Upon my return from Colombia I was introduced to two ladies planning their own trip to to the birthplace of magical realism. When asked for my suggestions I sent them the following;
"Hola Hola! =)
Definitely check out Cartagena. Absolutely stunning and perfectly hot weather. It's a beautiful, beachside, Colonial Town surrounded by its fully intact, protective wall, which surrounds the entirety of the old portion of Cartagena. If you can, stay the night within it's walls, rather than the more modern surroundings outside. Cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, a playful ocean breeze, musicians, horse drawn carriages, local artisans selling their goods; a dream!
It seems that half of Colombia makes their way here for New Years Eve. Businesses & residents pull all tables and chairs onto the middle of the streets which are decorated with a mix of Christmas & New Year decor, fresh flowers and their best linens.
As is tradition within the Colombian Culture, we jumped high into the air, just before the clock hit midnight to ensure we would catch the New Year mid air. This will bring luck in travel they say. As would running around the outside of your house luggage in tow. Which of course we did as well. Broadly smiling and cheering locals wished us "Bien Viaje" (translating to "good travels") as we danced/ran/frolicked around the block, while fireworks continued to light up the sky above us
There is also a newly opened Bird Aviary about 1 hour down the coast. If you're interested in seeing and learning about the local birds, I recommend the trek.
We also visited Jardin in the Coffee Region. Not many foreign tourists here, but alive with locals and absolutely gorgeous. We rented bikes for $1.25/hour and rode them up the mountain side, took a break at the famous Trucheria (fish your own trout then have them grill it) before continuing up the mountain.
If you are planning on renting a 4x4 (you need HIGH clearance for this), check out this incredible water fall above! It's called El Chorro, or El Chorrito. After about 1 hour of driving down a rugged dirt road (think coffee pickers waving down to you and wishing you a good day, grandmas in their garden tending to their flowers, while their cats play cat and mouse, donkeys pulling freshly picked coffee beans down the road, dogs chasing your car while wrestling each other to the ground, then joining your hike, children's curious eyes peeking out of windows...... that sort of thing ;-). Suddenly the road turns into a narrow trail. Follow this for about 5 minutes until you hit the river and make a right. Within another roughly 10 minutes you come upon a giant waterfall with 8 consecutive falls. Bring some empenadas or something for a picnic and hike/pull yourself up using vines & roots to get to the very top. (On the right side of the falls)
We also stayed at an ecolodge for a few Days in Nuqui. "El Cantil" http://www.elcantil.com/en/lodging-hotel-nuqui
To get there, one takes a small plane across the notorious Choco Region, land in a tiny airport, where chickens and children run across the runway, then take a 45 minute boat ride to the lodge.
Very simple, no windows, oil lamps at night, incredible food! This is the place to go to relax, no frills, in a hammock, escape wifi, surf, hike the coastal jungle, swim, kayak and catch up on some reading.
Those were the main 3 spots we explored outside of Bogota. If you spend some time in the capital, check out the Gold Museum, quite fascinating.
Photos by Pablo Durana https://www.instagram.com/pablo_durana/?hl=en
When are you leaving? I can go in more detail if you'd like.
Hope this helps! =)"