How To Plan YOUR Best Travel Route


Oops… I used to be going to share only a few fast suggestions for making a journey route in Colombia. Then issues acquired a bit of out of hand!

You’re now studying my final (and way-too-detailed) Colombia itinerary information, primarily based on my 3 months on this great nation. While many blogs solely discuss one particular a part of Colombia, I’ll be going extra in-depth.

My purpose is to clarify among the challenges with planning a Colombia journey. I’ll additionally present how one can customise among the widespread itineraries to make them your individual. I hope it can make it easier to plan your Colombia journey and contemplate totally different routes and places.

Bookmark this web page for later reference!

Important Tip: it’s spelled Colombia, not Columbia. This is totally different from British Columbia or Columbia University! Be certain to get it proper when asking for recommendations on teams or boards — or face an indignant mob giving zero solutions. People do get delicate about it so it helps to spell it appropriately.

How to create an itinerary

The issues with Colombia

Before we get into itinerary planning, there are some things to debate.

No, I’m not speaking about security! (Colombia is generally superb.)

The actual drawback with Colombia that it’s just too good of a journey vacation spot. Honestly, it’s one thing you actually should be ready for.

What do I imply?

Well, it simply has so many issues to do and locations to go to that it’s very simple to really feel fully overwhelmed. Trying to ‘do it all’ in Colombia is like making an attempt to drink from a firehose. Even with 3 months in Colombia I nonetheless felt like I wasn’t achieved.

This is kind of totally different from another nations. You can spend 2 weeks in, say, modestly-sized Guatemala or Ecuador and nonetheless preserve your FOMO at bay. In Colombia, you’ll absolutely typically agonize over what to incorporate in your itinerary or what to depart out.

The different difficulty is solely the distances.

Maybe you get the spontaneous thought to simply catch a fast bus from Cartagena within the north to the capital within the middle. Oops, it takes 21 hours.

Colombia is just not solely a giant nation, however its geography is outlined by three mountain ranges that run vertically throughout it. And mountains means “slow”!

For instance, journeys within the mountainous espresso area typically take longer than anticipated — no less than, in the event you’re simply connecting the dots on a map with out checking the precise journey occasions.

For reference, listed below are the distances from Bogota by bus:

Cartagena 22 hours (in a single day)
Medellín 9 hours
Santa Marta (for Minca or Tayrona) 18 hours (in a single day)
Armenia (for Salento) 7 hours
San Gil 7 ½ hours
Cali 10 hours
Manizales 8 hours
Popayán 12 hours

What all this implies is that you simply simply should be sensible about your Colombia journey route and plan it properly.

But don’t fear! I’ll make it easier to get probably the most out of your journey to Colombia. And we’ll have a look at some ready-made itineraries that can work for a shorter journey or that you could piece collectively for an extended journey.

Keeping your route practical

So, Colombia is huge and there’s an excessive amount of to see. How can you retain your journey route manageable?

Well, there are two methods: taking flights, or specializing in a area.

If you may have solely one or two weeks, I recommend selecting a particular area and principally staying in it. That manner, you received’t waste an excessive amount of time in transit and also you’ll have rather more time throughout your journey for actions and sightseeing.

Instead of making an attempt to go to each level on the compass, you may have a incredible journey by, say, specializing in the Caribbean coast plus a number of days in Bogota. That manner you’ll get a extra full expertise inside part of Colombia as an alternative of a very hurried or fragmented one.

(I do know everybody’s journey type is totally different although. This is simply my advice for getting probably the most enjoyment inside a restricted time.)

Coffee cities in central Colombia

If you may have three or 4 weeks in Colombia, then I feel it’s good to deal with two or three areas. You’ll have an excellent minimal time for a ‘complete Colombia trip’ of types. Of course, that doesn’t imply you’ll see all the pieces it has to supply, however you may positively see lots and have an itinerary with plenty of selection.

If you may journey longer than 4 weeks, then congratulations! You’ll be capable to expertise Colombia in a manner not everybody can. With no less than about 6-8 weeks you may actually cowl many of the highlights in Colombia. This is a perfect timeframe in the event you’re, say, backpacking in Colombia and actually aren’t in a rush.

