Top 10 things to do in Colombia 

Colombia is so large, travelling from Cartaenga on the coast to Bogota the capital, is like travelling from Manchester in the UK to Paris. It’s such an incredible and fascinating country, that it would be hard to see and do everything unless you have few months to travel. 

To help you, I have pulled together my top 10 recommendations of what to see and do from my 6 weeks in Colombia, and even I didn’t get to do everything. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. 

1) Parque Tayrona 


Parque Tayrona has some of the best beaches that Colombia has to offer and is Colombias most popular national park. To get to the beaches you will need to hike a minimum of two hours, through the jungle and along the beautiful coast line. Make sure you take plenty of water with you, as its pretty hot and humid. 

I would recommend you leave you big bag at the Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta and take enough for 1 night 2 days, and spend a night in the park sleeping in a hammock at El Cabo San Juan. If you get there early you can claim a hammock overlooking the sea high up on the lookout point, otherwise it will be a sweaty tent.

Expect there to be lots of other travellers doing the same. Alternatively you can book one of the many hostels and eco hotels just outside the park.

Make sure you take plenty of bug repellent as the mosquitos and sand flies are pretty ferocious here.

Getting to the Park

  • Shuttle from Santa Marta – most hostels provide a daily shuttle service to the park 15,000cop/£3.60
  • Local bus from Santa Marta – Take the bus headed to Palomeno and ask for the park. 10,000cop/£2.50
  • Taxi from Santa Marta – 30,000-40,000cop/£7-£9 

There are a few trekking options 

  • 6-7 hour round trip through the jungle via El Pueblito where you will find some indigenous locals. Access vis Colionas de Calabazo entrance and return via the coast route to the main entrance. 
  •  4 hour round trip along the coast. This is the same beautiful trek there and back and takes 2 hours. For a quicker route back follow the horses, as it only takes 1 hour 30 minutes through the jungle. 
  • To access this route via the main park entrance and take the minibus to the start of the trail.

     Costs 

    • Accommodation – Hammock 25,000cop/£6 – Hostel 25,000/£6 – Eco Hotel 163,000cop/£40
    • Park entrance 48,000cop/£12 (require your passport)
    • Minibus 3500/£1


    2) Minca


    For the ultimate relaxation, I recommend you stay a few nights in the mountains, in the middle of a finca (coffee farm) 1600m above sea level close a a little village called Minca. This hidden gem is relatively new on the tourist trail, so therefore a lot less commercial than its neighbouring tourist traps. 

    There are some Hostels in Minca, but take the extra 30 minute motorbike ride deep into the jungle and stay at Casa Viajes. You won’t be disappointed with the view, the hostel or the friendly staff. And it was the best cooked meal I had had at any hostel. To help you relax even more and switch off from the world, you wont find any wifi, although there is a computer to use if required.

    Make sure you take advantage of the daily organised hikes, yoga, bird watching and the tour of the La Victoria coffee farm. La Victoria is a self sustainable coffee farm that uses the nearby waterfall to power the coffee bean processing and supplies electricity for surrounding inhabitants, including Casa Viajes.

    Costs – 

    • transport from Santa Marta – 15,000cop £4 hostel bus – taxi from Santa Marta 60,000cop/£14
    • motorbike taxi up the hill – 20,000cop/£5
    • Accommodation – Dorms 34,000cop/£8.5 –  private room 89,000cop/£22 – Breakfast 10,000/£2.50 – Dinner 21,0000cop/£5

    top tip – take plenty of money as there are no cash machines 


    3) Water rafting in San Gil

    San Gil is the best place in Colombia to try out all the adventure sports like, rafting, bungee, rappelling, zip lining and mountain biking . Some of the cheapest you can find in South America, so make the most of it. I would recommend the rafting on the class 4/5 river, it was really well organised by Colombia Rafting, the rafting guides are all part of the national rafting squad. 

    It is a half day activity, with three hours on the river and an hour each way traveling, lunch is provided. If you haven’t experienced rafting before, this is the best place to try for your first time, as they use larger rafts so your are less likely to fall out.  However it does still happen so be prepared.

    Cost

    •  130,000cop £36 


    4) Watch a live football match 


    The Colombians are such a passionate nation and no more so than when it comes to their football. One of the highlights of visiting Colombia is going to watch a football game at one of the many stadiums in the big cities. I’m not a football fan particularly, but I loved the atmosphere, listening to the many chants the fans sing throughout the whole match.

