1 month in Colombia is not much time to explore this wonderful country but I have made a 1 month itinerary for Colombia so you have an idea of how many days you could stay in each place and what to do. My focus was nature and outdoor adventures.
So why did I end up in Colombia on my first solo travel? Colombia had for many years been on my bucket list. To be honest I think it was Shakira that started the idea when she put her country on the world map with her hip shaking song “whenever-wherever”. Then back in 2007 my best friend and I were about to decide in which country to work voluntary the following year. I wanted to go to Colombia and she was more into Mexico. The organisation only had programs in Colombia from August and we wanted to go in January so we ended up choosing Mexico. It took me almost 9 years before I pursued my dream and took the flight to Colombia. So this is my my 1 month itinerary for Colombia. Enjoy!
BOGOTA: BIKE RIDE AND A BIT BORING
DAY 1-2: Bike ride and cable car to Monterrate: My travel took off in Bogotá. It was not a city that took my heart away so I only stayed 2 nights. I arrived at night but second day I started out with the 5 hour Bogotá bike tour around the city which was one of the best experiences in Bogotá and I will definitely recommend this for everybody.
At night I took the cable car to Monterrate to see the beautiful view of the capital.
Day 3: Museum Botero. Before taking the flight to Santa Marta I spend half the day at Museo Botero which was a very interesting experience. The museum also has sculpture and paintings from other known artists like Dali and even some Danish artists. I am in general not a city person, so 2 nights for me was enough and I didn’t find the city that interesting.
SANTA MARTA AND LOST CITY TRAIL
Day 4: Tayrona National park. I only stayed 1 day in Tayrona National park and I wish I had taken a bus earlier in the morning because I arrived a bit late. It was a warm experience and suddenly we had to walk very fast to get out of the park again in time. But the park is beautiful and we even saw monkeys! I go nuts when I see monkeys so this was one big highlight for me. You can sleep there as well but I was short of time and the day after I was doing the Lost City Trek.
Day 5-8: Lost City Trek. High in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountains you will find the Lost City, a site which by many has been called ‘the new Machu Picchu’. Doing the Lost City Trek was another tick on my bucket list and is an adventure that I always will remember. I booked the trip at the hostel I was staying. This was here I found my travel partner from Holland as well.
If you are into hiking, history and impressive nature this is the perfect trek. After the tour I heard that many people dont support it because they dont believe the indigenous that lives there are being respected. I dont know too much about the circumstances but the guide we had lived 5 years in the jungle with the indigenous to learn about their culture and I felt there were a lot of respect from the guide towards the indigenous living there. The company is called Baquianos Tour and I have nothing negative to say about them.
Day 9: Coffee farm tour at Minca. After a lot of hiking I decided to use my last day on a half day excursion to a coffee farm which I also booked at the hostal. Actually I had a goal to learn to drink coffee during this Colombia trip so learning a bit about coffee beans, the production process and understand the difference between first and second class made the whole learn-to-like-coffee process a lot more interesting. As part of the trip we visited some waterfalls as well.
THE NEW MEDELLIN AFTER PABLO ESCOBAR
I skipped Cartagena. From other travellers I got the impression that it was kind of a party place. I decided to win some more days and take the plane to Medellin instead. Medellin surpriced me. Im not a big city person and I thought I would stay there maximum 3 days. I stayed 5 and I could have been there 2 weeks more!
Day 11: Walking tour. Start out with the free walking tour – it helped me understand the Colombian people, their culture, their dramatic historical and political background and life after Pablo Escobar. In Medellín Pablo is like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter; he is the he-who-must-not-be-named. Its a very sensitive subject to the Colombians and they really want to change their countrys reputation of being a country with violence, drugs cartels and cocaine. So treat the subject with care. Remember to sign up for the walking tour and bring some tips for the very professional guides.
PARAGLIDING AND GRAFFITI
Day 12: Metro & cable cars: Take a trip with the metro and cable car to see the city from above and explore the Arví park at the end of the trip.
Day 13: Paragliding. I got some hangover that day (damn you Aguardiente!) but my travel partner and I managed to find our way to the paragliding place and it was a great experience to see Medellin from another perspective.
Day 14: Comuna 13 & Cerro Nutibara. Comuna 13 was earlier one of the most dangerous neighbourhood. Today you find an escalator, beautiful graffiti and an amazing view of the city. I didn’t have any expectations of that trip, but it was such a surprise to see this odd neighbourhood. I mean – a modern looking escalator in the middle of a ghetto-ish looking neighbourhood? And then with all the graffiti. I didn’t do the guided grafitti tour but I would definitely do it next time to get some more history about the graffiti. In the afternoon we visited the Cerro Nutibara where you will find another great view of the city. Its kind of a weekend-escape place for the paisanos (people from medellín) and you´ll find stalls with food and souvenirs as well.
Day 15: El Peñol de Guatapé. The impressive stone is placed 2 hour bus ride from Medellín. Buy your tickets at the main bus terminal. When you arrive at El Peñol the taxi drivers will try to convince you that you cannot walk to there but you can! Just turn to your right when you see some stairs.
