December 9, 2021
Colombia is a country of contrasts with both incredibly varied landscapes and a rich community. The only country named after Christopher Columbus, Colombia’s snow-capped peaks and sandy beaches make up the perfect combination for your holiday. Many indigenous groups live in the forests of Colombia following their ancestors traditions and footsteps. This is in sharp juxtaposition to life in the capital and the more modern cities where technology and modernity have taken over from rural life. There is so much to do and see during your Colombian holiday that will guarantee you a memorable trip.
1- Colombia’s sprawling capital: Bogotá
The capital of Colombia, Bogotá is a vibrant city that mixes its incredibly rich colonial history with the new more modern urban areas. Museums, bars and restaurants rub shoulders with 300 year old churches and houses to create the perfect melting pot of new and old.
The neighbourhood of La Candelaria is known as the historic centre of the capital with a winding maze of cobbled streets and colourful houses. It is also the place where you will find the best preserved churches in Colombia that date back to the colonial times. The Iglesia de San Francisco is one of the most renowned as its alter is made entirely of gold and definitely warrants a visit.
With the largest number of museums in Colombia, Bogota is a must-visit for those wanting to take part in cultural and art-centric activities. The Museo del Oro or Gold Museum holds the largest collection of gold ornaments in the world with over 55,000 pieces displayed throughout its three floors. It showcases the incredible work done by indigenous cultures to work gold and create stunning pieces that range from crowns, earrings and offerings for the gods. The Museo Botero is home to the largest collection of modern and Impressionist art in Latin America that was donated by Fernando Botero. Here you will find works of art from Miró, Dalí and Picasso amongst others as well as sculptures from Botero himself.
For those who enjoy gardening and plants, the Botanical Garden is the ideal place to go to and spend the afternoon wandering through the grounds and admiring the vast number of different plants. Plants from across Colombia’s ecosystems are found here including the endangered páramo species. There are about 19,000 plants at the Bogota Botanical Gardens from cacti, medicinal, orchids and aquatics plants.
2- Enchanting Cartagena
Cartagena is a port city on Colombia’s coast and is renowned for being the best preserved colonial city in the country. With its cobbled streets, stunning churches and vibrant bougainvillea, a visit to Cartagena is a trip back in time. The Old Town is considered a Unesco World Heritage Site so as to preserve its incredible history and architecture.
The Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas is a must-visit while in the town. Dating back to the 17th century, this fortress was built to fend off attacks from the British and occupies the top of the hill of San Lazaro. It offers great views of the bay and the city from the top and the tunnels underneath the castle give a great insight into what it takes to run and maintain a fortress.
The Convento de la Popa is located on the highest hill in Cartagena and features a white-washed building with a bird’s eye view of the city and further afield to the Caribbean Sea. The convent was built in the 1600s and survived numerous attacks and pillages from pirates until it was abandoned in the 19th century due to political turmoil following the Colombian Declaration of Independence. The convent was turned back to the Augustinian friars in 1961 and is now open to visitors.
There are many events and festivals that take place in Cartagena including the International Film Festival and the International Music Festival both of which celebrate the best music, actors, cinematographers and movies in an enchanting setting. It is a great time to visit the city, as live entertainment takes place across the city and a joyous atmosphere envelops the town.
3- Adventures to take part in
Due to its incredible varied landscape, there are so many activities to take part in and places to visit during your trip to Colombia. To begin, some of the best places for hiking can be found in Colombia, perfect for those who love to spend time outside.
The most famous of all treks is the one that leads to the Lost City of Teyuna. Located deep in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Lost City of Teyuna is accessed via a 46km trek through jungle, forest and rivers. Teyuna was once the capital of the Tayrona civilisation and its descendants, the Wiwa, Kogi, Arhuaco and Kankuamo indigenous groups are the guides and protectors of the place. They will lead you through the jungle to the main view points while speaking about the history and culture of the land and sharing their traditions with you.
Parque Nacional Natural El Cocuy is home to the most diverse ecosystem in the world known as páramo. The park was founded in 1977 and stretches out across 306,000 hectares with 15 mountain peaks dotted across its land. El Cocuy is very popular for the variety of activities on offer such as mountaineering its numerous peaks, trekking the various paths and camping. One of the most famous of peaks is the Pulpito del Diablo which juts out from the glacier top taunts climbers to its summit. At the top you will be rewarded with 360 views of the Laguna Grande de la Sierra and the large expanse of the park. There is no doubt that you will feel immense satisfaction at having conquered this giant.
The Tayrona National Park is one of the largest parks in Colombia and covers both jungle and beach, making it the best place to visit for a dual getaway. The lush rainforest makes for an enjoyable hike through the large variety of different flora scattered throughout the area. The rainforest is also renowned for having a large number of monkeys living in it such as the capuchins, titis and red howlers.
Following this, the golden sandy beaches will be there to welcome you for a refreshing dip and snorkel. Though beware of the places you choose as some beaches are protected and unsafe to swim in so be sure to check for signs before you dip your toes in. To top if all off, Tayrona National Park has the beautiful Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as a background which will be sure to add a little something extra to all of your pictures.
The Volcan de Lodo El Totumo is a fun and alternative way to spend an afternoon. The crater of this still active volcano has been turned into a naturally heated mud bath that you can climb into. The mud is incredibly rejuvenating for your skin with over 55 different minerals and for a couple extra Colombian pesos you can even get a massage. It is a truly once in a lifetime experience and once you get back home you’ll be able to boast to your friends and family that you spend time in a volcano’s crater.
Named ‘the rivers that ran away from paradise’, the Caño Cristales is a fleeting beauty that can only be witness a couple of weeks in the year. Difficult of access, the river is located in the depths of the town of La Macarena but it is well worth the adventure as what you will witness upon arrival will be sure to leave a lasting mark on your mind. From September to November, the bed of the river turns a bright red with splashes of yellow and green sand and all of their shades in between. It is truly a wondrous sight to behold. Swimming is permitted but only in certain designated areas to protect the delicate ecosystem of the area. Be sure to come prepared with your best camera as you will want to capture this magical sight forever.
A trip to Colombia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a coffee farm seeing as the country is the third largest producer of coffee in the world. The Quindio region of Colombia is where the most farms can be found and many offer day trips where you will be able to see the process of creating coffee from the harvesting all the way to the roasting. After the tour, many farms will offer tastings of their coffees and is a great way to learn more about the variety of different beans and roasts that can be made. A visit to a coffee farm is both an enjoyable and educational trip.
With its abundance of national parks and exquisite landscapes, your visit to Colombia will no doubt be filled with lots of adventure and fun. If this has piqued your interest, please do get in touch with us as we would be glad to put together a specific Colombia tour that encompasses all of the exciting and wondrous activities and sights on offer in this country.