My name is Frank and I run a travel agency based in Bogota, Colombia. If you have any feedback or suggestions, please write them in our comments section. Thank you and have a great trip to Colombia!
Is Colombia one of the best luxury destinations in the world?
Experts in the tourism industry will first of all argue that Colombia has only been part of the international tourism business for about 10 years and that in such a short time it is not possible to build up relevant luxury offers. I agree with this specialist 100%.
However, luxury is no longer defined solely by materialism, such as being driven around by a Rolls Royce.
Colombia has no highways where one can drive at 300 km/h, luxury hotels can be counted on two hands, the gastronomy is not known worldwide and cooks from Colombia have so far no international reputation. Even in the tourism industry, people still do not speak English today. Bogota recently received the consolation prize for the city with the worst road traffic in the world, where commuters lose most of their time in traffic jams worldwide. With all these negative facts, how is Colombia to be considered one of the most attractive luxury destinations in the world?
Colombia is the second most biodiverse country on the planet after Brazil. Here we have a coast to the Pacific Ocean and one to the Atlantic Ocean. The topography stretches from sea level to over 5,700 meters (18,700 feet) above sea level. From deserts to the Amazon to snow-capped peaks you will find a variety of landscapes and ecosystems. The country also has stable temperatures throughout the year as its proximity to the geographic equator does not allow seasons. Colombia breaks records worldwide for the number of different species, and more are being added, which are being discovered. The national cultures are the result of indigenous peoples mixed with Spanish conquerors and African slaves.
Colombia is a luxury destination that is second to none. The experiences and possible adventures in this exotic country are almost unlimited and much is still undiscovered. Hardly a luxury-hungry tourist in the traditional sense has traveled to Colombia so far. With almost 3.5 million visitors today, the country, which is just about the size of South Africa or Texas and California together, still has huge growth potential.
Today’s tourism consists mainly of visitors from other Latin American countries or backpackers from all over the world. However, the message of the beauty of the country is slowly but surely carried out into the world.
But if you want to get an overview of the possible travel destinations in Colombia, I recommend reading my Colombia travel guide.
Where can you find traditional luxury in Colombia?
Travelers who only want to stay in 5-star hotels and dine in the best restaurants in the country, are currently limited to the cities of Cartagena and Bogota. Bogota is a big and great city. With its almost 10 million inhabitants, life pulsates here day and night and offers a surprisingly huge cultural offer. There are also numerous museums with priceless and unique treasures. The emerald museum with its green glowing stones, the gold museum with the golden treasures from the past and the golden raft of the legend “El Dorado”. Not to mention the Botero Museum, which not only exhibits national artists, but also internationally known artists such as Balthus, Braque, Chagall, Dali, Miro, Picasso, Delaunay, Monet and Matisse.
Bogota is not only the country’s political and economic center, but also has an emerging gastronomic scene. With examples like Restaurant Leo, which stands for the highest Colombian cuisine, Colombia has definitely launched a new culinary era. We are currently seeing a similar trend, which became reality in Peru decades ago. The immeasurable delicacies that thrive on this fertile soil are increasingly being turned into culinary highlights. Convenience food or preprocessed food is being sought in vain in Colombia.
Colonial witnesses, which can be found in Colombia in the form of colonial cities built by the Spaniards, already have offers with Villa de Leyva and Barichara, which are aimed at tourists with high demands.
Cartagena is considered the pearl of the Caribbean and is indeed a monument. With its already numerous boutique hotels and the planned expansion of the offers, there will be no lack of luxury offers in the future. With its access to the sea and various yachts that are ready to charter, even extremely demanding, wealthy customers can be satisfied. Anyone who considers something in the Colombian restaurant scene and hotel industry has already set up or planned a branch there. Private townhouses, villas or even islands complete the offer.
Colombia can also be described as a golfers paradise. With very exclusive golf clubs in all altitudes and climates, which can be played all year round, Colombia remains unrivaled in this regard. However, this has not yet got around either. More information about golf tours in Colombia can be found here.
What is the future of luxury travel to Colombia?
As described above, Colombia offers a variety of possible experiences, which could not be more different. Already today, some insiders of a small circle have recognized that the natural potential of the country can be easily utilized and that the infrastructure can be geared towards a different target audience.
Spectacular places such as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are visited today by backpackers and birdwatchers. However, those who have visited the highest coastal mountains in the world will definitely put this on their list of unforgettable top destinations. The journey to Minca is easy. To continue your journey, especially during the rainy season, you need an off-roader with a high wheelbase and a lot of patience. There is also the option of flying up by helicopter. The accommodations are, with a few exceptions, very rustic to good. The Sierra Nevada is a unique natural spectacle and the potential of the whole area is enormous. You will find animals such as the glass frog, a large number of endemic bird species and a view that is rarely seen.
The desert of La Guajira, which belongs to the indigenous Wayuu, is a beautiful desert landscape, which ends in the north with spectacular sand dunes into the ocean. The approach is tedious and there is no electricity or running water. Mainly for adventurous but an ideal destination.
