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Destination Colombia

Colombia is probably my favourite country in the world.

So, you may of have heard that Colombia is the next great place to visit?

"Not everyone here is a drug lord that wants to kidnap you. locals are extremely friendly and there is a large friendly police presence"

Well, I've spent over eleven months living and travelling in Colombia, across five trips that all started over 10 years ago, back in 2007. With my first visit to Bogota and the Caribbean coast. But it was my next trip that I discovered Rovira, a town in the valley between the Ande mountains that really touched my heart and showed me a different side to Colombia as there were no tourists here to spoil it. I have also travelled there with my daughter when she was 19 years old when we were backpacking Latin America and with my crazy monkey "mona loca" Juliana who was only 12 years old and she was visiting her Colombian family. What a great experience for them! Most of my closest friends are Colombian and its always a great pleasure to return and visit them.

This is a country that gets under your skin.

Visually, it's the most striking place I have ever visited. A travellers paradise, with beautiful landscapes, breathtaking mountain ranges, volcanoes, natural parks, rivers, waterfalls, coffee, food, music, beaches, cosmopolitan cities, colonial villages and the most beautiful woman in the world.

Destination Colombia
Face of Colombia Photo: © taher0828

First a little history:
1525 - Spain begins conquest of Colombia.
20th July 1810 Colombia gained independence.
1819 - Simon Bolivar defeats Spanish at Boyaca. Republic of Gran Colombia formed with Ecuador, Panama and Venezuela.
1829-30 - Gran Colombia dissolved when Venezuela and Ecuador split off, leaving present-day Colombia and Panama a separate state known as Nueva Granada.

"Spanish brought the culture, but Colombia enriched it "Carnival" is living proof"

Guerrilla war 
1965 - Leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) and Maoist People's Liberation Army (EPL) founded.
1966 - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc, the current largest guerrilla grouping) set up.
1970 - National People's Alliance formed as a left-wing counterweight to the National Front.
1971 - Left-wing M-19 guerrilla group emerges.
1978 - President Julio Turbay (Liberal) begins intensive fight against drug traffickers.
War against drug cartels stepped up
1984 - Campaign against drug traffickers stepped up following assassination of justice minister.
Peace talks
1998 - Andres Pastrana Arango - a Conservative - elected president, begins peace talks with guerrillas.
Plan Colombia 
2000 July - Pastrana's "Plan Colombia" wins almost US$1 billion in mainly military aid from the US to fight drug-trafficking and rebels who profit and protect the trade.
Peace deal with Farc
2017 - Colombia signs historic peace deal with Farc - peace agreement to end 53 years of conflict

Why you should travel to Colombia
"A place waiting for you to discover it's beauty"

To be able to get off the tourist trail and visit remote villages that are situated in the heart of Colombia. So you can experience the real-life of Colombians and where you can see amazing tropical wildlife. Colombia has a wide diversity of landscapes and a very large biodiversity with some very interesting flora & fauna, especially the different type of birds you will see. You feel part of the natural wildlife where you can be surrounded by mountains and jungle even when you are in towns and cities you are not far away from an amazing view.

It's not your normal two week package holiday, this is a place for the independent traveller, who likes to see and get a feel for what Colombia has to offer.

"Colombia - Where the people are friendly, a place where hospitality is second to none and one of the last backpacker frontiers"

Colombia can get lively and there is lots of energy, fiestas almost every week! The world capital of salsa. Folklore and music can be seen and heard almost everywhere.

Colombia Backpackers Adventure 2018
A Backpackers Adventure 2018

Is Colombia on your wish list?

Mountain Tours Of Colombia and Family Stays Winter 2018/2019

We work with some of the most exciting people out there and pride ourselves in stepping away from the beaten path to unknown destinations and to promote local services.

Head to a true adventure-wonderland, and meet with my network of adventurous Colombian friends and me. Who can show you the real Colombian life - To know more about travelling off the tourist trail, take small tours, meet with locals, family stays, learning Colombian cooking, visit markets, small coffee farms, plus so much more to see and learn.

Appealing to the independent traveler who wants to learn more about what Colombia has to offer. Tailored to your interests or go with the flow!

