Late last year, I shared a list of places I wanted to explore upon my return to Colombia.
Despite taking it easy this year, I’ve still seen about half of them, including Bucaramanga, San Gil, and several pueblos.
Now that I’ve got a new visa, I’m starting to think about where I want to travel next, both within and around Colombia.
There are always last minute travel deals that pop up, so I like to stay flexible, but I still find it helpful to outline future travel plans.
Before I get started, I want to pause to say that I’ve purposefully taken my time discovering Colombia over the last five years. Living in Medellin has always been a respite from my travels to other parts of the world.
My number one new destination is now San Andres and Providencia, those tropical Caribbean islands that still belong to Colombia, yet lie closer to the coast of Nicaragua.
Direct, low-cost flights are available from Medellin on VivaColombia, and many people have assured me no more than 5 days are needed, a week max.
Last year I experienced the Amazon for the first time in southern Peru, and it was a lot of fun. Leticia is a small city in southeastern Colombia, near the border with Brazil.
I’ve been hearing the Amazon tours and homestays on the Colombian side are more authentic, versus the Brazilian side, which has been altered by the influx of mass tourism.
As tourism grows in Colombia, so to will it grow to Leticia, so I want to get down there before the experience begins to resemble what you get in Brazil.
This whitewashed pueblo south of Cali still holds great appeal to me, and I want to plan a trip sooner rather than later. Plus, I now have a friend there.
Alex, a Lonely Planet writer, is based in Popayan and I recently had the chance to meet up with him for a coffee here in Medellin.
Colombia has about a half-dozen UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the historic center of Mompox is one of them.
Aside from Cartagena’s Old City, and the Coffee Triangle, none of them are easy to get to, therefore I’ll have to pick them off with separate trips, one by one.
Mompox was founded by the Spanish in 1540 on the banks of the Magdalena River, and I’ve heard visiting is like taking a step back in time.
Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador)
I’m currently thinking about where to plan my next extended trip of one to two months. I have three regions in mind, with the first being a four country adventure in Central America, filling in the gaps of the ones I haven’t been to yet.
Technically, I’ve been to Guatemala before, as I visited the Tikal ruins in 2006, but I hear such rave reviews about the country from other travelers, I’d like to go back and see more of it.
My expectations for all four countries, though, are quite low. I don’t expect any of them to steal my heart.
South America (Venezuela, Guyana, French Guyana, Suriname, and possibly Brazil)
My preference would be to see more of South America before Central America, but the costs could be a lot higher due to the complexity of flights and travel in the region.
On the flip side, I would only plan a short excursion into Venezuela, possibly to see Angel Falls, and the Guyanas and Suriname are very small countries, so they wouldn’t require a lot of time on the ground.
I’d like to leave the option open to dip into Brazil at some point, whether on this trip, or through Leticia in Colombia, so I can add that feather to my cap, though it would take months and a lot of money to properly make a dent in seeing the country as a whole.
I’m more attracted to this trip because it’s off the beaten path, whereas Central America IS the beaten path.
I’ll have to do more research on flights and potential costs to better compare the too.
The Caribbean (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic)
A third option is to island-hop in the Caribbean. Countries at the top of my list include Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago.
The challenge with the Caribbean is it can be surprisingly expensive to fly between certain islands, and I have no doubt in some cases it’s cheaper to fly back through Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, Florida than fly direct. That could turn out to be both annoying and expensive.
To wrap up, I’d like to do a few domestic trips in Colombia before the end of the year, and then pick a region outside the country to further explore in January and February 2014.
The Caribbean would be the easiest, South America the most adventurous, and Central America somewhere in between.
This post was written by Dave, and brought to you by TravelZoo.