Colombia is the country that has it all, from tropical rainforests and endless deserts to awesome volcanoes, laid-back Caribbean beaches and wild plains where our cowboys roam. It’s impossible to see it all… or is it? Here are our top 10 essential Colombian experiences, if you’re keen to try everything this country has to offer…
1) Eat a big-butt ant
Colombians are fond of their food and delighted to offer visitors dishes like bandeja paisa, ajiaco and posta negra. But if you want the ultimate Colombian eating experience, go for an hormiga culona, the toasted ant that’s a Santander speciality.
Photo: Marcelo Träsel
(You can also read: Colombian insects you can eat)
2) Go fishing for piranhas
The Amazon is the world’s most famous river and there’s no better way to experience it’s allure than to go fishing for piranhas. Leticia is Colombia’s gateway to the Amazon and the best place to get your bait on.
(You can also read: Colombia’s favorite fish dishes)
3) Get lost in the desert
You haven’t seen the stars until you’ve seen them from the desert. Try the fossil-rich Tatacoa desert, near Neiva or head north to La Guajira and say hello to the flamingos as you head into one of Colombia’s remotest corners.
(You can also read: Five amazing Colombia archaeological sites)
4) Dance ’til dawn
Colombians can move. Whether it’s salsa, merengue or bachata in the cities or regional favorites like joropo in the eastern plains and vallenato and cumbia on the Caribbean coast, you haven’t spent a night in Colombia until you’ve danced it all away.
(You can also read: Everything you need to know about Cumbia)
5) Dunk cheese in your chocolate
Bogota is the “Athens of Latin America” and one of its intellectual hearts. And how do all those poets, writers and artists sustain themselves? They dunk cheese in their hot chocolate apparently. Try it and await the inspiration.
Photo: William Neuheisel
(You can also read: Homes of the stars: Five historic Colombian houses)
6) Bathe in mud
Yep, you heard us. Strip down to your swimwear and take the plunge into the healing bliss of El Totumo, the legendary mud volcano close to Cartagena.
(You can also read: Colombia’s Myths and Legends)
7) See an animal you’ve never seen before
Whether it’s sloths, parrots or pink dolphins; turtles, toucans or poison-dart frogs; capybaras, pelicans or anacondas, Colombia is one of the world’s most mega-diverse countries. Get involved.
(You can also read: 7 curious Colombian animals)
8) Dive down to the reef
If the animals above land don’t amaze you, the ones underwater will. Dive down to the reefs near San Andres and Providencia or head to Gorgona and Malpelo islands to be entranced by sharks, dolphins, turtles and whales.
(You can also read: Colombia’s Oceans: the best view in South America)
9) Visit a festival
Get into the party spirit at celebrations including Barranquilla Carnival, Medellin Flower Festival, Valledupar’s vallenato extravaganza, Neiva’s Bambuco Festival or Pasto’s Black and White Carnival. And when you’re tired of partying, try Cartagena’s literary Hay Festival or Bogota’s ArtBo.
Photo: Michele Mariani
(You can find the schedule of events here)
10) Have a cup of coffee
Easy. Head to a hacienda in the misty hills of Colombia’s much-loved Coffee Cultural Landscape, learn how the world’s finest beans are grown, wait for a fresh brew, let that intoxicating smell linger in the air… and sip.
(You can also read: Colombia’s top five souvenirs)
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