Last updated on December 31st, 2018 at 12:03 pm
While visiting every country in South America, I would often ask other travelers about their impressions. One thing definitely stood out. Most travelers I met either considered Brazil or Colombia their favorite. They would adopt a dreamy gaze, waxing poetic about the coffee, the vibrant people, and superb wildlife. As I made my way through these places, I began to see what they meant. Brazil and Colombia really do stand out, and the best part is that Brazil and Colombia tours can be combined into one trip!
Before we look at how unique Colombia is, let’s take a quick peek at her neighbor and equal: Brazil.
Tours to Brazil
Manaus, the hub of the Brazil Amazon Rainforest
The crown jewel of the Amazon—the jungle city of Manaus—has a singular history involving rubber, indigenous tribes and a period of overflowing opulence. Watch a free show at the famous opera house, the high water mark of the Belle Époque riches. Nearby, floating in a canoe to catch the sunrise over the largest river in the world, and even take a boat out to the meeting of the waters where the milky Río Solimões mixes slowly with the dark, coffee-colored Río Negro to birth the Amazon River proper.
My favorite memory? Sipping from a calabash full of tacacá, the hot & sour soup of the jungle!
The Expansive Jungle
You’ve dreamed of it and seen the maps. Now it’s time to get in the thick of it. From Manaus, you can head to an incredible jungle lodge to fish for piranhas and search at night for caiman lurking near the banks. To get a feel for the canopy life, stroll along an elevated walkway suspended in the trees.
Deeper in the rainforest, and further up the river, lies a series of floating bungalows near a community of ribierinhos. Here, you can head out each day to meet the local people and experience a slower pace of life. If you’re curious about who else is in the area, you can head over to the Mamirauá Reserve to see what the naturalists and wildlife researchers are up to.
Combining a Brazil and Colombia Tour:
After exploring the rainforest, you can return to Manaus and catch a flight directly to the capital of Colombia. Or catch a direct flight from Bogota to Manaus, and add the Amazon Rainforest excursion after a tour of Colombia.
Tours to Colombia
After leaving the lowland Amazon basin, your plane will land at an elevation above 8,500 feet. Just drink lots of water and you’ll be fine. Because Colombians are known for being some of the friendliest people in all of South America, you can expect to feel welcomed. Not only that, but a short ride away is the world famous rolling hills of coffee.
Better Than Starbucks
There are a number of picturesque farming villages each with their own personalities, and many of them can be visited in a few days. Have you ever sipped coffee roasted on a stove, ground by hand and grown on a farm devoted to nothing but bushes of beans? I’ll never forget that mug of dark roast Arabica I slurped in Salento. The journey those beans took was amazing!
You can begin by visiting Circasia, Salento, and Filandia to learn about the culture of these coffee towns. Make sure to check out the wax palms straight out of a Dr. Seuss book, and be prepared to witness at least a dozen shades of green. Speaking of green, you might not associate bamboo with Colombia, but during your stay, you will have an opportunity to visit the Guadua Bamboo Experimental Centre. There, the strongest bamboo in the world is studied and used in a variety of furniture and construction. Often, bamboo is grown on coffee plantations and used as building material for farm infrastructure.
The quality of Colombia’s coffee is unrivaled. Wake up on a farm, step out into a warm country and start the day learning about a plant that has made its way into the morning routines of so many people. Visit tiny Buenavista with its grandiose views, stop by neighboring Pijao, Barcelona and Genova. Have a conversation with a local from every place and learn about their lives. Pretty soon you’ll see why no traveler leaves Colombia shy.
Plan a Brazil and Colombia Tour Today!
Although Brazil and Colombia share a border and both stake a claim to the Amazon rainforest, these two countries have distinct cultures and climates that will give you a taste of South America’s incredible diversity. You can combine Brazil and Colombia tours into a 1- or 2-week vacation, and still see so much variety.