10 Exciting Things To Do In Colombia

10. Find Your Own Cove in Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park Colombia South America (15)

Spend the night in a hammock and go exploring along the beautiful coast line.

The Tayrona National Natural Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona) is a protected area in the Colombian northern Caribbean region and within the jurisdiction of the Department of Magdalena and 34 kilometres (21 mi) from the city of Santa Marta. The park presents a biodiversity endemic to the area of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range presenting a variety of climates (mountain climate) and geography that ranges from arid sea level to 900 meters above sea level. The park covers approximately 30 square kilometres (12 sq mi) of maritime area in the Caribbean sea and approximately 150 square kilometres (58 sq mi) of land.

It was the second most visited national park in Colombia in 2012, with 293,502 visitors. The most visited park was the Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park.[1]

The park has an area of 150 square kilometers. It is located in the jurisdiction of the Santa Marta municipality, in the Department of Magdalena, alonged the north coast of Colombia that borders on the Caribbean Sea.

9. Get Outdoorsy at San Gil

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In 2004, San Gil was named the tourist capital of the region.[5][6] The area offers several outdoor activity opportunities, such as rafting (grade 1-5), kayaking, hiking, and caving.[7] Local companies offer rafting packages through various rivers depending on skill level. “Parque el Gallineral” is a popular destination with its characteristic moss-covered trees resembling beards. It has a small entrance fee. The park has a number of paths running through its 10-acre area and by the city’s main river, “Rio Fonce”.[8] The park’s name comes from the 1867 characteristic “gallinero” trees planted throughout the whole area. San Gil’s main square is called “Parque la Libertad” (Liberty Park), which is the most common meeting place in the town and a hub for night life. The town’s main cathedral, built in 1791 and remodeled in 1965, is located in this area. “Parque Nacional del Chicamocha” (Chicamocha National Park or PANACHI) is another Eco-tourist park located roughly 1 hour away from San Gil, placed on a scenic spot in the Chicamocha Canyon. The park has a museum, hiking trails, rafting, paragliding and other outdoor activities. It also has a 6.3 km (3.91 mi) long cable car, one of the longest in the world in its category,[9] offering a ride across the canyon and into the plateau called “Mesa de los Santos”. Barichara, a small colonial town roughly 20 minutes away from San Gil, is another popular destination. Situated at the rim of the Chicamocha Canyon, it offers a scenic view across the canyon and the Suarez River. It is known as “one of the prettiest towns in the whole nation” due to its well preserved colonial architecture and stone streets.[10]

8. Go Paragliding at Cañón del Chichamocha

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I’m adding this separately in case you missed it up above.  It’s definitely a must-do activity!

The Chicamocha Canyon (chee-kah-mow-cha) is a steep sided canyon carved by the Chicamocha River. This river flows through the departments of Boyaca and Santander, where it reaches its maximum depth near the outskirts of Bucaramanga.

The canyon is the result of the erosion caused by water. It created deep cliffs on both sides. The Chicamocha Canyon begins near the town of Soata in the Department of Boyaca and flows mainly through the Department of Santander, extending all the way to the municipality of Lebrija. This geographic feature was caused by the movement of tectonic plates that extend from the Chicamocha canyon to other regions such as Bucaramanga.

The canyon extends over 108,000 acres and 2000 meters in depth. The canyon was formed about 46 million years ago. On this territory many million years ago, there was a lake that hosted many marine animals whose remains have been found. The canyon is currently administered by Chicamocha National Park.

In 2009, the canyon was nominated as one of the 7 natural wonders contest.[1]

The name Chicamocha in the Chibcha language of the Muisca means “silver-plated son, under the moon on the mountain range”.[2]

7. Explore Old Town Cartagena

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Pro Tip: Walk the Wall Along the Old Town border

The Downtown area of Cartagena has varied architecture, mainly a colonial style, but republican and Italian style buildings, such as the Cathedral’s bell tower, can be seen.

The official entrance to downtown Puerta del Reloj (Clock Gate), which comes out onto Plaza de los Coches (Square of the Carriages). A few steps farther is the Plaza de la Aduana (Customs Square), next to the mayor’s office. Nearby is San Pedro Claver Square and the church also named for Saint Peter Claver, where the body of the Jesuit saint (‘Saint of the African slaves’) is kept in a casket, as well as the Museum of Modern Art.

Nearby is the Plaza de Bolívar (Bolívar’s Square) and the Palace of Inquisition. Plaza de Bolívar (formerly known as Plaza de La Inquisicion) is essentially a small park with a statue of Simón Bolívar in the center. This plaza is surrounded by balconied colonial buildings. Shaded outdoor cafes line the street. The Office of Historical Archives devoted to Cartagena’s history is not far away. Next to the archives is the Government Palace, the office building of the Governor of the Department of Bolivar. Across from the palace is the Cathedral of Cartagena, which dates back to the 16th century.

