Scott Wilson joins Team Outpost in spectacular Colombia, where we bike in Bogotá, glide over the Chicamocha and fish with locals on the Caribbean coast
Where World-class Modern Meets Cool Colonial Charm
“When conjuring up images of Colombia, many of us wouldn’t automatically think of big cities. But unlike most of its Latin American neighbours, Colombia’s population is actually largely urban, with only 25 percent of its 48 million citizens calling the countryside home.”
Colombia’s Cycling Culture: Once Elite, Now a Love Affair for Everyone
“Colombia’s social and political development has been shaped by its vast and varied geography. With mountains, jungles and thousands of kilometres of shoreline, natural barriers lead to more independent regional development, and have even shaped their athletes.”
Focus Beyond the Fear: Whitewater Rafting Colombia’s Chicamocha
“With the raft suspended above our heads, we marched toward the river at the bottom of the Chicamocha Canyon, and dropped it into the churning brown water. Floating down a chocolate river couldn’t be all bad, right?”
Historic Villa de Leyva, Colombia’s Festival Central in the Andes
“Villa de Leyva is Colombia’s festival-central; but when it’s not hosting one of its many annual events—for kites and independent film, among other things—it is a picture-perfect, relatively tranquil colonial town of 10,000 people.”
About the Project
The mythical El Dorado is legendary in exploration and adventure. Synonymous with thrillseeking and reward, the hunt for the rumoured city of gold has filled books and movies for centuries, not to mention the imagination of scoreless generations of adventurers.
Although El Dorado remains a jungle-bound enigma, centuries of explorers have landed on palm-fringed shorelines, hiked dense rainforest, climbed snowcapped mountains and active volcanos, and trekked across deep winding canyons, all in search of the fabled, ancient city.
All those intrepid explorations took place in what is present-day Colombia—which is why Team Outpost, led by Departures’ Scott Wilson, decided to follow in their footsteps—and hoof-marks, canoe-wakes and paragliding vortexes—to explore one of the world’s great destinations. Located at the crossroads of South and Central America, Colombia was the first country on the southern continent to be colonized by the Spanish in 1525 (though they set foot there in 1499), and is believed by anthropologists to be among the first there to be inhabited by humans.
With a spine of volcanoes and jagged Andean Mountains surrounded by verdant Amazon jungle, as well as lined by both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Colombia has captured the imagination of all whose travels have taken them there for millennia. After its infamous difficult decades of the last century, a settled and thriving Colombia is once again beckoning explorers in search of endless adventure, rich culture, unique cuisine, unrivalled music, warm people, unspoiled wildlands and spectacular wildlife—and perhaps, even El Dorado itself.
From the capital city of Bogotá—the gateway to Colombia for most visitors—to the far Amazonian south, from the high Andes to remote and tropical Caribbean beaches, Colombia genuinely has something for everyone.
Bogotá was founded shortly after the arrival of Christopher Columbus, from whom the country gained its name. Perched at more than 2,600 metres, it provides a wonderful introduction to a country rich with coffee, gold, history and the arts. Where better to grow accustomed to the altitude than in La Candelaria, a cobblestoned neighbourhood brimming with colonial buildings, world-famous museums and fantastic restaurants. You can venture to neighbouring Monserrate Mountain and ride a funicular for a spectacular view of the entire city, or simply acclimatize by hopping from café to café, drinking in great local music and the stunning Latin vibe.
From Bogotá, you are bound for rewards in Colombia as great as those of El Dorado: unspoiled rainforest; renowned and hidden archaeological ruins; friendly fishing villages; both vibrant and undiscovered beaches; classic historic colonial towns; the breathtaking vistas from mountain-sides and canyons and valleys; and the scents of exotic flowers, sea breezes and the world’s best coffee.
Along the way, you can hike and trek, climb and soar, raft and canoe—or simply chill, all while mixing with cowboys and salsa dancers, indigenous guides and archaeologists, fashion designers and artists, and perhaps even a few modern-day adventurers still seeking their own fortune in the lost city of gold.