Mesetas group in one of the many waterfalls of the municipality along the Guejar Canyon called “La Encantada”. Image: Natalia Reyes, PNUD Colombia

Becoming ambassadors of nature guiding and heritage interpretation in a biological corridor where Andean and Amazonian ecosystems converge. 

Through their participation in a six-day course offered by USAID Colombia and its Destination Nature Activity and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), these people built new narratives about wonderful tourist destinations in territories previously affected by armed conflict. The IE Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course was conducted by NaturalWalks and resulted in the certification of 39 guides, inhabitants of the municipalities of Mesetas and La Macarena in the department of Meta, Colombia, at the end of 2023.

Vanessa Escobar, a nature and adventure tourism guide from the organisation Asoguías of the municipality of Mesetas affirmed: “Before this course, what we shared with tourists was very basic. But now we can interpret small things like a flower or large things like a rock formation. Before we didn´t do this because we hadn´t developed the skill. But now we can do it to connect with people and their emotions, generating a positive experience. Sharing this process with our fellow guides also helped us enrich our interpretive script. We are very grateful for this opportunity”.

Incredible natural attractions such as Caño Cristales, Mirador del Amor and the Güejar River Canyon, became the perfect training scenarios in guiding and interpretation, with guides developing new skills through accompanying and leading nature and adventure tourism experiences during the course.

“I am very grateful for the course. We received very important tools; we now have a structure for guiding and we learned how to do things in an organised way in our territory. We are already applying what we learnt, and it is truly working for us. During the course we were able to interact with other colleagues and this allowed us to create networks and alliances through which we can expand the benefits for our territory and its communities. We are grateful to Interpret Europe and all the institutions that supported this training” shared Wilmer Soto, a nature tourism guide from the village of La Argentina in the municipality of Mesetas.

This theoretical-practical training exercise resulted in great lessons and opportunities on the need to generate and strengthen narratives to enrich the guiding experiences and improve the tourism offer. Narratives encourage genuine involvement not only by tourists but also by local guides from community-based organisations who seek an authentic appropriation of the territory and its values. As a result, this course highlights the importance of strengthening the work of interpreters and guides as intermediaries between tourists, nature and communities, and as key actors in generating awareness among tourism service providers in the territories.

Capacity building in the field of nature tourism and conservation in the Sierra de la Macarena generates a significant impact at the national level. The lessons learned from the courses in these territories can be replicated in other regions, thus contributing to the sustainable development of tourism in Colombia, the second most biodiverse country in the world.

This training course was possible thanks to the collaborative work of USAID and its Destination Nature program and the United Nations Development Program – UNDP and its projects Sustainable Amazonia for Peace – financed by the Global Environment Facility, under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development – and Corridors of Peace – financed by the Swedish Embassy.

  • Julián Guerrero is a lawyer passionate about nature working as the director of the Destination Nature activity of the U.S. Agency for International Development USAID ( in Colombia. You can get in touch with him at:
  • Andrea Parrado is a tourism administrator working as the Destination Development Coordinator of the Destination Nature activity of the U.S. Agency for International Development USAID ( in Colombia. You can get in touch with her at: 
  • Jessica Lizcano is a master in sustainability working as the Nature Tourism and Green Business Analyst at the of the United Nations Development Programme UNDP ( in Colombia. You can get in touch with her at: 
  • Ángela Delgado is an expert in communication at the of the United Nations Development Programme UNDP ( in Colombia. You can get in touch with her at: 

To cite this article: Guerrero, Julián & Parrado, Andrea& Lizcano, Jessica& Delgado, Ángela (2024) ‘Interpreting megadiverse destinations: Sierra de la Macarena, Colombiain Interpret Europe Newsletter 1-2024, pg.13-14.
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