Taking inside flights generally is a good answer for some itineraries. My journey type is often to go overland, however the comfort and low value of home flights in Colombia make them very tempting. To offer you an thought, on my final journey I hopped between Santa Marta to Medellin by air (that’s crossing about half the nation) for about $40. This fortunately prevented a 15-hour bus experience.

Some locations within the Amazon or on the Pacific Coast are additionally unreachable by street, necessitating flights.

Colombia’s Pacific coast

A flight or two can positively make an even bigger journey route in Colombia simpler to plan. Of course, you can too get carried away with including flights.

I generally see itineraries posted on-line the place the particular person is solely flying round (e.g. Bogota > Medellin > Santa Marta > Armenia for Salento > and so on. all by air). This appears extreme and can imply spending an excessive amount of time at airports versus time immersing within the journey expertise.

While among the distances will be vital, the bus/coach transport in Colombia is happily excellent basically.

Another pitfall is simply visiting cities. The smaller cities in Colombia have a lot attraction! They’re additionally typically safer than the cities, so that they have fairly a unique vibe. The smaller locations are positively to not be neglected and I at all times assume it’s good to have a mixture of each cities and cities.

The map under exhibits you the primary journey locations in Colombia and the way they are often linked.

Flying in- and out of Colombia

Before we will journey in Colombia, we’ve got to get there first!

Most vacationers will arrive in Bogota just because it has the biggest worldwide airport. The capital is just not a nasty place to start out your journey, however it’s good to know what to anticipate from Bogota. It’s not a superficially stunning metropolis, however it’s a very fascinating one.

Besides Bogota, many different cities even have worldwide airports, together with Cartagena, Cali, and Medellín. There are even a number of direct flights all the way in which from Europe to Cartagena. Be certain to test all of your choices utilizing Google Flights or Skyscanner as this will offer you totally different concepts for plan your route.

An fascinating choice is to fly through Miami. Since it’s tremendous well-connected to the remainder of the US, Colombia, in addition to Europe, it may be an ideal stepping stone.

On my most up-to-date Colombia journey, I flew from Portugal (the place I dwell) to Miami after which on to Cartagena. On the way in which again I flew from Cali to Miami to Portugal. This meant I might begin and finish my journey elsewhere in Colombia. It let me journey overland in a neat north-to-south route, with none must backtrack to Bogota.

Overrated or underrated?

Some locations in Colombia are tremendous standard, others appear to be barely recognized. If you prefer to go a bit of off the crushed path, you’ll have plenty of alternatives.

I believed it’d be fascinating to take a survey of Colombia itineraries. I seemed on the high 20 itineraries on different websites and tallied how typically locations are talked about:

Place Mentions  Place Mentions
Bogota 20 Tatacoa desert 4
Cartagena 19 Manizales / Los Nevados 4
Medellin 18 San Andres island 3
Salento 17 Islands Near Cartagena 4
Tayrona Park 15 Zona Cafetera 2
Guatape 13 Las Lajas Sanctuary 2
Santa Marta 12 Punta Gallinas 1
Minca 8 Barranquilla 1
Palomino 7 San Cipriano 1
San Gil 7 La Guajira 1
Taganga 6 Leticia (Amazon) 1
Villa de Leyva 6 Jardin 1
Lost City Trek 5 Rincon del Mar 1
Cali 5 Bahia Solano (Pacific Coast) 1
Popayan 5 Filandia 1
San Agustin 5

As you may see, most websites suggest the identical locations. Cartagena will get virtually 20X extra mentions than, say, the incredible Pacific Coast.

This might be as a result of many vacationers do the identical 2-week itinerary, which then will get shared once more as if it’s the one choice. While locations are sometimes standard for a purpose, it can be fairly self-reinforcing.

Popularity doesn’t at all times imply ‘best’. It simply will depend on what you’re in search of. Personally, I like standard locations like Cartagena, however actually love among the hidden gems additional down the checklist.