The stone is impressive! I was a bit like “how did they place that stone there? “. Well, it wasn´t placed there by anybody but it just seems like it dropped down from the sky. It has an elevation of 2,135 metres (7,005 ft) over sea level, 22 cubic megametres of rock mass and it is 385 metres (1,263 ft) long, with an approximate weight of 66 million tonnes. El Peñol has some rock breaks that was used to construct 650 stairs so its possible to go all the way up – and that view is something from another planet! Good exercise though! 😉
Other things I did there that I can recommend to do is to enjoy Medellín night life and dance some reggeaton! I didn’t think I would be out partying in Colombia but the good vibes in Medellin tempted me. The paisanos are incredible friendly – but be careful when they offer you to share a bottle of Aguardiente! 😉
SALENTO AND ITS NATURE AND COFFEE
Day 16: Salento was a whole other experience. My travel partner and I decided to stay in hostel Kasaguaduana in the middle of nowhere. We walked 1 our until we got to a gate. From there we walked yet another 20 minutes in a dense overgrown downhill path. All the way we were like “what the hell is this? Where are we?”. But finally we found this little paradise on earth. A sustainable lifetime dream project by a Colombian/English couple. The walk from the main center to the hostel and back again was long – and when it was dark it was dark everywhere! We had to walk with our flashlight through the overgrown path and it was a experience in itself!
Day 17: Valle de Cocora. A national protected park with 60 meter high wax palms – the national tree of Colombia. Another must-do in Salento and you´ll find buses going to the park from the center. Again I had this feeling I was on another planet when I saw the stunning view of the tall wax palms.
Day 18: Mountain biking & coffee farm tour. Last day in Salento and we decided to use it effectively. We rented a bike to explore the area. On the way we passed a coffee farm “El Ocas Salento” where I took another coffee round trip. During this coffee tour we got to pick our own coffee beans and being involved in the process was something I really enjoyed.
A WET DESERT WALK IN DESIERTO DE LA TATACOA
Day 19-20: Desert of Tatacoa. A long bus ride took us to the only desert in Colombia. Guess what – it was raining when we arrived! I was thinking that this must be the most weird desert in the world.. But then I learned that there’s an average of 1070mm of rain each year. We were waiting 2 hours for the rain to stop before we could finally explore the odd looking desert. The walk was not easy – the rain had the sand turned into mud. Heavy mud! With 2 kilo heavy feet we walked around this spacey looking desert. And apropos. Same day we were there a movie company were filming a science fiction serie and we had spacey people walking around in the dessert. A very weird experience! This dessert is also a perfect place to observe stars – but because of the rain we couldt see the sky.
SAN AGUSTIN AND ITS RUINS
Day 20: Archaeological Park of San Agustín. I only had 2 nights in San Agustin since I was running out of time. As soon as I stepped out of the bus I got help from the local tourist office to find a place to stay. People were so friendly here and I felt very safe walking around alone, also at night. I arrived a bit late but had time to visit the Archaeological Park. The park was a nice walk, I enjoyed being tourist by my own after 2 weeks with a travel partner (she went back home after Tatacoa), but its not the most impressive ruins if you compare to the mayan ruins in Mexico or Guatemala.
Day 21: Jeep Tour. On this tour I saw waterfalls, view points and some ruins. It was a nice tour, but to be honest I wasn’t that impressed of the ruins again. I loved the waterfalls though. San Agustin is a beautiful place and maybe I should had used more days there, but I wasn’t that impressed with their ruins as I have been in some other places. But I think I will come back another time to explore the area more because I really liked the city.
Then I had a long bus ride to Bogotá before heading to my last big adventure in Colombia.
THE AMAZON JUNGLE IN LETICIA
Day 22- 29: Leticia & the Amazon. I had a lot of doubts wether I should go to Letitia or not. Its a very remote place and you can only go there by plane meaning the tickets are not cheap. Furthermore the stay there is not cheap either. On place but on the other hand I really wanted to experience the Amazon. In the end I decided to do it – and it was one of the best experience I had in Colombia!
I had been in contact with some travel agencies before leaving and ended up with Selvaventura. Claudia from the agency picked me up at the airport and took me to their agency that is a hostel as well. At the agency I got my briefing and I was very surprised to find out that I was actually going to Brazil! That was an adventure itself because First I had to take a taxi to the river. Then a boat to Brazil. Then another taxi to another part of the river and then a peke peek boat to Palmari Lodge where I stayed 3 nights. Among the activities there I did with my guide:
- Kayak in the amazon river to observe monkeys and pink and grey river dolphins
- Visiting the local villages to see and learn about how they live
- Fishing piranha fish in the river
- Night boat trip to catch caimans
- Night walk in the jungle to observe nocturne animals (this was so cool!)
- Making pieces of jewellery with natural materials
- Canopy in the jungle
Lodge Palmari was where I met Victor. After my days here we took together to Leticia. From there we took a boat trip to Puerto Nariño, a river village where we stayed one night. At the coast line you will find offices selling tickets to the small river villages. Next day we did another boat trip to observe more of the Amazon river and the river dolphins.
Day 30 I took the flight back to Bogota and then back to Denmark.
A travel tip: Flying is often cheaper and faster than taking the bus.
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