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Colombia – Top 10 places to visit and things to do

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Top 10 places to visit and things to do in Colombia

 

Travel advice and tips for Colombia holidays 

Colombia is the country that has everything you could need from a South America holiday.

Andean Trails’ Tom spent two months enjoying the diverse landscapes and people that make this a country rich in wildlife, nature and culture.

In no particular order, his Top 10:

 

Providencia

True Caribbean spirit on this remote island, some 500 miles from Colombia.

Fantastic snorkelling by perfect reefs in turquoise seas, laid back people and beautiful beaches and some good diving.

A full circuit of Providencia by bike lasts only an hour, but there are relaxing bars, fresh fish to eat and the sounds of the waves waiting around each corner.

 

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Manzanillo beach, Providencia, Colombia

 

Bogotá

La Candelaria is the main attraction for most, with its colourful winding streets, coffee shops and artisanal stores.

The Gold Museum (Muséo de Oro) houses one of the world’s most important and impressive collections of pre-Colombia work – a must-see – and you will find good live music, excellent exhibitions and very hospitable people.

 

Caño Cristales

Incredible river of many colours, called ‘liquid rainbow’ by some.

From July-November, the bed of the river radiates yellows, greens, blues, reds and blacks as different algaes in the water bloom.

Not the easiest to get to with a bus and flight, but very beautiful.

 

San Augustin

The hills around San Augustin are verdant and full of coffee plantations, fruit tres and sugar cane whose smell weighs on the crisp air in this farming region.

It’s a great area for day hikes that lead you from one archaeological wonder to another: El Purutal, La Tablón and La Chaquira.

The parks Parque Arqueológico, Alto de los Idolos and Alto de la Guacas showcase giant ancient sculptures up to seven metres tall, some very humanlike, others rather monstrous.

Salto Mortiño waterfalls offer a beautiful viewpoint over the remarkable topography of this little-visited but worthwhile area of Colombia.

 

Tatacoa desert

Colombia’s second largest desert, this is a rare area because it is also a tropical dry forest.

Incredible ochre and grey colours greet those up for sunrise – the best time to see the area – and star gazers will love the clear nights.

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Tatacoa desert and colours, Colombia

 

Cocora and Los Nevados

Colombia’s famous coffee region of Salento and Cocora are worth the visit alone, with great views, the giant palm trees and lovely cloud forests.

But stay longer and hike in Los Nevados National Park, behind Cocora, and you’ll enter one of Colombia’s most beautiful areas.

Ice-capped volcanoas, humming bird replete cloud forest and curious frailejone plants are just a few of the wonders to hike through.

 

Museo d’Antioquia, Medellin

Big, bustling and shaking off its Pablo Escobar past, Medellín is becoming the city to visit in Colombia.

Botero is one of Colombia’s most famous artists.

A visit to Plazoleta de las Esculturas to see 20 of his large bronze sculptures is essential, as is a look around the Museo d’Antioquia, showcasing his paintings and also fantastic Colombian modern art.

 

Barichara

Baricharra is one of Colombia’s best-kept colonial towns.

Perched atop a hill overlooking the river Suaréz, it has barely changed in centuries.

People wander lackadaisically, sometimes eating the local delicacy of ants, mostly just passing the time.

There are lovely sunsets to enjoy and a 2-3 hour walk through villages on an old Inca path, called the Camino Real, down to the even sleepier village of Guane.

 

Caribbean Coast

A must-visit, and there are many attractions.

La Cuidad Perdida, ‘The Lost City’, is one of Colombia’s most famous sites and challenging treks.

Palomino is fast becoming the place to stay on the coast for those seeking the beach.

Unmissable is Cartagena de las Indias, where writers, painters and now travellers flock to this wonderful colonial port and symbolic of Colombia’s upturn in fortunes.

Cartagena’s city wall wraps itself around historic churches, plazas and narrow streets. Fruit sellers, dancers, musicians and more all give the city a vibrancy that is reflected in the colourful and famous literature of the area.

 

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Fruit sellers, Cartagena, Colombia

 

El Cocoy National Park

El Cocuy National Park is a trekker’s ideal destination.

Sweeping valleys, dramatic ice-capped peaks and basic but cosy refugios mean 3-8 days’ of top trekking are possible.

You can choose to hike one, two of three parts of the basic W shape of treks available in this 3,000m2 park, which features more than 15 peaks over 5,000m+/16,400ft+.

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