Prado is a small, quaint town in the municipality of Tolima, southeast of Bogota. This small town is situated away from the Andes mountain range in a low altitude area, meaning it has a warm, tropical climate all year round. Prado’s hidden gem is its dam and large body of water located just outside of the town. This extensive water system is backed by green, tropical, plant-covered mountains, and provides a great destination for a trip outside of Bogota. There are a small number of hotels located on the water’s edge, many complete with swimming pools and boats. Prado is a great place to discover a variety of water sports: water skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, swimming and general boating all take place here. Prado is also home to a small number of fresh-water waterfalls (located in hidden areas around the lake) and it’s a great place to go hiking or walking if you can take the heat.
This indigenous Amazonian tribe (made up of 20 families) live a two-hour’s boat ride from Colombia’s Amazon capital, Leticia. Valencia is a small community of native Amazon families who have settled on the river’s edge. This is a great place to discover how communities utilize the Amazon rainforest and make the most of their surroundings by growing an extensive range of crops, fruits and vegetables; the community is fully self-sufficient. In the center of the town is a tall viewing platform and from the top there is a panoramic view stretching for miles which shows a mix of rainforest, Amazon river and other communities in both Colombia and Peru. The best thing about the community is the people: their very unique stories and their way of life – this is a community which lives without running water, drainage or electricity.
Suesca is located 35 miles (60 kilometres, or one hour 30 minutes in real time) from Colombia’s capital, Bogota. This quaint, historic town is considered the birthplace of rock climbing in Colombia, and has extensive climbing routes ranging from beginner to advanced levels on natural cliffs. Suesca is also the perfect extreme sports destination for adrenaline enthusiasts, with whitewater rafting, mountain biking and hiking trails around the mountains and cliffs.
Guadalupe is a small, 10-square-block town located in the Santander region of Colombia. In typical Santander style, Guadalupe’s buildings are painted white with traditional red roofs. Guadalupe is located six to seven hour’s drive from Bogota, with the last hour of the trip being on unpaved, remote roads. The town has three hostels and one restaurant. The town’s magic is located just outside of the city, where there is a Caño Cristales-style, brightly-colored river, with a variety of reds, blues and greens in the water. Natural jacuzzis, waterfalls and caves are located around the river bed.
Capurganá is a remote beach village located in the Chocó region on the Pacific coast, close to the Panama-Colombia border. This village has no road access: it can only be accessed by small plane from Medellin, a two- or three-hour boat trip from Turbo, Colombia or a 45-minute boat trip from Puerto Obaldia, Panama. Capurganá has a tropical savanna climate and a picturesque beach with crystal-clear waters. This beach is a preserved area and is perfect for diving due to its coral reef, and is home to a number of sea turtle nests. A one-hour hike from the town is the famous El Cielo and “Pool of the Gods.”
Mocoa is located in the Putumayo region of Colombia and is a doorway to the Amazon. This traditional colonial town is on the border of the Amazonas region of Colombia; it combines the Amazon rainforest and the Andes mountain range in perfect harmony. Mocoa has everything the Amazon rainforest does: a large variety of endangered animals including parrots, toucans and monkeys. Mocoa is home to a large number of Indiana Jones-style rope bridges connecting the village to the rainforest. Just outside of the village are a large number of waterfalls including the Hornoyaco Falls and Fin de Mundo (End of the World) hike and waterfall.
Florencia is a town located at the bottom of the Andes mountain range with a population of around 165,000 people. This town is steeped in history (it was founded over 100 years ago) and is important for the surrounding area because on one side is the bottom of the Andes mountains range and on the other side is the start of the Amazon rainforest. The town is the boundary in between both ecosystems, with the Orteguaza River running through the town. Florencia is home to the breathtaking architecture of the San Francisco de Asis plaza and the unforgettable Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral.
