Colombia has shaken off its troubled past and emerged as one of the most welcoming countries in South America. Now is the time to plan your trip. Here are six reasons for starters:
Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena have a colonial past full of historical monuments but today have active festival scenes. For lovers of music, art and literary culture there are dozens of events throughout the year. Many festivals take place in open-air venues as you’d expect in this tropical country. For dancing fans Cali is the capital of Colombian salsa.
Finest Coffee in the world:
Colombia’s ‘coffee landscape’ has been given recognition by UNESCO. The coffee triangle made up of Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda departments lie in the central Andes foothills. These verdant mountains are blessed with the perfect coffee growing climate. The area has an amiable bucolic culture, colourful villages where locals tie up their horses like in the wild-west. Plus, great hiking, bird-watching and adventure sports.
Colombia has the highest diversity of birds in the world, over 1900 species and still counting. The contrasting landscapes of mountains, plains, jungle and two oceans are reflected in the amazing avian population. From tropical macaws and parrots, mountain condors, to coastal frigatebirds. The cloud-forest area known as Choco has several endemics – unique to that area.
Whether mountain biking, horse-riding, caving or trekking the Andes has it all. Head to Pereira or Los Nevados National Park. For white-water rafting try San Gil in Santander, you can also do trekking and caving. Enjoy hot-air ballooning over the coffee region. Zip-lining can be done in Los Caracolies near Armenia.
Humpback whales migrate along the Pacific cost between July – November. They come to the relatively warm waters to breed after travelling up from Antarctica. You can get up close in Bahia Solana or out on the islands of Nuqui and Gorgona, (also great for experienced Scuba divers). Make sure that you go with a responsible operator that respects the 40-ton ocean giants.
At San Agustín is an archaeological park with mysterious statues dating back 3,000 years. Not far away is Tierradentro with pre-Hispanic tombs over 1,400 years old. For a real Indiana Jones experience hike to the Lost City at Teyuna in the Sierra Nevada od Santa Marta.