I admit that I was a little intimidated to travel, especially alone. But with encouragement from friends who had done it before, I took the leap and now I’m not looking back!
For fellow travelers or first-time travelers, I’ll compile some tips here, based on my experiences.
- Formulate your travel purpose first – why are you traveling? What do you hope to get out of your trip. Then plan where you go based on where you can fulfill your purpose. There is always way more to see than you have time for, but your purpose can help guide you.
- Know the local language. If you can’t learn it well, at least learn as much as you can to get by: greetings, numbers, money, directions.
- Research before you go: A Lonely Planet or other travel book is a good complement to internet research, especially if you won’t always have internet. The better you know the language, the less you have to plan ahead of time because you can get tips from people along the way.
- Traveling low budget? In most places in South America, you will find that things (hostels, tours) tend to be cheaper if you find them when you get there instead of reserving ahead. But it helps to know the language to be able to navigate things at the last minute.
- Plan in about a day per week for changes in plans. The unexpected will definitely happen, and the more flexibility you have, the less stressful it will be.
- Packing…this is always a challenge. You will always have more than you need and sometime wish you had something or another. You can buy most everything when you pass through a major city. One useful thing was to have some different sized bags so I could go on day-hikes and also leave large amounts of my things stored somewhere. Here was a guide I used to get started packing: https://www.back-packer.org/south-america-packing-list/
This page has a great overview of things to see and do in Colombia, though you have to scroll to the bottom, “Top Things to See and Do in Colombia” https://medellinguru.com/ciudad-perdida/
- Caño Cristales – the most beautiful river in Colombia, which has also been called the most beautiful river in the world by some people.
- Carnival in Barranquilla – the second largest carnival in the world.
- Cartagena – Oozing history, romance and sun-drenched beaches, the allure of historical Cartagena is hard to resist.
- Ciudad Perdida – the site of an ancient city in Colombia that is older than Machu Picchu in Peru.
- Colombia’s Pacific coast – often overlooked by tourists visiting Colombia but offering untamed nature and undiscovered beauty that is off the beaten path for most foreign tourists.
- Desierto de la Tatacoa – the second largest arid zone in Colombia is Tatacoa Desert, which has surreal desert landscapes and some of the best stargazing in Colombia.
- Guatapé – a picturesque pueblo near Medellín known for its huge rock and lake. And it’s likely the most visited pueblo in Colombia by foreigners.
- La Guajira Peninsula – one of the most visually stunning places in South America, which is located on the northern tip of Colombia where the desert meets the sea.
- Las Lajas Sanctuary – the most beautiful church in Colombia, which has also been called the most beautiful church in the world.
- Medellín’s Christmas lights – Medellín’s annual world-class Christmas lights known as Alumbrados Navideños.
- Medellín’s Feria de Las Flores – Medellín’s world-famous flower festival each year.
- Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados – a popular national park in Colombia located in the heart of the Colombian coffee region.
- Parque Tayrona – known for its beautiful beaches and the world’s highest coastal mountain range.
- Popayán – a colonial gem in Colombia best known for its white buildings and churches, it’s a city off the beaten path for foreign tourists but is definitely worth visiting.
- Rio Claro Nature Reserve – located about three hours from Medellín, Rio Claro is the perfect place to unplug from hectic daily life and enjoy a picturesque crystal-clear river, canyon and tropical rainforest.
- Salento and the Cocora Valley – Salento is a picturesque pueblo in Colombia’s coffee region and the nearby Cocora Valley is one of the most striking landscapes found in Colombia.
- San Agustín Archaeological Park – the largest group of pre-Columbian monuments and megalithic statues in South America and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- San Andrés – Colombia’s Caribbean island which is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve featuring many beaches, islets and coral reefs that are filled with flora and fauna.
- San Gil – Colombia’s adventure capital that is full of things to do including white water rafting, paragliding, caving, rappelling, hiking and much more.
- San Jose del Guaviare – a hidden gem and eco-tourism location off the beaten path and offering wildlife watching, jungle trekking and delving into Colombia’s prehistoric past.
Another Columbia travel website: http://www.letmeinspireyou.nl/Colombia/