Puracé is home to the Puracé National Park located in the Popayan region of the country, around five hour’s drive from Cali. The National Park is the origin of four main rivers – the Magdalena, Cauca, Japurá and Patía – and is home to a 15,100-foot (4,600-meter) high dormant volcano; you can take a six- to seven-hour trek to the top of it, or alternatively bathe in the hot springs or sulphur pools. The National Park provides a habitat for over 200 species of orchids, and wildlife such as bears, woolly monkeys, howler monkeys, capuchins, mountain tapir, pudu, and over 160 species of birds.
Punta Gallinas, La Guajira
Punta Gallinas is the northernmost point of Colombia and South America, located in the remote La Guajira desert region of the country. The town is predominately populated by the Wayuu indigenous tribe, as it has been for hundreds of years. Located on the Caribbean coast, the crystal-clear waters provide a contrast to the orange, 200-foot (60-meter) high, rolling sand dunes which line the coast. This town gives you the opportunity to experience Colombian culture, as you can learn about the indigenous tribes and their traditions.
Cerros de Mavecure
The Cerros de Mavecure is a picturesque location with three spectacular monoliths uprising from the Amazon rainforest: the three hills are named Llanito, Pajaro and Mono. The mountains range from between 820 feet (250 meters) high to 2,300 feet (700 meters) high, a contrast to the flat surrounding areas. A unique sight appears when it rains: during a heavy downpour, streams and waterfalls are created at the top of the mountains, waterfalls down the side of the mountains create the appearance that the mountains are crying.
Rio Claro, Antioquia
The Rio Claro Nature Reserve is located 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of Medellin and 165 miles (265 kilometers) north of Bogota. The park is a privately owned nature park that has the aim of preserving the rainforest within the Andes region of Colombia. Many unique species of wildlife are located within the park’s boundaries. It is also a perfect destination for adrenaline junkies, with activities such as rafting, caving, zip lining, swimming, and trekking available.
Mompox is located on the edge of the Magdalena River, around six hours southeast of Cartagena. This small town resembles Cartagena’s colonial architecture, but without the hustle and bustle of the Caribbean city. The town has been lost in time and has a slow, traditional way of life.
Gorgona Island, Cauca
Gorgona Island is located 22 miles (35 kilometers) off the Pacific Coast of Colombia. This small island is 5.6 miles (nine kilometers) long and 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) wide. The whole island is a National Park in order to protect its unique sub-tropical forest and coral reef ecosystems, endemic wildlife and fascinating flora and fauna. Once a penal colony, this island is steeped in ancient and colonial history, with many jail buildings still in existence hidden only by vegetation. The island has no permanent population, but can accommodate up to 80 tourists at a time, with a restaurant, ecotourism center and lodging facilities. The island is famous for its snake population, and for being a humpback whale migration passage. Hammerhead sharks, reef sharks, sea turtles, whale sharks and many species of birds call this island home.
Jardin is a 100-year-old colonial town located in the region of Antioquia, around three hours’ drive from Medellin. This small, quaint town is filled with traditional colonial architecture, whitewashed walls and brightly colored painted doors and balconies. The town is home to a cable car system that provides local villagers with access to the town to sell products. One of these cable cars also stops at the peak of a neighboring mountain, called Flower Hilltop, which offers a breathtaking view of the town and surrounding areas below. Jardin is surrounded by Natural Reserves including the beautiful waterfall, the Cave of Splendor. In the natural parks you can follow hiking paths, discover wildlife and swim in natural pools.
Yopal is located in the Los Llanos region of Colombia, which is also known as “cowboy country,” as this small town is the gateway to vast plains. Rice, beans, corn, coffee, sugarcane, plantain and citrus fruits are all commonly grown in this area. El Cravo Sur is a naturally formed beach with waterfalls, and crystal clear water pools. In addition to water activities this area is also known for its horse riding trails, hiking and wildlife.
Villeta is located 55 miles (90 kilometers) from Bogota, down the mountain in a tropical and warm climate. This small town is popular with locals and Bogotanos for long weekend trips; the town is home to a number of luxury villas and hotels. This area is perfect for a relaxing weekend away from the city, or an adventurous hiking, trekking and ecological trail.