7 spots you have to see while TEFL teaching in Colombia
There’s no question about it: TEFL teaching in Colombia promises to be a real adventure. A wild and jungle-dressed country that ranges from the snow-mantled peaks of the high Andes to the roaring rollers of the Pacific Ocean, the sun-kissed sands of the Caribbean to the misty woods of Amazonia, there’s oodles of awesome places to see and do. Here are the top seven that we at myTEFL think should be on the menu…
Cartagena is the coral stone town that time forgot – or at least, time would have forgotten it, had it not been for the Colombian boom years. And while those shimmering skyscrapers line up along the corniche and the salt-washed beaches of fashionista Bocagrande and Castillogrande, the historic heart of this city is where the attention really goes. There, you’ll find age-stained Spanish fortresses and historic colonial bulwarks ringing the mountains. Tight-knit arcades of gorgeous baroque facades still fringe the streets and beautiful blooms of bougainvillea cascade from the balconies in season. There’s really nothing quite like it!
Eje Cafetero is the Colombian Coffee Growing Axis – yep, we know, the Latin name is way better, right? But no matter what you call it, this vast region nestled between the highlands of the Cordillera Central and the West Andes remains one to take the breath away. You’ll be enchanted by rustic pueblo villages of low-rise homes. You’ll meet creaking horse-and-cart drivers with moustaches so bushy they remind you of Amazonia. You’ll be awed by sweeping green valleys of coffee plantation. Oh, and – of course – you’ll get to taste the famous brews in the cantinas!
The city of Medellin was once a no-go for any traveler, let alone fresh-faced folk looking to do TEFL teaching in Colombia. Yep, this city of cascading breezeblock barrios and coffee-scented mountains was the home of Colombia’s infamous Pablo Escobar (Narcos, anyone?). But oh how times have changed! Today, it has been transformed into a thriving student town. It’s got awesome museums like the Antioquia exhibitions, showcasing the bulbous works of Fernando Botero and oodles of modern art. It’s got verdant botanical gardens laden with public sculptures. Oh, and it’s got a hedonistic nightlife: a blowout of aguardiente and calypso and South American electronica!
Encompassed entirely by a national park, the Caribbean beaches and swaying coconut groves of Tayrona are surely amongst the most handsome spots in Colombia. They spill down the sides of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the northern reaches of the country, softly sloping into the pearly-blue waters in a patchwork of golden sands and sea vines. Arched beaches like Cabo San Juan offer great swimming and snorkelling, while remote Playa Brava is more secluded and windswept. There are also hiking trails through the primeval forests, where it’s possible to spot manakin birds and endangered Old World monkeys.
It’s likely that many a graduate looking to do their TEFL teaching in Colombia will pass through this soaring capital in the Andes. Take some time to linger and you won’t be disappointed! Shrouded by the peaks of several chiseled mountains (one – Cerro Monserrate – is even reachable by one of the world’s highest cable car), the town is famed for its UNESCO-attested center: La Candelaria. This chocolate box of colonial treats displays narrow cobbled lanes and old Colombian cottages. It’s got colorful cantinas and art galleries, not to mention totemic museums, like the Gold Museum – awash with more Incan trinkets than you can shake a black bean Latin stew at!
Villa de Leyva
Villa de Leyva gets a lot of press. It’s known across the world as one of the best-preserved colonial cities in the New World. Hardly changed at all since the days when the conquistadores roamed these dusty plateaus of South America, it’s got the feel of a rustic Spanish pueblo town. Terracotta roofs slant to open plazas; whitewashed churches stand over the cobbles. Regional folk festivals take place here throughout the year too, while the arid landscapes that surround the place are known to be dotted with colossal dinosaur bones.
Wax up the walking boots and prep the waterproofs for that trip to San Gil, because this one is Colombia’s undisputed outdoors adventure capital. Offering the perfect break from the classroom to anyone doing their TEFL teaching in Colombia in the city, it’s surrounded by the rising peaks of the Santander Region. These are crisscrossed by the courses of the Rio Fonce and Rio Suarez, and cut through by roaring waterfalls like Juan Curi. That means whitewater rafting opportunities, along with oodles of hiking trails, canyon walking, caving, mountain biking – the list goes on!
Can you think of any other special spots that anyone doing their TEFL teaching in Colombia should be sure to have on the bucket list? We’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or, do you think it’s time you got qualified and explored this veritable jewel of South America? Check out myTEFL’s courses page!