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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Highlights Of A Trip To Colombia

Stunning island beaches of Colombia

Colombia can get a bad rap when it comes to South American tourism. Because of the country’s history in drug trafficking and spikes in kidnappings some 20 years ago, many perceive it as dangerous. The truth is that Colombia has come a long way since its most dangerous days. It’s still important to exercise caution and stay in safer areas if you visit, but as one article put it, you’re more likely to be eaten by a shark in Australia than you are to be kidnapped in Bogota!

So why would you want to visit in the first place? Many international travelers have only the faintest idea of what to expect in this lush South American country, because the aforementioned drug trafficking history tends to dominate our perception. Here are some of the highlights you might look to enjoy if you get the chance to visit.

Relax In Cartagena

Sunset view of Cartagena, Colombia

Bogota is the most famous city in Colombia, probably the most modern and also the capital. Medellin is also among the most famous cities, as a former hub for drug cartels (and the city used as a title for the fictional Pablo Escobar movie that dominated much of the popular TV show Entourage. But Cartagena may be the most appealing urban area for tourists who want to relax and soak up some Colombian culture.

Thanks in large part to the Old Town and some ancient castles you can still tour, Cartagena is designated as a world heritage city. There’s plenty to see and do, but for pure relaxation you won’t find a better city in the country, or really much of South America. Playa Blanca is one of the best beaches in the nation, and can be easily reached by boat from the city (it’s on Baru Island). Within the city there are plenty of quaint, enjoyable cafés to sit at as you sip coffee and try some of the local food. It’s a wonderful place to spend a few days with some friends or someone you love.

Tour Coffee Farms
Stunning Landscape of Colombia

This is an activity best suited for those who happen to love coffee. But just as you might want to tour vineyards in Napa Valley or certain places in France and Italy, Colombia is the place to get a feel for where some of the world’s best coffee is made. You can see the fields that produce coffee berries, speak to the people who run the farms, and usually find yourself some pretty incredible brew in the process. It’s a fascinating experience for anyone visiting Colombia, but if you happen to be a coffee lover it’s something you should definitely have on your list.

Visit Sugamuxi

Sunset on the Amazon - Colombia

This is a province within Colombia that's appealing in its natural beauty, but it’s also home to the Muisca, The Muisca are an indigenous people that still have descendants and traditions alive in the area today, and if you like diving into cultural experiences, you can experience some of their ways of life. Most interesting of all is that you might learn something about how ancient Muisca rituals sparked rumors of the golden New World city of El Dorado.

Today, we know El Dorado as the legend that has been used to inspire many fantastic adventures. There was an animated film about the quest for the city years ago, and now a video game about El Dorado is featured in a collection of slot games online. It's called “Gonzo’s Quest,” and it consists of a slot arcade based around an animated conquistador’s search for a gilded metropolis. It’s all good and playful fun, but back in the age of exploration, El Dorado was a very real concept to a lot of people. One explanation for the legend is that elaborate Muisca rituals involving lots of gold ornamentation led to stories about a city of gold. Of course there is no such city (unless the Muisca have hidden it extraordinarily well!), but you may learn some about the legend.

Explore Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Colombia is home to some wild and beautiful forests, and Tayrona National Park may be the best of them. It’s a large area in the northern part of the country right up against the Atlantic coast, and it has a a bit of everything. There are foothills, stretches of rainforest, all kinds of interesting animals (including monkeys), and ocean lagoons where you’re free to swim. Not all of the swimming spots are safe, but you can usually find guidance or signs indicating where it’s okay to get into the (extremely alluring) water. A hike through this park is an outstanding way to rope some adventure into your vacation.

Take A Mud Bath

Totumo Mud Volcano - Colombia

That’s right—this is a real attraction in Colombia. And it’s one that a lot of tourists wind up enjoying immensely. That’s in part because the mud baths happen to be in the caldera (a sort of crater-like depression) of a miniature volcano. Pointing it out as an unusual thing to do in the country, Atlas Obscura called the area a 15-foot diameter lukewarm vat of greyish brown silt the consistency of a thick cream soup. That might not sound like the most appealing place you’ll ever visit but imagine the full picture. It’s 45 minutes outside of Cartagena, on top of what appears to be a medium-sized hill but is actually an active volcano. You reach the top by climbing a few stairs, and find a bath of naturally heated mud. It’s definitely bizarre, but it’s a fun idea to put on your list. The locals even say it’s therapeutic!

Note: The photographs have been borrowed from wikipedia.org under the Creative Commons License. Each photograph has been linked to its respective page on wikipedia.org.



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