Colombia | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Tayrona National Park, Columbia

    4 Reasons You Should Visit Colombia Today!

    A decade or two ago, who could have imagined a story about <a href="" target="_blank">Colombia</a> that focused on bird watching and leisurely evening promenades on cobble-stoned Caribbean streets? Well, in case you haven’t heard, times have changed and so has <a href="" target="_blank">Colombia</a>! As the world is finding out, this multi-faceted country is a super-rich trove of culture and nature. At this big inflection point in Colombian history, you have a special chance to be in the lead in the rediscovery of this spectacular land. Here is a roundup of the top four reasons you should visit Colombia now: <br><br><b>#1 - Colombia is Easy to Get To</b><br><br><a href="" target="_blank">Colombia</a> is the South American country closest to the United States, and the moderate climate gives you the option of visiting in most seasons. It’s a diverse destination too with vibrant cities, coffee plantations, a coastal Caribbean jungle and, best of all, local people who couldn’t be happier to welcome you. You’ll also be pleased to know that there are <a href="" target="_blank">5-star hotels</a> and luxury boutique properties that make for very comfortable nights at the end of active days.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Coffee Plantation and landscape of Colombia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7IZ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>#2 - It&#39;s Off the Beaten Tourist Track</b><br><br>The fun of <a href="" target="_blank">Colombia </a>is that many of the best places to visit are ones you’ve never heard of. Consider Guatapé, a rural pueblo that’s often called the most colorful town in the world. Almost every square inch is covered with decorative tiles and vivid paint. At the edge of town, La Piedra de Peñon is a giant, sky-high thumb of granite at the top of which the views are flat-out amazing.<br><br><b>#3 - The Coffee is Some of the Best in the World</b><br><br>In most books, <a href="" target="_blank">Colombia</a> equals coffee. One of the country’s oldest plantations is a 500-acre family farm set in a nature preserve full of waterfalls and birds near Santa Marta. It’s a real revelation to meet and talk to the farmers about how they grow, harvest and process their crop. (Did you know that the beans are the seeds of bright red coffee cherries?) The artisans who craft the plantation’s blends make sure you get to taste the freshest roasts you’ve ever had.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Man picking coffee beans" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Ie" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>#4 - Enjoy Both Stunning Nature and Lively Cities</b><br><br>A visit to <a href="" target="_blank">Tayrona National Park</a> is a natural high like no other. Mountains slow down the access from the park’s mainland side, so the best bet is to approach on a short boat ride and pull ashore on a golden Caribbean beach. The forest hugs the coast, so it’s easy to plunge right into a jungle walk with one of my naturalist friends. Cotton-top tamarin monkeys are plentiful, as are birds from Blueheaded parrots to Red-legged honeycreepers. With a whole day at Tayrona, there’s time for lots of exploring, a picnic and maybe even some lolling on the beach.<br><br>The ideal tactic to bracket these heart-of-Colombia experiences is with time in two of the country’s best cities. These days, <a href="" target="_blank">Medellín </a>is trend-setting for its lively arts scene. Its civic claim to fame is Metrocable, the system of high-flying gondolas that 30,000 locals use to commute every day. <a href="" target="_blank">Cartagena</a> is a fantastic finale to your visit. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site with cobbled streets, bougainvillea-draped balconies, and 500-year-old San Felipe Castle. It’s also home to one of the schools founded by the world-famous singer, Shakira. She’s paying her success forward in our homeland with these schools for underprivileged kids. A visit with a chance to talk to the students and teachers is sincerely inspirational.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATHq&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f7Ij" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Easy-going, happy, proud of their long heritage and looking forward to their future, Colombians have found their groove. And the word is getting out. If you like to jet ahead of the travel curve, now is the time to <a href="" target="_blank">experience it all</a>.

