Medium 9781628872842

Frommer's EasyGuide to Colombia

Views: 181
Ratings: (0)
Frommer’s guides aren’t written by committee, or by travel writers who simply pop in briefly to a destination and then consider the job done. Frommer’s authors Nicholas Gill and Caroline Lascom have been covering Colombia for over a decade and this book hits all the highlights, from the Amazon to the Andes. Gill and Lascom provide insights and detailed information so you can better explore the exquisite colonial core of Cartagena; enjoy the nightlife and museums of Bogota and Medellin; visit the coffee plantations of Zona Cafetera; trek through the Sierra Nevada’s to see the country’s famed Ciudad Perdida (Lost City); and more.

Inside this Colombia guide you’ll find:
• Exact pricing for all lodgings, attractions, adventure outfitters, restaurants, tours, and shops, so there won’t be nasty surprises
• Straight-shooting, opinionated reviews introducing you to the country’s best beaches, rain-forest preserves, eco-lodges, restaurants, hotels, tours and attractions—in all price ranges, from budget to luxury
• Detailed maps throughout, plus a handy pullout map
• Helpful suggested itineraries so you can make the most out of your vacation time

List price: $20.95

Your Price: $16.76

You Save: 20%

Remix
Remove
 

13 Chapters

Format Buy Remix

1 THE BEST OF COLOMBIA

ePub

1

The Best of Colombia

by Nicholas Gill

If there’s a country poised to be the next big ecotourism destination, it’s Colombia. Now with a lasting peace seemingly in place, pieces of the country long closed off to the wider world are opening up. With an area equal to that of Spain, France, and Portugal combined, Colombia has coastlines on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, lush Amazon jungle, immense flatlands evoking the American plains, scorching deserts, and snowcapped mountains. Perfectly preserved colonial cities, Caribbean islands, and meandering rivers straight out of a Gabriel García Márquez novel are all here, not to mention 45 million residents that make Colombia second only to Brazil in human and ecological diversity among South American nations.

The capital of Bogotá is home to fine museums and pulsating neighborhoods, mixing the colonial past with the country’s modern present. In Medellín, ride cable cars to architectural projects and rainforests high in the mountains. Take salsa lessons in Cali then to dance the beat of Afro-Colombian rhythms in Cartagena. Lie on the beach in national parks like Tayrona, then visit indigenous communities in La Guajira and Puerto Nariño.

 

2 COLOMBIA IN CONTEXT

ePub

2

COLOmbia in Context

by Nicholas Gill

Once considered the most dangerous country in the world, Colombia, having implemented security improvements over the last decade, is slowly emerging from the internecine bloodshed of the 1980s and 1990s. Homicide rates in many Colombian cities, once among the highest in the world, have fallen below levels of many U.S. cities. Political kidnappings are a thing of the past. Since the early 2000s, a strong military and police presence have made land transportation reasonably safe again. With the conflict with the FARC coming to a close, expect things to get even better.

Thanks to this improved security situation, Colombia is a country ripe for discovery by foreign tourists. Though politically one nation, it is made up of three distinct regions, each with its own customs and traditions. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts, inhabited mostly by descendants of African slaves, are culturally linked to the Caribbean, rich in musical tradition and spectacular tropical scenery. The central and most densely populated portion of the country, crowned by the Andes Mountains, has managed to grow and prosper despite its unforgiving terrain. Dotted by most of Colombia’s largest cities, it is the economic engine of the country. The sparsely populated eastern portion of the country is inhabited by tough, hard-working farmers and traditional indigenous tribes; it’s a land of vast planes, thick jungle, unmatched natural beauty, and, unfortunately, high levels of guerilla activity and cocaine production.

