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Polaroid of the week: Colorful Cartagena, Colombia

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polaroid of the week colombia cartagenaI made it to Colombia! I can’t believe that after all these years, I’m finally here. To give you a bit more background: when I (we) started traveling in 2010, I started in the U.S. and made my way south through Mexico and Central America. The goal was to go all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, taking a catamaran from Panama to Colombia via the San Blas Islands, which is supposed to be a beautiful trip (proven by the photos I’ve linked to!).

However, by the time we made it to Panama, we had been traveling through Latin America for 9 months and were ready for a change of scenery & culture. So we hopped on a plane to Europe instead of a catamaran. When we returned to South America, we timed it so that we’d be in Argentina and Chile for their summer and flew into Buenos Aires. And never made it further north than Peru.

Now, nearly five years after my first attempt to visit Colombia, I’m finally here. Admittedly, the trip didn’t start without hiccups (I’ll be talking more about them in my monthly roundup), but I am slowly easing back into the ‘Latino way of things’…

My first stop was Cartagena, a popular coastal town in the north of Colombia, famous for its beautiful walled historic center. Cartagena was one of the first towns to be settled by the Spanish, and the historic colonial town has been well preserved – I loved the charming 16th century plazas, cobble stone streets, wooden balconies and colorful buildings and took hundreds of photos!

The difference in temperature – from 32°F (0°C) in New York to 90°F (32°C) in Cartagena – was quite a shock to my system, which is why after a few days of exploring the city in the sweltering heat of the (eternal) Caribbean summer, we escaped to the beach. The beautiful Caribbean beaches that people are raving about are 4 to 5 hours east of Cartagena, and I’ll be spending the next couple of weeks working on my tan, checking out Tayrona National Park and afterwards cool off for a few days in the mountain village of Minca.

I’ll be back in Cartagena for a few more days after that, because the city deserves a couple of more days and I still want to get dirty in the famous Totumo mud volcano. If you’ve been to Colombia and have any tips for places to visit, feel free to share them in the comments.

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20 Comments

  1. We are currently in Colombia and loving it! One of our favourite places so far (besides Cartagena which we loved!) Has been Guatape, a gorgeous colourful town near Medellin. I’d highly recommend you stay there a few nights, we didn’t and really regret it!
    Another favourite is the loop walk in Valle de Cocora, the scenery is stunning and impossible to do justice in photos.
    Also check out all things Botero in Bogotá and Medellin.

    1. So glad to hear you’re loving Colombia as well! I am taking notes on Guatape – thanks for the recommendation! I’m excited for all the Botero statues in Medellin 🙂 Did you take buses around the country? And felt safe everywhere you went? Where are you off to next? 🙂

  2. We took a flight from Santa Marta to Bogota, only because we had to get to Villa de Leyva for NYE. We are about to take our first night bus right now but have found the busses to be very good and safe. The flight we took was cheaper than the bus by the way. We’re heading to Cali next then Popayan, then either the San Augustin ruins or the Tierradentro ruins, haven’t worked that part out yet. Look forward to your blogs on Colombia, the blogs on Central America were incredibly useful for our travels there.

  3. Cartagena, in fact the entire country of Columbia is on my 2016 travel bucket list. Seeing your post just gave a wave of excitement about it! Awesome. Thank you!

  4. Grats on making it to Colombia. I’ll be checking in to see how you got here and what the issues were. I’ve found some great tours to Colombia so it’ll be interesting to hear what you have to say about it first.

  5. It’s quite a temperature difference there from NY to Cartagena, I would imagine the shock… since here the temperature is around -15 celsius.

    Hope you have a nice time there and will come back with a lot of good places and stories 🙂

    1. Thanks, Linda! As for the temperature difference – It was such a nice shock though, my body was relieved to not be shivering anymore 😉

      1. I’m the opposite, I’m used to the cold, so when I go on an area with high humidity and temperatures, it’s kind of hard to breathe for the first days, until I’m getting used to the temperature.

  6. Dani, this is so awesome! I have a week off in April and am thinking of going down to Colombia or Peru. Do you feel safe in Colombia so far? I’ve only been to Brazil in South America, so I don’t know how I’d feel navigating Colombia on my own.

    1. Aaaah yes Colombia’s got my vote, Pauline! Peru needs more than a week, in my opinion, but you could do Colombia’s Caribbean coast around Cartagena in a week. So far, I’ve been feeling safe & have met quite a few female solo travelers. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

  7. I can’t wait to make my way to Cartagena, you make it sound so beautiful! I am in Medellin right now and I know you said you would be coming this way soon. There is so much to see here and I am lucky to have family who has lived here there whole life and know all the best places to see! Personally, I say visit Las Palmas and take a ride on the Metro Cable! Both give great views of the city and the mountains are breathtaking! Safe travels and jif you want to talk more feel free to contact me at [email protected] 🙂

    1. It’s gorgeous, Heliana! I hope you’ll get to visit Cartagena soon. I will be in Medellin next month, already looking forward to it! It’d be great to meet you while I’m there 🙂

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