Just because you’re an expat in Colombia doesn’t mean you’ve seen Colombia. I know this from personal experience. I first visited Colombia at the beginning of 2016. During that time, I saw Cartagena, Medellín and Bogotá during a two-week vacation I had scheduled for myself before deciding to actually move to Colombia.
Once I committed to building a new life in Bogotá, one of my goals besides finding a job that came with a work visa was to travel frequently throughout Colombia and the rest of Latin America. Well the job with a work visa came soon after, but I barely ventured outside Bogotá my first year living in Colombia. Real life got in the way and I knew I wasn’t leaving Colombia any time soon and could always visit other Colombian cities later.
It wasn’t until I changed jobs and started working for a tour company called Uncover Colombia that I began to see more of the country I became enamored with during my two-week vacation. Finally, I saw the quick but sure-footed steps of Caleños dancing salsa. I returned to Medellín to visit destinations I had missed on my first trip like Parque Arví. And I broadened my knowledge of Latin America when I took a short trip to Puerto Rico.
Traveling has an array of benefits and it’s important to see unknown parts of a new country you live in. In the case of Colombia, I think it’s even more important to visit other Colombian regions outside of the one you’re residing in because Colombia is full of such diversity. From the weather and landscapes to the culture and vocabulary, Colombia’s regions have stark differences. Life in Bogotá isn’t the same as life in Barranquilla and it takes traveling to really see that for yourself.
Besides the cultural differences, Colombia is home to some amazing sightseeing destinations. Colombia’s Coffee Region is quaintly tucked between the Andes and tours to the area give visitors a chance to learn about the whole coffee production process. July through November is the ideal time to see Caño Cristales in the department of Meta, also known at the river of five colors. And it’s always a good time soak up the sun on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and the less-visited Pacific coast.
The great part of living in Colombia is knowing people who can help you map out your journeys. Maybe a neighbor from Santa Marta can tell you the best way to get to Tayrona National Park or a coworker from Villa de Leyva can recommend a delicious restaurant. While traveling through Colombia, don’t underestimate the value of local knowledge. This doesn’t just come in the form of reputable recommendations, local guides can also bring a wealth of perspective and history to each Colombian destination you visit.
Some people who have lived in Colombia for a few years or have a firm grasp of the Spanish language might forgo the services of a guide while exploring Colombia. While each person is most definitely welcomed to his or her own travel style preferences, consider how much more knowledge and insight you can gain for a new region of Colombia if there is a local person taking time to explain regional customs, traditions and history. To put it in terms of the United States: As a Floridian, I can tell you about alligators and oranges, but please don’t ask me about New England clam chowder.
If you want to explore more of Colombia with the benefit of a knowledgeable, English-speaking guide by your side, consider an authentic Uncover Colombia tour. For people in Bogotá, Uncover Colombia provides day trips from Bogotá and tours within the capital like a food and cooking tour where you’ll learn how to make a traditional Colombian meal with a chef. These tours are also a great option when family and friends come to Colombia to visit. Uncover Colombia also provides tours to other Colombian regions like the Caribbean, Amazon and Coffee Triangle.
So what are you waiting for? Explore the country you now call home!
Anneliese Delgado is a writer and a marketing manager for Uncover Colombia, a tour company offering unique experiences and trips throughout Colombia. She was born and raised in the United States, but moved to Colombia alone at the beginning of 2016. She writes about life as a foreigner, traveling and being a Gringa-Latina. When she’s not writing, she’s playing soccer or wandering around stores with no intention of buying anything.