Are you tired of the same old travel destinations that are overcrowded with tourists? Do you want to explore a country that is still off the beaten path? Then, look no further than Colombia.
Colombia has long been overshadowed by its neighboring countries in South America when it comes to tourism, but this is starting to change. Colombia is a hidden gem waiting to be explored, with diverse landscapes, rich culture, and friendly locals. In this blog post, we will introduce you to some of the hidden gems in Colombia that you should visit.
1. View Mars Like Landscape At Tatacoa Desert
For most people, you either love the desert or try to avoid the scorching heat, relentless bugs, and sleepless nights as much as you can. But if there is one thing to agree on, the beauty of the Tatacoa desert landscape is like no other.
Mirador De Los Colorados is one of the best places in Tatacoa desert to take in its Mars-like landscape consisting of red hills as far as the eye can see. The Los Colorados viewpoint leads to a 2-hour hike weaving through bare red hills and canyons but if you choose to do the hike, make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen to battle the unforgiving desert heat.
After the hike cool off at the Los Hoyos swimming pool nestled between grey desert hills, a different but equally beautiful landscape on the other end of the Tatacoa desert. Entrance to Los Hoyos costs 8000 pesos (less than $3 USD) and includes access to 3 pools and cold showers that will bring pleasant relief from the heat.
2. Relax At Santa Rosa Hot Springs
For those who enjoy soaking at outdoor hot springs, Santa Rosa Springs is a must! Surrounded by lush waterfalls and a jungle setting, the Santa Rosa Hot Springs is a Colombian oasis.
Most of the pools at Santa Rosa Hot Springs are manmade but the property is beautifully built and well taken care of. To beat the crowds try to go super early but if you’re looking for a fun environment go at night when the locals come here to socialize and party.
The entrance to the Santa Rosa Hot Springs costs 25,000 pesos (around $8 USD) for access to bathe in multiple pools varying by different heat temperatures.
3.Take An Air Tram To Santuario De Las Lajas Church
The origin of Santuario De Las Lajas church goes back to the 1750s when a mother and child took refuge from a rainstorm in a cave and witnessed an image of the Virgin Mary on a stone. This stone was marked as sacred and soon after a small church was built around it for worship. Over the years the church was expanded multiple times to accommodate all of its visitors leading to the church that stands at present – the Santuario De Las Lajas.
Visitors of Santuario De Las Lajas can park in a few designated parking lots next to it but we opted to arrive in a more adventurous way – through an air tram. For 16,000 pesos ($5 USD) visitors can take an air tram to and from the church passing farmlands, mountains, and rivers along the way.
The entrance to the church itself is free with an optional museum for 3000 pesos ($1 USD) to see religious relics and pottery from indigenous groups that used to live in this area. If you choose to stay past sunset, the church gets lit up in different colors, quite the spectacle to witness!
4. Conquer The Towering Penol Rock
Situated on the outskirts of Guatape stands the towering Penol rock. If you’re looking for a moderate hike offering fantastic panoramic views, this is the place to go. Although the hike can be a bit of a challenge with 650 stairs built into the mountain, there are plenty of areas to rest along the way. After climbing this enormous rock at the top you will be greeted with rewarding views overlooking the surrounding landscapes, mountains, and river peninsulas.
If you’re up for the challenge, the entrance to hiking the Penol Rock costs 18,000 pesos ($6 USD). At the top vendor’s sell little snacks, ice cream, and beer because it wouldn’t quite feel like a vacation without a little indulgence after all.
5. Hike To A Glacier In El Cocuy
Sierra Nevada Del Cocuy is one of the best places in Colombia for breathtaking outdoor activities. It is also one of the last places in Colombia where visitors can witness glaciers, and snow and go on incredible treks in the high alpine mountains.
The park currently has three open hikes, each ranging around 12 miles in length offering views of diverse landscapes and gorgeous blue glacier lakes.
The park has a few requirements that need to be arranged before heading out on the hikes.
