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Colombia's heartland: Fact file


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When to go

The sleepy colonial towns are less sleepy at weekends, when citizens of Colombia’s major traffic-choked cities descend on them for a rural weekend. Villa de Leiva and Barichara have a uniform temperature in the 20s°C all year with most rain falling in Apr-May and Oct-Nov. The best time to visit Mompós is Apr-Jun. Floods are common Oct-Nov and it can feel hot and humid all year round. Medellín’s temperature is also stable in the high 20s°C, and most rain here falls Apr-Nov.

Language

Spanish

Getting local currency

Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in major cities using a UK credit or debit card, though you may have to advise your bank first and amounts that can be withdrawn may be lower than in the UK. Be aware that some ATMs are often out of service but there should be a working one nearby.  Banks will offer advances on a credit card, but with a lot of paperwork.  Money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor). There’s an ATM in the plaza in Villa de Leiva but you are advised to acquire pesos in larger towns before heading into the heartland.

Time difference

GMT - 5 hrs

Getting there

To Villa de Leiva it’s a 4 hour scenic road journey from Bogotá (127km); to Barichara is a 2hr 40min drive from Bucaramanga; Mompós is a 6-7hr journey from Cartagena by road and launch/ferry.

Key events

Desfile de Silliteros, Flower Festival; Medellín, 10 days in August. Flowers of all shapes and colours flood over the city, with 140 cultural events, parades, music and competitions. 
Virgen de Carmen, Villa de Leiva, 13-17 Jul.
Semana Santa, Holy Week, Mompós. A serious religious festival where images of saints and the Holy Family are taken from the churches and paraded through the streets.

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