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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 effortless to understand why. As a first-time traveler, you will fall in love with Colombia. Besides 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 beautiful experiences 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 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!
As we mentioned, Colombia is the second most biologically diverse country globally. 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.
Colombia is the perfect destination if you like variety in food and would like to treat your taste buds to a one-of-a-kind experience. 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 easy for a person to fall in love with all the culinary delights.
Each region has its native ingredients, specialty recipes, and distinct characteristics that combine Spanish, Indigenous, and African influences in 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!
Colombia has everything from deserts and stunning volcanoes to endless rainforests, vast plains, and beautiful paradisiacal beaches! 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 everyone 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 of 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 that the Cocora Valley, in Quindio Department, is home to Colombia’s national tree, 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 to discover all the wonders this incredible country has.
One of the most important aspects of Colombian heritage is the presence of active indigenous communities within its territories. Although they only represent 4% of the Colombian population, more than 87 indigenous groups are scattered throughout its territory. Nonetheless, only some are open to sharing their culture and traditions with tourists.
Without a doubt, visiting some of these communities is one of the unique experiences that you can have in Colombia. It is a great privilege to interact with the indigenous population and learn about their traditions, perspectives, and ways of life.
Due to the range of altitudes among the various regions of Colombia, different climates are experienced depending on your chosen city. Therefore, the type of excursions experienced at 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 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 hosts many attractions, vibrant nightlife, cultural festivals, and ever-exuberant landscapes. The city has the best beaches in Cartagena that invite you to sightsee, relax, and have fun while enjoying the refreshing breeze, warm weather, and spectacular ocean. Due to the range of altitudes among the various regions of Colombia, different climates are experienced depending on your chosen city. Therefore, the type of excursions experienced at each destination will also vary.
Are you interested in a tour that showcases the beauty of Colombia and the wonders of the Galapagos Islands?
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 more complex flavor since the sugars will have more time to mature.
The valleys of Colombia’s “Coffee Triangle” region feature the topographical, climatological, and altitudinal characteristics 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 haciendas that grow coffee are open to the public. Visitors can tour the fields and observe everything from harvest to roast!
Traveling to Colombia is different from any other trip, especially given the variety of activities, be they adventure-, nature-, or culture-based. And, with so many kid-friendly activities, you’ll participate in experiences that your whole family will enjoy! A destination like this can enrich your knowledge of the world on many levels and provide lifelong memories for everyone.
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 when one arrives in Colombia, which makes you appreciate all this country has to offer even more!
One of the concerns when traveling solo to any destination is whether people will 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 is the distances between destinations within Colombia, which are relatively short. And if you’re the kind of person who enjoys traveling by land, you will love all the fantastic and colorful landscapes you encounter along the way.
Undoubtedly, those who travel to Colombia should arrive open-minded and be prepared to observe Colombia’s promising future.
Colombia enjoys a rich musical heritage. Each particular region’s varied cultural and ancestral influences have yielded a mix of harmoniously delightful rhythms and unique musical styles, such as cumbia, vallenato, salsa, and champeta. Each of these is identifiably Colombian and has inspired many dance styles that instantly cheered and performed at dance clubs and festivals all over Latin America.
It is no secret that Colombia has gone through some challenging times. 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 and 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.
Seeing such a resilient population working through its challenging past to build a healthier and more optimistic society is admirable.
Don’t think twice about traveling to Colombia; you’ll be glad you did!