An Introvert's Guide to Colombia

Solo travel in Colombia
Solo travel in Colombia | © Chris Bell 
Colombia is a famously outgoing and gregarious country, full of open and friendly people who are eager to welcome foreigners into their country. But what happens if you’re an introvert travelling in Colombia and the idea of crowds of people and loads of other backpackers sounds like your idea of a nightmare? Enter the introvert’s guide to Colombia.

Top tip: avoid the festivals!

The first key tip for introverts travelling in Colombia is to make sure to avoid cities and towns which are hosting festivals. If your idea of a bad experience is to join thousands of other people in small spaces, events like the Barranquilla Carnival, Black and White’s Carnival in Pasto or the Medellín Flower Festival probably won’t be your cup of tea! Check in advance for festivals in the destinations you are planning to visit, then avoid those time periods as much as possible.

Cumbia dancer at carnival, Barranquilla © Studios / Flickr

Where to stay

When it comes to hostels, introverts are regularly presented with several different nightmare scenarios: multi-bed dorms, sociable common areas and places where it can be very hard to get any peace and quiet or time alone. Colombia’s tourism boom has seen the number of hostels grow year upon year, and there is now an obvious backpacker trail of destinations and popular hostels. However, there are also a number of hostels designed to welcome a more laid-back sort of traveller, so check out smaller hostels, and consider booking a private room if you have the budget.

Where to go

In terms of where you should travel, this is where it gets pretty easy! If you are happy to sacrifice visiting some of Colombia’s more touristic destination in favour of exploring more off-the-beaten-track spots, you will easily find plenty of amazing things to see and do without compromising your trip or having to deal with crowds.

Tourist hotspots like Salento, Bogotà, Medellín, Cartagena, Tayrona National Park, Palomino and Cali might not be your ideal spots to visit, as you will certainly find yourself surrounded by other travellers (not to mention plenty of Colombians on some holiday weekends).

The stunning town of La Playa de Belen © Chris Bell

However, the good news is that there are literally hundreds of excellent Colombian destinations which hardly see tourism at all: little towns like Pijao, Playa de Belen, Salamina and Aguadas, and incredible ecotourism destinations like the Eastern Plains, the Amazonian regions of Guainia, Guaviare, Vichada, Caqueta and Putumayo, and even smaller cities like Manizales and Popayan. In any of these places, you may just find yourself being the only visitor, and you can experience the real Colombia in peace and quiet.

Exploring Guaviare, Colombia © Chris Bell

Things to do

Finally, activities: what should you do in Colombia as an introvert? Multi-day treks like the Lost City might not be ideal, as you will be spending your time with a group for four or five days. The same goes for package tours and nights out dancing to local music. The ideal activities may well be hiking in the countryside, exploring small towns, going out for food and swinging in a hammock drinking local coffee!

Naturally, being an introverted traveller in Colombia doesn’t mean you have to, or should, sacrifice some of the most fundamental Colombian travel experiences, but it’s handy to have options in case you really don’t feel like socialising or mingling with large crowds. Hopefully, this handy guide for introverts in Colombia will help to make your experience of the country more positive.