The year 2018 will be an exciting year for Colombia’s tourism industry. This is because North Americans and Europeans alike are realizing just what wonders Colombia has to offer. In fact, Colombia saw a nearly 25 percent increase in foreign travel in 2017, making it one of the top five tourist destinations for growth last year. This year is likely to bring even more of an increase, as Colombia becomes less and less of a well-kept secret. This country is home to biodiverse rainforests, gorgeous beaches that have yet to be overly commercialized and museums full of pre-Columbian artifacts and gold. There’s a little something for everyone in this small piece of paradise. If you are considering a trip there, here are some of the things you should be sure and check out.
Tayrona National Natural Park
Located in northern Colombia, this park is a large protected area that covers the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is located right where they meet the Caribbean coast, so the site features both gorgeous mountain trails and a beach with warm, sparkling blue water and white sand. Within the park, you’ll find coastal lagoons, coves and even archeological ruins within the rainforest. While Colombia does offer a little something for everyone, you might find it all in just this one park. Just don’t let it stop you from exploring the other areas of the country.
For the beachy side of things, head to Colombia’s San Andres, an island on the Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Nicaragua. There, you’ll find coral reefs that make for a perfect snorkeling environment, and lots of reggae music. You’ll also find coconut groves and white sand beaches, along with Old Point Regional Mangrove Park, complete with both mangroves and lots of wildlife to see and learn about.
El Peñón de Guatapé
Aka, The Rock of Guatapé, or the Stone of El Peñol. It even goes by the name La Piedra or El Peñol. Whichever name you choose to call it, the landmark itself is worth a visit. It is a ten-million-ton rock that was once worshipped by the Tahamies, and indigenous Colombian tribe. The stone rises over 650 feet out of the ground and features a gigantic staircase to the top. Once there, you can see a gorgeous panoramic view of islands out over the water. There is a three-story lookout tower that makes this view even better.
Bogota’s Gold Museum
No trip to Colombia is complete without a visit to Bogota, and then without a visit to Bogota’s famous Gold Museum (Museo del Oro). This is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the country, thanks to its collection of pre-Columbian gold and ancient relics. Don’t miss out on the private tours that go through this museum. It’s worth it to go with a guide and learn all about the massive collection of metallurgy from pre-Spanish times. It’s part of learning about Colombia’s extensive history and culture, and it is one of the largest and most important collections of such artifacts in the entire world.
The Islas del Rosario make up an archipelago located off of Colombia’s coast, just outside of Cartagena. It is made up of about 27 small coral islands and tiny islets. The area is considered one of Colombia’s famed national parks, and it is all surrounded by coral reefs. The two largest islands, Isla Grande and Isla del Rosario, offer plenty of water sport activities, as well as hotels and a resort, so you could potentially spend a few nights here if you’d like. If not, you can always take a day trip from Cartagena to enjoy what the islands have to offer.
Monserrate is a mountain located in the center of the city of Bogota, Colombia’s capital city. It is a pilgrimage site that can be reached after about a two-mile hike up the mountain. There is a shrine and basilica at the top, as well as a full view of the city of Bogota. Also, at the top of the mountain are the Stations of the Cross, which feature stone depictions of Jesus’ walk to crucifixion.
The Ciudad Perdida, “Lost City” in English, is Colombia’s archaeological site of an ancient city in the Sierra Nevada. It is believed to be about 650 years older than Machu Picchu. The hike to the city and back takes about six days and is a little over 26 miles. It’s a tough hike, but well worth it in the end, where you get to look at ancient ruins of a lost city.