What to do around Guaduas, Colombia?

Guaduas, in Cundinamarca, is another heritage town of Colombia. According to historians, the Villa de Guaduas was founded on April 20, 1572 on the old Camino Real that led from Honda -one of the most important ports on the Magdalena River- to Santafé (today Bogotá).

Along the Camino Real that crosses it, the old Guadueros saw the passage of viceroys and independence leaders – with Policarpa Salavarrieta and José Antonio Galán at the head – to the members of the Botanical Expedition who, led by José Celestino Mutis, had in Guaduas one of their main research centers.

In fact, one of the most remembered personalities of this town is the painter and botanist Javier Matiz, who masterfully captured images of the wide variety of the country’s flora on plates.

Its historic center, declared a national monument in 1959 (today an Asset of Cultural Interest), and its surroundings tell all this history through its monuments, mansions and vestiges, including a long cobblestone stretch of the Camino Real, which is still preserved.

Aware of the patrimonial value they have in their hands, and of its tourist potential, inhabitants, merchants and hoteliers have taken on the task of rehabilitating it little by little, and of projecting Guaduas as an ideal destination, in every sense of the word.

Discovering Guaduas

The town had 3 moments of foundation: the first foundation was in charge of Andrés Díaz Venero de Leiva, in 1572, and a second moment, given in December 1610, in charge of the Franciscans founded the convent of Nuestra Señora de Guaduas, located on the road to Honda. Finally in 1644, in the place called Villa de San Miguel de Guaduas.

Guaduas is located in the northwest of the department of Cundinamarca; the town has 2 areas that describe the geographical conditions that you will be able to enjoy; on the one hand the proximity to the Magdalena River and a flat, slightly undulating area of exuberant vegetation and warm climate. On the other hand, the area to the east comprises a mountainous system belonging to the Cordillera Oriental.

Guaduas is the birthplace of important figures of the country, among them Policarpa Salavarrieta, La Pola (Guaduas, 1797 – Bogotá, 1817), patriot heroine, apparently born in Guaduas. Also, Francisco Javier Matís (Guaduas, 1774 – Bogotá, 1851), painter and botanist of the Botanical Expedition, among other important figures.

Guaduas is considered as the little Colombia, thanks to the history and historical events that occurred there.

How to get to Guaduas

To get to Guaduas you must take a 3-hours road trip from the west of Bogotá city for 180 km, it is the same route you will take to Hinda, so you will be able to enjoy the different thermal floors and beautiful landscapes on your way.

Where to stay in Guaduas

In Guaduas you will find a great infrastructure, depending on your budget and personal tastes you can choose; our recommendations for you are: Camino a Santa Fé and Matisia Hotel Boutique.

Guaduas Attractions and Activities

La Pola’s House

You can find different articles that belonged to Policarpa aswell as to the members of her family. The house is humble and in keeping with the time, consisting of two rooms, a kitchen and patio. An ideal place to pay homage to such an important heroine.

Julia Castillo’s handicraft workshop

If you visit Guaduas you can not miss the opportunity to experience a unique clay handicrafts workshop, pieces of handmade collection, for the kitchen and home, the most curious thing about this workshop is that the base figure of the crafts is the figure of the hen kika.

Paragliding

You can spend a pleasant time for 30 or 45 minutes over the skies of the Magdalena River, you will have a beautiful panoramic view where you can not only appreciate the Magdalena, Guaduas and Honda.

Patio del Moro Museum of Arts and Traditions

During the tour in each of the rooms of this museum you can appreciate different pieces of collection of the colonial era such as clothing, beauty accessories and home accessories, being very typical for the inhabitants who once inhabited the town.

House of the Viceroys

It is considered a house of great importance in the town, since great celebrities lived there, among them Manuelita Saenz, who had a relationship with the liberator Simón Bolivar.

Piedra Capira Viewpoint

Is a beautiful viewpoint located 20 minutes from the center of Guaduas, where you will find a huge rock with a cross from where you will be able to appreciate a beautiful view of the Magdalena River, the snow-capped mountains of Ruiz, Santa Isabel and Tolima.

El Salto de Versalles Waterfall

The waterfall near the village no more than 40 meters high, here you can practice torrentismo and other ecotourism activities; is considered one of the most beautiful sector of Cundinamarca and an ideal place for photography lovers.

Santa Fe Royal Road

It is one of the most representative of the national routes that were made during the colonization period. It joins Bogota with the municipality of Honda, this road crosses the municipalities of Facatativá, Albán, Villeta and Guaduas.

During the tour you will be able to distinguish each of the marked stations: the Plaza de la Constitución as its center and longitudinally structured by the Camino Real, the Calle de la Pola and transversely by the Calle Real that links it with the Cemetery sector through the San Francisco Bridge.

Cathedral of San Miguel Arcángel

Its construction was initiated by the presbyter Justiniano Gutiérrez in 1809, from the design and the plans of Fray Domingo de Petrés. Its facade, of neoclassical style and impeccable white, has become one of the most recognizable images of Guaduas.

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If you want to know more about Colombia, or wants to book your trip, please contact us.

