Colombia has the second highest biological diversity in the world, according to conservation and environmental inspirers and educators, Mondabay (and other sites), coming in just after Brazil. However, if you actually look at the statistics, they aren’t too far behind Brazil, while China, in third place, is obviously lower. Think about how big Brazil is in comparison to Colombia. Colombia has it all crammed into a tiny space and they still beat Brazil with the highest amount of bird biodiversity!
Arriving in Medellin I was surprised by how green it was. A city in Medellin… one of the biggest cities in the country! Imagine the rest of the country. Considering a large portion of the country is amazon, there’s a lot of biodiversity.
So what did I do to enjoy Colombia’s biodiverse market?
The most obvious option is to go to the Amazon. However, I had already paid it a visit from Ecuador and there were many other ways I could take advantage of Colombia’s greenery:
I always have and think I always will re-enforce my belief that Colombia has the best fruit in the world. Well at least the most diverse range I have ever seen. (Pink Ladies in Australia are still better.) But here you have granadillas, guanabana, lulo, uchuva, zapote. All pretty foreign sounding right? I made sure I tried them all and often opted for a fruit drink or some delicious fruit concoction sold cheaply on the street.
COCORA VALLEY HIKE
Salento, one of the typical tourist stopovers in Colombia. Why? Because of its famous Cocora Valley Hike, housing the national tree of Colombia -Wax Palms Trees, Ceroxylon quindiuense. Their high-reaching tops are pretty impressive when they loom above you. But the best thing about this hike is that you can truly witness Colombia’s diversity in the five hour walk. Starting in open, rolling hills, walking besides a river you then enter rainforest territory, before reaching the top of the mountains and look down upon the wax palm trees. Along the way you can stop off at a Hummingbird sanctuary and watch the beautiful birds flitter around the provided food. These birds are just one of the 1826 different types Colombia has.
COFFEE FARM TOUR
Colombia is one of the top three coffee growing countries in the world. While many countries produce coffee, the top five generate most of the world’s supply. Colombia is the highest producer of the arabica coffee. Driving through the countryside this is no surprise, you can see the plants everywhere. I lived just north of the coffee-growing region of Colombia, so obviously I took a very touristy-focused tour on a coffee farm in Salento. We were taken through the process of planting the coffee seed, to drinking the coffee. So this means I had a very caffeinated five months right? No. Good quality, first class coffee is export and the Colombians make do with second class coffee. However, I did love buying a 20cents, sweet, tinto (expresso) whenever I paid a visit to the centre of Medellin.
If you’re not in one of Colombia’s big cities or on the coast, you’re in a petite pueblo. They’re everywhere and easy to get to. If I was to ever live in Colombia again, it would be in a pueblo, perhaps a little closer to the Caribbean coast. Why? Because it’s peaceful, beautiful and most importantly, green. I could ride a horse through the rolling hills, grow my own exotic fruit and breathe clean rich air.
PARQUE NACIONAL TAYRONA
Colombia has many national parks. However, I only ever visited one. Its most famous and my personal favourite place in all of Colombia. This beautiful, richly green park shelters alluring beaches and beautiful walking paths. One of my favourite things about the park was we could walk along its tracks and feed ourselves with the fallen mangos. There were plenty, and they were delicious! This came in handy after the arduous hike to the Chayroma Pueblo hidden between the mountains. However, you may have to watch out for the coconuts falling from the palms high above.