Colombia's River of the Seven Colors in full bloom

Top 10 reasons why Colombia should be on your bucket list

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This blog was written by Juliana Urdaneta, one of our Destination Experts in Colombia!

Colombia is captivating the attention of many travelers worldwide, and it is very easy to understand why. As a first-time traveler, you will fall in love with Colombia. Apart from being the second most biologically diverse country in the world and having coasts along two oceans –the Pacific and the Caribbean–, Colombia has even more wonderful experiences just waiting to be enjoyed! Its stunning mountain landscapes and diverse culture will captivate you right from the start. Also, Colombia is yet to be considered a mass tourism destination. It preserves its authenticity since tourists have the possibility of living an immersive experience in which they can interact firsthand with its people and culture.

It is in the only country where you can visit the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Orinoquia region, and even the Amazon in one 10-day trip! Pair that with friendly people and great food, and you’re in for a treat when you visit Colombia!

Here are our Top 10 reasons why you should include Colombia on your bucket list

1. Colombia hosts close to 10% of the planet’s biodiversity

A breathtaking Scarlet Macaw in Colombia

Scarlet Macaws (also known as Ara Macao) can be found in Colombia!

 

As we mentioned before, Colombia is the second most biologically diverse country in the world. It is first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in the variety of butterflies, plants, freshwater fish, and amphibian species. The Global Big Day, a worldwide bird-counting competition, was held on May 9, 2020, and Colombia, once again and for the fourth time in a row, took first place! This indicates that Colombia continues to confirm its high potential for nature-based tourism that you cannot miss.

2. Colombian cuisine is a melting pot of culinary traditions of the six main regions

Bandeja Paisa, a Colombian delicacy

Bandeja Paisa, a Colombian delicacy.

 

If you like variety in food and would like to treat your taste buds to a one-of-a-kind experience, then Colombia is the perfect destination for you. Colombian cuisine has a little bit of everything! Its cuisine is versatile, authentic, and artisanal yet refined. More importantly, it can satisfy any palate! This makes it very easy for a person to fall in love with all the culinary delights.

Each region has its own native ingredients, specialty recipes, and distinct characteristics that combine Spanish, Indigenous, and African influences in just about every dish. Due to the range of climates represented by each region, Colombian cuisine is tremendously diverse and known for featuring fresh ingredients and lots of protein. Plus, portions are often quite generous!

Here are our top picks of Colombian food:

  • Bandeja paisa
  • Arepa de huevo
  • Tamales
  • Ajiaco

3. Colombia is best explored through an all-in-one package

The majestic "River of the 5 Colors" in la Macarena region

We recommend you visit the “River of the Five Colors” from June to November to be able to observe its fantastic color palette.

 

From deserts and stunning volcanoes to endless rainforests, vast plains, and beautiful paradisiacal beaches, Colombia has it all! And a great example of this is the “River of Five Colors,” considered by many as the most beautiful river in the world. It is located in Caño Cristales, part of a region known as La Macarena. Its striking colors are due to the type of algae found in the river’s clear waters, which explains why its beauty blinds and charms every one who sees it.

There is also the Tatacoa Desert in the northern region of Huila Department, which is the second-largest arid zone in Colombia after the Guajira Desert and is not properly a desert but rather a dry forest. In the Caribbean region, La Sierra Nevada in the Santa Marta National Natural Park is the only mountain overlooking the ocean with a summit that tops 9,850 ft (about 3,000 m) above sea level. The park is home to three indigenous communities and a diversity of ecosystems. Plus, we cannot leave out the fact that the Cocora Valley, in Quindio Department, is home to Colombia’s national tree, which is the tallest wax palm in the world.

Colombia has it all and it’s just a matter of deciding how many days you want to stay in order to discover all the wonders that this incredible country has to offer.

4. You can get a closer look at some active indigenous Cultures

Colombia has plenty of culturally-rich indigenous cultures

Colombia has plenty of culturally-rich indigenous cultures.

 

One of the most important aspects of Colombian heritage is undoubtedly the presence of active indigenous communities within its territories. Although they only represent 4% of the Colombian population, there are more than 87 indigenous groups scattered throughout its territory. Nonetheless, only a few are open to sharing their culture and traditions with tourists.

Some active indigenous communities in Colombia are:

  • Wiwa (Sierra Nevada)
  • Wayuu (La Guajira)
  • Arhuaco (Sierra Nevada)
  • Guambiano (Cauca)
  • Paez (Tierradentro)
  • Puinave (Guainia)
  • Embera Chami (Caldas)

Without a doubt, visiting some of these communities is one of the most unique experiences that you can have in Colombia. It is a great privilege to be able to interact with the indigenous population and learn about their traditions, perspectives, and ways of life.

5. Colombia offers experiences for every kind of traveler; adventure, relaxation, and cultural exploration abound!

Some of Colombia's vast regions

Colombia has plenty of beautiful regions for you to explore! From mesmerizing rivers and coastal destinations to snow-capped Sierras Nevadas and magical plains!

 

Due to the range of altitudes among the various regions of Colombia, different climates are experienced depending on the city of your choosing. Therefore, the type of excursions experienced in each destination will also vary.

