As an emerging and growing tourist destination, the beautiful country of Colombia is sometimes overlooked on a South American bucket list, as travellers prioritise leading destinations such as Peru, Patagonia or Costa Rica. Until recent years, travelling to Colombia was not recommended and the country’s lingering negative reputation leaves tourists feeling cautious and apprehensive about choosing Colombia for their next adventure abroad.
In reality, many parts of Colombia have now been declared safe for travel, and although it is advisable to stick to the well-known tourist spots, visiting Colombia can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. In fact, travellers to South America often name Colombia as the highlight of their trip. So, what are the draws of this resilient nation, and why should it be on your travel list? Here are just a handful of the things that make Colombia so special…
People are choosing to holiday abroad more than ever before, and mass tourism has led to crowds in some of the world’s most picturesque and culturally interesting settings. Whilst Colombia is currently off the main tourist radar, it’s unlikely to remain a lesser-visited destination for long. Now is the ideal time to experience the many, many scenic parts of Colombia, whilst they remain relatively untouched by tourism. For example, the Tayrona National Park on the Caribbean Coast is blessed with picturesque sandy beaches and a jungle backdrop, along with a strong indigenous cultural heritage, and as yet there are but a few places to stay and limited infrastructure within the park.
Travel is often more gratifying if you are able to spend time with the local people and communities. Colombian locals are some of the friendliest people you will encounter; they welcome tourists with open arms and embrace the opportunity to recommend places that visitors might enjoy. The home of salsa and cumbia, dance and music are integral parts of Colombian culture and bring together the nation’s African, Indigenous and European heritage. Most Colombians are accomplished dancers and whether you join in or not, experiencing Colombian dance is uplifting and absorbing.
From rainforest to snow-capped mountains, green valleys to sun-drenched coastline, Colombia has a wealth of stunning landscapes. Visit one of the world’s premier coffee producing regions, see the towering native wax palms in the Cocora Valley, or wander through peaceful colonial towns with prettily painted houses and vibrant marketplaces. Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world with hundreds of different ecosystems, making it a great destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor pursuits.
In a country made up of various immigrant and indigenous populations, it stands to reason that Colombia has a rich culinary scene, and a trip to Colombia gives gourmands the chance to try dishes that aren’t easily found outside the country. Whilst some popular dishes such as empanadas, tamales and patacones (made from green plantain) are widespread across Latin America, others are more unique to Colombia. In Medellín and the surrounding region of Antioquia, the must-try dish is bandeja paisa, a huge plate overflowing with various meats, rice, beans, avocado and a fried egg. For a ligher snack, cornmeal arepas are widespread and come with your choice of filling. And if you have never considered serving a hot chocolate with cheese then visiting Colombia may make you think again…
In Colombia, the cities can be just as enticing as the national parks. The colourful streets of Cartagena’s old town are perhaps the most photogenic, but Medellín, Bogota and other Colombian towns also have their draws. Medellín in particular has undergone a major regeneration in recent years and is known for its innovation, pleasant climate and particularly friendly locals. Both Medellín and Bogota offer excellent museums and historical sights, as well as street art, festivals, viewpoints, sporting events and entertainment.
Colombia has so much to offer to those who are keen to embrace its ecological and cultural diversity.
If this blog has sparked a desire to add Colombia to your bucket list, then please browse our Treasures of El Dorado itinerary and get in touch by calling on 020 7263 3000 for more information.