God, what an amazing country !
After we had a day-trip to Guatapé from Medellin, we took a plane to the coast up north to Santa Marta on the coast. We stayed at the Dreamer Hostel which I can fully recommend: you will be fed well by the restaurant they run, the staff is friendly, helpful and most of the time smiling! 🙂
To be honest, we didn’t really enter Santa Marta city center. Kat had a little cold, so we decided to give us 2 days of rest relaxing at the Hostel’s pool. As we are usually lucky with our timing on travels, we had the fortune that during our Columbia trip, South Americas 2nd biggest carnival was taking place in Barranquilla, a city only 2 bus hours away from Santa Marta. So we joined a Hostel shuttle bus that went to see this outstanding parade. What was clearly remarkable, next to the really impressive dresses: How welcome we felt as tourists here. People came to us, actually told us that we are welcome, some participants of the parade even stopped to give us a hug. So our experience of very warm Colombians kept going.
Tayrona National Park
Our plans for the next day couldn’t have contrasted more to the packed carnival in Barranquilla: We entered the Tayrona National Park to camp there for 2 nights. Basically, you enter a park where no cars are allowed, have a 2 hour hike to the first beach and are then in paradise: Caribbean beaches, the most impressive coast line I have seen so far and hardly a connection to the outside world. You feel no hurry here, just book a place in a tent or a hammock in one of the campsites and relax. We placed ourselves on one of the dream beaches, enjoyed the views for 1-2 hours, packed our towel and wandered to the next paradise beach and stayed there for some time… you see: There is hardly anything wrong about that 🙂
Cartagena & Rosario Islands
I am not really sure whether it is allowed to leave Colombia if you haven’t seen Cartagena. It is named one of the most beautiful colonial cities and a must-see on the Colombian coast. While I can confirm now that it is indeed beautiful and the streets have a special Charme, you directly feel that it is VERY touristic. Cartagena has an airport that is directly connected to Miami and US and is the first go-to spot for lot of tourists that are not that interested in Colombia’s south, but prefer the picturesque past Carribean coast. The prices for accommodation and food are nearly 2-3 times than in the other cities, but at least the quality of restaurants and bars is really good from what we experienced, too.
On my last day (which was unfortunately yesterday), we got a place on a speedboat to the Rosario islands around 1 Hour away from the coast. The small islands are really nice, the turquoise of the water spectacular… but I didn’t like Playa Blanca, to be honest. It was much too crowded, the part of the beach where you could have had space to lay down a little was super narrow because the restaurants took too much space… we might have stopped at the “wrong part” of Playa Blanca, but that was my impression… I did like the beaches near Santa Marta much more (my favorite: “Los Angeles Beach” close to Palomino / Costeño)
Thanks for having me, Colombia!
Sadly, this is already the conclusion of my trip to Colombia – I’m currently at the airport waiting for my flight home. When I think back what expectations I had before coming here, I got to say: It was not really as I expected. Probably I was a little bit influenced by “Narcos” on Netflix and also by the common imagination that my surroundings in Germany have, but I expected it to be a little bit more similar to Cuba with rather basic infrastructure and less wealthier people… but in a lot of aspects, Colombia is further than we are in Europe. The transportation here is working pretty well – be it the busses, be it the outstanding Metro (with cablecars!) in Medellin, be it the very frequent domestic flight network. You get a whole lot restaurants, bars, huge supermarkets with a broader offering than we have it at home…
But the thing about Colombia that will be most in my mind will be the people: Even with my terrible basic Spanish, people have been very helpful, they greeted me, THE gringo double the height than the rest of the people here and with a skin that could give me the nickname “white walker”, most of the times with a smile.
When I google the words “Is Colombia”, the FIRST auto completion recommendation is: “Is Colombia safe”. I got to say that I also thought and read a lot about it before I flew to Colombia because you hear a lot of stories and rumors – and if you watched Narcos, you are a little scared anyhow.
But I have to say I never felt unsafe in Colombia. Of course, bad things might still happen and we obviously only wandered in the mainstream tourist areas and we also lost a mobile phone an pick-pocket (could happen in any city) … but as I said:
I felt very welcome and safe here.
So thanks Colombia for being so kind. The nature is amazing, the weather is good, the people are gorgeous – I think I will come back again ! 🙂