7 Backpacking Colombia destinations
May 12, 2016
Colombia doesn’t have ruins as popular and important as Machu Picchu in Peru, it hasn’t the beautiful Chilean Patagonia, it lacks of unique wildlife like in the Galapagos Islands but this destination is working as hard as possible to gain its own slise of tourism in South America and maybe be one of the top.
If you’re planning a trip to Colombia and wondering where to go, here’s my pick of the top 7 Colombia backpacking destinations to visit.
7. SILVIA GUAMBIANO MARKET
Guambiano or Misak are an indigenous colombian people known for their traditional clothing: blue scarf (worn as a sarong, rectangular ponchos and hat for the men; black skirt, solid color top, blue scarf and hat for the women. Where did we found these people?!?! Silvia is a market village where the Guambianos meet to buy, sell and exchange their goods. Although Tuesday is the best day to visit the village, it is recommended to visit the place as well any other day as the surrounding area is really beautiful and the Guambianos villages will be in full activity.
Just a tip: Guambianos are not very keen on pictures so ask for permission before taking their picture. Well, I think is a perfect Colombia backpacking destination.
6. CARTAGENA OLD TOWN
Cartagena was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984 for its historical importance as a port city. This city was our first destination in our 170 days around South America, we found its old town really interesting, It is a real gem of colonial architecture, packed with churches, monasteries, plazas, palaces and mansions with their overhanging balconies and shady patios. Great Colombia backpacking destination.
5. LAS LAJAS CATHEDRAL
In a small city called Ipiales and near the bording crosser between Colombia and Ecuador there is nothing to see, exept a shining star just outside of the town and a worth while to go to, the Santuario de las Lajas or Las Lajas Cathedral. This neo-Gothic church was built to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin which legend has it, her image appeared on an enormous vertical rock 45 m above the river. As you walk down the hill you will notice the multitude of plaques along the cliff wall placed by pilgrims from Colombia and abroad as thanks for the miracles that have occurred and are accredited to the working of the Virgin. Another top Colombia backpacking destination.
4. TATACOA DESERT
A not affectionately described as The Valley of Sorrows by Spanish conqueror Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, the arid desert landscape is best known for its mellow ochre, the deep revenant landscapes and the incredible dry tropical forest. This is a perfectly unique destination with spectacular lunar-like landscapes. Well, would you like to visit this amazing Colombia backpacking destination?! Take a look this post with helpful details about Tatacoa Desert…
3. COCORA VALLEY AND COFFEE ZONE
We spent 4 days in Colombia’s coffee area, including a great day hike to the unique Cocora Valley, where the longest palm of the world are, and a tour around a local organic coffee farm. We stayed in Salento, a lovely colonial town set amidst emerald green hills, as our base for exploring this scenic region of Colombia. It’s absolutely a must-see Colombia backpacking destination. Read my experience here!
2. “THE LOST CITY”
I need a full day, maybe, to talk about this place and our amazing cultural experience after 6 days trekking to the Lost City of Tayona culture. The Tayrona people built La Ciudad Perdida, or The Lost city over 1000 years ago. They called it Teyuna. The Spanish invasion pushed the natives high into the Sierra Nevada until they were so dispersed that their numbers dwindled and their cities were abandoned.
Sleep in hammocks among local communities while absorbing the unique culture of the area, then trek through lush jungles and across streams before arriving at the ruins of Teyuna. Explore the not crowded ruins at leisure and marvel at what would have been here in years gone by. Now we can say: it was time to discover this amazing destination. Trekking to Lost City, read my experience.
1. GUATAPE’ AND THE BIG ROCK
Why did I put this place at the top of this list?! Well, I just felt in love about this small but colourful pueblo and its surrounding area. First at all, El Penol: A 740-step monolith in Guatapè and there is no way to describe the amazing view from the TOP, It is definitely worth it to climb it. What about Guatapè? I LOVED IT. This incredible destination is a beautiful small town and I would recommend spending more than a day, you will find colourful and clean streets, painting houses, nice people and lovely restaurants in the lakeside area (Don’t miss the Trucha al Carbon, or Grilled Trout).