Most touristy locations in Colombia

Cartagena is by far probably the most touristy place in Colombia, however I do nonetheless assume it’s touristy in a really good manner. If you want stunning colonial structure, colourful road artwork, boutique inns, and classy eating places, then it’s the right place to go. It’s nice for a Caribbean vacation feeling and also you’ll always see beautiful snap-worthy buildings or road scenes.

Guatape, a day journey from Medellin, additionally will get very busy and will get combined opinions. Some like it, some don’t. The views are superb however simply understand it’s fairly a commercialized weekend resort.

Salento is a mountain city close to Valle del Cocora, dwelling to the world’s tallest wax palm timber. It will get fairly crowded as of late, although there are a number of alternatives to Salento.


In my opinion, Colombia doesn’t but undergo from true overtourism the way in which another nations do, however in the event you like locations that aren’t but a lot on the journey map, then be sure you look in direction of the underside of the desk earlier, or a few of my particular recommendations to comply with.

Alright, time for some itineraries!

Itinerary 1: the Caribbean coast

The Caribbean coast is 100% the place you need to go for a tropical vacation feeling. It’s excellent for a first-time go to to Colombia.

The beautiful colonial metropolis of Cartagena is nearly at all times sunny and (very) sizzling. It’s develop into a mainstream trip vacation spot with high-quality lodging, excessive security ranges, and a plethora of tourist-friendly outlets and cafes. If you’re in search of a secure household or {couples} vacation spot in Colombia, that is it. (Just anticipate it to be a little bit of a ‘tourist wonderland’ and never like the remainder of Colombia.)

Cartagena is a good place to begin, however I feel the perfect elements within the north are round Santa Marta. Minca is the spot for eco jungle retreats and birdwatching journeys, whereas Tayrona National Park has a few of Colombia’s most photogenic wild seashores.

Suggested minimal time: 2 weeks

Cartagena (2 days)

I’ve been to colonial outdated cities throughout Latin America and Cartagena is unquestionably probably the most stunning. You’ll be surprised by how properly it’s saved as properly, with roses hanging from brightly coloured balconies and dazzling road artwork enlivening the partitions within the stylish neighborhood of Getsemani.

You can keep in Cartagena on any price range, however you’ll get probably the most out of it in the event you benefit from the finer issues. Inside its outdated metropolis partitions, nearly all the pieces is ‘artisanal’, ‘gastro’, or ‘craft’. Some of probably the most stunning boutique inns in Colombia can be present in Cartagena. The metropolis is a little more costly than elsewhere, however there are nonetheless loads of price range choices too.

In the colonial days, big fleets would take gold and different items from Cartagena to Spain. Today, the outdated metropolis is prosperous and somewhat secure, because the peninsula of Bocagrande with its many high-rise flats that appear like a mini-Miami. Outer neighborhoods are lots rougher across the edges (although you’re unlikely to go to them).

You can wander the outdated metropolis and the fortifications, take a road meals tour, buy groceries, or swim inside a mud volcano (a tacky however enjoyable tour).

Cartagena can also be the right launching pad for journeys to numerous close by islands and seashores.

Beaches & islands close to Cartagena (2 days)

Fair warning: the seashores instantly in- and round Cartagena are terrible (e.g. Playas de Crespo close to the airport is simply… no). But the seashores get excellent additional out from the town. Expect turquoise waters and tropical fishes swimming by.

If you’re not too choosy or in a rush, hit up Isla de Tierra Bomba, the island simply half-hour from the outdated metropolis. It’s fairly industrial however will tick the field. For considerably quieter seashores, go to the Rosario islands (1 hr by boat) or the peninsula of Baru. For but extra seclusion, go to the San Bernardo islands (2 hours by boat from Cartagena).

The island expertise is finest on weekdays as on the weekends many Colombians will arrive on weekend journeys, making it extra crowded.

You can go to the islands and seashores with boat excursions and day journeys, however it’s price staying in a single day so that you simply get to hang around previous the afternoon rush and may watch the attractive sunsets.