References
  • Colombia Travel
  • Network of Colombian Heritage Villages
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

What to do around Honda, Colombia?

Placed in the department of Tolima, Honda is known as the “City of Peace” or “City of Bridges”. The colonial architecture is an indelible imprint of its past. It is said that a casual stroll through its colonial streets evokes the old Cartagena or Andalusia in Spain.

Honda is a natural paradise and historical heritage of Colombia. It was considered in the past as the first port of Nueva Granada (old Colombia), and currently it still retains a large number of bridges and buildings of the colonial era.

It keeps a past full of legends and glory, its development is growing in the tourism industry. In this guide you will have the necessary information for your visit to Honda.

Discovering Honda

The municipality of Honda is located 3 hours and 30 minutes from the city of Bogota.

The town of Honda was founded on August 24, 1539 under the name of Villa de San Bartolomé de Honda by Francisco Nuñez Pedroza. Honda is located in the north of the department of Tolima and borders the departments of Cundinamarca and Caldas.

Placed in the banks of the Magdalena River, Honda is part of the Network Colombian Heritage Towns. There you can walk the colonial neighborhoods which are full of history.

A Place in History

Honda has great importance in the history of Colombia such as the arrival of the first steamboat to the port of Caracolí in 1854, being considered the first river port of the country in the nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century. Also the construction of the Navarro Bridge that was inaugurated in 1899.

The architecture and other data represent the economic, social and cultural importance that the town of Honda had.

A Very Hot Place

Bear in mind, the average temperature in Honda is between 24 ºC (75 ºF) and 35 ºC (95º F), which indicates that it is a town with high temperatures as well as humid. For this reason, we recommend you to wear clothes according to the temperature, sun protection elements and keep hydrated.

Gastronomy and Culture around Fish and the Magdalena River

Due to its proximity to the river, dishes based on fishing such as Viudo de pescado, Sancocho de pescado (fish stew), and other typical dishes such as Tamal tolimense, Sancocho de Gallina, Lechona and the traditional raspado (frozen juice). There are also other typical dishes such as Tamal tolimense, Sancocho de Gallina, Lechona and the traditional raspado (frozen juice).

The cultural carnival and popular pageant of the Subienda is a celebration that takes place during the first semester of each year to celebrate the massive arrival of fish to this port on the Magdalena River.

During the festivity you can enjoy handicraft samples, horseback riding, cultural presentations, sports competitions, nautical promenade, the traditional parade of the candidates and their troupes, their boards with the popular verbena and presentation of musical groups.

In turn, the national pageant of the Magdalena River is held in October and also commemorates the fishing season.

How to get to Honda

To get to Honda you must take a 4-hours road trip from the west of Bogotá city for 180 km, during your journey you will pass through different thermal floors and you will be able to marvel at the beautiful landscapes; when you cross the majestic Magdalena River you will know that you have arrived at your destination.

Where to stay in Honda

In Honda you will find a great diversity of accommodation options depending on your budget and personal taste. Our recommendations as follows:

El Virrey Hotel Boutique, Hotel Boutique Posada Las Trampas, Casa Celeste Honda, Waka Hotel Rural and Hotel Calle Real Honda.

Honda Attractions and Activities

Among its cultural centers are:

  • The Magdalena River Museum.
  • The Alfonso López Pumarejo House Museum and Cultural Agency.
  • The Banco de la República Library

Great Colombian personalities have been born in Honda, such as: former President Alfonso López Pumarejo, bullfighter Pepe Cacéres, writer José María Samper, former Mayor of Bogotá Alfonso Palacio Rudas, politician Jaime Pava Navarro, General Abraham Varón Valencia, among others.

Historical tour

The streets of Honda have many stories so you will love walking in the historic center of the town, especially the Calle de las Trampas, this was a colonial sector where it is considered that the Viceroys of Spain lived.

You will also be able to visit the municipal market square, called the ‘Parthenon’ of Tolima for its republican architecture with Greco-Roman influence; there you will be able to have lunch, shop for handicrafts, clothes, fruits or vegetables.

Calle De Las Trampas, in the Colonial zone.

It has a sinuous and zigzag topography, with a stone floor evoking the Andalusian constructions. This was the sector par excellence of a wealthy “elite”. The typical two-story houses were distributed, starting from the main door on the street, in the living room, bedroom, kitchen, windows overhanging the street, corridor sill, stairs and bedrooms on the second floor.

Although some had a balcony with a corridor facing the courtyard instead of the lot, the latter was rare in the central part of the Villa where the houses were built without leaving space between them, forming a kind of wall along the streets.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary

It dates from the middle of the XVII century, and it was a work financed with the tolls on the Magdalena River and the contributions of the neighbors. On October 7, 1989 its temple was consecrated Cathedral of the Diocese of Líbano-Honda. Its patron saint’s day is August 24.

Market Square

This building is similar to the Greek Parthenon and was used by the Franciscan convent of San Bartolomé. With the earthquake in 1805 it was destroyed and was provisionally taken over as military barracks and later converted into the market square by the English engineer Henry Valsint, taking 18 years to finish (1917-1935).

