When someone says Colombia to you, what are you initial thoughts? Drug cartels? Dangerous? Political turmoil? Yes, my thoughts were similar at first due to the history. But let’s take a look on a global scale, can we really escape drugs, danger or political debates? Colombia use to be one of the most dangerous countries to not only visit but to live in. Today it is a traveler’s destination that you cannot miss, especially if visiting South America. See why Colombia has gone from a no go to a must go destination.
A sensitive history lies within Colombia and it has taken a long time to rid the grip-hold from drug lords. The power they held over the country was enormous and the undoing of a governing system. We’ve all heard of Pablo Escobar, who was the kingpin of the drug world or literally the world.
Depending on what neighbourhood you’re in or who you talk to in general this drug lord’s name will resonate love or hate. You must watch who you talk to about ‘him’ or ‘the drug man’ as it is still close to heart. After I read Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden, I could feel a pull of wanting to go visit.
Today, Pablo Escobar name is rarely spoken in public. When taking the amazing free walking tour of Medellin, the tour guide would not say his name. He explained that if he did say his name, Colombians may not know in what context the tour guide is speaking of him (if they only speak Spanish). Therefore he referred to him as “that guy” so that we wouldn’t alert the attention of people around us.
When Pablo died in 1993, it didn’t stop. Other top tiered criminals took over and still controlled Colombia. These days drug cartels and gangs still exist, but this is right in our own countries as well. As I mentioned earlier, are any of us safe?
There is still dispute between many groups in Colombia including FARC, guerrillas and the paramilitaries. But when you compare it to 20 years ago, it is far from the worn-torn and bloodshed.
Colombia borders with Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil and Panama. The Republic of Colombia was declared in 1886. Before this there was a claim to who was to settle with the land from the Spanish. It then went to Republic of New Granada, followed by United States of Colombia before the final republic we know today.
The once war torn-apart country is now a traveler’s retreat. Whether you’re here for a weekend visit or exploring for months. The vibrancy from the continent of South America flows directly into the veins in this country.
Colombia! I was all of a sudden craving to go to this country & I went a couple months ago. A place that was well worth the exploration is Guatapé. You can do day trips from Medellín. This photo was taken from El peñón de Guatapé (the rock of Guatape). You climb up 740 steps to reach this view. So many green lakes around here. This is a must do! @blacksheepmedellin thanks for a brilliant stay, and all the help! (Ran by a New Zealander). . . . .
Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia is jam packed! The photo below shows the craziness of peak hour congestion with people waiting for the buses. Medellin is a valley of paradise with the mountains surrounding the marvelous city. You have Cartagena on the Caribbean sea, which is a beautiful spot with a backdated history in old town and the modern new town.
A colourful & vibrant town sits a short couple hours away from Medellín, it's Guatapé. This place is right near El peñón de Guatapé (two photos back). This is getting towards the popular colourful square just to the right of the right building. Colombia is a fabulous country & has changed on the map from "don't go", to "must visit country" . If your trip allows, stay in this little town that is full of entertainment at night, or take a day trip from Medellín with a tour or catch public transport! Arriba! . .
There are many other places, Barranquilla, Cali, Santa Marta and the coffee region to name a few others.
One of the greatest perks for us travelers is the cost. It is very cheap to travel and move around in Colombia, so it will not break the budget.
The popularity has increased over the recent years to come and visit the country and a huge push is from the citizens. They want tourists to come to their country. To experience the real Colombia and the love that they have for it. Meaning your safety is key!
Colombia is a precious gem and it is getting the tourism recognition that it deserves! It is rare you will come across people who have been deterred after being here. So what are you waiting for? Find great airfare deals and get there as soon as you can! Viva Colombia!