Posted: 4 Oct 2019 Trafalgar: Coffee, the Caribbean, Culture and Colombia

In the recent past this well-known country would not be considered top of the must-see destinations when touching down in Latin America. Long viewed as a dangerous destination owing to the cocaine cartels and a reputation for being crime capital of the world, this image has now been reversed.

Juilian Guerrero, Minister of Tourism, puts this down to a number of factors. “The continuous growth in tourism for the past 15 years in double digits, the increase in air routes from all over the world, the increase in hotel investment all over the country and the arrival of more than 30 cruise lines for the past 10 years.  These facts speak for themselves and reassure travellers that Colombia is now a top destination.

Between 2010 and 2018 hoteliers from 5-star establishments to eco-lodges opened nearly 228 hotels offering 23400 new rooms. This is a massive investment in infrastructure alone. And it is paying dividends. The Travel Corporation recently announced a return to Colombia for three of their major travel brands: Trafalgar, Contiki and Luxury Gold.

When speaking directly to Mr Guerrero on what South African travellers can expect when visiting Colombia he was effusive regarding the friendly, welcoming people that the country is known for. “Colombians are joyful, fun, and eager to show everyone their nature. People that visit Colombia always highlight this trait as a differentiator in their experience,” say Mr Guerrero. “South African travellers can also expect nature to be present in every stage of the itinerary because it is integrated in the urban areas of destinations and this creates a sense of wellness. Colombia is a very diverse country with different landscapes, flavours, weather and rhythms.

Besides the fantastic Colombians travellers can also expect to be entranced by the food, the culture and the landscapes which vary so much, from the Andes Mountains, to the Caribbean and into the Coffee Region.

Under tourism is as much a factor in the world as over tourism and this is one of the reasons The Travel Corporation has introduced Colombia for South African travellers says Teresa Richardson, MD.  “We are placing an increasing importance on 365 travel throughout the entire year to ease the pressure of tourism outside of the summer season and showcase the magic of travel throughout the seasons.”

Trafalgar offers a Colombia Rediscovered trip which takes in this incredible country over 13 days beginning in Bogata. Visits to the Coffee Triangle, Tayrona National Park and Cartegena are included but it is the two day stop in Medellin that undoubtedly will leave a big impression.

On day seven of Trafalgar’s trip guests get to experiences Medellin's famous aerial lift system and escalators up to Comuna 13. They will witness how this reinvented neighbourhood has been transformed. It survived a heartbreaking time of violence and strife when it was ground zero for war between Pablo Escobar's drug cartel and government forces. You'll meet a local resident whose story will move you as he recounts the atrocities he experienced when Comuna 13 was dubbed as the world's murder capital

As heartbreaking as the stories are, they are also very inspirational. The local guides and the community had to live thru very difficult times back in the 90’s, and now their main source of income comes from tourism. Learning directly from them, walking the streets, seeing the art, the businesses, it all gives you hope and shows you that change is possible. This tour is about celebrating life, encouraging positive change at the level of communities and neighbourhoods.

Art, Culture and Cuisine of Colombia is a ten-day exploration of unspoiled natural beauty, history and culture which will see guests meeting the niece of literary great Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Cartagena. Hosted by Luxury Gold travellers will gain VIP access to famous sites and dine on sophisticated cuisine. They will also be privy to a private before-hours tour of the Museum de Antiogquia and on the single Chairman’s Collection departure, curated by Stanley Tollman, guests join celebrated Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vasquez for an exclusive experience.

Youth travellers aged between 18 and 35 can hop onboard a Contiki and explore this stunning country on the 9-day Colombian Coasts & Culture, which goes through Columbia and includes hikes through national parks, a cooking class and a tour through Medelin.

For more information or to book at trip to the newest trending destination contact The Travel Corporation suite of brands on (011) 280 8400.