Colombia has definitely entered the travel map with force . If in the past planning a trip to the country generated many doubts, now it is an established destination that attracts more tourists and many backpackers on their way through Latin America every year.

With Travel Backpackers I was able to travel around the country with the best possible option: accompanied by a Colombian friend who was enthusiastic about the idea of ​​showing me the best of Colombia and wanting to break stigmas.

The trip coincided with Christmas, a period in which most Colombians take the opportunity to spend longer vacations with family and on the coast, since the high season also begins in the Caribbean area. Spending the end of the year in Bogotá was one of the best memories , since I was able to celebrate the beginning of the new year in a very different way than what I usually do in Barcelona: with a traditional family barbecue! Subsequently, in January I was able to enjoy a few days of relaxation on the Caribbean coast.

It is one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world

If I had to choose one word to define the country as a travel experience it would be diversity. A trip to Colombia will amaze you with its variety of landscapes: from the desert of La Guajira, to the wild beaches of Tayrona or one of the highest palm groves in the world in the Cócora Valley , at the gates of the jungle. Colombia is considered one of the countries with the greatest biodiversity in the world and in fact, it is estimated that it has 10% of the planet’s biodiversity.

In Colombia there are currently 10 natural parks where you can enjoy this biodiversity, each one more diverse. On the Caribbean coast you can visit the virgin beaches of Tayrona or the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO and one of the largest humid forests. Another of the most impressive is the Amacayacu National Park, near the Amazon.

In another totally different environment in the Andes Mountains rises the Nevados National Park, a volcanic area with peaks up to 4,600 meters high.

Cocora Valley

…And with greater cultural richness

But diversity also extends to culture, the result of an intense history marked by ethnicity. In few countries have I found so much mix. If in the Caribbean, with Cartagena de Indias at the forefront, we find extensive Afro-Caribbean references, in the south indigenous culture and folklore dominates. In fact, about 81 indigenous groups live in the country.

All this wealth is enjoyed on a trip through the country and at each new stop you learn to appreciate this great variety with greater interest.

To discover Tayrona, the jewel of the Colombian Caribbean

If you have never traveled to Tayrona, its name may sound familiar to you because of the well-known song by Carlos Vives and Shakira “La Bicicleta”, in which the two stars of Colombian music (another of the country’s joys) mention it.

Tayrona is the most emblematic natural park in the country and is located a few kilometers from the town of Santa Marta. This large natural area allows you to enjoy a lush tropical landscape, where virgin beaches, coral formations, mangroves and lagoons abound. In deeper areas you can even visit some geological remains of the many tribes that have inhabited this place over the years.

With Travel Backpackers I was able to visit the park for two days, camping in the most popular area near Cabo de San Juan , one of the backpacker landmarks in Colombia, although if you prefer you can also find many eco-hotels in the area or you can book hotels on near Cabo de San Juan .

To get there you will have to cross some of the best beaches in Tayrona , on a walk that will hopefully also allow you to see some animals. In my case, I remember that while walking, a capybara crossed me.

If you like nature you cannot miss Tayrona, a must on a visit to Colombia. To access, it is mandatory to be vaccinated against yellow fever and it is highly advisable to have medical insurance like those offered by Mondo.

Cabo de San Juan Tayrona Beach

To enjoy Cartagena de Indias and its colonial heritage

On every trip there is always a city that I look forward to especially and on this trip to Colombia that was Cartagena de Indias. This colonial jewel at the height of Old Havana, dazzles with its defensive architecture, with one of the best walls in the Caribbean built to defend against piracy.

The center of the walled city is an elegant trip to the past. Cartagena is a city with many squares and large mansions with colorful facades. In addition, it has an intense cultural and musical program. The beautiful Plaza de Santa Domingo is usually the scene of many of these concerts.

One of the most emblematic places in the center is the Clock Tower , a portal that separates the walled center from the Getsemaní neighborhood, and the Plaza de los Coches, where at night you can see many artists dancing in the street.

In the surroundings of the Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Alexandria you will find a lot of atmosphere and some of the most beautiful buildings. I fell in love with Cartagena, it is one of the main colonial jewels of Latin America !

Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

To taste the tasty Colombian food

If there is one thing that is certain, it is that on a trip to Colombia you will enjoy the food. The basis of most dishes is cereals or rice, although tubers such as cassava and meat also always have a place. Colombian gastronomy stands out for the fusion of foods and of course, different culinary traditions such as local, European and African cultures.

Some of the most popular dishes are ajiaco , a kind of broth with beef and chicken to which corn, cassava, sweet potato is added and seasoned with chili.

A good example of a pre-Columbian dish is tamales , a dish widespread in Latin America that is served with a corn dough filled with meats and vegetables and that is usually wrapped in cob or banana leaves that are steamed. Its flavor is truly original, since due to its great variety you can find them both sweet and savory.

Finally, if you like beef in Colombia you will find a gastronomy that loves this type of meat. If you have the funds, you can try the popular tray paisa , a large typical dish from Medellín and surrounding areas where there is no shortage of rice, pork rinds, chorizo, arepas, beans, avocado and ground meat.

If you want to try one of the best barbecues, reserve a table at the very popular restaurant “Andrés Carne de Res” in Bogotá. A trip to Colombia is also a gastronomic trip !

Colombian Christmas Roast

Enjoy the beaches of Santa Marta, a family destination

Santa Marta is one of the favorite places for Colombians for a beach getaway on the Caribbean coast. The most popular are Rodadero and the party town Taganga, usually visited by foreign tourists looking for a rumba or party.

In the historic center, made up of white colonial houses around the tourist promenade, you can enjoy the architecture and the good atmosphere on the street. The walk to the boardwalk is a must.

To visit Bolívar’s tomb in Santa Marta

Also in Santa Marta you can consider an interesting cultural visit: a visit to the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino , the hacienda where Simón de Bolívar died in 1830 due to tuberculosis. The guided tour covers the main rooms such as the smoking room or the chapel.

Visit the Gold Museum in Bogotá

Bogotá is a huge city, often chaotic and with a lot of traffic. Of course it also has its essentials and you will find one of them in the Gold Museum , one of the places that contains the famous legend of El Dorado.

This supposed legendary city made of gold was for centuries an obsession for the Spanish, who echoed the testimonies of indigenous people who described a tribal ritual according to which the King covered his body with gold dust to offer it to the gods.
El Dorado was never found, but this museum preserves the only evidence of the ritual. In the La Ofrenda room you can see the golden piece known as the “ Balsa muisca ” made between the years 1200 and 1500 and found in 1969 in the municipality of Pasca, south of Bogotá.

This exceptional piece recreates the Ceremony of the Golden Indian, in which the priests covered the future chieftain with a resin that they sprinkled with gold dust and which is the basis of the myth.