Despite what the U.S. government warns about Americans traveling to Colombia, it’s really a prime destination. Perhaps because these warnings prevent many travelers from going, it’s a relatively untouched paradise, where the track has yet to be beaten. Not only does it boast lush landscapes and a tropical climate, but also an ample amount of both adventure and relaxation for every traveler to enjoy.
1. The Activities
Whether you’re into biking across mountains, rappelling down waterfalls, zip lining, hiking, swimming, going on a motorcycle tour around the country, or any other exciting activity you can dream up, you’re likely to find it in Colombia.
2. The Beaches
Most people don’t think of Colombia as a Caribbean destination, but some of the lesser-known beaches are unpopulated and unrivaled in beauty by any other. In fact, Colombia is the only country in South America with borders on both the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans. With this much warm water and white sand lined with coconut trees and hammocks, the beach crazed will surely fall in love.
3. The people
Some of the friendliest in the world, Colombians are eager to chat about their country and their culture with tourists who are willing to listen! One of the best ways to learn about a place is to talk to the people who live there, ask them where the best things to do and places to see are, and seek their opinions about what’s going on politically or economically. They love to share insights about the country they’re proud of.
4. The mountains
The Andes range enters Colombia from the north and splits into three different sections, making nearly every city and village surrounded by their scenic beauty. Whether you’re seeking outdoor pursuits in the mountains or simply want to drive over and around them to appreciate their heights of over 17,000 feet above sea level, you’ll never tire of the majestic views.
5. The Canyons
With so many ups, there must come downs, and there are enough jaw-dropping canyons to rival any mountaintop in Colombia. Especially if you’re touring by two wheels (I highly recommend Motolombia Tours if you’re interested in a motorcycle tour), the curvy descents into the bottom of these deep canyons will leave you breathless, as in you won’t realize you’ve been holding your breath the entire way down.
6. The coffee
Though some of the world’s best coffee beans are grown in Colombia, all but 30% of them are exported, leaving behind the beans hand selected as “bad” for the locals to drink at fair prices. However, even the bad beans taste good, and it’s possible to splurge a bit more for a cup of the select quality beans that got to stay. In the coffee region (or Coffee Axis, as it’s called locally), it’s also worth taking a tour of a local farm and learning about how the beans are grown, harvested and stored.
7. The cowboys
Colombia is home to the real cowboys, the ones you see in the movies, donning hats, boots and riding their horses into the local bar. It’s not uncommon to pass a roadside bar on a Sunday and see several saddled horses outside, awaiting their owners. In the mountainous regions, travel by horseback offers the shortest distance between two lines, and therefore a much quicker ride than going around on the road.
8. The Cities
From the panoramic views at Bogota’s Monserrate hill to the colorful Old Town in the beach city of Cartagena, and to Medellin (pictured above), where even the slums have a million dollar view, every traveler can find something to love in Colombia’s most beloved cities.
If I haven’t convinced you to visit Colombia yet, I’m not sure what it takes. It’s an unspoiled dreamland; you’ll have to pinch yourself to believe you’re really there.