    There tends to be a local team and the national team. Both give an incredible experience, although the level of football will differ massively. Oh and the Cerveza is alcohol free so don’t be fooled by the vendors. 

    Buying at the stadium is much cheaper than going on a organised tour

    Costs

    • Entry Price 25,000cop £6 
    • Organised tours 70,000cop/£17

    top tipbuy a football shirt for 25,000/£6 from one of the street vendors, as everyone will be wearing one.


    5)  Take a Salsa lesson in Cali –

    Salsa is the national dance of Colombia and everyone can dance it, all be at differing levels. You will hear Salsa or Regatón blaring from every bar, club and car in Colombia. Dancing Salsa is the best way to meet the locals. So take advantage of the many free Salsa lesson on offer when in Cali or request a private lesson. You won’t be disappointed. 

    El Viarejo Hostel has free salsa lessons for all guests.


    6) Barichara 

    If you get to stay in San Gil, then make sure you do the day trip to Barichara. A beautifully unspoilt village with cobbled sandstone roads, whitewashed single story buildings with terracotta roofs. This is by far one of my favourite villages in Colombia and with very few tourists.  Try and take the bus in the morning and have lunch at one of the cute restaurants around the square. 

    If you feel energetic then take the 5km, three hour hike to Guane and take in the spectacular views of the valley beneath. The road reminded me of Dorothy’s yellow brick road initially, but as we ventured further into the wilderness, it became more isolated and arid from the scorching sun beating down. I had visions of Jesus walking to Nazareth – don’t ask me why….

     You reach quaintest little Colombian village and if you have time, stay the night at the beautiful Casa Misia Custodia Hotel

    How To Get There

    • Catch a bus from the small Contra San Gil bus station on the corner of Calle 17 / Carrer 10. 
    • Ask for Barichara and the bus leaves every 30 minutes. 
    • The bus will take 45. Minutes
    • Costs 6000cop £1.50



    7) Cathedral de Sal 

    If you have a few days in Bogota then the Salt Cathedral is well worth the two hour bus journey 30km. You may wonder, why build a Cathedral hundreds of metres underground in a salt mine. All will be answered by the guide that will take you on a one hour tour. I was totally amazed at what man can still acheieve, an in in such a short time.

    How To Get There

    The B74 from Las Aguas bus terminal to Portal North was simple enough, you buy a plastic bus pass for 6500cop/£1.60 which includes your bus fare. Walk to platform 2 through the underpass to catch the B74, don’t wait under to sign that says B74 as it’s wrong and you will wait like me for twenty minutes before you realise this isn’t the stop. The bus network is pretty impressive and easy to use.

    After about 45 minutes your arrive at Portal Norte, and you go through the barrier to the intermunicipal platform and look for a bus with Zipa in the window. Get on and a young guy will take your fare once you are on the road (5000cop/£1.20). The bus takes about 45 minutes, once in Zipa get off around carrer 10a and then walk the rest of the way to the Cathedral. It’s a small town and easy enough to find the cathedral from the main square.

    Costs

    • Entrance 48,000cop/£11.90 one hour guide
    • Bus 5000cop £1.20 each way 



    8) Guatapé 

    Guatapé is one of those places that is on the tourist trail, but worth taking the two hour bus journey from Medellín. The climb up the 750 steps to the top of Piedra del Peñol (the rock) is worth it. The Stunning view of the Embalse del Peñol, a large lake beautifully sculptured by green peninsulares and home to some wealthy Colombians swimming in their pools. 

    From the rock you can catch a tuk tuk to the town of Guatapé, make sure you haggle the price, as 11000cop seemed a bit steep considering it was only 3km away. 

    Once in Guatapé you can take a boat out on the lake and visit some of the peninsulares or zip line across the water. Or do as i did, and sit and have their local dish of grilled trout while watching the action on the lake. 

