Colombia - The Great Outdoors
My Outdoor Adventures in Colombia
Highlights of every outdoor adventure I had in Colombia! From street art to paragliding to hiking in the Amazon jungle.
For more information on (nearly) everything Colombia related check out my ‘Highlights’ and travel tips with links for places to stay, things to see and do and places to eat, drink and be merry!
We took time to explore Colombia's capital. A little rough around the edges but the neighbourhood of La Candelaria has a fantastic art scene (read more about that in my blog - World-Class Art in Bogota, Colombia).
Look up! Local artist, Jorge Olave has sculpted green figures from recycled materials and placed them all over La Candelaria - peering down from rooftops, window ledges and balconies. They represent the local comuneros (common people) of the city.
Even Bogota has some breath-taking views. We took a cable car to the top of Mount Monserrate (Cerro de Monserrate).
Villa de Leyva
The beautiful open skies of Villa de Leyva - my favourite place in all of Colombia. Also, the friendliest place in Colombia!
We went on a mountain bike tour to the surrounding valleys and desert terrain and popped into to the local vineyard (of course!). We booked with CicloTrip.
The guy who runs the tour is super knowledgeable and friendly and will take you anywhere you want, or provide you with a map so you can venture out alone. He is the only trained professional guide with decent bikes in town.
A little bit over crowded but San Gil is an ideal base (albeit on the Gringo trail) for:
Paragliding over the Chicamocha Canyon (Only $170,000 COP - about £40 for 40 minutes).
White Water Rafting
A day trip to the nearby 180m waterfalls of Juan Curi, (20 km from San Gil on the road to Charala) is a must, as is a swim in the pool at the bottom.
Whilst in San Gil we took a bus to the local town of Barichara to admire its sweeping views over orange desert terrain and lush green landscape.
Palomino and Tayrona Park
Colombia's Caribbean coast is of course all about beaches and the national park of Tayrona, and the little 'Titi' Monkeys who live there. To be honest, I've visited better. It felt a little too built up and touristy for me.
A highlight on this coastline, besides the beaches was tubing down the Palomino River. Beautiful! But watch out for Caimans! We spotted a small one at the end of our trip by the bridge near town.
We took the night bus south from Cartagena to the city of Medellin, the second largest and most modern city in Colombia. It is located in the Aburra Valley, a central region of the Andes Mountains in South America.
A ride in the cable cars over the city is obligatory:
As is a visit the Botero Plaza for the chubby sculptures!
From Medellin we travelled south to Manizales, to enjoy the natural thermal pools of Termales Tierra Viva and hidden national parks outside of the busy (slightly unattractive) city - oh and we met a Spectacled bear called Chucho who lives in the Reserva Ecologica Rio Blanco. Chucho's kind is sadly endangered, hence the enclosure but he is well cared for by the park rangers and has a massive, wild space to wander around.
Beautiful and stunning - coffee farms and spectacular scenery make Salento a Colombia must!
A highlight of our stay in Salento was visiting the nearby Valle de Cocora with its Wax Palm reserve. The Wax Palm is the tallest palm in the world, reaching up to 60 metres in height!
The valley hike...
After Salento we headed back to Bogota to catch a flight to Leticia in The Amazon. Read more about my Amazon experience here: The Amazon Colombia including tips on how to travel and where to stay independently and on a budget!
Night-time trekking with scorpions, tarantula, boa-constrictors and disgusting bugs.
On our last day we took a boat back to Leticia and hired a tuk-tuk to take us down the road to Brazil before catching our flight back to Bogota.
The landscape of this arid desert is spectacular. The clay surfaces have all been eroded by a lake that once existed, creating a labyrinth effect. This is unlike any other desert landscape in the world.
The Tatacoa Desert is best known for having two distinctive colours: ochre in the area of Cusco
And grey in the Los Hoyos area.
Because of the dry, clear conditions, lack of light pollution and location near the equator, Tatacoa is a great spot for stargazing the skies above the northern and southern hemispheres.
Every evening at 7pm, a local astrologer takes you to the top of the observatory for a full-on night show.
The Milky Way was totally visible and we saw Venus and Mars and a whole heap of constellations that the astrologer pointed out excitedly using a green laser. It was awesome!
Only COP 10,000 for 2 hours (£3!)
Rolling hills of pastures green, brilliant blue skies, hummingbirds, hammocks and red wine...YES PLEASE! Our last long stop and a firm favourite, San Agustin is a very special place indeed.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, San Agustin holds the largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America in a wild, spectacular landscape.
We stayed at Casa de Francois, a hostel located slightly outside of town at the top of a hill. Beautiful scenery, incredible food and great wine!
A perfect place to end our Colombian adventure.
We crossed over to Ecuador by land via Popayan and Ipiales taking time at Ipiales to marvel at Las Lajas Sanctuary, an epic cathedral, set right in the heart of the landscape. It’s a 20 minute taxi ride outside of town.
Land border crossings are always an interesting experience. Next stop: Ecuador