Spending sixteen months riding my motorbike round the world, across four continents, visiting twenty nine countries, I have concluded that my favourite country to ride my motorbike through was Colombia.
This wasn't an easy conclusion to come up with as I visited so many incredible places on my journey. So many fond memories of places, views and experiences that at times literally brought tears to my eyes. When asked what was my favourite country I will always say Colombia as the one that really stood out for me.
In total I spent three months riding around this beautiful country. I had two days left on my visa when I crossed the southern border into Ecuador. At one point I was very tempted to swing back round and check into the country again. Colombia is the country that I spent the longest amount of time in, and here's why.
The variety of terrain in Colombia is crazy. I rode deserts in the north on route to Punta Gallinas and in the midlands with the Tatacoa Desert. There are jungles everywhere from the coast sweeping right across into the Amazon past the border of Brazil. The Andes mountains start in Colombia and push all the way south through South America which offer spectacular views especially while riding the infamous Trampolin del Diablo, Colombia's death road. The Caribbean coast line is full of beautiful beaches and let's not forget traveling through the coffee region and seeing the famous Quindio Wax Palm, the national tree and symbol of the country.
The country's landscape offers up so much, not just for over-landers on motorbikes or other forms of transport, but also for those travelling through on public transport and those wanting to get a little adventurous on the numerous treks and hikes that are offered up by tourist companies. You will not be disappointed in the natural beauty of this country.
One of the main things about travelling is meeting new people, seeing different faces and hearing foreign languages. Colombia has been rated recently as the happiest country in the world, and that's not the first time either. Colombia certainly has a reputation. Guns, drugs, murders, we have all heard horror stories of what goes on there. However, I never saw any of it. But that's not saying it doesn't happen, just be careful and play things safe and you'll be fine. Nearly all the Colombians I met had nothing but warmth and smiles for me. I was taken in to their homes and fed, was offered food on the streets as I rode through their village and they gave me directions and advice on every corner I stopped on. There just seems to be this nice attitude to life in this country, they're proud people and want to show off their country to you.
Food and Drink
I loved the food here. The only country that beats it is Mexico. The food there is on another level. I pretty much lived on the street food. It tastes incredible and gives you a great chance to practice your Spanish and really get stuck in with communicating to the locals. Eat it all but watch the waistline, it's not exactly the healthiest of foods, but then all the tasty stuff never is. In all the towns you will have restaurants serving food. When you get off the gringo trail it starts getting limited. Doesn't mean it's bad, far from it, you just get served whatever they have. If you are on the coast then you will have fish that was probably caught that morning. Enjoy!
Being English makes me by default a tea drinker. I love drinking tea and everything about 'having a brew'. However, the coffee that can be found here is superb. But you do have to look for it. Colombians don't really drink it, it's nearly all exported to the western world and they retain the rubbish, low quality beans for themselves. This stuff if I remember correctly is called Tinto and it's like rocket fuel. They load it up with sugar and man does it pack a punch. This was always a nice treat when I hit that midday slump. Get yourself to Solento in the coffee region of Colombia. Stunningly beautiful and full of coffee shops selling the good, world famous coffee which is home grown less that a kilometer from your cup.
A trip to Colombia only a few years ago would have been very different to now. The political unrest, corruption and para military operating illegally against government forces made it very unsafe. Because of this, tourism was very low. People simply didn't want to visit to a country where they thought there was a high chance of being murdered or kidnapped. This was a very real situation too and did happen. Not so much among the tourists that did visit. Now with the peace treaties and ceasefires in place throughout the country, tourism is on the rise. As more people like myself shout about the beauty of the country then this will only increase the tourists numbers each year. Unfortunately I can't keep this country to myself. My recommendation is visit sooner rather than later while it's still new to tourism and hasn't been tainted by greed and exploitation of the 'gringos' visiting. I really hope this doesn't change the country too much, would be a damn shame.
They say Colombia is the country for beautiful women. I have traveled right across Russia and was amazed at the beauty there, but hands down, Colombia beats every single country I have visited. Perhaps there is something in the water that creates this phenomena. Every city, town and village was full of some of the most beautiful people I have seen. I think Latinos have always been a huge attraction among men. They're exotic and different, or maybe it's too much sunshine that affects the way we think. Either way, if you're a single guy, you will love it. (Just google beautiful Colombian women, unfortunately I am not allowed to display those images due to copyright). If you're a lady then I apologise for my lack of research on the men. They seem very nice and friendly.
For me and countless others I have personally spoke to, Colombia is very highly thought of as a country to visit for a genuine, exciting and beautiful trip. I really hope one day to return to this country and explore even more. The three months there was so varied and I truly felt like I was on an exciting journey. Being on the motorbike was just perfect but don't let this stop you from going there if you're not a biker. Public transport is in abundance. It is cheap to travel, food and drink are exciting and finding accommodation is a breeze. Play it safe and listen to the local recommendations and you shouldn't end up in any problems. Have fun.
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