    There is much too see in the town, it is full of the most beautifully painted buildings, little shops and cafes to meander around, but not for too long as the last bus leaves at 18:30


    How To Get There

    • Take the metro to Caribe Station – 4800cop/£1.19
    • Take a bus from the North Bus Terminal next to Caribe metro station. Buses leave four times an hour and cost 13000/£3.20
    • Entrance to the Rock – 18,000cop/£4.50
    • Tuk tuk 10,000cop/£2.50 (try and take it with other tourists to share the cost)


    9) Cascadas de Valencia 

    There are many waterfalls to see while in Colombia, some spectacular and some just meh. The dream is to swim under the waterfall and there is no better place than Cascades de Valencia. There are five waterfalls in total, with three that can be easily accessed and each having a clear pool of warm water to swim in. 

    How To Get There 

    • Either take a local bus from Santa Marta or Palomino that goes to Parque Tayrona and ask the driver for the Cascades and he will drop you off at the entrance. 
    • Bus 10,000/£2.50 – 15,000cop/£3.70 depending on where you come from
    • Entrance fee 3000cop/74p 


    10) Medellín 



    If there is any city that should be on your list while in Colombia, this city is it. By far my favourite city in Colombia, and one I would even consider moving too. The place is just so alive and full of energy, it has character, and not too impacted by the western world, unlike the Capital Bogota. 

    I would say that Colombians are probably the friendliest and kindest nationality I have ever met, yet the Paisans from Medellín are even friendlier and will go out of there way to help you.

    I have to admit it’s the not the most attractive of cities, but the people and vibe more than make up for that and in a way masks its ugliness. 

    It’s amazing to hear the stories and see for your self first hand what the city has been through over the last 30 years, and if ever a city has transformed and prospered the most in such a short time, then Medellín can show a lot of cities how its done.  

    Twenty years ago it was the most violent city in the word thanks to the drugs trade and the man that cannot be named ‘Pablo Escobar’. It’s is beacuse of this, the people of Medellín have such belief and determination in their city and own life, that it’s hard to stop or disagree with. It’s quite infectious. 

    In today’s Medellín I couldn’t have felt more safe walking around the City, obviously still being aware of my surroundings and understanding where to avoid, like in most big cities.

    They have a saying in Medellin “dont offer the papaya”. If you offer papaya it will be taken. This basically means dont give someone the opportuibity to take, as they will. It’s a nice way of making tourists think about their belonings and what they do.

    A great way to see the City and understand its past is to take the free city walking tour or visit Community 13, and witness the transformation yourself. 

    • Medeilin Free walking tour – Real City Tours meets at Alpujarra Metro station morning and afternoon. This requires online registration.
    • You pay a tip at the end of the tour, based on the experience – normally 30,000cop/£7 per person

    Where to Stay

    • Sugar cane Hostel – chilled and relaxed vibe – 31,000/£8 for a dorm
    • La playa Hostel – more of a party vibe but not too much –  39,000/£10
    • Airbnb  from 39,000cop /£10 double room – ideal for a longer stay 
    • treat youself  – Dann Carlton Hotel 

    Where to eat

    • Malevo – Argentina steak – really cute and perfect for a quiet dinner for 2 or dinner with friends. The Steak was amazing, with a good selection of Argentine wine. The Argentinian staff were really friendly and welcoming. 
    • Cafe Zorba – Pizza and Humous with a really lively atmosphere, it’s gets really busy at weekends.
    • Lenteja Expresa – great little vegetarian place that does quick and easy food.
    • Verdeo – Vegetarian , with amazing iceream. The resataurnat is set on the second floor, with a great open feal and lots of plants to make you feel relaxed. It has a real scandy feel to it. Amazing food too.
    • Mondongoz – the perfect place to try out the typical Paisan cuisines. Full of locals and a great atmosphere.
    • Chiclayo Cocina Peruana Envigado – the best place for ceviche in Medellin 

    Where to Drink 

    • Victoria Regina – probably the coolist bar/restaurant in Medellin. Tends to have live music at the weekends.
    • Chiquita – little kitsch and camp bar with really fun decor. Good to start the night here for drinks.
    • 37 Park – great place to sit outside amongst the trees drinking sangria – gets lively at night when the music is turned up. 

    Where to Dance

    • Victoria Regina at weekends is perfect – they often have live music and is always full of locals and ex pats. 
    • Son Havana – best place in town to try out your salsa moves – its small and is full to the rafters with locals on Thursdays and Saturday when they have live salsa bands. 
    • Salon Amador – where the hottest people hangout for a night of dancing until 3am.


