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As far as travel clichés go, “this place has it all” is close to the top. But more often than not we find ourselves telling people that Colombia really does have it all. In terms of adventure, there is no place like Colombia. With coasts on both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean, jungles, beaches, islands and volcanos, Colombia is an adventurer’s wonderland. Colombia, we like to say, is adventure.
Here we highlight four regions and two cities with activities to thrill your adventurous heart:
Choco is located in Colombia’s north-west region, on the Pacific Ocean. There, beaches are guarded by thick jungle, making this a unique natural destination. The Colombian Pacific holds about 10 per cent of the world’s biodiversity. The best adventures in the region include witnessing the “Migration Festival” in the months of July through October, when humpback whales, turtles and migratory birds arrive in the area. Whale watching is surprisingly accessible and sometimes the whales can even be seen from the beach. Other adventures include surfing and scuba diving. This area is one of the best in the world to swim alongside sharks.
How to get there: the main tourist points are Nuqui and Bahia Solano. You can fly there from Medellin.
Located in the north-east end of the country, close to Venezuela, Santander is home to the Chicamocha Canyon. In the local native’s tongue, “Chicamocha” means “Silver Thread.” It describes the river that runs through two massive, rocky mountains. The area is one of the hottest adventure destinations in the country. Main activities include Paragliding, hang-gliding down waterfalls, rock climbing, caving and mountain biking.
How to get there: Take a short flight to Bucaramanga or drive about 8hrs from Bogota.
The coffee-growing region, in the heart of the country, is not only for coffee lovers. In this vast area encompassing three departments, Caldas, Quindio and Risaralda, you can find snow-capped mountains at the Parque de los Nevados, where trekking is the main activity. Zip lining over coffee and banana plantations is a must-do. If you are more of a water-adventure type, this region offers some great rafting and kayaking experiences. A little known and very unique experience is to take a guided horse-back riding tour to Salento, a green valley where you will see wax palms – the tallest palm trees in the world.
How to get there: fly to Medellin, Pereira or Manizales, or drive about nine hours to one of these towns.
Huila is home to two of Colombia’s most important archeological sites, Tierradentro and San Agustin. Located in the south-west of Colombia, this region is not only rich in mountains and rivers: it is the place where the Andean mountain range splits into three smaller ranges that dissect Colombia from south to north. Huila offers all levels of white-water rafting, as well as adventures on horseback and many hiking paths.
How to get there: Fly to Neiva or drive south west for about six hours.
Medellin, named the most innovative city worldwide in 2013, receives tourists in search of adventure and entertainment. Some of the many activities that can be done include paragliding in the Cerro Matasanos in Barbosa, about 39km from Medellin, canopy gliding, rappelling, rafting, and potholing in the Natural Rio Claro Reserve at 152km from the city. This touristic national reserve is one of the most impacting sceneries of the area. The site offers services for accommodations in cabanas with views overlooking the reserve, restaurants, and a camping zone. For nautical-sports lovers, El Peñon de Guatape, located 79km from Medellin, is a rock of 200m in height, located in the reservoir of Peñol-Guatape which also offers the opportunity to practice rock climbing at El Peñol.
How to get there: Medellin is Colombia’s second largest city and it has an international airport. You can fly direct to Medellin from Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, New York and Curaçao, or take a quick connecting flight through Bogota.
Colombia’s capital is known as the urban and economic center of the nation with an extensive range of cultural and gastronomic activities for the whole family. In addition, it offers a variety of sites to enjoy exhilarating adventurous activities. In Tobia and Utica, municipalities located in the outskirts of Bogota, tourists are able to live the magic of navigating in individual sailboats or feel a rush of adrenaline while going down a waterfall doing rappelling. In Neusa, about 30km from Bogota, tourists will be able to feel the fresh air and enjoy beautiful scenery while flying on a paraglide. In the Tomine dam, about 57km from the capital, visitors can test their wind and kite-surfing abilities. For the more daring tourists, the areas of Suesca, Gacheta, and Chingaza have the ideal geography to practice rock climbing, mountain climbing, and mountain biking.
How to get there: Bogota is a major travel hub. It counts with direct flights from cities such as Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Washington, New York, Aruba, Curaçao, Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Havana, San Juan and Toronto.