Minca (3 days)

Minca burst onto the journey scene round 2015 when a brand new street made it extra accessible. The mountain city turned the go-to ecotourism vacation spot in Colombia and hasn’t misplaced its attraction.

It’s a haven for birdwatching, mountaineering, natural espresso farm visits, and extra. You attain Minca simply through the town Santa Marta (it’s about half-hour).

It’s finest to remain no less than considerably exterior the city middle for the perfect views and probably the most serenity. My information to the finest ecolodges and hostels in Minca will inform you extra.

If you’re even remotely fascinated by seeing tropical birds, go on the highly-rated Jungle Joe birdwatching tour. I’m not a bird-watching fanatic but I nonetheless thought it was an unbelievable expertise. Spotting my first toucan was positively very memorable.

There are many mountaineering trails and waterfalls within the space. The ambiance in Minca and its sweeping jungle cover views are additionally an expertise in itself. It appears many travellers find yourself staying an evening or two longer than deliberate.

Tayrona National Park (1-2 day)

Colombia’s most well-known nationwide park encompasses a number of extraordinarily scenic seashores — of which Playa Del Cabo is the perfect recognized. Tayrona is gorgeous, although it’s develop into a little bit of an iconic place in Colombia, so it may be fairly busy at occasions. This is just not actually a difficulty, simply don’t anticipate it to be a completely quiet wilderness.

A preferred exercise amongst backpackers is to remain the evening at Playa Del Cabo in a hammock underneath only a corrugated steel roof. I haven’t achieved this however heard combined opinions (primarily to do with the chilly wind), so learn up on it to see if it’s one thing you’d like. Alternatively, you may keep on the sting of the park in an eco-resort or hostel after which do a morning hike to the seaside.

Many seashores in Tayrona aren’t fitted to swimming as a result of currents. Playa Concha is near Santa Marta and is extra of a swimming seaside.

Palomino or related (2-3 days)

For some simple seaside time merely look to your complete stretch of coast east of Tayrona Park. Palomina is a little bit of a sizzling spot right here; when it comes to vibe consider a “backpacker beach place in Thailand” besides a good bit extra laidback. Put your ft within the sand and a beer in your hand.

For someplace a bit extra low-key, take a look at the realm across the jap fringe of Tayrona. Search the map for ‘Playa Los Angeles’ or “Trompito’. The entire space round right here is sprinkled with ecolodges, hostels, glamping, and farm stays.

More on the Caribbean Coast

There is sufficient to do within the north to refill an entire month! Here are some methods you may prolong your itinerary.

Ciudad Perdida (or Lost City) is an historic spoil contained in the Sierra Nevada National Park. If you may have 4 or 5 days to spare and love the outside, then contemplate the Lost City trek. It passes via indigenous lands and ends on the ruins of a pre-Columbian civilization. You can solely do that as a part of an official group tour. It does take many days and prices 1400000 COP per particular person (roughly 300 Euros or Dollars), so contemplate if the Lost City is price it for you. My Lost City trek information provides you with all the main points.

Many use the town of Santa Marta solely to transit to Tayrona Park or Minca. It’s a ‘normal’ fashionable metropolis and doesn’t have that a lot for vacationers, however it may nonetheless function a pleasant base. It has a marina, an excellent metropolis seaside (at Playa El Rodadero), a small historic space, and plenty of nice lodging choices. I as soon as stayed for five nights in Santa Marta just because I wasin a enjoyable hostel and likewise met some locals who confirmed me round.

The valley of Paso Del Mango is a little-known various to Minca. It’s extra remoted within the jungle, although it has only some lodging choices. Finca Carpe Diem is the primary base in Paso Del Mango.

Taganga, a village by a bay simply north of Santa Marta, is the place to be taught to scuba dive. It has among the most cost-effective dive college packages in Colombia — or wherever, for that matter. A 3-day primary certification course prices about 700000 COP, whereas a half-day introduction to diving prices about 200000 COP. The reefs won’t impress extra skilled divers, however they’re excellent to your coaching dives.

