Think about Colombia, South America, for your next vacations and you will discover another hidden pearl of outstanding beauty, not to mention the natural warmth of Colombian people.
Colombia has undergone terrible pain in recent decades for the vast majority of its population.
Years of political unrest and drug-related conflicts has kept the country away from main stream tourism to South America.
Great news is that Colombia is back for good!. For the last decade or so it has succeeded to bring peace and prosperity to a great extent.
In fact, today, large parts of Colombia are perfectly safe for travelers while others would still require to exercise caution to move around.
We love Colombia for many different reasons, but if we have to boil it down to a single two, I wouldn't hesitate to mention my unconditional Colombian friends and the fact that the country has given us all Gabriel Garcia Marquez - almost a personal friend as I grew up reading him since my teenage years
Nobel Prize of Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (born in Aracataca in 1927) is one of the greatest writers of the XX century.
I have yet to find somebody else able to convey the spirit of the Caribbean as superbly as he has done it.
"Macondo" and his Nobel Prize winner "One Hundred Years of Solitude" are forever engraved in my memory.
Furthermore, who doesn't remember "Love in the Times of the Cholera" (1985), "Chronicle of a Death Foretold" (1981) or "Autumn of the Patriarch" (1975), to mention but some?..
But, wait, we are just unfolding some of the secrets Colombia South America has in store, there is much, much more to come. Let's start by reviewing some quick facts...
Capital: Bogotá; 7,594,000
Population: 45 million (2008 estimate)
Area: 1,141,748 sq km (440,831 sq miles).
Currency: Colombian Peso (COP)
Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 1,976.00 COP (Nov. 2009)
Religion: 90% Roman Catholic plus small Protestant and Jewish minorities.
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Your Colombia South America travel experience will most likely start in the capital city of Bogota, main gateway to elsewhere in the country and well worth visiting for a few days before moving inland.
To the North of Bogota visit the small Colonial-style towns of Mompos and Villa de Leyva, where time has ceased to exist.
For the adventure sports oriented San Gil has just about everything one can ask for...
Definitely, San Gil is the place to visit on your overland journey to Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast.
Cartagena de Indias is Colombia travel par excellence, provably the most beautiful colonial city in Latin America.
While on the Caribbean coast, Tayrona National Park and Rosario islands have some of the finest South America beaches.
You wouldn' want to miss the beach resort of Santa Marta either. Founded in 1525, it was the last home of the Gran Libertador Simon Bolivar (he died at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino in 1830).
If you love jungle trekking and archaeology, make Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) part of your Colombia South America travel experience. A six day trek to a place believed to be six centuries older than Machu Picchu, in Peru.
If scuba diving and snorkeling are your passions head off to San Andres island and Providencia. To reach Providencia you can either take a flight or a catamaran from San Andres.
It hosts the world's third largest barrier reef after the Great Barrier Reef in Far North Queensland, Australia and the one in Belize. I used to live for a while in Port Douglas (about one hour driving to the North of Cairns) and had the chance to sail, snorkel and scuba dive in those waters, one of the greatest experiences of my entire life.
Another great spot for diving is on the Pacific coast, specifically Gorgona island, also famous for being Colombia's foremost place for whale watching.
By the way, to see the full spectrum of diving sites Colombia South America has to offer, download this PDF booklet , named Colombia Diving. It was produced by Proexport Colombia. Many thanks for that.
Heading south of Bogota, your Colombia travel experience should include the city of the eternal spring, - as Medellin is known - and, of course, pay a visit to Santa Fe de Antioquia, another pearl of Colonial style.
The region known as "coffee country" is not far from there.
Colombians know a thing or two about coffee, wouldn't you say? Its quality coffee beans are worldwide famous and it's been the country's economic engine for decades now. Who doesn't remember Juan Valdez and his mule Conchita Colombian coffee is recognized for?..
Its lush green mountains on the western slopes of the Central Andes also provide you with options to go horseback riding, hiking and rafting. For trekking, Los Nevados National Park is provably the best destination in the country.
To warm up after the hights nothing better than to reach down south to the mighty Amazon rainforest, to the very core of South America.
Spending some time in a jungle lodge near Leticia (main port to the Amazon river) while planning to cross over to Tabatinga (Brazil) or to make it to Iquitos (Peru) altogether, it looks like a very doable task, isn't it?..
The following is the total list of sites listed by UNESCO...
Colombia has forty nine (49) natural areas conforming the National Natural Park System making it one of the richest countries in terms of cultural and biological diversity.
For a better understanding of its outstanding variety read this pdf booklet: Colombia National Parks, creation of Proexport.
Colombia South America has it all. You are guaranteed to make your travel to Colombia one of the greatest and most unique South America travel experiences of your life.
As they say, your biggest risk is...wanting to stay..