Concepción, Colombia is yet another scenic and historic colonial town that feels worlds away – but it’s only a two-hour drive from our home in El Retiro or from Medellín. We and our fur kids, Rosie and Tango, just spent a lovely and relaxing two days there, soaking up the fresh air and taking in the stunning natural surroundings with four other friends and their pups.

Rich History

Although Concepción is not an officially-designated Pueblo Patrimonio (Heritage Town), it was declared significant to the “cultural and historical heritage of the nation” in 1999 by the Colombian government. It’s easy to see why, with the town’s quaint cobblestone streets and beautifully preserved colonial architecture. Interesting factoid: Concepción is also known as La Concha (since Concha is the nickname for the common girls’ name of Concepción).

Main church and parque, Concepción Colombia
Concepción’s church was founded in 1769, but the current structure was completed in 1874. The story goes that the woman who donated the land for the church named “los ánimas” – the souls of the dead in purgatory – as her heirs. It was only when the souls failed to show up for a court hearing that the will was declared invalid and church construction could proceed.
Statue of Jose Maria Cordoba in Concepción Colombia
Concepción’s most famous native son is Gen. Jose Maria Cordoba, the hero of the decisive Battle of Ayacucho in Colombia’s war for independence from Spain. Medellín’s international airport is named for him (ahh, so that’s who that is!!).

A stroll through the main village of Concepción is like taking a step back in time. Because the town is tucked away in the northern Andes and not a crossroads to other destinations, it feels completely authentic and untouched by tourism. The city is making an effort to attract more visitors, though – here’s a great website describing all the points of interest.

We loved the colorful houses and winding cobbled streets, surrounded by hills in every shade of green. (Usual note: photos are in galleries – just click through to see larger versions of each.)

Harmony with Nature

You don’t have to go far from town to be immersed in nature. The countryside around Concepción is blessed with beautiful rivers and streams, numerous jaw-dropping cascadas (waterfalls) tumbling into crystal-clear charcos (swimming holes), and lush, green hills. On our first day, we took a beautiful hike into the countryside along the Rio Concepción. The next morning, our group ventured up to two separate cascadas: Matasana and Aguacate.

Getting There

Concepción, Colombia is an easy drive from Medellín on a scenic and recently paved road. There are also regular daily buses from Medellín’s Terminal Norte (make sure you take the route through San Vicente, since the northern route through Barbosa has some unpaved spots).

Our Lodging

We loved our stay at AthaKai, a beautiful riverfront eco-resort located just outside of town. The name AthaKai is derived from Sanskrit and local indigenous words that mean “the energy of now,” which perfectly describes the laid-back, peaceful, and close-to-nature vibe of this place. The welcoming host, Luca, a native of Italy, went all out to  make sure our group was well-accommodated and cooked us two fantastic Italian dinners. He also arranged for a local tour guide, Nelson, to show us the sights in town. Oh, and AthaKai is amazingly dog-friendly – our four dogs were able to roam all over the property and swim to their hearts’ content in the river.  Luca, we’ll be back!

FYI: The best way to book a stay at AthaKai is to contact Luca directly on WhatsApp: +57-315-354-7621.

(Photos courtesy AthaKai)

Coming soon: The Spain Adventure. Three times is a charm!

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  1. Petra Mosquera Reply

    Good morning Susan,
    I just read your next wonderful story from travelling around the world. This time i was very close to you, because me, Petra from Germany and my husband Carlos and our Flat, named Bobbi had the luck to be part of the group. You made again a heartbreaking interesting story about our 2 night stay, that discripes everything exactly as it was. So good to remember everything with a coffee at the terrace, back at Medellin. Even by reading your story i can remember everything as if it happens again. Have some tears in my eyes while coming up all the great emotions while walking to the waterfalls with friends and happy dogs.I was travelling to colombia for years and i can say, that Concepcion with the open nature to walk through, is one of the best places I’ve ever been. Even the Ecohostel we stayed was perfect for everybody who likes hidden places, silence by the riverside, amasing food and fantastic place for dog families, which is not so easy to find in colombia.
    Susan gives always best informations about history and points of nature, so now i know actually the name of all the places we have been together. Well done !
    The pics you made are breathtaking and i really love their colorful presentation.
    Thanks for this awsome story and i hope i can do a lot more travelling with you and your lovely family.
    Go on – and have a great trip to spain !!!!!
    Petra, Carlos and Bobbi

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Petra! We had such a wonderful time with all of four you and the fur kids. We agree that Concepcion and AthaKai are really, really special. Let’s plan another one soon! Big hugs.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much! Colombia has so many of these quaint little towns. Each has similarities, yet is different in its own right.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks so much! We weren’t prepared to love Concepcion so much. I could easily disappear there with a big stack of books and a bunch of dogs!

