When people think about Colombia, they think about salsa, beautiful women, Pablo Escobar, and coffee. But there is so much more to this country. Despite its reputation as a drug-peddling dangerous place, in reality, it’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world with a diverse nation that is helpful, hopeful and deeply endearing. Here are 13 interesting facts about Colombia.
1. Colombia is named after the legendary Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer – Christopher Columbus.
2. Colombia is the only country in South America that has coastlines on the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. There are more than 300 beaches that locals and tourists can take advantage of.
3. The King of Coke, Pablo Escobar, was born and bred in Colombia. During his heyday, he collected revenue to the tune of $420 million, weekly. That’s more than the monthly salary of all the CEO’s of all the top Fortune 500 companies put together.
4. Pablo Escobar was so rich he offered $10 billionto waive off Colombia’s National debt to improve his reputation and escape the crosshairs of justice.
5. Colombia has a river that has five different colours. Caño Cristales is a natural wonder of Colombia and it’s quite fascinating because it has 5 different colours. It is famous for its striking colours in yellow, green, blue, red, and black, which are caused by a special type of plant living on the riverbed.
6. Medellín was once “the murder city of the world” with 17 murders every day in 1991. It has since undergone a renaissance and is now one of the country’s main cultural hubs.
7. When a girl turns 15 it is customary to organize a La Quinceañera for her. It is basically a celebration of her becoming a woman, and in Latin countries, it is one of the biggest days of a woman’s life.
8. Big-Assed Ants (basically, ants with junk-in-the-trunk) or hormigas culonas is Colombia’s traditional street delicacies. It is fried and sold on street corners as salty, nutritious snacks.
9. “Chocolate con queso” – hot chocolate with cheese. This is the ultimate hot drink for breakfast. The locals melt savoury cheese in a pot of hot chocolate and drink it. You should definitely try it!
10. It is mandatory for radio and public television in Colombia to play the national anthem every day at 6 am and 6 pm.
11. Colombian women don’t hesitate to change their bodies if they’re dissatisfied. The country is currently the 5th most popular hub for cosmetic surgery.
12. The country has the tallest Palm trees in the world – Some can measure up to 60 meters. There are about 14 species of Wax Palm in the world and 7 of them are in Colombia. They can be viewed in the Cocora Valley.
13. Colombia is home to pink dolphins. The Amazon River dolphin is one of the unique animals that can be spotted in the country.
How to reach?
The El Dorado International Airport is the most famous airport and the busiest in Colombia. Direct flights are available from North and South American countries and European countries such as Spain, Portugal, Netherlands and Germany. There are connecting flights from India which takes around 20 hours. All flights have at least one stop either at Abu Dhabi or Istanbul and then connect to a Colombian city.
Buses are available from the neighbouring countries of Venezuela and Ecuador and connect to many cities in Colombia.
Captain Nero’s recommendations in Colombia:
Cartagena: Cartagena is beautiful Spanish Colonial walled city with high-end restaurants and plenty of sights. Take a stroll through the historic walled city, and you may feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to a different era. The colourful colonial architecture, the lush plant covered balconies lining the labyrinth streets and the soaring church towers above most plazas give this town a joyous ambience which travellers just cannot miss!
Medellin: Home to the most famous drug lord, Pablo Escobar, Medellin was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. But when he died, Medellín began to bury its troubled past and rebounded tremendously. The leafy streets of El Poblado and their countless cafes are a magnet for travellers, and by night the area turns into the city’s hottest party destination.
Salento: Also located within Colombia’s coffee triangle, Salento is a small colonial town whose main business is coffee production. The houses are painted a variety of vibrant colours, and the high vantage points throughout town provide some stunning views. Known for its towering wax palm trees and lush green hills that make up the surrounding Valle de Cocora, the insanely gorgeous valley offers some of the most beautiful trails in the country for hiking.
Tayrona National Park: Located on the north Colombia coast, the park offers a variety of ecosystems, from swamps to scrublands to cloud forests. For many travellers, the park’s biggest attraction is its beaches, set in deep bays and shaded with coconut palms. Most beaches are set against the dramatic mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, whose rainforested hills make for a great side trip on any beach vacation.
The Lost City: The Lost City was built around 800 CE and contains 169 terraces carved into the mountains, as well as a network of tiled roads and small plazas. It’s one of the most beautiful treks in the country, and the site is older than Machu Picchu! It’s not possible to visit this site alone, so you’ll need to book a tour from Santa Marta in advance.
Caño Cristales: This is undoubted one of the most beautiful spots in Colombia. Caño Cristales, aka “The River of 5 Colours” is located in La Macarena national park which also home to epic rock formations, natural swimming pools and wildlife as colourful as the river, like macaws and iguanas. This liquid rainbow is caused by multicoloured algae that flowers beneath the shallow surface at certain times of the year, creating a magical sight that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
San Andrés and Providencia: San Andrés and Providencia are two Colombian islands located in the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Panama. They are also considered some of the most unspoiled places in the Caribbean and you’ll find white-sand beaches, stunningly clear blue water, and less touristy.
Guatapé: Guatapé is one of the most picturesque and colourful towns in the world. The tiny town of Guatapé is painted every shade of the rainbow, with a mismatch of bright traditional houses lining the narrow streets. It is located close to El Peñól de Guatapé, a 650-foot (198-meter) tall rock busting out of the flat surrounding land.