Colombia was not on my bucket checklist when a chance arose to fill a emptiness on a preplanned tour. I admit, I left dwelling with low expectations. However one thing magical occurred someplace alongside the gorgeous Andes Mountains, and I fell in love with Colombia.
Through the subsequent 2 years, different journeys had been made in numerous areas, trying to find that excellent place within the Andes to relaxation my overworked, burnt out physique for a much-needed retirement. I’m a rustic lady at coronary heart and keep away from large cities. Most of my journeys discover rural areas of an unspoiled and genuine landscapes and cultures.
One of many unwanted side effects of the horrible drug cartel wars that lasted for a few years was that little or no modified within the rural areas. The media experiences around the globe regard excessive crime and violence in Colombia, however that’s not the case. In consequence, tourism improvement has been gradual. Colombia’s Spanish tradition — remaining from centuries-old colonization mingled with historical Andean Indigenous cultures — refuses to wither away.
Rural Colombia is saturated with small quaint villages, heat pleasant folks, and mountain surroundings I by no means uninterested in. Listed below are my picks, in no specific order, for probably the most charming villages within the Colombian Andes Mountains which can be value a cease alongside your journey.
1. Santa Fe Antioquia
Within the northern a part of Colombia, simply 35 miles north of Medellin, sits Sante Fe Antioquia the place structure displays Outdated Spain’s whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets. Based in 1541, this village acquired a coat of arms from King Phillip II of Spain, elevating its standing within the church which secured further royal funds used to construct an beautiful metropolis for distinguished residents.
Right this moment, the village is a vital Colombian historic web site guaranteeing nationwide consideration to protect buildings, creating a sense of being suspended in time.
Whereas dwelling in Medellin for two months, I took a day to wander across the city sq., chapels, and quarters as soon as stuffed with bishops and Spanish dignitaries. A number of must-see locations are the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Archiepiscopal Palace, the Museum of Non secular Artwork, and the Plaza Mayor Juan de Corral.
Professional Tip: Tons of of vacationers arrive every weekend from Medellin, so reserve your tour early from a significant resort.
2. San Antonio De Pereira Neighborhood Of Rionegro
A preferred day journey vacation spot from Medellin, San Antonio de Pereira is a small neighborhood throughout the metropolis of Rionegro. With its personal central plaza, San Antonio de Pereira has a preferred outside market of artisan crafts corresponding to sombreros, belts, artwork, jewellery, pottery, and dulce (sweet). Plenty of dulce.
A preferred foodie vacation spot as a consequence of many high quality bakeries, their candy popularity dates again nearly a century when the realm was colonized for its fertile soil. Girls churned out jams and jellies from quite a few fruit bushes. The soil produces nutritious grass excellent for dairy farms, and milk was added to desserts creating the dulce de leche cake.
This four-layer cake is soaked with leche (milk) and topped with a candy frosting. On the Dulce Contigo bakery, we discovered 30 completely different flavors of desserts in lengthy pans laid out on tables. The client pays on the door for one plate, a fork, and tickets, one for every bit of cake desired. The cake stroll begins across the tables as clients change tickets for a pleasant serving to of bliss.
Professional Tip: Medellin’s public bus system is trendy and straightforward to make use of. Purchase a ticket on the Central Metro Station for a cushty bus experience by a beautiful countryside.
This city surpasses the definition of a village however has a small-town really feel. Based in 1889 and renamed in 1930, Armenia is situated within the coronary heart of the “Espresso Cultural Panorama” declared a UNESCO World Heritage Website. A number of espresso plantations are open to the general public for excursions. Mine included choosing espresso beans with a pleasant donkey at my heels.
Armenia is dwelling to the Willy Jeep Pageant. The primary U.S. navy Jeep was launched to Colombia quickly after WWII for use by espresso plantations due to the automobile’s capability to function in a rugged steep mountainous surroundings. Nicknamed steel mules, the Jeeps have grow to be an necessary a part of the espresso tradition.
Professional Suggestions: Flying from Medellin is perhaps a greater choice than driving as a consequence of heavy site visitors by the Andes Valley. Armenia has a big number of glorious inns, as properly.