Register Your Interest Now
Mountain Tours Colombia & Family Stays

Visit my tour MAP of around Ibague in the central region of Colombia. Where you can find info on learning Spanish, where to teach English, voluntary work, travel tips and visa info.
Then email or WhatsApp me +447739614579

Family stay

Staying with a family in Ibague gave me a lot of great moments, that really touched my heart and something that will stay with me forever. I made a lot of friends while in Colombia (and in England) who gave me the chance to know the real Colombia.

The Location - Largely situated in the northwest of South America.
The longest mountain range in the world (above water) "Los Andes" Near the Ecuadorian frontier, the Andes Mountains divide into three distinct, roughly parallel chains, called cordilleras, that extends northeastward almost to the Caribbean Sea. Altitudes reach more than 18,700 ft (5,700 m), the Sierra Nevada the highest point at over 5800 m With mountain peaks are permanently covered with snow, is the highest coastal mountain range in the world.
The central cordilleras range being part of the volcano belt, making a good area for coffee plantations. The southern and eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest, the Pacific on the west coast, the Atlantic on the North coast and Colombia borders with 5 counties to the northwest by Panama; to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru. The 4th largest country in South America. Despite its large territory, (Colombia is over five times the size of the UK and 8.8 times the size of England) Colombia's population of 49 million is not evenly distributed, with most Colombians living in the mountainous western portion of the country as well as the northern coastline, most living in or near the capital city of Bogotá. The southern and eastern portions of the country are mostly sparsely inhabited tropical rainforest's, and inland tropical plains containing large estates or large livestock farms, oil and gas production facilities, small farming communities and indigenous tribes. The Magdalena the main Colombian waterway.
Colombia has plentiful oil, coal, and nickel that is exported with excess to two oceans.

Colombian map
Map of Colombia - Showing Rovira

Climate: is mainly tropical as a result of its geographical location near the Equator, depending on the altitude, the temperature will drop but maintaining an average temperature throughout the year. Rain is likely at any time of the year with no real season variation.

Alt: 2600 m
With over 7 million people, is laid out across a large area. People commute by bus, the Transmilenio buses that run in their own bus lanes.
The old part of town "Santa De where the past is very present.

"It's easy to love Colombia as it loves you back"

A country defiantly moving forward.
Colombia is growing in popularity as a destination for the independent traveller, as it has a lot to offer those who like a true adventure. Almost untouched by the outside world, but even Colombia is opening up to growing tourism, so you will need to get off the tourist trail and embrace the real Colombia. Hope you are ready for a great ride, if not just go with it, you will have the best travel experiences ever.
The Colombian tourist board like to promote "The only danger is wanting to stay" The other danger of wanting to stay longer for men is the beautiful woman.
It's easy to make friend's when travelling in Colombia and before long you will meet someone special.

Sancocho in Chamba Bowl

Travel is the best education

"Behind every good Colombian is a good sandal - La Chancla"

Where children are grown up to show respect and care for others from their family members. The Colombian people are also hard working, with long working days and those who live and work in Bogota having to commute across the busy city. If you are poor, life can be very hard, there is no help like in the UK.

Someone living on a farm may have to get up very early each morning (4 am) to prepare the fire to cook arepas for the farmers, this could be one of the young children. Sometimes this work is harder than normal as the wood is often wet and makes a hard job even harder.

Colombians have a lot of talent - it seems everyone knows's how to cook a great meal, without learning to be a chef. While many people in the UK put a pizza in the oven or buy a takeaway.

The number one thing with a Colombian woman is cleanliness. Even if you think you are a clean person, you will learn there is more to showering once a day.
And if you are not a clean person then Dios Mio!
While the Colombian man maybe macho, the Colombian woman is strong mentally and physically. They need to get on with everyday situations without much help financially. Support comes from friends and family with what little they can offer.
And there is no waste, especially with food.
There is a huge culture difference: Religion the big influence in everyday life, you may hear "gracias a Dios" many times when spending times with Colombians.
Many Colombians don't have disposable money to spend on luxuries. Like us, the English probably spend money more easily on many things we don't really need and is quite normal for us to eat out and buy coffee/beer on a regular basis.
Urban living is not the same for everyone, there are big gaps between rich and poor.
70% of education is in the private sector.
While there is still a large class divide, life for many is changing in Colombia, with more opportunities, Colombia is happy, has hope and having a young population there is a lot of energy.

