Andes Mountains in the west, its lush tropical rain forests, including the Amazon, and its beautiful coastlines in the north.
If there was one word to describe Colombia, it would be diverse - diverse both in terms of its ethnic groups and its geography. The country is an exciting mix of people and place but is often foregone because of its turbulent past. Columbia’s many ethnic groups draw their varied bloodlines from indigenous populations, Spanish colonists and 20th century immigrations from Europe and the Middle East. Likewise, the country’s scenery varies from the mighty Andes Mountains in the west, its lush tropical rainforests, including the Amazon, and its beautiful coastlines in the north. These cultural and geographical differences combine to create a dynamic and vibrant mix of personalities, music, food and art that shines out of the country and enhances the experiences of those willing to delve into it.
Colombia’s capital is Bogotá, a huge almost eight million strong city known, among other things, for its comprehensive number of universities and libraries. As would be expected given the nature of the country, Bogotá is a cultural hotspot headed up by the historic district of La Calendaria. Take a stroll through its colourful and at times narrow streets, and enjoy the varied architecture that has drawn influence from Colombia’s many different cultural histories. The area is home to many museums and cathedrals and is a perfect place to soak up the authentic atmosphere of Bogotá past with a bite to eat.
Mount Monserrate, a mountain that dominates the city centre of Bogotá, is the perfect way to spend a morning or afternoon climbing. With the aid of cable cars for the less actively inclined, the mountain offers a fantastic view of the city below. Monserrate is adorned with a 17th century church on its peak, which is the site for religious pilgrimage as well as serving as a great photo spot.
A fantastic way to spend a day is to take the trek out to Laguna de Guatavita, the lake that spawned the legend of El Dorado – the city of gold. Typical tours will take you to the lake, two hours drive away, followed by an intermediate climb interspersed with deep knowledge about the area from the local guides. Once you are at the lake you are free to enjoy the views that make Colombia such a beautiful place to visit, and keep your eye out for a hint of the hidden golden city. To avoid the chronic overcrowding that follows weekend excursions to the site make sure you visit on a weekday!
Colombia’s stunning beaches however cannot be forgotten. On Colombia’s Caribbean coast lay two islands with scenery at home on the front of a postcard – San Andres and Providencia. Sapphire blue waters, pristine white coastlines and a welcoming sun are features all-year round making these two islands a must for those in need of relaxation. Although, let’s be honest, anywhere else along Colombia’s Caribbean coast is going to be heavenly.
Cartagena, on Colombia’s north coast, is home to one of the most authentic Latin American experiences you are likely to enjoy. The streets are a centuries’ old display of charming architecture, colourful styling and cobblestoned paths that give the city a character of its own. Its music, its food, its layout and most importantly, its people, create an energy in the city that saw tourists flock even during Colombia’s dark days – a phenomenon that has only continued to grow in the last decade. It is not to be missed by anyone who wants to experience the atmosphere of Latin America.
Colombia’s diversity means it offers an array of unique natural attractions all in one country. It is home to a section of the colossal Amazon River, and as such some of nature’s most exciting creatures are frolicking in their wildest form around every corner. Some of the world’s most beautiful birds, many species of monkeys and even pink dolphins are waiting to be discovered while a number of indigenous communities also call this area home. If you are in Colombia, this is a truly remarkable opportunity to visit one of the world’s most impressive natural marvels.
Time never suffices in Colombia as there is always more to explore. From the beautiful rolling green Cocora Valley, the stunning tropical paradise of Tayrona National Park, trekking up mountains in the Andes or the bizarre and scorched desert coastline of La Guajira, Colombia truly lives up to its tag of diverse.
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