Colombia Backpacking Guide [Must-See Places, Costs, Hostels] • Indie Traveller

Colombia Backpacking Guide [Must-See Places, Costs, Hostels] • Indie Traveller

Everyone nonetheless thinks Colombia is harmful. They consider Pablo Escobar, they’ve heard about drug cartels, they’ve seen Narcos on Netflix and suppose they know what Colombia is like at the moment.

I get it. The cliche pictures from the previous can take a very long time to clean away. But belief me on this: touring in Colombia is so a lot enjoyable and it’s a lot safer at the moment. In truth, having achieved virtually the complete Latin American “Gringo Trail”, I take into account Colombia certainly one of my high favourite backpacking nations.

Plan your Colombia backpacking journey

Why go backpacking Colombia?

Incredibly different

Colombia simply has all of it: there are each the Caribbean and Pacific coasts (that are very completely different), the beginning of the Andes mountain vary, and 40% of the nation is roofed by the Amazon Rainforest. Colombia’s cities have varied climates and characters that make them extremely price exploring.

Variety is de facto Colombia’s robust level. Within its borders you’ll discover something from lush jungles to dusty deserts. Coastal areas typically have an Afro-Caribbean vibe, whereas increased elevation areas could remind you of indigenous mountainous areas in Peru or Bolivia. Thanks to its geography and variety you possibly can virtually consider Colombia as a South America taster menu.

One factor Colombia arguably doesn’t have: some sort of singular iconic bucket listing sight, like Machu Picchu in Peru or Iguazu Falls in Brazil. Some vacationers could discover this disappointing however I believe it’s a bonus: not having all the eye on one overtouristed hotspot makes the Colombia backpacking path extra unfold out and extra relaxed.

Amazing biodiversity

Did Colombia has the world’s second highest biodiversity? (Second solely to Brazil, a rustic 7 occasions bigger!)

The wildlife and nature expertise are actually on one other degree. Consider treks just like the Lost City Trek, whale watching on the Pacific Coast, or birdwatching in Minca. Lots of people affiliate Costa Rica with nature actions however Colombia is secretly wonderful for ecotourism as effectively.

It’s common to see a bunch of monkeys within the jungle or a toucan flying previous. One time I used to be taking an extended nap on the bus and simply as I wakened, a hummingbird hovered beside my window and checked out me as if to say, “hey buddy, remember you’re still in beautiful Colombia?”. It actually can really feel a bit like paradise at occasions.

Bursting with tradition

The cities of Medellín and Bogota are among the many most booming and cosmopolitan on the continent, crammed with road artwork, salsa dance, and colourful tradition.

Of course, it’s not shocking that many backpackers need to study Colombia’s typically darkish historical past — and Pablo Escobar excursions are undoubtedly a factor. But you’ll be equally intrigued by life in Colombia at the moment.

Culture and occasional are two ‘c’s that I affiliate intently with Colombia. The different ‘c’, cocaine, a lot much less so. Many Colombians despise the drug due to what it has achieved to their nation. So, it’s probably not a factor except you had been to particularly search it out. There is sufficient healthful cultural curiosity to fulfill anybody, so coming for medication (and fairly a crappy drug, let’s be sincere) is unquestionably not what touring Colombia is about.

Easy to journey on a funds

Colombia shouldn’t be the most affordable in South America but additionally not the most costly. It’s really a greater deal than it was once: the trade charge with the US Dollar or Euro in recent times has made it about 30% cheaper than it was 7 or 8 years in the past.

You can get some nice worth for cash in Colombia. Hostels and guesthouses are fairly inexpensive and meals is affordable, particularly if you happen to discover the actually native locations.

A set meal for lunch together with soup, a foremost dish with meat and lots of sides, and contemporary fruit juice will usually value about 10,000 COP, which is about $2.50. Not unhealthy! Hostel dorm beds usually value about 50,000 COP, and it’s 100,000 COP and up for a primary non-public room.