An enthralling village only a 4-hour drive south of Medellin, Jardín is thought for its well-preserved, brightly painted homes with hand-carved balconies that encompass a big plaza stuffed with flowers, tables, and locals getting the newest information firsthand. First, be part of them for a hearty breakfast and soak within the expertise.
Subsequent, take a brief hike to the Cascada La Escalera, a double waterfall hidden within the surrounding lush gardens and forest. My favourite exercise is chook watching on the Reserva Pure Jardín de Rocus the place the beautiful Andean cock-of-the-rock birds reside.
Professional Suggestions: Save the Reserva Pure Jardín de Rocus journey till sundown when the birds are most lively. There are quite a few climbing trails, however many usually are not marketed so ask your resort supervisor for instructions or how you can rent a information.
5. El Santuario, Risaralda
Because the gateway to the Tatama Nationwide Pure Park, El Santuario is without doubt one of the busiest villages in Colombia. Catering to vacationers passing by in search of the great thing about this necessary nationwide park, many are birdwatchers and orchid fanatics. Solely rustic cabins can be found within the park however there are a lot of choices for inns and eating places in El Santuario.
Nestled in a valley surrounded by large Andes Mountains, many guests from Medellin benefit from the scenic drive and mountain views. The Spanish Colonial structure is unbroken and preserved, however outside actions are restricted to contained in the park.
Professional Tip: Banks and ATM machines for U.S. bank cards can be found within the downtown space and are good and protected locations to get money.
6. El Cairo
Designated a UNESCO Historic Website, this colourful Spanish Colonial village situated close to Colombia’s northern border is greatest identified for its forest espresso. Not like shade or shadow espresso, forest espresso bushes are planted beneath an uncut forest cover that features fruit bushes, flowers, bamboo, and greens. This revived historical method produces a singular style and eco-friendly product as a result of the shaded beans keep moist, forest animals eat bugs eliminating pesticide use, and the vegetation achieve vitamins from forest particles.
Professional Tip: I extremely advocate staying on the Pizzeria la Roma, a cool hostel owned by Maria, an artist specializing in turning trash into artwork. She additionally makes superb pizzas with contemporary backyard substances.
West of Bogota surrounded by wax palm bushes, Salento lies within the Cocora Valley identified for superb views of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Most guests are younger backpackers from around the globe who come to hike the volcano and luxuriate in energetic nightlife.
Salento provides high quality inns, cafés, music, and artisan crafts. My favourite lodge is the eco-friendly Resort Salento Actual with a stunning Spanish inside and photo voltaic panels for electrical energy.
Professional Suggestions: Salento is close to Bogota, the biggest metropolis in Colombia, and well-liked for biking and horseback using. Make reservations early for lodging.
Positioned within the central Andes smack in the course of lush forest and low plantations, this charming village untouched by trendy architectural modifications has among the most colourful buildings in Colombia. However the very best half, most vacationers head over to close by Salento preserving this sleepy little city a secret gem.
Retiring in Colombia didn’t occur, but when it had, this might be the place the place many eco-tourism alternatives with small parks and reserves are close by — such because the Barbas-Bremen nature reserve that resembles a real jungle full with howler monkeys.
Filandia can also be a preferred Sunday afternoon day journey for Bogota residents with a ardour for biking. There are quite a few uncrowded filth tracks excellent for biking previous lovely farms and breathtaking lookouts over the Andes Mountains.
Professional Tip: A few of the most scenic views of the Andes are on the outskirts of Filandia. One of the best ways to see them is to hop on a Chiva, a vibrantly adorned bus used as a rural public bus system.
Earlier than You Go
Few folks communicate English within the rural areas, so brush up in your Spanish. There are quite a few translation apps that work in Colombia, however it’s best to buy a brand new sim card and short-term service with a Colombian cellphone firm. The Web is often free in rural areas.
Climate smart, there is no such thing as a dangerous time to go to Colombia due to the nation’s proximity to the equator. The temperature modifications in response to the elevation. There are dry or moist seasons however the timetable modifications across the nation, so verify the climate patterns within the space.
Colombia hosts a world of fantastic experiences, together with: