Don’t miss these 10 memorable experiences in colourful Colombia

Whether you are looking for nature, culture, history or adventure, you will find something to suit your taste in this South American nation, but if you want to go beyond the usual tourist spots and discover some hidden gems, here are 10 under-the-radar experiences that you can have in Colombia.

Marvel at the Rainbow River

Caño Cristales is a river in the Serrania de la Macarena National Park that displays a stunning array of colours from June to November. The river is home to a unique aquatic plant called Macarenia clavigera, which turns bright red when exposed to sunlight. The plant, along with the green algae, yellow sand, blue water and black rocks, creates a rainbow effect that makes the river look like a liquid painting. To visit Caño Cristales, you need to book a tour with a licensed operator and follow strict environmental guidelines.

Visit the flower capital of Colombia

Antioquia is a region in northwest Colombia that is famous for its flower production. Every year, the region exports millions of flowers to different countries, especially for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. You can visit some of the flower farms and learn about the cultivation process, the varieties of flowers, and the history of the industry. You can also enjoy the scenic views of the mountains and valleys covered with colourful blooms.

Spot humpback whales on the Pacific coast

The Pacific coast of Colombia is one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales. These majestic creatures migrate from Antarctica to the warm waters of Colombia every year from July to October to mate and give birth. You can take a boat tour from towns like Nuquí, Bahía Solano, or Buenaventura and witness the whales breaching, splashing and singing. You can also enjoy other activities on the Pacific coast, such as surfing, hiking, kayaking and birdwatching.

Explore the ancient statues of San Agustín

San Agustín Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that preserves the largest collection of pre-Columbian monuments in South America. The park contains over 500 stone statues that depict human figures, animals, and mythical creatures. The statues were carved by an unknown culture that inhabited the area between the 1st and 8th centuries AD. You can explore the park on foot, horseback or bike and admire the impressive sculptures and tombs.

Visit a cathedral made of salt

Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral is a remarkable feat of engineering and art that was built inside an old salt mine. The cathedral consists of 14 chapels that represent the Stations of the Cross, each with a different salt sculpture illuminated by colourful lights. The main nave features a giant cross.

Climb a giant rock with a view

El Peñón de Guatapé is a massive rock that rises 200 metres above the ground near the town of Guatapé. The rock is composed of quartz, feldspar and mica and has a curious zigzag pattern on one side. To reach the top of the rock, you need to climb 659 steps that were carved into a crack. From the summit, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding lakes and islands.

See the world’s largest ceramic house

Casa Terracota is a whimsical house that was built entirely of clay by Colombian architect Octavio Mendoza. The house is located in Villa de Leyva, a colonial town in Boyacá which itself is worth the visit. The house is shaped like a giant pot and has a surface area of 500 square metres. The house was baked in the sun and has no steel or cement in its structure. The house showcases the potential of earth as a sustainable and artistic material for architecture.

Walk among the giant stone spheres of Tierradentro

Tierradentro is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that features pre-Columbian monuments in Colombia. The site is located in the department of Cauca and consists of several archaeological zones. The most notable feature of Tierradentro is the presence of large stone spheres that are scattered across the landscape. The spheres range from 50 centimetres to 2.5 metres in diameter and weigh up to 10 tonnes. The origin and purpose of the spheres are unknown, but they are believed to be associated with burial rituals.

Experience the Afro-Colombian culture of San Basilio de Palenque

San Basilio de Palenque is a town in the department of Bolívar that has a rich and unique Afro-Colombian culture. The town was founded by escaped slaves in the 17th century and became the first free town in the Americas. The town preserves its own language, music, cuisine and traditions that are distinct from the rest of Colombia. You can visit San Basilio de Palenque and learn about its history, culture and resistance.

Enjoy the colourful architecture of Guatapé

Guatapé is a charming town in the department of Antioquia that is known for its colourful houses decorated with zócalos, or bas-reliefs that depict various scenes and motifs. The town is also famous for its proximity to El Peñón de Guatapé, a giant rock that offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. You can stroll along the streets of Guatapé and admire the artistic expressions of its residents, or take a boat ride on the nearby reservoir.

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