Certain experiences like the Lost City Trek (must you want to do it) could be pretty costly, however day-to-day you possibly can handle on a backpacker funds fairly simply.

Backpacking routes

Unlike another nations, there may be much less of a set backpacker route in Colombia, with completely different vacationers going to completely different locations (or in a special order). Choosing your route may also typically be hair-pullingly troublesome.

There are simply too many nice locations to go to. If you’re feeling overwhelmed… I’ve been there!

Some nations simply make it simpler to see the highlights in a few weeks. If you’re backpacking Belize you really want only a week; backpacking Nicaragua takes 3 weeks on the most. But Colombia could be very large and has such a wealth of locations that it both takes extra time or simply extra deliberate selections for the place to go.

I backpacked via Colombia for 3 months and nonetheless felt like I wasn’t achieved. I can simply see not less than one other 3 months of experiences that I’d love to come back again for.

But that’s additionally what makes this such an excellent vacation spot. You get to select from quite a lot of completely different potentialities. It implies that completely different backpackers can find yourself having considerably completely different journeys in Colombia.

Because there are such a lot of routes you might take, I wrote this waaaay-too-comprehensive information to creating your personal Colombia itinerary, which additionally has a number of pattern itineraries you possibly can comply with.

It’s a good suggestion to have a tough concept of the journey you’d love to do, however go away some room to improvise throughout your journey. You could need to keep longer or shorter in locations relying on how a lot you want them.

Where to journey in Colombia

When a map of Colombia, you’ll shortly discover that almost all journey locations are within the west and north.

Why? Well, it’s easy: the jap half of Colombia is usually lined by the Amazon rainforest. These components should not as simply accessible. Most of the journey locations are within the extra populated areas.

In the north of Colombia, you’ll discover the outdated colonial metropolis of Cartagena. It has lengthy been the nation’s foremost vacationer draw (even through the unhealthy years, as cruise ships may nonetheless dock there). It’s an attractive place with an outdated heart, albeit touristy and costlier than elsewhere in Colombia.

The metropolis of Santa Marta shouldn’t be so notable in itself, however it makes for a superb launching level for exploring the attractive Tayrona National Park or for doing the Lost City trek. The close by city of Taganga is Colombia’s main vacation spot for scuba diving and a little bit of a backpacker hub. The small city of Minca, additionally close to Santa Marta, is a laidback backpacker vacation spot among the many jungles and waterfalls.

In the middle is San Gil, Colombia’s journey sports activities capital. Go right here for paragliding, wild water rafting, caving, and extra. The heart of Colombia can also be residence to its second-largest metropolis of Medellín, a fascinating place that you simply undoubtedly shouldn’t skip.

In the south are the capital Bogota, Colombia’s espresso area, town of Cali (well-known for its obsession with salsa), and Tatacoa, a desert the place years of abrasion have created some uncommon landscapes.

The Amazon on the coronary heart of Colombia is tremendous distant and even residence to some uncontacted indigenous tribes. If you need to go into the Amazon, flying to Leticia is essentially the most dependable possibility. This city additionally has border connections with Peru and Brazil.

How a lot time do you want?

Honestly as a lot time as you’ve. But when you’ve got at least 2 or 3 weeks, you are able to do a enjoyable route that features quite a lot of locations.

If you might be touring long-term, then know that the usual visa-on-arrival provides you with 90 days in Colombia, so you actually can go gradual if you wish to.

I first received to know Colombia whereas I used to be within the midst of a 2-year round-the-world backpacking journey. I cherished Medellin a lot that I stayed for 4 weeks simply on this metropolis, residing a mini-life there for some time. I met some backpackers who did the identical however in Cali, taking salsa lessons each single day for weeks on finish whereas diving into the native dancing scene. This is simply to warn you that you would be able to simply get caught!

In common Colombia is a vacation spot you possibly can take your time in because it has a great deal of selection and an excellent ambiance.

Accommodation in Colombia

What’s the hostel scene like?