    Silento 

    Now I never managed to get here, but everyone else that I met had recomended it and said it was wonderful and one of the higlights of their trip. Its full of Coffee plantations and has some of the best trekking in Colombia. 

    Goodbye Medellín

    So after 3 weeks in this fantastic city that is Medellín, and having met so many wonderful people it’s time to say adiós.

    Although I’m sad to be leaving, I am super excited about the adventures I’m about to embark on and the amazing places I am going visit. So before I say goodbye properly I have a few more tales of Medellin to share with you. I have met some great people and some hot guys while in Medellín.

    Ok – so the boys in Colombia are all, I can say on the most part HOT, all be it a little on the short side for my 6ft. It is amazing how different they can be from one city to the next. Not just like in the UK where it’s the accent that gives there place of birth away. Here it’s the looks, the attitude and just the way they are.

    My guides in Bogota I would say we’re a lot more reserved and just interested in meeting and hanging out. In Medellin, they couldn’t be more different. More open about what they want by getting straight to the point. Basically just skip all the other bits and try and get you straight into bed. Fine if you like that….

    This may have something to do with 25 being the average age of an openly gay guy here. It’s hard to find a local over 30, particularly on the local guide app I have utilised. Maybe they are just a more confident generation and have grown up through more excepting times.

    
    

    The other x pats I have met either through trips or Spanish school have been amazing. Danny and Katie who kindly let me live rent free for a few nights in their spare room made me feel so at home. Asia and Laura my party girls, that I had such a laugh with and danced many a night and morning away with.

    So much so that was a had a leaving night of fun planned for Laura and my departure. Yes Laura decided that 3 weeks of partying was enough and she would join me in some back to nature activities.

    The night started with the World Cup qualifier between Colombia and Paraguay. The preparations for the the national team playing started early on in the day, with every bar, restaurant and house festooned with balloons and the national flag ready for for the fans to cheer on their team.

    Sadly Columbia lost their game, but the beer continued to flow as too did the partying. We decided that a treat would make our Colombian friend Simon feel better. So a good Argentinian steak and 4 bottles of Malbec at the lovely Restaurante Malevo was very welcome.

    Let’s just say, after quite a few pitchers of beer at the game and a whole bottle of wine each, some could stand and some could not. This did not stop us from heading to the Cuban bar at Parque lleras for some salsa and what else – but some aguardiente. It was a great way to end my last night in this fabulous city.

    Feeling better than I should after the last night, I wanted to get a good view of the whole city and see it in its full glory – and where better than at the Pueblito Paisa. A purpose built Paisan town on the top of a hill in the middle of the city, giving you a 360 view of the city.

    As I head to the bus station, I feel there is still so much of the city I didn’t see, an excuse to return for sure. It is finally time to leave and take my first 7 hour overnight bus journey to Bucaramanga and then another 3 hours to San Gil. Actually it wasn’t bad at all. You get a seat that almost goes flat, and you get your own little screen to watch Spanish movies or listen to whale music to send you to sleep. I opted for a zop and slept most of the way.

    The bus stopped with a jolt as the bus driver is shouting “San Gil” trying to wake us from our travel trance. We step out into the blazing late morning sun. San Gil is a little town in the district of Santander, and is the best place for extreme sports in Colombia. Thankfully I have my new traveling companion Laura to explore it it with.

    Having stayed in an Airbnb while in Medellín it was finally time for me to try my first hostel EVER. Airbnb was perfect for the longer stay and was just as cheap as the hostels, just without 7 other people in the same room. I certainly recomend it if you want privacy.

    We lucked out with our room at Hostel Nirvana, as we are only two in a four bed dorm, so I am gently easing myself into hostel life. Who knew that hostels have pools, this is transforming my view on how to travel for sure. Maybe that will change after another four months of hostel world.

    Day one and feeling surprisingly spritely we opt to to the Cascadas de Juan Curi, an amazing waterfall 30 minutes away by bus. After a short 40 minute hike through the woods, you come out to the river and the amazing view of the waterfall that must be 200 m above. By far the best waterfall I have seen in my young 36 years.

    A guide shows us the route up the slippery rocks to the waterfall pool, where you can feel the full force of the water pouring over the cliff edge, the spray cooling us down immediately. Sadly the the water was so fresh, it was too cold to swim in.

