Traveling in Colombia

December 14, 2011
Traveling in Colombia

One of the best parts about Bogota is the ease with which you can leave it. Don’t get me wrong, Bogota certainly has its fair share of charm and beauty. But it also shares many other features of large metropolises—pollution, noise, insecurity, an endless expanse of concrete and pavement—that can slowly and determinedly relieve one of one’s will to live. Sometimes a girl just needs out, and this is a particularly rewarding proposition in Bogota.

Colombia is known for having one of the richest varieties of microclimates in the world, and Bogota is well-suited to take advantage of that fact. The city’s at an altitude of 2600 meters, which means that to find warmer grounds, all you have to do is get off the mountain. People from Bogota are accustomed to taking advantage of this fact and have developed a delightfully well-honed sense of where to go for what climate. Give any Bogotano worth their salt the requisites for what kind of climate you’d like to be in and how long you’re willing to be on a bus, and they’ll be able to give you a comprehensive set of options.

Within two hours of Bogota you can find weather that is consistently 24, 28, 30 or 32 degrees. You can choose between humid or dry heat, exactly how vibrant you need the sun to be, and whether you want to be in a town, city, or away from civilization altogether. You can also, for the record, find climates that are colder and rainier than Bogota, but this does not come highly recommended.

Another thing that’s excellent about the variety of climates available is that it’s not just travelers who get sick of sitting around freezing and inhaling fumes in Bogota—lots of Bogotanos also take any opportunity to get out of the city. In particular, people of a certain social class head to ‘fincas’ or farms, which are, in my experience, less like farms and more like gorgeously elaborate summer-homes in warmer climates. There may or may not be a few decorative egg-laying hens, but there’s also probably a pool. If you’re lucky enough to receive the invitation, go.

Though there were once areas near Bogota that weren’t safe to visit because of the armed conflict, now the worst thing you have to worry about are the roads.  It’s reasonably easy to find fincas that you can rent out for a weekend, and many of the surrounding villages now have small tourist industries—hostels, restaurants, hiking or horseback-riding. Know that long weekends are especially hectic times on buses and in hotels. Going on a regular weekend (or during the week if you’re not working or studying) is definitely a great strategy to keep your blood pressure low, your wait times down, and the beautiful towns and villages outside of Bogota all to yourself.

About Jenna Meguid

Jenna Meguid lived in Colombia.

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