Why To Visit Bogota

As Colombia’s capital city, many people fly in and fly out of Bogota to more glamorous Colombian destinations but I recommend staying for a few days. We liked Bogota so much we returned for a second visit this summer and loved it even more. Now, with two multi-day visits almost exactly five years apart, here’s what we loved and why to visit Bogota.

Monserrate

Many people hike up this hill with great views of the city, but we chose to ride up on our first day due to the altitude. And even then, after years living at sea level, I got dizzy and light-headed up there. Monserrate is over 3,000 meters above sea level, with great views of Bogota. It is the site of a 17th century church, and is a big tourist attraction which can be reached by cable car, funicular, or hiking. We did the cable car up and funicular down, but I’m sure the hike is good once you’re acclimated to the altitude.

View from Monserrate
View from Monserrate
Church at Monserrate Bogota
The church at Monserrate

The views are stunning, the church is pretty, and Monserrate has a whole section of restaurants serving Colombian food and drink. If we’d known, we would have waited to eat lunch! Even with the dizziness and general discomfort from altitude adjustment, Monserrate was a pleasure to visit and the intermittent showers made for some moody photographs.

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Adventures in the San Blas Islands

Since we started living aboard Sava in 2018, we’ve wanted to visit the San Blas islands. Small islands in pristine Caribbean waters, barely inhabited except by friendly people living off the land, and protected reefs you are only allowed to snorkel and free dive, the San Blas Islands sounded like a dream, and in many ways it was. It took us much longer than we thought to get there, but we did, spent 2.5 weeks, and had lots of adventures in the San Blas islands!

About The San Blas Islands

Map of Panama and San Blas archipelago
Panama Map with the San Blas archipelago

The San Blas Islands is an archipelago of 365 islands in the northeastern Caribbean of Panama. Occupied and governed by the Kuna/Guna people, less than half of the islands are inhabited. You may also hear them called the Guna Yala islands for their residents. The San Blas are one of Panama’s top vacation destinations because of their natural beauty in the Caribbean sea.

So yes, you can visit and stay in the islands: in hostels, resorts, or on a boat. Close enough to major cities that you can also do a fun day trip to visit the San Blas Islands! We are lucky to bring our home with us and moved around the San Blas over our 2.5 week visit.

anchorage San Blas Islands
Boats at anchor in The San Blas

Beautiful Anchorages

One of the best things about sailing in the San Blas islands is the assortment of beautiful anchorages. Everywhere we stopped had clear water, gorgeous skies, marine life, and tropical islands to admire from afar or walk along. Anchoring in this paradise wasn’t free: twice we were visited by tribe officials who charged us for use of the waters. Additionally, residents ask for small fees for visiting the beaches or building bonfires. No complaints, as it wasn’t that expensive and is worth it for visiting such lovely places far from the crowds.

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Cartagena Highlights

Cartagena is one of the biggest cities we’ve sailed into, and even with Covid lockdowns, we found it lively and entertaining. Even though this isn’t our first visit to Cartagena, we still had a lot to see and discover. I went on some tours my first time here, but I’ve done a lot in the 5 years in between visits, so the city seems new to me. It’s been a blast exploring Cartagena again. Read on for my Cartagena highlights.

Orientation to Cartagena

When you arrive in Cartagena, the views are stunning. The ocean is next to skyscrapers and old stone walls. There’s an ancient clock-tower and a modern gold building. On the water are old wooden sailing ships and luxurious catamarans. On the streets are women in colorful traditional costumes, including fruit hats, alongside hundreds of people driving mopeds.

Old and new in Cartagena Colombia
Old and new in Cartagena Colombia
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Top Things to Do in Santa Marta Colombia

Stuck in Santa Marta, Colombia? Maybe you’ve already visited Tayrona National Park and have a few days to kick back in the city. This city is the capital of the Magdalena region and bases its economy on tourism, followed by commerce, the port and fishing. Nestled in a valley beneath Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, Santa Marta has a lot of attractions. After six weeks there on our sailboat at the marina, I have top things to do in Santa Marta Colombia.

VISIT THE museo del oro/gold museum

The gold museum is in a two-story building in the historic centre of Santa Marta. While not as big as its namesake in Bogota, the Santa Marta museum’s artifacts and displays within are interesting. In addition to showcasing gold unearthed from ancient cultures in the surrounding mountains, the museum provides a nice historical overview of the region and the city in particular. Good news, all of the displays are in English as well as Spanish.

exterior of Gold Museum in Santa Marta
Exterior of Museo de Oro de Santa Marta
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5 Curaçao Rainy Day Activities

It’s rainy season in Curaçao which means day after day of downpours. Want to know what to do on this Caribbean island when the weather is bad? Here are 5 Curaçao rainy day activities, so you can still have fun without the sun.

Curaçao rain
Rainy day view from our boat in Curaçao

Curaçao Museum

Housed in a pretty former hospital building, The Curaçao Museum‘s collection honors the island’s history.

Curaçao Museum
Curaçao Museum

Art, crafts and furniture fill up the main building, but the highlight of the museum is the old airplane in the hangar in the back. So either bring your umbrella for the run through the raindrops, or find a break in the rain because you want to see the tiny aircraft in the shed. The Snip carried 4 crew and Christmas mail from Europe to the Caribbean in the 1930s, marking the first KLM trans-Atlantic mail flight, which took 8 days. They had to take off the wings to fit it in the barn, but it’s a cool exhibit and story.

The Curaçao Museum is located in Otrabanda Willemsted.

Snip plane 5 Curaçao rainy day activities
The Snip at the Curaçao Museum
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