The hostel scene in Colombia is extraordinarily good. The high quality of the hostels could be very excessive throughout the board and it appears like they’re making an attempt to outdo one another with distinctive ideas or simply having an excellent vibe.

If you might be into youthful/get together hostels you’ll find a lot of them within the cities, notably Medellin. Some get together hostels additionally exist in Palomino on the coast and in different areas.

Casa Loma Minca

Most hostels are chill/social traveler hostels although with company’ ages spanning a reasonably wide selection. Some hostels (for instance in Minca) are extra like ecolodges, providing particular person jungle huts as a substitute of dorms. You can discover some particular recommendation on the finest hostels in Medellin and the finest hostels in Bogota.

Amazing hostels in Colombia

Hostal R10

My favourite hostel in La Candelaria, the outdated city of Bogota.

Black Sheep Hostel

Friendly, homely hostel in widespread Poblado space. Has on-site Spanish faculty & chill ambiance. 15 min stroll to essentially the most enjoyable nightlife space

Casa Kiwi

Also in Poblado; has a pool and is extra get together oriented than Black Sheep.

El Viajero

Cozy hostel with slim central courtyard making it tremendous straightforward to fulfill individuals. Dorms and personal rooms.

Viajero Hostel

Hostel in a colonial home with epic views of the mountains

Should you e book forward? Well, if you happen to’re not choosy you possibly can at all times discover a mattress, however the top-rated hostels do typically e book out utterly. For instance, Costeno River Hostel in Minca is extraordinarily well-rated and I came upon it was 100% full for the subsequent few weeks after I tried to remain there. If you e book with Hostelworld they often allow you to cancel free of charge as much as 24 hours earlier than your keep, letting you continue to journey in a versatile approach.

Best hostel chains: If you’re on the lookout for barely extra premium hostels, then take a look at Selina, a hostel chain that could be very lively in Colombia. There are a whopping three (!) Selinas in Bogota alone (take a look at the principle one in La Candelaria). The Selina in Quindo caught my eye because it’s the center of the espresso nation, in addition to the one in Villa de Leyva which is in a fantastically restored colonial constructing. The Selina formulation is to mainly provide hotel-like facilities whereas nonetheless making an attempt to keep up considerably of a hostel-like ambiance.

R10 Hostel, Bogota

My favourite hostels: Personally, I desire staying in smaller unbiased backpacker hostels. Some of my favorites embrace Black Sheep Hostel and The Wandering Paisa in Medellin (each are a bit like traveler establishments and nice for making associates), Casa Loma in Minca, Utria Hostel in Bahia Solano, and Viajero Hostel in Cartagena.

Unique idea hostels: There are a few very distinctive hostels in Colombia. One that at all times will get talked about is Casa en el Agua, a hostel close to the San Bernardo Islands actually constructed on the water. You can’t e book it via any platforms anymore; solely by way of a web-based type, with fee solely by way of PayPal, and availability solely updating each 60 days. (I suppose you need to be devoted.)

Casa en el Agua

Another ‘concept hostel’ could be discovered south of Medellin: Casa en el Aire, which is constructed on a cliffside the place you possibly can chill in hammocks suspended over a valley. Pretty loopy! They get their enterprise via word-of-mouth solely; you possibly can contact them by way of Whatsapp.

Eco hostels: Many hostels are mainly within the type of ecolodges or are in transformed fincas (espresso farms). The Colombian hostel chain Masaya has two unbelievable eco-hostels: the Coffee Reserve La Manchuria and the Masaya San Agustin. In Tayrona, take a look at the Viajero Tayrona Hostel & Ecohabs. Although fairly secluded, these lodging is usually a vacation spot in and of themselves.

Carpe Diem

Another one I can extremely suggest is Finca Carpe Diem within the Paso del Mango valley, which is simply north of the foremost backpacker hub of Minca. It’s one the highest-scoring hostels in all of Colombia so that is one other one price placing in a reservation for if you would like the possibility to remain there. The view from the higher swimming pool is nuts.

