Gabriel García Márquez’s home country, Colombia, probably does not immediately spring to mind as a place to visit. Frequent reports about murders, kidnappings, narcotics trafficking, drug cartels and endemic corruption are all too familiar. Yet, Colombia deserves its fair share of credit. Located at the northwest tip of South America, Colombia prides itself in its virtually untouched coastlines of more than 3200km on both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, with stunning views and pristine beaches. This is a nation gaining huge popularity on the tourist trail and is slowly shaking its historical reputation.

Colombia has a landmass of 1.14 million square kilometres and shares a border with Panama, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador. As of 2015, Colombia had a population of just shy of 50 million people, with the capital, Bogota, the most populous city. Bogota is the second highest capital city in South America located 2,640 meters above sea level.

Like its neighbours, Colombia’s population is a rich mix of native aboriginals, Europeans and Africans, with women enjoying the greatest degree of economic and professional autonomy in Latin America. Colombia’s drug and crime problems are said to have limited its appeal and full potential as a major tourist destination. Once the situation improves, however, this could be a major chance for Colombia to learn from mistakes made by the established tourist destinations in promoting sustainable and community-based tourism.

In 2013, Columbia welcomed nearly 2.3 million international visitors. Tourism has started booming in recent times, in 2010 there were only 1.4 million visitors. Be sure to experience both the vibrant city life and stunning nature. Columbia is shielded in the west by three Andes Mountain ranges, plains covered by jungle and savannahs constitute the bulk of the inland before it merges into the vast Amazonian Forest in the east, Colombia’s other natural asset. In the centre lies Bogotá, a vibrant urban mix of old and new, of easy-going flow and bustle.