Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Colombia

Colombia is a fantastic location for people who want an adventure. There are so many different things to do – visit the colonial towns of Cartagena and Popayán, learn salsa dancing in Cali (the salsa capital of the world), do extreme sports in San Gil, go hiking in Chingaza National Park or go on a 4-day trek through the jungle to the Lost City!

Start off in Colombia’s vibrant capital city, Bogotá. It is the second largest capital city in South America and at 2,640m (8,661ft), it is one of the highest capital cities in the world.

From Bogotá, explore Tayrona National Park. Located on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, Tayrona National Park has long stretches of golden beaches lined with coconut palms and a dense rainforest with lots of easy hiking trails. Tayrona is all about the swimming, hiking, camping and relaxing on the beach!

Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, after Brazil. It has the highest amount of species by area in the world, including more species of bird than all of Europe and North America combined! You can see some of this biodiversity in Cocora Valley (Valle del Cocora). The Cocora Valley is home to Colombia’s national tree – the wax palm which grows to nearly 200 feet tall. This is a wonderful spot for some hiking. You’ll cross jungle rivers, visit a bird sanctuary and enjoy some incredible views and forest scenery.

Next stop is Salento. Salento is one of the oldest towns in the coffee-growing region. With coffee as their main export, you can go to a coffee farm, pick your own beans and make your own coffee! The houses in Salento are painted a variety of vibrant colours which attract many tourists – find a high vantage point overlooking the town and watch the colours at sunset. It’s magical!

From here, go to the Lost City (La Ciudad Perdida). The Lost City was built around 800 CE which makes it older than Machu Picchu! It contains 169 terraces carved into the mountains, a network of tiled roads and small plazas. It takes 4 to 6 days to trek through the jungle from Santa Marta to get to the ruins – it’s definitely worth it!

From the wonders of Colombia’s natural beauty, head to some of its fascinating towns and cities. Guatapé is one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia. Climb up the steep staircase of the Rock of Guatapé to see the traditional homes of the town. Many of them have murals painted on the bottom half of their facades that depict animals, people and shapes.

There is also Cartagena which dates back to 1533 and is famed for its Colonial Old Town. This walled city has a maze of cobbled alleys, giant churches on spacious plazas, flower-covered balconies and plenty of museums, restaurants and shops.

Finally, there is Popayán, which rivals Cartagena as Colombia’s most impressive colonial town. It is known as La Ciudad Blanca (The White City) because all of the buildings are painted white.

For some interesting history, go to San Agustín Archaeological Park. San Agustín is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a small mountain town that’s home to hundreds of pre-Colombian statues and burial mounds. It’s collection of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures is the largest in South America.

To finish off your trip, go to San Gil, the outdoors capital of Colombia. You can go white-water rafting at Rio Fonce or Rio Suarez, paraglide in the Chicamocha Canyon, go canyoning, trek the El Camino Real Hike and do so much more. An exhilarating way to end your Colombian adventure.