Colombia is most definitely on the rise! Done with the FARC! Done with Pablo Escobar! The country has recently undergone a laudable transformation, with its president Juan Manuel Santos receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016 for his work in favour of peace and the renewal of tourism with scores of visitors returning to this El Dorado that so beguiled the Conquistadors.
A country of XXL biodiversity
The first reason to visit Colombia must be its awesome landscapes and their extraordinary diversity. In what other country can one rise in the cold morning at nearly 3,000m/9,842ft above sea level and bathe in the clear seas of the Caribbean in the warm evening? The fact is that Colombia is the only country of Latin America with eastern and western seaboards, both of which are very different.
Spanned by three Andean cordilleras, vast savannahs, jungle and the Amazon… From the variety of its landscapes and climates to the diversity of its wildlife and plants, Colombia is a member of the very rare club of the 17 “mega-diverse” countries which alone contain over 60 or 70% of the planet’s biodiversity while only occupying 10% of its surface.
In order to preserve its natural wealth, Colombia created 59 national parks, all filled to the brim with some of the most unique species of the world’s wildlife and plants. However, if you were forced to pick just one of the parks, then Tayrona National Park must come top: a small piece of heaven nestled between sea and jungle lined with spectacular beaches and the lands of the antique Tayrona civilisation.
History and humankind
In a country named after the famed explorer Christopher Columbus, its richest resource is its history, particularly Pre-Colombian history. If you wish to immerse yourself in times immemorial, our preference goes to the Parque Arqueológico de San Agustín, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Housing the biggest collection of pre-Colombian megalithic monuments and funeral statues, it is truly a place that defies description and one not to be missed.
Another favourite brings us much closer to home: that of Medellin. Thanks to its policy of social integration and urban renewal, notably in the transport sector with the creation of a 2nd cable-car, the country’s second largest city has done its best to erase the years of violence and narco-terrorism related to the drug-cartels. Today, the city is proudly green and prosperous, a place where its inhabitants are happy to live.
To summarise, to visit Colombia today is to meet a population who is friendly, warm and welcoming, but also and perhaps most importantly, still free from the evils of mass tourism… So don’t delay!