will take you to Don Diego village. Then, we will arrive at a nursery where we will receive a talk about the importance of the conservation of this destination.

The tubing activity in our tour lasts approximately 60 minutes. During this experience, you can admire the natural landscape of flora and fauna from the departure point to the mouth of the river, where it meets the sea. The combination of warm and cool water will relax you. We will be at this place for about half an hour. The return time is 4:00 pm when we return to the city and drop you off at your accommodation.

The tour is private, so the price depends on the number of people and the services you would like to add.

This adventure includes:

  • Ground transportation
  • Boat transportation
  • Snacks
  • Floats
  • Local guide
  • Breakfast and Lunch
  • Travel Insurance


Turista haciendo tubing en el río Don Diego con vista del bosque tropical

Tubing is an activity where you ride a float (generally a tube from which it takes its name) on a stream of water. Depending on its speed, you can feel from extreme emotions to calmer ones. In the Don Diego river, you can relax while sighting the landscapes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Para iniciar con esta aventura se realiza una caminata de 15 minutos a través de la naturaleza que está en los alrededores del río. Pero, también existe una opción de recogida desde el sitio de llegada; todo es a gusto, tiene un valor de $45.000 COP - 11 USD.

There are many rivers on the north coast of Colombia. Still, in Magdalena, the Don Diego river is best known for tubing. If you have not tried this activity before, add it to your itinerary on your next visit to Santa Marta.

What to do in Don Diego river and its surroundings

Don Diego river in Santa Marta offers you more than refreshing dips in its waters. Let us show you all you can do while visiting this unique destination in Colombia:

  • Tubing río Don Diego (descenso en neumático)
  • Visiting the Taironaka museum and archaeological remains
  • Kayaking
  • Learn how to cook typical soup (Taironaka)
  • Birding 
  • Sighting the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada (it depends on the weather)
  • Enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the river, the forest and the sea in one place

Ask us to get more information about these activities. We are ready to help you! 

It may interest you: 5 Best destinations for outdoor activities in Santa Marta

Places and amenities

  • Parking lot, around $5,000 COP (1.16 USD) 
  • Restaurants, in general, offer a variety of typical dishes
  • Table and chair rental for your spot on the river bank
  • Eco-friendly hotels 
  • Taironaka museum

Travel recommendations

  • Bring some cash (there are no ATMs near the river)
  • Take into account the rainy season (April and November)
  • Insect repellent
  • Closed-toe shoes
  • Limited mobile coverage
  • Sunblock with an SPF higher than 50
  • No littering
  • Beach towel, in case you want to lie on the sand

The tour to Don Diego is fantastic; nevertheless, remember this is a place surrounded by nature, so take into account your allergies and/or bring your prescription medicines. The idea is you can enjoy the experience the most.

The lowlands of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have a rich biodiversity. For example, you can see monkeys, birds and alligators in Don Diego. Please keep your distance and follow the guide's instructions while enjoying flora and fauna of this region of Colombia.

No doubt, a visit to the Don Diego river is an experience you will want to include in your next trip to Santa Marta. Reserve your spot for this adventure by clicking here.

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