5 best experiences in Colombia
Colombia has it all: mountains, deserts, beach, cities and different types of weather.
The people are the nicest I’ve ever met, proud of their country and thankful that you’re visiting it. They want you to have a great time and they’ll make sure you feel comfortable in their country.
I admit that I didn't have Colombia high on my list because other countries attracted me more and I was a little skeptic about the safety of the country.
These last few years some friends visited Colombia and came back with the greatest stories and amazing pictures.
The truth is I didn’t know enough about the country except the dangerous narcos stories from 15 years ago.
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Due to Covid our world trip made an interesting detour to South America and we decided to explore Colombia.
From the moment we arrived in Bogota airport everything felt right. Me and my boyfriend felt the kindness straight away.
We traveled 4,5 weeks through Colombia and there were some places and experiences that captured our heart.
We visited Bogota, Salento, Medellin, Guatape, Minca, Tayrona, Palomino and Cartagena.
In this blog I share my top 5 best experiences in Colombia. I hope to inspire you and make your trip in Colombia more special.
Salento was our second stop after Bogota and we liked it so much that after 10 minutes upon our arrival we added one more day to our stay.
Salento is a nice colorful village where everybody lives their life in peace. There is so much to do there and if you stay at a relaxing hostel like Coffee Tree Boutique hostel then you want to stay longer.
From Salento you can take a taxi jeep to Cocora Valley. A very impressive valley with thousands of palm trees. Once it was a forest but farmers needed the land for cattle so they cut down all the trees except the palm trees because it looked nice and it wasn’t harmful to the cattle. Little did they know that years later people would be impressed by the view and were willing to travel to visit the place.
Cocora Valley is extremely beautiful and when we were there we decided to go by horse. For my boyfriend Raymond it was a big highlight because it was his first time on a horse and he absolutely loved it.
When you’re there it’s hard to believe that a valley with so many palm trees is your view. It’s so unique.
In Salento we did a coffee tour that felt so complete. The hike to the coffee farm was so nice. The countryside in Colombia is quite something.
When I read that Casas Viejas didn’t have wifi or connection in general I knew I wanted to go there. In a world that you’re always connected to your phone or the outside world this sounded like the perfect getaway for a digital detox.
It was during this stay in Casas Viejas that my mind came to rest and I got very inspired with what I want to do in life. I took the time to read, write, rest and enjoy the nature around me.
The rooms are so beautiful and you have to go outside to your balcony to go to the bathroom.
Next to that the hotel has one of the nicest pools I’ve ever been in. Why? It’s size, not very deep, many places to sit and of course the view over the jungle is just amazing.
You don’t have much around Casas Viejas except waterfalls and nature. You are in the jungle so don’t expect restaurants nearby. They offer lunch and dinners every day for a very reasonable price.
Next to that they offer hikes, night tours, yoga classes, massages and horse riding.
I could have stayed a week here and not get bored.
3. Have a picnic with dogs from the shelter in Palomino
I love dogs and when I heard about this initiative of a shelter in Palomino (Palomino animal soul) to earn money to help the dogs I knew I wanted to participate.
Through AirBnb I booked a picnic for $25 a person and the money goes to the shelter. With that money they buy food, pay for vaccinations and surgeries.
It was such a lovely experience. With 10 dogs and some volunteers you walk along the coast to a river where the dogs and you can swim and play around.
The picnic was very healthy and homemade. Karina was lovely and shared the stories of the dogs. Many were victims of street fights, car accidents and violence.
The effort and patience that Karina gives to the dogs is so impressive. I really admire her skills and determination. It’s so incredible to see how sweet and safe the dogs feel together knowing what they’ve been through.
After the picnic I asked if I could visit the shelter and I did. Everything looked so well organized and you can really see with your own eyes how much work Karina puts into it. It’s her life.
If you like dogs and want to experience something different by helping animals, I highly recommend this experience at Palomino Animal Soul. For me it was one of my highlights in Colombia because it’s such a good initiative and creative way of helping.
4. Visit Tayrona National Park
After Minca we went to Tayrona. You can also camp in the park but because of covid we decided not to.
We were very lucky because when we got to Tayrona the National Park opened its doors the next day after being closed for months.
We went early because we knew it was going to be quite a hike. You have so many different views, it was so beautiful.
Our goal was to hike to Cabo San Juan and walk back with a few stops in the middle.
So much diversity in the park. The landscapes change every five minutes from water to palm trees, jungle, rocks and coast.
We really enjoyed the hike and we admit that we were very tired when we got back because it was intense with the heat and the distance.
I understand the choice to camp in the park so you can take it slow but it is possible to do it one day too.
5. Learn more about Comuna 13 in Medellin
We’ve heard so much about Medellin and I didn’t know what to expect. One thing I did know for sure and that is that I wanted to visit Comuna 13 in Medellin.
Fifteen years ago, we would never have been able to set foot in Comuna 13. Even for locals, this was a neighbourhood you avoided.
It’s incredible how the neighborhood has been lifted up the past 10 years.
We booked our graffiti tour with Visit Medellin and we had such an amazing guide. He was a local and we met his grandmother and had a drink at his aunt's restaurant.
We met his english teacher and you could tell that the guy was very loved in the community.
It was such a great experience.
We also really enjoyed the city of Medellin. We felt safe and some neighborhoods were very modern with great restaurants.