Colombia has become one of the safest countries in Latin America, but many still doubt about that.. so we went there and we can confirm: even Medellín which used to be the most dangerous cities has turned into what we think as the most livable city in the country. Our main motivation was however the possibility to practice Spanish and it was indeed an intensive practice thanks to the very open, friendly, communicative and ready-to-help Columbians that we met along our journey. We spent the first part of our three weeks during December 2017 in the largest cities Bogotá, Cali and Medellín. The second part was on the Caribbean coast with the amazing beaches and forests of Tyron Park, from Cartagena up to Riohacha.
This first series of pictures mixes street graffitis taken in Bogotà, Medellín, Cali and Santa Marta with different paintings and sculptures of Fernando Botero. Both illustrates the history of the country (civil war, orphans left, the richness of the fauna & flora, the "indigenas" still facing discrimination, the kidnapping of civilians by the drug cartels, earthquakes, or symbols of the cities like the cats of Cali and its Cristo Rey.
Bogotà is located on a plateau at 2600m of altitude and has been funded by the Spanish not far away from where the Muiscas were living before. Our walk up to the church of Monserrat helped orientating ourselves in this megacity of almost as many inhabitants as all Switzerland.
We visited the salt mines of Zipaquira and Nemocón, as salt extraction has always been an important activity in the region. A you can imagine, it is not surprising to see religious signs everywhere, the Zipaquira visitable place has been redesigned as a cathedral and views are really stunning.
Cali, Medellín and Guatapé
Cali is the capital of salsa (a bit different from the Cuban style though) but also an amazing place to visit during Christmas time. As everywhere in the country, light decorations shine in the nights and people like walking in family in the evening . Not to mention that music is omnipresent in many other forms: champeta, merengue, bachata, cumbia, reggaeton, ... It is still impossible for us differentiating the different styles. I can just say that after our travel I had enough of it.
As soon as you leave the cities though, nature is there. We made fantastic hikes around Cali and the excursion to Guatapé / mount Peñol was a highlight. The construction of a hydro-electric dam in the late 1960s flooded the all region and created a now recreation area for the people of Medellín, as well as the Parque Arvi that you can reach with the Metrocable (cable car).
The Carribean coast
Full contrast of climate, culture and nature as we arrived in Cartagena, which competes with other cities in Ecuador, Peru or Cuba as most fortified colonial city in the New World and is therefore protected as UNESCO World Heritage. The skyscrapers that are built outside of the old city are an amazing contrast. From there, we discovered great places to relax and enjoy sun, beach and the sea.