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Colombia is the only country in South America with coasts on the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. The country has the fourth largest economy in Latin America, although the gap between the rich and poor is still enormous. Colombia is one of the world’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, given the mix between the aboriginal natives, Spanish colonists, African slaves, and the more recent wave of immigrants from Europe and the Middle East. Additionally, Colombia is one of the most ecologically diverse countries on Earth.
The Colombian territory is dominated by the Andes mountains, where the majority of its biggest cities are located; and they are divided into three mountain ranges: the Cordillera Occidental (running close to the Pacific Ocean), the Cordillera Central (running between the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys), and the Cordillera Oriental (which extends to the North East and includes the capital Bogotá, the highest city of its size in the world, standing at 2,591 meters).
Due to the violent internal conflicts that ruled the country for many years, Colombia was not considered a safe touristic destination. However, the situation has improved dramatically and presently Colombia is one of the most interesting places to visit in the region. Each day, there are more and more people visiting the country and as their slogan says “the only risk in the country, is wanting to stay”.
For many years, I have been visiting Colombia on a regular basis to see my family, who lives mostly in Barranquilla. I have seen the place change a lot since my childhood years, but I had never traveled around much given the unstable situation of the country. On this page you will find tips and information related to my own personal experience in the country, as well as some links that I think could be useful for planning a trip. If you have any questions or would like me to provide any additional information, feel free to post a comment below.
Places I visited
When I first arrived to Colombia, my intention was to stay only 6 weeks; but in the end I was having such a good time that I decided to stick around for a while longer instead of going back to Europe. I spent four and a half months traveling around the country and I loved it!
- Barranquilla: the place I keep going back to, has changed dramatically since my childhood days. Back then, it was a dusty town without much going on. Nowadays, it’s a busy city of big contrasts between the people who have way too much and those who have almost nothing.
- Bogota: the big and bustling capital city. It’s a big chaotic and convoluted due to all the construction projects going on all over the place; but it also offers good art fixes and I liked it for it!
- Suesca: will forever stay in my memory as the place where I first learnt about rock climbing; a magical location that inspired me to stay in Colombia for a while longer.
- Villa de Leyva: one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia, it also offers tons of nice places to eat out. Unfortunately, I didn’t take enough photos to show you, but check out Alain’s. My favorite sight in town was the farmers’ market, not to be missed!
- Salento: a charming little pueblo, full of bright colors, is located at the heart of Colombia’s coffee zone; and it’s the perfect base to explore the beautiful Cocora valley.
- Yolombó: a small town with an interesting history not too far from Medellín. We got there for pure serendipity and got to enjoy the great hospitality of the locals and learned about the process of making of panela.
- Maceo: the most remote rock climbing location that we visited in Colombia; getting there is half the fun, though. On our way back, we even got to see a huge tarantula crossing the road.
- Medellin: probably the favorite city in Colombia for people looking for nightlife and restaurants. Our experience, however, was quite mellow and you could even say boring as we found the perfect setup at Hostal Medellin and barely wanted to leave the place!
- El Peñol – Guatapé: the monolith of El Peñol was one of the most majestic sights I enjoyed in Colombia and the colors in Guatapé would make you believe you just walked into a fairy tale :)
- Machetá: another climbing location not too far away from Colombia’s capital city, Bogotá. Definitely, not for beginners, though.
- La Mojarra: located in La Mesa de Los Santos, it offers another amazing spot for rock climbing; a place with nice, warm weather and friendly locals makes it a must for any climbing trip to Colombia.
- Tayrona National Park: has some of the nicest beaches in the country, and even if it can get crowded at times if you walk far enough you can still find secluded and peaceful spots.