It has 148 columns (76 external and 72 internal) being the external ones of Doric capital and Ionic base while the internal ones 36 are smooth and 36 similar to the external ones, 108 doors, several arches, it is of green and white color and because of its shape it was called the Parthenon of Tolima.

In 1996 it was declared a cultural asset of national interest. Inside it is a little messy and sometimes even dirty but despite that it is still interesting culturally, historically and architecturally.

Rapids or Honda Falls

This natural wonder is a geological fault, which divides in two the navigation of the Magdalena River. This natural phenomenon allows the famous “subienda” to occur every year: the rapids prevent the thousands of fish that each year fulfill their natural cycle in the waters of the Magdalena from rising easily.

Walking on the bridges of Honda

Honda is known for its variety of bridges, among which there are 3 that you can not miss: Navarro, Alfonso López and Luis Ignacio Andrade.

Alfonso López Bridge

This one in particular owes its name to the former liberal president Alfonso López Pumarejo, who was born there in 1886. The bridge is over the Gualí River, very close to the market square.

Luis Ignacio Andrade Bridge

It is located over the Magdalena River, and connects with Puerto Bogotá, Cundinamarca. It is important for land transportation, so it is usual to see tractor-trailers crossing it.

Navarro Bridge

More than 100 years old, it is the oldest bridge in South America. It was declared a National Monument in 1994 by Decree 936, thanks to its technical and aesthetic merits and the relevance that this important engineering work has had for the National history. Built between 1894 and 1898, it joins the departments of Tolima and Cundinamarca.

This bridge has a particular history. It was bought in New York from the same company that built the one in the city of San Francisco. The government gave it in concession for its exploitation for 99 years by charging tolls according to the type of cargo to be passed. That did not last long because the Thousand Days War came and changed all the conditions.

The bridge has an iron and steel structure of the type called Cantilever cornice, with a length of 167.65 mts, 5.20 mtZ wide and a height of 18.30 mts over the river.

You will find the Navarro Bridge 200 meters from the historic center of the town.

Visiting Museums in Honda

Magdalena River Museum

The museum tells the history of the river, in your tour you will learn about the animals that inhabit and inhabited the river; the articles used by the fishermen, besides learning about the fishing culture of the inhabitants of the town.

It is a colonial construction of the XVIII century, where “La bodega El Retiro or Puerto de El Retiro” worked, which provided its services to the merchants of the town in the Upper Magdalena, docked and sailed brigantines, steamboats, champagne, canoes, canoes, canoes.

At the end of the XIX century it was the headquarters of the Gendarmerie Barracks, then it was the library and municipal archives, and nowadays it houses the River Museum.

Alfonso Pumarejo House Museum

Faithful witness of the passage of several generations, today it is the scene of a remembered Colombian colonial era.

This building is representative of the classic Andalusian colonial architecture, whose construction dates back to the XVII century. It has a single floor, with a clay tile roof, a four-sided roof and a central patio, built in adobe, with a load-bearing wall system, exposed gutters and downspouts, and colorful columns of fine wood.

Birdwatching is also another activity you can do in Honda. Visit our entry about the birding routes in Tolima to know more.

If you want to know more about Colombia, or wants to book your trip, please contact us.

References
  • Colombia Travel
  • Network of Colombian Heritage Villages
  • Tolima Government Website
About the author

Sara Colmenares

The current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism-environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services, and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

What to do in and around Jericó, Antioquia?

Known as the “Aldea de Piedras”, name given by the locals of the town. Jericó is on the list of “Network of Colombian Heritage Villages“, when you visit Jericó you will get to know its history and culture, the ecosystems and natural reserves, the gastronomy and local commerce.

In this guide you will have the necessary information to visit this adorable town.

Discovering Jericó

Jericó is in the southeast of the department of Antioquia. Bordered on the north by the municipalities of Tarso and Fredonia, on the east by the municipalities of Fredonia and Támesis; on the south by the municipalities of Támesis, Jardín and Andes and on the west by Andes and Pueblorrico.

Jericó was found in 1850 but there are records of its colonization since 1825. It is located approximately 108 kilometers southeast of Medellin.

The town is known in Colombia for being home to a large number of churches and colorful streets which you will enjoy on your tour.

Bear in mind, the temperature generally ranges from 11 °C (51ºF) to 37 °C (98ºF). The best times of the year to visit Jericho for dry season activities are from mid-May to early July and from early September to late October.

How to get to Jericó

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to José María Córdova International Airport (MDE) at Rio Negro city.

Once at in Rio Negro you take an approximately 3-hours ride (108 Km) to Jericó.

Where to stay in Jericó

In Jericó you will find numerous accommodation offerings for all budgets and personal tastes; our recommendations for you are:

Jericó Attractions and Activities

Las Nubes Ecopark

Located 1.3 km away from the center of town with a walk of approximately 22 minutes, at an altitude of 2,250 meters above sea level you will be able to appreciate a breathtaking view of the Cauca River canyon.

