There’s magic around every bend in Colombia. A trip to the country’s diverse regions gives travelers an authentic first-hand experience of the many delights of Colombia with all-ages appeal. You’ll find its particular charm, recently captured in a popular animated film, in plain view in real-life everyday Colombia. It’s everywhere, from gazing at awe-inspiring natural marvels, like the world’s tallest palm trees in the Cocora Valley, to soaking up the rainbow of pastel-colored homes with flower-strewn balconies in Cartagena and other historic heritage towns.
Biodiversity is off the charts here—with six distinct regions to visit, there’s so much to discover all throughout the country: Greater Colombian Caribbean offers so much more than just surf and sand; Pacific Colombian has flavors of forest and sea; Western Colombian Andes features mountains of coffee and flowers; Eastern Colombian Andes boasts legendary moors and valleys; Colombian Massif is the area of ancestral origins; and Colombian Amazon-Orinoco is rife with sacred rainforests and plains.
Whether you explore the culture, wildlife, or landscapes, the natural wonder and the warmth of local communities abound all over this vast country. Better still, Colombia’s commitment to sustainability makes it easy to travel responsibly here, so you can help ensure generations to come can also appreciate this fairytale-like land. Here’s how to discover Colombia’s rich culture and stunning landscapes with a trip tailormade for groups of family, friends, or both.
Enchanting wildlife and nature
Colombia’s breathtaking natural terrain must be seen with your own eyes. In the Western Colombian Andes, you’ll marvel at the towering Wax Palm trees—unparalleled in height the world over—in the Cocora Valley. While here, tour the colorful heritage town of Salento, whose terracotta tiles and bright colors will enchant you as they recently enchanted filmmakers. And consider a coffee plantation tour in the region.
For a different kind of natural exploration in the Colombian Pacific region, head to the Choco rainforest, an area that boasts more than 8,000 plant species and is home to all kinds of wildlife, from capybaras to jaguars. Choco is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Go humpback whale-watching along the Pacific coast of Choco in Utría National Nature Park, and keep your eyes peeled for jaguar, cougars, giant anteaters, and howler and spider monkeys as you hike along trails. Watch leatherback turtles hatch along Acandi Beach near Capurganá in the months of April and May.
Another unforgettable sight is the Caño Cristales, the “rainbow river” located in the Serrania de la Macarena national park in the Colombian Amazon-Orinoco region. A stunning display of nature any time of year, it’s especially colorful from July through October, when pink, blue, and red water flowers bloom, creating a riot of spectacular color.
The country’s famed yellow butterflies will be easy to spot flitting about in Colombia if you visit in spring or fall when millions of them migrate north and south. The country has some 3,642 species of the winged wonders!
The Colombian Amazon was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2011, for good reason. This stunning ecotourism destination boasts all kinds of natural reserves, the opportunity to meet indigenous peoples, take part in traditional handicraft workshops, and spot all manner of incredible wildlife, including pink river dolphins at the wetland resort, Lagos de Tarapoto y Loretoyacu.
Glamping, horseback riding, and coffee tours
Why not get outdoors in the most transporting way with a sustainable glamping experience? 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. Take a course in astronomy or ceramic-making while you’re here or participate in a labyrinth ritual typical of the Guane people of the Eastern Colombian Andes region.
You could also try a glamping stay in the Colombian Massif region 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. Go horseback riding by day and take astronomy walks in the evening where you’ll marvel at the twinkling night sky.
Speaking of horseback riding, an equestrian tour is another great way to stay grounded in nature while touring Colombia. You and your family or friends (appropriate for ages 12-70) can book 8-to-10-night horseback excursions in the Eastern Colombian Andes stretching all the way from Bogotá to Barichara, or, alternatively, toward Villa de Leyva. You’ll pass through lush native forests of centenary oaks en route to Colombia’s artisan hub, Ráquira, and on to the final destination, where you’ll tour the main square and learn about antique items that illustrate colonial life at the Casa de Nariño museum.
Coffee fans might perk up a trip to Colombia with a coffee plantation stay at La Palma y el Tucán, where you can nestle in to one of nine beautiful cabins dotted around the fragrant coffee fields in the Western Colombian Andes. Take immersive tours where you’ll see every stage of the harvesting and roasting process—and enjoy organic meals with foods harvested right on premises. It’s an experience you’ll savor while there and remember fondly whenever you enjoy a cup of joe back home.