Colombia is tipped to be the next hot travel destination, so we suggest you get there ahead of the rush. Explore started operating tours to Colombia again in 2008 after a break of almost 6 years and things have been running so well it is like we never left!
Colombia is the only South American country to boast a Pacific and Caribbean coastline and the contrast within the country itself is just as great. We walk in the high Andes of Los Nevados National Park, explore the lush coffee growing region around Manizales and Armenia as well as spend time on the Caribbean Coast. No visit to Colombia would be complete without spending time in Cartagena, a colonial jewel that puts other more famous colonial cities in the shade. Further along the coast is Tayrona National Park where wild jungle sweeps down from the Andes right to the white sand beaches.
Colombia is currently going through a wonderful transformation. After years of daunting, negatives headlines plaguing this country of superlatives, Colombia is at long last coming into its own. Blessed with an abundance of different natural landscapes from arid deserts and huge savannahs, to snow-capped volcanoes and white sand beaches, Colombia offers the visitor a staggering variety of experiences.
A classic, relaxing beach holiday can be enjoyed on two coasts – Colombia is the only country in South America to have both a Caribbean and a Pacific coastline – the raging rivers and deep caves surrounding San Gil have turned this little town into an adventure sports’ paradise, the Amazon jungle in the far south is a nature lover’s paradise and the Zona Cafetera, where the majority of Colombia’s “black gold”, coffee, is produced, offers authentic stays at coffee fincas, amidst abundant greenery and mountain scenery.
A quarter of the population live in the four main cities of Bogotá, Cartagena, Medellín and Cali, but to find the heart of Colombia you must look elsewhere. The country is strongly regionalized and this stems from the rugged terrain and its early history, when many different indigenous groups lived separately. All roads do not lead to Bogotá; hence the importance today of the departamentos and their capitals. In the 19th century some were independent countries for a short time (eg Antioquia) and these were often Spanish settlements. The fierce pride of the later inhabitants ensured the preservation of their heritage and virtually all are worth a visit.
It is rumoured that no other country on the continent has a greater variety of music genres and most of these can be enjoyed at the numerous fiestas held even in the tiniest of villages throughout the year. The festivals are a legacy of the mixed heritage of Indigenous, European and African cultures, all of which have helped shape and create the modern Colombia of today. Cultural icons such as sculptor Fernando Botero and writer Gabriel García Márquez, even drug baron Pablo Escobar, capture the imagination. Prepare to be dazzled by the sheer diversity of this country.
The Candalaria colonial district of Bogota is great to wander around and we also visit the famous underground Salt Cathedral and the picturesque town of Villa de Leyva.