I scored the jackpot 4+ years ago when I started dating my Colombian/Ecuadorian boyfriend. Over the years I have gotten glimpses of his culture with invitations to awesome authentic meals + endless talks of soccer. I try to recall those two years of Spanish class I took in high school but I think I've jut accepted the fact that I have a my own personal translator who can cover off on that for me. Going back to the motherland was obviously something he had been wanting to do for a while + I was more than willing to be his travel companion. Sunshine + good food? How could I say no to that?
Our 10 day adventure in Colombia started with a two night stint in Medellin. Medellin was the biggest city we visited + it was also the perfect start to the trip. It was the most modern + there were even times that I almost fit in as a native thanks in part to a new hair dye job I got just before the trip. For those of you who didn't watch Narcos on Netflix, Medellin sits with in a massive valley with the wealthier neighborhoods at the bottom + the slums to the top. Medellin is nicknamed "The city of eternal Spring" + very much lives up to that name.
We arrived later in the afternoon so just walked around the El Poblado neighborhood, grabbed some typical food, + watched a soccer match at a bar while sipping some cheladas.
The next morning, we woke up bright + early to make a two hour drive to El Penal (the Rock) + the very colorful + nearby city of Guatape. We hired a driver named Sebastian to take us + he was the best tour guide we could have asked for. He knew all the spots to stop along the way too. The panoramic views from the top of El Penal were also pretty incredible + totally worth the two hour drive + 750 step climb.
For our last day in Medellin we took about a $4 metro cable ride to the very top of the valley for some spectacular views of the city. The ride up took us right above the slums which was a bit sad but the overall view was breathtaking.
After Medellin we took a short flight to Cartagena for 3 nights, one of which was my birthday. We woke up early the day of to spend the day on the Islas del Rosario. There were several islands nearby but this was the one our hotel recommended + it was absolutely beautiful + very secluded. I've never had such a warm + relaxing birthday in my life!
The next day we took a break from all of the running around + spend the day at our very beautiful hotel pool. Thankfully I love heat but for those of you who don't Cartagena is HOT! I pretty much had to be in the water or in the shade the entire time.
After some R+R we ventured into the walled city. This was definitely the most touristy part of my Colombian adventure, but it was still a million times better than something like Navy Pier. I'm a sucker for bright exteriors + elaborate doors so I really enjoyed walking through the cobbled streets. Inside the walled city felt very safe to me + although there were many vendors selling souvenirs no one really bothered you about it unless you expressed interest yourself.
On day four in Cartagena my boyfriend's relatives came to pick us up + take us to his mom's hometown, Barranquilla. It was a quick stop + we didn't do a whole lot more than eat some really great Colombian food but it was a cool little detour.
From Barranquilla we continued up the coast to Santa Marta. This was another relatively quick pit stop but we did luck out + get one more beach day out of it. We took a short boat ride to nearby Playa Blanca. Although this beach was only really reachable by boat it was still fairly crowded. This crowd was pretty much all locals though. I was the only gringa in sight!
The next day we made our final stop of the trip to Tayrona. We started our trip with Medellin which was the most modern + definitely ended the trip on the completely opposite spectrum. We stayed in an amazing private bungalow overlooking the jungle + had no television or wifi. You really had no choice but to relax + take things easy. One of our favorite activities at the hotel was watching the twenty or so hummingbirds fly around within just a few feet of us or walk to the nearby Playa Los Cocos.
Playa Los Cocos was beautiful but a bit turbulent. For the really good stuff we had to do a two hour hike through Tayrona Park in order to end up at the most beautiful + pristine beaches Colombia has to offer. For most of the hike you're completely covered by jungle climbing up + down these crazy pathways. In some spots it was hard to really even know if you were on the right path + we even saw a few monkeys overhead. But then, when you least expected it, the path would open up + there would be the beach.
We passed two beaches along the path before settling at the third + most beautiful beach, Cabo San Juan de Guia. I've been to beautiful beaches before but never any that had as beautiful of a backdrop before. It was well worth the two hour hike to get there. We got lazy + opted for a mostly unaccompanied horse ride back (after being given my instructions in Spanish!). Thankfully, my horse was a total gentleman + we made it in one piece.
I got one more hammock hang in the next day + that about wrapped up our trip to Colombia. It was such a beautiful country + I really feel like we did a good job planning the trip + seeing a lot of different places in a short amount of time. The other thing that I would add is that it is really affordable once you do get there so definitely a good budget-friendly option. We stayed at some really beautiful hotels (most notably, The Charlee in Medellin, Casa de Isabella in Santa Marta, + Villa Maria in Tayrona) that I would 100% recommend. Aside from an accidental lost phone (not mine, thankfully) the trip was totally seamless. I'd love to tell you more if you are interested in making a trip there yourself!