Because I’ve always wanted to…

Issue 55 / August 2023

Late Summer Greetings,

In 2022 we sent more adventurous laterallife travellers to Colombia than ever before. Granted, South America was quicker to open up post-pandemic than most other continents but this popularity does help disprove the misconception that it is still a somewhat edgy destination. The Davies-Jones family have just returned from Colombia, the trip having been planned at exceptionally short notice. This is their testimonial:

“laterallife went completely above and beyond to create the perfect bespoke holiday under enormous time pressure. The outcome was a family of five having the best holiday ever to the most beautiful Colombia. We saw a huge amount in 2 weeks without feeling like we lived out of suitcases. The hotels were all perfect and the wonderful people looking after us could not have been better. They were there for every need however small and always with a big smile. Thank you for creating some amazing memories for us all to have forever.”

Earlier this year I was thrilled to be able to go back to Colombia for the third time, to revisit some old haunts and explore some exciting new destinations and hotels.  You can see my trip here and below I’ll take you through some of the highlights.

I hope you enjoy what remains of the summer days, and from time to time of an evening in the garden, perhaps with a refreshing glass of something, ponder on where you might go next …

With all our best wishes,

Nick and the laterallife team – Helen, Jessica, Nico and Annie

Four Seasons Casa Medina, Bogota

Bogota is a remarkable capital city.  It has altitude, which you’ll feel as soon as you step off the plane, and attitude.  Like any Latin American city it has its old colonial quarter, Candelaria, and plenty of other attractions too.  The airport isn’t called Eldorado for nothing – gold has played an important part in Colombia’s history since pre-Hispanic times and Bogota’s Gold Museum holds some truly astounding examples.  The Botero Gallery contains some of the best examples of the work of this living artist, the most famous of Colombia’s artists, along with lots of works by other notable artists which you might not expect to see here.  There are many great hotels here.  One of the best is Four Seasons Casa Medina, an iconic 1946 building designed by a renowned Colombian artist-architect Santiago Medina Mejia.  It’s a most elegant and civilized hotel and every comfortable room in this historical building is different – some have beamed ceilings, hand-carved wooden furnishings and original fireplaces. It’s located in the attractive Zona G financial district with plenty of good eateries just a short walk away.  The hotel’s own bar is a great place for lunch or supper too, or even a toothsome cocktail.  Other good hotel options are the cool and funky Artisan DC and the B.O.G. with its rooftop swimming pool.

Casa Del Presidente, Barichara

Like many places that are hard to get to, Barichara is well worth the long journey.  Barichara is located high above the Río Suárez and is so perfectly preserved and pleasing on the eye that it looks like the film set of a Spanish colonial town, and indeed many Spanish language films are shot here.  Its cobbled streets and whitewashed, red-tiled buildings look as pristine as they might have been some 250 years ago. Casa del Presidente is a knockout 5-bedroom luxury hotel , the former home of the late president Belisario Betancur. It offers fresh new interiors, comfortable bedrooms, spacious gardens and a big swimming pool. The in-house chef team is incredible!  Alternatively, stay at charming Casa Yahri in a quiet area of town edged with jungle.  Barichara has a few notable places to eat, especially Elvia, but you’ll definitely want to have dinner in the Casa at least one night.  There’s a great hike from Barichara to the equally charming but smaller village of Guane.

Casa San Agustin, Cartagena

Cartagena is a fabulous gem of a city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia, with a gorgeous climate to match.  You’ll find great places to eat all around this country but here you’ll find some of the most exceptional, such as the relaxed but renowned Celele in the charming area of Getsemani where you’ll see some sensational graffiti.  Aside from exploring the multicoloured charm of the historical city a must-do is a day trip on a speedboat island hopping to Tierra Bomba where you can spend the day relaxing at a beach club such as Makani or Blue Apple.  A little further out from the mainland there are the glorious Rosario Islands.  You may spot Pablo Escobar’s summer house on the Rosarios, recognisable from the Narcos series.  Cartagena is awash with great hotels.  Casa San Agustin is set within two old houses right in the centre, or the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara which has been formed from an old monastery with a verdant courtyard at its centre.


After a long wait Casa Pestagua has been fully renovated and refurbished and has just reopened.  It was too late for me to see on my visit but the reviews rate it highly as the new go-to place to stay in central Cartagena.

Casa Letty, Baru Island

Casa Letty is an outstanding private villa on Baru Island, a short and enjoyable boat ride from Cartagena.  It’s a white, Ibizan style beach house beautifully designed by one of Colombia’s top architects and everything about it is truly luxurious and special.  The pool is long enough for a really good swim and you can enjoy the sound of birdsong and the sea at the same time.  Enjoy a sundowner on the beach, then dine al fresco with your own private chef cooking up a storm in the well equipped kitchen.  You won’t want to leave but it’s well worth taking a short trip down to the road to the National Aviary of Colombia where you can see a huge number of native species flying freely around enormous aviaries, including many colourful parrots, a Harpy Eagle, and a host of pink flamingoes.

Casa Oropendola, Sierra Nevada

Perched high in the cloud forest of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Casa Oropendola offers breathtaking views right down to the Caribbean Sea. Relax next to the brazier at sundown enjoying a cocktail whilst your private chef makes you an unforgettable feast, or do a yoga session like you’ve never done it before.  Take one of the many great treks through these mountains where you can often see toucans and parrots, and hear the distinctive cry of howler monkeys high in the trees above you, and visit a coffee farm before ascending back to your comfortable lodge.

Villa Playa, Tayrona

Tayrona National Park is way up the coast from Cartagena and close to the city of Santa Marta.  It’s a great area to see wildlife, especially birds, and you’ll see the distinctively dressed people from the indigenous tribes of the region here.  Being on the Caribbean coast there are beaches aplenty and several rivers flowing down from the Sierra Nevada mountains, such as the Don Diego.  One of the top activities is tubing – you float down the river to the sea supported by a big inner tube from a lorry.  It’s great fun and those who don’t fancy getting in the warm water can float along beside you in a boat.  Stop along the way to visit a fascinating indigenous archaeological site.  There are some good options to stay here, including Villa Playa, a small hotel with just 6 rooms and a pool overlooking the river creek and sea.

Nearby Casa Bambu is also recommended, also a small outfit with beautiful rooms and a relaxing pool area.

Not far away is Senda Watapuy, a smart, impressive establishment with 15 rooms, all with river frontage, and superb facilities all against a backdrop of jungle covered mountains.

Ipuana Virgin Beach, La Guajira

Some of you may have spotted this as our Up Periscope feature in the previous newsletter but it’s worth mentioning again as it’s such a unique property.  Ipuana Virgin Beach is situated in La Guajira on the northernmost point of Colombia, where the verdant Sierra Nevada mountains end and the vast Guajira desert begins. This is where the roads end and dusty paths begin, often only accessible via 4×4, meaning lodging is rustic and simple. Its unique ecosystem and indigenous cultural history make this an impressive and totally unique spot to visit in Colombia and the whole of South America.  It’s a long, long drive to get here but if you want to spend time on what is the best beach I have ever seen in Colombia and relax in rustic but stylish chic, it’s well worth it.

Up Periscope: Bahia Solana, Pacific Coast

This new private lodge in Bahia Solano, on the lush and ultra biodiverse Pacific Coast, opened this summer and I am pleased to say that a family of laterallife clients were some of the first to stay there.  Just a 40-minute flight from Medellin, this is where to go to see whales from your balcony, or closer up from your own yacht.


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