Another religious building of significance is the restored Santo Domingo Church in front of Plaza Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Square). In the square is the sculpture Mujer Reclinada (“Reclining Woman”), a gift from the notable Colombian artist Fernando Botero. Nearby is the Tcherassi Hotel, a 250-year-old colonial mansion renovated by designer Silvia Tcherassi.

In the city is the Augustinian Fathers Convent and the University of Cartagena. This university is a center of higher education opened to the public in the late 19th century. The Claustro de Santa Teresa (Saint Theresa Cloister), which has been remodeled and has become a hotel operated by Charleston Hotels. It has its own square, protected by the San Francisco Bastion.

A 20-minute walk from downtown is the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, located in el Pie de la Popa (another neighborhood), the greatest fortress ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies. The tunnels were all constructed in such a way as to make it possible to hear footsteps of an approaching enemy. Some of the tunnels are open for viewing today.

6. Go Salsa Dancing in Cali

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Santiago de Cali (Spanish pronunciation: [sanˈtjaɣo ðe ˈkali]), usually known by its short name “Cali“, is the capital of the Valle del Cauca department, and the most populous city in southwest Colombia, with an estimated 2,319,655 residents according to 2005-2020/DANE population projections.[2] The city spans 560.3 km2 (216.3 sq mi) with 120.9 km2 (46.7 sq mi) of urban area,[3] making Cali the third-largest city proper and metropolitan area in population and the second-largest city by area in the country. As the only major Colombian city with access to the Pacific Coast, Cali is the main urban and economic centre in southwest Colombia, and has one of the fastest-growing economies in the country.[4][5][6] The city was founded on 25 July 1536 by the Spanish conquistador Sebastián de Belalcázar.

Cali is also a centre for sports in Colombia, and is the only Colombian city to have hosted the Pan American Games (in 1971). Cali hosted the 1992 World Wrestling Championships, the ninth edition of the World Games in 2013, the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in 2014 and the World Youth Championships in Athletics in 2015.

It has been named by renown salsa singers “The World Capital of Salsa” with reference to its different schools for the musical genre—often producing world champion dancers—and the exclusive venues for dancing at its fair, held 25th to 30 December; factors which have given the city its strong musical identity.

5. Climb Vulcan Azufral

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Azufral is a volcano located in the department of Nariño in southern Colombia, 12 km (7 mi) west of the town of Túquerres. Its name derives from the Spanish word for sulfur, azufre. The volcano is considered semi-dormant but there are numerous fumaroles in the summit crater. The summit of the volcano has an altitude of 4,070 metres[1] and the north-western side of the crater contains a crescent-shaped lake named lago Verde (English: Green Lake) at 3,970 m (13,025 ft). The lake is 1,100 m (3,600 ft) long and 600 metres wide[2] and its bright green color is a result of the sulfur and iron-based deposits in the crater. There are also two other much smaller lakes in the crater, Laguna Negra (English: Black Lake) and Laguna Cristal (English: Crystal Lake).

The volcano lies within a nature reserve, the Reserva Natural del Azufral, created in 1990.[2] The reserve covers an area of 5,800 hectares (58 km2) and is free of charge to enter. As Azufral is semi-dormant there are no restrictions on ascending the volcano and visiting the Laguna Verde: there is a road that climbs to within 1.5 kilometers (1 mi) from the summit, and the remaining distance can be covered on foot via a trail.

4. Marvel at the Progress of Medellín

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In February 2013, the Urban Land Institute chose Medellín as the most innovative city in the world due to its recent advances in politics, education and social development.[8] In the same year, Medellín was announced as the preferred corporate business destination in South America, and won the Verónica Rudge Urbanism Award conferred by Harvard University to the Urban Development Enterprise, mainly due to the North-Western Integral Development Project in the city.[9] In September 2013, the United Nations ratified Colombia’s petition to host UN-Habitat’s 7th World Urban Forum[10] in Medellín, from April 5–11, 2014.[11]

Medellín (Spanish pronunciation: [meðeˈʝin]), officially the Municipality of Medellín (Spanish: Municipio de Medellín), is the second-largest city in Colombia and the capital of the department of Antioquia. It is located in the Aburrá Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America. According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics, the city has an estimated population of 2.44 million as of 2014.[1]With its surrounding area that includes nine other cities, the metropolitan area of Medellín is the second-largest urban agglomeration in Colombia in terms of population and economy, with more than 3.7 million people.

In 1616 the Spaniard Francisco Herrera Campuzano erected a small indigenous village (“poblado“) known as “Saint Lawrence of Aburrá” (San Lorenzo de Aburrá), located in the present-day El Poblado commune. On 2 November 1675, the queen consort Mariana of Austria founded the “Town of Our Lady of Candelaria of Medellín” (Villa de Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria de Medellín) in the Aná region, which today corresponds to the center of the city (east-central zone) and first describes the region as “Medellín”. In 1826, the city was named the capital of the Department of Antioquia by the National Congress of the nascentRepublic of Gran Colombia, comprised by present-day Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Panama. After Colombia won its independence from Spain, Medellín became the capital of the Federal State of Antioquia until 1888, with the proclamation of the Colombian Constitution of 1886. During the 19th century, Medellín was a dynamic commercial center, first exporting gold, then producing and exporting coffee.