Barranquilla is kind of an industrial metropolis with a poor fame for security. I wouldn’t trouble with it usually, although the carnival in February makes a giant exception. It’s really the second-biggest carnival parade after Rio de Janeiro. Do watch your belongings rigorously because it’s really a carnival of pickpocketing as properly. Be particularly alert if you end up quickly blinded by cleaning soap bubbles sprayed from aerosol cans in the course of the celebrations. But in the event you take some care then it’s an unforgettable occasion.

Rincon Del Mar is a laidback place by the seaside about 3 hours south of Cartagena. It’ll in all probability keep fairly laidback because it’s considerably out of the way in which and lacks these postcard-friendly turquoise waters, however the in-the-know travellers make it there and like it for its pleasant ambiance. From Rincon, you may go to the San Bernardo islands on a ship journey and see bioluminescent plankton sparkle within the waters in a close-by lagoon. If a low-key vibe is your type of factor, you received’t remorse going to Rincon (shhhhh, it’s secretly additionally my favourite seaside in north Colombia!).

Finally, Punta Gallinas is the furthest northern level of Colombia. It exhibits a really totally different facet of Colombia. There are sand-dune deserts and (very poor) indigenous villages. It’s tough to go to by yourself so it’s finest achieved on a 2 or 3-day organized tour.

Itinerary 2: from North to Bogota

The areas of Colombia are separated by appreciable distances. If you wish to journey overland from Cartegena to Bogota, it can take a dispiriting 21 hours. Many will determine to fly throughout, however when you’ve got time, you can too break up the overland journey with some superb stops alongside the way in which.

This itinerary is finest in the event you take pleasure in out of doors actions, as San Gil is likely one of the finest locations for journey sports activities like paragliding and rafting. Two of the cutest villages, Barichara and Villa de Leyva, are additionally on this route.

You can use this itinerary to attach collectively totally different sections of a Colombia journey or contemplate it in its personal proper.

Suggested minimal time: 10 days with Bogota or 1 week with out

Mompox (2 days)

I missed out on Santa Cruz de Mompox on my journey, however I later realized it could have been completely on the way in which. It’s about 8 hours from Santa Marta or 6 hours from Cartagena. This quiet colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage web site will get advisable by plenty of vacationers. I’ll refer you to this nice weblog about Mompox for more information.

San Gil (2-3 days)

It’s about 10 hours from Mompox to San Gil. As I skipped Mompox I arrived from Santa Marta, which took about 13 hours (I did it as an in a single day journey.)

San Gil is the journey sports activities capital of Colombia. The small metropolis earned this fame primarily because of the various river rapids which can be wonderful for rafting, however you can too go paragliding, bungee leaping, canyoning, zip-lining, and mountain biking within the mountains round this small metropolis.

Don’t miss the native delicacy: the giant-ass ants. They fry ‘em up with a little bit of salt after which you may eat them like popcorn.

El Cocuy (1-2 days)

On the sting of central Colombia, this nationwide park includes a mountain vary with snow-covered peaks and glaciers, past which lies the beginning of the Amazon rainforest.

It’s a spectacular space for day hikes and multi-day treks, providing you with the prospect to identify mighty condors and traverse otherworldly landscapes stuffed with fraijones — palmlike shrubs that vaguely appear like huge succulents.

Activities are simply organized from the city of El Cocuy (6 hours by bus from San Gil).

Barichara (1 day)

Being one of many prettiest little villages in Colombia, Barichara actually has a manner of stealing travellers’ hearts. Just a 40-minute drive from San Gil, these two locations make for an ideal pair.

Mind you, it doesn’t essentially have an countless index of issues to do; primarily some small hikes, a viewing level, a church, and a few native handicraft outlets. But the white-washed colonial structure makes strolling round Barichara an actual pleasure. It’s price an in a single day keep to soak within the ambiance.

Villa de Leyva (2 days)

This charming city is likely one of the few in Colombia that conserved all its colonial structure. It’s a pleasure to walk round its many cobbled streets with whitewashed buildings with tiled roofs. There are extra actions in- and round Villa de Leyva than in Barichara, which is why I recommend staying right here no less than a day further.


