Security troubles now a distant memory, Colombia is a wonderfully welcoming and diverse country, now firmly on the map as one of Latin America’s most thrilling and talked about emerging destinations. Its relative infancy on the tourist radar makes it a blissfully authentic place for any visitor and Colombians are genuinely friendly, inquisitive people with a real passion for life, creating an exhilarating country that is hard to leave. From old colonial splendour and white-sand Caribbean beaches to grand modern metropolises, coffee plantations and lost cities hinting to ancient civilisations, Colombia’s attractions are plentiful.
Safe & Sound
Occupying a strategic position, Colombia connects the Central American isthmus with the rest of the continent and borders five countries in total. The vast majority of the country is now recognised by the FCO as entirely safe to visit and the Colombian Tourist Office in the UK have even confronted the former negative image directly in its slogan, ‘The only risk is wanting to stay’. Rising visitor numbers prove that they have put guerrilla warfare and trafficking issues firmly behind them.
The different parts of Colombia and their attributes combine brilliantly into one memorable itinerary. From the historic UNESCO site and walled city of Cartagena, filled with cobbled streets and flower-filled balconies in the north, you can explore the Caribbean coastline around Santa Marta and natural beauty of the nearby Tayrona National Park. Set on the jungle overlay on the coast, here you can find wildlife such as deer and many different birds and bats, alongside some deep, coconut shaded beaches. The capital city of Bogota is refreshingly cosmopolitan with an excellently preserved old town, superb museums and the incredible Zipaquira salt cathedral nearby. West of here the ‘zona cafetera’, or coffee region, is beautifully scenic, with lofty wax palm forests in Cocora, plantation houses and haciendas in Salento, with rolling hillside scenery and fresh air complementing the laid-back atmosphere.
The Colombian culture is perhaps one of its biggest delights. It is lively, fun-loving and inclusive, with samba music and dancing usually involved and no shortage of smiles. Its carnival in Barranquilla is the largest in Latin America, outside of Brazil, and the transport and air infrastructure between tourist areas is of a high quality making it comfortable for travelling. Accommodation ranges from colourful and expertly designed boutique hotels in Cartagena to charming haciendas in the coffee region. Despite having enough richness and excitement to warrant its own itinerary, Colombia also combines well with the Galapagos Islands, as there are regular flights from Cartagena via Bogotá to Ecuador’s Quito or Guayaquil.
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