8 Underrated Experiences to Have in Colombia

The Colombian Amazon | © Chris Bell / Culture Trip
The Colombian Amazon | © Chris Bell / Culture Trip
Photo of Chris Bell
26 February 2018

Colombia has a well-established tourist trail: places like Salento, Medellin, Cartagena, Tayrona, and Palomino are popular and loved for a reason, but there are so many wonderful places to visit and experiences to have in Colombia that are extremely underrated. So here are 8 underrated experiences to have on your trip to Colombia.

Safari in the Eastern Plains

When people think of ecotourism in Colombia they tend to think of the Amazon region of the country. However, the vast Eastern Plains – or Llanos Orientales – are arguably the best place to enjoy amazing views of animals and birds at close quarters. In the dry season, you can take a jeep or a horse and head out on a Colombian safari and see herds of capybara and deer and even anacondas and giant anteaters.

On safari in the Eastern Plains | © Chris Bell / The Culture Trip

The beaches of Cordoba and Sucre

Colombia’s Caribbean beaches are very popular with travellers, however, the beaches that most people visit tend to be located close to Santa Marta and Cartagena. The beaches of the regions of Cordoba and Sucre departments – to the west of Cartagena – are criminally underrated! With stunning spots like Isla Fuerte, San Antero, Monitos, and Rincon del Mar to discover, visiting the beaches of Cordoba and Sucre is a great way to experience some off-the-beaten-track Caribbean tourism.

Exploring the lesser-known Amazon

Most people looking for Amazonian tourism in Colombia head straight to Leticia in Amazonas department, but there are some extremely underrated places to visit and experiences to have in Colombia’s other Amazon regions: Guaviare, Putumayo, Caqueta, Vaupes, Guainia, and Vichada. From visiting ancient cave paintings in Guaviare to climbing the Mavecure Hills in Guainia, there are some excellent underrated Amazonian experiences to have in Colombia.

Cerros de Mavecure, Colombia | © Chris Bell

Taking a cacao tour

Coffee tours are a classic Colombian activity, but the country also produces some of the best cacao and chocolate in the world, even if it’s a lot less recognised than the quality of Colombian coffee. A tour of a cacao farm is a great way to learn more about the process of chocolate production: the best place to enjoy one is around Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Visiting the ‘other’ Heritage Towns

Little towns like Barichara, Jardin, and Villa de Leyva are all part of Colombia’s network of ‘Heritage Towns’ and are all incredibly popular with tourists. However, there are many of these towns that are equally beautiful and barely see any tourism at all. Exploring these underrated towns is a unique and excellent experience: check out La Playa de Belen, Salamina, Aguadas, and Lorica for a start.

The stunning town of La Playa de Belen | © Chris Bell

Hiking the Samaria Valley

Another underrated spot that has been eclipsed by a more famous neighbour, the Samaria Valley is home to three times as many Wax Palms as the iconic Cocora Valley, but most people have never heard of it. This is actually a bonus, as you’re likely to have the giant palm trees all to yourself, something which is unlikely to happen at Cocora.

Paragliding in Tamesis

Tamesis is an underrated Colombian destination in general: the little town in southern Antioquia has a lovely climate, nice views, and loads of things to do. However, the best thing to experience there is paragliding. Most people do this activity in San Gil, Santander, but Tamesis offers some equally stunning views with very few other tourists.

The stunning view over Tamesis and the Andes from Cristo Rey | © Chris Bell

Ecotourism on the Pacific coast

The Pacific coast of Colombia is exceptionally underrated alongside the Caribbean coast, which is a shame because there is so much to experience there. From the wild, forgotten beaches and jungle waterfalls, to the hot springs and unique cultures, the Pacific is like a holiday in itself. The best of the area though, is the ecotourism: with amazing whale watching and turtle spotting, as well as diving, the Pacific isn’t going to stay underrated for much longer!

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