After decades of civil conflict, Colombia is now safe to visit and travelers are discovering what they've been missing. The diversity of the country may astonish you. Modern cities with skyscrapers and nightclubs? Check. Gorgeous Caribbean beaches? Check. Jungle walks and Amazon safaris? Check. Colonial cities, archaeological ruins, high-mountain trekking, whalewatching, coffee plantations, scuba diving, surfing, the list goes on.
No wonder the 'magic realism' style of Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez emerged from here - there is a dreamlike quality to Colombia. Here at the equator, with the sun forever overhead, the fecund earth beneath your feet, heart-stopping vistas in every direction and the warmth of the locals putting you at ease - you may find it difficult to leave.
Colombian culture, like the country's weather, varies by altitude. The essence of Colombia resides in the mountains in the alpine cities of Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, and the smaller cities of the Zona Cafetera. This is the industrial heartland of the country. Geographical isolation has kept the accent relatively unaffected by outside influence; Spanish here is precise and easy to understand. The infrastructure in the mountain region is good, the water drinkable, the roads well maintained. In the heat of the Caribbean coast, life is slower, and the culture more laid-back. The accent is the unhurried drawl of the Caribbean basin, and the infrastructure, unfortunately, is still in need of some attention.
In darker days people used to say, 'if only it weren't for the violence and drugs, Colombia would be paradise.' Well the drugs may still be here but the violence is gone, at least for now, and it is, indeed, paradise. It is an easy country to fall in love with, and many travelers do. It could well become your favorite country in South America.