Apart from the hostels, there are numerous nice native inns and guesthouses. I often keep about half my time in hostels and the opposite half in inns or guesthouses. It’s finest to make use of Hostelworld for hostels, however use to seek out smaller (budget-friendly) inns.

Is Colombia secure?

The security scenario in Colombia is completely nothing like what it was through the unhealthy years within the Eighties or 1990. Colombia journey guides from not less than a decade in the past should warn of kidnapping dangers or drug gang violence however trendy editions are freed from such warnings.

For essentially the most half and purely from the attitude of a vacationer, it’s only a regular South American nation to journey via (very like Peru or Ecuador). Still, the outdated picture persists.

Of course, as with many nations in South America, you do want to recollect to pack your brains. So… perhaps don’t stroll into that darkish alley at evening. But if you happen to journey responsibly, you’ll discover that Colombia is simply an unbelievable backpacking vacation spot.

I get the sense that Colombians are literally a bit sick of continually being requested about security by vacationers — in the identical approach that Germans have that “sigh, here we go again” look on their faces when somebody mentions the Nazis. They’re in all probability a bit bored with it.

Then once more, Colombia is unquestionably not a crime-free paradise — and in some particular areas, it may be worse than different South American nations.

Here are some issues to know so as to journey responsibly:

  • Check security guides for any ‘bad areas’ and easily don’t go to them. They’re principally areas near the borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama, or very deep within the Amazon. I just like the security map supplied by the UK international workplace because it’s very clear. Don’t hassle with the US State Department report for Colombia which makes use of an excessively paranoid and alarmist tone. For a extra balanced take, take a look at the Australian, UK, Canadian, or different stories.
  • Do take a bit extra care within the cities; don’t showcase costly gear, carry solely money you want for the day, and take official taxis (or use ride-hailing apps), notably at evening. Ask your hostel or resort employees if there are any unhealthy neighborhoods within the metropolis, simply to make sure you don’t wander away someplace you shouldn’t wander.
  • Do take further care within the nightlife too; don’t get too drunk, maintain your nostril clear, and don’t settle for drinks or cigarettes from strangers. Drugging/spiking is unfortunately identified to happen; that is essential to know for ladies however particularly for boys. If a Colombian girl in a membership or on a Tinder date appears extraordinarily and unrealistically motivated to get in your room instantly, be very alert as this might imply waking up with a really unhealthy hangover and/or amnesia and all of your shit being stolen. If it feels such as you’ve inexplicably grow to be an irresistible chick magnet in Colombia, be very suspicious and instantly change management away out of your engine room and again to the bridge (i.e. your mind).
  • Colombia is usually a rustic the place it’s higher to take public transit like coaches/buses than to self-drive (except you’re well-informed and know what you’re doing). Car leases are very costly in Colombia anyway.

While the following tips will assist maintain you secure, it’s nonetheless smart to take out an excellent journey insurance coverage plan in your journey. That approach, you received’t ever get financially ruined by hospital payments, theft, or emergency bills ought to something unlucky occur. It will even offer you a trusted helpline you possibly can name or textual content if wanted.

I exploit Heymondo Travel Insurance, which is backed by AXA (one of many world’s greatest insurers). They cowl virtually any sort of sport or journey exercise you may do in Colombia, corresponding to paragliding, horseriding, or trekking, in addition to full protection for a variety of eventualities.

I’ve been utilizing and recommending Heymondo for a number of years now as a result of they merely have a greater providing and for much less cash than different manufacturers like World Nomads. You can get a quote for journey insurance coverage at Heymondo right here.

Psst, do you’ve insurance coverage for Colombia?

Travel Advice

Travel insurance coverage will cowl you for theft, medical bills, cancellation, and extra. Heymondo provides nice protection, COVID-19 included, zero deductibles, and an app with 24/7 help & physician chat.

Backpacking Colombia ideas

Travel prices

Colombia shouldn’t be an final cheapie like another Latin American nations (e.g. Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru or Bolivia). However, it’s additionally not almost as costly as some others (e.g. not anyplace near Costa Rica).

