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Published: November 2008Adventure Guide: Colombia
Map
Text by Tom Clynes
Mountains
>El Cocuy Cational Park:
Colombia’s finest stretch of Andes is a haven for mountaineers and rock climbers, with glaciated peaks over 17,000 feet and tons of rarely explored alpine terrain. For overnight to weeklong horse-packing or climbing trips, contact Bogotá-based, English-speaking guide Nicolás Moreno (nmorenoa@hotmail.com, climbelcocuy.com).

>San Gil:
The country’s self-proclaimed adventure sport capital is a whirlwind of rafting, kayaking, riverboarding, caving, rappelling down waterfalls, mountain biking, and paragliding. It’s also a base camp to explore the trails and colonial towns in the surrounding mountains. For raft trips from Class III to V, contact Colombia’s most established whitewater guide, Cesar Díaz (colombiarafting.com). For the full range of San Gil’s adventure options, check out colombiatrek.com or santanderalextremo.com.
Stay: Hotel Bella Isla Aventura Resort (doubles from $80; bellaislaventura.com).

Caribbean Coast
>Tayrona National Park:
A jewel on Colombia’s northern coast, this park four hours east of Cartagena should be required for every traveler. Remote beaches, rain and cloud forests, pre-Columbian ruins, the tallest coastal range in the world (the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta)—Tayrona is nothing short of a tropical wonderland. And it’s connected by a well-maintained system of hiking trails.
Stay: Ecohabs resort, an outpost of secluded huts built into a jungled hillside overlooking the ocean, adds a touch of luxury to an otherwise rough-and-tumble destination (doubles from $245; parquesnacionales.gov.co). El Cabo beach near the park’s east end draws long-stay backpackers with cheap hammocks ($6.50 to $9) and a laid-back vibe.

>Bogotá:
The nation’s capital is a must-visit for its museums, clubs, and restaurants. Most travelers base themselves in the colonial center of Candelaria or upscale Zona Rosa.
Stay: The Casa Medina Hotel is a National Conser-vation Historic Monument with thoroughly modern rooms (doubles from $325; hotelescharleston.com/casamedina).

>Medellín:
Once the world’s most violent city, Medellín has recently replaced its cartel strongholds with hip clubs and cool cafés.
Stay: The Nutibara Hotel is just off the Plazoleta de las Esculturas, which is dotted with Botero sculptures (doubles from $65; hotelnutibara.com).

>Cartagena:
Colombia’s party central, Cartagena is a UNESCO-protected colonial old town sandwiched by high-toned, South Beachesque glitz. Come prepped for a night out!
Stay: Hotel El Agua is a luxury boutique hotel planted in a 17th-century colonial home (doubles from $340; hotelagua.com.co).
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