1 Month in Colombia – Losing my solo travel virginity

1 year into a job, which was fine but unfulfilling, recently single, and one month away from the big 3-0, I had a mini-meltdown. I quit my job, bought a backpack (one of those flashy ones that you don’t actually have to carry on your back, but you can – so it still counts) and decided I was going to Colombia. For a month.

Armed with a pep talk from my Colombian buddy Paulo, his mum’s number – just in case, and the least embarrassing money belt I could find (I will never admit it was a bumbag), I booked a return flight to Bogota and left my grown-up self in London.

I followed the below itinerary for my month-long adventure and travelled by plane (mostly), shared trucks (often), and boat (now there’s a story) because time was more precious than money for this trip.

I stayed mainly in hostels, graduating (or regressing?) from private rooms to dorms when I shed the fear that I would be woken up by weird people at the side of my bed. I treated myself under the guise of self-Christmas and birthday presents to the occasional accommodation treat, and I ate A LOT.

  1. Bogotá
  2. Las Amazonas
  3. Medellín
  4. Santa Marta
  5. Mompós
  6. Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona
  7. Palomino
  8. Minca
  9. Cartagena
  10. San Andrés

One month for this Colombian itinerary felt absolutely perfect. I had time to spend at least 2 nights in every place – more if I wanted to. I relaxed, explored, slept in, read, shopped, celebrated Christmas, volunteered, hiked, partied, swam, drank Piña Coladas and soaked up the sun.

Colombia is an absolutely amazing country coming out the other side of a difficult past. It has a surprisingly great tourist infrastructure and seems to attract a slightly older traveller (think mid-20s upwards).

General tips:

  • Don’t hail taxis, use the Tappsi app to book.
  • Take a travel belt or something similar so that you can conceal your money and phone
  • Buy a travel SIM if you want to use data – it is expensive!
  • English is not very widely spoken – learn some Spanish and/or pack a phrase book.
  • Pack for a range of temperatures – Bogota is moderate, Las Amazonas is hot and humid, the Caribbean coast is just hot!
  • Machismo culture – it is quite common (especially as a solo female) to have men whistle and shout remarks at you as you walk by – a San Andres islander said to me one day “In Colombia, if you go out and not a single man compliments you or comments on your appearance all day – you’re having a really bad day”. Though intimidating, you sort of get used to it.
  • It’s pretty cheap – street food is plentiful and gooood, and trips, transport etc. are all pretty cheap by European standards.

Go. You won’t regret it. 

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