One of the many perks of being a Program Director is being able to travel around and outside of Ecuador on our off days. I fully took advantage of this during the holiday weekend of Guayaquil’s Independence by traveling to Colombia. As both a history and current events buff, I knew Colombia would make an interesting trip because of its recent developments in finalizing a peace deal with its long-time civil war opponent Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC).
It would not have been possible to truly see the beauty of Bogotá and the areas surrounding it without the help of hostel owner, Lili. While I was there, she was also hosting study abroad students from Mexico and a backpacker from Finland. Lili showed complete Colombian hospitality with the added bonus of helping me practice my conversational Spanish and pronunciation.
Early on my first morning, I left the city and traveled north to Zipaquirá to visit Catedral de Sal. Yes, you read that right: an underground salt cathedral in a cave. After a tour of the cathedral, I walked around the historic center and enjoyed some true Colombian arepas.
On my second day, I traveled just an hour outside Bogotá to a town called Choachí, which holds the tallest waterfall in Colombia (La Chorrera). It stands at 590 meters (1935 feet) and is such a beautiful sight to behold. Lili brought some of the other hostel guests on a day trip of hiking and swimming. La Chorrera was one of the most incredible landscapes I’ve seen, and I was so surprised that I didn’t see more tourists along the hike coming to visit such a natural wonder.
Of course, a trip to Colombia wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Historic Center. This was an area I was looking forward to seeing, not only because of its history but also because of the high attention it's been given during Colombia’s recent political developments. We made our way through museums, some of Bogotá’s first restaurants, oldest universities and colonial-era government buildings. Perhaps most interesting was passing the peaceful campers protesting in Bolívar Square.
Despite only spending three days in Colombia, I was quickly able to realize how warm-hearted Colombians are and how deep of a history Colombia has. I will always be grateful to Lili for making my trip unforgettable, and I hope to return as soon as I can.
See yourself spending a weekend in Colombia? Apply now!