Bleg: Colombia with small children

We leave in a week and so, naturally, we have just begun to plan.

Actually, that’s not entirely true. From July 25 until August 8 we have a home exchange in Bogota, and I have an office at the excellent Universidad de los Andes, and many work-related plans. But the two weeks from August 8 to 23 are completely unscripted (so far) except for the knowledge we will be trying to keep ourselves relaxed and a 2- and 4-year old stimulated. Suggestions welcome.

Based on past recommendations, we’ve been thinking about (a) Santa Marta and a nearby natural reserve, (b) coffee fincas or other spots in the coffee triangle, and (c) Medellin. Recommendations of specific hotels, resorts, sights or restaurants welcome. (Hotel/resort wise, our tastes run more towards isolated rustic cabanas with intermittent electricity over full-service family resorts. Though I won’t say no to babysitting.)

If we have missed the ideal destination, do say so. Our plans are very flexible (read: disorganized). With small kids we find it easiest to stay in one place for a few days or a week and make day trips, so those locales are most attractive.

10 thoughts on “Bleg: Colombia with small children

  1. Hi Chris, I’m a Yale grad (YC 2013) Living in bogota. Coffee farms are gorgeous and the coffee park (and museum) is great for kids. However the second weekend of August is the flower festival in Medellin (Another main Colombian export) which is supposed to be amazing (I’m only going for the first time this year). In any case, I’d love to invite you for coffee or meet up while you’re in bogota (maybe other alums could join us, through the Yale Club of Colombia). Would love to hear about what brings you to the country, and hope you have a great trip!

  2. Try going to Mesa de Yeguas. Weekend trip from Bogota. You might need someone to sign for you, surely someone at Los Andes will know. Lake, pool, mountains and good weather.

  3. Barichara and villa de leyva for short stays. Surprised to see Cartagena, the it getaway, is not on the list. It is a must!

  4. Cartagena (must), coffee triangle and coffee culture (to get to know the backbone of this country during almost all the XXth century) and Medellin (a telling example of the very rapid transformation of Colombia.)

  5. You cannot go wrong with the other recommendations but let me suggest Villa de Leyva for just walking around in a charming little colonial town, bicycling out to the dinosaur museum and eating the best ice cream in the world at Santa Lucia

  6. Hi Chris, I’m Colombian and I would say that the person who suggested the Tayrona (Natural park in Santa Marta) is totally right; it has amazing beaches and trails to hike. I would add i) Cartagena (specially the Rosario Island). This is the most touristic city of the country and it has a very romantic and colonial feeling, lots of beaches, very nice food and good clubs too. It can be more expensive than other cities but totally worth it. iii) Caño Cristales is an amazing place to visit. There, you get to see a seven colors river. iv) The Amazon capital – Leticia- is an amazing place too. There you can experience the jungle while having some comfortable places to sleep. v) On August, whales are in the pacific cost in Colombia, so you can visit vi) Buenaventura (an small village called Juanchaco) and do some whale watching. I’m sure you will be overwhelmed by suggestions by the amazing people at los Andes (my alma matter). For short trips while you are in Bogota: i) The salt cathedral in Zipaquira it is an amazing place. ii) Guatavita and iii) villa de Leyva. In terms of restaurants you will have a huge offer in Bogota, for typical Colombian food I will suggest i) Mini Mal, ii) Harry y Sason iii) El tambor at la Calera and iv) La plaza the Andres. I’m sure you will have an amazing time in my country.

  7. Hey there, Chris. If you are interested in the community-based ecotourism route, I highly recommend visiting Andes Eco-Tours right up the street from Universidad de los Andes on Cr 3 in La Candelaria. I worked with Andres (the owner) last summer, and he and his wife do great work with coffee-growing communities just outside of Bogota – their coffee tour is top-notch.

    Here’s a link to their tripadvisor profile:


  8. Hey Mr. Blattman. I agree Villa de Leyva is a good suggestion (2hours and 30 minutes from Bogotá). There is a famous kite festival going on, so it may be crowded. If you are going near the coffee farms, there are good parks for the kids near Montenegro, Quindío (Coffee National Park, and Panaca). The salt mines in Zipaquirá (45-60 minutes from Bogotá) could make a good day trip (not so funny for the kids, though). While in Bogotá, you may get very good food at Usaquen or La Candelaria. If looking for Colombian food try “Leo Cocina y Cava”. While in Santa Marta, if you are not so picky, try the seafood by Taganga. It may be difficult to find a spot short in advance, but there is a great place to stay in the Tayrona
    While in Bogotá, (6-8 blocks from Universidad de Los Andes) is the Gabriel García Márquez cultural center (and a very nice bookstore). On your way there you may stop at Cafe Pasaje (close to University of El Rosario). Would be great to meet you Mr. Blattman. Jose A. Ocampo is having meetings here this week. Is this related at all?