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5 Fabulous Ways to Discover the Vast Beauty of Colombia

Rich cultural heritage with natural wonders around every bend make for a thrilling, soulful vacation.

5 Fabulous Ways to Discover the Vast Beauty of Colombia

The charming colonial town of Cartagena is just one of the many attractions that draw travelers to Colombia.

Any time of year is a great time to visit Colombia, where temperatures are mild, the people are warm, and fascinating itineraries abound no matter what type of trip you’re after. There are art-filled urban getaways in fantastic cultural centers like Bogotá, glamping experiences throughout the country, and all kinds of awe-inspiring ways to get outdoors. Interest in tourism in Colombia has skyrocketed recently as people around the world have been inspired by pop culture to find the encanto (or enchantment) of Colombia’s traditions and landscapes.

And enchanting it is. Six wildly diverse regions offer incredible biodiversity and local communities that allow people to travel deeper. In the Greater Colombian Caribbean region, visitors will discover so much more than surf and sand. With waterfalls, mountains, and beaches, the area defined as the Colombian Pacific is also home to Afro-Colombian culture.

Go inland to the Western Colombian Andes for its coffee, flowers, and flourishing cities. The Eastern Colombian Andes also offers the cosmopolitan charms of Bogotá, along with what’s known as coffee country. For natural and cultural treasures, the Colombian Massif has otherworldly wonders including waterfalls, volcanoes, and pre-Columbian historic sites. And in the Colombian Amazon-Orinoco, the “green heart of Colombia,” you’ll find Indigenous and llanero or cowboy culture. In each region, travelers will find an emphasis on sustainability, a deep desire to preserve the land’s natural beauty, and communities that will gladly share their customs and heritage with welcoming arms.

Colombia’s tourism department provides travel advisors with the tools to book the perfect trips for their clients, and to showcase all the country has to offer—from its rich cultural heritage to the stunning natural terrain of the country’s six wildly diverse regions. We rounded up some foolproof ideas to ensure clients have an epic vacation in Colombia.

Street art is everywhere in the cosmopolitan hub of Bogotá.

Street art is everywhere in the cosmopolitan hub of Bogotá.

1. Urban art adventures

Bogotá, Western Colombian Andes

A novel and stimulating way to see Bogotá, Colombia’s vibrant, high-altitude capital in the Eastern Colombian Andes, is with a graffiti art tour. The experience also shows off the destination’s eclectic architecture and takes visitors past street vendors selling tropical fruit juices and cafés, where the city’s authors created some of its best-known works. Sounds of salsa music drift through neighborhoods, as guides provide backstories and insightful perspective behind the works of graffiti artists and collectives such as Stinkfish, Lik mi, DjLu, and Lili Cuca—whose pieces often act as mirrors for society. One of South America’s safest urban centers, Bogotá is alive with art, from dazzling street murals to must-hit museums like the Museo Botero and the Museo del Oro, where you’ll find pre-Colombian gold pieces.

2. Eco-luxury glamping

Santander, Eastern Colombian Andes and Tatacoa, Colombian Massif

Help your clients get outdoors in the most romantic way with one of many sustainable glamping experiences available throughout the country. They’ll slumber in deluxe tents under the stars, fully immersed in nature at places like Nativo, located in the colorful 18th-century town of Barichara in Santander, which inspired the main village in a current popular animated film. Guests can take a course in astronomy or ceramic-making while here or participate in a labyrinth ritual typical of the Guane people of the region.

Or consider a glamping stay at Bethel Bio Luxury in a nature reserve that sits in the middle of the Tatacoa desert in Huila, where tents are solar-powered, and the water comes from nearby springs. There’s horseback riding by day and astronomy walks in the evening where visitors gaze at the twinkling night sky.

