Colombia may have received some justifiably bad press in the past, but these days, it’s considered safer than it once was. When I had the opportunity to travel to Bogota a while back, I was a little sceptical about what this city would have to offer and just like any big city, there are the neighbourhoods to avoid. I had a fantastic time in Colombia and it made me hunger for further Latin America exploration in the future.
My favourite area is the historical old town of Bogota called ‘La Candelaria’. Wandering these winding and hilly cobbled streets, I was thrilled by the colours and character that felt quintessentially ‘Latin American’. From horse-driven carts spilling over with exotic fruits and vegetables to the quaint little shops, around every corner you’ll come across a feast for the senses – enough for any curious traveller. The colourful graffiti and street art you’ll see in all manner of urban settings creates a colourful backdrop to the cityscape.
There’s a rich culture in Bogota and whilst I’m not normally a museum enthusiast, I was really glad to have the opportunity to visit the famous Gold Museum. If you like a bit of ‘bling’, this will be your thing… they have more than 55,000 pieces of gold all laid out over 3 floors with descriptions in English. The exhibits are wide-ranging, from ancient masks, murals, jewellery and ritual offerings to life size sculptures.
I was also impressed by the Botero gallery. The celebrated Colombian artist Botero is known for his figurative style of paintings and sculptures depict figures in exaggerated proportion. I found his ‘rotund’ style of painting and sculptures both unique and captivating. Who would have thought that a plump Mona Lisa, or a chubby Jesus on the Cross could make for such visually stimulating subject matter? Well worth a visit!
A highlight of my visit to Bogota is the vibrant night-life. There seems to be such an inhibition-free attitude to getting up to dance; I was struck by the elegance and rhythm of the locals of all ages who make it look so easy. I found myself adding a whole range of Colombian music to my playlists after getting home from Salsa to Shakira!
For many people the capital Bogota is a gateway into the plethora of destinations Colombia has to offer visitors. There are opportunities for whale-watching, surfing and nature trips on Colombia’s Pacific Coast and a string of idyllic Caribbean Islands to the north. In the interior, you could visit the haciendas of ‘coffee country’, learn to dance in the global Salsa hotspot of Cali, experience the splendour of Tayrona National Park or trek into the Amazon, all before you even get as far as the classic destinations of Medellin, Cartagena and Santa Marta.
These days, Colombia is considered much more secure than in the past and the tourism infrastructure has improved considerably. Many people explore independently, but a great option to make you feel more comfortable and safe is a small group tour. You’ll benefit from experienced guides and like-minded travellers and all of your accommodation, local transport and some meals will be included which makes it a practical option
From the 9 day Colombia Express tour to the 22 day Colombian Culture, Caribbean & Lost City we can offer some excellent group tour options. We also offer tailor made holidays to Colombia, and if you want to include more specialist areas like Nuqi on the Pacific coast or Leticia in the Amazon, just ask and we’ll build your dream Colombia trip for you! Contact us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.