Salsa dancing, rum cocktails, and of course, coffee.
Colombia has been top of my ever expanding places to visit list for a few years now. I just had a strong feeling I’d love the people, the music, the food and culture of the country. What I didn’t expect though, was just quite how much diversity there is in Colombia; it felt like a few different South American countries rolled into one.
Flying into Bogotá to start the trip, I joined the G Adventures group I’d travel around Colombia with for the next 16 days; a mix of ages from 19 to my parents’ age from all over the world. No one had ever visited before, so the excitement was palpable.
We dove straight in with one of my favourite activities in a new city, visiting Paloquemao food market with our local guide. You really get a feel for a place taking in the sights and smells from the neighbourhood stalls and tasting your way around the market. It’s a foodie paradise – hot arepas oozing with melted cheese, steaming tamales and the most unusual tropical fruits you’ll probably ever see or taste.
Of course, Colombia is famous for coffee too, exporting most of their best beans over this side of the world. Armenia, Salento and Minca were all stops on the trip where you can take coffee tours, try your hand at harvesting beans or simply sip a cup in town. You’ll likely never look at a flat white in the same way once you discover how much work goes into the production. It’s what I love about travelling with a local guide and taking tours, you learn so much more than if you did the same trip solo, not to mention it’s handy to have someone who speaks the language look after all the logistics.
Medellín was probably my most anticipated place on the itinerary and it surpassed expectations. You just have to speak to the locals to hear how much the city has changed in the past few decades and appreciate how much hope for the future Colombians have. The Comuna 13 street tour is an absolute must, as well as taking the cable car high into the hills. El Poblado neighbourhood is the most cosmopolitan area we visited, full of trendy coffee shops and fashionable boutiques. It feels really safe and it’s a good spot to spend a night out. Take a salsa class while you’re there; music and dance is an important part of life in Colombia, so enjoy every opportunity to soak it all in.
Up at the Caribbean coast of the country in Cartagena, you’ll be transported back to colonial times in the walled city with colourful buildings, open squares and small side streets lined with souvenir stalls and ice cream shops. While it’s definitely a tourist trap, you can escape the heat and crowds by heading out to the Rosario Islands, an archipelago within a national park about 45 minutes away by boat. Expect rum cocktails, coconut rice and fresh fish, a Caribbean breeze and an island time relaxed vibe – a welcome break to a busy sightseeing schedule. With this trip, you really can do it all.
How much? €2449 including 15 nights accommodation, 15 breakfasts, 3 lunches and one dinner, internal flights, transfers and transport between included activities. This also gets you local guides, hikes and city tours, but excludes your flights there.