Published: November 2008
Text by Tom Clynes
>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 (,

>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 ( For the full range of San Gil’s adventure options, check out or
Stay: Hotel Bella Isla Aventura Resort (doubles from $80;

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; 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.

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;

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;

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;