Charmed by Villa De Leyva, Colombia

Villa De Leyva, Colombia Ah, Villa de Leyva! It was love at first sight between this charming little village with its cobble-stone streets and bright white houses and me. With the exception of Minca, I’d only been to big cities in Colombia so far, and it was a refreshing change to experience a sleepy mountain village. And it’s not just a quaint little village, but also one of the oldest ones in the country, dating back to 1572, and sometimes it felt like someone transported me right back to the 16th century – most of Villa de Leyva feels just like it must have felt then (except for the addition of cars and motorbikes). About 4 hours north of Bogota, it is one of the most popular weekend getaways for the Bogotanos, and it’s easy to see why: the narrow streets are lined with artisan stores for some shopping, or you can simply enjoy a cup of coffee right on the plaza, which happens to be the largest town square in all of South America (!), and its vast size is remarkable. Rease and I spent a few days doing exactly that: wandering the narrow cobble-stone streets, marveling at the beautifully arranged flowers on the balconies of most houses and the meticulously tiled terracotta roofs, sipping beers on the plaza, indulging in ice cream to cool off (Villa de Leyva gets incredibly hot during the day!), and trying to put our cameras down (nearly impossible).

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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Surprised by Bogotá – Globetrotter Girls

Bogotá - Globetrotter Girls After over a month on Colombia’s hot and humid coastline, arriving in Bogota, which sits in the mountains and is considerably cooler than Santa Marta, from where I was flying in, was a little shock to my system. I had heard mixed reviews about Bogotá – most travelers seemed to spend only a couple of days here before heading to more pleasant places, and stories of muggings and robberies made me feel a little uneasy at first. However, I was lucky enough to meet up with a travel buddy who’d spent quite some time in Bogota and who knew the city well – including some great salsa bars and unassuming yet delicious vegetarian eateries. I lost my preconceptions about Bogota quickly, and after nearly a week here, I have to say that I don’t dislike the city at all, contrary to what I’d expected. A free walking tour through Bogota’s Spanish-colonial center, La Calendaria, including tidbits about life in Colombia, coffee culture, the history of Bogota and lots of interesting stories made it easier for me to understand the city, and a game of Tejo, during which you throw a metal puck at little paper triangles filled with gun powder, trying to cause a noisy explosion, plus a Chicha tasting (an indigenous fermented corn drink) were added bonuses of this tour. It me realize that this city was nowhere near as bad as some people had made it out to be.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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Ciudad Perdida, Colombia's Lost City – Globetrotter Girls

Colombia - Ciudad Perdida I’d been intrigued by Colombia’s Lost City ever since I had heard about it a few years ago: a fabled city of an ancient civilization hidden deep in the jungle, comparable to Machu Picchu in neighboring Peru, but much older (650 years older, to be precise) and far off the beaten tourist track, compared to the famous Lost City Of The Incas. When the lost city of Teyuna was discovered in 1972, much of it had been taken back by the jungle, overgrown by trees and ferns, the centuries-old rocks covered in green moss. Only in the past decade tourists have started to discover this trek, but only few dare to make their way to the ‘Ciudad Perdida’. That is because it isn’t easy to get to Teyuna – it takes a 2-day walk through the jungle to get to the bottom of the mountain on top of which the city sits, followed by a 2-day walk back to civilization, and the hike isn’t an easy one: steep mountains need to be ascended and descended, rivers need to be crossed, jungle forests need to be traversed – and all of this in temperatures in the 90s (33C), coupled with the humidity of the rain forest.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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Tayrona National Park, Colombia – Globetrotter Girls

Tayrona National Park, Colombia While this post is going live, I am deep in the Colombian jungle, halfway through my 5-day trek to the Ciudad Perdida, Colombia’s Lost City, trying not to get eaten alive by snakes and spiders. The past week has been fairly quiet – I returned to Santa Marta after spending ten days in Cartagena. I’d planned to leave earlier, but I just couldn’t get myself to leave.. Cartagena is such a charming town and I knew I wouldn’t return there.. at least not on this trip. Now I am back in Santa Marta, where I had based myself for a few nights last month to use it as a jumping-off point to visit Tayrona National Park and Bahia Concha. While I didn’t see much of the city itself last time I was here, I’ve got a few days after the trek next week to see more of Santa Marta, which has been more pleasant than I expected it to be (this might have to do with the fact that my hostel has two pools – the heat here feels suffocating at times). But this week, it was all about finishing some work projects (and sending out some invoices!) before setting off on the trek. Somehow I still managed to fit in a few strolls around town, dinners and lunches with new friends, and a night of dancing in an open-air reggaeton bar.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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Mountain Views in Minca, Colombia – Globetrotter Girls

Minca, Colombia After checking out some of Colombia’s fabulous Caribbean beaches, it was time for a break from the heat. We had heard lovely stories about a nearby mountain village in the Sierra Nevada, which promised coffee plantations (a huge draw for two coffee lovers!), waterfalls, a giant hammock with mountain views, and last but not least: cooler temperatures. We didn’t need much more to convince us to take the detour before returning to the coast. We quickly realized that ‘cooler temperatures’ were a relative term – it was still in the high 80s (around 30°C). The other things the tiny village had promised didn’t disappoint, though: the waterfalls made for wonderfully refreshing hiking destinations, the family-run coffee plantation gave us a great tour to learn how they make the coffee (still with the original over 100 year-old machines!), and the giant hammock?

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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Beach Bliss in Palomino, Colombia – Globetrotter Girls

Palomino, Colombia As you can see, I was jumping with joy this week when I finally arrived at the beach! I admit, it’s not my best jumping photo, but I tried 🙂 It was probably right then when I was jumping around, frolicking in the sand when my bungalow in Palomino was broken into, in bright daylight. Luckily I didn’t lose much, but I am still shaken up by the experience of returning to all my belongings strewn across the floor of my bungalow, thinking how different this could have ended (we assume the burglar was interrupt and had to flee). I will talk more about it in my monthly round-up, but here’s a short version of what happened. Other than that, this past week has been amazing. I hiked in Tayrona National Park, where jungle forests stretch along the Caribbean coast, tempting me into a 5-hour jungle hike. I also went to Bahia Concha, a beach that also belongs to Tayrona, but wasn’t part of my sweaty hike.

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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Cartenega, Colombia – Globetrotter Girls

Cartenega - Dani, Globetrotter Girls I made it to Colombia! I can’t believe that after all these years, I’m finally here. To give you a bit more background: when I (we) started traveling in 2010, I started in the U.S. and made my way south through Mexico and Central America. The goal was to go all the way down to Tierra del Fuego, taking a catamaran from Panama to Colombia via the San Blas Islands, which is supposed to be a beautiful trip (proven by the photos I’ve linked to!). However, by the time we made it to Panama, we had been traveling through Latin America for 9 months and were ready for a change of scenery & culture. So we hopped on a plane to Europe instead of a catamaran. When we returned to South America, we timed it so that we’d be in Argentina and Chile for their summer and flew into Buenos Aires. And never made it further north than Peru. Now, nearly five years after my first attempt to visit Colombia, I’m finally here. Admittedly, the trip didn’t start without hiccups (I’ll be talking more about them in my monthly roundup), but I am slowly easing back into the ‘Latino way of things’…

By Dani – Full Story at Globetrotter Girls

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