It takes about 3 ½ hours from Villa de Leyva to Bogota by bus. Perhaps your journey already began in Bogota, however right here’s your likelihood to provide it a better re-assessment.

I discover that Bogota generally will get damaging feedback from travellers who could have anticipated to see a extra superficially stunning metropolis. Even although Bogota has a gritty look, there’s a lot to like about it.

I make the case for Bogota right here whereas sharing some recommendations on make the perfect of your time. Don’t miss the excellent museums, taking a bicycle tour, or the daytrips from Bogota.

Itinerary 3: the Coffee area

The Zona Cafetera is a principally mountainous area positioned between the cities of Medellin, Cali, and Armenia. Thanks to having the right coffee-growing circumstances, it produces the vast majority of Colombian arabica espresso.

The area has a gentle local weather superb for touring year-round. Besides the genuine espresso cities with colonial-era structure, there are some superb nature areas as properly. I really like this area because it contains among the basic photos of Colombia.

Suggested minimal time: about 9 days (with Medellin), longer if together with extra espresso cities

(Also proven on the map is the Pacific Coast, which generally is a nice add-on with flights leaving from Medellin. Consider this superb vacation spot throughout whale watching season, which is roughly from July till November.)

Medellin (2 days or extra)

In the Nineteen Nineties it was one of many world’s most violent locations; at present it’s a reinvented metropolis extremely price exploring. To really recognize Medellin’s historical past and its exceptional transformation, be sure you take the Real City Tour Medellin. It’s nonetheless top-of-the-line strolling excursions I’ve ever achieved. Make it the very first thing you do! You’ll thank me later.

You can learn extra about what to anticipate from Medellin right here.

It’s additionally price taking the cable automotive as much as Parque Arvi or visiting Communa 13, which was as soon as a nasty neighborhood however is now a vacationer vacation spot and presents clear proof of Medellin’s transformation.

I recommend spending 2 days in Medellin to get an excellent style of it, however you can keep longer to benefit from the nightlife or for day journeys within the space. While missing considerably in museums or different main sights, Medellin is a really habitable metropolis that draws many expats and digital nomads. The upscale space of El Poblado (the place many hostels and inns are positioned) is nice and hosts many high quality eating places and cafes.

Jardin (2 days)

This beautiful little city provides you with an ideal introduction to the espresso area. It’s a energetic and tourist-friendly place, but genuine all the identical (and never but so found by international vacationers). You’ll absolutely see some ranchers and occasional farmers sporting cowboy hats and ponchos, generally on horseback.

There is lots to do in Jardin so you can truthfully keep for 3 days to take it gradual. There are hikes, waterfalls, espresso farm visits, birdwatching excursions, horseback driving, and plenty of extra actions to select from. Near the river are additionally many trout farms the place you may take pleasure in freshly grilled fish.

The bus from Medellin to Jardin takes about 4 hours.

Manizales & Los Nevados (2 days)

Add some selection to your Zona Cafetera journey by leaving the plush espresso valleys for Manizales, a metropolis at round 2,000m (6500ft) elevation. It’s not essentially probably the most stunning metropolis however it’s comparatively secure, has beautiful mountain views, and is named a vibrant college city.

It takes 6 hours to get there from Jardin; spend the afternoon in Manizales for an opportunity to see an actual Colombian metropolis with none of the standard gringo trappings. You received’t discover colourful colonial structure right here, however it’s an fascinating metropolis in its personal manner.

Manizales is the right base from which to take a full-day tour of the Los Nevados nationwide park. You’ll see a number of volcanoes in addition to a singular Andean ecosystem referred to as the paramo. It will be fairly chilly within the mountains, however you may warmth up afterwards by taking a shower in a sizzling thermal spring.

Salento (2 days)

Salento is the place from the place you may see the wax palm tree, Colombia’s nationwide image. The valley close to Salento has quite a few of those bizarrely tall palm timber, making for a powerful sight. You can hike via the valley or take a tour with a jeep.

There’s much more to do in Salento so it’s good to remain for some time. Don’t miss your likelihood to play tejo at Los Amigos. This is a Colombian ball-throwing sport the place the targets are rigged with gunpowder and it’s a ton of enjoyable.