The back of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which can be reached via the department of Cesar, is fundamentally different. With its crystal clear rivers, which are protected by the local indigenous tribes, it offers a scenic spectacle, which is reminiscent of the Rocky Mountains or the Swiss Alps. Here you are usually the only tourist far and wide.
Also, there are 60 protected areas, including 43 national parks, in which biodiversity is undisturbed and protected.
The Pacific coast is mostly untouched nature and sparsely populated. With offers such as whale and bird watching, fishing, hiking and ecotourism, this region of Colombia is cut off from the outside world. In some existing and good eco-lodges, however, there is no electricity, no internet and no telephone. Compensated for it with one of the most exciting natural environments in the world.
The south of the country is hardly developed touristy. However, this zone offers volcanoes and also has access to the Pacific and therefore also has a huge potential. On my last trip a few months ago, I was again deeply impressed and humble by the beauty of this area.
The Colombian Amazon covers an area of 483,000 km2 (approx. 300,000 square miles), about 40% of the Colombian territory. Which area of this world is rife with more myths and stories than this partially undiscovered forest of life? Again, the adventure beckons.
The Colombian Llanos, which is home to the Colombian livestock, with its vast steppe and grass lands, also promises not ordinary experiences. A spectacular area, home to animals such as the chiguiro, anaconda, puma, jaguar, orinoco crocodile and many more. Already today you can undertake a safari in the Colombian outback, which is hard to beat in terms of uniqueness.
These are just short descriptions of some of the Colombian travel destinations. Although some of these areas are already developed and some services are offered, other places are still virginal. However, this will certainly change in the near future, as both national and international investors are slowly recognizing the tourist potential of Colombia. Local service providers anticipate the rising tourism numbers and reinvest in better quality and performance.
Adequate offers for discerning and luxury tourists will emerge more and more over the next few years. However, it will take decades for these to be spread all over the country.
What are the risks
Although many do not know, Colombia is a safe destination today. But there are still regions that should be avoided. However, the tourist destinations are safe for traveling to.
Colombia is the politically most stable country of the last 50 years in South America. However, with the peace agreement with the FARC the country lost a common enemy that also stabilized the political system. The Colombian elite has lost its monopoly on information through new communication media on the Internet. Politically, more and more exponents appear, questioning the current political system, especially corruption and nepotism. The over decades installed and well-running redistribution machine in favor of the eternally rich and powerful of the country, faces more and more criticism. The systematic embargo on good education for the general public seems to be slowly losing its impact.
In many regions, the state is unable or unwilling to protect left-wing political leaders from assassinations. The dissolution of the FARC has created a power vacuum in some regions and various criminal groups are fighting for local dominance in cocaine cultivation and trade.
Geopolitically, the US has lost ground against China. In South America, some countries have already landed in China’s credit trap. As a traditionally strong US ally, Colombia must be careful not to be crushed between these two competing giants.
How to organize a luxury trip to Colombia
Especially for luxury travelers, I recommend requesting a local travel company directly in Colombia. Apart from my company, there are a handful of other travel agencies specializing in this segment. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. I would like to share one of my experiences with you.
For a British travel company, we were shortlisted for possible future collaboration. We should work out a very exclusive group trip for groups of 8-10 people for 2 weeks. Only the best accommodations, super exclusive including helicopters and private planes were demanded. Although logistically very complex and labor intensive, we were able to offer the trip in the desired format. Unfortunately we did not receive the contract. In a recent review of the website of the then potential partner, I was able to see the travel now offered. Although the concept had apparently changed by 180 degrees, I noticed several points. For example, a hotel was offered, which is currently a construction site. Logistically, unnecessary detours were planned that make no sense and which reduce the quality of travel. In addition, regions were offered during periods where it is better to send no tourists there. The price is extremely high for the services included.
I suppose the local competitor that is operating this journey is an already established company. I was therefore very surprised that in this price segment such bad and immature products are offered.
Therefore, I would like to give you some tips to check the quality of the tour operator.
- Take a look at the website and the information included. Only a few pretty pictures without substantiated content are like a fancy sports car without an engine.
- Is there information about the owners and / or the management structures and the consultants?
- Social media can provide further insights and indicators of quality. For example, does the company have a YouTube channel?
- A personal call is essential. Test the consultant, whether he is personally familiar with the offered destinations. Ask questions.
- Get an offer. Do not be afraid to ask an offer from different providers. You are the customer, it is your right.
- Have a look at my top 10 hotels in Colombia, these are connected with spectacular experiences.
I’ve been living in Colombia since 2015, traveling all over the world and never before a country has fascinated me so much. The beauty and tourist potential are unrivaled in my opinion. Many regions offer unique experiences and are hardly yet accessible to tourists. Although not everything is perfect in the country and there are risks for the future, I am convinced that Colombia is on the right track and will become one of the top tourist destinations in the future. However, it will take decades of hard work and luck, too, that no unwanted events interrupt this development. We will see.
If you feel like traveling to Colombia now, Pelecanus is a travel agency in Bogota Colombia . We are absolute specialists for customized and luxury travel in Colombia. Contact us today.
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