If you, like us, are devouring the new Netflix series Narcos, Colombia may not be super-high on your list of travel destinations. But the country now is far from what it was in those drug cartel-controlled years. And it is courting tourists to come check out its warmth and culture and natural beauty.
I got the idea to visit Colombia when we were in Tulum earlier in the summer with a big group of friends celebrating a wedding. On the day following the nuptials, several of us took a hungover walk from the beach to shop for souvenirs (for instance, the shirt Jordan wore to his travel-theme first-birthday party, and the one Maya wore in this fierce smizing pic — werk). On that slow saunter, a friend who had recently returned from a super-fun vacation in Colombia during which she danced the nights away with her husband (romantico!) told us we had to go and we’d love it.
I am excitable and impressionable when it comes to holiday ideas. And I also love certain serendipities that make a visit to a place seem fated, like an enthusiastic convo about one place while in another fabulous place amid warm and wonderful people.
Plus, I won’t lie: Wherever there is a new Four Seasons hotel opening, that’s where I want to be. So the chips fell into place, the grandparents got on board to babysit, and we booked some flights. Woo!
For those who might be interested in a similar visit to Colombia, especially from Los Angeles like us, here’s a sketch of what we have planned so far:
Next Up: LAX to Colombia!
- Using our United Mileage Plus miles, we are flying from LAX to Cartagena on Copa (with one stop), and back from Bogota to LAX nonstop on Avianca, the Colombian airline. (Yes, that’s the airplane Pablo Escobar blew up in an assassination attempt, speaking of Narcos.) We’ve flown Copa in the past to Latin America, since it’s a United partner, and it’s rather ordinary if I recall. But we’ve never flown Avianca, which gets pretty favorable reviews on SkyTrax.
- As far as I can tell, few nonstop flights are avaialable between LAX and anywhere in Colombia, but I was pleased to grab the mid-day Bogota to LAX nonstop on Avianca — it seemed like a unicorn.
- We are flying business class using our United miles, which I mention because I am a novice at the whole miles game. We have always accrued them on our credit card, but we’d typically just book whatever the best-priced and most-convenient flight was on any airline. When we used American miles to book British Airways from Heathrow to LAX a couple years back, I realized the actual power of miles — and David and I have just gotten interested in playing the game of trying to maximize them. For reference, I’m loosely following The Points Guy’s beginner’s guide. (Will update here if our accrual progress becomes newsworthy!)
- When we arrive in Cartagena, we’ll be staying at the new Intercontinental Cartagena de Indias hotel there, just months old. Still working out the specifics of our visit, but I know for sure I am eager to explore the beautiful colonial old city, and also visit the offshore islands, Islas del Rosario.
- Next, we’ll hop on a quick flight, probably on LAN from Cartagena to Bogota, where we’ll check into the new Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina Bogota, which just started taking reservations but is not even open yet as I write this. The brand will bring its knockout service and luxe experience (which regular readers of this blog will know is my personal Kryptonite) to a historic landmark building there. I want to visit the Gold Museum, Mount Monserrate, and maybe the eerie-seeming Salt Cathedral. I’m also excited that we’ll be there on a Sunday, so we can experience the original Ciclavia!
Can’t wait to update here after we return! But for now, I’ll be savoring my Colombia travel 2015 Pinterest board in that fun pre-vacay anticipation period… one of life’s great joys!
Who’s been to Colombia and can offer any travel tips or recs?!