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Colombia’s Diverse Topography and Climate

By Bryan Bui

When I came back from my first visit to Colombia, the northernmost country in South America, my friends and family asked me if it was hot and humid and were there lots of beaches? This misunderstanding is quite familiar to those curious or interested in visiting this beautiful country. I’m more than happy to shed some light on this topic.

Topography of Colombia

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Let’s visualize the Colombian topography. It’s mountainous, with 3 substantial Andean mountain ranges cutting north and south in the country’s western half. The ranges are appropriately named Cordillera Occidental (Western Mountain Range), Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range) and Cordillera Oriental (East Mountain Range) based on their locations. Colombia has two coasts; the north Atlantic Coast (including the Caribbean) and the west Pacific Coast. There are vast plains in its many valleys, and the country’s southeastern part is primarily inhabitable due to tropical jungles. As a result, there are cities and villages at various altitudes with varying climates from steamy hot tropical to cool mountain air.

Climates in popular destinations

You know Colombia has big mountains, vast plains, and tropical jungles. You may have also assumed that it has beaches based on the above-shared information. But did you know that Colombia also has deserts and snow-capped mountains? Tatacoa and Guajira deserts, Nevado del Ruiz, Nevado del Tolima and Nevado del Santa Isabel snow-capped mountains.

Personal photos of the cities in the following orders — Medellin, Cartagena, Bogota and Cali.

Here are Colombia’s most popular travel destinations and their diverse climates:

  • Medellin is the second biggest city. It’s a trendy destination with incredible spring-like year-round weather, mountainous views and a fast-growing modern metropolis. Its moniker is “The City of Eternal Spring.”
  • Cartagena is very popular with travelers seeking hot Caribbean weather, beaches and a party atmosphere.
  • Bogota is the capital city of Colombia with a cooler climate, high in the mountains, a central airport hub for all incoming international flights and an important financial center.
  • Cali is the birthplace of salsa, home to many afro-festivals in Colombia with humid tropical-like temperatures.

Travel tips, anyone?

Now that you’re better informed about Colombia’s climate and topography, I think you would agree that packing for a diverse range of temperatures is essential when visiting Colombia.

Another vital tip is to learn Spanish, even if you only know a few words or phrases. It will help you connect with the warm and welcoming Colombians who are always excited to share their culture. We definitely can help at, we’re also on Instagram — @spoken_co.

You should also check out these excellent travel sources for more Colombia travel tips —, and Youtube: Exploring Colombia — Full Travel Documentary by Backpacker Steve.

Are you excited for some for off-the-beaten-path and cultural adventures?

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