The Colombian Flag

Adventures in Colombia

This story was created in partnership with: Visit Colombia 

There’s no shortage of adventure in Colombia, and while you could say that about most countries in South America, it’s not easy to find terrains as abundant or diverse. With two coastlines — the Caribbean and the Pacific — the peaks of the Andes, and depths of the Amazon Jungle, Colombia will stir your mind, body and soul all right.

People don’t necessarily equate this country with adventure, which is why we’re setting the record straight. No matter what you want to do, be it trekking, climbing, diving, or flying, everything in Colombia feels epic. Whether you’re swimming out on your surfboard to meet a swell or hiking along an ancient trail to a view that cannot be described in words, this country will never let you forget what you experience. Here are the best destinations and activities for adventures in Colombia.

Tatacoa Desert, Colombia
Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert is perfect for an adventure | © Nicole Reyes/Unsplash

Best destinations for adventures in Colombia

In Colombia, you can easily base yourself in large cities like Bogotá and Cali and find adventure a little over an hour away. But if you’re looking for activities that will give you a real rush, here are the best destinations for adventure in Colombia.

San Gill

Dubbed the adventure capital of Colombia, San Gill is full of extreme sports and adventure activities that will get your heart racing and adrenaline pumping. The town’s rapids make for some of the most exhilarating white-water rafting on the planet, but it’s also prime for paragliding and trekking.

Suesca

Just an hour-and-a-half-away from Colombia’s capital of  Bogotá, you’ll find the town of Suesca – a mountainous landscape tailor-made for rock climbing, trekking and rafting. Word on the street is that this is where Colombia’s rock climbing scene was born, and it’s not surprising given that there hundreds of routes.

Santa Marta

This colonial city is a great location for adventure lovers because of its proximity to everything that lies just a hop, skip and a jump away. Beyond the historic enclaves of this sprawling metropolis lie the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta where trekkers can delight in wandering through the wilderness and along trails brimming with dazzling flora and fauna.

Tucked away in this coastal mountain range are Minca – a small village known for birds and waterfalls, and Ciudad Perdida – a lost city built centuries before Machu Picchu. In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada – along the Caribbean coast – visitors will find Tayrona National Natural Park.

Taganga, Santa Marta, Colombia
Santa Marta, Colombia | © Alejandro Ortiz/Unsplash

Top adventures in Colombia

1. Paragliding

Colombia has a handful of spots and conditions that are just perfect for paragliding. Thermal winds and elevated cliffs make it possible to paraglide up and down the country. And, when you consider how spectacular the country’s coastline is — what could be a better way to explore those landscapes?

three paragliders soaring through the air across a mountain range
Check out this view across Colombia | © Scarebet/Pixabay

The best part is, even if you’re not trained in paragliding, you can still experience this extreme sport, as most trips are done in tandem with an instructor who will manage everything while you enjoy the ride! If you do want to do a solo flight, you’ll find a number of schools in Colombia where you can get certified.

Regions for paragliding:

  • Chicamocha Canyon in San Gill
  • Sopó and Guasca in the Bogota region
  • Territorio Paraíso near Cali
  • San Felix, Jericó and Jardín near Medellín

2. Hiking and trekking

Colombia is rich in a diversity of landscapes making it possible to hike everything from dizzying Andean heights and desert terrain to Amazonian jungle and Caribbean coastline. If you’re looking for something a little off-the-beaten-path in South America, Colombia is your best bet. Especially when you consider some of the most spectacular hiking on the continent can be found here.

man walking up the stairs in a green forest
1400 stone stairs will form part of your journey on the Lost City Trek | © McKay Savage/Flickr

Instead of the overcrowded Inca Trail in Peru, check out the Lost City Trek instead. Also known as Cuidad Perdida, this gruelling 44-kilometre trail rewards trekkers with untouched forest and mountain scenery. Because it’s still fairly unknown outside Colombia, you won’t run into flocks of tourists. And on the notable trail to Cerro Kennedy in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, trekkers will see hundreds of native and migratory birds.

Spots for trekking:

  • Lost City Trek
  • Amazon Jungle
  • Tayrona National Natural Park
  • Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta
  • Tatacoa Desert

3. Canyoning

Venture into the heart of Colombia’s nature. Canyoning is where you use methods such as walking, scaling, scrambling, jumping, abseiling, and even swimming to explore natural wonders like waterfalls, gorges and giant rock pools.

This physically demanding adventure sport is already pretty exciting, but Colombia’s topography makes for some sensational canyoning. For a truly epic experience, head to the waterfalls of Juan Curi in Santander near San Gill, or head for Ibagué and Minca.

4. Surfing

Like with many adventures in Colombia, even surfing will take you off-the-beaten-track. Although it has two coastlines — one along the Pacific Ocean and the other along the Caribbean Sea — Colombia isn’t really known for surfing.

Yet, there are lots of fantastic spots on both coasts, and some even more remote destinations where you can hop on your board and catch a wave or two — not to mention go kite surfing as well. It might even surprise you to know that Colombia has some of the best places to surf in South America for various levels.

a man walking into the surf
Sand and surf on the Caribbean coast | © Art Design Taller/Pxhere

While the beaches on the Caribbean coast are easier to get to and better for beginners, they tend to be more crowded. The surf destinations on the Pacific coast are a little harder to reach and tend to be more peaceful. The best times to surf in Colombia are from December to March and from July to September.

Beaches for surfing:

  • Playa Guachalito – One of the best surfing spots in Colombia along the Pacific Coast.
  • Pradomar – Close to Barranquilla, this is a great destination for surfing on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and is suitable for all levels. On weekends, this spot gets packed but during the week it’s nice and quiet.
  • Costeño Beach – Easily the most popular surf spot on the Caribbean Coast. You won’t find big waves here, but it’s perfect for beginners and the ambience and nature is amazing.
  • El Valle – This idyll coastal village on the Pacific coast is suited to beginner and intermediate surfers.
  • Punta Sur, San Andres – Go surfing on several beaches and experience life on a Caribbean island.

5. Mountain biking

Colombia is no stranger to biking – for the locals, it’s a popular way to spend time. On the weekends, you’ll find plenty of cyclists making their way around big cities such as Bogotá and Medellín on two wheels. Of course, one of the best things about this country is that it also offers cycling enthusiasts a chance to get out of the city on some truly spectacular trails.

The paved mountain roads are perfect for beginners and expert riders who want to experience the country’s sweeping vistas and soothing nature. You can venture out on country trails or head to solitary tracks in Colombia’s mountain ranges. Thanks to a relatively constant climate, you’ll find good conditions for this adventure sport throughout the year.

Top picks for mountain biking:

  • Chicamocha’s Canyon Trail, San Gill
  • Peñas Blancas, Armenia
  • Santa Elena Trail, Medellín
  • Simon Bolivar Flow Trail, Salento

These incredible experiences don’t even begin to cover the wealth of adventure Colombia has to offer. For travellers who want a trip packed with action from start to finish, this country will make them want to visit over and over again.

Based in Toronto, Sahar is a full-time content editor for Days to Come and part-time travel junkie.

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