    Catch the bus at the end of Carrera 12 near the bridge, and look out for the bus to Charala and ask for Cascadas. The locals will help you where to go.

    Motivated by our small adventure we book white water rafting for the next day. Well, Laura booked it and booked the hardest of the options – class 3-5. Which I didn’t realise until I got to the river and our instructor was talking through the safety instructions. Feeling pretty scared now, what if I fall out – blah blah I managed to get in the boat.

    Well I didn’t fall in and I loved the whole experience, it was amazing. Once the first wave hits you in the face and your told to just keep paddling, all the fear just goes and it just becomes a thrilling 2 hour ride of some really speedy and fierce rapids. We did lose one girl, but we soon hauled her back into the boat.

    It turns out that our instructor is part of the Colombian national rafting team and will compete in the South American championships. We were definitely in good hands at Colombia Rafting Expediciones. 130,000cop £36.

     

    next week for more tales.

    Medellín.. Mucho Fiestas

    I have been in Medellín for two weeks and I love the vibe and the energy of the city. Although in a city that has so much life like Medellín, where it’s just all go go and fiestas all the time, it’s hard to find a place that is quiet where you can sit outside in the sun, away from the smog that lingers in the central areas.

    But alas I found it, as did half the families in Medellín, at the Jardín Botanical. A free park, full of hundreds of differnt species of trees, a butterfly house and some rather large four legged reptiles. Sunday is totally a family picnic day. It reminded me of Victoria Park on a rare hot summers day, minus the east London hipsters. As I sit in the afternoon sun, writing last weeks post, and getting strange looks from the locals all searching for the last spot of shade to sit under, I thought I could get use to this.

    Getting around Medellín is super easy and cheap, as it is the only Colombian city to have a Metro, and thankfully its is dead easy to use. Either Metro A that travels North and South, or Metro B that travels out West. There are some cable cars and trams which I am yet to try. The Metro was built about 20 years ago, at a time when the city was just ending its besiege from the Medellín Cartel.

    I have to say, it has to be one of the cleanest Metros I have ever used. It’s like stepping into a different world from the one outside. Super clean, yet no bins in sight anywhere, not even a scratch on the window or spot of graffiti to be seen. One of my local guides tells me, that the Metro is highly respected by the locals, it is seen as the beacon of hope that pulled the city out of the past. Also, being Piscen (being born in the district of Antioquia) they are just simply proud to be the only city in Colombia to have one.

    But oh my, if you think rush hour in London is bad, it’s nothing compared to the evening rush hours here!! You would think it was the last shuttle to civilisation the way they stampede onto the train. Look out for pick pockets during this time, it’s not someone touching you up, believe me.

    The locals don’t just respect the Metro its self, but those that use it. When it comes to the older generation waiting to get on, a seat is made vacant and an automatic parting of the people is made so the little old lady/man can get to their newly vacated seat. A single journey costs 2,400cop (60p) to most places.

    Spanish school is proving difficult, why didn’t I do this earlier in my life I ask myself everyday, when I look at my tutor Julio and say ¨no entiendo¨. It’s so hard, but I am slowly picking it up. Verbos irregulares can go do one , there are so many and when do know if the word it going be masculino or femenina. As I often say to Julio “español es loco “, but im glad I have made the effort and put the time into learning.

    Julio always asks me at the end of my class, ¨Que haces ahora¨ – what are you doing now, and my response is always ¨Voy para el almuerzo¨ – I go for lunch, which after 3 hours of intense study I definitely need. Lunch is the best time of the day to eat because you get value for money. Anywhere in the city you can find ´menu del dia´, which is a 3 course lunch with fresh juice for 10,000cop (£2.50), bloody bargain, I hope all of South America has it!

    Did I say Medellín likes to party.. well it really does, and the hot spot where everyone heads to is Poblado around Parque lleras or to any of the surrounding streets to find the liveliest of bars and clubs. Chiquita bar is definitely my favourite, its kitsch decor is amazing and its super gay friendly. Followed by a good dance in Victoria Regina, for a Cuban salsa night, a super cool restaurant come club, where you can put your salsa moves to the test.

    This time I plucked up the courage to ask this hot Colombian girl to dance with me. Now I’m not saying that I’m for turning, but this girl certainly could have given it a go. Apparently I need to slow my steps and listen to the music more. After a few more Hendricks and tonics I had it down.

