Fun things to do in Colombia

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Colombia

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    Bucaramanga

    by MalenaN Written Oct 8, 2007

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    Bucaramanga is a big city with just over half a million inhabitants and it is the capital in Departamento de Santander. The city is situated at an altitude of 995 metres on a plateau in the Cordillera Oriental. The temperature is pleasant with an average of 17 - 23 degrees. Bucaramanga is called The city of the Parks and you can find several pleasant parks in the city, and it is surrounded by green mountains.
    The city was founded in 1622, but it is only in the quarters around Parque García Rovira you can find colonial buildings, otherwise it is a modern city.
    I liked Bucaramanga and was happy to make a break hear for two nights. I visited a couple of museums and the cathedral and made an excursion to the nearby colonial town Girón. I also walked around on the streets in the commercial centre visiting some shops and cafes. In Bucaramanga I didn’t see any other foreign tourists.

    Calle 35 The Cathedral Carrera 15
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    Taganga

    by MalenaN Written Oct 30, 2007

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    Taganga was my first stop in Colombia and I was surprised to see so many backpackers there. I had expected that there was going to be quite a lot of foreign tourists in Taganga, but not so many. It is a nice place to visit but I would not have stayed so many days (a week) if it hadn’t been for the diving.

    Taganga is situated only 5 km away from Santa Marta. It is a small fishing village and by the beach there are many fishing boats and at the restaurants you can eat fresh fried fish. In the early evening you can watch the fisherman selling their daily catch at the beach. Taganga is beautifully situated in a horseshoe-shaped bay with hills around. If your not diving there is a small beach in the village and another beach a 15 minutes walk away. It is a place for relaxing, reading in the hammocks at the hostels, sitting in a bar or just hanging on the beach.

    Fishing boats in Taganga Taganga is situated in a bay Taganga Taganga Taganga
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    Salento & the Zona Cafetera

    by richiecdisc Updated Feb 12, 2011

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    The Zona Cafetera is the place most travelers to Colombia envision when they think of the country whether the know it or not just as Juan Valdez is the mustachioed image of its inhabitants. Cocaine may have grabbed all the headlines but coffee is a buzz that's not only legal but malleable. While it's the everyday drink of the common man it doubles easily as the posh beverage of the elite who can afford it. But those verdant green hills encircling you are not just good for growing beans, there are trails to be trekked and villages to be explored. One such town is wonderful Salento. Full of colorful paisa architecture, it is pleasant in its own right but serves well also as the jumping off point to nearby nature reserves, coffee plantations, and towering palms. Though still primarily the domain of Colombian tourists, backpackers are a steady part of the mix that will likely grow considerably in the near future.

    the lure of the bean
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    Girón

    by MalenaN Written Oct 8, 2007

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    Girón is a town with about 45 000 inhabitants. It has its own municipality and is situated only 9 km from the big city Bucaramanga in Departamento Santander. The town was founded in 1631with the name San Juan Girón.
    Tourists mainly come here to visit the colonial part of the town where houses are whitewashed with brown details and the streets narrow and cobbled. It is a picturesque place to walk around in for a few hours and especially on weekends there are a lot of visitors. There are some craft shops, mainly around Parque Principal and by the river, a cathedral and a few cafés and restaurants.

    Calle 31 Calle 31 Carrera 26 Plauzela Peralta Catedral del Senor de los Milagros
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    San Agustín

    by MalenaN Written Oct 27, 2007

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    San Agustin is a lovely place and you can easily stay here for several days exploring the surroundings and relax. San Agustin is situated at an altitude of 1695 metres and the average temperature is 18 degrees C. During the days I visited the sky was grey the whole time and there was quite a lot of rain, but I heard the days before my visit had been sunny. The town is small with about 2000 inhabitants and many of the houses are painted in white with green details. The landscape of the surroundings is beautiful with green hills and many river valleys.

    San Agustin is famous for its many pre-Columbian stone statues. About 500 statues can be found spread out in groups in the region. Little is known about the civilization that lived here. They didn’t have a written language and they were gone before the Europeans arrived . Around the 6th century BC and the 12th century AD seems to have been the period when the civilization bloomed. The stone statues are often guards of tombs.
    The Archaeological Park of San Agustin is an Unesco World Heritage Site.

    View over San Agust��n
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    Santa Marta

    by MalenaN Written Oct 30, 2007

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    Santa Marta is a quite big city with over 400 000 inhabitants situated on the Caribbean coast. It is popular among Colombian tourists who come here for the beaches. Many of them are staying at the resorts in Rodadero in the south of Santa Marta.

    I didn’t stay in Santa Marta but in the nearby fishing village Taganga. But I visited Santa Marta many times to arrange the Ciudad Perdida trek, to withdraw money from the ATM, shop at one of the big supermarkets and to see some of the city. Places of interest to see are the Gold Museum, the Cathedral, Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino (the hacienda were Simón Bolívar died) and an aquarium. There is a beach promenade by the sea where it can be nice to take a stroll.

