Colombia: A Backpacker’s Paradise

For those who love the outdoors, Colombia is a paradise. There are mountains, hiking trails, and ruins to explore at every corner. Gone are the days where backpacking was thought to be dangerous in this country. It is now becoming one of the most worthwhile trips an outdoor enthusiast can take. Here is a list of some of the best places to go if you want to explore.

Trek to the Lost City

Unlike the Inca Trail in Peru, the trek to Colombia’s Lost City, Ciudad Perdida, is still relatively unknown. While it won’t remain this way for long, part of what makes it such a wonderful 5-6-day journey is its lack of a crowd of tourists. The five-day hike leads to the ruins of an ancient pre-Columbian mountaintop city known as Teyuna (which is more commonly referred to today as Ciudad Perdida).

The trail has different stops at lodges that offer mosquito net hammocks for sleeping outdoors, and swimming areas in the rivers for refreshing dips when it gets to be too hot. The jungle is home to monkeys and different bird species, whose sounds and energy you’ll enjoy all around you.

The Lost City itself is a terraced ruin atop a mountain in a remote location within the jungle. It is often compared to Machu Picchu, although not as large and mysterious. It is still considered a sacred area for the local indigenous tribes, who you’d likely cross paths with during this journey.


Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Minca is a village nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and it’s known for its picturesque waterfalls and river. The most well-known of the falls are the Pozo Azul. Pozo means well or waterhole in Spanish, and that’s exactly what you get when you visit these falls. They make up a series of small waterfalls that gather into waterholes for excellent swimming and scenery. You can hike uphill in the heat to get to the area and cool off, or you can take a taxi to the top and then walk back down (most people’s preferred method).

Minca itself is full of hostels and places to eat for those looking for an extended stay in the nature-soaked area. When visiting the Pozo Azul, however, remember that you would be in an area of strictly nature, and there wouldn’t be any place to change clothes or space for privacy. That just goes with the territory. Best to do any preparation you’d need to do in the village before or after your visit to the falls.

Hike to the Cocora Valley from Salento

Salento is home to Colombia’s coffee-growing region, where you can explore some of the organic coffee-growing farms. In Salento, you can take tours of the coffee farms and learn all about coffee growing and the roasting process.

You can start your hike to Cocora Valley on a path that runs along a stream and leads you across old swing bridges and through cloud forests. There’s even a hummingbird sanctuary along the way! When you finally reach the valley, you’ll be greeted by bizarrely tall palm trees – the tallest in the world! These are called the Quindío Palm Trees, named after the region. They can grow to nearly 200 feet in height and have become increasingly rare, and this is the best place to go and see them.

Leticia: Colombia’s Gateway to the Amazon RainforestConsumer Resource Guide

Finally, a backpacking trip through Colombia wouldn’t be complete without some time spent in the Amazon Jungle. Leticia is a jungle town located at Colombia’s southernmost tip. It’s nestled on the banks of the Amazon Jungle, and it’s the only place from which you can visit the Amazon as a tourist. You don’t want to traipse into the unknown wild in other parts of the country, so if you really want to visit the Amazon, it’s from here that you’ll have to do it. It’s about a two-hour flight south from Bogota, and completely worth it.

From Leticia, you can book 4-day hiking adventures through the Amazon, where you can spot all sorts of jungle wildlife. You can also travel along the river by boat. Just keep in mind that the jungle does experience random torrential downpours and also requires a heavy application (and frequent re-application) of insect repellent, thanks to all of those mosquitos. A trek through the Amazon isn’t for the faint of heart. Expect to get rained on, to come across all sorts of insects, and to trudge through plenty of mud and vegetation. Still…it’s the Amazon! It’s supposed to be a great adventure.


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Photo Credit: poirpom via Flickr