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Up until about 250 years ago, it was not likely that you would travel more than 20 miles from your home throughout your entire life. Advancements in technology have bridged this gap, however, and we now enjoy the freedom to travel to any country we please with the swipe of a credit card. A choice comes with this freedom though. What country should you travel to?

The beauty and secrets of the earth are vast, but there is one diamond in the rough that you may not have even considered. It is a jewel of a place that is often seen, but rarely examined. That place is Colombia.

Colombia lies in the northwestern part of South America and is known for its tightly woven jungles and bustling urban communities. The capital, Bogota, houses nearly 7.2 million people and has a multitude of activities for the individual who is looking for Amazon Latin flavor without the full "jungle" experience.

In the last decade, Colombia has seen a larger tourism increase than all but two other countries by percentage in the world. This is because of a gradually stabilizing government. Cartagena, Colombia is also rated by Lonely Planet, a publication reviewing world travel, as one of the top 5 destinations in South America. This country is not exactly Disney World, however. Guerilla factions still roam free in the highlands, and crime can be quite rampant - not to mention the ever-present threat of landmines placed in wars past and present. If you aren't willing to begin the adventure of a lifetime, traveling to Colombia may not be for you.

Colombia has a tropical climate and is the only place you can travel to that has beaches on both the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean. It is also known as the gateway to South America because it is the only country to boarder Panama and Central America. As mentioned before, this country is one in turmoil. If you plan to travel to Columbia be sure you have done your research on the local areas of the country. It is also recommended that you travel to your destination by plane, and don't leave the general areas you have researched. Tour buses are often a target of different rebellious factions in the country. While the odds are incredibly small that one would have any trouble touring in this fashion, it is not recommended. This article doesn't intend to scare you from traveling to Columbia, as things have improved beyond measure since 2002, but it is always wise to be extra careful when traveling abroad.

So now that you have overcome your fear of this mysterious country's political issues and decided to visit, you are probably wondering what places in the country are most ideal to explore.

The truth is, travel in Colombia will satisfy anyone! The five best places to travel to in Colombia are similar, but distinctly unique.

As previously mentioned, you have to put Cartagena on your bucket list. It has history, beauty, culture, art and everything else you could possibly wish for on your travels to Colombia. If you can only pick one destination, this would be it. Cartagena has something for everyone, and you will not be disappointed!

If clubs and the nightlife is your thing, I would suggest that you travel to Medellin, Colombia. This place is not only the hottest spot in Colombia, but it rivals any place in ALL of South America. Rio de Janeiro can only hope to equal this excitement! In fact, they have a popular festival called Eternal Spring that is dedicated to renewal, life, and most of all FUN.

If the crazy nightlife isn't your thing, you might prefer the secluded beaches of Parque Tyrona. Aside from the small amount of hotel properties, all you will find here are the mountains, jungle, and peaceful tranquility by the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. There are coral reefs that would blow you away, and a stable environment that would keep you grounded. If you are REAL adventurous, there is a Lost City that you can hike to and explore. What more could you ask for?

If all this was not enough for you, there is Mompos, which is roughly translated in Latin Spanish for "the town that time forgot". This is essentially a giant swamp, but it is also a giant slice of culture. This may not be on the top of your list, but if you want the complete Colombia travel experience, you should certainly consider it.

The final stop you should visit on your travels is Providencia and San Andres islands. These are actually closer to Venezuela than Colombia, but they are simply paradise. If you are sick of the jungles and being worried about jaguars and land mines, you should probably end your travels by laying back and relaxing on these islands. They are duty-free, inexpensive, and will ease you into your final trip back home.

In reality, Colombia can be an amazing adventure if you are up for such things. You are almost guaranteed to see things you have never seen before. There is an element of danger, a splash of beauty and a hint of intrigue around every corner. If you are looking to travel to Colombia, you should first examine yourself and ask what you seek. If you are up for a challenge, Colombia is there to welcome you.

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