    The beach promenade in Santa Marta Plaza de la Catedral, Santa Marta Santa Marta Plaza de Bol��var, Santa Marta The Cathedral, Santa Marta
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    Bogotá - the capital of Colombia

    by MalenaN Written Nov 30, 2007

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    Bogotá is a big city with about 7.5 million inhabitants. It is situated at an altitude of almost 2600 metres which gives the city a quite cool climate with an average temperature throughout the year of 14 degrees. Sunny days the temperature can rise above 20 degrees. The most rainy months are April, May, October and November, but there can come showers all year round. When I visited it was August and the sky over Bogotá was mostly grey, but there was only a few light showers. Most of the time I used a sweater with long sleeves.

    The area around Bogotá was inhabited by the Muisca Indians when the Spaniards arrived. The Spaniards founded a town near the Muisca capital Bacatá in 1538 and this new town they called Santa Fe de Bogotá. Bogotá became the capital of the Viceroyalty of Nueva Granada in 1717 and after the independence it became the capital of Gran Colombia (before that the town had been referred to as Santa Fe).

    The old centre of Bogotá is Candelaria in the south where you will find many colourful colonial buildings, churches and museums. North of Avenida Jiménez is the commercial centre with shops, restaurants and offices. Further north Northern Bogotá is a modern district with shopping centres, the most expensive hotels and Zona Rosa with Bogotá’s best night life. In the east the city is bordered by a mountain range. Around the city there are also many shantytowns, especially to the south.

    View over Bogot�� from Colpatria Tower View over Bogot�� from Colpatria Tower The Cathedral, Bogot�� Plaza Bol��var, Bogot�� Avenida Jim��nez, Bogot��
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    Mompós - Santa Cruz de Mompox

    by MalenaN Written Jan 28, 2008

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    Mompós was founded in 1537 and is a small town that has kept much of its colonial character. Therefore it has been on UNESCOs World Heritage List since 1995. Mompós is situated by the Magdalena River, about 200 km southeast of Cartagena.

    Because of trade and travelling on the Magdalena River Mompós flourished and many churches and beautiful mansions were built in the town. But in the end of the 19th century the river were silting up and ships started to take the other branch of the river (Mompós is situated on a big island) and the towns glory came to an end.

    Mompós is said to be a very tranquil and laidback town, but I found it to be more noisy than I had expected. There were a lot of motorcycles and one afternoon they were playing loud music at Plaza de Bolívar. The street by the river is more quiet though than the parallel main street. It is not easy to go here but I would anyway recommend a visit.

    By Rio Magdalena, Mompox Magdalena River, Momp��s
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    Cartagena

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    Immortalized though admittedly not referred to directly by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in “Love in the time of Cholera,” Cartagena de Indias may not be immediately recognized by those who come expecting the dilapidated colonial architecture, colorful slave quarters, and rat-infested sewers of the author's time. But make no mistake, despite a restoration that would make the destroyed WWII countries of Europe proud, it manages to ooze at least some of the sensuality and still much of the vitality of Marquez's novel. As romantic as a less pristine vision of Cartagena may be, there is little denying just how gorgeous a city it has grown to be. It is heralded as the most beautiful in all of South America and it is easy to see why, with fairy tale balconied colonial gems strewn with bougainvilleas at every turn. It's no wonder it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    South America's most beautiful city
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    Bogotá

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    Bogotá. The most dangerous city in South America. The kidnapping capital of the world. Say what you like about the capital of Colombia but quiet and unassuming it is not. Reputations are funny things though and rarely are entities able to live up to them. This bodes well for what is otherwise one of the nicest of South American capitals and while perhaps not the very safest, certainly not more dangerous than many others. Can you walk around in the middle of the night irrespective of the neighborhood? No, but that could be said of any number of cities, big or small around the world. Is it a good idea to flash your wealth like a royal flush? No, everyone knows a player is always best keeping his cards to himself. Talking to strangers again? Didn't your mother warn you against exactly this very thing?

    Bogotá like all big cities, especially those in South America, requires a bit of caution but with some very basic common sense care, you can explore one of the continent's most fascinating capitals, one with an amazing mix of Old World and modern. Look no further than the big glossy buildings heralding Bogotá's arrival, screeching upwards from a plethora of colonial gems. Churches are particularly stellar in Colombia and Bogota has more than its share. World class museums at third world prices make an extended stay a pleasure. There are restaurants and bars to fit all price ranges as well as styles. Whether looking for something current and trendy or to immerse yourself in the bustle of “typical” South America, this is a city that provides amply. The people are friendly and helpful. A little Spanish goes a long way. Ask freely for directions but heed those more than a casual suggestions to not go further down a road you are walking on. Keep your guard up but don't let it keep you from interacting with the people that make up this great city. As a rule, South Americans are some of the most honest people in the world. Sure, there are some bad apples. You just need to sort them out and move onto the greener pastures that await you. For in Bogotá, there is much to be revealed and it's only in its exploration that it is possible.

