Things That Matter

20 Facts To Know About Colombia Before You Make That Big Trip

Colombia is a country full of surprises, its food, music, festivals and diversity are what make it one of the most authentic and fun places to visit! Here are some facts about it, that you will love.

1. Colombia is a pretty big deal when it comes to size.

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This ain’t no one week tour kind of country. Colombia’s surface size is equivalent to the sum of France, Spain, and Portugal combined. Patience for those who plan travel off the beaten path is essential. Pro tip; internal flights are cheap, particularly for those who book in advance.

2. Colombia is a land of many neighbors.

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Colombia’s land borders with five different countries including Venezuela, Brazil, Panamá, Perú and Ecuador. It’s close connection to these countries make it a great hub for international travel.

3. It has the 2nd highest coastal mountain range in the world

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Mountain lovers will be excited to learn that Colombia is home to the Sierra Nevada. Still, be prepared to appreciate from afar especially when it comes to Cristobal Colon. For the indigenous of the region, the mountain is considered sacred and access is not open to the public.

4. It has the tallest palm trees in the world

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One of the coolest fun facts about Colombia is that it is home to the world’s biggest palm trees. Some can measure up to 60 m!

5. El Dorado has a lake full of gold

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Fans of Disney and tall tales probably already know all about the legend of El Eldorado. The secret city where gold supposedly paves the streets and lights up water. Treasure hunters have spent centuries in search of the gold-laced city lost in the jungle.

6. The world’s most beloved hips were born here.

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The famous singer and “The Voice” judge Shakira was born in Colombia. You can even hear a shout out to the country in a lot of her songs.

7. It was a pirate gold mine

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A Spanish shipwreck worth billions of dollars was found odd of the coast of Colombia by the government.

8. Colombia is just a nickname!

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The official name of Colombia is the Republic of Colombia. The country declared its independence from Spain in 1810 but wasn’t recognized until 1819.

9. It has the 28th largest population in the world.

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The country has an estimated population of over 49 million, it’s total area of 44-,831 square miles makes it the 25th largest country by area.

10. The official language is Spanish, but English is official in certain areas

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There are other ethnic languages and dialects spoken throughout the country. San Andres Island has English as an official language, as well as Spanish.

11. The flag has meaning.

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The national flag of Colombia was adopted on November 26, 1861. The flag is known to have triband with horizontal bands of yellow, blue and red. Yellow represents the riches of the country. Blue represents the seas of its shores and red represents blood spilled for its independence.

12. It has the largest Gold Collection in the World.

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The Gold Museum is located in Bogotá and has the largest gold collection in the world. The museum displays a selection of Pre Hispanic gold work with approximately 34.000 pieces. It’s a must when visiting the city.

13. It has a whole lot of jungle.

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One-third of Colombia is made up of the Amazon rainforest.

14. It has one of the highest cities in the world.

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At 8,530 ft Bogota is the highest city of its size on the world map.

15. Bogota is also one of the world’s smartest.

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The cities great tech advances have also made it known as one of the smartest cities in the world.

16. It has the Salsa Capital of the World.

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If you are a Salsa lover you need to visit Cali, the Salsa Capital of the World! You won’t stop dancing on your visit.

17. Kids get hyped up on cafe con leche.

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As is true for most Latin American countries it is pretty normal to see children of Colombia sipping on coffee after dinner.

18. Bikers beware.

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Colombia has one of the largest bike routes in South America. It stretches over 300 kilometers.

19. It has a high life expectancy.

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The overall life expectancy of the average Colombian male at birth is 71.2 years and 78.4 years for females.

20. Is One of the Happiest Countries in the World.

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According to different studies Colombia is on of the happiest countries in the world. Main reasons for this are its music, festivals, people and of course food!


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Here’s Why Puerto Vallarta Is the Gay Beach Capital of Mexico

Culture

Here’s Why Puerto Vallarta Is the Gay Beach Capital of Mexico

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Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

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In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

Credit: David Stanley / Flickr

Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

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For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

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Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.

These Are Mexico’s Top Cenotes And These Photos Of The Swimming Holes Are So Stunning You’ll Want To Visit Them ASAP

Culture

These Are Mexico’s Top Cenotes And These Photos Of The Swimming Holes Are So Stunning You’ll Want To Visit Them ASAP

Logan Lambert / Unsplash

Mexico is home to incredible natural landscapes and beautiful places to swim. But few are as other worldly nor as beautiful as the country’s thousands of cenotes – or underground swimming holes.

Cenotes are naturally occurring sinkholes that expose groundwater and trap rain as a result of collapsed limestone. They are beautiful caves that will light your spirit adventure and will transport you to an underwater world. 

The word cenote derives from the Mayan word Dzonot, which means “well.” Many of the cenotes found in Mexico are located in the Yucatán Peninsula due to the flat limestone that makes up the area. 

For Mayans, cenotes were considered to be entrances to the underworld. Cenotes are a source of great energy and some were used in rituals. 

Here are the best cenotes to visit next time you find yourself in Mexico.

Dos Ojos

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Located in Tulum, Mexico, the Dos Ojos cenote  is one of the most popular cenotes in the area. The term Dos Ojos mean ‘two eyes’ and was named that due to the passage way  that connects two sinkholes. The deepness of the cenote is perfect for those who want try snorkeling. 

The cenote is open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily. The entrance fee is 200 pesos and snorkeling gear can be rented near by. 

Ik Kil

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The Ik Kil cenote is located in Yucatan, Mexico and is one of the most popular tourist attractions. The cenote is located almost 1.5 miles away from the famous Chichén Itzá. This cenote is perfect for divers. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and there is an entrance fee of 80 pesos.

Choo-Ha

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Choo-Ha is located near the Coba ruins in the Yucatán Peninsula. This cenote is covered with naturally forming stalagmites. To enter, you will have to go through a staircase leading to a small hole above ground. The cenote also provides access to both Tamcach-Ha and Multún-Ha. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 100 pesos for each cenote.

Suytun

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The beautiful Suytun Cenote is located in Valladolid, Mexico. The word Suytun means ‘center stone,’ which references the platform that is located at the center of this cenote. This cenote is one of the most popular cenote’s and it’s with good reason. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and there is an entrance fee of 120 pesos.

Dream Gate

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The Dream Gate cenote is just that, a dream. The cenote is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico and is incredibly popular among scuba divers. It has been featured in a number of documentaries. It’s a cenote that is recommended for experienced divers. 

The cenote is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of $15 (USD)

Gran Cenote

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Gran Cenote is located in Quintana Roo, Mexico. There are plenty of fish, turtles, and bats that are unafraid of visitors. Since this a pretty popular cenote, plan ahead and arrive early to beat the crowds. 

The cenote is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 180 pesos.

Calavera

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The Calavera cenote, located in Tulum, Mexico, gets its name because the opening to the cenote makes it appear like a skull. You can cliff jump from the opening of this cenote into the cool clear water below. 

The cenote is open 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 100 pesos.

Tajma Ha

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Located in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, this cenote is recommended for divers who are a little bit more experienced than average. Your dive into Tajma Ha will take you to a cave named Sugar Bowl. The dive will take about an hour each way, but the views will be worth it. 

The cenote is open 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM daily and there is an entrance fee of 232 pesos.

Cenote’s are wonderful because they occur naturally, are beautiful, and they have a lot of meaning behind them. If you plan on visiting one of these cenotes, plan accordingly and go when the weather is good such as from December to April.

If you visit one of these cenotes, please do not wear sunscreen or other lotions as they can damage the marine ecosystems located there. If you do use these products, make sure the cenote you are visiting has showers so you don’t contaminate the water. 

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