Just Back From… Colombia With Alexandra Walker-
Our Real Latin America Expert
Where have you been?
I went on holiday to Colombia.
Have you been before?
No, this was my first time visiting Colombia.
How did you get there?
I flew with Avianca (there's a direct service that started in 2015) – the fares were really reasonable and the flight times worked out well for me.
How long were you there?
I had one full day and one night in Bogota at the start of the trip then I flew to Santa Marta before travelling to Tayrona National Park for two nights. I continued on to Palomino for two nights and then headed to Cartagena before finishing off with another night in Bogota.
Which was your favourite…
Place: Cartagena. I loved it as it is a beautifully preserved colonial town, brimming with character and good restaurants but it is also not too far from Caribbean beaches if you are looking to get away from it all.
Excursion: I would highly recommend the graffiti tour of Bogota – it gives you a great insight into Colombia’s history and current affairs through the eyes of various graffiti artists.
Appeals to which type of traveller?
Colombia is a popular choice for the more seasoned and adventurous traveller, but as it opens its doors to tourism, I would recommend it to pretty much anyone! In many places you do not encounter many other tourists and most locals only speak Spanish but this only adds to its authenticity. It would suit anyone with an interest in history, food, beach and breathtaking landscapes.
What did you pack?
Given that most of my trip was on the coast, I took as little as possible: a couple of swimming costumes, summery dresses, shorts, t-shirts, a comfortable pair of trainers (for Tayrona National Park) and two pairs of sandals. The only place that I went to that was cooler was Bogota where you can get rain throughout the year and the temperature will drop noticeably in the evenings as a result of the altitude - you will be thankful for a light jacket there.
Any good food, drinks, restaurants or bars recommendations?
The food in Colombia is delicious and varied. It doesn’t have the same reputation as many other South American countries but they have fantastic meat, seafood and fresh fruit as well as many vegetarian options. Eating out is also excellent value.
Andres Carne de Res, Bogota has a huge menu, great value cocktails and a good atmosphere. There is one just under 30km outside the city in Chia which is great for a night out if you would like to try out some salsa. Words can’t quite describe this place – it’s like stepping into another world.
Dos Gatos y Simone, Bogota. Tasty Mexican restaurant in la Candelaria with a very varied menu, great for lunch or dinner.
La Cevicheria, Cartagena. An absolute must for seafood lovers, excellent cocktails too. It gets very busy in the evenings so I would recommend heading there for lunch instead.
How would you sum up your trip in a sentence?
During my trip I encountered a stunning country whose people are incredibly helpful and friendly - Colombia is climbing the ranks to become one of my favourite South American countries!
Any top tips?
If you are lucky enough to be in Bogota on a Sunday, there is a fantastic market in Usaquen that is really worth a visit. This is a pleasant, residential part of the city with lovely restaurants ice cream parlours and parks. I would recommend leaving this until the end of your trip if you can as it is a great place to pick up souvenirs and you don’t want to be carrying them all over the country!