    finally ready to shed its
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    Tayrona National Park's Magnificent Beaches

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    Rightfully one of Colombia's most popular destinations, Tayrona National Park is most closely associated with breathtaking coastal scenery but the park encompasses 12 hectares of land with some of it rain forest close to 1000 meters and lowlands of brown desert-like hills. Most who visit only see the park's hallmark beaches shaded by towering coconut palms and perhaps a brief climb to indigenous Tayrona ruins in the most accessible highlands so the misconception of the park is easy to understand. To be fair, these areas are more than enough to warrant a visit to this stunning piece of paradise and it is easy enough to get lost doing just that for a number of days.

    the pristine beaches of Tayrona NP
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    Villa de Leyva

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    Though no longer the hidden gem Colonial town of yore, Villa de Leyva remains not only one of Colombia's can't miss attractions but also one of its most charming if not totally unspoiled destinations. For the well-healed it has perhaps the greatest variety of eating/nightlife options outside of the big cities and one would be hard-pressed to not be impressed with its plethora of white-washed Colonial buildings set on seemingly endless cobblestone streets. With its proximity to Bogota it is no wonder it can be overrun on weekends with the capital's inhabitants looking for a piece of a rapidly disappearing simpler time but if you time your visit for mid-week, you should find the town every bit as charming if a bit more expensive than in its less glorified if more glorious past. However you slice it, Villa de Leyva awaits.

    stunning Villa de Leyva
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    the trek to La Ciudad Perdida

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    La Ciudad Perdida has not only a rich and lengthy history but a storied recent past as well. Though settlement in the vicinity dates back perhaps a far as the 7th century and the actual structures' construction to between the 11th and 14th, the “Lost City” was just that until the early 1970s when local grave-robbers happened upon the jungle-strewn ruins of the indigenous Tayrona people. The terraced structures that remain incredibly well-preserved even today were mere platforms on which the wooden thatched homes of the Tayrona were built.

    Even after its “discovery,” the area was far from settled and remained in a state of turmoil first with grave-robber gangs fighting over the spoils and then with cocaine cartels using the perfect growing conditions and inaccessibility to their best advantage. This was in great conflict with its tourist development and in the early years of this, a few intrepid travelers were taken hostage, thus propelling La Ciudad Perdida to backpacker mythic proportions. In a world where Machu Pichu was now all too easy to visit, this was a more esoteric jewel in the crown for those drawn to tramping on less trodden if dangerous grounds. As with all things to do with Colombia, information about such danger lagged far behind the steady progress away from it. La Ciudad has been host to many organized trekking groups since the millennium and now appears to be as safe a trek as any in South America. Of course, such organization takes from its illusive allure but it still has a few years before it is overrun like similar treks in Peru so enjoy it while it lasts.

    the lush jungle scenery en route to La Ciudad
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    Barichara

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    Colombia is blessed with a plethora of atmospheric colonial towns but none more stunningly gorgeous than quiet little Barichara . It has the same white-washed simple buildings with requisite wooden balconies and its share of beautiful old churches as you might find elsewhere but what sets it apart is its hilly topography. The vantage points gained by climbing a few hills make for great photographic opportunities. Add to that one of the most pleasant main squares found anywhere in South America and a few choice eateries and you have a recipe for a very satisfying step into the past. Those steps are not so hard of the feet either. Unlike colonial rival Villa de Leyva whose streets are made of large cobblestone, Barichara's empty streets are made of larger flat rocks that looks nearly as scenic but surely make strolling around the town that much more a joy.

    another colonial charmer: Barichara
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    El Cocuy National Park

    by richiecdisc Written Feb 12, 2011

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    Long off limit due to a high concentration of guerrilla occupation,El Cocuy National Park had a bit of a mystical cult reputation for those wanting to explore its considerable charms but standing on the outskirts of this forbidden land. Though only established as a national park in 1977, the vast and varied park of over 1000 square miles has been the draw of human awe much longer with 15 peaks over 5000 meters, the largest glaciated region in South America above the Equator, and a diverse species of flora and fauna befitting its varying terrain from over 5000 to 600 meters. Ironically, no sooner did it gain national park status and visitation became impossible due to the aforementioned occupation.

    Of course, places of such incredible beauty will gain notoriety no matter how remote and difficult to visit. Perhaps its inaccessibility is what helps create such strong desire in the first place but make no mistake, it is very much deserving of such a pilgrimage. While the lower plains of the eastern side of the park remain largely unvisited, the stunning mountainous area to its west is becoming increasingly popular due to its relative accessibility. This is partly due to a remaining questionable danger of guerrilla activity in the plains but also because of a lack of any infrastructure to make it a reasonably venture. Rangers say this is perhaps the most important part of the park ecologically with much of the flora and fauna the park is protected for so perhaps this isolation is a good thing.

    El Cocuy is full of stunning vistas like this
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