Colombia may only be 1/9th the size of the U.S., but man, does this country have a diverse terrain – from the mountainous Andes of Bogota to the ancient walled city of coastal Cartagena to the beautiful Caribbean coast lined with beaches and lush forests to the fake, plastic boobs of Medellin to the many national parks in the Andean highlands. This country allows you to pack-in 4+ different types of vacations in one, not to mention, it requires you to pack for 4+ different types of climates!
And to further exemplify my point, I have broken down my experience during 3 days in
Tayrona: Sunny, blue skies
Cocuy: (In a 24 hr period) Crisp air, blue skies, cloudy rain storms & pure, white snow (1st snow the area had seen in 20 years!)
Tayrona: A National Park with coastal & forest paths, taking you from beach to beach - some crowded with tourists & others, like the nudist beach, sparsely covered with bare butts (including my own)
Cocuy: A National Park with multiple mountainous paths, taking you by lakes, through high peaks and passes and along the most spectacular scenery.
Tayrona: Sea Level
Cocuy: 4000 – 5100 meters above sea level
Tayrona: Public local bus / private transport
Tayrona: I stayed in an amazing Cabana nestled on a hill (distanced from the 13 other cabanas) with a view of the beach, my own private hammock area & clear sounds of the waves crashing ashore each night
Cocuy: Night #1 – a tent with collapsing sides, a broken zipper & a threshold to withstand the cold of Los Angeles. Night #2 – After narrowly escaping hypothermia on snowy night #1, we ended up staying in a paper thin-walled cabin where we could see our breath in the air.CLOTHING
Tayrona: Bikini & Sarong
Cocuy: Sample evening wear: 3 pairs of socks (including wool), 3 pairs of running pants, 1 running tank top, 1 biking top, 1 hooded thermal, 1 long-sleeve running top, 1 fleece-lined ski jacket, 1 north face jacket, 1 pair of gloves, 1 ski mask, 1 neck warmer
Tayrona: Fresh Juice. Fresh Food.
Cocuy: Packaged camping food, hot Aguapanela & enough snacks to last us a week, including condensed milk in a tube – absolutely brilliantEXERCISE
Tayrona: Morning beach yoga & occasional dips in the water to cool off
Cocuy: 4-6 hr hikes in the altitude, challenging our heart, lungs & mind as every breath felt like it needed 2 to get our necessary oxygen & every step felt like it required the energy of 3ENTERTAINMENT
Tayrona: Read 2 books, journal writing, went to bed at 8:30, woke up at 5:30 for the sunrise
Cocuy: Card games & 10yr old summer camp games, i.e. never have I ever, I spy, 20 questions
Tayrona: Talked to no one for 72hrs (except 20 yr old Colombians, Brenda & Jorge, who invited me to their table for lunch & resulted in an English / Spanish conversation class!)
Cocuy: Non-stop chatter and laughter with azing women (Tanita, “Cherry”, Diana & Lacey.)
A quick skim through the different variables clearly shows the vastly different experiences i had in each place. To be honest, if you made me choose my favorite, I would not be able to pick one over the other. They were both equally amazing, entertaining and filled with beautiful landscapes. And they were both fabulous ways to start bringing my vacation to an end in Colombia.