4 breathtaking Colombian destinations you have to see
Why travel to Colombia? Because it is a beautiful country. It is one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries, houses more orchid species than any other country on the planet and has made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list on eight different occasions. These enticing, interesting facts suggest that a country is worth a visit, but they do not necessarily tell you what you will actually see once you are there. And while the rolling green mountains, scorching deserts, exotic coastlines, Amazonian rain forests, modern cities, colonial towns and more, easily impress any traveler, there are a number of photogenic hidden gems in Colombia that will have you checking flight schedules as soon as possible.
#1: Caños Cristales
Also known as ‘the river that escaped from paradise’, Caños Cristales is an enchanting natural beauty. From July through November, the river’s water levels recede due to decreased rainfall. This creates the optimal conditions for the endemic macarenia clavigera plant to flower and paint the river with surreal colors, ranging from fuchsia, red, maroon, orange, yellow, green, blue and even black. And while the river alone is a sight to behold, its location in the Colombian Amazon of the Meta department means that its banks are bursting with native wildlife like iguanas, howler monkeys, and ruby red macaws.
In order to conserve this delicate and unusual ecosystem, visitors must be accompanied by a guide, adhere to a ban on sunscreen and insect repellent and respect a cap of 200 people to the area on any given day. So rest assured, this place is accommodating to travelers, and smart travelers that are accommodating to its preservation.
#2: San Andrés
Together with the Providencia and Santa Catalina islands, San Andrés forms one of the 32 departments of Colombia, despite the fact that the archipelago is actually located closer to the Nicaraguan coast than to the Colombian mainland. So, what is there to do? How about enjoying a tropical paradise while drinking from a freshly husked coconut under the Caribbean sun? In between lazy days, visitors can also go scuba diving or snorkeling in the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve surrounding the islands. The Seaflower reserve covers a tenth of the Caribbean sea, and is identified by UNESCO for the impressive coral and fish diversity within its reefs and mangroves.
Rumored to be the prettiest town in Colombia, Barichara has a privileged position on the list of the 17 Cultural Heritage Towns. This community of roughly 7,000 people in the department of Santander was declared a national monument in 1978 for its exceptionally well-preserved colonial architecture. Its elegant character is defined by the white buildings, ochre coloured rooftops, cobblestone roads and mountainous surroundings. It is also the site of the important Festiver Film Festival, an event that will celebrate its 7th edition this year in September. Having been a filming location for a number of Colombian telenovela series like La Pola and Verano en Venecia, this idyllic town has all the charm to make it perfect for celebrating such an event.
By taking a bus from the department’s capital, Bucaramanga, you can arrive to Barichara in two hours. A bus ride from one of the country’s adventure tourism hotspots, San Gil, will take you there in just one hour.
#4: San Agustín Archaeological Park
One of the eight Colombian places that have made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List, this archaeological park covers an area of 116 hectares. It is South America’s largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures, built between the 1st and 8th century. According to UNESCO, the sites include funerary monuments and statuary, burial mounds, terraces, funerary structures, stone statuary and the Lavapatas Spring – a religious monument carved into the stone bed of a stream. San Agustín is the perfect place to admire the cultural heritage of the pre-Columbian cultures that inhabited the Northern Andes, as well as the continuous efforts of researchers to discover the secrets of the monuments these civilizations left behind.
Why travel to Colombia? To boost your career and visit these breathtaking places. Learn more about interning abroad in Colombia.
Sources: http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/co, http://www.biodiversitya-z.org/content/megadiverse-countries, http://www.colombia.co/en/this-is-colombia/environment/7-interesting-facts-colombian-orchids/, https://www.pueblospatrimoniodecolombia.co/, http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20140903-colombias-liquid-rainbow, http://www.nationalgeographic.com.es/naturaleza/grandes-reportajes/el-rio-que-escapo-del-paraiso-2_8507/3, http://www.unesco.org/mabdb/br/brdir/directory/biores.asp?mode=all&code=COL+05, http://seecolombia.travel/blog/2014/10/barichara-the-prettiest-town-in-colombia/, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/colombia/north-of-bogota/barichara/introduction, http://festiver.org/locacion/, http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/744, http://www.colombia.travel/en/where-to-go/andean/san-agustin