Last updated on June 27th, 2018 at 12:16 pm
Planning a trip to Colombia? This guest post by traveler/adventurer Bailey Busslinger of Destinationless Travel outlines unforgettable things to do across this environmentally diverse country. Here are 5 of the most exciting things to do in Colombia!
When you think about Colombia, what comes to mind? Is it relaxing on a white sandy beach with a coconut in hand? Is it partying until all hours of the night in Medellin? Whatever it is you imagined, I’m sure bungee jumping or camping weren't the first things you thought of!
Many people don’t know just how many exciting things there are to do in Colombia. One of the benefits of traveling there is the diversity of the country, and that at every turn there seems to be another adventure awaiting you.
I recently spent 6 weeks in Colombia and did many things that I will remember for a lifetime! Exciting experiences I never imagined would be on my itinerary when I first booked my trip. I have come up with this list of the 5 most exciting things to do in Colombia based on my adventures there!
1. Hiking the Valle de Cocora
I personally love hiking, so on a visit to the cute town of Salento, it was only natural that I was going to hike the famous Valle de Cocora.
The Valle de Cocora is a gorgeous valley set in the department of Quindío in Colombia. Green rolling hills are covered with Colombia’s iconic tree, the Wax Palm. These trees tower over you and set against the countryside background make you realize that there really is nowhere else in the world like Colombia.
There are a couple different hiking trails in the Valle de Cocora all offering amazing views! No matter which path you choose, it can easily be tackled in one day. The trail I chose took about three hours total and while it wasn't easy, it was totally worth the incredible scenery which surrounded me the entire time.
The Valle de Cocora is easily accessed by a short 30-minute ride in a shared jeep from the town center in Salento. The jeeps are called "collectivos" which mean they are a shared taxi. They charge 4,000 COP per person each way and depart as soon as they're full.
Once at the Valle de Salento hiking isn’t your only option for touring the area, riding horseback is another choice. One thing's for sure, whether you hike or ride, the Valle de Cocora is bound to be a memorable experience.
2. Bungee Jumping in San Gil
The most adrenaline-pumping thing I did in Colombia was bungee jumping. I do consider myself a bit of a “thrill-seeker” but I had never actually bungee jumped before!
San Gil is a small town nestled between the mountains in northeastern Colombia. It is known as the adventure capital of Colombia simply due to the sheer amount of adventure-type activities that are available there. Whitewater rafting, kayaking, and canyoning are other thrilling things to do in San Gil. But for me, bungee jumping was the most exciting!
The bungee jump in San Gil is set 70m in the air over the top of a river and costs the equivalent of about $25 USD. I know what you’re thinking, ‘for that price surely it can’t be safe!’ Not true, they had all brand new equipment and highly trained operators who made me feel at ease. Well, enough "at ease" to actually take the leap of faith, that’s not to say I wasn’t scared.
If you ever wanted to bungee jump, the $25 price tag (including photos) makes San Gil a great choice. Plus, the views from on top of the bungee tower are incredible.
3. Camping in Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park looks like something from a movie. As you walk through the park the scenery changes every couple of minutes, from dense jungle to beautiful beach to riverbeds. The best part about Tayrona National Park is that you can stay there overnight in one of the many campgrounds.
My favorite campground is called Cabo San Juan which is located about a 2-hour walk from the park entrance. The only ways to get to the campground is on foot or on horseback. At the campground, you can rent a tent, hammock, or basic cabin to spend the night.
What makes camping in Tayrona National Park so special is simply how beautiful it is. The beaches next to the Cabo San Juan campground are pristine with calm waters are perfect for relaxing. Then, when the sun goes down you can have a beer under the stars.
The entrance fee to Tayrona National Park is 48,000 COP for a foreigner. The cheapest option for camping is to rent a hammock which costs 28,000 COP per person per night.
You can catch the public bus from Santa Marta right to the entrance gates of Tayrona for 7,000 COP each way. It isn't the cheapest of trips but can be affordable by choosing the cheapest accommodation and transport options in the park.
A great budget saving tip for Tayrona National Park is to bring as much food and water as you can carry. To buy these items in the park will truly be a budget breaker as the prices in the park are inflated.
4. Scuba Diving on San Andres Island
So many people who visit Colombia skip visiting San Andres Island simply because it is only accessible by flight. But what they don't know is that the flight can be very cheap (70 USD return) and San Andres is a beautiful place worth the extra effort to get there.
The beaches are incredible and the island vibe is contagious, but the best part is definitely the scuba diving! I love to scuba dive and have been diving in many places all over the world, but none are as untouched with so few divers as San Andres Island.
The diving was affordable and there are many dozens of different dive sites all around the island, some are only accessible by boat and some are accessible right from the shore. No matter which dive site you go to, you will see lots of fish and bright vibrant coral.
If scuba diving isn’t your thing, snorkeling around San Andres Island is also spectacular as the water is crystal clear!
5. A city tour of Medellin
Medellin is a bright and vibrant city despite its dark past. While on a city tour it is interesting to learn about the history of the city, Pablo Escobar, and how Medellin is now filled with some of the kindest people I have ever met welcoming tourists with open arms.
Medellin is a huge city and there is so much to do and see there. From a graffiti tour of Communa 13 to a quick trip to the colorful town of Guatape, there is something for everyone. But the best way to get the most out of Medellin quickly is to take a city tour.
You can choose to go on a paid tour of the city which will include transport, or join one of the famous free walking tours. I signed up for the free walking tour and it was fantastic! The company called Real City Walking Tours do an amazing job of highlighting the best sights in Medellin's city center as well as offer a ton of knowledge.
Walking around Medellin I saw Botero's art statues, the light tower park, markets, and much more.
The Real City Free Walking Tour often books up, so you need to sign up in advance on their website. Tours start every day at 9:15 and 2:15.
These 5 five things are only just a taste of all of the exciting things Colombia has to offer. Colombia is a country full of activities and rich in culture which is guaranteed to keep any traveler busy during a trip.
Bailey is an adventure enthusiast with a love for travel. She's been backpacking around the world for nearly four years now and has no intention of stopping anytime soon. You'll find her hiking, scuba diving, or writing with a beer in hand. You can follow Bailey on her travel Blog Destinationless Travel or on Facebook and Instagram.
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