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  • Coastline in Central America

    Top 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit in Latin America

    UNESCO World Heritage sites are irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration that represent our legacy from the past, what we live with today and what we pass on to future generations. <a href="" target="_blank">Latin America</a> contains a wealth of these phenomenal sites, both natural and manmade, that make up our world&#39;s most impressive cultural and natural heritage. The aim is to encourage regions to preserve and protect parts of our history while promoting tourism as a sustainable way to take in the magnificence our world has to offer. To help you get the most out of your next trip to <a href="" target="_blank">Central or South America</a>, we&#39;ve created a roundup of our top 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites you can&#39;t miss! <br><br><b><a href="" target="_blank">#</a></b><a href="" target="_blank"><b>1 Machu Picchu, Peru</b></a><br>Perhaps one of the most famous archeological UNESCO sites in the world, <a href="" target="_blank">Machu Picchu</a> sits high in the Andes Mountain range surrounded by tropical forests and towering peaks. This pearl of the Incan Empire is a popular tourist destination for a reason. It defies belief with amazing architectural achievements, surrounding natural beauty and spiritual significance. Explore the ancient Incan ruins while breathing in the tremendous isolation and preservation of this incredible ancient kingdom deep in the Peruvian mountains. <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Man taking a picture at Machu Picchu" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9uV" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="https://Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System, Belize" target="_blank"><b>#2 Belize Barrier Reef Reserve System</b><b>, Belize</b></a><br>Belize&#39;s extensive reef system is considered one of the largest barrier reefs in the northern hemisphere. This impressive coast is home to hundreds of sand cays, mangrove forests, lagoons and several endangered species who call this reef home. During your time here, cruise on a Catamaran, snorkel in the best spots in the reef system, and kayak on turquoise water at <a href="" target="_blank">Ambergris Caye</a> to fully experience the wonder this UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Young girl Kayaking in Belize" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9t8" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><b>#3 Tikal National Park, Guatemala</b></a><br>Tikal National Park is surrounded by a tropical jungle and is home to the tallest pyramid in the Western Hemisphere that was once one of the most important spiritual sites to the ancient Mayan civilization. The ceremonial center and ruins of <a href="" target="_blank">Xunantunich</a> display the fascinating and mystifying culture of the Mayan civilization that once called this countryside home from 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. This important reserve also contains unspoiled biological and ecological habitats that will amaze along with impressive wildlife like howler monkeys and colorful birds that can be spotted in the treetops. <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Xunantunich ruins, Guatemala" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tD" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><b>#4 Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), Chile</b></a><br>Easter Island, also known as Isla de Pascua or <a href="" target="_blank">Rapa Nui</a> by the Spanish and Polynesian is one of the most spectacular and alluring sites on earth. This sacred Polynesian settlement is famous for its enigmatic giant stone figures built centuries ago. These massive &quot;<a href="" target="_blank">Moai</a>&quot; figures are a mystery to historians and remain one of the only links to the ancient culture and tradition embedded in this gorgeous island. Visit Rapa Nui to revel in the park&#39;s beauty and its stone sculptures that act as a testimony to an isolated cultural evolution.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Easter Island Moais" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="" target="_blank">#5 Galápagos Islands</a></b><a href="" target="_blank"><b>, Ecuador</b></a><br>The <a href="" target="_blank">Galápagos Islands</a> are a volcanic archipelago drifting in isolation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, brimming with incredible wildlife that once inspired Charles Darwin&#39;s theory of evolution. Walking amongst the wildlife and spotting the islands&#39; Big Five (giant land tortoises, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, penguins, and marine iguanas) will delight all visitors and provide a real live exhibition of evolution before your very eyes. This island is one of the last unspoiled places on earth where man has respected the boundaries of mother nature and is a treasure in the middle of the Pacific worth visiting.  <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Young boy taking a picture of a seal on a beach" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tN" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="" target="_blank">#6 Los Glaciares National Park</a> (<a href="" target="_blank">Chile </a>&amp; <a href="" target="_blank">Argentina</a>)</b><br>Located in the picturesque region of Patagonia in <a href="" target="_blank">Chile </a>&amp; <a href="" target="_blank">Argentina</a>, Los Glaciares National Park is an area of exceptional beauty with rugged mountains, glacial lakes and a variety of stunning natural sites. Hikers flock here to explore the hundreds of trails while others seek silence and solitude among the remote valleys where views stretch for miles.<br><br><b><a href="" target="_blank">Solar Eclipse Sidenote:</a> </b>On December 14, 2020, the day will turn to instant night in one of the few places on land where the total eclipse of the sun will be visible. It is a once-in-a-lifetime sight to see! <a href="" target="_blank">Classic Journeys</a> is offering a special <a href="" target="_blank">2020 Total Solar Eclipse tour</a> to view this incredible moment while perched atop a Chilean mountainside. <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Woman near a lake in Patagonia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9uQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><b>#7 Town of Cartagena, Columbia</b></a><br>Cartagena is the perfect Caribbean city overflowing with history and enchanting beauty thanks to some of the world&#39;s best-preserved colonial architecture lining the streets. This colorful town is wonderfully walkable and chock-full of cobbled streets draped in bougainvillea where current residents live in close quarters with traditions of the past that linger in this port city. Dominating this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the nearby <a href="" target="_blank">San Felipe Castle</a>, boasting over 500 years of defending the ancient city from pirates and foreign invasions <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Colorful street in Cartagena" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b><a href="" target="_blank">#8 La Amistad National Park,</a></b><a href="" target="_blank"><b> Panama</b></a><br>This massive national park, on the border between Panama and Costa Rica, contains lush tropical rainforests and unique fauna and flora interbred between the biospheres of North and South America. Arguably, one of the best ways to see this biosphere reserve is to walk <a href="" target="_blank">El Retoño trail</a> and learn about one of the highest and wildest non-volcanic mountain ranges in Central America. As you explore the lush ecosystem of the park, look up and search for the incredible variety of birds ranging from Quetzals to Tapaculos, and Flycatchers.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Waterfall in Panama" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tc" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><b>#9 Old Havana and its Fortification System, Cuba</b></a><br>Old Havana (<i><a href="" target="_blank">La Habana Vieja</a>) </i>describes the most central and original portion of the Havana, Cuba. This 500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site is the original <a href="" target="_blank">heart of Havana</a>, built by the Spanish, burned to the ground by pirates, and is still considered a fine district of baroque and neoclassic buildings with great architectural character you can&#39;t find elsewhere. Explore the <a href="" target="_blank">Plaza de Armas</a>, Castillo del Morro, and Museum of the Revolution to learn more about the rich history and culture of this precious island. <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Old Havana street and Capitolo" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9u1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><b>#10 Viñales</b> <b>Valley, Cuba</b></a><br>With its fertile soil, favorable climate, and wide valleys, this area in western Cuba is known for its tobacco cultivation and high rising cliffs that surround the valley. <a href="" target="_blank">Parque Nacional Viñales</a> is located in the Pinar del Rio province and the dramatic cliffs surrounding the valley hold numerous caves full of dripstone and ancient rock art from past inhabitants. Enjoy the abundance of greenery in this province and learn of the traditional methods of agriculture that have survived here unchanged for several centuries.   <br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Landscape of Viñales Valley" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002ATY5&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000f9tm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you&#39;re interested in visiting one or more of these iconic locations, check out the different trips offered by <a href="" target="_blank">Classic Journeys to Central &amp; South America</a> to explore some of the worlds most culturally and naturally stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

