With its white-sand beaches, tropical rainforests, lost cities, and plunging valleys, Colombia is an absolutely stunning country that really does have it all!
2. The people:
As cliché as it sounds, Colombians are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Despite how much it has changed in 20 years, their tourism industry is recovering following the end of the drugs war, so locals are always thrilled to show tourists all that the country has to offer.
3. The language:
The form of Spanish spoken in Colombia is one of the clearest and easiest to pick up as a non-native speaker and with 47 million friendly locals to help you out, it’s an ideal place to go and learn!
Colombia is a nation that loves its food. If you’re feeling brave, you can try hormigas culonas (literally big-ass ants). For the less adventurous, trying arepas, ajiaco, bandeja paisa, patacon, and cocadas, all washed down with a freshly pressed juice blended right in front of you, should be enough to show you just how proud Colombians are of their amazing cuisine – that’s if if the portion sizes weren’t enough to convince you already!
5. The coffee:
Colombian coffee deserves a mention of its own. Grown mainly in the Eje Cafetero region just outside Medellín, Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee in the world. One of the best places to sample it is the tiny, picturesque town of Salento. Surrounded by 60-metre-high palm trees and hummingbird sanctuaries, you can tour the fincas sipping freshly roasted coffee that was grown right there.
6. The street art:
The street art – This is by far one of the best things about Bogotá - to call the street art here ‘graffiti’ would be a huge understatement. Dozens of companies offering donation-based tours of the city pointing out the works and telling you about the artists who create them on a daily basis make it a must do in Bogota!
7. The parties:
From salsa on the streets of Cali to Reggaeton in the clubs of Bogotá or Medellín, Colombians know how to have a good time, and with the clubs open until well beyond the Durham standard 2am, you’ll be able to stay out well past your bedtime...
8. The football:
It may not have the huge stadiums, the big screens, or even the basic loudspeakers and scoreboards of the Premier League, but football in Colombia is a ritual. A trip to the country would be incomplete without venturing down to the local estadio, donning an Atlético shirt and getting stuck in!
9. The cities:
Statistically, you are more likely to be eaten by a shark in Australia than you are to be kidnapped in Bogotá and the murder rate in Colombia is lower than in a considerable number of major US cities. Long gone are the days when all-powerful, mega-rich drug cartels terrorised the streets. Medellín, which used to be the most dangerous city in the world from the 1980s to 2003, is now a modern, cosmopolitan, up-and-coming city.
Whether it’s scuba diving on the Caribbean coast, paragliding over Medellín, or finding Lost Cities in the Tayrona National park, Colombia is full of things to keep you exploring!