Colombia is an incredibly diverse country that has sadly been plagued by an out-of-date, bad reputation. Many years ago the country wasn’t safe to visit, but that political situation has changed immensely in the past 10 years. It is time to move forward!
It is now an up-and-coming destination with rich cultural history, colourful communities, intoxicating coffee culture, unique and plentiful wildlife, adventure activities and beautiful beaches, not to mention some of the most welcoming people in the world!
Let’s take a closer look at nine reasons you should travel to Colombia.
Off the beaten path and undiscovered
While of course there are tonnes of tourists that go to Colombia every year, and thousands of cruise passengers do port stops in Santa Marta and Cartagena, overall the country is relatively undiscovered. If you enjoy travelling to places not everyone has been, Colombia is full of off-the-beaten-track spots.
Take La Guajira, for example, where you’ll find desert landscapes and giant sand dunes close to the Caribbean Sea. Or Casanare where you can search for Puma and Jaguars on a safari. Or the underwater world of the San Andres islands where you can dive to see incredible corals and marine life. And let’s not forget the Amazon Jungle where you can meet and support Indigenous-led lodges and tours where you will discover a special connection with mother Earth. Or combine suspension bridges and one of a kind rail travel into the community and nature reserve of San Cipriano! Or take a unique cable car ride to a lodge set high on a mountain and watch for the Andean Condor, the largest flying bird in the world.
Wildlife & Safaris
If you’re looking for an outback wildlife experience like no other, and closer to home than Africa, the Casanare region is sure to get your heart pumping. The elusive jaguar and puma stealthily roam the plains. Huge numbers of capybara can be seen, along with occasional anteaters. You’ll get to discover llanero (cowboy) culture on the fields and farms of the vast plains. You’ll need at least five days in this area as it is remote, the roads are rough and driving takes time. The wildlife sightings, lack of crowds and cultural connection will make it worthwhile though!
The world’s longest, widest, and deepest river, the Amazon, snakes its way through Colombia. The region holds a variety of unique Indigenous and wildlife experiences to help you reconnect with nature. There are 212 mammal species, 674 rare bird species and 195 different kinds of reptiles to look for!
You can do boat trips, jungle walks, birdwatching, tree climbing and learn the traditional way of life during community visits. There’s no shortage of adventure here, with a deep connection to the Earth.
Colombia has a deep connection with coffee and its culture. The coffee axis is full of beautiful haciendas, lodges and coffee farms where you can learn about the entire process of coffee from bean to cup, as well as many tastings along the way. If you’ve been to a coffee region before in another country you might think it isn’t worth visiting the coffee axis, but this region is special. In 2011 Unesco recognized 18 urban settlements in this region as the Coffee Cultural Landscape, the only one in the world.
The Coffee Axis is also renowned for having the tallest palm trees in the world in La Carbonera and the Cocora Valley. I'd love to talk to you about the difference in these two areas, why Cocora Valley is more popular but far less authentic.
Beaches & Islands
Colombia has an incredible variety of islands and beaches on both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. The beautiful, soft sand of various colours, stretches for miles. From all-inclusive resorts, luxury eco-resorts, diving hostels, locally owned inns and historic properties, you’ll find it all, no matter what your travel style.
Each of the islands has a different vibe and many have varying cultures, like the mix of Spanish, English and Creole in the San Andres Islands or Gorgona island in the Pacific, with its protected sub-tropical forest, coral reefs and endemic wildlife. Consider staying in Baru or the Rosario islands about 45 minutes from Cartagena for incredible snorkelling adventures in the reef. Or go whale watching and see Olive Ridley sea turtle hatchlings on the Pacific Coast near Bahia Solano.
The city of Cali is where it is at for lively music and the best of the best when it comes to sensual salsa dancing. Take salsa lessons or take to the streets for a local street party! Enjoy live salsa music at local bars or take in a salsa dancing show to be wowed by the beauty and skill of world-renowned dancers.
Birds and frogs
Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. The amazing colourful creatures will amaze you! With over 1850 species of birds and the largest number of amphibian species on earth, you’ll see so many different ones you won’t be able to count. With varied ecosystems from the Amazon rainforest to the Andes, you’ll get to experience different animals everywhere you go.
Beginner or expert bird watching can be arranged throughout the country, or herping tours will take you to search for unique frogs and lizards.
For those who have a passion for cycling, Colombia is a hot destination for adventures, challenges, and leisurely rides. Whether you want to pedal through local communities and coffee farms, take on single-track downhill adrenaline-pumping routes or challenge yourself to great ascents leading to phenomenal mountain views, Colombia has it all.
The river of five colours blooms from June to November each year, but we’ll need to get you booked early as the area is highly protected with strict rules and limited accommodations to protect the delicate ecosystem. Over 3, 4 or 5 days in the area you’ll enjoy swimming in the colourful, crystal-clear waters, hiking and horseback riding.
As you can see, Colombia is so much more than its dark past. It is time you get out there to meet its people, marvel in the beauty of its wildlife and let the sun and sand wash your cares away!
Do you have questions about visiting Colombia? Drop them in the blog comments or send us an email! We’d love to share our first-hand experiences with you.