In this natural reserve is part of the group of families that offer the service of ecological tours where you can meet countless species of fauna and flora.

In the ecopark you will be able to see deer, butterflies, birds, howler monkeys, armadillos, bush dogs, among others. Also, in its more than 4,000 hectares you can find sarros, eucalyptus trees, seven-horned trees and a great variety of ferns.

Tour to La Nohelia

In the company of the guides of La Nohelia you will discover the coffee culture in a tour through a coffee farm. Where you will learn about the whole process of harvesting, washing, drying and roasting of special coffee for the world, and finally you will taste a cup of high quality coffee.

Too you will visit the roasted coffee processing plant where you will learn the process to highlight the attributes of coffee from various growers (coffee growers) of the municipalities of Jericho, PuebloRico and Tamesis.

Cristo Redentor Viewpoint

It is a beautiful monument of white color that adorns the hill of ‘El Salvador’, it was inaugurated in October of 1828. The meaning of the locals is that his raised arms is the silent guardian that protects Jericho.

It was also erected as a protest and reparation, after the destruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, during the religious persecution in Mexico. It is a worthy expression of faith, hope and goodness.

To get to this point you only have to walk for 10 minutes from the center of town, from there you will have a beautiful panoramic view of the town.

Visit the Nuestra Señora de Las Mercedes Cathedral

This beautiful cathedral was built in brick and its most relevant feature is the height of its columns, it has an organ with 1,235 flutes, a crucifix made in 1880 and an oil painting of the Virgin of Las Mercedes, brought to the country in 1850. It is the main temple of the municipal diocese.

In addition you will be able to appreciate a giant poster of the Saint Laura Montoya, having clear that Jericho is the cradle of the believers of the first saint of Colombia.

Museum of Religious Art

This museum is  in the lower part of the cathedral and inaugurated in 1976. It is a place that you will love because it houses and preserves representative elements.

Among the most valuable elements that you will see is a French censer from the end of the 19th century, which belonged to the old cathedral since 1893; A naveta, used to carry incense and the high places of worship, from the 20th century, of French origin; Vestments of Monsignor Francisco Cristóbal Toro and some purple bonetes, used by the bishops in the ceremonies.

You will learn much of the history of the town as the great religious history of Jerico, if you are a devout person it will be a magical experience.

Los Balsos Botanical Garden

The garden includes a butterfly garden, a cactus garden, exhibition spaces, a library and a pond.

It is an ideal place to learn about the flora and fauna present in the town, besides to enjoying the tranquility of the garden.

What do to Around Jericó?

Visiting Támesis

A very beautiful town in the Cartama Valley in the southwestern region of Antioquia, approximately 3 hr from Medellín. It is a town surrounded by a spectacular nature that invites you to stop and enjoy the views of the beautiful landscape green and natural and old houses with typical facades of many colors.

Since Támesis is 25 km from Jericó you must take a 1-hour road trip. In Tamesis you can do adventure activities such as:

Caverns of the San Antonio River

The caverns of the San Antonio River, which have beautiful formations and crystal clear water sources at the bottom. You must keep in mind that to perform this activity you must have change of clothes.

Route of petroglyphs

The route of petroglyphs is located inside an indigenous settlement of the Embera Chamí tribe. There you will be able to learn more about the indigenous culture and customs that are still preserved there.

Paragliding

You can do this activity to appreciate the beautiful landscapes in this sector of the department of Antioquia.

Tubing

You will be able to make a descent through the Rio Frio in a rubber tire to appreciate the beautiful scenery.

Sport fishing

Támesis has La Parcelita, a place where you can do sport fishing.

If you wish you can do several of these activities in one day and return to Jerico. Moreover, if instead you want to stay for a couple of days we recommend Acantos Country Hotel.

References
  • Colombia Travel
  • Network of Colombian Heritage Villages
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Visit Mongui and Know its Heritage, Football Balloons and the Ocetá Páramo

Mongui is on the list of “Network of Colombian Heritage Villages“, being one of the most beautiful towns in the department of Boyacá, besides having a great history to tell its visitors in the middle of its cobblestone streets.

You will fall in love with its colonial and republican court buildings and the kindness of its inhabitants. Mongui has an average temperature between 8 ºC (46º F) and 16º (60º F), and it is located at an altitude between 2.923 and 3.854 meters above sea level.

In this guide you will have the necessary information to visit this adorable town.

Discovering Mongui, Boyacá, Colombia

Mongui is located in the department of Boyaca, 3.5-hours (223 km) from Bogotá and 1.5-hours (88 km) from Tunja, the capital of the department.

In addition, Mongui has special geographic characteristics that favours great variety of native fauna, flora, and soils throughout the municipality, and an important diverse biodiversity.

How to get to Mongui

To get to Mongui you must take a 3,5 -hours road trip (totaling 223kms) from Bogotá for until you reach Mongui; during your trip you will be able to appreciate the Cundiboyacence highlands.

Where to stay

In Mongui you will find numerous accommodation offerings for all budgets and personal tastes; our recommendation for is the Hotel Otti Colonial.

