Colombia Travel Guide
On my hike through Colombia, I will take you to the beautiful city of Cartagena in the Caribbean. Only a few hours east is the little paradise Tayrona. With the Chiva, it goes through the south of Colombia. Finally, a hike leads to the highest crags in the Valle de Cocora.
Cartagena - A Romantic Walk
Let's go in the Caribbean. Cartagena de Indias is a very special and unique city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Angled alleyways, pastel colored houses and a lascivious sculpture by Botero. These are as much a part of the townscape as the tropical climate and hot nights.
As women sell fresh fruits in colorful clothes, elderly men with an unbuttoned shirt sit in one of the cafes. They smoke cigars and watch the hustle and bustle of the streets of Cartagena. Meanwhile, exclusive boutiques shop in houses with dilapidated facades for shopping. Couples run hand-in-hand through the streets of Cartagena. They drive through the old town at dawn with a carriage. In the late afternoon, romantics meet in the city walls of Cartagena. They watch the sunset and settle for a typical night on the Caribbean coast.
No matter whether salsa, merengue, bachata or reggaeton, people dance until the morning. Alone on the road? No problem! Finally, Colombians have a heart of gold and guides visitors immediately. So, Bailamos! (Let's Dance!).
Cartagena has also a lot to offer. For me, a walk in the footsteps of Gabriel García Márquez, better known in Colombia as El Gabo is an absolute highlight. His novel Love in Times of Cholera broke all records. You will find the appropriate books, as well as books about Colombia, at Café Abaco. The old streets of Cartagena de Indias have dark secrets. Stories are there of ghosts, and people who have lost their minds. So be careful!
Tayrona National Park - One of the Last Paradises
Above all, Colombia offers countless beaches. From the west Pacific to the Caribbean Sea, the choice is difficult. The interior of the country is full of mountain chains, vibrant cities, and rainforest.
The Tayrona National Park is ideal for adventurers and hammocks lovers. Often the small fishing village Taganga is the first stop. From El Zaino, fantastic walks begin through the dense rainforest on muddy paths. It is about 30 km east of Santa Marta. Here is the sea to go? Claro, Que Sí!
The sea with the wide sandy beaches and the round monoliths, rather remind the Seychelles. After the nights in the hammock, You will never want to leave this wonderful place again.
No beach boys, no lie or massage seller. Gorgeous! Only falling coconuts, together with jellyfish and strong currents, are the greatest dangers. But even for long nights, you have to adjust yourself. After all, you have to count the stars.
Colombia's South - Deceleration Pur!
The Chiva (goat) is a typical means of transport in the rural regions of Colombia. The discarded US school buses run in the country of Colombia. Particularly comfortable is the ride with these buses, but somehow it belongs to it.
Small villages are along the Rio Magdalena, between San Agustin, Popayan, and Neiva. They invite you to linger and stroll. Here time seems to stand still. Visitors will have an authentic insight into the life of the Campesinos (farmers).
The region of San Agustin (UNESCO World Heritage Site) also offers interesting sights.
Valle de Cocora - Hike to the Unknown
The Valle de Cocora is near to Salento. Here you should plan a day trip for this wonderful hike to one of the highest palm trees in the world, the Palma de Cera. The hike leads you again and again over trails, which crosses the Rio Quindío. Depending on the weather, it can be quite muddy. So think of rubber boots.
Bromeliads, ferns, lichens and dense trees mark your way up to a hut. You can hike up to a hut of the Fundación Herencia Verde. Here you can expect a hot chocolate con queso (chocolate drink with cheese). Rare hummingbirds will always buzz over your heads. For me, it was a very special place for which the arduous descent on muddy soil paid off.
If I could go back to the Valle Cocora, I would like to stay longer and explore with the horse or mountain bike. Stroll with a nature guide through the misty forest. And look out for spectacled bears, toucans, and hummingbirds.
How to get to Colombia?
My trip to Colombia was by land from Ecuador. By bus, I travel from Quito to Bogota with change near the border. Intercity buses are a cost-effective and convenient means of transport.
Flights from Quito to Bogota are now also possible with low-cost options. From Bogota, you can travel either by land or by air.
