Colombia: The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay
Well, at least according to Colombia’s official travel guide. 🙂
I guess this is the government’s rather amusing attempt at dealing with the country’s kidnapping/cocaine capital reputation? Events which are apparently much reduced and under control these days, along with decades of civil conflict. Let’s hope so!
With Lonely Planet proclaiming that “Colombia’s back…[and] now safe to visit,” a lot of internet research, and the fact that Bogota is one of the few direct destinations available to us on our RTW ticket, Colombia made the cut and is the first South American destination on our journey.
You’ll have to excuse this blog over the next few months as it basically degenerates into a place for me to write down and log all of the research and ideas for our planned destinations.
Right now, we’re planning on flying from Houston to Bogota. After spending 2 or 3 days exploring the city, we’ll take a 4 hour, $6 bus ride north to Villa de Leyva, which is supposed to be an almost untouched colonial town complete with cobblestone streets and whitewashed walls. It was declared a national monument in 1954 and is popular with Colombian locals on weekends. A quick internet search shows lots of super B&B type accommodation options for between $20-30. Sounds like our kind of town.
After that, we’ll make our way to Cartagena, which by most accounts, is the marquee destination of Colombia. We’ll see. To get there from Bogota, we can take a 20 hour bus journey, or book a flight. If we were taking this trip a few years ago, it definitely would’ve been the bus, but fortunately for us, it’s not a few years ago, so it’ll probably be a flight. I’m not too sure how I feel about the safety of long overland routes through Colombia anyways, despite the marketing to the contrary.
Though it’s on the Caribbean coast, the beaches of Cartagena are city beaches, and apparently not that nice. To get a postcard worthy beach, we may have to head to Santa Marta, a 4 hour bus ride away. From there, it’s 1 hour to Parque Nacional Tayrona. Of course, we could also just hop onto another plane and visit one of the other Caribbean islands that are so tantalizingly close by…
The other major spot to consider is Ciudad Perdida – Colombia’s “Lost City,” which involves a 6 day, 44 km hike through land that was once affected by armed conflict between the Colombian National Army, ELN and FARC. The area is apparently ‘safe’ now, with the Colombian Army actively patrolling the area, and preventing any more tourists from getting kidnapped and held for ransom.
We’ll probably skip it, not so much because of the danger element, but more because we’d rather focus budget and energy on Machu Picchu. Besides, I don’t think that this bear has more than 1 intense hike in her per trip!!