Ecotourism in Mongui, Boyacá

Ocetá Paramo

Ocetá paramo is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, this is because its valleys contain the largest number of species of paramo flora in Colombia.

Among the most characteristic fauna that you will be able to appreciate are the lupines, senecios, white-tailed deer and the beautiful hummingbird chivito de páramo; without forgetting to enjoy the magical viewpoints that will take your breath away.

Páramo de Ocetá

Mongui is the closest town to the paramo, so you can dedicate a day of your visit to the town to visit this beautiful valley of Frailejones, where you can visit the Black Lagoon, the Boat, the City of stone and it is also possible to see fields of senecios. If you are lucky and the sky is clear, it is possible to see the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy.

To get to the paramo you can choose the option of walking for 3 hours or take the service of a 4X4 car, but it is essential that you take the guide service to safely enjoy the paramo while you learn about this beautiful place.

Rock climbing

On the outskirts of Mongui you can test your endurance to climb a rock, with a duration of 4 to 8 hours depending on the intensity you want to practice.

In the center of town you will find guides who can offer you this service.

Mountain biking

2 available routes start downtown and extend over 20 km and 40 km, where you will have an ascent up to 3650 meters above sea level at the highest point; on the way you will be able to appreciate the beautiful landscapes. The average time is 5 to 8 hours and it is advisable to start the tour in the morning.

Know the Cultural Patrimony of Mongui

San Francisco Church, CC license

History of Balloons in Mongui

When Froilán Ladino was recruited in 1932 to render military service for Colombia in the war against Peru; when he was in Manaus he met Brazilian saddlers who were experts in the manufacture of leather balls; and two years later, when the war ended and he returned to Monguí, he joined his brother Manuel, to create his own tannery and to elaborate leather balls.

Froilán taught the craft of ball manufacturing to a group of twelve peasants who later became known as the “twelve apostles”. This activity was a new way to generate resources with an activity that could be combined with agriculture and cattle raising.

The Ladino company had its best period in the 1970s, when they were in charge of supplying demand throughout the country.

However, the boom in the entry of Chinese products in the 2000s caused a decline in the demand affecting domestic manufacturers like Ladino.

If you want to get more information and learn more historical data in the Ball Museum located in the village you will be able to learn.

Calicanto Colonial Bridge

The bridge was built by the Sanoha tribe in the XVII century over the Morro River, its name comes from the material with which it is made: calicanto, a glue made of a mixture of lime, sand, beef blood and molasses.

It represents a typical work of the Colonial era, after its construction was where the stones that were used to build the Basilica of Our Lady of Monguí were transported.

Basilica and cloister of Nuestra Señora de Monguí

This beautiful stone-built Basilica was finished during the seventeenth century and is consdiered cultural heritage of Colombia, besides being an architectural treasure of the department.

Its origin was a small chapel where the Franciscan missionaries met to evangelize the indigenous people who were in this region.

When you are in front of the front door you will be able to appreciate the coats of arms of the kingdoms of Aragon and Castile, as a symbol to remember the supremacy of Spain during the time in the region.

Franciscan Convent and Church

The Franciscan convent and church is located next to the Basilica, it has 2 floors and what you will appreciate most are the ceilings supported by Roman arches, at the entrance you will be able to appreciate a gigantic stone column in the form of a spiral of about 2.5 meters high.

Its construction took 100 years, since those responsible for its manufacture decided to devote the relevant time to each of the details; when you are walking inside the convent you will be able to see some paintings depicting scenes of Christianity, and some furniture used by the friars of the time.

Peasant for a day

Through sustainable tourism and the association of several farmers you can experience a day of a family in the sector; you can learn about morning activities, animal management techniques and the preparation of typical foods. This activity begins in the early morning and ends after lunch.

References
  • Network of Colombian Heritage Villages
  • Colombia Travel
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Brief Guide to Discover the 5 Deserts of Colombia

Colombia has 5 deserts throughout its territory, which have very different characteristics due to their location. Besides, the deserts present in Colombia are arid and dry during most of the year, generating amazing landscapes, experiences that will leave you happy with your visit.

In this guide you will learn everything to enjoy exploring the deserts you can find in Colombia to the fullest.

La Guajira Desert

Located in the north of the country, in the department of Guajira. It is one of the most striking deserts thanks to the combination of the magical environment of the desert and the Caribbean Sea. The desert is divided into 3 sub-regions:

  • Alta Guajira: where its enormous dunes, cliffs, its enigmatic rock formations and its beaches of romantic and quiet atmosphere stand out; besides you can visit the Macuira National Natural Park.
  • Media Guajira: in this sub-region what stands out the most is the red sand that contrasts with the blue Caribbean sea. It is also very close to the Flamingo Flora and Fauna Sanctuary in the Boca de Camarones area and the Musichi Natural Reserve.
  • Baja Guajira: it is characterized for being the most humid area of the desert, located very close to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. It is the birthplace of several sources of fresh water, such as the Ranchería River.

In your tour in this desert you will be able to know the wisdom of the Wayú, one of the most important indigenous communities in the country.

