Colombia: A "Diamond in Rough" Destination and Central American Hot Spot

Largay advisor, Ken Sause, traveled to Colombia with a small group of luxury travel advisors and learn more about this developing tourist destination. His findings were a sure sign that Colombia is well on its way to becoming the hot spot in Central America within the next few years. This "diamond in the rough" destination is one not to be missed once its tourism is better organized.
Cartagena (pronounced Cart-a-hay-na) was born in 1533 and became UNESCO designated in 1984. The population is a blend of Spanish, African slaves and mulatto people and not many natives from bordering countries. The staff at hotels tends to be people hired from nearby rural areas. This walled old city of Cartagena has lots of islands, plazas, fantastic architecture, casinos and designer fashions. Locally made leather is very popular and the best is Velez . You can find many nice gallery shops featuring ceramic, woven items, leather purses and also goods from kuna indian mola designs. Carriage rides through walled old city are a must however the drivers will spout everything in Spanish and no English! It will make you wish you paid better attention to the Spanish words when you visit you local Lowes or Home Depot.




 The local wines are inexpensive but are not going to make Argentina nervous. Colombians use lots of coconut in their food. With an Arabic and Caribbean influence, you will find coconut water, coconut rice, and fried plantains in most dishes. Delicious!
The most significant natural site in Cartagena are the mangroves. These swamp like forests are filled with egrets, crabs and large ant nests and are only found in tropical and subtropical climates.


Traditional clothing for men in Colombia is touted as the embroidered guayabera shirts. Though you never see anyone wearing one! They sell them in stores for about $90 but higher quality shirts can cost more. The most significant fashion worn everywhere is the Panama hat (seen on Ken in below photo.) Usually found in white or beige color with a black band. Bright colored fedoras are also very popular. You can buy them for $15-$30 US dollars but be ready to bargain with local street vendors for the best price.
Largay Advisor, Ken Sause, wearing his Panama Hat over to an island off Cartagena, Columbia.

Colombians use pesos and US dollars are NOT accepted! English is NOT widely spoken except a few in shops and about half in hotels. Communication difficulties can cause taxis to be a problem but they are cheap. The water is safe to drink but bottled water is suggested. The city is hazardous, as you never see sidewalks and broken tiles are commonplace. There are few pedestrian lights though the walled city is half pedestrian streets only. At night the music is loud and sensual and the streets are filled with street performers. The city never smells foul or of trash, instead it is filled with scents of flowers and vines. Cartagena does feel safe at night even walking through the walled city.

There are lots of nice islands off the city that are great for snorkeling, diving, kayaking, nature walks, sunning and sailing.
The best time to visit Colombia is any time except for Christmas and Holy Week. The Colombian holidays tend to cause difficult transport and crowded streets. The rainy season usually begins come spring (March to May) but there are no hurricanes. The most pleasant time to visit Colombia is in the dry season, between December and March or in July and August.  The beautiful temperature remains the same all year round!



Check out more blogs from Ken: Top 5 Colombian Restaurants and Top 5 Cartagena Hotels, coming soon to "The Largay Advisor." For more information about Columbia or if you are interested in taking a trip, contact Ken at travelken@snet.net

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