Colombia is raw, it has passion, and the country is certainly pure. The best time to visit is right now. Dangerous? No, not any more dangerous than other Latin American countries. Is it risky? Yes, the biggest risk is that you’ll never want to leave again!
Bogota was once centre of political struggles and guerrilla wars, now it is the sparkling centre of Latin America. Bogota is not only a city of extremes, but especially a city without limits. When driving from South to North in this 9 million city you will move from extreme poverty to middleclass lifestyle and to extreme wealth within an hour. The amount of street sellers with at least five mobile phones hanging around their neck, trying to sell you ‘minutes’, is a bit ridiculous, however it sums up the density. In a country with an economy that mainly exists of an informal sector the streets are always crowded. This is where it all happens! Grab lunch for a euro, have your clothes sowed by old ladies, or discover a world of wealth in one of the luxurious shopping malls. Feel like doing something else? Then enter the elevator, step out at the 43rd floor, and walk into one of the best electro/techno bars, and discover Bogota by night from the terrace, the city is lying at your feet!
Second city of Colombia is also called the city of plastic surgery. Besides of this, Medellin is the city of birth of Colombia’s well-known artist Botero. Next to a museum, you will find many of his statues on the streets. Backpacker hostels are situated in the middle of the party area, cheap, but often very luxurious. Do not be shocked when the ordered drinks come in litre bottles, they are still very affordable. Still have some energy left in the morning? Go paragliding over the valley and discover the city from a whole new perspective.
When in Medellin all women are pursuing the beauty ideal, in Cali all women are mainly moving, as this is the city of salsa. Don't you like dancing? Don't you want to learn salsa? Then simply do not visit Cali. Everybody is welcome on the dance floor and the Caleños love to give some free lessons!
So you’ve had enough of the big cities? Is it time for the real thing? Then grab the bus from Bogota and let them drop you off in San Augustin. Visit one of the small little hostels in the village where everybody will tell you that it has exactly 29 foreign inhabitants. Have breakfast with home baked bread, ride a horse and go through the valley and observe the beautiful ancient statues. Have your birth date explained according to Maya wisdom, after which you can jump in a boat for some level 3 and 4 rafting. Everything is possible, and the nature here is amazing.
Do you wish to get back to basics, and explore vegetation, rivers, and fresh air? Is sleeping in a hut something for you? Then a visit to the Colombian part of the Amazon area is definitely a must do. Fly from Bogota to Leticia, in the Southeast of Colombia, and discover what the ‘’longs of the earth’’ really look like. From here you can walk to Brazil, sail to Peru, or have the indigenous people sail you into the area in a kayak. Play with monkeys, go fishing for piranhas, sail in the only area in the world where you can find pink dolphins, visit indigenous people speaking their own language, walk with a machete through the jungle - experience it all in the Amazon in Colombia.
Do you still have some energy left? Then jump on a bus with locals, and go through no-mans land to the North. Wake up in Cartagena, the largest colonial city of Latin America. Sleep in the colonial part and jump aboard a horse with carriage through this colonial city and explore the beautiful coloured houses. Is that enough culture for now? Go to Santa Martha, from where you can take a little van and jump off in backpackers heaven Taganga - here you will find the cheapest diving courses in Latin America. From this little village you can visit parque Tayrona, for sure the most beautiful natural park in Latin America. Feel as if the beach is yours, sleep in a hammock and discover true nature.
Even though the country has not yet been flooded by tourists, you will find plenty of youth hostels. The price level is low, which you will find out when paying foryour stay. At the Caribbean coast you will find many small hotels, when going to Taganga you will sleep for backpackers prices in a hotel!
The best time to go is now! Discover Colombia as one of the first, practice your Spanish with the locals, and feel as if you’re the only foreigner around.
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