While every thing is dependent upon your private journey type, I like to recommend budgeting round $40 a day when touring as a backpacker. If you’re frugal, you are able to do it for about $30 a day, however it’ll in all probability contain cooking a few of your personal meals and avoiding any day excursions for essentially the most half.

Budgets are all a bit depending on the foreign money trade charges which fluctuate over time. In Colombian pesos, take into account a each day backpacker funds of round 130,000 – 180,000 COP.

A typical ‘plato del dia’ set lunch meal

Here are a couple of money-saving ideas:

  • Try to maintain your itinerary compact so that you spend much less cash on transportation (it’s less expensive on common to journey one area than making an attempt to see each nook of Colombia).
  • Avoid excursions and check out doing issues your self; for instance, typically it’s doable to hike to a waterfall as a substitute of taking a paid organized tour
  • Stay in hostels with kitchens and make your personal meals
  • Make lunch your foremost meal of the day and search for ‘platos del dia’ or ‘menu executivos’. These provides usually embrace a hearty soup, meat with a number of sides, and a contemporary fruit juice for about 10,000 COP.
  • Contact inns straight and ask for one of the best deal they will provide if you happen to e book via them. I received a room virtually 50% cheaper than the value by simply displaying up and asking. (This hack received’t work with hostels a lot.)
  • Always ask locals concerning the native costs. Things could also be less expensive than you notice! In a neighborhood espresso city, I had a espresso and croissant for simply 1,000 COP. It was so low I really thought they’d made a mistake. On the opposite hand, outlets generally cheekily cost foreigners extra, so inform your self of the actual costs.

The favorable trade charge with currencies like USD and EUR in recent times has made Colombia extra of a discount than it was once, so now could be fairly an advantageous time to journey there.

Do it’s good to know Spanish?

You’ll discover that most individuals in Colombia don’t converse English, however you possibly can nonetheless survive simply high-quality with out Spanish. Some hostel/resort employees and among the tour guides could converse English. Not understanding the language will likely be limiting in some ways, however it’s totally doable.

Knowing not less than some primary Spanish will certainly improve your expertise. It’s price taking some Spanish lessons when you’ve got the time. Language trade occasions additionally provide enjoyable alternative to fulfill locals. Read extra ideas right here: Do you want Spanish to journey in Latin America?

Internet in Colombia

Besides WiFi, it’s straightforward and low cost to get a neighborhood SIM card (if you happen to really feel the should be on-line after all). Just get your SIM in an official store in a bigger metropolis. For instance, seek for “tienda claro”. Claro is without doubt one of the foremost cell service suppliers.

Once you’ve your pay as you go knowledge sim, you possibly can at all times high it up in any small store or grocery retailer that has the Claro signal (even in very small cities). Ask them to purchase a ‘paquote’ (a top-up bundle) and get the vendor to enter the code for you.

The web is often fairly quick with not less than 4G protection. Less so in distant areas after all.

Getting to Colombia

To fly on to Colombia, examine your choices on Skyscanner or Google Flights. There are quite a few direct flights from all over the world to Bogota. A number of additionally go to different cities (for instance Amsterdam to Cartagena is a direct route today).

A pleasant possibility could be to fly by way of Miami. This airport is tremendous well-connected internationally and with Colombia. I flew from Portugal (the place I stay) by way of Miami to Cartagena, then I ended my journey flying again from Cali to Miami and residential. This averted any backtracking inside Colombia and enabled me to do a north-to-south overland route.

Are you on a much bigger journey? Then remember you possibly can’t go to or from Panama overland! Well, you theoretically may if you happen to had been some loopy Bears Grylls-style survivor, however the so-called Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia has no roads in any respect and is bursting with smugglers and jaguars. The prudent factor to do is to fly throughout.

If you like to not fly, you too can sail from Panama to Cartagena or the opposite approach round. This takes 4 or 5 days and also you’ll must discover a mattress on one of many non-public crusing boats that run this route. I did this journey and it was spectacular.

