If you are looking for sensational experiences, you will be delighted by what Colombia has to offer. Did you know that it is the second most biodiverse country in the world? In addition to its exceptional landscapes, Colombia has a rich cultural heritage influenced, among other things, by various indigenous civilisations.
To make the most of your stay in Colombia, we suggest that you discover the spectacular region of the Greater Colombian Caribbean through 3 unique experiences at sea, in the mountains and in the desert, which are all accessible on day trips from Cartagena, the stunning colonial city.
Dive in Islas del Rosario
Made up of around 30 small islands surrounded by clear waters, some of which are inhabited only by a few palm trees swaying in the wind, the Islas del Rosario National Marine Park attracts divers from all over the world. And thanks to the temperate tropical climate, it is possible to dive here all year round.
The islands are easily accessible by boat and make it one of the most popular day trips from Cartagena. There are more than 28 dive sites where you can observe different underwater landscapes, from splendid coral reefs to dense mangrove forests. In fact, the west coast of Cartagena Bay is home to large reef formations ranging in depth from 3 to 58 metres, as well as two mythical wrecks. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, diving in Colombia is pretty much a garantee of swimming with turtles, moray eels, clown fish, manta rays and large groupers!
Hike in the Sierra Nevada
The Sierra Nevada is the highest coastal range in the world and the only one in the Caribbean region with snow-covered peaks. On sunny days you can even see them from the warm white beaches of Tayrona National Park. Quite splendid!
Nevertheless, the true beauty of the Sierra Nevada is best seen up close. Thanks to its microclimate, this natural paradise is home to more than 35 species of endemic birds, which you may be lucky enough to spot at the foot of a waterfall or while walking the trails. It is also the birthplace of the Tayrona, an indigenous nation that has inhabited the area for over 14,000 years. The Sierra Nevada has in fact been declared a Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is therefore not surprising to know that it’s become one of the top hiking destinations in Colombia for locals and tourists alike, particularly on day trips from Cartagena.
We suggest two itineraries:
- One of the most popular hikes in Colombia is the one leading to the top of Mount Cerro Kennedy, located a whopping 3,100 metres above sea level.
- Another route, for experienced hikers, involves a 4-6 day climb to the Lost City, the remains of a Tayrona city preserved in the dense jungle for thousands of years. If you are interested in this iconic yet challenging Colombia hike, you should know that it is not possible to get there on your own: you will have to use a licensed local agency. As this is a reserve administered by indigenous residents, unauthorised access is not permitted.
Discover the dunes of the La Guajira desert
The vast coastal desert of La Guajira is the only desert in the Caribbean and is located in the extreme north of South America. To explore La Guajira’s giant sand dunes, salt flats and beautiful beaches, you’ll need to hop in an all-terrain vehicule. Something that’s good to know: there are no roads in the desert and every driver navigates by sight!
As a wild and remote place, the desert can seem quite inhospitable, but it is home to the largest indigenous population in Colombia, called Wayuu. This is a community that was never conquered by the Spanish and which has a unique and fascinating culture that you can discover, among other ways, by staying at a Rancheria, an authentic Wayuu hotel, in Cabo de La Vela.
The beaches of Cabo de La Vela are renowned for offering some of the best kitesurfing conditions on the planet. Regardless of your level, you can still enjoy the activity, as there are a few schools nearby. The area is windswept all year round, which is ideal for water sports.
Finally, if you’re heading to the La Guajira desert, make sure to stop by the small town of Camarones, home to the Santuario de Fauna y Flora Los Flamencos, a 700-hectare nature reserve housing around 10,000 flamingos. We bet you’ll be snapping some beautiful pictures there! Don’t forget to use our hashtag #ExperienceTransat when sharing!
Ready to fly to Colombia? Plan your trip here.