It’s a complete shame that Colombia has been made famous for all of the wrong things, the truth is that this South American country might just be my favourite in the continent. I have to say it’s probably an almost perfect destination for backpackers.
However, I only had 10 days to travel through Colombia which is nowhere near enough. You need a lot more time to get a good impression of the country. While the media just shows you violence, drugs and poverty. Colombia really is a place of incredible food, lush green landscapes and vibrant atmospheres.
1. It’s Very Affordable
It’s extremely easy to travel around Colombia on a budget, you can have a decent dinner for less than £3, entry to museums cost less than a pound and hostels can range from £5 to £15. I’d say it’s one of the most affordable countries I’ve been to in the world and this is because no-one really tries to rip you off.
2. Colombia’s Answer to Irn Bru
Something you will find in the convenience stores and supermarkets all over the country is bottles with caramel coloured liquid inside. The soft drink is known as Colombiana and on the bottle it says it is “kola” flavoured. When I cracked open a bottle after deciding to buy one at a supermarket, I took a sip and thought it tasted exactly like Irn Bru. You can’t say no when a litre bottle only costs about 40p, gone are the days when bottles of Irn Bru were that cheap.
3. Excellent Food
I would say with a paperweight that Colombia has the best empanadas in South America, not only that but it’s not hard to find them for a fantastic price. Colombian empanadas tend to be fried and bakeries can be found everywhere. Arepas are of course a fantastic dish which looks small, however it fills you up easily, during my time in Colombia I ate some delicious arepas. It’s also worth mentioning that fruit can be bought from street sellers at a decent price. It’s possible to buy a cup of fresh mangoes for less than a pound.
4. Coffee Fresh From the Fields
If you look at a can of coffee powder, it’s likely that it will say it came from Colombia, the country is 3rd in the world after Vietnam and Brazil for coffee growing. Within the area around Quindio, it is known for being where the crop originates and you can even visit the farms where it is grown there. A cup of coffee will taste like it came fresh from the source and there are loads of cool coffee shops in Medellín to enjoy a cup of it.
5. A Serious Passion for Football
I can safely say that from my experience, the Colombians are the most passionate football fans in Latin America, you can see the bright yellow national team shirt in almost every street. I feel absolutely gutted that I did not get the opportunity to attend a game as I can anticipate that the atmosphere would be otherworldly.
During my time in Medellín, I watched the local team whose stadium was walking distance of my hostel win the cup final. The celebrations were absolutely electric, there were alcoholic spirits flying everywhere and feelings of elation all over the streets.
6. An Immensely Welcoming Country
When I was in the line for immigration, I saw that it said in Spanish on the the walls: “the most welcoming country in the world.” I would say that this statement is hard to disagree with, pretty much everyone I came across was down to earth and apart from one person, there’s hardly anyone who hassles you for money.