How to get to La Guajira Desert

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado International Airport (BOG) Bogotá to Almirante Padilla International Airport (RCH) at Riohacha city. Once at the airport, take an approximately 1,5- hours ride to Uribia. Once at Uribia you should take an extra 2-hours ride to Desierto de la Guajira.

Where to stay in La Guajira Desert

La Guajira desert does not currently offer accommodation for travelers. Therefore we recommend you to stay at Cabo de la Vela or at Riohacha:

If you want to know more about activities you can do near the Guajira Desert check out our blog Travel Guide to Los Flamencos Fauna & Flora Sanctuary in Colombia, Travel Guide to Macuira: The Cloud Forest Oasis in La Guajira Desert.

La Candelaria Desert (between Raquira and Villa de Leyva towns)

It is located in the department of Boyacá, 7 km from the municipality of Ráquira and 32 km from the municipality of Villa de Leyva; also known under the name of “the desert of souls”, because it is away from all noise and offers an atmosphere of tranquility.

One of the most important characteristics is that its winds are very cold, since it is located in an area of moorland; however it has the geological conditions to be considered as a desert even has areas of fertile land where there is abundant vegetation making a wonderful contrast.

In this area of the department of Boyacá important archaeological findings have been made, so it is possible to find valuable cave paintings during your tour.

 How to get to La Candelaria Desert

 To get to the sanctuary you must take a 3.5 -hour road trip from the city of Bogotá to the town of Ráquira, total distance of 183 km.

When you are in Ráquira you must take a 10-minutes road trip of 7 km to Desierto de La Candelaria.

Where to stay in La Candelaria Desert

 Due to the proximity of the desert to the town of Ráquira we recommend you to stay there:

  • Casona 1865
  • Between Rocks and Crystals
  • Mirkeland Cabana Balcony
  • Duir House – Vintage House
  • Gran Sirius Hotel

If you want to know more about activities you can do near the Candelaria Desert check out our blogs Discover the Natural Attractions of Villa de Leyva, Colombia, The Paleontologist’s Perfect Fossil Trip in Villa de Leyva and The Muisca Legend of the Origin of Life at Iguaque Flora and Fauna Sanctuary.

La Tatacoa Desert

This beautiful desert is located in the department of Huila near the municipality of Villa Vieja, being one of the most visited natural attractions in Colombia. It is also known as “The Valley of Sorrows” named this way thanks to the conquistador Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada.

In addition the Tatacoa desert is a place of great importance for astronomy lovers because it has an ideal geographical location thanks to its low light pollution which facilitates the observation in detail of the stars and other phenomena of the universe such as meteor showers. Find out more about stargazing in our blog best places for stargazing in Colombia.

If you want to stay until night you can easily observe the stars and take beautiful pictures or if you want you can go to the astronomical observatory that the desert has.

By the way, the desert has 2 colors in different sectors; ocher in the Cuzco sector and gray in the Los Hoyos sector. When you are doing your tour in the Cuzco sector you will be able to reach an oasis in the middle of the desert where you will be able to take a refreshing bath.

How to get to La Tatacoa Desert

Take a 40-minutes flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá City to Benito Salas Airport (NVA) at Neiva city. Once at the airport, take an approximately 1-hour ride to Villa Vieja Town. At Villa Vieja take an extra 20- minutes boat ride to Desierto de la Tatacoa.

Where to stay in La Tatacoa Desert

Inside the desert there is a hotel where you can stay if you prefer instead of going to Villa Vieja: Bethel Bio Luxury Hotel.

La Tatacoita Desert in Nemocón.

Very close to the capital of the country, Bogota, is the Tatacoita desert, also known as “Checua”, which has a great geographic variety that you will discover when you get there.

The desert has gullies, sinkholes, estoraques and a canyon; in addition the colors that are presented in the strata mark the labyrinths present in the desert.

It is possible to make the tour of this desert in a couple of hours since its extension is small and reaches a maximum altitude of 2,000 meters above sea level. We recommend that you do the tour in the morning hours so you can see the change in color of the rocks when they come in contact with the sun’s rays.

How to get to La Tatacoita Desert

To get to the sanctuary you must take a 1 -hour road trip from the city of Bogotá to the town of Nemocón, total distance of 59 km.

When you are in Nemocón you must take a 35-minutes road trip of 11 km to Desierto de La Tatacoita.

 Where to stay in La Tatacoita Desert

 Due to the proximity of Bogotá to the town of Nemocón we recommend you to stay in Bogotá.

Occidente Desert, Santa Fe de Antioquia

Located in the department of Antioquia very close to the municipality of Santa Fe de Antioquia, being the most extensive arid area of the department.

It is possible that if you make the desert tour at midday you can experience temperatures above 35º C (95 ºF), also its heights are between 430 to 1300 meters above sea level.

How to get to Occidente Desert

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to José María Córdoba International Airport (MDE) at Rio Negro city.

Once at in Rio Negro you take an approximately 3,5-hours ride (56 Km) to Santa Fe de Antioquia. Antioquia. When you are in Santa Fe de Antioquia you must take a 10-minutes road trip of 11 km to Desierto de Occidente.

