A woman in a bright, traditional dress, welcomes visitors to Cartagena, Colombia, with a basket of fruit.

During my reconnaissance visit to Colombia last spring, I felt a palpable and inspiring sense of joy and levity among the people—a sense that it is finally safe for them to travel in their homeland. Colombians, after decades of conflict, can now invite the world to enjoy their treasures.

In the company of some longtime Colombian friends, I set off to experience some of the country’s riches—and to create a new itinerary for WT. We took a hike along beautiful cobblestone roads, used during colonial times to transport goods to the Caribbean ports. We sipped the homegrown brew at a coffee hacienda while watching green, yellow, and red tropical birds come to feed on the lush lawn. We also tried fried hormigas culonas, big-bottomed ants. I had a hard time taking a bite until I saw Grace, who is in charge of local operations, just popping them into her mouth so easily, like peanuts.

We visited other Colombian gems, too, including the awesome cavern of the Chicamocha gorge, the tropical Caribbean coast, and, of course, the multi-faceted colonial city of Cartagena. Along the way, I learned about the ancient history of the Tayrona people.

But honestly, if anyone were to ask me what my favorite experience of all was, it would be my visit to Barichara. It’s one of the most beautiful towns I have been to in my whole life—and I have traveled a lot! Once there, all stress left my body, and I relaxed into the fresh peacefulness of the town and the friendliness of the people. It was truly wonderful and makes my heart warm when I think of it.

Holly Wissler, WT Trip Leader, Colombia: Natural History and Cultural Treasures

 

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