If there is one country in the Americas that reflects Latino joy, color, and diversity, it is Colombia, located at the center of the hemisphere. Its 49 million inhabitants speak Spanish but because of their warmth and resourcefulness, they find a way to communicate even without speaking Mandarin.
In 2017, Colombians welcomed 6.5 million tourists. From January to July this year, 4.6 million tourists traveled there, 32.9% more than during same period in the previous year. This reflects Colombia’s magnetism for international travelers.
Today, visiting Colombia is much easier than in the past thanks to improved flight interconnectivity. Twenty-four airlines that connect with Asia are in operation today, with 1,056 direct international frequencies per week to 26 countries around the world, including JetBlue, Turkish Airlines, American Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa, Air France, United Airlines, and Aeromexico.
Although when compared to the United States or China it is a small country with few inhabitants, 1,025 musical rhythms can be heard grouped into 157 genres in its five regions, most of them in warm or temperate climates. Throughout the year, Colombians hold 365 fairs and festivals, some declared as World Heritage by Unesco, such as the Carnival of Barranquilla (Caribbean), or the Blacks and Whites carnival in Pasto (Pacific), where everyone paints their faces to celebrate racial equality. There is also the Feria de las Flores in Medellín (north-west), with the traditional farmers’ parade, where they create impressive flower arrangements and carry them on their backs.
Choosing one place over another will depend on the tourists’ taste. If they would like to follow in the steps of Nobel prize winner Gabriel García Márquez in the Caribbean, they can visit Santa Marta, Cartagena, or Barranquilla, and relive the stories of magical realism through vallenato music, or even try the foods mentioned in his novels and the stories as provided by local tourism companies. Here, travelers can have extreme experiences in nature at Tayrona Park, unique in the world for having a natural park, indigenous cultures, and a snowy mountain range all in one place, right next to the warm waters of a sea, with no hurricanes.
Colombia is one of the most mega-diverse countries in the world. It hosts more bird species than any other country, a paradise for ornithologists and amateurs who can find 1,921 kinds of birds, 79 of which are endemic. This is why nature is one of its main attractions. One of these attractions is found along the Pacific coast, where humpback whales come from Antarctica to mate and give birth. The department of Choco is the cradle for this species.
Another destination that cannot be missed on the other side of the country is the "melted rainbow" at the Sierra de La Macarena Natural Park in the department of Meta, known as Caño Cristales. It is a river in the eastern plains that exhibits many colors in June and July and can be enjoyed while listening to llanero songs. It has been recognized by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.
Traveling to Colombia without drinking its coffee, is like not having visited the country at all. The Coffee Belt connects the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío, part of Valle del Cauca, and northwestern Tolima and is one of the regions where the softest coffee in the world is grown. Tourists can experience the coffee plantations with the growers dressed in traditional ware, explaining the entire process.
Bogotá, with its cool climate (14 degrees Celsius on average) is Colombia’s capital. It is located at the heart of the countryand received 1,448,974 international tourists last year. Many of them learned about the legend of El Dorado in the Gold Museum, which houses the most important collection of its kind in the world, with 34 thousand pieces of gold artwork and 20 thousand items that belonged to pre-Columbian cultures. According to TripAdvisor, the travel and restaurant website, this museum is one of the top 25 in the world.
Immerse in indigenous fabrics, folk art, premium coffee, exotic fruit, and pastries. Chinese travelers can find ample Colombian variety in any of the country’s five regions.
As is plain to see, tourism is the sector of the economy that has become most consolidated and relevant in recent years, which is why Colombia is determined to be world renown and become the number one choice when touring Latin America.