Colombia is South America’s second most populated country, and without a doubt, a true hidden gem – it is only in more recent years that the country has emerged from its dark shadow. Sophie from the Online Marketing team has just returned from a week experiencing our ‘Contrasts of Colombia’ itinerary. Here are her 6 reasons Colombia should be on your travel wish list:
Bogota, Colombia’s vibrant capital and first stop on our trip, transpired to be full of fascinating museums. Whether you are a lover of history, science, art or gold (don’t miss its famous gold museum, displaying the biggest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work), you’ll find hidden away amongst the capital’s skyscrapers, churches and plazas astounding collections which provide a relaxing way to leisurely introduce you to the country.
For our customers, a journey up the mountain of Monserrate via cable car provides a great opportunity to gather your bearings amongst this vast city and give a real sense of scale – the views are unbeatable!
Zipaquira’s underground Salt Cathedral
Sitting 500 feet below the ground, Zipaquira’s underground Salt Cathedral is the centrepiece of a mine that has been active since 5th Century B.C. and today workers still excavate salt in sections above and below the cathedral. We discovered the magnificent corridors with niches displaying religious images cut in the saline rock. The actual Cathedral is a three-nave building, and its scale and proportions complimented by the internal lighting are overwhelming – it really is one of the most unique cathedrals in the world.
Famous for its coffee, it seemed fitting to not only sample some of the world’s best coffee, but also get involved in learning about the fascinating process of coffee production from grain to cup, and all this within the grounds of our hotel’s private coffee plantation, located in Pereira. The journey to Pereira was exciting, with only a road, a few houses and breath-taking jungle vistas.
It is extremely humbling to experience the incredibly manual labour involved in the coffee making process and for such small wages.
Nature at its best
‘The Heart of Colombia’, Salento, and the Cocora Valley really did showcase everything I loved about the country as a whole – pristine valleys and abundant wildlife. We discovered all about the palma de cera (wax palm), the largest palm in the world, and Colombia’s national tree. Here our customers can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the picturesque misty green hills, a perfect opportunity to relax and soak up the striking landscapes!
Yet we didn’t even have to venture far to get up and close to the wildlife, with our hotel grounds providing some fantastic bird watching opportunities, including a very mischievous Toucan!
The pretty and quaint towns of Villa de Leyva and Barichara showed me a side to Colombia that will really stay with me – the friendliness of its people. These undiscovered, sleepy towns, unspoiled by modern progress and seemingly stuck in the 16th-century were fascinating places to step back in time and pace.
Getting in the Colombian spirit, it was here that we learnt no visit to this country is complete without a game of Tejo – Colombia’s national sport. Players throw rocks onto a target board containing explosive wrapped paper, a very noisy experience when your shot is on target, but great fun and a must-do experience!
We ended our whirlwind tour of Colombia in a place that has it all – colourful Cartagena! This colonial preserved old walled city and UNESCO World Heritage Site has a laidback back ambience in the day, where you can explore the cobblestoned streets and historic buildings at a gentle pace, and by night, the town comes to life with authentic salsa joints and of course, the Cha-Cha-Cha!
My lasting impression of Colombia is that nicely summed up with the notion of contrasts. My departing thoughts differ so much to that of when I first landed. This is a country that really has it all – history, culture, wildlife, beautiful scenery and welcoming people.
Why not discover for yourself the ‘Contrasts of Colombia’.