Where to stay in Occidente Desert

Due to the proximity of the desert to the municipality of Santa Fe de Antioquia we recommend you to stay there:

Know more about activities that you can do near the Occidente Desert visit our blog about Tourism in Santa fe de Antioquia.

If you want to know more about Colombia, or wants to book your trip, please contact us.

References
  • Colombia Travel.
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

The Gateway to the Colombian Amazon: Putumayo

Putumayo is one of the most beautiful and promising post-conflict scenarios to enjoy nature tourism.  has a perfect harmony between the rainforest and the Andes mountain range. In the south of the department is the city of Villagarzon where rivers begin to take the shape of a snake along with flat green landscapes; in the west of the capital, Mocoa, is the Sibundoy Valley.

Putumayo has an incredibly high biodiversity, it offers you the opportunity to meet species such as parrots, toucans, monkeys, tapirs, capivaras, tigers, panthers, spectacled bear and a great variety of birds. This is because its territory occupies a Andean – Amazon Piedmont, and numerous rivers.

Mocoa

Mocoa is Putumayo’s Capital City. It is a city that offers a combination of jungle walks, waterfalls, ecotourism, adventure sports, ancestral wellness, bird watching and Amazonian fauna.

What to visit staying in Mocoa?

Fin del Mundo Waterfall

It is one of the main tourist attractions in Mocoa. The waterfall is located in the Dantayaco stream and has a drop height of 70 meters forming two beautiful natural pools.

To get there you must hike up the mountain for 1.5 – hours, and when you are at this point apart from taking beautiful pictures you can do water activities such as canyoning.

Mandiyaco Cañon

Located at km 25 of the road that leads from Mocoa to Pitalito very close to the Caqueta river. This natural wonder is a rock formation of volcanic origin, called “Mandiyaco” in the Inga language.

The rock formations that can be observed are possible to see different faces like the lion, the tiger’s claws, the nose of the bear, among other figures, in this wonderful place full of positive energy where you can take a boat ride.

Suruma Park

This reserve and preservation center of the Amazonian flora and fauna is located 8.3 km from Mocoa, has an area of 131.6 hectares of which 90% is forest.

There you will be able to take tours to learn more about the flora and fauna found in the Amazon as well as gain knowledge of the species that are endangered and those that are already in recovery.

Paway Butterfly Farm

If you want to learn about the evolutionary process of butterflies, this place is ideal for you. It is located 7.7 km from Mocoa; there you will be surrounded by nature and many species of butterflies.

In addition the butterfly farm offers you the opportunity to stay in a cabin built in a Ceiba “sacred tree”, you can spend a night surrounded by nature and wake up with the original sounds of the Amazon rainforest.

Hornoyaco Waterfall

To get to this beautiful waterfall of 55 m of fall you must make a 2 hour walk from the center of Mocoa. It is known because its inhabitants say that the guardian of this waterfall is the rainbow, since most of the time when the rainbow appears you can see how it surrounds the waterfall. It is a place of tranquility and peace where you can spend a wonderful afternoon.

Licamancha Caves

In Putumayo it is also possible to do caving activities, in the limits between the departments of Putumayo and Cauca on the banks of the Caqueta River is the access point to the caverns; it is advisable not to visit in rainy seasons due to the risks that can be run by the increase of the current of the river.

During the one hour tour it is possible to appreciate paleontological vestiges of more than millions of years old, besides walking through internal halls inside the cavern of 15 meters high.

At the moment it is an area that is in constant investigation for the discovery of more caverns or internal tours inside the already known ones.

El Salto del Indio

In the Kuriyaku ravine (in the indigenous language of the sector means “golden water”) just 19 km from Mocoa it is possible to find this natural wonder. It is formed by 2 waterfalls where a natural pool of emerald green water is generated.

Thanks to the fact that the inhabitants of the cabildo Tigre Playa offer the service of canoe to cross the river, the hiking time was reduced from 1 hour to 20 minutes, so now you will have more time to enjoy this natural wonder.

Donde se Oculta el Sol waterfalls (where the sun hides)

Located 22 km from Mocoa, when you arrive at the indicated point you will hike 2 km to reach the waterfalls that are formed in the Sardinas Creek; the waterfall “Mohano” (in indigenous language “Jaguar Man”) has 18 m of fall and the waterfall “Wakana” (in indigenous language “Llanto de la Mona”) has 17 m of fall.

Between the two waterfalls it is necessary to cross a stone bridge and a stone tunnel that connects the two waterfalls.

There you will be able to go bird watching, there is a camping area or if you prefer rural lodging.

How to arrive to Mocoa?

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city.

Where to stay in Mocoa?

In Mocoa you will find a great diversity of accommodation options depending on your budget and personal taste. Our recommendations as follows:

  • Posada Turistica Dantayaco

Orito

It is located in the Amazonian foothills, there you will be able to meet and have contact with the Kofan indigenous community, you can acquire knowledge of the ancestral wisdom of the hand of them, also you will be able to know the Pijili River, noted for its emerald green waters.

