Colombia is an incredibly unique, welcoming and unspoilt destination showcasing some of the most fascinating culture and experiences in South America. Whether it be stargazing in Tatacoa desert, mountain biking in the Sierra Nevada or participating in a cooking class in Cartagena, Colombia caters to every adrenaline junkie, budget conscious or sophisticated traveller’s needs. We share with you our top five insider experiences to make your next trip to Colombia one that you will not forget!
1. Hike through Chingaza National Park
Chingaza National Park is situated in the Eastern Ranges of the Colombian Andes and is home to incredible landscapes, unique wildlife encounters and over 2000 different species of plants. Witness the spectacled bear, the páramo tapir, the Andean condor and if you are quick enough, the puma just to name a few! Explore ancient and sacred sites and be blown away by Chingaza National Parks natural beauty dotted with majestic lakes.
2. Play Tejo with the locals
In Bogota, Tejo is a traditional sport which is played by many locals and often includes a little gambling, plenty of laughter and friendly banter amongst players, as well as copious amounts of traditional food and beer. Tejo is played by throwing a metal disc or puck at a distance of approximately 20 metres, with the aim of hitting the centre of the board with the metal disc. In the centre of the board there is a circular metal ring filled with gunpowder like material that explodes on impact if hit. Tejo is a fantastic Colombian game and offers travellers a great way to immerse themselves into and experience the local way of life.
3. Market Visit and Foodie Tour
Cartagena de India’s market visit and food tour provides fascinating insight into the culinary world of Colombia’s famous Caribbean coast and is designed for those adventurous travellers who are interested in indigenous cooking using local ingredients. Begin in Mercado Bazurto, Cartagena’s bustling central market, where you will be accompanied by a local chef who will help you select fresh ingredients that will be used during your cooking class. From here, you will transfer to a private colonial house in the walled city where you will prepare your masterpiece with the help of your expert guide.
4. Stargazing in Tatacoa Desert
The Tatacoa Desert, is the second largest arid zone in Colombia and occupies 300 square kilometres of land. Enjoy the unique experience of getting back to nature and witnessing thousands of stars dispersed across the clear night sky. The Tatacoa Desert receives virtually no light pollution, making it one of the best places in Colombia for stargazing. At the observatory, a local astronomer is on hand to provide information on the stars and point out the constellations. This is a truly unique and memorable experience and should be on your bucket list!
5. Visit a local indigenous community
In Santa Marta, enjoy a full day trip and visit two indigenous Colombian communities, the Arhuaco and Kogui. Throughout the day, you will trek through the Mamaisi River and Sierra Nevada forests, learn about the traditional indigenous customs and culture, discuss mythology and be invited to see one of the houses that belongs to the indigenous community members. You will also have the unique opportunity to participate in the daily activities of the Arhuaco and Kogui people, including learning how to barter for food according to the community’s lifestyle. This is a truly eye-opening, fun and fascinating cultural experience!
Want to make these experiences yours? Check out our range of Colombia small group tours!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.