  2. I loved your photos and commentary about Concepcion! In fact, Mark (my husband) and I enjoy all your posts.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Jofannie – good to see you here! Still thinking of becoming expats? Thanks for your comment.

  3. Another great spot in Colombia that we missed! A cute, colourful town, mountains and waterfalls – sounds perfect! Maggie

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Maggie! It’s another little slice of Colombian heaven.

  4. Concepción is such a beautiful colonial town, and the river and those waterfalls really make it an appealing destination. It’s great that the fur babies can enjoy it, too! ~Terri

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Terri! Any place we can take the “kids” is always a bonus. A fun time was had by all, both two- and four-legged!

  5. What an absolutely charming city! I just love the colors and the general warm and welcoming feel of the city! I would love to take my fur baby there to hike and play in the water- he would love it! 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Our “kids” had the best time – although they slept for days afterward (they’re both seniors) 🙂 Concepcion is a magical little place. I could easily be a hermit there!

  6. What a fun trip! And not too far from home. Love all of those fur babies!!! I’m assuming the lodging and food is pretty inexpensive?

    • Colombia is certainly rich in colorful pueblos. The photo of the Colombian countryside thru the arched doorway is wonderful! Enjoy España!

      • John and Susan Pazera Reply

        Thanks, Henry!! John gets the credit for that church doorway photo 🙂 Hope you’re well and we can see you again someday. We’ve been enjoying our friendship with Martha, so thanks for that!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Pam! Yes, food is very inexpensive. We had a huge lunch in town for about $6/pp. The lodging is considered on the high end for this area, but even so it was only about $50 a night, including a huge breakfast!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks – glad you enjoyed the post! It was a fun, relaxing getaway not too far from home. The best!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thank you!! Concepcion really is the complete package. We’re looking forward to going back!

  7. What a lovely place. I can see why you enjoyed it so much. And the dogs sure look like they had fun! That little Yorkie is so cute!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Alison! Terry the Yorkie really is an amazing little dog. He kept right up with the cocker spaniel, golden retriever and flat-coated retriever, even though they’re all several times his size 🙂

  8. What a cute, little town. I love it that nature is so close by, so you can combine culture and natural beauty. You (and your blog) will be such a wealth of information whenever we get to Columbia! 🙂

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Liesbet!! We look forward to finally hanging out with you two when you get to Colombia. There’s a world of adventure waiting for you here!

  9. I can see why you don’t get bored visiting different places. They all seem different and beautiful and interesting. Thanks for taking me along with you. You’re giving me the cheapest tours of Columbia. Cheers, Muriel P.S. I’m also a dog lover and enjoy seeing yours enjoying themselves.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Of course you’re a dog lover, Muriel! I can always tell 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying the Colombia posts. Hope you’re staying warm and safe up there in beautiful Canada!

  10. This is such a colourful town! And love your photo of the church. Indeed, I always say: A place that welcomes dogs, must be one of the best places to book your accommodation!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Indeed! Dog-friendly places are always at the top of our list. Luca at AthaKai has dogs, cats, pigs, geese, ducks, chickens . . . a fellow after my heart!

  11. Jeannie Brust Reply

    Fun post…life is always better with dogs! Hope to met you all someday!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for reading our blog, Jeannie – and welcome in advance to Panama!

  12. Jeannie Brust Reply

    Yessss…you must come and visit and teach us all the ropes !❤️

  13. Wow, you had me at “jaw-dropping cascadas”! I will go out of my way to chase waterfalls and in fact, just recently did so for my birthday. You have captured an amazing set of photos in Concepcion and it feels as if I’m there too. Thanks for sharing your journey with us!!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Sarah – so sorry for my belated response. We spent February traveling in Spain and the blog took a back seat. Anyway, glad you enjoyed the Concepcion post. It’s a really special place! And we’re glad you found some waterfalls for your birthday 🙂 Cheers, Susan

  14. I don’t know how I missed this post. Just now, as I was reading this and looking at those brilliant photos, it rained a lot here in Jakarta. It’s only 4pm, but it feels like 6pm. I’m always amazed by the fact that Colombia has all these interesting and picturesque villages and towns. Did you actually miss the country when you were in Spain?

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Bama! It’s been raining a lot here too. Not much sunshine. There are moments when it feels like the skies are crying over all the brutality and injustice in the world. But I digress . . . Yes, we did miss Colombia while we were in Spain. We want to relocate to Spain someday in order to explore Europe more easily, but we have a lot of Colombia still to get out of our systems before we go! We’ve barely scratched the surface of the amazing towns and incredible natural beauty here. In fact, it makes me sad to think of leaving. But that’s at least a year or two into the future. Anyway, hope you and your loved ones are well. Troubling times . . .

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