Viewers of the Netflix show Narcos may assume that Colombia is still as it was presented on the show; however, that is far from the truth. The country has advanced significantly over the past twenty years, culminating in the conciliation between the government and the primary guerrilla group in 2016. You should be in a safe situation in Colombia by being prudent and applying the same caution as in a large U.S. or European city or when visiting another foreign nation.
Although people are just beginning to become aware of Colombia as a highly desirable travel spot, it is still less popular than many other places in Latin America. It is still possible to enjoy an experience away from the throngs of tourists. There will be plenty of locals present in restaurants, boutiques, and museums, and rarely would you need to wait in a long line, apart from if you are going to a soccer match or trying to gain entry to a popular nightclub.
Those who have been to Bogotá in the past five years will be amazed at the transformation. This vibrant capital is a must-see for any urban aficionado, with a ceaseless stream of eateries, pubs, and guesthouses. On Sundays, a major road is closed off to automobiles, allowing cyclists to explore the city with the many locals riding for pleasure. There is something for everyone here - historical and modern art, the views from Monserrate, the parks in Bogota's trendiest areas, and hiking trails close by. If you stay longer, you can go to the remarkable underground salt cathedral at Zipaquira or the beautiful colonial town of Villa de Leyva.
The Coffee Region, with its lush landscape situated in the northern Andes, has something for both foodies and nature enthusiasts. Sample some of the finest single-origin coffee at the plantation, where it is harvested before indulging in a meal made with ingredients cultivated by the locals. Once you are satiated, go on a hike, ride a horse, or do a traditional jeep tour through the countryside. After a tiring day outdoors, rest and relax, for example, at the rustic Mountain Retreat Kawa in Salento.
More than two million people fly or sail to Cartagena annually. For a good cause - it is probably the most fantastic and well-maintained ex-Spanish colonial port in the Caribbean. Its impeccable walled city, the bohemian Getsemani district, and the nearby islands of white sand beaches that can be explored with a private boat all contribute to why Cartagena is generally accepted as Colombia's most valuable asset.
Since Bogotá legalized graffiti in 2011, the street art culture has proliferated, making it possible to observe a wide variety of artwork around the city. It is tough to miss these vibrant art pieces, but if you'd like to be introduced to some of the most renowned street artists, it might be a good idea to find a guide, often a professional artist, to take you around.
Medellin served as the center of the war on drugs for a long time. Now, however, it has experienced a significant revival. An ambitious cable car system, which connects the formerly remote and impoverished hilly sections of the city to the downtown area, has substantially boosted the economy and is a popular tourist attraction, as it leads to a nature preserve perched on a mountaintop. Additionally, the Parque Biblioteca España was erected in locations that were once full of drug-related violence to encourage social and economic alteration, which is one of the reasons why, in 2013, Medellin was proclaimed the world's most innovative city. As expected, the locals are welcoming and enthusiastic about displaying their city’s transformation.
Undoubtedly, Colombia is renowned for producing some of the finest coffees in the world, which is an excellent incentive for travelers. To get the most out of Colombia's coffee culture, visitors should take a few days to explore the Quindío province in the Coffee Region, where they can visit small organic farms and rural communities. For those short on time, it is still possible to learn about and sample Colombia's most iconic export in cities like Bogotá, Cartagena, and Medellín.
No matter which Latin American destination we prefer, all of us at Rail South America would agree that Colombians are extremely friendly and hospitable. They are proud of their culture and eager to share it with people curious about the country.
Since Colombia has yet to be overwhelmed with travelers, and locals are so cordial, it's simpler to go past surface assessments and have meaningful, genuine experiences. Whether sampling the best street food, attempting the conventional game Tejo, or conversing with ex-combatants to learn how much the nation has changed, you'll have the chance to build connections and experience the real Colombia.
This is a great bonus, but luxury travelers will be delighted to know that Colombia offers a terrific bargain. Some top-notch boutique hotels, restaurants, and experiences don’t cost as much as similar ones in other Latin American countries.
Experience Colombia at its finest by joining our “Coffee & Rum in Colombia and Panama tour.” The next tour date is from May 13-31, 2023.