Santander region, Colombia
The Santander region may not be well known to Americans, but it is full of hidden gems, particularly its many wonderful national parks and towns. Bucaramanga, the capital of Santander, is a great place to shop for jewelry and shoes. The Dann Carlton Hotel is a great place to stay downtown. The crown jewel is Parque Nacional del Chicamocha (with its new gondola). Visitors have a panoramic view of Chicamocha Canyon. At this park, kids can go for pony rides and ride on a Chivas bus. Adventurous folks can go parasailing, take a zip line down the canyon, hike down a waterfall or take a buggy through the mud. There are many rafting trips in the area. The region is known for its wonderful tropical fruit and its delicious ants (that's right . . . ants). The pineapple is supposed to be the sweetest in the world; the coffee is fantastic too.
-- Michael McDonald, Vienna, Va.
Picutured: Chicamocha Canyon