The Great South American Journey: Colombia

Colombia is a fantastic country. For too long, it has lived under the shadow of Pablo Escobar and the FARC/ELN. While it was probably unsafe in the past to travel across the country, I felt it was no different to any country when I spent almost a month there. I would recommend experiencing this amazing country without the preconceived notion of Colombian stereotypes. They deserve better than that.

My favourite experience was the lost city trek. I shall detail that more in another note. I started my experience in Bogota. The historic town is beautiful and I would recommend doing a free walking tour there. Bogota has many neighbourhoods with the historic centre being the main tourist centre. I absolutely loved eating street food there. There are two museums which one shouldn’t miss: The Gold museum and the Botero museum.

From Bogota, I spent a day in Villa del Levya, a Spanish Colonial town before heading to the coffee region of Colombia, Armenia. There we had a couple of coffee tastings to get a sense of Colombian coffee. Coffee is good but sadly the best coffee gets exported to other countries. From there we went to Cocora Valley, which is stunningly beautiful, known for its wax palm trees and condors (the flight of the condor is beautiful to watch). Near the valley, there is the town of Salento: another small and beautiful town where one can do a small hike to the top of a hill to get some really amazing views. Besides Bogota, we have Medellin and Cartagena. Medellin was fantastic. It is a good mix of Colombian culture and international modernism. There are lot of things to do here: A lot of people do the Pablo Escobar tour. I didnt do that. Instead I chose to do a graffiti tour (called Comuna 13) to get a sense of art in the neighbourhoods (there was a lot of violence in the past). Cartagena, on the other hand, is a relaxed Caribbean city, quite laid back and chilled. Folks go there for the beaches and to enjoy the sun. I enjoyed a couple of days there soaking in the sun. The last two places I experienced were Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park. Both are worth going to. Tayrona National Park has some beautiful beaches to chill and relax.

I have enjoyed my stay in Colombia. There are quite a few places I havent been to but the one thing I want to do more than ever is to spend a lot more time in Medellin – maybe someday!

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