Two weeks ago I wrote a post about the Camino Real (Royal Road) – The road between Barichara and Guane which featured in a travel article I once wrote. I thought I would use this Wednesday literature space to present the entire article. I should preface by saying the title is sensationalized. Their are arguably hundreds of other sites in Colombia which could be considered more obscure and satisfying for travelers who like getting off the beaten track. But I made my own short list from the places I had visited up to when I had written the article.
See if you can spot my son Jesus Mateo who features in the first photo when he was just 3 years old. He is now 9!
Colombia’s 5 Best Secrets
If it’s life you want, then its life you will get. Colombia is one of the world’s five richest countries in biological diversity, coupled with its unspoilt colonial heritage and colourful festivals. As the Colombian travel slogan says ‘the only risk is wanting to stay’.
Parque Jaime Duque – Bogota
This is Colombian culture at its most quirky yet fascinating best. If an eerie water tunnel boat ride through a medieval castle of Dante’s Divine Comedy isn’t quite your thing, then perhaps a guided tour of 113 scenes of the most pivotal moments of the history of man in the Universe is.
How to get there: From Bogota travel by Transmilenio bus to Portal Norte calle 170 then catch a bus to Autopista Norte and get off at Briceño.
Chicamocha Canyon and ‘Camino Real’ – Department of Santander
Located 50 km south of the city of Bucaramanga, Chicamocha canyon boasts spectacular landscapes and a wide variety of adventure activities. The aerial cable car ride allows tourists to view it in all its splendour. South of Chicamocha Canyon is the spiritually rejuvenating three-hour walk ‘Camino Real’ between two of Colombia’s most charming colonial towns Barichara and Guane – an almost surreal experience; a pilgrimage into a different age.
How to get there: Frequent buses travel north from Bogota to Bucaramanga or you may decide to stay in San Gil situated just 10 kilometers from Barichara. Alternatively, fly directly to Bucaramanga and take a bus south 1.5hours to Chicamocha or San Gil.
Islas del Rosarios and Playa Blanca – Cartagena
Sit back on the speedboat and hold onto your hat as you rocket past Cartagena’s ancient castle of San Fernando de Bocachica and arrive a little bit wetter at the island hotel. Go swimming or do some snorkeling, then succumb to your saltwater-induced appetite with a tasty hot pescado lunch. In the afternoon visit the aquarium and marvel at the acrobatic dolphin display. On the way back, drop in at the Playa Blanca, sit under a coconut tree and unwind with a delicious piña colada served straight from a coconut.
How to get there: Frequent flights, international and domestic, go to Cartagena. Boats leave from Muelle Turístico between 8am and 9am and return 4pm to 6 pm.
Mompòs – Department of Bolivar
Mompòs is a town bordered by boggy rivers and dense vegetation located on the eastern branch of the Magdalena Río in the northern Colombian interior. Time may have passed Mompòs by, but the tourists have just started exploring this once-forgotten land. The colonial architecture is something to behold as is the town’s specialty gold jewelry and furniture making.
How to get there: Mompòs is a bumpy six-hour bus ride from Cartagena. You’ll arrive at Maganguè and board a boat for Bodega and then continue by bus to Mompòs.
Laguna de La Cocha – Pasto
La Laguna de La Cocha is a high Andean lake located in the southern Andes of Colombia just 27km east of the city of Pasto in the Nariño Department. Hop on a boat to cross Colombia’s second largest natural body of freshwater and visit the flora sanctuary on the island Corota. More than just a breath of fresh air, La Cocha is a wetland ecosystem of international significance.
How to get there: Frequent flights operate to Pasto. Buses for the lake leave from in front of the Iglesia Santo Sepulcro at Calle 22, Carerra 7.