As home of the now defunct Medellín Cartel, the city was once known as the most violent city in the world.[3] However, its homicide rate has decreased by 95% and extreme poverty by 66%, thanks in part to a string of innovative mayors who laid out plans to integrate the poorest and most violent hillside neighborhoods into the city center in the valley below. Medellín is now considered safer than the US cities of Baltimore, St. Louis, Detroit and New Orleans, which appear in the CCSPJP’s top 50 list.[4]

3. Go Kitesurfing at Lago Calima

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Thanks to the strong and constant winds, Calima Lake is the best place in Colombia for all types of water and extreme sports. At certain points, the wind can reach up to +30 knots. Kitesurfing is one of the most popular sports, since the wind is frequent and strong all year long. There are different kite spots and schools one next to the other that make this place one of the most desired spots in Colombia for the kiters.Windsurfing is also practised. Additionally, the most recent event is the Triathlon.

Different types of kitesurf and windsurf contests take place in this lake during the whole year, where people from different countries also participate.

Since this large lake remains warm throughout the year, there´s no need of wetsuit generally.

Calima Lake (Spanish: Lago Calima) is the largest artificial lake in Colombia with an area of 70 km2. It is located in the municipality of Darién in the Valle del Cauca Department.

The lake is part of a hydroelectric project for generating power for the department. C.V.C (Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca) started construction of the lake by 1961.

Calima Lake has become a place for water sports and leisure activities. Vacation centers, restaurants and camping zones were built near the lake, and is currently a popular place frequented by both national and international tourists, especially those from nearby cities and towns like Cali and Buga. The elevation of the lake is 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) above sea level.

2. Embrace the Culture of Bogotá

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Important landmarks and tourist stops in Bogotá include the botanical garden José Celestino Mutis, La Quinta de Bolivar, the national observatory, the planetarium, Maloka, the Colpatria observation point, the observation point of La Calera, the monument of the American flags, and La Candelaria (the historical district of the city). There is also Usaquen, a colonial landmark where brunch and flea market on Sundays is a traditional activity. The city has numerous green parks and amusement parks like Salitre Magico or Mundo Aventura.

Green areas surrounding Bogota are perfect locations for eco-tourism and hiking activities, in the eastern mountains of the city, just a few minutes walking from main roads, there are Quebrada La vieja and Chapinero Waterfalls, two of many green spots for sightseeing and tourism with clean air.[42][43]

There are also several areas of the city where fine restaurants can be found. The G Zone, the T Zone and La Macarena are well known for their gastronomic offerings.[44]

Bogotá has 20 localities, or districts, forming an extensive network of neighborhoods. Areas of higher economic status tend to be located to the north and northeast, close to the foothills of the Eastern Cordillera. Poorer neighborhoods are located to the south and southeast, many of them squatter areas. The middle classes usually inhabit the central, western and northwestern sections of the city.[citation needed]

The urban layout in the center of the city is based on the focal point of a square or plaza, typical of Spanish-founded settlements, but the layout gradually becomes more modern in outlying neighborhoods. The current types of roads are classified as calles (streets), which run perpendicular to the Cordillera, with street numbers increasing towards the north, and also towards the south (with the suffix “Sur”) from Calle 0. Carreras run parallel to the hills, with numbering increasing as one travels east or west of Carrera 1 (with the suffix “Este” for roads east of Carrera 0). At the southeast of the city, the addresses are logically sur-este. Other types of roads more common in newer parts of the city may be termed Eje (Axis), Diagonal or Transversal. The numbering system for street addresses recently changed, and numbers are assigned according to street rank from main avenues to smaller avenues and local streets.

1. Hunt Down Clues of El Dorado at Lake Guatavita

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Lake Guatavita (Spanish: Laguna de Guatavita or Lago Guatavita) is located in the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes in the municipality of Sesquilé, in the Almeidas Province, Cundinamarca department ofColombia, 57 kilometres (35 mi) north-east of Bogotá, capital of Colombia.

The lake is circular and has a surface area of 19.8 hectares. The earlier theories of the crater’s origin being a meteorite impact, volcanic cinder, or limestone sinkhole are now discredited. The most likely explanation is that it resulted from the dissolution of underground salt deposits from an anticline,[3] resulting in a kind of sinkhole.

There are hot springs nearby in the municipality of Sesquilé, which means “hot water”.

While the existence of a sacred lake in the Eastern Ranges of the Andes, associated with Indian rituals involving gold, was known to the Spaniards possibly as early as 1531, its location was only discovered in 1537 by conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada while on an expedition to the highlands of the Eastern Ranges of the Andes in search of gold. This brought the Spaniards into first contact with the Muisca people inhabiting the region around Bogota and the nearby Lake Guatavita.

The lake is now a focus of ecotourism, and its association with the legend of El Dorado is also a major attraction.

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