Spread your wings and discover hidden Colombia

There’s a lot more to see in Colombia beyond the classic tourist sites, amazing though they are.

From caiman to capybara, Colombia has nature galore. Photo: Photo by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash

There are a plethora of spectacular sights in Colombia, from deep oceans to high mountains, filled with deserts, plains, rivers and all sorts of forest in between. You’ve likely heard of the big guns like Leticia, Cartagena and Tayrona, but there’s a lot under the radar too. Our intrepid birdman Chris Bell has been all over, from Tuparro to Mitú, but most of Colombia is accessible to the average traveller too.

Tonight in Bogotá Nights, we’ll be discussing hidden Colombia. If you missed travelling in 2020 and plan to make up for it this year, tune in at 7pm to hear Oli and Brendan discuss some off-the-beaten-track destinations.

Coronavirus restrictions have been lifted in much of the country, though you should still take precautions if you plan to travel. And don’t just assume the place you’re going is lockdown-free. For example, authorities in Santa Marta are considering another strict quarantine as they try to get a handle on their overflowing clinics.

Avoid the crowds

These socially distanced times are a great reason to steer clear of tourist hotspots. If you’re fed up with the numbers in Cartagena, many head further up to Palomino, but that’s pretty paraco and filling up too. Why not swing the other way and head to Coveñas? It’s on the Colombian tourist trail, but there are few foreigners and easy access to the San Bernardo islands, especially Múcura. You can head over to Chocó too, and boat to lesser-known destinations like Nuquí or the Caribbean Chocó.

The Llanos Orientales take up about a third of Colombia, but few people go out there. There’s less tourist infrastructure, that’s true, but if you’re comfortable with Colombian culture and speaking Spanish, there’s so much to see and little to worry about. San José de Guaviare has hit the guidebooks, but only just. There’s plenty of sights, including ancient rock paintings, spectacular rivers and eerie rock formations. Best of all, not many people to share it with for now. We first went in 2014, and every report since has said numbers are growing. There’s also Orocue in Casanare, which necessitates a boat trip and brings you enormous caimans and more capybara than you can shake a stick at.

The signing of the peace deal meant a few places opened up for the first time. While Chris Bell got there first too, anyone can get there now. We went rafting with ex-FARC members in Caquetá, brilliantly run and a chance to see a side of Colombia that had been off-limits for decades. The Estoraques natural park in Norte de Santander is mostly safe now too, with its spectacular rock towers.

This has been a tough year for tourism in Colombia. But if you’re feeling ready to venture further afield, there’s plenty of places to visit.

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