Tourism in Colombia has grown by 300% since 2006, thanks to reasons such as continued and sustained peace efforts to resolve long-term conflicts such as civil war. Now very much on the map as a prominent tourist destination, its natural diversity brings together a majestic mélange of the Andes, the Amazon rainforest and the Caribbean coastline. Whether you’re looking to wind back and relax or seeking an exhilarating action-filled holiday, this South American melting pot has something for everyone.
Colombia and its climate
Colombia sits very close to the equator and for this reason, its climate is determined by altitude. As you might expect, the higher you venture up the mountains the colder things become. Visiting Bogota, Colombia’s capital city (which sits at 2,640m high) means you’re in for a high-altitude experience and an average temperature of 18oC.
In fact, at sea level the temperature only fluctuates between 3 – 5 degrees at any time (it sits at an average of 30oC all year round), which means in terms of temperature, there is no optimum time to visit.
If you’re looking to avoid the rain, plan your trip outside the months of April to June and October to November. This said, those keen to visit the coastal areas, specifically those stretching along the Caribbean coast, will enjoy predominantly warm and dry weather, even during the rainier months.
Colombia’s reputation as cultivating the world’s best coffee is down to its biodiversity and thanks to the optimum amount of rainfall. The areas where coffee is grown receive 200cm of rain a year and the temperature never drops below freezing.
Colombia is home to the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest which spans 5.5 square kilometers across a number of other counties that include Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, to name a few.
Festivals galore – the best picks
Carnival of Barranquilla
Celebrated for the first 4 days of February every year, the Carnival of Barranquilla is the second biggest Carnival in the world after Rio Carnival in Rio De Janeiro. This celebration of Colombian heritage and culture is a colorful expression of dance, masks, music, drama and theatre that tells fascinating stories of Colombia history and tradition each year. Its origins date back to the 19th century and before evolving into a celebration of the region, it was the first ever holiday for slaves. There is arguably no better way to immerse yourself in Colombian culture than to spend 4 days at this unique event.
Off the beaten track – The Arepa de Huevo Festival, Luraco
If you’re looking for something a bit more off-piste, the Arepa de Huevo Festival in Luraco is a festival centered around a Colombian delicacy the ‘apepa de huevo’. This banana-yellow snack is a corn cake served with an egg cracked into the centre and competitions will take place for the tastiest, best and most original arepa de heuvo. The festival usually takes place during the months of June or July.
Fly high in Villa de Leyva
Is this a better situated place for a festival that revolves around kites than high up in the Andes? The village that hosts the festival is one of Colombia’s most visited villages and home to incredible colonial architecture. Festival-goers can enjoy competition for the best homemade kites (all of which are stunning to look at) as well as team kite-flying and other kite-orientated fun!
Activities in Colombia
Thrill seekers will feel right at home in Colombia, with activities like rock climbing, surfing and whitewater rafting being just a handful of exhilarating sports visitors have to choose from. Visit Suesca, a town north of Bogotá where novices and experienced climbers can enjoy incredible vistas – there are several companies who can provide equipment, guidance and local knowledge of the safe spots.
Scuba diving is also hugely popular with tourists and one of the best areas to enjoy this is in the Pacific region. If you’re looking to go the extra mile for something extra special, take a trip out to the Malpelo and Gorgona islands where you’re likely to spot Hammerhead sharks, whale sharks and humpback wales. You’ll also find some great waves along the Pacific Coast, where swells are more consistent that the Caribbean area. Check out Bahia Solano and Nuqui for clean and decent-sized waves.
If you’re simply looking to wind down from a few stressful months, the Caribbean coastline is laid-back and epitomises beach-side culture. La Guajira is where the desert finds the sea and is a quieter beachside destination for those looking for a retreat from reality.
Cheapest time to fly?
High season in Colombia is considered to be June and July and the cheapest month to fly is considered to be February. The Christmas period is also an expensive time to fly as most people take their holiday around this time – hotel prices can inflate to three times the average. If you’re looking to visit busy destinations like Tayrona National Park, you might want to choose a weekend in November rather than the high season periods.
The 3 main airports in Colombia are Bogota, Cali and Cartagena. Websites like SkyScanner are great for tracking down the cheapest deals.
So why visit Colombia?
Hopefully the above information is plenty enough to entice you to visit one of South America’s most naturally aesthetic and culturally-rich countries. Colombia is truly a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a beachside relaxing few weeks or you want to embrace your inner adventurer, we’ve included something for you above. Equally, those who want to discover the fascinating heritage this country has to offer will not be disappointed.