Once upon a time, Colombia wasn’t on many travellers’ radars. But after years of civil conflict, the country is firmly back on backpackers’ bucket lists – and not just as a guest spot, either. In fact, Colombia is emerging as the must-visit South America hotspot.
A quick poll amongst our staff who’ve visited saw comments like, “Colombia is by far my favourite place in the world”, while the things they experienced there were “some of the best things I’ve ever done in my life”.
Delve even deeper, and you’ll find beautiful beaches, rugged jungles, epic treks and some of the world’s friendliest people. Yep, it’s pretty easy to see why Colombia is well and truly the new star of the South America circuit.
So we’re giving Colombia a massive High Five, and counting down five things that we reckon you just have to do when you go there.
Get ready to fall in love with Colombia | Image by Louisa Thraves
Five amazing experiences to have in Colombia
1. The new Inca Trail: the Lost City trek
Done Peru’s Inca Trail? Then take on this new challenge. The 5-day Lost City trek will take you through the stunning Parque Tayrona (that’s a national park, to you and me).
You’ll hike through thick jungle, across hanging bridges and over waterfalls, before you finally reach the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida), a site built in 700 AD and dubbed the new Machu Picchu. The thick jungle has been inhabited by groups as diverse as Mayan tribes, gold hunters, and the FARC over the years. Needless to say, the history is amazing.
Go on a 5-day hike through the jungle, on the Lost City trek
Once you’ve finished the epic trek, reward yourself with some serious beach relaxation time, which leads us nicely onto number 2…
Colombia has a stunning Caribbean coastline, and the beaches at Parque Tayrona are where you need to head. Hike or ride horses through the jungle until you reach the picture perfect white sandy shores at Arrecifes. A night sleeping in a hammock on the beach surrounded by jungle and the Carribean Ocean might just be paradise. Check out our 5-day beach break in this very spot.
Relax on the gorgeous beaches at Parque Tayrona | Image by Louisa Thraves
3. Coffee Region
You can’t come to Colombia without sampling a cup of café. But don’t just drink it – visit the plantations, learn how it’s made, take a coffee tasting lesson and learn how to prepare the perfect espresso. This is coffee country, after all; it’d be rude not to. On top of that, the lush countryside that surround the plantations is pretty awesome – hike, ride and raft your way through it. Get your caffeine fix on our 4-day tour of the Coffee Region.
4. Colourful Cartagena
This beautiful, colonial style city nestled on the Carribean coast is well worth a visit. Explore and absorb the vibrant, colourful atmosphere, learn about its colonial history, or just sit in one of the many plazas with a cup of coffee and watch the world go by.
Watch the world go by in beautiful Cartagena
Join our 5-day tour and take in the Totumo Volcano and beautiful Rosario Islands, too. Sitting, or rather floating, in the volcanic mud of the volcano simulates the feeling of experiencing zero gravity – an out-of-this-world sensation not to be missed. The Rosario Islands, meanwhile, are the ultimate beach relaxation spot. Swim, snorkel and kayak ’til your heart’s content.
5. Squeeze onto Santa Cruz del Islote
Colombia lays claim to what is, unofficially, the most densely populated piece of land in the world – Santa Cruz del Islote. It has a population of just over 1,000, while the island itself is absolutely tiny, at just .012 km². Around an hour’s ferry ride from Tolu, you can walk across Santa Cruz in a matter of minutes. It’s a must-visit for this bizarre experience alone. You’ll visit the island as part of our 12-day tour, Colombia Highlights.