Sometimes a place really takes you by surprise. Sometimes it’s amazing – filled with unexpected highlights and memories that will stay with you forever.
And sometimes you get to Colombia and just don’t understand what the fuss is all about!
Having travelled from Chile and Argentina, heading North over five months, it felt like all we heard people talking about was Colombia. Though I didn’t realise it at the time, looking back I realise most people couldn’t really tell us what they liked about Colombia, just that it was awesome.
After all of the hype, was it really as incredible as its reputation suggested?
In our opinion, no.
Why We Thought Colombia was Overrated and Our Least Favourite of the Seven South American Countries We Visited
Let me start by saying, we’re certainly not hating on Colombia. Parts of the country are absolutely breath-taking and, as in all of the South American countries we visited, we met some friendly people and ate some pretty yummy food.
We just didn’t think it lived up to the hype – largely because there was just so much of it – anywhere would have a hard time meeting those high expectations!
Maybe we were tired at the end of our trip. Maybe we’d been spoilt by visiting places like Patagonia, the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon and Machu Picchu in Peru. Maybe nowhere could really live up to what we’d been told to expect.
I think in retrospect, every other country we visited whilst on our travels had something ‘big’ to see. Whether they be salt flats, impressive world-renowned hikes or ancient sites, each country had something specific to look forward to.
Don’t get me wrong, of course we spent more than enough time just milling around, taking in the culture and language as we went, but for us, Colombia was lacking a particular place that was crazy impressive.
As I said though, we’re not here to hate on Colombia though – there were in fact a number of spots there that really caught our attention.
The Our Favourite Parts of Colombia
A beautiful little town, square in the middle of the country’s coffee, cocoa and wax palm tree plantations, Salento ended up being a surprise highlight in Colombia for it. It’s a quiet spot with a lot of character and definitely somewhere you’ll want to spend some time!
This Colombian city was once known as the most dangerous city in the world, but without doubt, it’s a city reformed. With stunning tree-laden streets, affordable cafes and a fabulous buzz, Medellín makes Colombia worth a visit alone!
Still Worth a Visit Whilst in South America
Though not quite up there with Salento, should you find yourself in Northern Colombia, Minca is worth a detour. Easily the highlight of Northern Colombia for us (though we didn’t see much, to be fair), it’s a tiny mountain town. With hummingbirds, tropical trees, a slow pace of life and countless waterfalls, it’s not a bad place to spend a week relaxing.
Like the Cuba of Colombia, Cartagena has a distinctive look. The striking old buildings that make up the old town make for an awesome afternoon of wandering and though we enjoyed our day there, you really don’t need much more time than that in the city.
Would We Recommend a Visit to Colombia to Other Travellers Heading to South America?
Though it wasn’t our favourite country, we definitely enjoyed our time there. In retrospect though, I wish we’d started our trip there rather than ending it.
The Spanish spoken in Colombia is much easier to understand (instead we started in Chile and Argentina, where it’s most difficult!) and it’s perfectly suited to just spending time immersed in local culture. By the end of our trip, we’d had plenty of opportunities to ‘just be’ and probably would have enjoyed a few last moments of excitement to really see our trip off with a bang.
The biggest lesson for me though? Don’t automatically buy into the hype and go in with eyes wide open, ready to enjoy a place for what it really is, not what you’re hoping it will be…