A land of great contrasts, Colombia
’s cool Andean peaks, lush and verdant coffee plantations, balmy Caribbean coast and vast Eastern plains all come together to create a wonderful tapestry of landscapes which is enriched by the welcoming and fun-loving nature of the Colombian people.
Romantic and evocative Cartagena de Indias is without doubt one of the most captivating cities on the continent. The colonial heart of this Caribbean treasure, embraced by 17-metre-thick walls, oozes a swashbuckling history. Nowadays it is a cultured city, where artists flock to capture the sensual delights of flower-decked balconies and boutique hotels and salsa bars and literary cafés spill out onto the streets.
Couched in rolling, emerald green hills is the triangular region which produces Colombia’s distinctive coffee. At this altitude (1,400m - 2,200m) the climate is delightful and conducive to a restful wind down, with coffee tours, thermal pools, adventure sports, and walking trails to enjoy.
Colombia’s edgy capital is a microcosm of the country’s complex society. Huge, anarchic, choked with undisciplined traffic, it also has a lovely colonial core, La Candelaria, and modern suburbs cluttered with upmarket boutiques, nightclubs, glamorous restaurants and plush apartments.
The UNESCO-listed archaeological site at San Agustín is the must-see of the region surrounding the colonial town of Popayán, with its remarkable ‘Bosque de las Estatuas’ (Forest of Statues) consisting of a number of enigmatic statues dating from 3,300BC.
Just beyond the seaside resort of Santa Marta is hilly, jungle-covered Tayrona National Park, embracing one of the most beautiful wild stretches of Caribbean coast. Golden beaches shaded by coconut palms are backed by rugged hills full of monkeys and iguanas.
Once associated solely with drug cartels and violence, the last decade has seen Medellín transform itself into a centre for innovation with pleasant parks, plazas and works of art – the striking sculptures created by the city’s most famous artist, Fernando Botero, stand proudly for all to see.