Nowadays, tourism has become an activity for learning about the ways of living of other cultures and is focusing on how travelers feel their experiences in different parts of the World.
For instance, the main reason why travelers are searching for this type of tourism is because of the authenticity of their experiences with the people and places they get to know. The United Nations World Tourism Organization predicts that tourism in emerging economies will grow to be 57% of the global market by 2030.
Following this trend, Colombia is a country that, due to its biodiversity, has entered the sector of eco-tourism, which can be divided in nature, cultural and adventure tourism. Our country is globally recognized for being the first one in having an exquisite variety of birds and orchid species, the second one in having a richness of plants, amphibians, butterflies and freshwater fish, and the third one in a number of species of palms and reptiles.
Likewise, we have more than one hundred ethnic groups with their own history, territory, costumes, dialects and the most important fact is that they have their own cosmogonic vision of reality, which means how they consider the World was created in order to value their proper traditions and ancient knowledge.
For foreign and locals, traveling in Colombia to unknown territories is the best way not only to get to know distinct folkloric manifestations, like offerings, songs, myths and dances, even in architecture, but to enter to a different way of doing domestic jobs and also, not even less important, a different way of subsisting.
In Colombia, handicraft creations have been recognized not only as one of the most artistic jobs, but also an economic entry and a social way of an organization for traditional artisans and ancient indigenous people. For that reason, they elaborate products that are functional and beautiful because they carry out a history which represents their culture.
For example, the Wayúu population, which inhabits the extreme north part of Colombia called the Guajira, elaborates a type of mochila bags which are rich in traditional designs called the kaanás (the art of knitting drawing). This ancestral technique dates to the pre-Columbian period and is used to create pieces that, due to their great beauty and color, are the most appreciated among locals and foreign people.
Another great example for illustrating their traditions in the products they make, especially with the mochila bags, are the Arhuaco population, another ancient group that inhabits the Sierra Nevada Peaks, a magic place set up in the north coast of the Caribbean Sea. The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a secluded mountain range separated from the Andes that runs through Colombia. Reaching an altitude of 5,700 m just 42 km from the Caribbean coast, the Sierra Nevada is one of the world's highest coastal ranges. The Sierra Nevada serves as the source of 36 rivers. The range is in the Departments of Magdalena, Cesar, and La Guajira.
For these cultures, the mochila is one of the most important symbols as it represents the womb of the Mother of Universe. With the colors and drawings that they make in the mochila bags, the Arawaks identify the other members of the community, which means, the tana or family lineage of the one who wears it. Among these designs are the Gamako, which is a stylization of a frog, a symbol of fertility among the indigenous cultures of the Sierra. For instance, the zikamu is a representation of the centipede; the aku, like the engravings on the skin of the rattlesnake, is a symbol of time and space.
We could continue mentioning plenty of examples in the Colombian culture that talks about its richness not only in their traditions as ancient groups but in the magic of its territory and the significance of the labors they do to preserve it.
The weather is another fact that plays an important role in the touristic activity in Colombia. People who travel through our country can see that as a biodiverse and tropical territory, we have plenty of thermal floors which help in the preservation of endemic species and also on traditional practices in livestock and agriculture labors in order to involve these activities in the traditional cycle of the preserved ancient cultures that nowadays exist in our territory.
Traveling through Colombia open minds and help to eco-tourism as a frequent practice among those who do it. So, the realities that surround the Colombian culture such as a biodiverse territory in traditions, ancient knowledge, handicraft creations, and weather, remain facts to make Colombia a destination for immersion travel.
The article was written by journalist Maria José Velasco from Colombia.