Colombia is rapidly changing its negative image as a hotbed of criminals, kidnappers, drug lords and gangsters, and travellers are returning to this rewarding country that crowns the continent of South America.
Most visitors flock to the capital, Bogota, the legendary resort town of Cartagena, or the duty-free offshore island province of San Andres. In recent years, Cali and Medellin are also popular stopovers. But wherever one chooses to explore, a fascinating, exciting and trouble-free experience is likely to be had.
Bogota, this ancient city was the pre-Colombian capital of the Chibcha Indians and remains a blend of old and new, teeming with Spanish colonial buildings and plazas alongside modern skyscrapers. A major draw card for tourists is the Spanish colonial port of Cartagena with its spectacular walled old town, a medieval wonderland of palaces, monasteries, plazas and overhanging balconies. To the south of the town are Colombia's major seaside holiday resorts with excellent beaches and scuba diving opportunities.
The country's equatorial rainforests clothe the river valleys, riddled with magnificent air plants, vines, creepers and brilliant flowers and birds. The Los Katios National Park in Choco contains hundreds of species of plant and animal life that have yet to be listed. The country's jungles also shelter wondrous archaeological treasures, like the ancient city of La Cuida Perdida and the monuments, tombs and burial mounds at San Augustin and Tierrodentro.
Colombia is a gem of a destination slowly starting to shed its unpalatable reputation to reveal its unique beauty.