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Travel Directory / South America / Colombia

Colombia Travel Guide

From literature to politics and everything else in between, Colombia is definitely a place which will intrigue you up to no end. Colombia is the only country in South America with coastlines on both North Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Their capital city is Bogota and it's also the center of the country's commerce. First off, most citizens in Colombia speak Spanish, even hotel receptionists, tour guides, travel agents, cab drivers and many more; it is advisable to learn some basic Spanish phrases to maximize your vacation. Best time to visit is during their dry season which is between December and March. The holiday periods are during the last two months of the year and Semana Santa is usually during March or April (celebrations in towns of Mompos and Popayan are most famous and visited). Other major fiestas are held during June and July. There are around 200 festivals held throughout the year, so unless you plan to stay for the whole year to enjoy all of them, choose some which your trip will allow you and which interests you most.

Some events worth witnessing are the Carnaval de Barranquilla during February or March, the Carnaval de Blancos y Negros in Pesto during January, Festival de la Leyenda Vellenata in Valledupar for April, and Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro held in Bogota during March or April and lastly, the Feria de las Flores in Medellin parades during August.

If you are into natural parks and wildlife, Colombia has 34 national parks scattered across the country. Some of them may be easily accessible and others are remotely located. The most visited parks are Parque Nacional Tayrona which is popular for beach bums, Parque Nacional El Cocuy which is famous for fresh alpine air and glacier-wrapped peaks and Parque Nacional Santuario de Iguague which is closer to Bogota and offers some fine hikes to a group of alpine lakes. Laguna de Guatavita may be ideal for a day trip while budding vulcanologists might want to visit Manizales for the Parque Nacional Los Nevados. It houses several volcanic cones, some of which are active. If you are looking for some hardcore jungles, there's no place for you to visit but Parque Nacional Amacayacu. It's directly in the country's Amazon Basin and simply a wonder to behold.

If you are not into festivities and nature tripping, you can bask in the culture by going to heritage sites and architectural wonders. Bogota has the most stunning collection of old Spanish churches, including the monumental Catedral Primada and the incredibly detailed Iglesia de San Francisco in Popayan. In terms of overall beauty, they say the walled center in Cartagena is unbeatable. UNESCO has already declared it a world heritage site for its captivating balconies. Other equally beautiful and preserved towns are Mompos, Villa de Leyva, Barichara and Giron. These towns are located in the northern part of Colombia and they are famed for their particular style of architecture - arquitectura momposina.

After all those endless list of things to enjoy in Colombia, we are sure that you are seriously looking into those flights to take you there. Regular international flights reach the major cities including Barranquilla, Cartagena, Cali and Medellin. With the right amount of careful planning and low key traveler's attitude, a trip to Colombia is going to be more than worth your while.

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