Around The World: Colombia

Termales Santa Rosa del Cabal
Visiting Colombia was an easy decision for our family. It is a beautiful country that had been on our radar for some time for both personal and professional reasons. Two of our absolute favorite people in this world are Colombian and had been encouraging us to go. John, who is in the beginning stages of a coffee business, was eager to make connections on the ground and to experience first hand the delicious specialty coffee of the country.
Our tour with Santiago whose family owns a small coffee farm

This scouting trip allowed us to experience an amazing country that is on the front end of what is likely a growing tourism boom. It is always ideal to travel at these times before the crowds and expenses increase and things change too much. We were able to experience a lot of what Colombia has to offer and yet we know there is so much more. God willing, we will be back for the coffee, the people and of course the travel.
Two kinds of Coffee Cherry

We worked with a number of connections, including a fantastic Cartagena based travel logistics company and wonderful guides throughout the county to put together a 12-day itinerary including visits to Bogota, a coffee farm in Zipacon, Pereira (coffee region), and Cartagena.
Our invitation to watch the Presidential Guard Battalion practice

We started in Bogota where we spent time visiting with various coffee roasters, green coffee exporters, cupping experts and baristas. I learned and experienced more about coffee than I had thought possible and I can only imagine many others would love to experience the same. Given that my husband is obsessed with coffee and is opening his own coffee roasting business, we will have many connections and experiences to offer Purposeful Wanderings clients if they have this interest.

In addition to coffee tourism, we visited some of the main sites such as Monserrate and Plaza Bolivar. Hiring a driver in Bogota is a must, especially for first time travelers. Guides are also necessary and the ease and knowledge that they provide is worth more than the money they charge. I believe that many will find their rates to be rather inexpensive. 

Our cabin in the middle of a coffee farm

After an interesting stay in Bogota learning about coffee and visiting some of the main sites of the city, we took a two-hour drive out of town to a very special boutique hotel in the middle of a coffee farm. The experience was truly intimate and unique. We were provided with a depth of coffee knowledge from a team that is as passionate about coffee as anyone we have ever met. The experience of being walked through bean to cup while on the farm was something we would love for others to experience. Living amongst the coffee trees in a simple cabin was peaceful and fun for the kids too. 
From Bogota we took a flight to Pereira which is in the coffee region. We were met with a smile at the airport and taken to our charming boutique hotel. The hotel was perfect for our family as it had bonfires at night, a pool, exotic birds, delicious food and open space for the kids to play while we ate. The people we have met along the way have been wonderful to us and especially fantastic with our children. It is easily one of the best countries we have traveled to with our young kids. I pictured a number of my clients taking their families here and it makes me smile to think of it.
Boutique hotel in the coffee region
We had two amazing guides in Pereira that I cannot say enough about. Both Pedro and George took excellent care of us and were such fun to be around. It truly felt like hanging out with good friends who happened to know a lot about the area.

Regardless of whether or not you like coffee, the coffee region should be on your travel list. We hiked Cocora Valley with the world’s tallest palm trees and were blown away by the beauty. We also visited the colorful town of Salento, spent time on an intimate small coffee farm with the family that owns it, had a delicious lunch with locals who became instant friends, and spent a morning enjoying the beautiful hot springs and water fall. For those who hike, cycle, or find peace within nature, it is clearly paradise. 
Cocora Valley

By Horse or Your Two Feet

Walking through the bean to cup process

stylish pools in the boutique Cartagena hotels
From the coffee region we took a short flight to Cartagena. We stayed within the fort walls which I would recommend as there are many beautiful boutique hotels in this historic area filled with shops, bars and restaurants. Cartagena is much more popular with international tourists than the other destinations which was a contrast to the previous destinations in which we felt the minority. Experiencing the three different regions brought about a broader view of the country. The terrain and climate is incredibly varied and so are the people. 

Our host and captain showing James the way

The best part of our stay in Cartagena was the day we spent on a 38ft private boat. Our host and boat captains took care of us with snacks, drinks and snorkel equipment as we spent time exploring Islas Rosarios. The water was a beautiful turquoise and we loved hearing the history of the area from our wonderful host. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of fresh fish with coconut rice at a stunning beach restaurant. It was the kind of place in which one could stay all day listening to music and laying by the sea. When we returned back, we took a dip in the stylish hotel pool before going to dinner at our favorite restaurant in the city. If you like good food and fun music, Cartagena is a city to visit. You can easily dance the night away and fuel up on delicious ceviches, patagones, fish and rice. 
Beautiful Blue Waters

I look forward to helping plan custom itineraries to Colombia for my clients that I adore as I have so much to share and fantastic people on the ground that will make any stay fabulous. Those who choose to travel here will be happy they did.
Coffee Farm Visit

Useful Words and Sayings:
1. Hello is both Hola or Buenas!
2. Nice to meet you is Mucho Gusto
3. Where is the hotel is Donde esta el hotel?
4. Can I pay with credit card is Puedo pagar con tarjeta de credito?
5. How much does it cost is Cuanto Cuesta?
Streets of Cartagena

Tips for Travel:

1. Learn Spanish or keep a phrase book with you. Many places will only speak Spanish
2. Be prepared to see many police and military presence. 
3. If you are prone to altitude or carsickness, it is best to come prepared with necessary medicine and action. The altitude affected us both for our first two days in Bogota and we also experienced carsickness when traveling the windy roads in Peiera. 
Fort Walls in Cartagena

Some Interesting Facts about Colombia:
1. The country’s name is pronounced Col-o-mbia, not Col-u-mbia. Many non-Spanish speakers get this wrong.
2. Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
3. Bogotá is the capital of Colombia. It is the second largest capital city in South America and at 2640 m (8661 ft) in the Andean Mountains it is one of the highest capital cities in the world.
4. Colombia's coffee is world renown and the amount of coffee that they produce production is in the top three in the world along with Vietnam and Brazil.
5. Colombia shares a border with 5 countries: Panama, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
6. The coffee triangle covers the three states of Quindio, Caldas and Risaralda and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
7. Cartagena was founded by Spanish explorers in 1533.


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