Wazha Dube, one of Ker & Downey’s Regional Sales Managers, recently returned from a trip to Colombia. He recounts his tip below.
Colombia was once a nation ravaged by civil war; drug trafficking and horror stories that would drive away even the bravest adventurer. That reputation earned in the 80’s and 90’s is now all but a memory of days past as the nation has transformed itself into a hidden gem of tourism.
I had the pleasure of visiting Colombia and explored everything from the bustling and historic cities of Bogotá and Cartagena to the rich planation region of Armenia. Bogota boasts a city of contrasts, from the old city with its colonial buildings, art galleries, and narrow winding streets hosting some of the countries oldest hotels and hacienda’s which can easily take you back in time to the new city which is a true example of the new Colombia where you are immediately dropped back into the 21st century.
In contrast, the coffee and farming region of Armenia is another world. With rolling hills and gigantic farms growing everything from bananas to plantains to of course coffee, the beauty of this area will capture your heart before your first cup. Our guide, Andres, was the perfect guide for seasoned Ker & Downey client. A local of Quindío while also having spent some time in New Jersey, his English was perfect and we challenged his breadth of knowledge every chance we got. Whether we were discussing the process of how to grow coffee to the history behind every museum to the best meals to eat and the history behind the culinary differences between the different departments (states) we were very rarely able to stump him. Going above and beyond, and sensing what would work and what wouldn’t work for us and cutting out or adding in the necessary tours as we travelled was all you could ask for on these days of exploration throughout Armenia and it’s various sites.
Cartagena is an experience in itself. While most clients will stay in the old city, don’t let this dissuade you from enjoying the culture of the city of Cartagena. A walled off city that once fought against invading armies and pirates this seaport town is now the must visit destination of Colombia. The tropical city has its own flare and feel that it derives from its Afro-Caribbean heritage as well as the Latin and European socialites allows you to get lost in its streets, color, music and cuisine. The Spanish colonial buildings nestled between it’s haciendas on its cobbled streets will quickly whisk you to another world. The old city itself is a UNESCO heritage site and the guides will show you site not only within the old city but as far as the white sand beaches of Santa Marta. Regardless of whether you need a guide or you’re a self sufficient adventurer, go for a bit of both and explore the streets of Cartagena. Explore the old city fort that once house the colonial army that fought of the invading pirates, walk on the city wall and stop by Café Del Mar for a drink at sunset, enjoy the musicians in the city square or a horse carriage ride through the streets, and most definitely purchase some artwork from one of the many galleries in the area. Whatever you want out of Colombia, you are sure to find a piece of it in the city of Cartagena.
Wazha’s recommendations: Check out Hotel De La Opera, Hacienda Bambusa, and Ananda Hotel