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How does an adventure full of life, culture, colour and passion sound?
An opportunity to relax, recharge and pamper yourself on island beaches with crystal aqua seas or tick off a host of water and land activities.
To marvel at some of the world’s best walled cities and meander their cobbled streets that could tell a thousand stories.
Immersing yourself in a country with vast biodiversity and an abundance of nature. Keeping an eye and ear out to spot wildlife and plant spices endemic to the region…topped off with your nights spent rocking to sleep in a hammock.
To visit a country, where the people are socially conscious, take responsibility and want to look after their environment.
Dropping into farms and villages to experience the warmth and hospitality first hand, and spending time in small villages where you can really mix with the locals.
Strolling through the stunning countryside along stone paths that are hundreds of years old and have served as an artery to the region.
Visiting food markets to experience a sensory overload of seasonal produce and cooking techniques traditional to the region.
Observing from the edge or wading in deep to the sounds and the dance of the local bars and bands.
Taking city tours with locals who are passionate about giving back to the country, hearing their stories and experiencing their love for the country though their eyes.
Well all this and more is what you will find spilling from the brim in Colombia, a country so diverse and exciting it had me busting from the sides every day!!
My sixteen-day adventure though Colombia with Dragoman Overland turned out to be something far more than I had expected.
Of course, I was over the moon to be given the opportunity to explore another South American country. Firstly, I was super excited as it happens to be a country with a strong cycling culture (a personal passion). Bogota having one of the largest networks of bike routes in Colombia and producing amazing cyclists like Nairo Quintana and the ever-smiling Esteban Chaves who are dominating current races. Coming a close second (well maybe even coming first?) the country is notorious for its world class coffee plantations. For me, life without ridiculously good coffee is like life without an essential organ, it’s one of my most favourite moments of every day. So what more could I want!!
When I digested the itinerary, I realised there were quite long distances between each of the wonderful destinations. Some days showing 11 hours of travel between villages to be driven in Dragoman Overland’s purpose built trucks. This was going to be a huge ask for someone who can’t sit still for 5 minutes .. remember my love of coffee!!
Already nervous about this, though keen to experience it, I would never have thought this style of travel would actually be what really made the trip so special and unique! It got us off the beaten track, up close and personal with the local life, experiencing their generous nature and repeatedly exposing us to stunning vistas.
Our tour leaders Emma and Mazumi, were so wonderful, competent, well organised, caring and efficient in every way. Our truck was called Cameron and our driver did an amazing job negotiating the challenging terrain . As a team they kept a group of fourteen happy and harmonious, changing tyres, fixing starter motors and inspiring us to have cook offs for each other .. they were BRILLIANT and full of energy!!
On the travelling days Cameron had us driving though the most wonderful array of ever changing scenery, all of which would have been missed if we were up in the air. With regular stops at places styled like local roadhouses where we got to stretch our legs, sample local fare and stock up on crazy local snack food. On board, you were entertained with trivia quizzes, games & storytelling. People read books, took power naps, even launched DJ moments with their favourite playlist that lead to karaoke style singalongs…or you could drop into your headphones and tune out while soaking up the amazing country as it passed you by.
On my adventure, I was lucky enough to visit the stunning old walled city of Cartagena, have a day out amongst the clear blue waters of the Rosario Islands, spend time on the Caribbean Coast of Santa Marta and walk the Jungle in Tayrona National park. I got immersed amongst the locals in the untouched old village of Mompos, saw what the adrenaline fuelled San Gil has to offer the active traveller, soaked up the energy of the biggest plaza square in the romantic old city of Villa de Leiva to wonder what used to take place here.. And to wrap up an amazing trip I we drifted into Bogota, a city that touches all your senses and soul with its vibrancy, energy and character.
The amazing memories of this trip are, without a doubt, connected closely to the style of the trip, the trucks for transport, and the Dragoman Overland team. Travelling with likeminded people that were prepared to let this adventure take unplanned twists and turns (despite what the itinerary may have outlined) was what made Colombia so special.
I have most certainly developed a deep love for this country. The people, architecture, landscape and food all ooze with colour, character, passion and warmth. The combination of Dragoman Overland and Colombia shows that travel is not just a destination but journey that connects you to an experience and takes you there.