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Your Guide to Yoga Retreats in Colombia

by Maryna Lus

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Left in the shadow of trendy Costa Rica, Colombia is another destination in Latin America that often gets overlooked by yoga travelers. Yet, those who do embark on a journey to this nature’s jewel discover a vibrant up-and-coming wellness hub.

Curious as to why more and more people choose to go on a yoga retreat in Colombia? The breathtaking scenery with tropical beaches and lush jungle surely has something to do with it, but there’s much more to yoga retreats in Colombia than that.

From the plethora of opportunities to pamper and relax to the amazing spiritual ambiance, excellent coffee and a variety of cultural experiences, Colombia is a hidden gem on the map of yoga destinations.

Why choose Colombia for your next yoga retreat?

Tayrona Park beach from top

With more than 300 pristine white-sand beaches on the Caribbean coastline surrounded by the vast Amazon rainforest and the stunning Andes, Colombia is blessed with truly magnificent landscapes. No matter which part of the country you choose to travel to, you’ll enjoy stunning views while holding asanas in the heart of nature.

Modern Colombia was once home to a number of fascinating ancient civilizations. Fast forward to the present day, there’s a variety of ancient sites of nature worship around the country, including ruins tucked in hillsides, mysterious underground tombs and incredible rock paintings in the jungle.

The Lost City stone terraces on top of the mountain

The most famous of them is more than 1,000 years old “Lost City”, which is often compared to Machu Picchu in Peru. This land was sacred for the Muiscas, a fascinating ancient civilization that lived in unity with nature and worshipped the Earth and the Sun. It just might be that in this spiritual area, you’ll find your place on Earth to disconnect and re-discover your inner self.

What’s more, Colombia offers a perfect setting to relax. With a variety of hot air springs, swimming holes and freshwater lakes, it’s a perfect spot to boost your wellness and nourish your body. Fresh salty air on the coastline and crisp fresh air high in the mountains will give your body a welcome break from the city smog.

Did you know? Colombia’s healthcare system ranked #22 out of 191 according to the World Health Organization, which is a much higher ranking compared to the USA or Canada. It’s no wonder that a variety of retreat centers and spas have flourished here!

Last but not least, this destination offers plenty of healthy nutrition options including vegetarian and vegan dishes. The food is mostly made from locally sourced and sustainably grown ingredients, which is great to detoxify your body. Colombian cuisine is rich in fresh fruit, fishes and seafood which make up a healthy and delicious diet to accompany your wellness-boosting journey.

Best time to visit

Palms and mountains view in Colombia

The best time to visit Colombia is... all-year-round! No matter if it’s January, July or October, the temperature variation is minimal.

In order to soak up some sun and swim in the warm ocean, head to the Caribbean coast of Colombia. In coastal cities such as Cartagena, Barranquilla and Santa Marta, you’ll enjoy warm tropical weather with temperatures around 90° F (32° C) during day and evening breezes that can cool the air down to 70° F (21° C).

Don’t like sweating too much during your yoga sessions? Chances are, you’ll enjoy a holiday in Medellin, Sogamoso or Cundinamarca region all of which lay nearby the Andean mountains and boast spring-like weather all year round.

You’ll be pleased to learn that due to its location near the equator, Colombia has the most even distribution of daylight throughout the year. From November to December, you’ll be able to enjoy 12 hours of daylight which is great to make the most out of your stay (and enjoy paradisiacal sunsets and sunrises over the ocean and mountains).

Which are the best places for yoga in Colombia?

Medellin

Panoramic view on Medellin

The second-largest city in Colombia, Medellin, is also known as the “City of Eternal Spring”. It’s nestled in the valley at the altitude of 4905 feet (1495 meters) and surrounded by lush green mountains. Due to the mild climate all year round, with temperatures slightly oscillating around 70° F (21° C) (even during rainy season!), it’s a perfect location for your yoga retreat.

During the past 30 years, Medellin turned into a modern metropolis where yoga and fitness are big trends among paisas (locals) who can be often spotted striking poses in the city parks.

Church in Medellin

Medellin’s chic neighborhoods such as Laureles or Poblado are filled with yoga studios. Better yet, there are plenty of remotely located, close-to-the-nature retreat centers in the valleys or high in the mountains offering magnificent views of the Medellin’s red brick houses tucked in the thick tropical forest.

Tip: Although Medellin is great to visit all year-round, you might want to come in August during La Feria de las Flores (Festival of Flowers). It is a huge social event during which the whole city is covered with large structures made from flowers. The festival is accompanied by concerts, pageant, Paso Fino horse parade and many other events.

