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Top Destinations for 2017: Colombia

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Increasingly popular on social media and a long-standing part of the South American backpacker trail, Colombia has much to offer in its rich cultural history and flourishing landscapes. 

For budding photographers, Colombia offers beautiful cobbled streets, vibrant colonial buildings and perfect white sand beaches.

For those in search of adventure, in Colombia you are never far from nature trails, hiking spots, and prime locations for water, land and air sports.

Where to go

Begin your travels through Colombia in Cartagena, a picture-perfect fishing village on the Caribbean coast. It is the cornucopia of Colombian cuisine, boasting bursting fresh fruits, huge seafood platters, and one of the best cups of coffee in the world. It’s also buzzing with beautiful independent shops and markets; a bargain-hunter’s dream!

South of Cartagena is the infamous Medellin. Known as the drug capital of Colombia during the reign of Pablo Escobar, the city has since been reformed to one of beautiful high rise buildings and bustling Saturday nights. If you’re a fan of techno and reggae, a night out in Medellin is the one for you, with discos attracting young, beautiful people from all neighbouring cities.

To the southwest of Medellin lies the gritty, passionate city of Cali. Extremely proud of their cultural heritage, the people of Cali sure know how to dance to a beat, and that beat is normally always salsa. So if you’re looking for a chance to boogey with the locals, this is the place to be. It’s vibe is infectious, making it one of those cities you’ll always find time to come back to.

If you’re looking for an escape, a perfect paradise, head 800km northwest of Columbia to the island of San Andrés. The seahorse shaped island is covered in tall palm trees which open up to reveal perfect white sand beaches and crystal clear blue waters. It is the ultimate snorkelling and diving location, with excellent visibility of the busy coral reefs.

What to do

View Bogota from above

The best way to view the sprawling, high-altitude capital of Bogota with all its botanical attractions is from above.

We recommend taking a trip on the Aerial Tramway which travels all the way up Mount Monserrate, giving incredible panoramic views of the city below.

Walk on the wild side

Tayrona National Park covers thousands of hectares of both rainforest land and sparkling blue seas, making it the perfect destination for adventure. Walk barefoot along the sandy beaches, drink fresh coconut water, hike among the robust cacti which balance precariously on the hills, and perhaps even encounter one of the 56 endangered species that inhabit the park.

The park makes the perfect day trip, just remember to bring your mosquito repellent!

Climb the stairway to the perfect panorama

Just two hours drive from Medellin you will find El Peñón de Guatapé, or The Rock of Guatapé, which has a rich cultural importance for the inhabitants of the Guatape region. If you’re feeling brave, you can climb the 659 steps to reach the peak of the rock, which sits 2,135 metres above sea level.

It may seem daunting at first, but it’s absolutely worth it for the view from the top.

Sample cultural delights in Barranquilla

Boasting as the second largest carnival celebration in the world, the Carnival of Barranquilla is one of Colombia’s most culturally and historically important celebrations. The carnival takes place in the four days leading up to Ash Wednesday, so if you’re lucky enough to travel through Colombia during this period this is a must-see.

Colourful carnival dancing, pumping salsa beats, and a plethora of cultural performances are on display throughout the four days. Not to mention it’s a haven for festival foodies.

Eat out in Cartagena

The Cartagena cuisine is arguably reason enough to take a trip to Colombia, filled with hundreds of seaside restaurants and cafes. Firstly, grab yourself a cup of perfectly brewed coffee and a warm pastry to keep you powered through a morning of people watching.

In the afternoon and late evening, the streets will be bustling with street vendors selling ceviche, which is a specialty in Cartagena. The mixture of freshly caught raw fish, citrus juices and spices make for a light, refreshing snack.

As the evening rolls around, bars and clubs will open up. This is your chance to get your hands on Cartagena’s most special drink: coconut lemonade. Not only is it refreshing and light, but it’ll also give your stomach some room to fill with delicious octopus paella, juicy sirloin steak and maybe even a chocolate fondant (or two).

Swing high in the trees

If you’re looking for a total chill-out day, head across to Casa Elemento in Minca. Up high on the side of a mountain, the resort has a restaurant, pool, and bar where you can rest with a mango mojito in one hand and a book in the other.  

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can clamber to the top of the climbing wall and lie in a huge, wide hammock overlooking the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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