First overseas trip...Colombia..help needed!
Don't know much about Colombia outside of a few days worth of reading...Anyone with any experience with this country, places to go, things to do, places to eat, anything at all..?
Will have 17 days in Colombia. So far only things that are MUSTS are..
Visit Salento and stay on a coffee plantation, visit Cartagena, and perhaps most importantly, EAT WELL...
Lookin into flying into Bogota and hopping over to Salento and then up to Cartagena...but please let me know if there is a better route, etc. Thanks so much!
There is really lots to see, so it depends on what you are into. I definitely recommend booking flights with one of the regional airlines, opposed to buses for the long hauls. If you book enough in advance the price of a flight from bogota to cartagena is comparably to a bus, and you will save 15 hours or so freezing (literally, the a/c is on full blast).
" and as for traveling alone, f*** it; if that's the way it has to be, then that's the way it is.."
Anyway, just some things to throw out there:
1) Bogota deserves 3-4 days in my opinion. Throw in a day trip to Zipaquira to see the salt catherdral. If you're there on a Sunday you can take a steam engine train but you have to buy your tickets in advance.
2) San Gil = adventure capital of Colombia if that's your thing
3) Bucaramanga - one of the best places in the world to go paragliding; also a great place to relax in; and there's an amazing canyon between Bucaramanga and San Gil that can be visited on a day trip
4) Villa de Leyva and Tunja - Villa de Leyva is a nice colonial town with white buildings and very touristy; Tunja is nearby and not touristy at all
5) Parque Tayrona - Probably the most popular national park in Colombia; can also visit the nearby fishing village of Taganga
6) Ciudad Perdida - Requires a 5 day jungle trek to visit
7) Islands: http://wikitravel.org/en/Colombian_Islands#b
With 17 days, I would skip cities like Medellin, Cali, Baranquilla. Not much to see in those cities unless you're into partying/nightlife. BTW, eating well and Colombia generally aren't things that go hand in hand.
I agree with EMH a side trip out to see the Salt Cathedral was worth it.
I spent about 4 days in Bogota and enjoyed every moment of it. Stayed at the Cranky Croc hostel - was a great hostel really well set up with a fantastic bunch of people. Could party if I wanted or crash in bed without the noise from the bar having an impact.
San Gil was lots of fun. Also loved Cartagena.
- Code: Select all
-Bogota: I liked Bogota alot...its a little grittier and more real than alot of other cities in my opinion. I actually, contrary to other opinions, felt that Zipiquira was a bit off my tastes though it was cool and defnitely a great side trip. Just walking down 7th St on a Sunday was the best part....live music on the streets, its closed to drivers, very cool. Apparently the Gold Museum is amazing. I didn't go, but heard great things.
-7 hours north to San Gil. Adventure capital for sure! Sam's VIP hostel was one of the best hostels I stayed EVER and met the best people....also, Sam has a restaurant, which usually I stray from going to the restaurant the hostel owns but he used to be a chef in an Argentinian Parilla and as an American, saying it was some of the best BBQ Ribs ever is saying something! Highly recommended paragliding and white water rafting (though BMH recommended Bucarmanga and that was recommended to me as well for paragliding) but adventure sports are CHEAP here and awesome as. Don't miss. Also from San Gil there is a waterfall you can bus and hike to and an old ancient trail from a local beautiful town...might be Buca....find it, its amazing!
-You can take the bus overnight to Santa Marta from here and then go to Tayrona National Park if you want. Getting to Tayrona from the bus station is a bit of a journey as the busses won't pick you up if you have a backpack. But you can taxi to the bus stop for a not bad price. I was a little disappointed in Tayrona but its a matter of opinion. Its wild and beautiful but not the place to go for beach or swim time. I enjoyed the hiking there the best, and sleeping in a hammock!
-Along the Coast to Cartegena. Cartegena is awesome if you ask me, depending on your travel style how you decide to take it on. I like gritty and gorgeous equally, so I took it on day by day. One full day in the Old City, walking...overly touristy but so beautiful! One day in the New City, which they call Mini Miami. Really clean and nice but not much to do but finally have your first decent Colombian coffee, as colombia has the worst coffee in SA (they export!). One day outSIDE the city walls. Dirty, gritty, go to the market, if you like dirty gritty. For me, favorite part. For others, hell. Pick and choose your style! And then Playa Blanca. Do NOT buy your boat ticket from the hostels, they are double the price. Walk to the docks and buy it from there. $15 Peso per way. Don't pay more. And stay overnight. Sleep in a hammock. Its lovely!