5. Hike Between Giant Palm Trees In Valle De Cocora
The lush Valle De Cocora is a place like no other. Located on the outskirts of Salento the Valle De Cocora is a green valley filled with tall skinny palm trees nestled in between foggy mountains and local farms. These soaring tall palm trees are unique to this area, which makes it a wonderful landmark that should not be missed while traveling through Colombia.
The Cocora Palm Tree Valley has a few trails that can be hiked ranging from short 1 hour hikes to more challenging 5-hour long hikes. The entrance to hike the palm tree valley costs 3000 pesos ($1 USD) plus you’ll need to arrange a ride there and back from Salento for 55,000 pesos ($18 USD) each way.
6. Roam Around Natural Formations At Los Estoraques
Los Estoraques Unique Natual Area might be one of the best treasures of Colombia. With incredible natural landscapes and a handful of visitors a day, this park was one of my favorite hidden gems during our travels in Colombia.
The Los Estoraques Park is made of tall natural formations carved by wind and water over the years. The park offers incredible trails that lead to overlooks of steep drop-offs plummeting into dark valleys below. Although I enjoyed how accessible and open the trails were, I wouldn’t be lying that sitting at the edge of these drop-offs made my stomach flutter a bit.
Other trails lead through the ground level offering a different perspective of the canyons and caves below. The entrance to hike these trails costs merely 5000 pesos (less than $2 USD) – a bargain!
7. See Colombia’s Largest Square At Villa De Leyva
Villa De Leyva is one of Colombia’s cutest little sleepy towns with stunning mountains as its backdrop. It’s one of those places where life just seems to slow down, where days are not spent running about seeing landmark after landmark, a place where you find yourself enjoying a lazy brunch or strolling its cobblestone streets.
A bit far away from big cities, Villa De Leyva remains untouched by major tourism which is why we found it so charming. The town of Villa De Leyva centers around its plaza which is the largest square in Colombia. Villa De Leyva has made many efforts to preserve its original colonial-style architecture consisting of white-colored buildings that add to its small-town charm.
9. Go Paragliding At Cocorna Mirador
For a more adventurous way to take in Colombia’s beautiful landscape, head over to Cocorna Mirador Overlook for an adrenaline-packed day of paragliding. For 120,000 pesos ($40) expert guides will fly you over waterfalls and rolling green hills for a bird’s view of the surrounding areas. Located just an hour outside of Medellin, the Cocorna Mirador also offers restaurants with overlooks of the valley below.
Chocó is located near the Panama-Colombia border and is a region that can’t be accessed by road. The only way to get there is by plane or boat!
Colombia has been one of our favorite countries to visit in Southern America. The friendly locals and rich history captivated us and made it hard to move on, one of the reasons why we loved it so much and spent 3 months exploring the different regions of Colombia.
5 Smart Tips to Find the Other beautiful hidden gems in Colombia
Colombia is a country full of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From stunning landscapes to rich culture, there are so many hidden gems in Colombia that will take your breath away. But how do you find these hidden gems? Here are some tips to help you discover the most beautiful hidden gems in Colombia.
The internet is a great tool for finding hidden gems in Colombia. Look for travel blogs, forums, and social media accounts that focus on off-the-beaten-path destinations. This will give you an idea of where to go and what to see.
Talk to locals
The locals in Colombia are friendly and welcoming. Strike up a conversation with them and ask for their recommendations on hidden gems in the area. They may suggest a place that you would never have found on your own.
Hire a local guide
A local guide can be a great resource for finding hidden gems in Colombia. They know the area well and can take you to places that are off the tourist trail. They can also provide you with valuable insights into the local culture.
Attend local festivals
Colombia is known for its vibrant festivals, and attending one can be a great way to discover hidden gems. Many festivals take place in smaller towns and villages, which are often overlooked by tourists. Attending a festival can give you an opportunity to explore these hidden gems and experience local culture at the same time.
Don’t be afraid to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations in Colombia. Take a chance and venture into areas that are not well known. You never know what hidden gems you might discover!
By following these tips, you will be able to discover the most beautiful hidden gems in Colombia. So, get ready to explore and discover the hidden treasures of this amazing country!