Just back from…Colombia with Chris Rendell-DunnChris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Our Real Latin America Expert
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.
What country did you visit?
When did you visit?
How did you get there?
I flew direct from London Heathrow to Bogotá with Avianca.
Whereabouts did you go?
I went to Bogotá, the coffee region, Cartagena, the Rosário Islands, Tayrona National Park and Santa Marta.
Had you been before?
Yes, over 20 years ago!
If so, any notable differences?
Both Bogotá and Cartagena (which I previously visited) were a lot busier but with so much more on offer; many more restaurants serving local and international cuisine, bars, art galleries. I also felt very safe.
What were your most memorable moments?
The excursion to La Carbonera to see the wax palms in the coffee region. was a real treat because it’s much less visited than the more popular Cocora Valley which gets very busy particularly at the weekends.
And Zipaquirá, the amazing salt cathedral close to Bogotá.
Were there any surprises along the way?
The traffic in Bogotá – allow plenty of time to get about!
What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?
Give yourself plenty of time, at least 3 nights in the coffee region as there are lots of things to see and do. Apart from the famous wax palm trees, you can also visit a working coffee plantation, go birdwatching, hill walking, zip lining, visit graceful colonial towns and there’s a botanical garden and a butterfly farm.
Is there anything indispensable to pack or prepare for?
Sun and mosquito protection. Light raincoat.
Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?
Arepas are served all over Colombia. They are like small thick tortillas usually served for breakfast, lunch and dinner to accompany your main meal. In Cartagena, you’ll find arepas stuffed with egg which made a great alternative to an egg butty.
Patacones (plantain crisps) make a great snack to accompany an ice cold beer.
Ajiaco (chicken & potato soup) is usually served at lunchtime and is particularly popular in the mountains.
Hailing from Peru, it’s not easy to admit eating a decent ceviche outside of Lima but I have to admit the ceviche on Colombia’s coast was delicious.
Of course, you have to try the coffee and rum. Of all the varieties of rum on offer, my favourite in Ron Viejo de Caldas.
The historic centre in Cartagena is a colonial jewel and is justifiably one of the most popular places to visit in Colombia. But don’t overlook the lively neighbourhood of Getsemani. Just a 15-minute walk from the historic centre, the streets are bursting with artistic talent, live music and feisty rum punch. I loved wandering the maze of colourful streets leading off Plaza Trinidad and exploring the street art.
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