Exploring Colombia While Teaching – Part 1: The Andean Region

Carolina Barraza

Carolina Barraza

December 15, 2017

At TravelBud, we are falling more and more in love with one of our newest programs: Teach English in Colombia! We thought there’d be no better way to spread the love than to share some of the travel highlights of Colombia with you. In this series of blog posts, we’ll be telling you all about the six natural regions of Colombia, their culture, the sights and of course, the food!

Interested in Teaching English in Colombia? We’ll send you more info!


[image source] Cocora Valley and wax palm trees that grow to up 45 m tall

First up is the Andean region. Known for its beautiful mountains, coffee plantations and giant palm trees, this region is the home to some of the largest cities in Colombia, including its capital city, Bogotá and the ever famous Medellín. This region is named after the Andes mountain range, which splits into three different ranges, or cordilleras in Spanish, when it reaches Colombia: West, Central and East Andes. Because of its stunning mountains, a two-hour drive in any direction in this region will land you in completely different landscape.

From a “desert” (more on this later), to coffee plains and valleys, to cities and snowy peaks the Andean region in Colombia has almost everything in terms of climate, natural landscapes, urban activities and extreme sports. Here are some of the highlights:

Cities: Bogotá & Medellín

Bogotá and Medellín, one is the capital of Colombia, the other is the city of eternal spring. They’re both incredible and worth a visit.

Andrés Carne de Res bar and restaurant

[image source] Colorful Andrés Carne de Res

High in the mountains sits Bogotá, it’s 2,600 meters above sea level, or as an advertising campaign used to say back in the day, 2,600 meters closer to the stars! This wonderful city has great nightlife and an even more amazing offering of restaurants with cuisines from all over the world. If there is one place you cannot miss out on, it’s the local Andrés Carne de Res.

Whether you make it to the one in Chía, or the one near Zona T, Andrés is the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. But if a night out dancing is not your jam, how about a hike up the Monserrate mountain, which has the best view of the city? Or, if you’re up for a little roadtrip, you can head outside the city to visit the site that gave birth to the real El Dorado legend, the Guatavita lake.

Parade of flowers in Medellin

[image source] Silleteros’ Parade, Festival of the Flowers, Medellín

Medellín’s best feature is it’s truly outstanding weather. It isn’t coincidental that this beautiful place is also known as the city of eternal spring, with a yearly average temperature of 22 °C. Surrounded by mountains, like most places in this region, Medellín is always hosting a festival in one form or another, like its Festival of the Flowers, which takes place in August and fills the city with colorful blossoms and arrangements that are part of the yearly parades. Whatever the time of year, Medellín is all about city pride and eating bandejas paisa, a hearty spread of nourishing Colombian favourites! And if you’re into some quiet time, a short drive outside the city will leave you in Guatapé, a small town with a gorgeous lake and a giant rock you can hike up.

Coffee Plains

One of the most visited areas in Colombia, the coffee plains are where you’ll find the best of the best in terms of coffee products. For a taste of real Colombian coffee, visit a coffee hacienda or finca (Spanish for farm) in the area. But coffee is not all you’ll find in the coffee plains.

The historic town of Salento

[Image Source]
The picturesque town of Salento is famous for its craft markets

For a relaxing weekend, head over to the beautiful historic town of Salento. Enjoy the fairs of handmade crafts and artwork, go horseback riding and even make your way to the Cocora Valley for the giant palm trees, which is a short 20-minute drive from the town. Cap off your weekend at the thermal springs in Santa Rosa de Cabal, yet another charming town!

Tatacoa Desert

Colombia has some diverse landscapes from rainforest to snow-capped volcanoes, tropical beaches and even desert in its far north and here at Tatacoa sandwiched between Colombia’s two greatest mountain ranges.

Technically, not a desert but a tropical dry forest, Tatacoa is the perfect weekend getaway for those who love camping and losing themselves in an endless sea of stars. Due to its dry weather, lack of artificial light and its position near the Equator, Tatacoa is a great place to go hiking during the day and go stargazing at night. In daytime, the natural maze of red soil, cacti and land formations provide a great atmosphere for avid hikers. Overnight, the stars take over the spotlight. Head over to the local astronomical observatory, or simply lay on your back and look up at the sky!

San Gil & Barichara

If you’ve been reading this blog post and wondering where the extreme sports are, well, look no further! You want to go white water rafting? San Gil’s got it! Want to eat something crazy? Barichara has some of the best ants (hormigas culonas) on offer! Is spelunking your thing? Plenty of caves just outside San Gil!

[image source] The breathtaking Chichamocha Canyon and National Park are where you’ll find some of Colombia’s best adventure sports

Pick your favorite adventure and head over to Barichara for a lovely walk in a historic town. Stay the night, enjoy the cuisine and get up bright and early to go to San Gil, a mere 21 km away from Barichara. Most adventure-related tours leave from San Gil’s downtown. There, you’ll be able to find companies that offer a number of outdoor activities: rafting, caving, kayaking, hiking, bungee jumping, mountain climbing and even paragliding!

Interested in Teaching English in Colombia? We’ll send you more info!


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