A few words to say about Colombian People: The Colombia’s violent past made it somewhat difficult for the local people to trust one another, but for me travelling around this country for 20 days was enough time to find out something about these people: friendly, open and really helpful.
Here how to discover South America in 2 minutes! Me and my wife in our best 120 shots of 6 months of travel… Enjoy
Author of this post: Davide
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Are those stairs going up La Piedra Del Penol? I think I would need a full 24 hours to make it to the top! wow
I never realized how beautiful Colombia is but your pictures make it look absolutely amazing and introduce a few new places for me. In particular, Teyuna…I’d love to spend some time with the locals of that village.
I’m thinking of (potentially) making my way around the Americas next year and Colombia is on the list! A few of my mates who’s been, rave about it. Guatape looks like a place I would definitely love! I will keep these places in mind for when I get around to planning out my trip!
You should Caroline, and contact me if you need to know something more about these places, I will enjoy to help you! 😀
Wow, so colourful and beautiful out there? Especially the Lost city and the waterfalls look amazing, but I also all the colourful houses. I would love to visit someday. Did you feel it was safe for backpacker to tour around in Colombia?
Yessss Paulaaaa absolutely safe for travellers; me and my girlfriend had met many people backpacking around the country, solo travellers too! So, keep in mind some places of the list and….take a flight!! Enjoy, 😀
To be completely honest Columbia is not on top of my list when I think of South America. Your post really makes me want to go there. I would love to discover the local people and their culture. The lost city just looks amazing. Great post and tips
Thank you for your comment Agnes; Colombia is must-see of South America, we were told that Colombia’s violent past made it somewhat difficult for the local people to trust one another, but for me travelling around this country for 20 days was enough time to find out something about these people: friendly, open and really helpful.
I’ve been twice to Colombia (not including 3 times to San Andres) and I would love to go back! Thanks for sharing these places some of which I had never heard of before (like the market, the desert and the cathedral). Hopefully I’ll make it back to Colombia soon!
Yes Lydia, I have few more places that I will post soon!! thanks for your comment
Your photos are really stunning. I got amazed with the cathedral. It is like a cathedral of heaven. I wonder how long did it take to build that cathedral. I do wonder if it is really safe to travel in Colombia.
I love that place too!! thanks for your comment, I appreciate!
Colombia is such a colorful country! Personally I would love to visit the waterfalls in the Cocora Valley area while sipping on an authentic Colombian cup of coffee! I would also love to visit the Lost City as it looks incredibly beautiful. 🙂
The best of Lost City is the 4/6 days trekking you need to make! Wonderful experience! thanks for sharing it
Wow- so much beauty to see in Colombia. I love the gorgeous mix of natural beauty, flora and fauna, and the colonial architecture.
Not just nature but you can find everything over there; best food dishes in South America, incredible culture and tradition in the middle and Sierra Nevada area! Thanks for your comment, keep following us
Would love to visit Colombia, it seems like such a beautiful country! A friend of mine went backpackin there recently and absolutely loved it too! As an absolute coffee lover, I would love to go hiking there!
Absolutely wonderful country where you can find everything to do, from the lovely beach on the North to the best trekking on Sierra Nevada area passing through Zona Cafetera in the middle!! Wow I really want to go back there and keep exploring Colombia; thanks for your comment
Colombia (and nearby countries) is on my bucket list! Thank you for this post! An I soooo love your photos! I am sucker for travel photos
Go there and you will enjoy! I spent 6 months around South America with my backpack and I will keep these memories with me for the rest of my life! Thanks for your comment and keep following us!!
so jealous. I’ve wanted to go to the lost city since I heard about it in elementary school. Sleeping in hammocks with the locals sounds like a dream.
Beautiful experience, I will keep it in my mind for the rest of my life…. 😀