First Time Tips for Visiting Colombia

First Time Tips for Visiting Colombia

Written By: Bandit

Colombia has had its fair share of unpleasant word associations -- of course, the most being related to crime and drugs. While the country certainly has a past, there is so much more to Colombia than violence and drug trafficking and now that the reputation is cleaning up a bit, more and more people are visiting the country. Like many other countries in South America, Colombia is diverse and full of amazing sites to see. The locals are friendly and welcoming and the culture is evident everywhere you look -- whether you’re taking a solo trip or you’re going with friends, Colombia is welcoming tourists and creating a memorable experience for anyone visit.

As one of my favorite places to visit, I wanted to provide some tips for visiting Colombia especially because of the vast range in temperature and topography that could catch first-time travelers off guard by the changing conditions. Here are some of the basics and tips for those who haven’t heard or researched much about this country.

There is a vast amount of landscape in this country and it really contains nearly every topography that you could imagine. Attached to Panama, Colombia spans from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea and features lush rain forests from the Amazon to the impressive Andes Mountain range and even deserts. Many have said that Colombia contains all of the topography found in South America, and the somewhat manageable size of the country means that you can visit it easily within a bus ride. The topography and climate also means that there are so many different animals, which makes it a truly interesting destination for those who love the outdoors and hiking.

Visitors to Colombia who prefer to stay near the cities, particularly Bogota, also have countless amenities and points of interest to see that are filled with historic and cultural charm. Colombia is also one of the more affordable countries to visit in South America, but that doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in quality. While it’s not considered the least expensive to visit, it’s perfect for those who have a limited budget and there are countless airlines flying to the country for affordable fares. Accommodations throughout the country are also plentiful, ranging from higher end hotels and resorts to hostels, which appeals to all travelers.

As you can see from looking at a map, Colombia has a vast amount of space but much of it is covered by the Amazon rainforest and therefore hard to access. Most of the points of interest and historical destinations are located closer to the coast, as well as Bogota, which sits nearly in the center of the country before it becomes covered by rainforests. Some other areas to visit include Salento, Cartagena and Santa Marta. These last two cities are historic and full of colonial charm, so being the history geek that I am, I had a good time exploring the destinations before heading back to Bogota.

If you want to take advantage of the proximity to Panama you will need to access that country either by boat or airplane as there is no access by land – well, safely anyway. The area that separates Colombia from Panama has been rumored to be filled with wild animals and also smugglers so, as a tourist, your best bet is to stay away from the border.

Those flying into the country will typically go to Bogota as most of the airlines servicing Colombia connect with other international cities, including Fort Lauderdale and Madrid. All of Colombia’s cities offer something unique whether it’s going to a coastal town for scuba diving or visiting a national park to do some hiking, or just staying around Bogota so that you can enjoy shopping, cultural attractions like museums and dining -- Colombia offers everything to travelers looking for a unique and interesting place to stay.

When I visited Cartagena, a local recommended that I visit a mud volcano that allows for swimming. Once I got there I noticed that there were a lot of other touristy type people, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the experience, which if you’re in the area, I think trying at least once is fun. For the remainder of my trip in Colombia I stayed close to the ocean on the Caribbean side and just took in the gorgeous beach landscape and quiet ambience, which was the perfect ending to a busy and eventful experience!

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Countries: Colombia
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