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David Dalglish, one of Goway’s longest-serving Central & South American destination experts, recently travelled to Colombia, which geographically crowns the South American continent. Sitting above Ecuador and alongside Venezuela, the country lays claim to magical coastlines on the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. With the Andes bisecting the country, Colombia is rich in lush green jungles and a temperature that amazes. It’s the perfect place for coffee production, which is another modern day claim to fame.
Historically, Colombia was part of Gran Colombia, a combination of modern-day Venezuela, Ecuador, and Peru, which was the centre of the campaign led by Simon Bolivar—the George Washington of South America—to win independence from Spain. At the colonial centre of Colombia’s rise is the “Jewel in the Crown,” Cartagena. The secondary gateway (after the Panama isthmus) for gold and silver leaving the New World, and supplies coming in, Cartagena is a city lost in time.
Built as a fort city to protect it from marauding pirates, Cartagena is a magical reminder of a rich colonial past. With narrow streets dotted by stunning Spanish colonial buildings, with a wide choice of restaurants, night spots, and white sandy Caribbean beaches, Cartagena is a must for any visit to Colombia.
Below we caught up with David to get us up to date on travel to Colombia and offer us tips for selling Colombia to your clients.
What do you think is the bestselling feature about Colombia?
Diversity. A wide range of experiences and landscapes are available in one country. It is also relatively new, as in, emerging from a period off the map so to speak, so other than in Cartagena’s old city, you aren’t inundated with tourists.
What was your favorite hotel and why?
Casa Cochera del Gobernador, which is a renovated 18th-century home with many original features restored with modern upgrades. It has a perfect location in the old city and even has a small pool to cool off in. There are so many cool little boutique hotels in Cartagena.
What was your favourite experience?
I had three.
1. Climbing El Peñol and visiting Guatape (outside Medellin). It has spectacular scenery and it’s a good bit of exercise with a great view from the top. It’s also a nice drive out of the city.
2. Comuna 13, Medellin. There’s graffiti, rap music, and art everywhere in what was one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the country not 10 years ago, but now is a safe destination to visit.
3. A cooking class in Cartagena. Chef Carolina could not have been a better teacher or host for this experience, as she has a fierce pride as a Colombian; the delicious ceviche was the highlight.
As a Goway Central & South America Expert, was there anything that surprised you?
It has to be the fact that many Colombian tourists were visiting the same sights as me, a foreigner. As well, the overall feeling of safety is on par with any other South American city. The people exceeded my expectations. They were wonderfully kind and genuinely warm.
Are there any tips or insight about travelling to Colombia that would be great for travel agents to know, so they can share with their clients to make their trip even more enjoyable?
It’s a simple answer, but eat locally!
Do you have a favourite local dish?
The ceviche was awesome! Also, the typical meal in Medellin of chicharron, beans, egg, and morcilla was delicious.
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