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Wednesday, 02 July 2014 13:51

Colombia: Land of Magical Realism

Written by  Denise Mattia

Latin-Colombia
Maria Claudia Lacouture, president of Proexport Colombia, says, “The most unforgettable experience for a tourist may be the seven tones of the waters of San Andres, the inspiring streets of Cartagena de Indias, the green canopy of the Sierra Nevada parks or the dazzling sands of the Caribbean shoreline.”

It is estimated that the government is prepared to receive four million travelers by the end of 2014, generating an estimated four billion dollars of revenue.

To date, 27 cruise lines dock in Colombia, and new in 2013 was Disney Cruise Lines, stopping in Cartagena. An additional 39 international weekly flights to the country have been added, the most significant from the United States being American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Jet Blue and United Airlines.

Cartagena and Beyond
In Cartagena your clients will find a city that offers a wealth of attractions. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1984 by UNESCO, the 16th century-old walled city is a series of narrow cobbled streets rimmed with rustic colonial-style homes that lead to churches, squares, courtyards and al fresco-style restaurants.

Towering over the old city is the fortress, Castillo San Felipe, built to defend it from pirates and the Royal Navy commanded by Admiral Vernon. Today, visitors can climb to the top via 17th century walkways for a stunning view of the bay and a modern city of skyscrapers, monuments and churches.

During the 19th and 20th century, people from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia arrived in Barranquilla, importing architectural styles that account for the splendor and diversity of the urban landscaping. Today, shopping centers and sports’ complexes stand amid art deco, art nouveau and neoclassical structures. For four days before Ash Wednesday, the Carnival de Barranquilla becomes an experience seconded only by travelers to Rio’s Carnival. Spirit Airlines flies nonstop from Fort Lauderdale to Barranquilla.

Located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range, 46 miles north of Barranquilla, lie forests inhabited by exotic plants, birds and animals. In the National Park of Tyrona, trekkers can traverse the canopy and waterfalls on hanging bridges. Narrow paths lead to secluded beaches (18 of the 70 square miles of the park is coastline), however, because of strong currents and riptides swimming in the Caribbean Sea is not advisable. The indigenous Kogi and Arhuaco peoples provide accommodations from hammocks to bungalows along routes.

A wealth of marine life can be found on the second largest coral reef system in the Caribbean. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2000, the archipelago of San Andrés and Providencia include approximately 10% of the Caribbean Sea and nearly 20 miles of islands, cays, atolls and sandbanks, and are nothing short of magnificent. Underwater, scuba enthusiasts wander through caverns, glide into the depths down walls covered with soft and hard corals and multicolored sponges or simply hang out at 50 to 60 feet to inspect coral tops, while the inhabitants inspect them. The Malecon (promenade) of San Andrés is home to shops, food stands and hotels facing the palm-tree lined stretch of beach. A two-hour flight by Aerorepublica flies directly from Cartagena to San Andrés. Satena Airline flies from San Andrés to Providencia. A catamaran service operates between the two islands Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The ride takes two hours and costs about U.S. $70.

The popular Juan Valdez trademark seen throughout Colombia was developed in 1981, to differentiate pure 100% Colombian coffee from other countries’ blended varieties. Recently, upscale tours to family-owned farms in the “Zona Cafetera” (Risaralda, Caldas, Quindio and Cauca) have become increasingly popular with visitors, but to date the only way to book them is through the Quindio Tourism Authority (www.turismoquindio.com).

Info for Agents
The new Online platform offers Travel Agents the right tools to “learn and earn” at their convenience, through a combination of online training courses, loyalty booking programs and various other informational resources. (www.colombia.travel/en/elearning)

For more information about Colombia contact Claudia Davila This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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