For example, Bogota is the nation’s capital and the largest city in Colombia. Its architecture offers a mix of modern and colonial styles. Against the backdrop of this fusion between past and present, many visitors find Bogota to be an ideal destination for exploring the country’s rich history, gastronomy, art, culture, business, and more in this South American metropolis! Plus, as Bogota is located at an altitude of around 8,500 ft (about 2,600 m) above sea level, you can expect some bright sun, warm days, and cool weather.

In contrast, Cartagena offers a very different experience. This beautiful coastal city is located on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. Its charming colonial architecture plays host to plenty of attractions, a vibrant nightlife, numerous cultural festivals, and ever-exuberant landscapes. The city’s beaches and vibe invite you to sightsee, relax, and have fun while enjoying the refreshing breeze, warm weather, and spectacular ocean.

Are you interested in a tour that showcases the beauty of Colombia and the wonders of the Galapagos Islands?

 

6. Colombia’s coffee is renowned worldwide

Colombian Coffee is one of the most renowned beans in the world!

Colombian Coffee is one of the most renowned in the world!

 

If you’ve ever tasted a cup of Colombian coffee, you already know why it is considered by many to be the best in the world. Prepared with “superior” Arabica beans, in comparison with other countries, Colombian coffee is cultivated by hand, and only the ripest cherries are selected for harvest. Ultimately, this leads to a sweeter and a more complex flavor since the sugars will have had more time to mature.

The valleys of Colombia’s “Coffee Triangle” region feature the topographical, climatological, and altitudinal characteristics that are most suitable for growing coffee. This, in itself, adds to the highest standards of quality. For this and several other technical reasons, a cup of Colombian coffee will always be exceptional and never disappoint. And, it gets even better; most of the haciendas that grow coffee are open to the public. This means that visitors can tour the fields and observe the entire process from harvest to roast!

7. An excellent destination for the whole family!

Family visiting the Coffee Triangle Region in Colombia

Colombia offers a little something for everyone!

 

Traveling to Colombia is not like any other trip, especially given the variety of activities on offer, be they adventure-, nature-, or culture-based. And, with so many kid-friendly activities, you’ll be sure to take part in experiences that your whole family will enjoy! A destination like this can enrich your knowledge of the world on so many levels and provide lifelong memories for everyone.

Some of our recommended family-oriented and kid-friendly activities are:

  • Gold Museum + Monserrate in Bogota
  • Graffiti Tour in Medellin
  • Hacienda Combia Coffee Inspiration Tour + Coffee Park in Armenia
  • Day tour of Rosario Island + San Felipe Fortress in Cartagena

8. One of the most welcoming destinations for solo travelers

Cocuy's marvelous Sierra Nevada in Colombia

Cocuy’s marvelous Sierra Nevada is great for solo travelers!

 

In recent years, Colombia has redeemed its standing in the world after experiencing years of internal conflict. The nation has gone to great lengths to offer its visitors a safe, secure, and welcoming travel experience. This is reflected from the moment one arrives in Colombia, which makes you appreciate all that this country has to offer even more!

One of the concerns when traveling solo to any destination is, will people be friendly? Will they be willing to help me if I need assistance? In Colombia, you don’t have to worry about this! Even if they don’t speak your language, Colombian people are famous for their incredible hospitality, and will go above and beyond to offer a helping hand when you need it.

Another factor as important as the Colombian people’s warmth and hospitality are the distances between destinations within Colombia, which are relatively short. And if you’re the kind of person that enjoys traveling by land, you will love all the fantastic and colorful landscapes that you encounter along the way.

Without a doubt, those who travel to Colombia should arrive with an open mind and be prepared to observe Colombia’s promising future.

9. Colombia, land of a thousand rhythms

Colombian music player during a parade.

 

Colombia enjoys a rich musical heritage. The varied cultural and ancestral influences of each particular region have yielded a mix of harmoniously delightful rhythms and unique musical styles, such as cumbia, vallenato, salsa, and champeta. Each of these are identifiably Colombian and have inspired a wealth of dance styles that are instantly cheered and performed at dance clubs and festivals all over Latin America.

10. You can witness Colombia’s transformation process

Tourists visiting Comuna 13 in Medellín, Colombia

Tourists posing next to a beautiful graffiti in Comuna 13, Medellín

 

It is no secret that Colombia has gone through some challenging times. That said, in the last couple of decades, the nation has experienced a very palpable transformation. Although all of the internal conflicts have left a mark on citizens and residents throughout the country, it is never reflected in their way of being because Colombians are always welcoming. Their genuine charisma, dedication to providing an incredible and hospitable experience is visible everywhere. And, it is impressive to see how the people affected most by the nation’s former upheaval have given themselves a new lease on life, as is the example of Comuna 13 located in Medellin. This neighborhood abandoned its darker days in favor of a thriving art scene that showcases music, graffiti, and dance (breakdancing). It has become a true highlight for many visitors.

It is admirable to see such a resilient population, working its way through its challenging past, in order to build a healthier and more optimistic society.

Don’t think twice about traveling to Colombia; you’ll be glad you did!

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