One of the first things you notice on arriving in Colombia is the sense of vitality that pulses throughout the country.
The people are happy. Music plays in the streets. There is an energy that can be felt everywhere, from the sparkling coastline to the lush jungles, the bustling cities to the charming villages.
It’s a vibe the locals call ‘sabrosura’, a term that doesn’t directly translate but evokes the liveliness, passion and joy that is in the air in Colombia. The whole country is positively bursting with sabrosura – and it won’t take you long to be seduced by it.
In fact, spend more than a couple of days in Colombia and you’re likely to fall madly and deeply in love with this beautiful land. Here are five of the reasons why:
01- COLOMBIANS ARE SOME OF THE NICEST PEOPLE YOU WILL EVER MEET.
In Colombia, the kindness of the locals radiates from within and cannot be contained. They welcome visitors with open arms because they delight in meeting new people, they love their country and are thrilled to have the chance to share it. It’s not uncommon to have people shout out “Welcome to Colombia” or “Have a good time!” as they drive past you in the street. It’s deeply important to them that you have a good experience, see the best things and eat the most delicious food. And they’re always happy to share their insider tips on the best places to go.
02 – IT HAS UNDERGONE A RENAISSANCE IN RECENT YEARS
Colombia’s chequered history stopped it from becoming a popular tourist spot for many years, but that has all changed. Now that the domestic conflict that crippled the country for decades has officially ended, it’s opened the door to a new era for Colombia. It’s safer and easier to get around than ever before, and many of the cities have gone through a dramatic rebirth in the last few years. Most notable is the transformation of Medellín, which has completely changed in recent decades. It was declared “the most innovative city in the world” by the Urban Land Institute in 2013 and is now filled with modern plazas, contemporary artworks, an impressive botanical garden and a metro rail system that has been rated as one of the best in the world. It’s buzzing with young people and entrepreneurs, and has become a major draw for both domestic and international students.
03 – THE LOCALS KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN
If you like music, dancing, laughing and generally having a good time, then Colombia is most certainly the place for you. Music is everywhere, everyone loves to laugh and it doesn’t take much to get hips swaying to the beat. One of the best places to head is the southern city of Cali where salsa dancing is particularly popular – although, have a quick nap before heading out to the clubs, because these parties can go all night long. Also, try to catch the Barranquilla Carnival (which takes place 40 days before Holy Week) if you can. It’s four crazy and wonderful days of parties that many say is as good, or even better, than the Carnivale festivities in neighbouring Brazil.
04 – THE NATURE IS NEXT LEVEL
To say that Colombia is a pretty country would be a dramatic understatement, as it contains some of the most breathtaking and diverse natural environments in the world. A large section of the land is covered with lush Amazon rainforest but it’s the coastal areas that are particularly exciting. The coral barrier reef located near the San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina Islands northeast of Cartagena, is one of the largest in the world and offers crystal clear turquoise green water, as well as a wide variety of marine flora and fauna. Plus this area is home to the famous Blue Wall, which is a must for experienced divers. If you prefer to stay above water, take a boat trip off the Pacific Coast during July and December for a glimpse of the humpback whales that congregate in this area and you might be lucky enough to see hundreds of these majestic creatures swimming in their natural habitat. It’s also worth making time to explore the relatively untouched Tayrona National Park, in the north of the country, as its coastal landscape, complete with bouncy palm trees and scenic beaches, is the stuff of dreams.
05 – IT HAS YOU COVERED FOR ADVENTURE
Travellers looking for something really unique should head to the natural phenomenon that is Caño Cristales, which is a bit off the beaten path but worth the effort. This stunning river in the Serranía de la Macarena National Park is often referred to as the “river of five colours” because it transforms into a spectacular array of yellow, blue, green, red and black hues during June and November. Similarly breathtaking is the Tatacoa Desert in central Colombia, a breathtaking section of arid landscape that is the perfect place for hiking, bike riding and stargazing. Finally, the Serranía de Chiribiquete mountain ranges in the northwest is the largest protected area in the country and one of the most untouched sections of wilderness in the world. Recently declared a UNESCO world heritage site, it features incredible giant rock formations and rock paintings that go back 20,000 years, and is largely closed to tourists – but you can book a flying tour with a specialist operator for a glimpse of this magical landscape from above.