Postcard from Colombia
I just found the most beautiful town in Colombia—and maybe in all of the Americas: Barichara. The photos you see here gives you a sense of it, but there are some things that cannot be captured...like the way the morning fog lifts over the adjacent Chicamocha Gorge, or the sounds of the exotic birds, roosters, and gentle church bells in the morning, or the scent of coffee and tropical flowers.
The fog clears to unveil the very bluest sky over the stunning Andes mountains. The chirping birds give way to the sound of old open-air four-by-fours playing Vallenato, Colombia’s traditional folk music. The jeeps arrive at the town’s central square and children hop out ready to start the day at school. Locals stand in their doorways with cafecito saying buen dia to passersby. Workers hang their mochillas (Colombia’s famous woven bags) on palm trees in the park and get to work sweeping and cleaning the town.
By night, it’s a place where no one locks their doors, you can still see the stars, and the moon lights up the cobblestoned streets.
This whitewashed colonial town in the Andes is filled with painters, sculptors, poets, writers, yoga instructors, therapists, and other creative souls. Behind every door are simple yet tasteful Spanish colonial courtyards filled with antique tiles, splashes of color, and Jurassic-sized plants. In fact, there’s a mix of succulents, cactus, bougainvillea, and tropical plants growing out of every nook and cranny, including cracks in the old streets.
The town is known for its gastronomy and friendly people, and is beloved by locals for being safe and serene, but it's seemingly unknown to foreigners. Though this is a Colombian Cultural Patrimony Site, I saw no other Americans during my visit. It’s one of the most quiet and peaceful places I have ever been to.
The surrounding mountains are home to other picturesque colonial towns and plenty of opportunities to hike and mountain bike. One highlight of my stay was a hike to the bottom of the Chicamoca Gorge. One of the deepest gorges in the world, it was something like a cross between the Grand Canyon and Hawaii's Na Pali coast, with canyons loud with howler monkeys. At the bottom, we enjoyed a meal of freshly caught fish and proceeded to raft down an astonishingly beautiful river.
I hiked from a famous sculpture garden in Barichara to the town of Guane on a stone path that reminded me of the Inca Trail in Peru or the Camino de Compostela in Spain—except that there was no one else on it. Along the way, I was invited into local homes for fresh tropical juices and to meet artists and see their wares. In enchanting Guane, I stumbled upon an incredible, private archaeological museum with the most phenomenal collection of artifacts I have ever seen in my life. How can this be a secret, I wondered.
The whole place feels like one big secret, like an undiscovered South American Shangri-La. What an exciting place and unbelievable adventure!
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Jennine Cohen, Managing Director of Americas at GeoEx, is a luxury travel expert, as seen in Afar, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler, Yahoo Travel, Fortune, Forbes, and other publications. She looks forward to telling you more about her finds in Colombia and planning your private journey there (perhaps working in elements of this sample itinerary). And if you're interested in combining explorations in Panama, she knows just how to do it.
To see where her next adventure will be, make sure to follow Jennine on Instagram! Learn more about all the inspiring destinations that GeoEx offers by visiting GeoEx.com, or contact Jennine at 888-570-7108.