How to get round

The finest technique to get round on a backpacker funds is by bus or coach. Some could be booked on-line, however many you possibly can solely purchase tickets for on the native bus terminal.

The bus stations is usually a bit complicated at first as there’ll be a great deal of desks representing completely different bus corporations and locations. There received’t be a centralized departure board. Ask round if you happen to’re not sure.

Besides the buses for lengthy distances, you could use minivans, taxis, or moto-taxis for extra native journeys. The moto-taxis are particularly enjoyable; you’ll go on the again of the motorcycle whereas your backpack will likely be in entrance between the wheel and the motive force. They’re an inexpensive technique to get round.

Keep in thoughts that in Colombia not every thing could run 100% easily. Maybe your journey goes completely or perhaps you’ll have some delays.

Or perhaps you occur to be in Colombia precisely on the fiesta de Virgin Del Carmen, the patron saint of transportation — a day throughout which all of the bus drivers are far too busy driving their adorned buses in zig-zag patterns throughout all out there lanes, taking pictures fireworks from the home windows, and honking repeatedly to get you anyplace it’s good to be in any cheap timeframe. (Uh yeah, in order that’s one factor that occurred to me. I wouldn’t have wished to overlook it although!)

Yellow fever vaccine

Officially talking you want a yellow fever vaccine to enter Colombia. Technically they may not examine it, however it’s finest to only get it, because it’s a vaccine that may final your complete life. It’s additionally a vaccine that’s been round because the Forties so it’s been examined in each possible approach.

That’s only one much less illness to fret about — yay for vaccines! Make positive you retain your proof of vaccination that you would be able to present if requested.

Backpacking locations

Now for a little bit of inspiration, let me share just some of one of the best backpacker locations in Colombia.

Colonial City of Cartagena

While its trendy components jogged my memory faintly of Miami with its high-rise condos alongside the waterfront, Cartegena additionally has one of many prettiest colonial city centres in South America.

Picture numerous quaint homes with flowers hanging from balconies and leafy squares the place individuals play chess, and road distributors promote bananas and different fruits. The partitions and fortresses that ring the city are price a wander, providing some vantage factors into the cobbled colonial-era streets beneath.

Budget vacationers ought to know that photogenic Cartagena is basically the tourism crown jewel of Colombia and so costs are fairly a bit increased than elsewhere. The neighborhood of Getsemani — which was as soon as a backpacker district, however now way more gentrified — nonetheless provides extra funds choices than contained in the walled metropolis.

Playa Blanca is an attractive seashore about an hour’s drive exterior town; it’s significantly better than any of town seashores, so it’s well worth the journey.

Float in Totumo Volcano mud baths

Okay, I received’t fake this isn’t a foolish vacationer lure, however it’s an excessive amount of enjoyable to not point out.

A day journey from Cartagena, this mud volcano allows you to swim inside it. The viscosity of the mud makes you float on high of the floor such as you’re swimming within the Dead Sea. Sometimes you keel over and must paddle like a canine to seek out your heart of gravity once more.

Look, no matter… simply go do it. It’s hilarious.

Trek to the Lost City

The Lost City Trek is without doubt one of the finest hikes I’ve achieved in South America. It takes 4 to six days, departing from Santa Marta. The trek runs via lands owned by the indigenous Kogi as much as an historic pre-Colombian metropolis atop a mountain.

The ruins could not precisely be Machu Picchu, however they aren’t actually the purpose of this hike. The vacation spot is simply an excuse for the journey, which meanders alongside clear river streams and thru lush inexperienced jungles.

You sleep in hammocks or bunks in primitive lodges—they’re just a few roofs with out partitions, actually, so that you’re basically sleeping out within the open save in your mosquito web. At evening you’ll go to sleep to an orchestra of crickets, frogs, and monkeys.