Unique Things To Do in Colombia?
I would recommend you, at the beginning to spend some time in the capital Bogotá. Although I have not listed the capital here, yet, I was very much taken by Bogotá. It is understandable that the beautiful sides of the city do not show up on a short visit. But give her a chance.
You should definitely visit La Candelaria. Treat yourself to an Ajiaco (typical Colombian soup). You should also take part in the sunny Ciclovia and take a trip up the Monserrate. But Bogotá can also be different with the beautiful street art.
Cali is the capital of salsa and known for its dances. Here I did not feel very comfortable in the streets. The same was true for Medellin. We stayed at Casa for the first time, and it was a great experience for us to stay. I cannot describe it exactly, but my gut feeling did not let me enjoy the cities.
The Zona Cafetera is also part of every trip to Colombia. You should stay at a coffee Finca or farm and see the process of making coffee. Depending on the owner, it can be a wonderful experience. I stayed overnight on a Finca, which also offered a canopy tour. With the rope over the coffee fields jets - what a fun!
Visit the Amazon region and watch whales in Nuqui. Trek to Ciudad Perdida or visit the most beautiful river in the world, Caño Cristales.
Finally, a tip for all romantics, Caribbean lovers or couples on honeymoon. Go to San Andrés or Providencia! The islands lie amidst the Caribbean, not far from Nicaragua. They promise a Caribbean tropical paradise.
Things to know before traveling to Colombia?
If you have friends who are already in Colombia, they should be your first stop. Otherwise, I recommend you to read travel blogs, travel magazines and travel guides. You can see photographs and destinations on Instagram or Pinterest.
Colombia Backpacking Itinerary 2 Weeks
Colombia has spectacular Andean worlds, lush green coffee plantations, enchanting colonial style. There are amiable people and tropical Caribbean magic. Our trip begins from Bogota over the Andes mountains and the Eje Cafetero to the Caribbean coast.
Day 1: Arrival
Departure to Colombia, arrival in Bogota and stay at the hotel.
Day 2: Bogota
Gold was a sacred metal and source of fertility. It was not seen as a symbol of material wealth in pre-Columbian cultures. Gold rather strengthened the image and served as a religious sacrifice. The splendor of Bogota is thus the Museo de Oro, the famous gold museum. In the afternoon, take a cable car to the Monserrate mountain. Enjoy a great view over the city in good weather.
3rd - 4th day: Zipaquira & Villa de Leyva
Leave Bogota and drive to Zipaquira. Visit one of the world's greatest religious buildings. There is the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá. Continue to Villa de Leyva, a colonial village located in picturesque surroundings.
5th - 6th day: Barichara
Barichara is a colonial village with white houses and blue window shutters. Walk to the Camino Real, a royal stone path built over two centuries ago at the village of Guane.
Day 7: Chicamocha
The Chicamocha Canyon is one of the most impressive natural phenomena in Colombia. With an average depth of 2 km and a length of 227 km, it is with its panoramas a true feast for the nature lover. Then continue to Bucaramanga.
8th - 9th day: Medellin
Continue to Medellin to the City of Eternal Spring. Here is a magnificent cathedral and Plaza Botero.
Day 10: Embera Indians
Continue on the Panamericana to the south. On the way to the coffee plantation, we visit the indigenous community of La Maria. There live the Embera. They are descendants of the tribes that colonized Colombia before the Spanish conquest. Get to know a lot about the traditions of the people over a thousand years old.
11th - 12th day: Coffee Finca
Walk to a coffee Finca. On the way Get insights into the cultivation and processing of the highland coffee. Taste a country-style dinner.
Day 13: Hiking
Hike along the Petroglyph Trail. It has breathtaking views of the Andes mountains, with the ancient rock paintings.
Day 14 - 15th: Cartagena
From Medellin, travel to the Caribbean coast to Cartagena. Explore the colonial Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site). It has a meter-high city wall. Visit the La Popa Monastery and the fortress of La Felipe. Take a boat trip to Isla Pirata with paradise-white beaches.
Day 16: Home Journey
Return via Bogota.