5 To Know: Travel Tips on Navigating Colombia

From the charming streets of Cartagena and the tropical blue waves of the Caribbean Sea to the creative spirit of Bogotá and adventures in the remote coffee region, Colombia promises a dynamic cultural immersion at the northern tip of South America. Though Cartagena has drawn tourists for years, the country as a whole is still emerging as a destination for travelers, and while crafting an itinerary can be challenging, the experience is a well-earned reward.

Contact Indagare  for assistance planning a trip to Colombia. Our dedicated trip designers can match you with the destinations and properties that are best for you.

Emerging Sums It Up. Colombia is emerging from years of violence and strife. During the 1990s and much of the 2000s, Colombia was the most dangerous country in the world because of its civil war, kidnapping threats and drug violence. Since the 2016 peace treaty was signed between the government and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), much of the violence has ended, but there has been very little investment in tourism infrastructure outside of the cities, so many of the basic travel niceties, such as plush resorts, are still absent. In the coffee region, for instance, there are only two hotels that might accommodate a high-end traveler and neither boasts room service nor a gym. That being said, for adventurous travelers who appreciate an incredible diversity of nature, dynamic cities and being in a place where you can feel the hopeful optimism of a population that is ready to see the fruits of peace, after years of bloodshed, it is an exciting destination.

Related: Bogotá Three-Day Itinerary

Cartagena Is Not a Beach Town. The colonial gem on the Caribbean Sea has lots to offer a traveler including great music and food. However, this is not the place for a flop-and-drop vacation. While many people expect Cartagena to be a South American version of Miami, there are no local beaches with turquoise water, soft white sand and cabanas. A better comparison would be to say that it resembles a tropical New Orleans, because of its rich architectural wealth, great live music and party atmosphere, with rooftop bars and salsa clubs.

Insider Access Makes all the Difference.

The best of Colombia happens behind closed doors, because its locals have long been the only ones to enjoy its offerings, so you can go to Cartagena and never properly experience the city or meet its locals. In Bogotá, you may see street art everywhere, but exploring it with someone who works with the graffiti cooperatives and knows the city’s art dealers allows you to learn about how the social issues and role of art impact the culture. In the coffee region, if you river raft with a former journalist whose grandfather was in politics and had a relative kidnapped by the FARC, you will not only get to hear his family’s story, but also meet his friends, who are bringing fine cuisine to the region and elevating the Colombian coffee experience. So, if you want to really experience the country, you need to meet its people. Our travel specialists can make the introductions.

Related: A Week in CartagenaTo Take Advantage of Its Rich Variety You Need to Move Around.

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world (after Brazil) and the most biodiverse per square kilometer in the world. In fact, one of the few benefits of its years of strife is that much of its rainforest and coastline has been left undeveloped and pristine. To really get a sense of its incredible variety, which includes the Andean mountains, the Amazon basin and Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, you will need to move around; and to get the best advice on which flights regularly get cancelled and how long driving distances really are requires expertise, so it is worth mapping out an itinerary with someone who knows the country and its regions well.

Colombians Love their Country But Identify Regionally

. Colombians are warm and welcoming of foreigners and have a long history of accepting outsiders, but they also have strong regional pride. For instance, Cartagena residents fancy themselves more laid-back and exuberant than those from the mountains. Those from Bogotá may consider their coastal brethren as too laid-back, even lazy, and pride themselves on living in the country’s center of creativity and culture. While those who live in Medellin are known as the Swiss of the country: buttoned-up, on time and focused on money and work more than leisure.

Related: A Taste of Bogotá

Contact Indagare for assistance planning a trip to Colombia. Our dedicated trip designers can match you with the destinations and properties that are best for you.

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