Explore Tayrona Park

Is a 5 day hike a bit too lengthy in your itinerary? Then you’ll discover some shorter walks in Tayrona National Park.

The 3-hour hike via the jungle to the ruins of Pueblito is one possibility, as is a hike to the seashore of Cabo San Juan.

Tayrona Park itself has a number of lovely secluded seashores and an opportunity to see quite a lot of wildlife. You can camp in a single day contained in the nationwide park in Cabo San Juan and sleep in a hammock or tent.

Some backpackers do complain concerning the considerably inflated costs for meals and lodging contained in the park, although realistically you possibly can in a single day in Tayrona for as little as $20. It’s finest to e book your hammock or tent upfront although as areas are restricted.

Stay in Minca

Minca is an interesting instance of a vacation spot that’s grow to be ‘discovered’ by backpackers in just some years. When I backpacked Colombia for the primary time in 2012 nobody had heard of Minca and everybody simply stayed in Santa Marta or Taganga. When I went to Colombia once more in 2022, Minca was all anybody would speak about. A brand new highway had made this city extra accessible and turned it into an ecotourism hotspot.

It’s the truth is a tremendous little place. The small mountain city itself shouldn’t be so vastly outstanding, although it has some good cafes and eating places. But essentially the most wonderful areas are within the jungles across the city, providing epic views of the Sierra Nevada National Park.

There are numerous hostels in Minca with a tremendous vibe. Everyone simply involves Minca to loosen up, to see tropical birds, to hike, or to trip a scooter across the mountain roads. I believe it’s price staying 3 nights at least.

Don’t miss my information for the finest locations to remain in Minca.

San Gil: the hub for journey sports activities

San Gil within the Santander area is Colombia’s capital of journey sports activities. Go there for rafting (as much as class 5 rapids, i.e. there’s some loopy rafting right here), paragliding (beginning at $40), kayaking, canyoning, mountain biking, and extra. I did some tandem paragliding right here which was nice enjoyable.

Besides the journey actions, the city of San Gil is price taking a look at as effectively, which has some good botanical gardens and distributors promoting plates of fried giant-bottomed ants. They’re crispy and salty like popcorn. Om-nom-nom!

Visit the city of Barichara

Barichara is a city in northern Colombia identified for its cobbled streets and colonial structure. It makes for a pleasant day journey from San Gil.

You’ll discover some outdated church buildings and cemeteries, a couple of small museums, and a historic strolling path that takes about 2 hours and connects the picturesque cities of Barichara and Guane.

Discover cultural Medellin

Many large cities in Latin America is usually a letdown as they are typically chaotic and overwhelming. Medellin, however, has an actual cultural coronary heart that’s straightforward to like. It could look grungy at first look, however give it one other look and also you’ll discover an interesting metropolis to discover.

Its city renewal over the previous few years has been incomes Medellin many worldwide innovation awards, with squares that had been as soon as the websites of cartel battles now changing into thriving public areas, certainly one of them doubling as an open-air mini-museum that includes sculptures by Fernando Botero.

Plaza Botero

I like to recommend testing the Plaza Botero, the Minorista market (a standard farmer’s market), and Parque Lleras at evening (a enjoyable nightlife space the place individuals spill out from the bars into the streets and patios). Be positive to trip the metrocable as much as Parque Arvi, go to the Joaquin Antonio Uribe Botanical Garden, and go to the Medellín Museum of Modern Art as effectively. I may also extremely suggest happening a tropical fruit tasting tour.

If you’ve received the possibility to see a soccer match in Medellin, you should definitely take it. The degree of ardour from the supporters is certain to depart an impression. Things can get very mosh-pitty once they rating a objective although, so go along with a bit group if you happen to can.

Many travellers keep within the Poblado space of Medellin, which is a excessive/middle-class residential neighborhood with an excellent popularity for security, and inside strolling distance of the Parque Lleras nightlife as effectively. You’ll additionally discover a excessive focus of hostels and guesthouses in Laureles (and the adjoining Libertadores), which has fewer hipster cafes than Poblado and extra of a neighborhood vibe. I loved staying in each these neighborhoods.