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  • Colombia Travel

    Your Colombia Travel Questions, Answered

    A decade or two ago, it would have been hard to imagine a story about <a href="" target="_blank">Colombia travel</a> that focused on bird watching and leisurely evening promenades on cobble-stoned Caribbean streets. Well, times have changed and so has Colombia! As the world is finding out, this multi-faceted country is a super-rich trove of culture and nature. At this big inflection point in Colombian history, you have a special chance to be in the lead in the rediscovery of this spectacular land. Here’s what you need to know about planning your trip<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Streets of Colombia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002L3Vl&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000r3wr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Is it true that Colombia is now safe for travel?</b><br>Yes. The current State Department assessment of Colombia travel is Level 2 – that’s the same advisory level that’s currently in place for France and the United Kingdom. At Classic Journeys, it’s standard operating procedure to be cautious and safe in every country we visit. “Believe me, the people you meet in my country are so friendly and welcoming,” assures <a href="" target="_blank">expert local guide</a> Ana.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Colombia rainforest" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002L3Vl&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000r3ww" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Why are travel experts calling Colombia the next “It” destination?</b><br>There are plenty of reasons that Colombia is worth your consideration. First, you can’t beat it for geographic convenience. Colombia is the South American country closest to the U.S., and the climate makes it an ideal destination in most seasons. But this land’s diversity is what’s really winning the hearts and minds of travelers. Even though the <a href="" target="_blank">Classic Journeys itinerary</a> only covers a relatively small and peaceful part of the country, you still get tropical rainforest teeming with birds and remote beaches, bustling cities and tiny villages. As you meet the people and get an immersive look at their lives, you see the vivid contrasts between indigenous, colonial and modern history.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Colombia parrots" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002L3Vl&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000r3x1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>What kind of experiences can I count on?</b><br>Almost too many to count! The <a href="" target="_blank">fun of Colombia</a> is that many of its best places are ones you’ve never heard of. Consider Guatapé, a rural pueblo where almost every square inch of every home is covered with decorative tiles. At Tayrona National Park, a boat drops you on a golden Caribbean beach for a jungle walk with a naturalist. (Watch for cotton-top tamarin monkeys and blue-headed parrots.) This being one of the most famous coffee-growing countries in the world, you will spend time on one of the oldest plantations and taste the freshest roast ever. Bracketing those heart-of-Colombia experiences, you’ll also go exploring in arty, trend-setting Medellín and then switch to the lazy, bougainvillea-draped tempo of Cartagena, a 500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every day is full of distinctive experiences that fill in the blanks to give you a complete and unforgettable picture of Colombia.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Colombia coffee plantation worker" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002L3Vl&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000r3x6" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>Will I get to meet the real people of Colombia?</b><br>Because the resurgence of travel to <a href="" target="_blank">Colombia travel</a> has only just started, you can count on the people to be very, very happy to see you. “Hospitality is the Colombian way,” local guide Ana promises, and she proves it again and again as she introduces you to her friends. In Cartagena, you’ll stroll local markets and neighborhoods with a chef, then go into the kitchen for cooking instruction. On that coffee plantation, you&#39;ll meet the family who owns and operates it and get a very personal look at how every step in the life of a coffee bean works. In Medellín, their Metrocable system is a “subway in the sky,” and you’ll ride in the gondolas with the locals who take a sky-high commute for granted. One of the best moments is when you meet and talk to students in their classroom at the school founded by the world-famous singer Shakira. And that doesn’t begin to count the simple, everyday interactions you’ll have thanks to the fact that you’re part of a small group that makes it easy to mix and mingle wherever you are.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Colombia hospitality" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002L3Vl&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000r3xB" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>What can I expect in the way of creature comforts?</b><br>With the return of peace, Colombia is well into a major upgrade of its travel infrastructure. In true Classic Journeys fashion, the accommodations are among the very best in the country. For instance, in Cartagena, you’ll be at the Casa San Agustín, a <a href="" target="_blank">luxurious boutique hotel</a> where contemporary design is paired with the centuries-old beams in the ceiling of your room. It also just happens to have its own private Caribbean beach. You’ll have some truly exceptional dining experiences too. Your guide gets you into fine, typical restaurants that capture what’s happening in Colombian cuisine. You’ll also have the pleasure of events like a picnic on a Caribbean beach, the dinner you cook with the chef, and easy-going stops at sidewalk cafés.<br><br><a href="" target="_blank"><img alt="Colombia travel" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002L3Vl&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000r3xG" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br><b>What’s the bottom line?</b><br>Easy-going, happy, proud of their long heritage and looking forward to their future, the Colombian people have really found their groove. The word is getting out. So if you want to <a href="" target="_blank">be ahead of the travel curve</a>, now is the time to get yourself to Colombia!

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