Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? If you’ve explored Central and South America in the past 20 years, chances are you may have skipped over conflicted Colombia. What has long been a ‘not-the-safest’ destination to visit is finally showing some stability as it continues to open up to the tourism it deserves.
While its borders were never actually closed to tourists, Colombia’s unsafe reputation stemmed from common pick-pockets and petty theft to the ruthless violence of drug cartels and kept people away. In the late 90’s, Canadian tour operators successfully operated vacation packages to Colombia’s Caribbean island of San Andres as well as select resorts on the beaches of Cartagena but tensions in the 2000’s between Colombia’s political parties eventually escalated to fighting and caused safety concerns halting tourism operations for over a decade, until now.
Colombia is back. After cracking the soft adventure market in Central America with destinations like neighbouring Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras, Canadian tour operator Sunwing Vacations is taking aim at Colombia’s Cartagena and is more than excited to do so.
The country is huge, culturally and geographically diverse and offers visitors everything from sprawling, cosmopolitan cities in the highlands of The Andes to the Amazon rainforest as well as both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. It is also biologically rich and belongs to a group of 17 of the world’s ‘megadiverse’ countries which have been designated as such for harbouring the majority of our planet’s animal species.
With its well preserved fortresses, cathedrals, colonial mansions, gardens and a historic city centre, colourful Cartagena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers visitors the perfect blend of a relaxing beach vacation and an educational cultural experience.
As of January 7th, 2015, Sunwing Vacations will operate the only direct flights between Toronto and the old city of Cartagena and will package their air with all-inclusive, 7 and 14 day stays at either the Las Americas Resort and Spa or the Occidental Grand Cartagena. Both beach resorts will offer complimentary shuttle service to the city centre for day excursions. Those looking to take in more of the country’s natural beauty can opt for Sunwing’s excursions to the protected national park in the Rosario archipelago and sample some of the country’s marine life, with great swimming and snorkeling opportunities. Those looking to keep their excursions on land can climb up the El Totumo volcano for a mud bath reward at the summit or hike the Tayrona National Park’s rainforest for howler monkeys and quetzal sightings.
Similar to travel in Mexico, any remaining conflict within Colombia is isolated and generally not steered towards tourists. The country’s dynamic disposition makes it an interesting destination with plenty to offer many different palates, and while less explored than much of the rest of the continent, Sunwing Vacations believes it can be as fruitful as its other Latin endeavors.
Sunwing Vacations offers the only direct, non-stop service between Toronto and Cartagena with all-inclusvie hotel options for this winter season. To get on board, contact a Flight Centre travel expert at 1877 967 5302 or visit your nearest Flight Centre location today.