 

3 SUGGESTED COLOMBIA ITINERARIES

ePub

3

Suggested Colombia Itineraries

by Nicholas Gill

Many first-time visitors to Colombia are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things to do in the country. Not only is there plenty to explore, it’s a big country. Even if you have several months to spend in Colombia, you won’t come close to seeing all of it. Destinations tend to be spread out and require some advanced planning to get to. Bus and driving routes between major cities can take entire days, and transportation to remote towns and villages might only be possible on certain days of the week. An extensive air network will help shave some time in transit and might be your only choice for reaching some isolated attractions. Keep in mind that as modern and sophisticated the country might appear in some places, it’s still Colombia. Once you leave the cities things move at a slower pace. Sometimes when the sun is out or rain is beating down on you, they don’t move at all. Planning too tight of an itinerary is never a good idea here. The itineraries that follow are meant to be suggestions of what is possible—with flexibility to shave off a day or take an extra stop when needed. Relax, and take some time to stop and smell the coffee!

 

4 BOGOTÁ

ePub

4

BogotÁ

by Nicholas Gill

Your first encounter with Bogotá may not be love at first sight. The constant rain, chilliness, and surrounding pine-forest mountains make London seem downright sunny. But give Bogotá time, and you will discover a sophisticated city of skyscrapers, glitzy upscale shopping centers, restaurants to satisfy even the most discerning palates, and nightlife that will leave you needing a vacation from your vacation. Colombia’s capital and its largest city by far, Bogotá is a sprawling metropolis, home to eclectic and experimental architecture, a bohemian university crowd, a lively cafe scene, and attractive city parks. It is a city bursting with energy and culture.

Bogotá is, more than anything, a city of contrasts. Class differences are still very much apparent, with the wealthy, modern northern section a world apart from the slums, poverty, and high crime rates of the southern part of the city. Though security has improved dramatically in the last few years, the city center can still be dangerous at night, so you’re better off not wearing expensive-looking jewelry and clothing when visiting these areas. Still, Bogotá is one of Latin America’s safer cities, and it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any serious problems.

 

5 THE NORTHERN ANDES

ePub

5

The Northern andes

by Nicholas Gill

I n the Colombian heartland, one of the first regions settled by the Spanish, the departments of Boyacá and Santander stretch out north from Bogotá in dramatic fashion. Lush green hills dotted with farmland suddenly turn into soaring snowcapped mountains, whose glacial melt feed whitewater rivers that have carved their way deep into the earth. The jagged terrain attracts countless adventure sport enthusiasts, who come here by the busload to raft, climb, and paraglide. When it is time to relax, cutesy colonial villages with their cobblestone streets and clay- tile roofs make for a nice break from the sweltering heat of the coast. Colombia’s northern Andes were the birthplace of Colom bian independence, as Simón Bolívar’s ragtag army won decisive victories against the Spanish. You won’t find beaches or ruins or jungles here, nor is there one main attraction to speak of. Yet, this is where Colombians come to get away from the big cities, to breath in the fresh country air and yes, even drink the local wine.

 

6 CARTAGENA & THE CARIBBEAN COAST

ePub

6

Cartagena & the CAribbean Coast

by Caroline Lascom

It’s hard not to fall for Cartagena. Colombia’s Caribbean jewel stuns in an instant and will keep you mesmerized for a lifetime. The most beautifully preserved colonial city in the Americas, Cartagena is where pre-Columbian legends, colonial majesty, and tropical sensuality create a romantic dreamscape that rarely lapses into cliché. Over the course of 400 epic years, conquistadors, liberators, pirates, priests, and ghosts have all left an imprint on the ravishing and sultry city that stirred Gabriel García Márquez to Nobel Prize–winning fame and fortune.

Along Cartagena’s old town streets, magical realism seems to imbue every moment. There are the taut, sinewy vendors who haul carts improbably stacked with exotic fruits along streets where pastel-hued colonial homes are draped with psychedelic bougainvillea. There’s the clip clop of horses’ hooves on the cobblestones below your window as you drift off to sleep, and there are sunset strolls along the 17th-century city’s walls, as pelicans soar overhead.

