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What to Photograph in Colombia

Updated on January 4, 2015
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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

"Officially the Republic of Colombia (Spanish: República de Colombia), is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. It is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the northwest by Panama; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; and to the west by the Pacific Ocean. Colombia is the 26th largest country by area and the fourth largest in South America. With over 46 million people, the country is the 27th largest in the world by population and has the second largest population of any Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico. Colombia is a middle power, and is the fourth largest economy in Latin America, and the third largest in South America. The production of coffee, flowers, emeralds, textiles, industrial chemicals, plastics, ferro-alloys, coal, oil and financial services are the most representative sectors of Colombia's economy. Colombia is an emerging market and it is also part of the group of emerging countries CIVETS. The world's third biggest bank HSBC has created a perspective on the economic outlook in 2050 where Colombia is seen playing a decisive role in the global economy, especially in the Americas."Wikipedia

Colombia, not Columbia by the way, is a South American country known for its rich culture, its people, its food like the bandeja paisa, its emeralds and especially for its coffee which is counted among the world's best.

If traveling to Colombia one should always carry a camera since you will have plenty of opportunities to capture really worthwhile pictures. There are many architectural works, nice parks, plenty of wild life, nice beaches, volcanoes and of course plenty of beautiful people.

They are generally open to having their pictures taken and their overall friendly demeanor makes photographing there that much better.

Due to the current money exchange rates a lot less dollars buys a lot more in Colombia and most things including really nice meals are incredibly inexpensive when compared to their American counterparts.

There are several national festivities in which many Colombians wear traditional dress and if you see one of these festivities take the chance and photograph these beautiful dresses especially those worn by the ladies. They are brightly colored and quite elegant too.

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CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source
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CC BY 2.0 | Source

Like many other countries in the Southern Hemisphere, Colombians often paint their dwellings in very vivid colors such as yellows, reds, and blues. It is not unusual to see a house painted in the colors of their national flag; yellow,blue and red.

Colombia features many ancient Spanish era forts and old architecture and most can easily be visited as well as easily photographed. There are quite a number of old world style churches and these are nothing short of spectacular.

One church worth mentioning is the one that sits a top of the mountain known as Monserrate; El Senor Caido was a shrine built by the Spanish conquerors of the region. The trip to the summit is nothing short of spectacular and definitely worth taking as the city views are nothing to miss.

You can either walk a steep path, if you are really healthy, or take the monorail/cable car which I strongly recommend.

"Monserrate (after Catalan homonym mountain Montserrat) is a mountain that dominates the city center of Bogotá, the capital city ofColombia. It rises to 3,152 metres (10,341 ft) above the sea level, where there is a church (built in the 17th century) with a shrine, devoted to "El Señor Caído" (Fallen Lord).

The hill is a pilgrim destination, as well as a tourist attraction. In addition to the church, the summit contains restaurants, cafeteria, souvenir shops and many smaller tourist facilities. Monserrate can be accessed by aerial tramway, a funicular or by climbing, the preferred way of pilgrims.

All downtown Bogotá, south Bogotá and some sections of the north of the city are visible facing west, making it a popular destination for watching the sun set over the city."Wikipedia

Other things not to miss are many of the local markets which are full of artesania ( typical hand made art work), plenty of local cafes, and many street vendors.

Off course I would be remiss if I did not mention that Colombia has some of the most beautiful people in the region with especial mention of its ladies.

It would not be uncommon to see both modern day methods of transportation alongside old world like horse pulled wagon as well as people casually riding their horse through town ans this is a tradition.

Also a tradition is for folk to wear their regional clothes such as the Paisas (short for paisano) A Paisa is someone from a region in the northwest of Colombia.

They dress colorfully, wear large straw hats ,usually carry a machete by their side, along with a sachet and are not shy about using all kinds of local curse words in regular everyday conversations.

They are among the most colorful personalities in the country and talking to one of them is sure to leave you with a long lasting impression.


Have you been to Colombia?

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Monserrate | Source
View of the city from the summit of Monserrate CC BY 2.0
View of the city from the summit of Monserrate CC BY 2.0 | Source
Typical fog descending on the church grounds CC BY-SA 3.0
Typical fog descending on the church grounds CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source
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CC BY 2.0 | Source

You should visit the typical tourist places but like on any travel destinations if you want to truly know a country and its people, you should venture out on your own and record images of daily life.

You will be surprised to see many local wearing clothing made for a festival and sitting next to their locally grown produce which is really fresh and quite tasty, peddling their wares and generally milling about.

These images do more for a photographic project than the tourist made ones and your viewers get a sense of what the people and the culture is about.

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CC BY 2.0 | Source
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

One of the things that you must photograph are the typical buses. They do not look like buses but rather like large trucks or school buses painted as if they wee going to enter a parade, extremely vivid in their colors, sometimes hot but the climate is mostly cool so take your pick, they are usually crowded, cheap and extremely entertaining to ride on one.

They are known as chivas (Spanish for goat), and once you see one you will never get the image out of your mind.They can be found in smaller towns but you can still see one in the major metropolitan areas as well.

If you do not walk too much you can hail a taxi which are usually small compact size cars and not that expensive to go for short distances.

A word of advice, look at the floor or at anything other than what the driver is doing much less the traffic ahead since for reasons unbeknownst to me their driving seems like a mad ant race with no purpose at all.

Bandeja Paisa (Its actually bigger than what it looks here) Avocado,sweet plantains,ground beef, red beans (not shown),rice, pan de bono (bread), chorizo, pork rinds,tortilla (not shown)
Bandeja Paisa (Its actually bigger than what it looks here) Avocado,sweet plantains,ground beef, red beans (not shown),rice, pan de bono (bread), chorizo, pork rinds,tortilla (not shown) | Source
46.93 million (2011)
Colombian Peso
Presidential system, Constitutional republic, Unitary state
440,831 sq mi
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CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source
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(CC BY 2.0 | Source
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CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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      Cartagena Concierge 3 years ago

      Hola Luis

      Great description, amazing words. I would like to share experiences of Cartagena with you.