The bus from Manizales to Armenia takes about 2 hours. It’s one other 40 minutes or so from Armenia’s bus station to Salento.

More within the Coffee Zone

The above locations provides you with the highlights, however there may be a lot extra within the Zona Cafetera. I had a good time simply hopping from city to city for 2 weeks.

Because Salento will get fairly busy as of late, you could benefit from the alternatives to Salento. My favourite is Filandia, a city that’s much more laidback, however which nonetheless has plenty of fascinating issues to do.

At the Barbas Bremen Nature Reserve you may take a guided jungle hike and have an excellent likelihood of recognizing teams of red-haired howler monkeys.

If you take pleasure in very quiet however untouristy cities then I extremely suggest Jerico, Salamina, or Pijao. Keep in thoughts that you simply received’t be greeted by big menus of organized excursions and actions upon check-in at your resort, as you would possibly in additional touristy locations. But if you could find your individual mountaineering trails, take pleasure in watching the road life, or you are able to do your individual analysis to seek out the actions out there, then these cities are really among the hidden gems within the Zona Cafetera.

Itinerary 4: southern Colombia

The southern elements of Colombia are much less explored, not for an absence of sights however principally as a result of it’s additional faraway from the place most vacationers begin their journeys. It’s a bit of extra off the crushed path and a rewarding a part of Colombia to discover. Some sights are price it particularly in the event you’re on an extended journey and in your technique to Ecuador.

Suggested minimal time: 10 days


It ought to be stated that Cali has a worse fame for security than different cities. The ‘Cali cartel’ now not exists, however it’s nonetheless a hub for narcotrafficking. Still, the dangerous bits of Cali are within the northern and jap suburbs and are principally properly away from the middle. Having constructed up a caricature of Cali in my thoughts, I used to be shocked to seek out central Cali is definitely very inviting and habitable. (Check out El Penon or the realm round Parque del Perro.)

Cali is known for being the salsa dancing capital of Colombia. If you ever wished to take lessons, do it right here! The salsa bar scene is very social and alluring. Do take taxis again to your lodging at evening for security.

San Agustin

This colourful village is known for its many enigmatic pre-Colombian statues which can be scattered all through the panorama. Seeing these archeological finds will contain fairly a little bit of strolling as they’re fairly unfold out. The historic civilization that left all these works stays shrouded in thriller.

The statues are removed from the one attraction. There are many hikes, viewpoints, and waterfalls to go to and jeep excursions can present you among the extra distant sights. There are no less than half a dozen very well-rated hostels in San Agustin, together with the Masaya San Agustin, which is nearer to an ecolodge with a variety of snug bamboo homes constructed within the native type.


Thanks to its many well-preserved white colonial buildings, beautiful Popayan is named the “white city”. With a inhabitants of round 220,000, it’s a fantastic mid-size metropolis to discover, having an excellent fame for security as properly. You can stroll the streets, store for handicrafts, and luxuriate in its many church buildings, plazas, and parks. If you’ve simply had some action-packed journey days, then the close by thermal swimming pools will allow you to calm down and recuperate.

There isn’t essentially an countless checklist of issues to do, however Popayan is a pleasant light metropolis to spend a while and to make use of as a base for day journeys. One such journey is to Silvia (described under), one other Parque Natural De Puracé the place you may witness an energetic volcano.


The small city of Silvia close to Popayan is notable for its giant inhabitants of indigenous folks, principally Guambiano Indians. The genuine market in Silvia is the place you may see many sellers put on conventional black bowler hats and colourful ponchos. It’s a mode of gown extra generally seen in Peru or Bolivia, so in the event you’re in search of an Andean ambiance in Colombia, that is the place to seek out it.

You could wish to go to the market on a visit from Popayan with an excellent information to achieve extra of an understanding of the native tradition and traditions.

Tatacoa Desert

In Tatacoa you’ll end up in amid an arid expanse, dwelling of vultures and eagles, with the beginning of the Andes mountain vary seen off within the distance. A labyrinth of rocky canyons shaped by years of abrasion is the primary attraction right here — it’s a surreal little place to wander, although it received’t take greater than an hour or so.

