A solo ad­ven­ture in Colom­bia,

Dis­cover colo­nial charms, wild parks and an­cient trea­sures with Tu­can Travel WIN! A TRIP TO COLOM­BIA WORTH £1,300 £2,000

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

Filled with wildlife-rich na­tional parks, colo­nial cities and sweep­ing beaches, Colom­bia has long drawn ad­ven­tur­ers to spy its di­verse ar­ray of land­scapes. It’s this com­bi­na­tion of wild, old and new that is see­ing trav­ellers once again re­turn to this in­cred­i­ble land that has so much to of­fer.

With an ever-im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture, friendly lo­cals and a rugged land­scape, Colom­bia is also an ideal des­ti­na­tion for those go­ing it alone. An ex­pert eye is needed, how­ever, to re­ally un­earth the charms of this Latin Amer­i­can won­der, and that’s where tour op­er­a­tor Tu­can Travel comes in. As ex­pe­ri­enced pur­vey­ors of solo travel and South Amer­i­can es­capes, they’re of­fer­ing you a chance to win a sin­gle spot on their Clas­sic Colom­bia trip.

CAP­I­TAL HIGHS & CATHE­DRAL LOWS

Your solo Colom­bia jour­ney be­gins in the cap­i­tal, Bo­gotá, a place where ur­ban cool fuses with colo­nial grandeur. Cob­bled lanes weave colo­nial fa­cades in the his­toric La Can­de­laria district, with the cen­tral square, Plaza Bolí­var, an ideal place for soak­ing up the buzzing city at­mos­phere. The neo­clas­si­cal Pri­ma­tial Cathe­dral looms nearby, while the for­mer home of Simón Bolí­var sheds light on the mil­i­tary hero who lib­er­ated many Latin coun­tries from Span­ish rule. Then drop by the city’s Gold Mu­seum, which holds thou­sands of arte­facts dat­ing back to the pre-columbian era, or hop on the fu­nic­u­lar and soar up Mon­ser­rate peak for fine city­wide views.

Leav­ing the heights of the cap­i­tal, you’ll quickly dis­cover how di­verse Colom­bia re­ally is. An hour’s drive north leads you to the salty mas­ter­piece that is the sub­ter­ranean Zi­paquirá Cathe­dral, cre­ated inside a vast salt mine. Revel in its tun­nels and cav­erns be­fore head­ing for the charm­ing plazas and court­yards of colo­nial Villa de Leyva. A quick flight trans­ports you to Neiva, a gate­way to Tat­a­coa Desert where rich red sands rip­ple across a land­scape stud­ded with rock for­ma­tions – the ideal view­point for sun­set.

From there, head west deep into the An­des to San Agustín. Bo­gotá may have of­fered a glimpse into the pre-columbian pre­cious metal col­lec­tion, but spy­ing the era’s Unesco-listed stat­ues in the town’s name­sake Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Park will pro­vide one of the trip’s golden mo­ments.

GLIMPS­ING THE PAST

You leave the An­des for even more re­mote climes, ven­tur­ing into the misty hills that sur­round Tier­raden­tro. How­ever, as gor­geous as the set­ting is, you need to head be­neath the earth for the real trea­sure. Elab­o­rate preColumbian paint­ings adorn un­der­ground burial cham­bers carved into vol­canic rock, a net­work of tombs drip­ping with mys­tery and in­trigue.

Away from the wilder­ness, Colom­bia’s mix of cities are a big lure for trav­ellers, and the next part of your ad­ven­ture is spent delv­ing into a di­verse pocket of ur­ban de­lights. In the west, Cali har­bours a vi­brant Afro-caribbean cul­ture, where rhyth­mic beats throb from bars and lo­cals dance with a pas­sion that’s in­fec­tious. From there, fly north to Colom­bia’s Caribbean coast­line. Your first stop is Santa Marta, re­put­edly South Amer­ica’s old­est Euro­pean-founded city, with a crum­bling colo­nial heart that has been

spruced up in re­cent years. More im­por­tantly, it’s a great base for ex­plor­ing Tay­rona Na­tional Nat­u­ral Park, a slice of car-free Caribbean heaven, where golden beaches fringe thick, lush rain­for­est. A web of walk­ing trails of­fer prime ac­cess to this mag­i­cal wilder­ness and guided treks hike past re­mote vil­lages cling­ing to moun­tain­sides, vine-wrapped an­cient ru­ins and a re­fresh­ing snorkel sur­rounded by trop­i­cal fish.

But per­haps the best city is saved un­til last. Carta­gena is a Unesco-listed walled gem more akin to an open-air mu­seum than an­other colo­nial city. Fine ar­chi­tec­ture lurks be­hind ev­ery nar­row street cor­ner, pretty bal­conies seep with hang­ing plants and pas­tel-washed churches watch over airy plazas. Away from the walled won­der, Castillo San Felipe de Bara­jas is perched on San Lázaro hill and is a well-pre­served 17th­cen­tury fortress built by the Span­ish to pro­tect the city’s bur­geon­ing gold, sil­ver and tobacco trades. The white­washed con­vent that sits atop La Popa hill is an­other site of in­ter­est but also boasts an eye-bulging panorama of Carta­gena – the per­fect way to end your Colom­bia trip.

TRAVEL WITH THE SOLO AD­VEN­TURE EX­PERTS

With over 31 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence un­der their travel belts and a cat­a­logue of over 450 trips across 70 coun­tries, Tu­can Travel are ex­perts in worldly ad­ven­ture. And for those trav­el­ling solo, rest as­sured that you’ll be joined by guides skilled at in­te­grat­ing like-minded trav­ellers and in­still­ing a fam­ily feel within the group. They care of all the nitty gritty, such as the ac­com­mo­da­tion and lo­gis­tics, leav­ing you to delve deeper into this coun­try in the com­pany of new­found friends.

All this makes Tu­can Travel the ideal com­pany to help you achieve the ul­ti­mate Colom­bian solo ad­ven­ture. Ex­plore a land where eye-pop­ping hori­zons, colo­nial won­ders and a melt­ing pot of cul­ture meet in one glo­ri­ous set­ting. It’s a true South Amer­i­can gem and one that’s wait­ing for you to dis­cover its abun­dant charms.

Land of plenty ( clock­wise from this) Ex­plore the pris­tine shores of Tay­rona; old streets in Barichara; colo­nial Carta­gena; the desert of Tat­a­coa; and pre-columbian relics

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