Colombia is the country in South America with a fame that surpasses time and space. The tangible tension is caused by the never ending nightmare between government and drug cartels.
Should you travel to a country that offers quite some frenetic adventures? Absolutely! With colonial jewels, such as Cartagena, heart-warming people and overwhelming nature Colombia has everything to enchant a visitor.
Santa Fé de Bogotá (the official name), is the capital of Colombia. It's a city that will impress you (either positive or negative). In recent years a lot of effort has been put to make the city a safe haven for locals and visitors alike.
Absolute highlight in Bogota is it's Golden Museum (Museo del Oro), the many artifacts that are exhibited are astonishing. I've never seen so much gold in one place. A must do if you're in the city.
Other highlights are taking the cable car to reach the viewpoint (you can take the cable car) from Monserrate Hill (Cerro de Monserrate) and the Iglesia de la Tercera Orden (Church) for the intricate carvings on it's mahogany altar.
Check out some of these wonderful Bogota budget hotels
and splendid hotels in Bogota!
La Candelaria is the oldest neighborhood in Bogota. It's a wonderful place to walk around during the day, with lots of wonderful architecture, colonial houses, some museums and some governmental buildings, such as the presidential palace. Don't be shy about going into some of the hotels around here, you will be able to see great examples of the early Spanish architecture.
is the most beautiful city in Colombia with very well preserved colonial buildings in the Old City, including the Palace of the Inquisition, a cathedral, the Convent of Santa Clara (now a hotel) and a Jesuit college. St.
Cartagena, formally known as Cartagena of Indies or The Heroic is a large seaport on the north coast of Colombia.
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splendid hotels in Cartagena!
The city was founded in 1533 by don Pedro de Heredia, and named after the port of Cartagena in Spain's Murcia region, it was a major center of early Spanish settlement in the Americas, and continues to be an economic hub as well as a popular tourist destination.
Tayrona National Park
A few hours from Cartagena, near Santa Marta, paradise awaits you in the Tayrona National Park. It covers 285 sq km (115 sq miles) of sea in the Caribbean and 1.191 sq km (460 sq miles) of land area, extending from sea level to an altitude of 975 meters (3,200 feet) above sea level. There are plenty of hiking and swimming opportunities. You can spend the night in cabañas (you have to bring your own food and water). It's a very popular spot with travelers in Colombia.
Check out these wonderful Santa Marta budget hotels
and amazing hotels in Santa Marta!
Note: The first time I felt like Indiana Jones was when I did a 6 day hike to the "Lost City" from Santa Marta. Although the city itself doesn't compare with other jewels in South America the hike is just amazing (some people got kidnapped some time later so inform yourself before going to the city... I know, not really inviting that last statement).
Lost City (Ciudad Perdida)
The Lost City (Ciudad Perdida) was my first adventurous hike tour in South America and it was fantastic! You leave from the city Santa Marta (Colombia) with a small group (up to 6 people) for a great adventure.
Although The Lost City can't match some of the other treasures found in South America the hike to the city is just awesome. The path takes you through coca plantations (and yes, people got kidnapped a few years ago so inform yourself before going) and through lowland jungle. After 3 days you reach the 1,200! (yes, you read that right) stairs that take you into the city.
Read more about the Lost City
Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva, also called Villa de Leiva, is three hours from Bogotá. It's a journey back in time. It's a colonial town in Colombia with cobble-stoned streets in the perfect surroundings (you feel like you're in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel), very quiet, perfect to relax for a few days. Villa de Leyva was founded in 1572 and declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1954.
The main square is the biggest in South America (140m2/167 yd2). There is an exhibition of a pliosauro fossil nearby. They've only found two of them in the world. One was found in Australia and is now in the Harvard University (USA) and the second one is, of course, in Villa de Leyva.
Villa de Leyva - Colombia
San Agustín Archaeological Park
There are some 35 statues to be found in San Agustín's Archaeological Park in Southern Colombia. San Augustin is actually a collection of ceremonial and burial sites scattered over an area of 645 sq km (250 sq miles).
The size of these magnificent "guardians of stone", which depict humans and animals, vary from twenty centimeters (8 inches) to seven meters (23 feet). There are four hundred statues shrouded with mystery in the area.
See the Pictures here
I had a great day when I went on horseback to the statues (actually the horse went with me; my first time on one of those impressive animals). Really great fun. Definitely a "must see" when you travel in Colombia.
Read more about San Agustin
For those among you craving to learn the secrets of salsa (Latin-American dance) Cali is the place. It is the salsa capital of Colombia and the city knows how to party.
Maybe a Colombian coffee is the last conviction you need to visit this land of contrasts.
For detailed information on Colombia please consult the excellent Wikipedia article of Colombia.
Must See Colombia Travel Places
Tayrona National Park
Villa de Leyva
© All photographs by Mark Van Overmeire