Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it should come as no surprise to you that Colombia has been the hottest travel destination for Canadians for a while now. And, for good reason. Colombia has something to offer to just about every type of vacationer- adventure junkie, nature enthusiast, beach lover, art admirer. Plus, it’s only a 5.5 hour flight from Toronto, so all things considered, it’s really only a hop and a skip away!
Plus, the weather doesn’t harbour either extreme, so it makes the country an all-year destination. In fact, a single google search can change your whole perception about the place.
We got in touch with the folks at Contiki Tours to find out the absolute best experiences to have in Colombia. Why them? Because the popular travel company is known for its unique tour itineraries centred around exceptional and enriching experiences. And their Colombia Tour, Hola Colombia, is no different, filled with surreal delights.
With their help, we were able to put together a unique itinerary of 7 of the most incredible Colombian experiences that are straight-up unmissable.
Live in one Hacienda amidst the famed Colombian coffee plantations
A trip to the coffee region and staying in a Hacienda are a must; otherwise, your Colombian holiday will be incomplete. The Hola, Colombia tour combines these experiences to give you a taste of both traditional living and delicious coffee. You’ll be able to sleep in a beautiful, family-run coffee farm while enjoying green and breathtaking views for days.
Spend a whole day at the Tayrona National Park (especially at the beach)
You know that whole hullabaloo around Colombia’s biodiversity? It’s for good reason, ‘cause Colombia is the most biodiverse country per square metre in the world. Yep, the WORLD. They also have the largest number of birds and butterflies in the whole planet and the biodiversity is evident when you step into Tayrona National Park. While the walk along secret trails through the jungle is rewarding in itself, thanks to the wildlife, birds and flora, the end of the walk is far more rewarding. Hello, Colombia tourism poster baby, aka, the beaches! FYI, the Hola Colombia tour has you covered on this front!
Take in the breath-taking views of Bogota from atop Cerro Monserrate
As the Colombian capital, Bogota obviously has a lot to offer. Great street food, bars, museums, historic architecture and of course, just one hour away in the quaint town of Zipaquirá, the iconic Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá! Another thing that has to be on your must-do list is climbing up the Monserrate hill. There’s a tiny cathedral up there but that’s not why you need to be there. You climb up to take in the insanely gorg views of the city. If you aren’t much of a climber, you can even take the cable car to get up there.
Play the game of Tejo, the Colombian national sport
Learn to play like a local, and take part in Colombia’s national sport! And for those who don’t know, Tejo is a noisier and livelier version of cornhole. The game involves throwing a metal disc at a clay-covered post from a certain distance. The post has a target, which is basically gunpowder wrapped in paper. So, if and when you hit the target, there’s an explosion. And playing it is thrilling AF.
Witness (or even sing and dance along) the street music & dance in Cartagena
The beautiful ocean views, the Spanish Colonial homes-dotted streets, the amazing Caribbean-influenced food are some of the most popular reasons to visit Cartagena. And while they are all worth it, to truly feel the city’s lively spirit and appreciate its rich culture, you ought to witness its talented street performers. And don’t be shy if the foot-tapping music or the energetic dance makes you want to shake a leg or two.
Visit the reforestation site and catch a glimpse of the tamarin monkey
ICYMI, the cute cotton-top tamarin monkey is an endangered species. Why? ‘Cause humans happened and forest cover decreased. Fortunately, reforestation and sustainable farming efforts have seen an increase in the number of these monkeys. One reforestation site happens to be 2 hours out of Cartagena. Given that Contiki majorly supports these efforts and has even issued a grant to local communities for solar panels and sustainable farming projects, their Colombia tour takes you into this reforested area with a local guide. And the views of the forest and the reappearing cotton-top monkeys are amazing, to say the least.
And for those of you who don’t know, Colombia is one of 12 countries across the globe who have a Sustainable Tourism Policy! Essentially that means Colombia seeks to protect their environment and communities, in hopes to create a resilient and eco-conscious tourism industry.
Walk down graffiti-clad streets of Bogota
We established that there’s plenty of things to enjoy in Bogota but the one that shouldn’t, and fortunately, can’t be missed is the bright and colourful graffiti that breathes a new life into the city’s streets. From elaborate murals to funky motifs to inspiring quotes, you’ll find several favourites on the decked walls of Bogota. And trust us, you don’t have to be an artist to appreciate this.