Colombia

Overview

Colombia is the only country on the South American continent to share its coastline with both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Bordering Panama to the north, Venezuela and Brazil to the east and Ecuador to the south, this country is so rich and varied it almost puts others to shame. Travel across the delicate beauty of Colombia’s Caribbean coast, venture into the tropical Amazon rainforest or dare yourself to reach the vertiginous peaks of the snowy Andes. On the shores of the Caribbean lies Cartagena, Colombia’s undisputed crown jewel. While there, you shouldn’t forget to visit the gorgeous Old Town of Cartagena, categorised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. A 13-km-long stone wall dating back to the colonial era surrounds a pretty and charming village-like city centre where flowery balconies hanging over cobbled streets lead their way down to picturesque plazas. The wall reaches up to 20 metres in width in some parts and it harbours some very fetching colonial architecture.

Top Attractions

  • Explore the historic city of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its well-preserved colonial architecture, colorful streets, and cultural attractions like the San Felipe de Barajas Castle, the Palace of the Inquisition, and the Gold Museum.
  • Discover the natural beauty of Tayrona National Park on the Caribbean coast, with its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and ancient ruins of the Tayrona indigenous civilization, as well as opportunities for hiking, snorkeling, and wildlife spotting.
  • Visit the coffee region of Colombia, known as the Coffee Triangle, with its picturesque landscapes, coffee plantations, and charming towns like Salento and Manizales, as well as opportunities for coffee tours, hiking in the Cocora Valley, and birdwatching in the Los Nevados National Park.
  • Explore the vibrant capital city of Bogotá, with its historic neighborhoods like La Candelaria, the cultural center of the city, and attractions like the Gold Museum, the Botero Museum, and the Monserrate Hill, as well as opportunities for dining, shopping, and nightlife in neighborhoods like Zona Rosa and Usaquén.
  • Experience the natural wonders of the Amazon rainforest in Colombia, with opportunities for jungle treks, wildlife spotting, and visits to indigenous communities in destinations like Leticia, Puerto Nariño, and the Amacayacu National Park.

Local Cuisine

  • Indulge in the flavors of Colombian cuisine, known for its diverse regional specialties, fresh ingredients, and bold flavors.
  • Sample iconic dishes like bandeja paisa (a hearty platter of beans, rice, meat, avocado, plantains, and egg), arepas (cornmeal patties filled with cheese, meat, or eggs), and sancocho (a hearty soup made with meat, vegetables, and herbs), as well as traditional side dishes like patacones (fried plantains) and ajiaco (a chicken and potato soup).
  • Try Colombian specialties like lechona (roast pork stuffed with rice, peas, and spices), empanadas (deep-fried pastries filled with meat or cheese), and tamales (steamed cornmeal wrapped in banana leaves), as well as traditional desserts like tres leches cake, flan, and bunuelos (fried dough balls).
  • Savor refreshing beverages like aguapanela (a sweet drink made from sugarcane), guarapo (sugarcane juice), and lulada (a drink made from lulo fruit), as well as traditional alcoholic drinks like aguardiente (an anise-flavored liquor) and rum.
  • Don’t forget to try Colombian street food like arepas rellenas (filled arepas), chocoramo (chocolate-covered cake), and obleas (thin wafers filled with caramel), as well as snacks like mangos biche (green mango with salt and lime) and almojábanas (cheese bread).

Outdoor Activities

  • Go hiking and trekking in Colombia’s stunning national parks and natural reserves, with opportunities for exploring scenic trails, waterfalls, and cloud forests in destinations like Cocora Valley, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and El Cocuy National Park.
  • Visit the Tatacoa Desert in the Huila region, with its surreal landscapes, red sandstone formations, and opportunities for stargazing, horseback riding, and desert exploration.
  • Explore the Colombian Andes Mountains, with opportunities for mountain climbing, rock climbing, and zip-lining in destinations like Suesca, La Mesa de los Santos, and Suesca.
  • Experience outdoor adventures like white-water rafting on the rivers of Santander, paragliding over the Chicamocha Canyon, and scuba diving in the coral reefs of Providencia and San Andrés.
  • Discover the biodiversity of Colombia’s Amazon rainforest, with opportunities for wildlife watching, birdwatching, and jungle treks in destinations like Leticia, Puerto Nariño, and the Amacayacu National Park.

Cultural Experiences

  • Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Colombia with visits to museums, galleries, and cultural institutions like the Gold Museum in Bogotá, the National Museum in Bogotá, and the Botero Museum in Medellín, which showcase the history, art, and culture of the country.
  • Explore the vibrant arts scene of Colombia, with opportunities to attend music festivals, dance performances, and art exhibitions showcasing Colombian and international talent, as well as workshops and classes in traditional crafts like pottery and weaving.
  • Experience traditional Colombian music and dance performances, such as cumbia, vallenato, and salsa, as well as traditional folk music and dance from regions like the Pacific coast, the Andes Mountains, and the Caribbean coast.
  • Discover the history and legacy of Colombia’s indigenous peoples with visits to historic sites like the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the archaeological sites of San Agustín and Tierradentro, and the indigenous communities of the Amazon rainforest.
  • Participate in local festivals and celebrations, such as the Barranquilla Carnival, the Medellín Flower Festival, and the Bogotá International Book Fair, to experience the vibrant culture and spirit of Colombia firsthand.

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