Known locally as Semana Santa, Easter week is a big deal in Colombia, not only for the fervent Catholics but for holidaymakers as well. I may get excommunicated and cursed for saying it, but while Catholicism is the principal religion here and most are believers, one feels that perhaps the issue of taking some time off, spending it with family and loved ones and hitting the beach may be of greater importance. And as Colombia has everything from beaches and jungles to mountains, savannahs and desert there’s always somewhere new to visit. So, while in the US travelling locally may be referred to as a “nearcation” or in the UK as a “staycation” here in Colombia it’s simply a vacation.
It’s just that travelling in Colombia for Colombians is so much less complicated, after all, how many of you can answer the following question?
To which countries can Colombians travel without needing a visa? Answer disclosed at the end of this blog. To tell you the truth one local once told me: “We Colombians require a visa to go to the bathroom.”
Colombians receive precious few holidays a year, despite being the country with the most public holidays – 19 in all – and when they receive time off, it’s all of them all at once in June, December, January and you guessed it; Easter Week. So, Colombia in its entirety will be on holiday.
Expect queues in the Bus terminal, outrageously hiked up airfares, increased hotel prices and families upon families of Colombians hitting the road. And of course, this may not appeal to you to be here with thousands of Colombian Holidaymakers but you cannot deny that your experience will be a uniquely Colombian one.
Easter itself takes on various guises, the religious celebration such as found in Mompós, Popayan and Tunja complete with processions, pilgrims and plenty of penance. And then there are the more hedonistic desires that are catered to in the all-inclusive resorts of Santa Marta and Cartagena that are so beloved of Colombian tourists. And then there are those that travel back to their home towns from the major cities to enjoy nothing more than something relaxing in the company of their family.
So, as mentioned before, all of Colombia is travelling all at once. Be warned, book ahead and prepare to pay extra. And remember, there’ll be no transport and very few services on Good Friday. And pretty much Colombia shuts up shop and everything is delayed until the following week.
Oh yes: and to answer the question put to you earlier in this blog, Colombians do not need visa to visit the following countries: Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Nauru, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South Korea, Laos, North Korea, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Singapore, Taiwan, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu and Uruguay.