Colombia: From North to South

From the Caribbean Sea down to the Amazon rainforest, Colombia is a vibrant and diverse country filled with lush jungles, towering mountains and white sand beaches. Escaping the political unrest that has troubled this beautiful country for decades, Colombia is now making a name for itself as the up-and-coming travel destination in South America. Travel expert and self-proclaimed adventurer Sophie Binns takes us on a journey from the North to the South of this unique and intriguing country, through cities, colonial towns and the extraordinary Coffee Triangle.

At the most northern point of Colombia lies the La Guajira Peninsula. Romantic, isolated, with rising dunes and picturesque fishing villages, this desert landscape is laced with history, lusted after for centuries by the Spanish conquistadors, smugglers from Europe and pirates for the wealth of pearl deposits found there. This area is difficult to reach and not for the faint hearted, but that makes the journey there all the more worth it. Head to Cabo de la Vela and sleep in one of the beachfront hammocks, taking in the views: on one side, the ocean and on the other, desert as far as the eye can see.


Lobby Gran Salon at Casa Pestagua

Following the coast south, you will reach the city of Cartagena de Indias. Founded in 1533 by the Spanish, Cartagena grew quickly, aided by the gold and precious metals plundered from the tombs of long gone native cultures. Attacked by pirates, desired by the English, Cartagena remained under Spanish rule, against all odds, for nearly 3 centuries. Now the Old Town’s cobbled streets and faded colonial beauty entices and inspires its visitors; it is best explored on foot and at leisure. Hidden away in a maze of winding streets, is a yellow painted colonial house, covered in purple bougainvillea: boutique hotel Casa Pestagua. The hotel has 11 rooms, a large pool and a rooftop Jacuzzi, offering visitors a truly luxurious stay without losing any of its colonial glamour or charm. Outside the confines of the Old Town, you will find an expansive and modern metropolis, full of art galleries, hotels, shops and nightclubs.

Continuing your trip southwards and into the centre of this diverse country, you will find many beautiful towns and villages, but none as much so as Barichara and Villa de Leyva. Both towns were declared national monuments and as such have been miraculously preserved, despite the increasing number of tourist visits. Villa de Leyva is the more conveniently located of the two, being only three hours’ drive from Bogotà, thus this picturesque colonial town, with cobbled streets and beautiful churches, has become a popular destination for visitors. Barichara meanwhile is further afield and quieter than Villa de Leyva but well worth the visit: both for the beautiful colonial architecture and for the adventure activities in nearby town of San Gil.


Hacienda Buenavista

Although the capital of Bogotà is a key part of any trip to Colombia, a melting pot of urban cool and historical heritage, we take you next deep into the heart of the famous Colombian Coffee Triangle. Dotted with coffee plantations, the lush landscape around Pereira, Manizales and Armenia is absolutely stunning. From the deserts of La Guajira in the north, this countryside is unrecognisable. Visit one of the fincas (local coffee farms) and then explore the landscape on one of the many horseback trails. When you’re ready for bed (once the caffeine has worn off), there’s nowhere better than the luxurious Hacienda Buenavista. This boutique hotel has five individual suites, outdoor dining on the garden terrace and – best of all – unparalleled views across the Colombian countryside from the hotel’s beautiful infinity pool. The Hacienda Buenavista also has its own working farm, with 100 acres of avocados, passion fruit, plantains, and mandarins.

The last stop on our journey (although by no means covering everything there is to see and do in this amazing country) is Popayán, which lies in the South West of the country and on the main highway towards Ecuador. It is known as La Ciudad Blanca (“The White City”) for the white facades that cover its colonial buildings; key sites include the Iglesia de San Francisco and the Torre del Reloj. If you are lucky enough to visit this unique town during Holy Week, you will witness Semana Santa, one of the largest Easter celebrations in the world, second only to Seville in Spain, with nightly processions and tens of thousands of visitors.

We are madly in love with this diverse and exciting country, a juxtaposition of old and new, of city and country; devastatingly beautiful and untamed, we can’t think of anywhere else we’d rather be.

To discover more about Colombia explore the extraordinary Biodiversity in Colombia Experience or contact

Biodiversity in Colombia

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