Loca for football Photo: © disney.bonilla

Poor but happy
Why at first we might not understand why Colombians do things the way they do!
It's from having a long history of some difficult times. In the city's doors are kept locked and you can see bars on every window "a reminder of not so distant past"
One thing for sure, they are very passionate about there country, it shows in their love of life particularly with music and sport. Where in England for many we have now starting to lose this love as we don't seem to have a direction to aim for. (There is so much more to life than owning expensive items, "status symbols" especially if you don't use them or have the skill to use them or even willing to learn the skill to use them) While our country is one of the richest in the world, but without knowing what we want, we can become unhappy. So why not visit the happiest country in the world?

I'm lucky in the sense I am old school, by that, I don't need the latest gadget and instead spend money and time on traveling. I am grateful for what I have, a lovely daughter, my little Colombian monkey, great friends, family, my job that I enjoy and a job that allows me time to travel.

If you're looking for some adventure, then visit Colombia.

Why not stay with a Colombian family, visit and stay at a small coffee farm Finca or visit one of the many rivers, waterfalls and mountains/volcano's that's off the tourist trail.

Mountains of Colombia Photo: © taher0828

Some Colombian Spanish useful words:
That you will hear on your travels across Colombia.

Chévere - Cool, "Que chevere!" to mean "how great!" or "how awesome!"
Bacano - Good, pretty, and lousy 
Chiflis - Loco Crazy but good
Mono - Blonde or monkey 
Culo. Better to say cola or rabo - backside/buttock 

Amor - Love:
Mi vida - My life
Tan Bonita - So pretty
Guapa/o - Beautiful
Pico - Peck (short tight lipped kiss on the lips or cheeks)
¡Bueno! - That's enough!
Regalos - Presents 
Me regalas - Ask for something for free before actually paying for it
Muy amable - very kind of you

Comida - Food:
Buen Provecho! - Bon Appetite!

Look for the following dishes you must try:

Caldo de costilla - Beef rib soup (I have this for breakfast)
Sancocho - Is a traditional soup (often considered a stew)
Lechona - Consists of pork stuffed, yellow peas, green onion, yellow rice, and spices cooked in an outdoor, brick oven for about ten hours.
Sopa de mondongo - Soup made from diced tripe slow-cooked with vegetables
Tamal - Typically eaten Sunday lunchtimes
Buñuelos - A fried dough ball

Arepa de choclo - Sweet Corn Arepas with cheese
Patacon - Green plantain fried slices
Maduros - Ripe plantain cooked in the oven or BBQ with cheese
Queso campesino - Farm cheese
Longaniza - Spanish sausage
Rellena- black pudding 
Aji - hot/spicy 
Aroz con leche - rice pudding
Panela - block of unrefined whole sugar cane, verry important in Colombia mainly used in drinks "Aguapanela" a sort of herbal tee and to sweeten up coffee that is sold on the streets.

Also see my home cooking in Colombia Page

Drinks - Bebidas: 
Chocolate caliente - Hot chocolate
Kumis - Fermented milk
Avena Colombiana - oat drink
Limonada de Coco
Coco Loco

Frutas - Fruits: 
Tropical fruits are sold everywhere

El campo:
Finca - Small coffee farm
Hasienda - Large coffee farm
Araña - Spider
Escorpion - Scorpion
Serpiente - Snake
Pajaro - Bird
Loro - Parrot
Árbol - Tree
Paisaje - Landscape
Paraje - Spot or place

Other words:
Extranjero/a - Foreigner
Mendigo - Beggar

Como estas - Ways to ask how are you?
¿Que mas? - Reply with bien!
Estas bien o que?

A la orden - come in
Pasa - Enter
¡Adelante! - Means ahead or forward, also used to ask to sit at the front with the driver of the bus or jeep.

Negocio - Business
Dueno/a Owner or landlord
Vecino/a Neighbour

Where it all started for me in Colombia over 10 years ago, in a small antigua town called Rovira and the city of Ibague where I lived. 

Feliz adventura amigos

Hope to see you in Colombia

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  1. Me encantó, es genial saber que hay personas como usted tan maravilladas con mi país y que por ende lo recomiende a todo el mundo. Gracias por eso... lo espero pronto amigo


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