While I was hoping to go to Chile from Canada, the costs of the flight and touring at Punta Arena's is out of the question.
I have heard some sparse good things re Columbia. I also heard they have the worlds most dangerous drug there, Scopolamine... (not a cool drug at all).
Anyways, I am adventures and wanting to do a hiking/ mountaineering trip n South America.
Has anyone been to Columbia?
What is there to do there but dance and beach?
Any suggestions or directions would be fantastic! Looking to go for TWO weeks in February 2008.
I am going to colombia around May/June 2008, I have a Colombian friend who lives in Bogota who told me several things. Firstly she said it's not as bad as the media makes out as they "over-hype" stories, she said Bogota is great, the people are friendly and I will have a great time. She mentioned that the country is a lot safer than it used to be. and that Cartagena is a lovely place to go, and there is also a national park called Tayrona Park near the city of Santa Marta in Northern Colombia. She said there were lots of tourists and backpackers there and it's well worth a visit.
However, she also told me that many rural locations in Colombia are not safe, I think she said especially in the South of the country. There is the civil war and I'm sure she said the South is a FARC stronghold. She said there's a very real threat of terrorism and kidnapping in certain places especially by roadblocks, although the present government has done quite a bit to reduce this. She told me to travel by bus in rural locations isn't safe either, and there's places she won't go as she herself is afraid of paramilitary groups. Also, apparently you have to keep your wits about you in Bogota for the usual shit, muggers, pickpockets etc etc, but thats just normal advice for anywhere. I'm from Glasgow, Scotland, and I've been robbed twice here so I guess it happens anywhere lol.
I've heard good and bad stories about Colombia and I'm sure there'll be a lot better people on here (who have actually been) to reply to you. Feb is my first time travelling, just telling you what I've heard from my friend
Do some google searches man, you'll get heaps of info :-)
First off tourists are not @ threat of kidnap-not enough money to bother with.
Plus under the Uribe govt crime of all kinds is down.
I could go on and on but try www.poorbuthappy.com for lots more info-Colombia is a great place.
Besides the beach you have some amazing hiking in the mountains, in and around the town of minca there are many day and week hikes, these can bring you through paths not regularly used by westerners, luckily when we were there we had the opportunity to meet a german couple who lived locally and were able to bring us on a three day / 2 night hike to a traditional village, unlike the ''traditional '' ones normally on offer, if you like longer hikes and want a bit of history you could hike to the lost city...
on parque tayrona - its a nice park but make sure you bring plenty of supplies as in side everything is overpriced !!!
bogota is a very cosmopolitan city and has some great museums, theatres, restaurants, pubs and clubs, there are also nice views from the cable car ( but at that angle it does look just like every other city, sky rise buildings etc)
if you get a chance you should also try to get to salento , its a great place to sample some amazing coffee, from here you can get the coffee farm experience at a cheaper cost, from here it is quite easy to walk or get a lift to valle de colca, the jeep from town costs about $1.50 to get there, ans from my blog posting extract you can see that for all the disaster stories the colombians are among the friendliest you could ever meet
from here there is a five hour circuit walk through the mountain paths, a private house that opens its gates so people can see humming birds, cloud forests and the famous wax palm tree forest. The palm trees can grow to 50 metres high (thats 25 Arjans) , the trees are so tall and skinny that i kept expecting to see one break. The walk was really nice, even the muddy uphill crawling. The last climb is about 50 mins uphill at a steep incline, from here we emerged from the cloud forest into a fog filled field and out walked a white horse, maybe from the tiredness or the strange scenery we both expected to see Gandolph from Lord of the Rings to be walking behind him. It was like being in a fairytale. When we got back to the base we found out we had missed the last jeep back to town by 15 minutes, so we we had to walk the 10km back. The walk was long and involved a number of hills but we weren`t too worried, okay well a little. It was starting to get dark quickly, our torch batteries had died, it was starting to rain and we had no coats. We had also been told to be careful as there had been guerillia sightings recently and people didn`t like to pick up people on the road just in case. Millions of fireflies lit the road for us until the rain got too heavy, after we had walked about 6km and gotton soaked in the storm we heard a beeping horn. A local woman in a jeep felt sorry for us and told us to get in and she would drop us back to town, she wouldn`t take no for answer and told us not to worry about soaking her seats, she said she couldn`t just leave us there. Normally I would be cautious about getting in strange cars but we were just so greatful for the lift and the shelter back to the town.
Playa Blanca. Its a boat journey into the caribean sea away from the city. The beach was really nice, the water was clear and when all the tourists left the place was practically deserted, it was pure heaven. On a busy day there was about 15 people on the beach in the evening, by the day there was more when the tours arrived but that was for 3 hours only. Even then the beah was big enough not to be crowded.
Hope some of this helps a little... if you have any specific message drop me a pm and i'll try to help .....
but in summary , give Colombia a chance, its one of my favourite countries in the world !!! After Paraguay , Colombians are the friendliest and most helpful people I have ever met !! and the scenery is breath taking !!!
Be sure and save time for San Augustin and Tierradentro. They are in the south of the country and close to the Ecuadorian border. Excelent hiking and horseback riding, and well worth the 6 hour jorney over unpaved highway from Popoyan.
I second Valle de cocora and even recpmmend taking your gear for an overnight as there are two refuges at along the hike. I have forgotten the names, but the you can get more info when you get to Salento. Checfk with the owner of Plantation house for details.
Colombia is fantastic, for me the best counrty I have seen in SA.