If you need to study extra about Medellin’s previous, go on the Real City tour. It’s the most effective metropolis excursions I’ve achieved anyplace. It tells you in very emotionally participating methods concerning the historical past of town and the nation. After this tour, you’re assured to really feel a brand new emotional reference to Colombia and a deeper understanding of what’s occurred right here over the previous few a long time.

Climb the large rock of Guatape

A touristy however enjoyable day journey from Medellin (even perhaps warranting an in a single day keep) is the historic city of Guatape, famed for its vibrant homes with fantastically sculpted depictions of village life adorning the decrease half of each facade. There are some arts and craft outlets, and a few historic colonial-era church buildings.

But the principle spotlight is Piedra del Peñol. This uncommon rock formation was as soon as worshipped by the indigenous tribes and given the imposing look of this monolith it’s straightforward to see why. You can climb stairs to the highest from the place you’ve an excellent view of the encompassing lakes.

Guatape is a little bit of a resort city for Colombians, so across the rock you’ll additionally discover a vary of vacationer actions corresponding to boat excursions across the lakes and excessive sports activities corresponding to grasp gliding and jet snowboarding.

City excursions & museums in Bogota

The capital of Bogota has quite a lot of issues to see and do, however I’d suggest doing a number of issues particularly. First, go on a Bogota bicycle tour. You’ll be capable of cowl quite a lot of floor and achieve a higher understanding of town.

You’ll see stuff you often wouldn’t see: for example, why are all these shady-looking males loitering exterior this one specific constructing? Turns out they’re grey-market emerald sellers making an attempt to dump their gem stones to the very best bidder. You’ll see among the metropolis’s most eye-catching road artwork as effectively, and get to pattern uncommon tropical fruits on the native market.

Bogota additionally has a lot of museums. Don’t miss the Botero Museum and the National Museum, and particularly the Museo de Oro (Gold Museum) which has a surprising assortment of pre-Columbian gold artefacts.

Finally, it’s price taking the cable automobile to Monserrate Mountain, from the place you get an excellent view of town beneath.

Museo de Oro

Coffee farms in Salento

The small city of Salento in Colombia’s espresso area is a good spot to remain for a couple of days. After spending time within the cities, you could simply want to wind down for some time on this slow-paced rural place (although it’s been getting extra crowded in recent times).

Tours of among the native natural espresso farms can educate you concerning the espresso rising and roasting course of, although there may be way more to see and do in Salento.

Make positive you hike to the Cocora Valley, residence to some gasp-inducingly tall wax palm bushes.

Growing as much as 70 meters, they’re claimed by some to be among the tallest on the earth. The hike begins alongside a mountain stream, crosses over some outdated swing bridges, and passes via some cloud forests (don’t miss the hummingbird sanctuary), earlier than lastly reaching the valley with the imposing palm bushes.

(horse for scale)

The space can also be a favourite place to go trekking or horseback using. A enjoyable factor you are able to do on the town through the night is to play Tejo, a standard Colombian sport that entails throwing metallic balls at a goal lined with gunpowder. It’s good explosive enjoyable!

Stargaze in Tatacoa desert

The Tatacoa Desert, not removed from the southern metropolis of Neiva, is without doubt one of the hottest locations in Colombia. You’ll end up in the course of an arid expanse, residence of vultures and eagles, with the beginning of the Andes mountain vary off within the distance.

A labyrinth of rocky canyons shaped by years of abrasion is the principle attraction right here — it’s a surreal little place that’s enjoyable to get misplaced in.

Due to the low mild air pollution, it’s additionally an ideal spot for stargazing. A resident astronomer provides displays each evening, which had been sadly onerous for me to comply with with my restricted Spanish. But he did say “Goopitar” lots (I believe that was Jupiter), and he in all probability stated some issues concerning the growth of the universe. Either approach, I received to see the rings of Saturn via a telescope, which was wonderful.

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