Colombia is a magnificent country full of color, passionate people, and interesting extremes. Whether you enjoy luxuriating on sun-kissed beaches or prefer hiking through dense jungle terrains, Colombia is the perfect place to get off the beaten track and explore the very heart of South America. Let’s dive in and explore six remote and less visited places you need to add to your itinerary if you’re planning a trip to Colombia.
Translated into English, “New Venice” gets its name from its resemblance to the famed city in Italy that is built on the water. While Nueva Venecia bears little other resemblance to the grandiose architecture of the northern Italian city than its water-based nature, it is a place of intrigue nestled in the Magdalena countryside and is well worth a visit. The village is located on the gentle waters of the Cienaga Grande, where fishermen spend their days hoping for a catch from their small, motorized boats before relaxing in one of the local bars in the evening.
As adventurers would hope, it’s not the easiest place to access, which means its tranquility isn’t ruined by vast swathes of tourists. To get to the village, you will first need to arrive in the town of Barranquilla. From there, you can enjoy a stunning cruise down the river to get to Nueva Venecia. When you arrive, you will be greeted by exceptionally friendly locals who will be all too willing to give you a tour of the village, and you can spot the native wildlife, including babillas, herons, iguanas, and pelicans. While there is nowhere for tourists to stay (unless you’re offered a bed in a local’s home), don’t leave without sampling the delicious, Caribbean-inspired cuisine. You can enjoy some of the freshest fish in all of Colombia here, so be sure to eat well before heading back to your hotel or hostel in the evening.
photography by: :)gab(:
Few places in the whole of South America can boast the natural beauty of the Pacific-coast paradise of Nuquí. Those who make it to Nuquí are untroubled by present-day life and can luxuriate in the warm coastal waters after trekking across the countryside to reach them. The reward is total isolation, with only nature and wildlife to accompany you. Those with a lust for adventure (and the appropriate equipment) can enjoy scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters and enjoy the staggering array of marine life. What’s more, if you visit Nuquí at the right time of year (July to November), you will be treated to the indescribable sight of humpback whales migrating close to the shores, which is truly a once in a lifetime experience for many travelers.
Away from the beach, you can head into the dense jungle and discover crystalline rivers, never-ending waterfalls, and isolated hot springs that you will have all to yourself. Most visitors hire the services of a local guide if they head into the tropical forests surrounding Nuquí, as it’s easy to get lost in the labyrinth of small paths that break up the thick undergrowth. With many beautiful, independent eateries, and quaint family-run guesthouses in the area, any time spent in Nuquí is nourishment for the soul, and it’s the perfect place to get away from the stress of everyday life and feel totally at one with nature.
photography by: Luis Pérez
West of the fascinating city of Medellin, a six-hour journey into the heart of the Colombian countryside will take you to the foothills of Paramo Frontino, a mystical mountain that rises to almost 4,000 meters above sea level. The best time to visit the Paramo is between January and March, when visibility is clearest, as the area can quickly disappear under a blanket of fog at particular times of the year. You really don’t appreciate just how remote the destination is until you arrive in the foothills, and the only way to reach the lower slopes is to walk for several hours or ride on horseback.
In 1993, SAM Colombia flight 501 crashed into the high slopes of Paramo Frontino after it came into difficulty in a storm on approach to Medellin airport. Sadly, all passengers and crew on board were killed. When rescuers climbed to recover the debris and bodies, they realized just how hard-hitting the crash must have been as the plane was found in thousands of pieces. Travelers into the region can hike up to the summit via the crash route and see for themselves just how intimidating the sudden weather changes can be. For those that love hiking off the beaten track and are willing to head out on an adventure, a trip up Paramo Frontino is surely a must.
La Puerta de Orión is an enigmatic rock formation that stands an impressive fifteen meters in height. Found in the stunning locale of Guaviare and surrounded by pristine waterfalls and dense jungle thicket, the rock is of great significance to the local people who revere it as a somewhat sacred place. Local tradition dictates that every December between 19.00 and 21.00, the alignment of the three bright stars Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, can be viewed through the upper hole of the formation and draws people to the area to witness this natural phenomenon. Visitors to the site should head off the main road and trek up to the area surrounding the formation to enjoy stunning views across the Guaviare countryside that rival any throughout Colombia.
For intrepid explorers who want to visit the heart of the Amazon rainforest, a trip to Yahuarkaka Lakes should be on your itinerary. This wildlife hub sits just off the border triangle between Colombia and neighboring Peru and Brazil and enables you to visit the wilds of the Amazon from the water. One of the best ways to reach the lakes is to head down to the river at the port of Leticia and head towards the lakes in a local canoe. It’s a good idea to hire a local guide to show you how to navigate the waters, as you don’t want to fall in; the Amazon river is home to anacondas and piranha fish, as well as other species that lurk in the water’s depths.
But it’s not just the water that’s teeming with fish and interesting species. The surrounding forest is home to diverse birdlife, including hawks and Martins, and you can find all sorts of species of monkeys and snakes by walking one of the softly-trodden paths that surround the stunning lakes. This is the perfect opportunity for nature lovers to experience the true wild of the Amazon rainforest, and it’s also a great starting point for excursions that head into the Reserve Marasha and Puerto Narino village, where you can take a boat ride in search of the native pink dolphins that jump in and out of the Amazonian waters.
photography by: alphredob3
For those that make the effort to travel to Punta Gallinas they won’t be disappointed. Located at the very tip of the Guajira Peninsula, this region is an arid coastal landscape with beautiful dunes, exotic, tropical beaches, and sacred indigenous cultures that are fascinating for visitors to explore. The Faro in the title refers to the lighthouse that sits out in the ocean. Home to the native Wayuu people and their unique way of life, this region is home to the most magnificent landscapes enjoyed anywhere in South America, and a trip into the countryside will leave you in total isolation.
Before you travel there, you should realize that it can take a solid day of traveling from nearby Cabo de la vela before you reach the tropical paradise. It’s also totally different from anywhere else in Colombia, as it is parched, arid land. However, the few travelers that make it are in absolute awe at how stunning the surroundings are. Few places on the planet give you the sense of other-worldliness that you can experience when swinging in a hammock on the Punta Gallinas coast, and if you make the journey, you will remember it as one of the most incredible destinations you’ve ever visited.
photography by: Luis Pérez