-I headed back south from here. To Medellin. I loved Medellin but almost didn't go because thought...don't like big cities, not recommended, yadda yadda. I cant recommend cause its a taste thing but I loved it. Really good food if you spend the money for it. I'm not a partyer so I didn't like my hostel or neighborhood too much but it was central and clean and the people were so friendly. Again, Sundays, close down the main street. Awesome. Do NOT miss the Botero museum and there is a fantastic Botanical Gardens and the most AMAZING science center there I've ever been in my life called Parque Explora...loved!
-Guatape is beautiful, an hour from Medellin. Hostels do day trips but what a waste of an amazing place! Go on your own, stay a night or three, stay at Hostel El Encuentro...one of my favs. Amazing! Be prepared to stay.
-Salento....gorgeous, beautiful, the best horseback riding and local hiking and coffee. Its actually the only good place to get a coffee in Colombia. I loved! Would have stayed a week or two but the people in my hostel were very young party kids and I just didn't get it and it kinda ruined it for me.
-In the South you have Popayan (a lovely town and famous for its food, which is something Colombia is horrible for in general), San Augustin, and Tirradentro, for history, beautiful scenery, amazing people, and long, long, bumpy jeep rides. If you are short on time, do not come here. It is better to spend a week here and though you can do it in four days its all travel. Take your time here. ENjoy it. Best part in some ways. If you do not have time...stop in Salento and go back to Bogota.
As per usual, PMs to my personal, for more info. Enjoy your trip...South America was amazing!!!!!!
COLOMBIA: Would you take the risk? -
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgW8Y7F8DN8
Lived in Medellin for 5 years 2007-2012. Has changed quite a bit in the 5 years I live there. More traffic, high rises, etc...less pleasant, but as a 1st time you wouldn't know that.
If you like big cities -- I suppose you might like Bogota. Very flat. Medellin is more manageable (Smaller, warmer weather, less sprawling (it's confined to a large valley), elaborate and comprehensive metro system) and generally friendlier (On the surface) people. Example - taxi drivers will strike up a conversation with you, whereas in Bogota - less likely. Most only speak Spanish, but some taxi drivers are Colombians who have returned back to Colombia after many years in the USA, so speak English. Not sure about Bogota taxis but Medellin taxis have bilingual cards draped over the front head rest to help with limited/non-Spanish speakers.
Medellin is a great place to break stereotypes about "3rd World nations / Lesser developed countries," etc......I will say that. Check out the Centro Comercial Santafe -- 2 retractable roofs in a mall. Won't find that anywhere else in the world. Also to see the contrast between well to do, and less well to do. Look up Metro Cable Medellin on Wiki.
Cali is dirtier, and more humid, and more crime ridden, but you may find the people friendlier there.
Those are the big 3 cities. Lots of tourists in Cartagena, the old city is huge and popular and very well preserved. Bucaramanga, Manizales, Pereira are nice alternatives with great weather if you want to see mid size cities. Going to Salento, sounds like you will pass through one or two of those.
it all depends on the specific of what you want to see I reckon, but maybe a variety for a 1st overseas trip? Colombia is not ideal for archaeology/ruins - Peru is a MUCH better choice for that.
Though there are some options as noted earlier.
Some other ideas not mentioned or only briefly --
desert landscape by the ocean -- La Guajira
Mountainous island that almost nobody goes to - Providencia (Must go to San Andres first, then small plane or catamaran) Try www.posadasunshine.com - lots of photos and an overview of the place and info on how to get there.
As for eating well...if you like steaks/meats/chicken -- then you can eat well for inexpensive.
Slowly there are more international choices in Colombia, but it depends on what you define as eat well. To the average person unfamiliar with local restaurants or Colombian chains, food courts in major Centro Comerciales / malls almost always offer a good variety. That could be a starting point. There are super modern malls in just about every major city of note. In smaller towns...well your choice will be much more limited, but again the aforementioned meat choices are always available, with beans and rice, platano...
If you like desserts -- check out Crepes n Waffles. Think they have some branches in other countries too. Colombian Coffee -- the Juan Valdez coffee shop (Like Starbucks -- they have some US branches too).
You can eat vegetarian too if that means eat well to you...pretty easy in big cities, but don't expect like a Whole Foods Market experience.
I researched Salento and was stoked on going there, then I researched more, and decided not to, but then after living in the country for a few years, one has different expectations.
Bogota - Salento / coffee plantation - Cartagena in 17 days. Adding Medellin would be a logical stop. Then an island or coastal scenery near Santa Marta (East of Cartagena). That would keep you busy with a contrasting variety.
Have fun in Colombia, and contact me if you have some questions.
Who is online
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests