El Chocó is inhabited mainly by African and indigenous communities and the only way of getting there is by sea or air. It comprises jungle, exotic beaches, waterfalls, hot springs and has one of the most diverse eco systems on the planet. It is also a paradise for animal lovers as between July and October humpback whales arrive to give birth to their calves. The area is also home to migratory birds and marine turtles.
I’d only got back from Colombia a couple of months earlier, but I seized the opportunity the ProColombia fair gave me to visit an unexplored corner of the country that had been on my radar for a while.
I travelled out from London to Bogotá on Avianca Airlines relatively new direct service and then connected through to the city of Medellin for an overnight stay at a hotel in the Poblado district.
The following morning I flew down to Nuqui and was greeted by a welcome glass or two of ice cold coconut milk before the boat trip through the Utria National Park. With no less than 1,850 species recorded, 70 of which are endemic, Colombia is home to the largest number of bird species on earth, and Utria is one of the best places in the country to see them. After a few hours' bird watching and a delicious fish lunch, I continued on to La Joviseña for a three night stay at this rustic but charming lodge on the beach where the jungle and the Pacific Ocean meet. Just a short walk down the beach you will find another excellent place to stay called El Cantil.
With two full days at my disposal, I threw myself into the various activities on offer - visits to Jovi and Coqui to better understand the importance of community tourism in the region, canoeing on the rivers, boating through the mangroves, and jungle hikes to local hot springs and the waterfalls of Los Cuatro Encantos.
Following the trade fair back in Bogota, there was time before my flight home for a quick visit to the city's Gold Museum, reputed to be the best of its kind in Latin America with some 34,000 gold objects and a world-renowned collection of ceramics, textiles and precious stones from various Indian cultures. I also rode the funicular to the 3,100-metre summit of Cerro Monserrate where there is a small church where the views across Bogotá are wonderful.
Security continues to improve in Colombia and tourism is growing rapidly, and so the trade show was both interesting and very useful.