South America is a place that pretty much everyone dreams of visiting. It’s vast flurry of lands, thick Amazon center and a multitude of different Latin cultures lure us into knowing more about this continent. Here in the Philippines, there is a Spanish influence that sifts through Filipino culture, and just like here, it brings travelers flocking from all over.
One country that is certainly a place to visit is much-changed Colombia. Once a cartel-fueled, drug haven that evoked violence from its illegal activities is now one of THE places to visit. Represented by the slogan of ‘Magical Realism,’ Colombia has a bit of everything and that’s just what the locals say. If you want lush jungles, delightful beaches, inner cities or scenic mountains well Colombia has it all. Even more so, that Lonely Planet have just put Colombia on the travel map by placing it as 2nd in the destinations to visit in 2017.
So, with this country progressing dramatically and it being one of the most innovative countries in South America, we decided to see what Colombia has for us.
Here are 10 things we learned about Colombia.
You can hike to a “Lost City”
Wander into the Sierra Nevada jungle terrain, overcome waist high waters, pass rivers via human-sized birdcages and play soccer with local tribes–and that is just the journey there. You’ll be dripping with sweat, mosquito bitten and exhausted but when you reach the ruins of the Lost City, it’ll all be worthwhile.
If you like adventure and getting “lost” then this Indiana Jones-like trail will be a must for you whilst you’re in Santa Marta. Definitely take the five-day option!
That Cali is the place to dance
Cali, the city further south to Colombia is the world of salsa. The nightlife is themed around salsa bars so novice or not, you’ll certainly be involved if you venture out. Indulge yourself in the rhythm and steps like no other place in Colombia.
If you really want to indulge in authentic Colombian culture, then dance is a great way to do that. Loosen the hips and have a few drinks to get in the mood!
You can follow Nathan Drake into Cartagena
One of the best video games ever to be made, Uncharted re-visits real life locations, Cartagena being one of them and this has brought tourism to the area according to the locals. In and around the city, Cartagena has colonial streets and a historic past. Roam through the bright colored buildings, take a peek into the old town, visit the museum and forts and eat the local cuisine.
Slow-paced, Cartagena is perfect place to spend a few days. If you don’t want anything too extraneous then wander aimlessly, eat street food, drink a beer and learn about its fascinating past.
Medellin is the city
Medellin is the city to beat in Colombia. Its dynamic attitude and bustling vibes are a far cry from what it once was 10 years ago. Peer over the cities communities via cable car, take the train through the center of the city, shop, party and eat whilst the green mountains provide the outer walls.
Medellin is where the cool kids hang out. If you like fashion, nightclubs and a modern Colombian-Latin vibe, you’ve arrived at the right place.
Pablo Escobar’s legacy still exists
Despite it being a terrible time in Colombian history, for visitors it is interesting to see the after affects of the Medellin cartel era. Visit bombed buildings, old mansions and even visit his brother, Roberto Escobar to discuss the past.
This may or may not be for you. It is still very recent in Colombian history and caused tremendous damage to thousands of families. The tours are interesting to find out first hand the damage Pablo Escobar caused.
Hedonistic spots such as Santa Marta
If location is anything in Colombia, Santa Marta comes at number one. Close by to the Lost City, Tayrona Park, Minca, Palomino and Taganga, Santa Marta has become a hot spot stay for many travelers.
Santa Marta itself hasn’t got much on apart from markets, restaurants, bars and hostels. However, base yourself here and immerse yourself in the fast-becoming hedonistic vibe.
Minca may just be our favorite place
Only a short one-hour drive away from Santa Marta there is a small village called Minca. Popular for its relaxed vibe, natural setting and small population, Minca is a detox from the world. Practice yoga, go search for waterfalls, visit giant hammocks and just take a breather.
If you’re a yogi or nature lover, Minca will be ideal for you. There is hardly no Internet here so digital detox’s are common. If you want a peaceful experience, Minca won’t disappoint.
Palm trees are a thing
When anyone looks at a palm tree the first idea is somewhere tropical and somewhere relaxing. Right? Well, if you want to see Palm Trees on steroids, then visit Cocora Valley. These giants are the world’s largest and are quite impressive. You’ll be torn between feeling in complete awe to feeling chilled out.
Cocora’s surroundings are hilly and green, so if you love the outdoors then this is a cool place to take a day trip.
Beach spots on and off beat
Due to Colombia’s geographical position, you can enjoy beaches both on the Caribbean and Pacific sides. Playa Blanca is a hot spot near Cartagena whilst San Andres is an idyllic spot Caribbean side. Palomino appears to be quiet and almost desolate despite travelers regularly visiting a couple hours away from Santa Marta.
If you are a beach bum, then Colombia has more options than many countries in South America. Bring your SPF, towel and shades, as the sun can be relentless at times!
Amazing National Parks
Tayrona National Park is undoubtedly the most popular national park in Colombia. Horse-ride from Santa Marta through the sandy-path jungle to the isolated beach spot. Come across friendly Iguana’s, huge boulders and tons of hammocks as the waves crash against the golden carpet of sand. If you want more of an adventure, San Gil is a place to provide you with that. Chicamocha National Park offers fishing, camping, bushwalking, camping, rafting and mountain biking.
Colombia’s parks are beautiful and part of why Colombia’s popularity is soaring is due to its outdoor excursions. If you like adventure destinations, you can’t get better than the National Parks.
Got anything to add? Post your thoughts in the comments!