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Top Colombia

Colombia: A Country Of Contrasts

Colombia is certainly a country of contrasts. You may find yourself paragliding off of an enormous mountain one day and sunbathing on the beach the next. If you’re searching for a blend of both, try some of these pairings:



Desierto Tatacoa & Isla Gorgona—Do you prefer dry or wet conditions? You’re in luck, because Colombiaoffers both extremes. Tatacoa offers a glimpse of dry desert with cactus, sand and wildflowers,while Isla Gorgona, the country’s largest Pacific island, is covered with lush, tropical rainforest, and you can spot humpback and sperm whale.



Salento & Coveñas—Both of these small towns are perfectly secluded, and offer tourists privacy, but in very different settings. In Salento, visitors delight in the crisp air and gorgeous Valle de Cocora, where the hillside is dotted with palmas de cera, Colombia’s tall, skinny national tree. Then, in Coveñas, the warm tropical beach is yours for the taking.



Ciudad Perdida & Parque Tayrona—Three full days of hiking in the northern Sierra Nevada will take you to an abandoned pre-Columbian town in the clouds, Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City). At 1,000 meters above sea level, tourists who have endured the trek will bask in the glory of old times. Then, at sea level, on the way back to Santa Marta, is the equally lovely and relaxing Parque Tayrona, another home to the Tayrona Indians, set in calm bays and palm trees.



San Gil & Barichara—One of the country’s centers for eco-adventure is San Gil, where rappelling, whitewater rafting and paragliding over the stunning Chicamocha Canyons shouldn’t be missed. Just 20 minutes by bus from San Gil is the sleepy colonial town of Barichara, where the buildings are perfectly white-washed. Walking along the cobblestone streets, listening to the patter of horse hooves, and observing the stone carvers leaves little to the imagination of how life used to be.



Villavicencio & El Cocuy—From lowland plains to skyscraping mountain peaks, Colombia can take you from one extreme to the other. Villavcencio is the gateway into the country’s low-lying Llanos, where joropo music and rodeos reign. Parque Nacional El Cocuy, at over 4,000 meters (13,130 ft) altitude, is home to northern South America’s largest ice pack. Here, travelers can spend days trekking around and scaling the almost two dozen snowy peaks.



Leticia & Providencia—The most extreme of contrasts is the immense Amazon jungle setting in Leticia with the small, Caribbean island life in Providencia. There’s nothing more Colombian about both: in Leticia, you laze around in small villages camped along the Amazon River; in Providencia, you walk or bike your way around, chatting it up with the Raizal. The opportunity to interact with locals abounds, and both cities are great ports to further exploration of Latin America. Leticia borders both Brazil and Peru, and Providencia is a very short plane ride from Costa Rica.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Colombia: Highlights, Highlights, Highlights, Colombia's Regions, Highlights, Colombia's National Parks And Reserves, Highlights and Highlights.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

26 Sep 2011

VIVA Colombia

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