Modern day Colombia is a vibrant and exciting country that reaches from the Amazon and the Orinoco in the south over the Andes to its Pacific and Caribbean coasts in the north. After a troubled past, that’s been well documented in TV dramas, Colombia these days is easy to get to, with direct flights, and easy to fall in love with.
With more scenic variety than many of its neighbours the new Colombia is flourishing, offering fairy tale-like colonial cities on the Caribbean coast and whale watching on the Pacific. Up in the Andes the diversity continues with buzzing cities, picturesque coffee plantations and even a unique five-day trek to a remote Lost City.
As Colombia has gradually opened up in recent years many of the country’s most beautiful regions, previously largely untouched by international tourism are becoming accessible. The capital Bogota is the gateway city for most new arrivals and it offers some attractive colonial architecture alongside world class galleries such as the Gold Museum and the Museo Botero and an emerging Colombian cuisine. From here head out west to the colourful valleys of the coffee region, or south to the isolated plains of the Orinoco and Corocora Camp for a taste of “wild Colombia”, the Llanero cowboy culture and a horse riding safari.
Alongside the amazing scenery one of the most beguiling things about Colombia is its people. Whether they’re descended from Europeans or some of the few descendants of the local indigenous tribes such as the Chibcha, the locals are incredibly proud of their beautiful country that becomes more enchanting at every turn. Whether you’re welcomed into a local home for a meal or asked to dance at one of the country’s many fiestas, here you’ll find some of the best hospitality and most convivial hosts in the continent.
But it’s up on the northern Caribbean coast that Colombia probably becomes its most beautiful. Alongside some rugged and wild beaches and smaller resorts, Cartagena das Indias, to give it it’s full name, was originally founded as a Spanish port in 1533. Within thirty years Sir Francis Drake and other privateers or “pirates” were laying siege to Cartagena. This was 200 years before the mythical Pirates of the Caribbean were set, but Cartagena remains today as a likely period backdrop. It’s probably the most beautiful colonial city in Latin America, rivalling Havana as the most protected. Colourful bougainvillea -clad streets give way to the walled old town, where the city ramparts afford views of the sparkling Caribbean Sea. Within the old town, café’s spill out onto squares and as the sun sets, lingering salsa beats entice tourists and locals alike to stay for one last drink.
When to go
Colombia truly is a year round destination due to the variety of its geography and topography. Bogota and the coffee region as well as other parts of the Andes are temperate spring-like all year long with May to October being it’s driest season. The Llanos Orientales can be visited year-long while Cartagena tends to get more rain in the period from August to November when heavy rains can occur.