Just because you’re working as a TEFL teacher, doesn’t mean you won’t have plenty of free time to explore and with such a good transport network and cheap domestic flights there is no excuse not head off on short breaks. Here’s 7 different spots in Colombia not to miss.
Santuario de las Lajas
This Basilica church is one of the world’s most ornate and beautiful. Erected within a canyon overlooking the Guaitara River in the Narino department, the century old church is created out of the very rock it sits upon. Legend has it that during the 18th century a silhouette appeared next to a mother and her deaf daughter who were taking refuge in the canyon during a storm, after which the daughter was magically healed. The site quickly became a popular pilgrimage site.
Tayrona National Park
One of the highlights of Colombia is Tayrona, a wild national park of deserted beaches, rocky cliffs that plunge into the sea and forests. Large iguanas lounge in the sunshine and monkeys swing through the treetops. Be sure to spend some time snorkelling around the coral reefs and rich marine life.
Cartagena needs no introduction. This lively port city is one of Colombia’s hubs of art, culture and music. Located on the coast, the city has a distinctly Caribbean vibe and is surrounded by the old walls and fortifications. Brightly coloured houses with little wooden balconies fringe the narrow streets. The city is filled with the sounds of street vendors, the clip clopping of horses’ hooves and music echoing out of bars and cafes. Just a short boat ride away is Rosario Island, an ideal place for diving, sunbathing and some serious R&R.
Few travellers ever make it to La Piedra (the stone) located in the town of Guatape, a couple of hours north of Medellin. The enormous 200-metre-high monolithic rock was formed millions of years ago and weighs over 66 million tons. To reach the top, one must first climb 740 steps that zig-zag up a crack in the face of the rock, after which incredible views over the surrounding countryside can be seen.
Zipaquira Salt Cathedral
Around 30 miles from Bogota lies the underground church of Zipaquira which some describe as a ‘jewel of modern architecture’. With a lack of sunlight, the carved rock naves are lit up with bright neon lights. Though the site hasn’t got a bishop and is therefore unrecognised by the Vatican, it doesn’t stop the thousands of tourists and pilgrims for visiting the awe-inspiring site every year. The site was originally a mine, the cathedral growing from a simple sanctuary and cross used by miners to pray and ask for protection.
The Lost City
While most travel to the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru, adventurous travellers looking for something different seek out Colombia’s Lost City. Unlike Machu Picchu which can now be reached by train, the Lost City requires a four-day hike through hills, jungles and across rivers to reach. Though it’s possible to undertake by yourself, it is always recommended to have a guide who also helps set up camp and cooks food. During the city’s peak, it is thought that there were over 8,000 people living there, but like many places across Latin America it was abandoned when the Spanish conquistadors arrived.
To start your journey in Colombia, take a look at our TEFL internships.