Colombia’s capital city is a place with a purpose, finding new gold as Latin America’s hub for business
Landing in Bogotá, as the clouds part from the peaks of the Andes and a bumpy tapestry of green farms and muddy lakes flow into the broad, buzzing urban expanse, you remember you are never too far from heaven. Bogotá is its own special paradise – as old as the Conquistadors, as new as the latest luxury hotels and as smart and fast to adapt as the apps you find in your smartphone.
Segue back two decades and you would have found a country overrun by crime, narcotics and political chaos. Turn the dial back only a month and you would find Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos sitting down with the President of the United States to discuss Colombia’s success in reducing crime rates by 80 percent, finalizing a peace with rebel fighters who are now trading guns for jobs, and in building an economy rising from jungles and coffee farms to become the shining star of Latin America.
You can feel it first at El Dorado International Airport. The port, located around 45 minutes from the center of Bogotá, recently completed a $700 million upgrade and expansion. Flights go in and out of this hub of South American commerce, some 700 international a week. They land on a plateau in the mountains serving a city sprawls more than 600 square miles at altitudes of nearly 9,000 feet.
At those heights, weather remains temperate in all seasons; golf games go faster as balls speed through the thinner air. And mosquitoes, and any viruses they carry, are not even a thought at these elevations.
Rather, the visitor to Bogotá will be immersed in the grinding beat of a city in motion. It’s a place with a purpose and the city is wasting not a minute making up for time lost.
“Typically Colombia was investing $1.5 billion on infrastructure in past years,”says Luis German Restrepo, executive director of ProColombia, an office that oversees the tourism sector.“Today, it’s $25 billion to be put into the infrastructure over the next five years – better roads from ports to cities. We are right in middle of the Andes and approaching 10,000 feet. It’s hard to develop here but we are doing it. Look at