 

Cundinamarca region

The statue in Guatavita city

 

In the very heart of Colombia, surrounding the capital Bogota lays the culturally and historically rich region of Cundinamarca. Once home of the mysterious Muisca people, this is another perfect place to start your adventure in Colombia.

Here, you’ll find a plethora of superbly located lakefront retreat centers where you can disconnect and refocus. Between your yoga sessions, you can enjoy limonada de coco (coconut lemonade) and fresh fruit on a terrace overseeing Tominé Reservoir and the green mountain range covered in mist.

You can also take advantage of the vast array of activities offered in the area such as kayaking, hiking, horse riding, camping or simply taking a meditative walk. The local flora is rich with diverse plants such as rosette plants, frailejones, stunted trees, cushion plants, herbs, shrubs and grasses.  

Paramo of Colombia

Want to explore further the rich flora and fauna of Colombia? Visit the Chingaza National Park. The magnificent landscape composed of lakes, mountains, valleys, jungles, waterfalls and savannah is home to rare indigenous animals such as the spectacled bear, the Andean condor, the puma as well as over 180 bird species. Even a short walk here guarantees unforgettable views and a feeling of deeper than anywhere else connection with nature.

Lake Guatavita

Another interesting spot in the area is the Lake Guatavita (Laguna de Guatavita), a sparkling emerald body of water shaped almost like a perfect circle and shrouded in legends about the treasure of El Dorado. According to the legend based on Muisca rituals, ‘The City Made of Gold’ rests on the bottom of the lake.

From here, you can embark on a day trip to Sogamoso (City of the Sun), another important religious center for Muiscas located around 170 kilometers (105 miles) from Guatavita. There you can visit the Temple of the Sun where pilgrims used to adore the Sun god Sué.

The Caribbean coastline - Santa Marta & Minca 

Tayrona Park beach

 

Fancy soaking up some sun rays while doing yoga on an unspoiled tropical beach surrounded by coconut trees and clear blue water? You’ll find all of that in Santa Marta.

This city is all about Caribbean culture full of color and lively music that creates a chill, laid-back vibe. A bustling pirate hub back in the day, the historic part of the city offers a big selection of hip-looking restaurants (with vegan cuisine), bars and coffee shops with freshly roasted local coffee beans. Santa Marta is also a perfect spot to try horseback riding, swimming in cenotes (swimming holes) or massage and spa treatments.

An hour ride from Santa Marta lays Tayrona National Park, the place that is the closest to what Eden must have looked like. Enjoy the pristine beaches that are neighboring the world’s highest coastal mountain range, Sierra Nevada, with plenty of freshwater rivers flowing into the majestic jungle lying below.

Stone steps in the jungle

Tip: Are you a seasoned hiker? Chances are you’ll enjoy the demanding hiking trail to “The Lost City” from Santa Marta. After the three to four days journey up the hills through the jungle, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the ancient ruins of around 170 stone circular terraces on top of the mountain.

Minca

Waterfall in Minca

Craving for a more secluded retreat destination? In the hills of Sierra Nevada, you’ll find the remote city of Minca. Imagine doing sun salutations after a warm day in the tropical forest feeling a cool jungle mist on your body. At the end of your session, you can prolong your Shavasana and delve into star-gazing, a magical experience at these high altitudes.

While staying in Minca, be sure to plan some time to hike to the lush green hills of the surrounding area. There are several beginner-friendly trails that will take you to majestic waterfalls and delightful clear-water swimming holes. On the way up, keep your eyes open for rare and colorful birds and stunning views on surrounding mountains and the Caribbean coastline.

Things to know before your trip to Colombia

Rocky beach in Colombia

  • Be sure to exchange some cash to Colombian Pesos (COP). US Dollars and Euros are not widely accepted in Colombia and there are many places where they won’t accept credit cards.
  • Learn some basic Spanish phrases. Although in most of the retreat centers instructors and staff speak English, you’ll benefit from knowing some Spanish while traveling. To begin with, hola (hello) and gracias (thank you) will go a long way in helping you make new friends.
  • Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle, mosquito repellent and clothes made from breathable fabric. These items will be helpful not only on the yoga mat but also during hikes and other excursions.
  • If you need to travel longer distances, choose national airlines. Flights are cheaper and much faster than bus rides.

Are you looking forward to disconnecting and relaxing in the heart of the Amazon? Browse a selection of yoga and meditation retreats in Colombia!

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