Colombia. Is It Safe to Visit With Your Kids?
Colombia (República de Colombia), a country with so much paradox. Before arriving to Colombia from Panama, everyone around us warned us about the potential problem of traveling in such a country with such a history and especially with kids. I must admit that we did have our concerns and we should had. Otherwise, what parents would we be if not. But the attitude of so many people toward the idea of traveling the country increased our concerns. But guess what…? We enjoyed every minute in this nothing-less-than-beautiful country. Indeed, the country did have a vast history of drugs, violence, crime, kidnapping, and only God know what more. But today, the Colombians will prove you differently. The welcoming attitude only shows how badly they want to change the country’s reputation. We faced extremely nice people who not only opened their doors to us, they also opened their hearts in the most hospitable way. With that, we still kept our eyes open and made sure we have a safe and fun visit.
So here are the 5 places that we do recommend visiting if you do find yourself in the most northern country of South America. Buen Viaje!!
1. Tayona National Park – The Colombian government has worked hard to preserve this slice of Caribbean paradise. The beaches are backed by the small mountain ranges that run through the country. Secret bays make the perfect spot for a day of swimming or sunbathing. Divers can also explore the coral reefs that lie just off the coast. A short trip will take you to the Lost City of Antiquity, Ciudad Perdida. Thought this visit can be costly, it offers great 3 day hike through the jungles of the park which is done only with a guide. Make sure you take long sleeve cloths and a lot to mosquito repellent. You will need it!
2. Volcan de Lodo El Totumo (Mud Volacano) – Located about an hour east from Cartagena toward Santa Marta, Volcan de Lodo El Totumo is a healing wonder in Colombia. This miniature ‘volcano’ which rises 15 meter above the surface, has a warm condensed mud that contains 51 minerals. The locals will say that the volcano hole deeps about 1500 into the grounds but you will not sink or drown. Due to the mineral, the salt, and condensity, you will find yourself floating on the mud surface. Deeping in the mud is an amazing experience for all visitors. After paying a very small admission fee and climbing several stairs, you will not only enjoy the dip but also an amazing massage done by locals in return to a very modest tip. It worth it. You can finalized your visit with a wash in the nearby lake (watch in YouTube) done by local women, again, for a modest tip.
3. Taganga – a small fisherman village just 5 km north of Santa Marta and a gate to the famous Tayrona Park, Taganga is a great travel getaway. This village which was only few year ago a deserted location, now is very popular among backpackers and it offers the visitors various attractions and activities such as scuba diving, fishing trips, beach swimming, bars and clubs, and more. If you do choose to scuba dive, make sure the school has appropriate and relatively new gear. I can personally recommend one great school named Vida Marina. From Taganga, you can always take a local bus or taxi to visit Santa Marta which is only few minutes away.
4. Cartagena – This is the town that native Colombians flock to when they take a vacation. Resting on the Caribbean coast, Cartagena features historical sites surrounded by stunning scenery. Renting a hotel room in this town will give you the perfect base for daily excursions up and down the coast. You can also experience some of the finest dining in the country in the small whitewashed buildings around the city center. If you arrive on the month of November, you can enjoy the great “Queen Beauty of Cartagena Carnival” (Reina de Cartagena).
5. Medellin – Considering the history that surrounded this city, Medellin will surprise any visitor with its beauty. As the Capital Of The Colombian State Of Antioquia, Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia (after Bogota) and surely one of the most beautiful cities in South America. The city’s altitude is 5000 ft. above sea level and therefore provides great climate compare to the other cities in the country. Medellin offers its visitors a variety of activities such as museums, parks, Metro train system, new huge library, Nightlife, called “Rumba”, that take place in many locations throughout the city. We took our time to visit Parque Explora (science museum) with the kids which was amazing. In addition, we visited the famous Parque de las Esculturas and Botero Sculpture. We surely recommend you visit this park and it’s free!