We can confirm it 100%, Colombia is a wonderland. A wonderland of exquisite nature, diverse wildlife, beaches, impressive mountains, and colonial grandeur. This is a country that will not only fascinate birdwatchers and wildlife spotters, but also luxury seeking visitors, history enthusiasts, and divers.
The city of Bogotá boasts some of the continent´s greatest museums and interesting colonial buildings. However, the true beauty of this country lies in its natural beauty and authentic lifestyle that is maintained beyond the capital.
Beach lovers will love visiting the country as Colombia is home to the vibrant Caribbean coast and the wild but pristine Pacific coast where whales can be spotted. Mountain lovers will be pleased to visit the surroundings of Bogotá and the lush green coffee zone that offers great adventures, from discovering paramos to rafting, and mountaineering. For the history enthusiasts, there is San Agustin, Tierradentro, and the mysterious ruins of Ciudad Perdida. And for those who love wildlife spotting, there is always the Amazon jungle in the most southern part of the country, the absolutely amazing plains and wetlands of Los Llanos, and the unseen pink river of Caño Cristales. And believe it or not, these are not even all of our favorite Colombia tourist attractions!
1.San Andrés and Providencia
The Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia are some of the most relaxing and beautiful tourist destinations in Colombia. The transparent sea surrounding the islands is nicknamed “the sea of 7 colors” and it doesn’t take long to understand why! Travelers fall in love with the beauty of the white sand beaches, the mix of culture and customs the inhabits showcase, the amazing diving options, and the typical gastronomy.
San Andres is the biggest island of the two and the easiest to reach. You will need some extra days to make it to Providencia, which is, for this reason, a bit more pristine but absolutely worth the effort. Both have a really pleasant climate making it the perfect place for your vacations.
The people who live on the islands officially speak Spanish but you will hear them mostly use their own dialect, a mix of English, Spanish, and French. This comes as a result from the many settlers who immigrated to the islands. The inhabitants also possess their own religious, gastronomic, architectural, and musical traditions that are usually described as ´creole´.
While being here you cannot miss out on the great diving and snorkeling opportunities. There are some big shipwrecks and long reefs that can be visited on a diving trip, but it is also perfectly possible to stay close to the shore and discover marine life with no more than a snorkel and a diving mask. For those who don’t like to dive there are also short hikes and a natural park that can be visited, or you can just opt to relax and unwind on the beach of course!
2.The desert of La Guajira
Colombia is an extremely green country and it is easy to find yourself surrounded by jungle, forests, or fields full of cattle. However, there is also the Guajira desert. This place and its people are like no other Colombia tourist attractions because it is one of the few places where you will find desert right next to the beach. It is dry, hot, desolate, but also exotic and beautiful. The landscapes it shows will definitely be different than the ones you would have ever expected before coming here.
The region mainly lives from the salt industry, mining, and nowadays also from slowly but steadily developing tourism. Even though it is famous for being dry and for its seemingly endless sand dunes, you will be able to find a wide variety of wildlife such as flamingos, pelicans, ibises, turtles, lizards, and goats. Yes, you will see goats all around you! It is a wonderful place for bird watchers yet also kitesurfers will find this place a true blessing with its strong winds.
Guajira does not only offer diverse sceneries, but it is also a region where you can find a wide array of cultural richness. Each part of the department belongs to a specific indigenous community that you can recognize by their beautiful handmade dresses that will undulate in the eternal winds that roll over the desert. Try to get your hands on some of their handicrafts that will serve as the perfect souvenir from your trip. Dream away while sipping from a cold beer, enjoying some lobster, and overviewing an amazing sunset over the ocean.
3.The pink river of Caño Cristales
Colombia is home to a couple of important rivers and one of the biggest ones is the famous Magadalena River, as beautifully described in the books of Colombian Nobel Prize Winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. However, the most majestic of all Colombian rivers must be the Caño Cristales.
This river cannot be compared to any other place because of its unique and uncommon characteristics. Some people even call it the most beautiful river in the world. The perfect season to visit is from June to December because this is the rainy season, meaning the water will flow through the rivers thus you will be able to see the different colors, ranging from yellowish and green to most intense pink! The water itself actually doesn’t change colors but it is the aquatic plants that grow in it that give the river its distinctive tints.
The Caño Cristales River is located in the lower center of Colombia and is part of the national park of La Macarena. You will need to take a plane to get there and you will be surprised by the authenticity of the villages and people living in this region. Because they are a bit isolated from the rest of the country, they maintained a very tranquil and pure lifestyle where they show respect for nature and the environment.
Caño Cristales is reachable by making relatively short hikes and taking canoes in order to protect the nature surrounding it. This makes part of the complete experience and only adds value to the whole trip as you will be able to spot wildlife on your way and spend most of your time surrounded by exotic nature.
4.Cerros de Mavecure
A bit off the beaten track but therefore not less worth to visit are the Cerros de Mavecure in the Guainía department of Colombia. This region is located in the easternmost of the country and forms a natural border between the jungle in the south and the typical more northern plains and wetlands. This unique combination makes it a spectacular destination and shows that it is definitely worth its place in the top five of Colombia tourist attractions.
Here you will be blown away by the impressiveness of the great granite rocks that pop out of nothing from the jungle like plains surrounding them. To get to them, you will navigate by boat through the jungle boarding the Inírida River. The whole region is connected to each other by rivers and waterways, making canoes the main way of transportation. Keep your eyes open while moving around because the endemic pink dolphin lives in these waters and you might be lucky enough to see toucans, parrots, sloths, monkeys, and other great wildlife in the trees near the river.
However, the best part of the trip is not the wildlife but the rocks: The Mavecure, Mono, and Pajarito hills. These are three granite rock elevations that attract visitors from all over the world. The highest one is the Mavecure, measuring 250 meters. You can reach its summit by undertaking the serious hike all the way up. Once on top, you will feel closer to heaven and feel impressed by the magnificent panorama that spreads itself out in front of you.
Another great part of this trip will be the interaction you will have with indigenous communities and families because you will have to spend the night in their village and share a house and meals with them, which is a great opportunity to learn about their traditions.
5.The tombs of Tierradentro
The Andes Mountains hold a well hidden archeological treasure. Travelers, and especially history enthusiast, who want to see and experience something truly unique and authentic should do the effort of visiting the mysterious underground tombs of Tierradentro.
Tierradentro is actually a huge and mountainous region (around 6,000 square kilometers) in the south of Colombia. Its main tourist attraction are the archaeological remains scattered around in the mountains near San Andrés de Pisimbalá. They are known to be round burial chambers called hypogea and they allow archeologists to study different periods; the prehispanic, the colonial and the republican. However, no one has figured out yet to whom the tombs belonged and why they are built the way they are.
Reaching Tierradentro is not easy because there are no paved roads leading there but luckily there are a couple of hotels, restaurants, and guides available once you have reached the destination. The way to visit the tombs is by entering the Archeological Park of Tierradentro, which is also home to an archaeological and ethnographic museum. You can spend hours walking around in the park going from an underground tomb to an underground tomb and admiring the stone statues. However, prepare yourselves because you will have to climb steep hills on your discovery day.