    Off to the club with the prettiest faces in town, Salón Amador to drink and dance some more until the bewitching hour or in my case sunrise. There is so much going on here its hard to know what to do, but thanks catalyst weekly there is no chance of me missing out on any of it, thanks to a weekly email and update on FB.
    Having suffered a pretty epic hangover, my Saturday was a right off as too were my plans for a day trip. Bed and Netflix is all I wanted, oh and a Burger King.. so a day later than planned I made the two hour journey to Guatapé.

    Two hours doesn’t seem long, but when your sat in a seat designed for Colombians who average 5ft5inch, and I’m 6ft1, two hours is a long time to have your knees hitting your chin every time you hit a bump. The bus leaves the North bus station next to Caribe Metro station at least 4 times an hour and costs 18000cop (£4.50).

    However, it was well worth it. The views at the top of Piedra del Peñol (the rock) after climbing the 750 steps was amazing. The Stunning view of the Embalse del Peñol, a large lake beautifully sculptured by green peninsulares and home to some wealthy Colombians swimming in their pools.

    Pablo Escobar once owned a large estate here called ¨La Manuela¨ ranch, where you can have a tour and even shoot each other with paint. From the rock you can catch a tuk tuk to the town of Guatapé, make sure you haggle the price, as 11000cop seemed a bit steep considering it was only 3km away.

    Once in Guatapé you can take a boat out on the lake and visit some of the peninsulares or zip line across the water. Or do as I did, and sit and have their local dish of grilled trout while watching the action on the lake. There is much too see in the town, it is full of the most beautifully painted buildings, little shops and cafes to meander around, but not for too long as the last bus leaves at 18:30.


    Tomorrow is the start of my last week in Medellín and at Spanish school, although I have loved it, I’m looking forward to a non city stop. San Gil is my next stop, for some country air via what will be my first overnight eight hour bus journey. San Gil is in the middle of the country, north of Bogotá in the Santander region, so come back next week and find out how I get on.

    While trying to post this today, Medellín had the biggest storm that I have experienced, thunder so loud it made the house and everything in it shake. Resulting in no electricity for 2 hours, and still no wifi. So I sit in the local supermarket in order to post. All part of the experience I guess.

     

    Tales of Colombia cont…

    As I land in Medellín after the quick 45 minute journey from Bogotá my hangover of the year seems to be passing. Thank you Latam Airways for changing my seat to an exit seat at the gate.

    There are two options to make the 45 minute journey from the airport to Medellín. The bus is 14,000cop / £3.70 and as expected had everyman and his wife, child and donkey are waiting in the queue; or a white airport taxi that is 75,000cop £19 with no queue.

    Hangover not completely averted and the thought of the Hotel pool, I go for the taxi. Forty five minutes of pure hell, holding down the vomit with each turn and bend as we go up one side and down the other side of a mountain.

    I finally arrive at my last attempt of luxury and check into the Dann Carlton Belfort 5 star. It would seem the higher the star, the lesser the trust. I paid for my 2 nights in full at check in and made it to my room, with a massive bed and a shower big enough for the Colombian football team I was happy.

    Unfortunately this 5 star establishment doesn’t permit guests of guests unless details and passport documents are taken. So no football team for me. Instead I get room service, watch some columbian tv and crash. Obviously I checked out the local talent too 😜 via my orange local guide app.

    It’s my first full day in Medellín and im excited about seeing the city, I had arranged to meet Olivia and Luke who were friends of friends from London at the museum of Modern Art.

    IMG_5602

    Feeling a bit museum fatigued I decline to join them inside, so we caught up in the local park, where to my delight I am informed that all parks in Medellín have free wifi.  I wonder off and head into Poblado the epi centre for tourists and familiar myself with the surroundings. Already I am getting a completely different vibe to Bogotá, and I like it,  I like it a lot.

    Evening arrives and I meet up with Olivia and Luke for food and drinks fresh from their kickstarter video, they fill me in on there fact finding mission about the Colombian narcos trade and the effects on the local community. The stuff you don’t hear on the walking tours.

