In this wildly beautiful, Caribbean-nuzzling part of South America, it’s easy to find peace in the middle of nowhere and recharge your batteries.
Wilderness travels in Colombia invariably involve rainforest: Andean foothills swathed in tropical trees, sprawling Amazon jungles, and lush coastal forests backing pearl-white Caribbean and Pacific beaches. Whether you check in at a treehouse-like hotel or opt for al fresco glamping, you’ll be immersed in nature. Settle in for dawn and sunset views of beautiful landscapes, as birds and primates come out to feed and play. These special places are all bookable on Culture Trip.
Stays at Glamho are in tiny geodesic domes on wooden terraces. They’re fronted by trampoline-springy nets, perfect to lounge in while observing the tree-topped hills over Medellín. The domes are giant air bubbles – held up by pumped pressure – and are transparent, meaning you can see the stars as you settle down to slumber. Skies are also visible from the ensuite bathroom – and there are big unheated outdoor tubs, too. Don’t fret about food – there’s a restaurant, and breakfast is included in the nightly rate.
Bethel’s palm-thatch, wattle and stone cabins overlook the cactus-filled valleys of Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert. However, the reason you come here is the night sky. Thanks to the clear air and dearth of nearby towns, the Milky Way is so clear that it looks like a white lick across the sky. Rustic rooms are positioned to make the most of this incredible display: walls are optionally open-sided, meaning the stars are with you when you sleep, and you wake to dawn over the desert. There’s a pool, a modest spa and a bar with a DJ – in case you thought things would be too quiet.
Set over the rippling Tatacoa Desert, Qji is all about nights under the stars. Accommodation is shack-simple – in tall, stilted huts made of bamboo and raw wood – and the stars feel close enough to touch, from the net beds or the hammock on the al fresco decks. The hotel has a small outdoor pool, organizes walks and activities in the desert and provides a decent breakfast – included in the price. For more astral gazing, the astronomical observatory is a five-minute drive away.
A 90-minute drive from Bogota, with rooms on tall stilts in the foliage, this weekend escape feels utterly at one with its tropical, tree-filled garden. Accommodation is simple, comprising wooden shacks with mosquito-net-draped beds. Stealing the show are the balcony views over rolling hills and thickly forested valleys. Blue morpho butterflies float through the woodland, and a mountain river rushes through the grounds. Head out by cab to find local restaurants in tiny San Francisco town.
East of Medellín, on the vast Peñol reservoir, complete tranquillity exists in the shape of eco-minded Hotel PietraSanta: a clutch of floating cabins, chalets and bungalows suitable for couples, families and groups of friends, with all meals included in the nightly rate. It’s only accessible by boat, a 10-minute transfer from the town of Guatapé. Quiet it may be, but there’s plenty on offer, from kayaking to guided eco-walks and fishing with bamboo rods. For a special occasion, book an à la carte Fantasy Dinner and you’ll dine out on the lake, among candles, flowers and stars.
Paying gentle homage to the local Kogi people, the Santuario sits in beautiful natural surrounds. It’s thatch-roofed and boutique-hotel-comfortable, placed next to a mountain river as it widens towards the Caribbean. The rainforest and snowy Sierra Nevada – where the Kogi live – form the backdrop. Rest up in a hammock and watch the mesmerizing Heart of the World documentary about the region, then get lost in nature on the numerous trails. You’ll leave this place spaced-out – and utterly invigorated.
Entre Palos hides among the trees of recuperating secondary forest: accommodation in huts, raised on stilts towards the canopy. This allows them to be bigger than typical cozy-but-cramped treehouse cabins. The resort consists of ensuite bedrooms – with workplaces a visiting research scientist could use – featuring sink-into sofas and comfortable double beds. Bogotá is just under two hours’ drive from here, and dinner is served in the restaurants of San Francisco, 20 minutes away in a cab.
Elegant stilted bungalows strike a pose at this glamping retreat, their canvas sides swathing minimalist pentagonal frames. Rather than red, raw wilderness, the surrounds comprise atmospheric woodland and lawns in the hills above Medellín, from where tired urbanites arrive to de-stress – it’s an easy Friday escape. Decor inside is casually diverse, with minimalist creams and polished woods brightened by Thai fan art, Turkish cushions and gold-tinted lampshades.
This is an updated rewrite of an article originally by Chris Bell.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.