3. Enchanting nature and wildlife

Cocora Valley and Choco, Colombian Pacific, and the Colombian Amazon-Orinoco

The Colombian Amazon

The Colombian Amazon

Colombia’s spectacular natural terrain has enchanted people around the world recently, and travelers can see it for themselves in real life. In the Western Colombian Andes, they’ll marvel at the towering Wax Palm trees—the tallest palms in the world—in the Cocora Valley. While here, a trip to the colorful heritage town of Salento, with its terracotta tiles and bright colors, is a must.

For a different kind of natural exploration, direct travelers to the Choco rainforest, an area with more than 8,000 plant species and home to all kinds of wildlife, from capybaras to jaguars. Choco is one of the world’s most biologically diverse areas. Travelers can go humpback whale-watching along the Pacific coast of Choco in Utría National Nature Park, all the while keeping eyes peeled for jaguar, cougars, giant anteaters, and howler and spider monkeys while hiking along trails. Time a trip to the months of April and May, and they can watch the miracle of birth as leatherback turtles hatch along Acandi Beach near Capurganá.

Speaking of wonders, The Colombian Amazon was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2011, and for good reason. This remarkable ecotourism destination boasts diverse natural reserves, and the opportunity to meet indigenous peoples and take part in indigenous handicraft workshops, and to spot all manner of incredible wildlife, including pink river dolphins at the wetland resort, Lagos de Tarapoto y Loretoyacu.

4. Meaningful outdoor adventures

The Sea of Seven Colors, Greater Colombian Caribbean and Villa de Leyva, Eastern Colombian Andes

Delighting in the great outdoors is easy to do in Colombia. And for travelers who long to travel deeper, that’s just as easy to do here. Scuba divers have the opportunity to go to new depths with a “meaningful dive” trip at the island of San Andrés in Colombia’s northwestern archipelago of islands, surrounded by the Sea of Seven Colors. There, they’ll learn all about and participate in conservation efforts, guided by marine biologists with the Corales de Paz program—a title that translates as “Corals of Peace.” Guests will visit a coral nursery and get trained in how to transplant corals. They’ll also be able to soak up the area’s Raizal culture after days spent diving, and bond with other divers over barbecue dinners in the evenings of this three-day program.

Extending beyond the dive trip with a stay at a family-run native inn in this special area will allow travelers to experience the Creole culture more deeply. They’ll savor the laid-back, welcoming ambiance, and feast on traditional home-cooked dishes like Rondón, a Caribbean stew made with coconut milk and seafood, topped with green plantain and yuca.

An equestrian tour is another great way to get a true sense of place and stay grounded in nature while touring Colombia. Couples, solo travelers, or groups (appropriate for ages 12 through 70) can book horseback excursions for 8-10 nights. The journeys stretch all the way from Bogotá to Barichara, or, alternatively, toward Villa de Leyva, passing through lush native forests of centenary oaks en route to Colombia’s artisan capitol, Ráquira. At the final destination, they’ll tour the main square and learn about antique items that illustrate colonial life at the Casa de Nariño Museum.

Staying at family-run inns are authentic Colombian experiences.

Staying at family-run inns are authentic Colombian experiences.

5. Flavorful coffee stays

Coffee Cultural Landscape, Western Colombian Andes

Perhaps Colombia’s most famous export, Colombian coffee is savored throughout the world. Coffee lovers can perk up a trip to Colombia with a coffee plantation stay in the Colombia coffee lands, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At La Palma y el Tucán, guests can rest their heads in one of nine beautiful cabins that dot the fragrant coffee fields. Tours show every stage of the harvesting and roasting process, and visitors enjoy organic meals with foods harvested right on premises.

Another excellent option to see first-hand how the almighty bean goes from field to cup is at Finca del Café, just 20 minutes from Periera in Risaralda in the Western Colombian Andean region of the country. Travelers who book a night at the eight-room boutique hotel on the premises can take a plantation tour dressed just like any other worker on the farm—in a poncho and hat, with a knitted basket at their side. It’s an experience they’ll enjoy while there and remember fondly whenever they enjoy a cup of joe back home.

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