There are few countries in the world that the vast tourist industry has not assimilated but Colombia is one of them, and we urge you to go before the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that they have neglected one of the highlights of South America.
WHY WE LIKE COLOMBIA?
We love Colombia for the exceedingly friendly, warm and unjaded welcome to visitors. The well documented issues of recent years have been addressed by a succession of firm governments and Colombians are not afraid to discuss their past. Your guides will provide a fascinating commentary on their experiences of the last 40 years and a personal and refreshing insight to a country that many have a clichéd image of but few have visited. It is a country waiting to be rediscovered to shed the cliché and those that do, will be rewarded with dramatic highlands, deep valleys, desert landscapes, lush amazon jungle, vast grasslands, white sand beaches and rugged volcanic coasts.
We strongly urge spending some time in Bogota to visit the old colonial area of Candelaria with its classic Spanish architecture, huge plaza and old-world ambience but to also visit the buzzing modern zones that are replete with bars, restaurants, coffee shops and a wave of young Colombians who are revelling in a new safe and more liberal social world. Urban addicts should also visit the salsa city of Cali and modern Medellin, infamously associated with Pedro Escobar.
Colombia produces some of the world’s finest coffee and a visit to the picturesque Coffee Region or any of the small family-run haciendas that are springing up around the country should feature in your trip. Even if coffee is not your drink of choice, there are some highly scenic walks and horse treks through coffee-country. Alternatively, you may choose to hold onto your hat and travel in the back of one of Colombia’s famous Willy Jeeps to explore plantations and a vertiginous landscape dotted with 60 metre high Quindian Wax Palms, the national tree of Colombia.
History and archaeology buffs will revel in the UNESCO designated San Agustin Archaeological Park and sister sites of Alto de los Idolos and Alto de las Piedras. Enormous pre-Colombian statues and funerary complexes dot the Andean landscape and it’s likely that you and your guide will be the only visitors. If an Indiana Jones experience is more your style then head to Tayrona National Park and embark on a 6 day trek from a wild boulder-strewn and jungle fringed coast to Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). This is a challenging hike that ascends the slopes of the impressive Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. A less testing hike is to the ruins of Pueblito that can be visited as a day trip.
Those interested in Spanish colonial legacy should head out from Bogota to the white-washed buildings and cobble-stoned streets of Villa de Leyva, stopping on the way to explore the huge underground Salt Cathedral at Zipaquira. Continue a little further into the countryside and you will arrive at the picture-perfect town of Barichara. The fortified port city of Cartagena should be high on the “to-see” list of all visitors. The centre is a maze of Bougainvillea-draped balconies and terracotta roofs with coastal ramparts and forts to clamber over that will please the most demanding of military historians.
If you have enough holiday time for a few beach days then the rugged Tayrona coast, the calm waters around the Rosario Islands or the coral encircled Caribbean island of Providencia are all to be considered.
SOME IDEAS FOR COLOMBIA HOLIDAYS
- Explore the cobbled streets of Cartagena with its impressive colonial architecture and vibrant nightlife
- Trek to the Lost City in the Santa Marta Mountains, only discovered in 1975
- Relax on one of over 300 beautiful beaches along the Caribbean coast and its secluded islands
- Savour the aroma and fresh taste of Colombian coffee beans in one of the traditional fincas dotted throughout La Zona Cafetera
- Discover the largely unexplored Colombian Amazon, including the protected Amacayacu National Park
- Feel thin in Bogota’s Botero Gallery and ogle at the artefacts on display in the magnificent gold museum
- Discover artefacts dating back to 3300 BC in San Agustine and marvel at the forest gallery of huge stylised stone scultures.
BEYOND THE ORDINARY
If you’re really looking to get off that beaten track – the fringes of Colombia offer some wonderfully remote and ground-breaking travel experiences. Visit the Guajira Peninsula to stay with the Wayuu people in their huts made from cactus. Leave civilisation behind for a few days in Colombia’s Llanos or Amazon. Alternatively travel to remote Pacific beaches and villages for superb whale watching.
With an ever expanding infrastructure, visitors can stay in chic boutique hotel