    Hearts and red balloons are everywhere, it turns out it’s Valentine’s Day, but Colombians are inclusive, in tell me its for friendship as well as love. The Bars and Restaurants around Parque lleras are packed with tourists and locals, you can feel the energy.  After dinner the guys decide to call it a night, but after quite a few margaritas I have the party spirit in me.

    Sitting alone in a bar taking cover from the monsoon like rain pouring down outside, I check on my local guide app. Before I know it the guy on the next table has messaged me, so I message back. Turns out he can’t speak English and my Spanish was still to rocky to enter in conversation, so we translate using google.

    I join him and his mates and go to the club upstairs for a dance. I meet a couple from New York and their friends and we dance and drink and dance and drink. Not content with our fill, we demand more from our local friends. Where to next we ask.

    Six of us pile into the smallest taxi and head over the river to a bar/restaurant that was packed to the rafters (I cant remeber its name). A bottle of rum later (I hate rum) and few more hours of dancing I’m feeling woosey, and make my way back to the hotel at 8:30am. Suffice to say the next day was spent by the pool writing last weeks update.

    Monday comes and so to does my first day at Spanish school, having decided to do three weeks of school while in Medellín. My poor tutor Julio, I think he thought he was getting someone far more advanced.

    It turns out the online tutorials of daily Duolingo hasn’t made me 30% fluent the lying son of a… but I’m determined and ready to learn. The El Dorado Spanish School in Envigado is great and at a great price. One on one, 3 hours a day, 4 days a week 320,000cop / £80.

    By Thursday my brain is well and truly fried from all the new information and my frustration was getting the better of me. I needed some fun.

    Through the free walking tour  of Medellín, which I might add is well worth doing to get to know your way around the city. You see first hand the struggles of the past and understand the amazing journey, from the most violent city in the world to the city it is today, open to anyone.

    As you may have noticed when on organised tours I tend to get talking to people and make them my new traveling buddies. This tour was no different and my new buddies and I decided to go to a salsa club. For those of you that know me, you know I love to dance 💃.

    Son Havana was perfect, full of locals dancing salsa to a live salsa band. Sylvia my new Dutch friend showed me the main salsa steps and before I knew it my hips and legs were moving in time. I loved it and can’t wait to do it again.

    Talk of paragliding the previous night turned into seven of us actually heading up to the top of Medellín, strapping up and taking the plunge. I can honestly say I have never been so at peace, being 3500m in the air, with birds flying below and no sound other than the wind whistling past your ears, an truly amazing experience. I can see why the instructor is happy to make 36 trips in one day. It is an experience not to be missed. 145,000cop £36 or 165,000 cop £45 with an SD card for videos. We used Zona de Vuelo, but there are a few outfits that can be used that take off form the same place.

    Saturday like for so many in the world is a day for football, and no where more so than in Colombia are they mad for it. Me on the other hand, only ever watches England play in the Euro or World cups and thats normally only a maximum of four games, as they tend to get knocked out by some other country quite early on.

    Fast forward and it’s 4pm in the stadium, I’m wearing my newly purchased Medelliín home shirt (my first ever), standing on the seats with 20 or so other foreign travellers and 16,000 Medellín supporters.

    The atmosphere and passion was electric, with their own brass band in the terrace and 16,000 fans singing chants at the tops of their voices, jumping up and down on their seats, it was like nothing else I had witnessed before. Within 10 minutes a spectator was stretched off by an ambulance crew, due to falling from the upper terrace from too much excitement.

    The Medellín fans put a lot of time into creating the chants, a shame the players didn’t spend as much time on their game. They just didn’t know how run forward or kick into the box. When the away team scored, there was and eerie silence, as only home team fans can spectate in Colombia. So after the second goal scored by the away team, the chanting and stamping got louder and finally Medellín scored with 6 minutes to full time. Sadly not enough to win.

    One thing I have learnt about Colombians and especially Paisan´s, is that they are full of optimism and will celebrate the smallest of wins, especially in the hardest of times. This mentality has certainly proved to serve Medellín very well.

    Its Saturday night and I have been invited to a BBQ by the friends of one of my local guides Kevin. We turn up to what can only be described as one of the best penthouse apartments ever. It’s has everything, the view, the cinema , the jacuzzi; oh and racing pigeons.

    As always I was made so welcome by the hosts and all their friends, it’s just the Colombian way. I think the giant bottle of aguardiente certainly helped.