 

7 MEDELLÍN & THE EJE CAFETERO

ePub

7

Medellín & the Eje Cafetero

by Caroline Lascom

F ew cities have rewritten their narrative with quite such bold vision and dazzling ingenuity as Medellín. Just 20 years ago, if you told anyone that you were heading to Colombia’s second city, they would think you were crazy. And they had a point. In the 1990s, Medellín was the cradle of drug lord Pablo Escobar, with a murder rate of 435 per 100,000 residents, incessant car bombings, kidnappings, and ruthless gang wars. With the death of Escobar in 1993, followed by a series of inspired reforms ushered in by progressive mayor Sergio Fajardo, the city has been truly reborn from a society on the brink of collapse into a dynamic, creative, and safe city.

The world now talks of the “Colombian Miracle.” At the heart of Fajardo’s “social urbanism.” Blighted comunas (shantytowns) that were ground zero during the drug war are now connected to downtown by a flashy Metrocable (gondola) system. Library parks, sport facilities, and playgrounds form community hubs for the city’s once abandoned neighborhoods.

 

8 CALI & THE SOUTHWEST

ePub

8

Cali & The Southwest

by Nicholas Gill

The southwest of Colombia used to be bypassed by travelers because of security concerns, so it never got the attention of some other regions. Yet this part of Colombia is packed with major attractions. Of course there’s Cali, the region’s sprawling urban center, home to both grit and glamour that dances to an Afro-Colombian rhythm. There’s so much salsa going on that it’s considered the world capital. There are unusual landscapes too, like one of the country’s only deserts and the mountainous, cloud-covered páramo. History is much deeper here than many other places in the country, from an impressive collection of stone statues and burial chambers to beautifully preserved colonial cities. There are little-known indigenous groups, lakes for windsurfing, and horses outnumber cars in many places.

As long as 5,000 years ago, civilization spread in the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys. In Tierradentro, elaborate underground burial chambers were built in the hillsides (they can be seen on a 14km walking loop). At the headwaters of both waterways, in the lush green hills surrounding San Agustín, hundreds of stone statues can still be found, best seen on horseback rides that take in towering waterfalls and coffee plantations. Together they provide evidence of a sophisticated, evolving society with artifacts that are unlike anything else in the Americas.

 

9 THE PACIFIC COAST

ePub

9

The Pacific Coast

by Nicholas Gill

O ff limits to most travelers for decades until just a few years ago, Colombia’s Pacific Coast is a natural para dise just waiting to be discovered. This is some of Colombia’s most spectacular landscape. It’s here that jagged hills covered in dense, tropical foliage meet the Pacific in dra matic fashion. El Chocó, as the northern half of the region is called, is one of the wettest places on earth, though that doesn’t stop adventurous tourists from camping out in a growing number of small eco-lodges perched on rocky bluffs or pristine black- or white-sand beaches. They take surf lessons, fish for big game, or go whale-watching. To the south, Colombia’s largest port, Buenaventura, once a dreadful place to spend the night, is even coming around with some good places to stay and eat. The vibe up and down the coast is less mestizo and gravitates more toward the Afro-Colombian and indige nous groups that call this region their home. Visiting isolated communities that still cling on to their traditions is just a hop on a canoe or makeshift motorcycle-powered rail cart away.

 

10 THE AMAZON & LOS LLANOS

ePub

10

The Amazon & Los Llanos

by Nicholas Gill

On the other side of the Andes, Colombia takes on yet another new look. This is the most isolated part of the country, a place where few roads are able to penetrate. Colombia’s Amazon takes up a full third of the country, yet most Colombians have never even been there. Leticia, Colombia’s tiny foothold on the Amazon River, adjacent to the borders of Peru and Brazil, is the main point of access to the region, with multiple daily flights from Bogotá. It’s so close to Tabatinga, the town’s Brazilian equivalent, that many residents in both cities speak the two languages and have adapted to both nations’ customs, so you might not even notice where you are until the waiter serves you a cachaça instead of rum. Within a short boat ride you can be face to face with capuchin monkeys or spotting pink river dolphins near Parque Nacional Natural Amacayacu, home to more than 500 different species of birds, hundreds of mammals, and giant spiders and snakes, fulfilling your wildest Amazon fantasies. In Puerto Nariño you will chat up indigenous groups whose culture has changed little in centuries, then dine on typical Amazonian cuisine, like the mojojoy, a palm grub that gets skewered and grilled, or pirarucu, an enormous freshwater fish.