Due to the low mild air pollution, it’s additionally an ideal spot for stargazing. At the native observatories, some resident astronomers give nightly excursions of the universe. Despite plenty of clouds I nonetheless noticed Jupiter via a telescope which was very fascinating. Descriptions of the growth of the universe and such have been a bit a lot for my restricted Spanish on the time, however it was a fantastic expertise nonetheless.

Tatacoa was as soon as in Lonely Planet’s high locations to go to listed in the beginning of its information. Perhaps this was as a consequence of fewer different locations but being secure prior to now. I ponder if this will have overhyped Tatacoa a bit, however I nonetheless assume it’s price staying for a day or an evening.

Las Lajas Sanctuary

Finally, you may jump over to Ipiales, close to the border with Ecuador. It’s positively price visiting in the event you’re heading to Ecuador anyway, however whether or not it’s price a visit in its personal proper is debatable because it takes you a bit removed from the Colombia journey path. The huge attraction right here is the Santuario de las Lajas, a cathedral spectacularly constructed on a bridge over the Guaitara river.

Colombia itinerary extensions

The above routes embody locations which can be properly clustered collectively. But there are additionally extra distant locations which can be a bit disconnected from in every single place else. They will be considered nice “add-ons”.

Pacific Coast

Remote and unconnected by roads, the Pacific Coast is a really wild a part of Colombia. If you go there between July and November, you’ll be there on the proper time to see quite a few humpback whales. If you’re intrigued, learn my information to Colombia’s Pacific coast.

By the way in which, the Pacific Coast is among the many world’s rainiest locations, so do pack your rain coat and baggage rain cowl. If listening to this demotivates you in any respect to go, I must also say it’s palms down my favourite place in all of Colombia. The nature is extremely wild and unspoiled and the small Afro-Colombian communities alongside the coast are a delight.

Accommodation is a little more primary on the Pacific Coast. Villages are equipped solely as soon as every week by cargo boat, so costs for meals or different good generally is a bit larger than within the inside. It sometimes takes a propellor airplane flight from Medellin to get there, however you’ll be rewarded for the hassle. While fairly distant, recognized locations in Choco corresponding to Bahia Solano and Nuqui are thought-about secure.

Into the Amazon

35% of Colombia’s territory is roofed by the Amazon Rainforest. Going into it was once fairly a dangerous proposition, however for the reason that 2016 peace accord with the FARC rebels, the Amazon area has been opening up for every kind of ecotourism.

The city of Leticia, on the border with Peru and Brazil, was once the one sport on the town for Amazon excursions. It’s nonetheless an excellent guess as you may have many flights there from Bogota and it’s a well-established vacation spot.

More not too long ago the city of San José del Guaviare has develop into another choice. You can fly there or attain it overland by bus through Villavicencio. It was once a harmful place however now not is, but it’s nonetheless not almost as well-known as Leticia. (Be certain to take journeys from San Jose with respected tour firms, nonetheless.) The Cano Canoes waterfalls are very exhausting to get to however are one of many ‘secret’ locations in Colombia. Ancient cave work are one other sort of sight discovered deep within the jungle.

Other locations within the Amazon are tough to get to independently. At the Cerros de Mavecure, you may climb two hills manufactured from darkish volcanic rock and luxuriate in views of the rainforest so far as the attention can see. But you’ll should test with tour firms corresponding to Colombia Oculta for organized expeditions to such locations.

The Darien Gap

Nope, I’m not suggesting you need to go hand around in the thickly jungled borderlands between Panama and Colombia, recognized for its drug-smuggling routes and its manifold risks. However, there are some beachside villages close to the Darien Gap, corresponding to Capurgana, which can be recognized to be secure whereas nonetheless being off the standard journey routes in Colombia.

The seaside cities are too far faraway from different locations to simply justify simply going there on their very own, however they will make for an ideal cease in case you are coming from Panama.

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Posted OCT 12, 2022 (Updated Oct 18, 2022)


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