For decades, Colombia was synonymous with drugs—their production and distribution and all of the horrible things that go along with that industry. An armed revolutionary movement terrorized large parts of the countryside while paramilitary groups paid by large landowners for “protection” often did the same. In short, it wasn’t the ideal place for tourists to go exploring.
Recently, though, things have begun changing. After violence peaked in the 1990s, government forces have regained the upper hand. Millions of Colombians have taken to the streets to protest against violent conflict, the rebels have officially declared an end to kidnappings for ransom, and productive peace talks are currently taking place.
This is great news for Colombians, but it’s good news for us as well! Colombia is a dream come true for adventure tourists. Stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, the country’s territory consists of snow-covered mountain peaks, highland plains, picturesque beaches, and pristine lowland rainforest. Whereas other countries may have beautiful sites to “explore,” in Colombia you really are exploring—these are places that tourists simply couldn’t access even a few years ago.
As Colombia “comes back,” the government and individuals alike have plans to make tourism a major part of the process. And with good reason—the country’s natural blessings provide incredible settings for all sorts of activities. The rapid topographical shift from mountains to lowlands results in a diverse array of rivers, making Colombia a worldwide destination for rafting. The whitewater stream on one mountainside may be accompanied by a wide and lazy river on the other, and alongside these water bodies the country’s mountain plains are perfect for horseback riding. In the same highland regions, mountain biking is growing in popularity among tourists and locals alike.
From here, heading either north or west will take you to the Caribbean or Pacific coasts, respectively. Colombia’s 2,000+ miles of shoreline offer an array of options for adventurous types, from diving to surfing and beyond. The Caribbean coast is renowned for its clear and calm waters while the Pacific is known for its black sand and stronger currents.
Whatever you end up doing in Colombia, make sure to appreciate the experience. In the not-so-distant future, these might be the times that fellow-travelers look back on as the “Golden Age”—when Colombia opened up and shared its treasures for the first time.
Before You Go…
It’s like having your own personal travel guide with you on your trip!