 

11 SAN ANDRÉS & PROVIDENCIA

ePub

11

San AndrÉs & Providencia

by Caroline Lascom

When Colombians dream of a tropical vacation, they need look no further than San Andrés and Providencia. This remote and breathtaking archipelago is a Caribbean fantasia of blinding white sands fringed with coconut palms, translucent waters cast in unfathomable shades of blue, spectacular coral formations, and a magical abundance of sea creatures. In 2005, UNESCO recognized the islands’ immense ecological richness when 25,000 miles were designated as the Seaflower Marine Protected Area. Home to the third-largest barrier reef in the world—spanning some 32km (20 miles)—it’s no overstatement to say that the snorkeling and diving here are out of this world.

But there’s more to the islands than just sun and surf. San Andrés and Providencia are known across Colombia for their incredible music—a heritage that speaks to the region’s fascinating colonial history. Pirates, puritans, and conquistadors have all staked their claim to these strategic islands, which are actually closer to Nicaragua (122km/93 miles) than to Colombia (775km/482 miles). Certainly, there is an eccentric, distinctly Colombian sensibility to the island’s ramshackle beauty, yet the islands beat to a very different drum. A third of the population is Raizal: the descendants of British Puritans and African slaves who were shipped to the islands to work on the cotton plantations in the 17th century. On the island’s “settlements,” you are more likely to hear reggae or gospel than salsa; locals speak English-Creole rather than Spanish, and white clapboard houses tumble down lush green hillsides.

 

12 PLANNING YOUR TRIP TO COLOMBIA

ePub

12

Planning Your Trip to colombia

by Nicholas Gill

Traveling to Colombia is easier and safer now than at any time in modern history. But it does take some advance planning, especially if you want to hit remote areas of the Amazon or Pacific Coast, or set out on multi-day hikes in the Andes. This chapter provides a variety of planning tools, including information on how to get there and on-the-ground resources.

Getting There

By Plane

Most international planes arrive at El Dorado International Airport (airport code BOG;  1/413-9053), located about 13km (8 miles) from the city center. El Dorado handles most international arrivals and you’ll likely fly into Bogotá. Upon exiting the country, there is a departure tax of $59 (payable in U.S. dollars or the peso equivalent), though all or at least part of this is usually included in your ticket. Other major international airports in Colombia include Rio Negro International Airport in Medellín, Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport in Cali, and Rafael Núñez International Airport in Cartagena.

 

13 USEFUL TERMS & PHRASES

ePub

13

Useful Terms & Phrases

Colombian Spanish is, for the most part, very clean and straightforward, particularly in the capital of Bogotá. However, regional dialects and pronunciations can make it seem as if there are many other languages being spoken here. In Medellín, paisas tend to make a soft g sound whenever there is a ll. On the Caribbean coast, the African influence mixed with Spanish can make accents seem more Cuban than Colombian.

You’ll here some phrases here more often than anywhere else in the Spanish-speaking world. A la orden, which essentially means “at your service,” is uttered by nearly every taxi driver and shop clerk. ¿Qué más? is often used instead of “How are you?” which can be confusing to anyone who translates the phrase literally. Instead of the word “sorry,” there’s Qué pena! Then there’s the word rumba (party), popular everywhere in the country, which can even be used as a verb (rumbear).

Diminutives are similar to Cuba and Venezuela, as ico and ica rather than the more common ito and ita like in Peru and Ecuador. Slang is quite common, especially in Medellín, where it even has it’s own name, parlace. Some favorite Colombian slang words include farra (party), barra (COP$1,000), chévere (cool), guayabo (hangover), porfa (please), and plata (money).

 

Details

Print Book
E-Books
Chapters

Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Sku
BPE0000229918
Isbn
9781628872859
File size
34.7 MB
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Format name
ePub
Encrypted
No
Printing
Allowed
Copying
Allowed
Read aloud
Allowed
Sku
In metadata
Isbn
In metadata
File size
In metadata