2,000 Colombian pesos note. Photo © Fibonacci (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

A Practical Guide to Money in Colombia

When planning foreign travel, knowing the ins and outs of practical day-to-day money matters counts. Familiarizing yourself with the local currency and general exchange rates is key, as is knowing how to access your money, common methods of payment, and even banking laws and tipping customs. Here’s what you need to know to make your travels easy in Colombia.

The mariposario (enclosed butterfly garden) at the Jardín Botánico del Quindío. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Colombia’s Jardín Botánico del Quindío

Outside the town of Armenia, the well-run Jardín Botánico del Quindío is home to hundreds of tree and plant species, many of which are threatened. Knowledgeable volunteer guides lead visitors on a mandatory 2.5-hour tour along jungle paths pointing out plants, trees, and birds visitors would otherwise miss.

Iglesia La Ermita in Cali. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sights in Popayán’s Centro Histórico, Colombia

Popayán is a dignified city, proud of its place in history and its enduring colonial charm. Idyllic churches and museums are the main places of interest in Popayán, but lingering in the Parque Caldas on a sunny afternoon or strolling the lonely streets on a Sunday evening may be what you remember most.

The colorful pools of Caño Cristales. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking Caño Cristales, Colombia

Here in the remote Llanos, you’ll be rewarded as you trek through the stark lowland hills of the Serranía de la Macarena, with its unusual dry tropical vegetation, and behold the vibrant purple, fuchsia, goldenrod, and green Macarenia clavigera plants swaying in the gushing streams of Caño Cristales.

Stone carving at Tierradentro Archeological Park. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Explore the Tierradentro Necropolis in Colombia

Tierradentro is the site of a major indigenous necropolis that includes monumental funeral statues and hypogea (underground burial chambers), our only link to the extinct culture that thrived here for 400 years. Learn about what you’ll see on a visit and how to best tour the many archeological sites.

Lily pads at Victoria Regia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sight-Seeing Along the Río Amazonas

Several sights provide excellent photo ops along the Río Amazonas westward from Leticia to the Parque Amacayacu. These are usually visited as part of a package one-day tour offered by all hotels and travel agencies, but for greater flexibility and to avoid feeling part of the herd you can charter your own boat. To be specific about where you want to go and to negotiate a good price, here’s an overview and highlights of the area.

Kayaking in Providencia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Providencia’s Parque Nacional Natural Old Providence McBean Lagoon

Providencia’s Parque Nacional Natural Old Providence McBean Lagoon holds a plethora of outdoor activities, from swimming and snorkeling at Crab Cay to kayaking through mangroves at Oyster’s Creek Lagoon, to guided boat tours and hiking. Here’s an overview of the area, activities, amenities, and how to get there.

A beach in Providencia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Planning Your Time in Colombia’s San Andrés Archipelago

The San Andrés Archipelago is made up of seven atolls and three major (but fairly small) islands: San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina. Providencia and its tiny tag-along neighbor of Santa Catalina are places to experience how the Caribbean used to be before tourism developed, while more popular San Andrés is popular with Colombian vacationers.

View from Santa Catalina. Photo © Mitch Barrie, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Hiking Providencia and Santa Catalina, Colombia

Providencia’s The Peak is a much more strenuous hike than exploring Fort Warwick and Morgan’s Cave on Santa Catalina but holds the most stunning views, while Santa Catalina presents a wonderfully historical hike with plenty of decent views of its own. Both are easily undertaken by casual visitors.

cover Moon TOAL Galapagos Islands

Moon Galápagos Islands

This full-color guide includes vibrant photos and easy-to-use maps to help with trip planning. Sea lions and iguanas sunbathe side by side, penguins and turtles swim together offshore, and giant tortoises wander freely. The Galápagos is both a glimpse of life before human civilization and a reminder of its fragile beauty. This is the trip […]