Colombia, Musings, South America

My Colombia Bucket List

I feel as though I just arrived in Colombia yesterday, yet I’m suddenly finding myself with limited time remaining in this beautiful country and feeling pressured to make the most of it.

In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been doing all kinds of planning for the future around here, including purchasing a flight back to the States for March 25th–that’s just 9 weeks from now!–which has led me to do a whole lot more, well, planning, so I don’t squander those precious weeks and leave Colombia with regrets. Planning begets more planning…who knew?

One of the many reasons I love Colombia so much is that there are so many beautiful destinations to discover and so many cultural nuances to experience.

I’ll admit, though, this bucket list is pretty brief.  The main reason?  I just love Medellín too damn much, and I’d prefer to enjoy the rest of my time here without too much running around like a headless chicken.

Even still, the likelihood that I’ll accomplish every item on this list is low, but hey, it never hurts to dream.


I first visited Guatapé and El Peñol last year during my first visit to Medellín.  My friends and I took a quick day trip to this charming, colorful little town (pictured above) and its famous monolith (appropriately named La Piedra–the rock) but I’d like to go back for a closer look, this time for a couple of chilled-out days.  By bus, it’s only a few hours away from Medellín.  The town sits on the edge of El Peñol, a most beautiful man-made reservoir that is best appreciated from the top of La Piedra.  Many nearby hostels offer a variety of water sports, like tubing and jetskiing, which would be a welcome change from the daily grind of city life in Medellín.  Hanging out in a hammock overlooking the reservoir wouldn’t be so bad, either.

View of the reservoir from the top of La Piedra, Guatape, Colombia

View of the reservoir from the top of La Piedra


I only learned of Jardín a few days ago but it sounds like absolute bliss.  Located a few hours to the southwest of Medellín in the coffee growing region, Jardín is a pretty little mountain town where visitors go to reconnect with nature, explore coffee farms, or ride on horseback to local caves and waterfalls.  It actually sounds quite similar to Salento, another quaint mountain town known for its coffee that’s a popular stop for backpackers, but much closer to Medellín and probably with far fewer…backpackers.  If I can locate accommodation with reliable WiFi (when did my life come to this?) then I’d love to see what Jardín has to offer.

Santa Fe de Antioquia

A trip to Santa Fe de Antioquia, the original capital of Antioquia (now Medellín) could easily be done in a day.  Of all these destinations, it’s the closest to Medellín–about an hour away by bus.  It could be quite relaxing, however, to go for a couple of nights and explore the cobblestone streets, the colonial buildings, and the surrounding area as well (think hikes and waterfalls).  It’s near the banks of the Cauca River, the second largest in Colombia; the city was founded as a gold mining town in the 1500s and the many local museums would be fun to explore.

Santa Fe de Antioquia, Colombia

My brief encounter with Santa Fe de Antioquia after my tour with Colombian Bike Junkies

Paragliding over Medellín

Remember that time I jumped out of an airplane in Argentina?  Well, that fateful day marked the beginning of an adrenaline addiction that’s only gotten worse since.  I’ve been wanting to take the leap (pun intended) and give paragliding a go ever since my first visit to this city when I saw how ridiculously cheap it was.  And since I’m heading to Europe next, where I’ll hardly be able to afford my daily croissant, let alone adventure tours like paragliding, I feel I should take advantage of the opportunity while I can.  Just $45 for a 15-minute flight over this gorgeous valley?  That’s, like, the price of one croissant in Europe, am I right?

Paragliding in Colombia

This could be me! (Photo: Erin Malecki)

Barranquilla for Carnival

Ok, so this one is already planned.  Surprise!  Carnaval de Barranquilla (Barranquilla being the fourth largest city in Colombia, located on the Caribbean coast) is a four-day event in February consisting of music, parades, and a non-stop street party; it’s Colombia’s most important folklore celebration and one of the largest carnivals in the world, second only to that of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  This year the celebration is taking place February 14th through 17th–a little over three weeks from now–and when I realized it would be foolhardy to miss out on such an opportunity when who knows when I’ll be back in Colombia, I hastily made a hostel reservation before prices became even more extortionate.  This is definitely a case of just do it and worry about the money later…never have I paid $80 for a night in a hostel dorm (and never will I again), but sometimes you’re in Colombia during the second largest carnival in the world and you just gotta say F*$% IT.

I’ve got my work cut out for me…wish me luck!
Do you make bucket lists for each place you go?

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