We’ve spent 28 days in Colombia and we have been so impressed by the richness and diversity of this country. From its Caribbean northern coast, to the cooler but equally beautiful towns and cities set against the backdrop of the Andes, to the cloud forests of Salento, it’s been a fantastic journey.
Colombia is around one and a half times the size of France with a population of just under 50 million people. It has a rich cultural history with early American Indian inhabitation from as early as 12,000 BC. The Spanish Conquistadors landed in 1499 and eventually annexed part of the region in the 16th century, exploiting the countries wealth of Gold and other tradable commodities until its rebellion and subsequent independence from Spain in the early 19th century.
Since around 1960, Colombia was beset with internal armed conflict between government forces, crime syndicates, left and right wing guerrilla and paramilitary groups, as well as some foreign intervention too.
A peace treaty signed in 2016 has provided significant peace most recently. These conflicts have created over 5 million migrants, as civilians fled the troubles moving to the relative safety of cities and also to bordering nations. An estimated 220,000 people have been killed in these long running conflicts, the vast majority being civilians.
With the cessation of most of these troubles, Colombia’s economy has started to improve and tourism is rising sharply for this beautiful country.
Our travels across Colombia has shown us the diversity of its people, it’s cultural history, stunning countryside, the colours and passion of a nation grasping for a better future.
Our trip included a number of Colombia’s most famous cities and our first stop was Bogota, the capital city sitting some 2,600 metres above sea level in the Andes, making it the third highest city in South America. The capital is home to over 7 million people.
From Bogota we flew north to the Colombian Caribbean coast, flying into Santa Marta and then travelling a short distance further north to Tanganga Beach and the Tayrona Nature Reserve.
We then travelled south along the west coast to the beautiful and historic city of Cartagena, probably the best costal city we visited and a must see destination in any itinery for Colombia.
We then headed further south to Medellín, a sprawling city located in a valley in the Andes. Whilst there we visited the famous Comuna 13 district and witnessed other progressive initiatives in this vibrant and rapidly transforming city.
A day trip to Quatape and Piedra del Peñol provided further insights into Colombia’s stunning countryside towns.
A six hour bus journey took us further south and up into the beautiful country town of Salento, a region famous for its Coffee farms, cloud forests and the Valley Del Cocora.
From Salento we travelled to Cali and then via Pasto across the border into Ecuador and the beautiful town of Quito set high in the mountains where the next leg of our South American adventure began.