What to visit in Orito?

Isla Escondida Nature Reserve

There are about 25 kms of walking trails in and around the reserve. Apart from the trails there are many tracks for walking and exploring!

The reserve has more than 350 bird species, with many range-restricted species. Among the main targets are the  Nocturnal Curassow (Nothocrax urumutum), Salvin’s Curassow, Chestnut-headed Crake, Grey-winged Trumpeter, Napo Screech-owl, Buff-tailed Sicklebill, Pavonine Quetzal, Collared Puffbird, Spot-winged and Scarlet-shouldered Parrotlet, Fulvous Antshrike, Hairy-crested Antbird, Spectacled Bristle-tyrant, Foothill Elaenia, Black-&-white and Golden-winged Tody-flycatcher, Grey-tailed Piha, Fiery-throated Fruiteater, Foothill Schiffornis, Musician Wren and Fulvous Shrike-Tanager.

There are registers of  jaguar, margay, trumpeters, deer, opossums, nocturnal curassows, kinkajous (Potus flavus), olingos (Bassaricyon alleni), pacas (Cuniculus paca), night monkeys (Aotus), band-bellied Owls (Pulsatrix melanota), etc.

Maloka Oso Kofan

It is a meeting center of the Kofan indigenous community, the name of this Maloka is due to the fact that the Taita Oso Kofan is located there; also if you visit the department in January you can have the opportunity to participate in the annual camp where the indigenous community offers visitors the Amazonian ancestral knowledge along with the Yage ceremony supervised by members of the indigenous community.

Ma&Ju Ecotourism Center

In Ma&Ju you will learn about the agricultural processes of planting and harvesting of pepper and cocoa that takes place in the department. You can also do activities such as Canopy and walk on Tibetan bridges over the jungle.

If you wish to spend the night in this center there is a camping area or private cabins in the middle of the jungle.

Corunta Ecotourism Center

In the center you will be able to enjoy a private waterfall, La Silvania, you can also go horseback riding in the middle of the jungle, enjoy a natural pool and take tours in rural areas and have contact with the farmers of the sector.

Pijili Stone

It is a huge stone located in the flow of the Pijili River, is one of the most visited resorts for the majesty of the stone along with the tranquility and beautiful scenery offered by this river.

How to get to Orito?

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city.

Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 3-hours ride (118 Km) to Orito.

Puerto Asis

It is the municipality with the largest population of the department, besides being known as the commercial capital of Putumayo due to the development of commercial activities of great importance for the economic development of the department.

Moreover, Puerto Asis was the national center in the development of the Colombian-Peruvian war or known as “the conflict of Leticia” between 1932-1933.

What to visit in Puerto Isis?

La Esmeralda Pier

This important dock is the place where all the boats connect with Puerto Leguizamo, being one of the most important fluvial connection points of the department. You can also take a tour through the Putumayo River where you will be able to appreciate the immensity and enjoy the scenery during the tour.

Playa Rica Village

During your journey through the Putumayo River you can enter this magical trail where you can do bird watching, appreciate various species of the jungle in this part of the country and learn about Amazonian fruits.

How to get to Puerto Asis?

Bogota – Mocoa – Puerto Asis

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city. Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 2-hours ride (87 Km) to Puerto Asís.

Bogotá- Puerto Asís

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Tres de Mayo Airport (PUU) at Puerto Asís city. Keep in mind that the airlines that fly to Puerto Asis are: EasyFly (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and Satena (Sunday through Friday).

Puerto Leguizamo

It is called the exotic garden of the universe, as it is surrounded by the Amazon jungle, the Putumayo River and has borders with Ecuador and Peru. Formerly known as Caucayá, since it was the name it received when it was founded in 1920 and in 1950 it received its current name.

What to visit in Puerto Leguizamo?

El Guardian de la Selva (The Guardian of the Forest)

A magical ceiba tree 60 meters high and 40 centimeters in diameter. The inhabitants of the sector consider it to be the grandfather tree, being the sacred tree that is full of positive energy and is raising requests to heaven.

Caucayá River

It is located at the entrance to the Amazon, from here you will be able to observe the pink dolphin, river otters, different species of birds and Amazonian monkeys.

Laguna Azul

It is a body of water located in the deepest point of Puerto Leguizamo, it is said that its waters are healing, also rituals of cleansing and purification of the body and spirit are performed there.

La Argelia Fish Farming Station

In this station you will meet and feed the Amazonian fish Pirarocu, one of the largest freshwater fish and can measure up to 3 meters, this experience is possible with the support of the inhabitants of the sector.

How to get to Puerto Leguizamo?

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Caucayá Airport (LQM) at Puerto Leguizamo city.

Keep in mind that the only airline that operates to this airport is Satena on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Villagarzon

It is part of the Amazonian Piedemonte region, surrounded by the rivers San Juan, Conejo, San Vicente and Guineo, is 15 minutes from Mocoa; it is also known as the heart of Putumayo for being one of the most diverse areas of the department.

What to visit in Villagarzon?

El Escondite Natural Reserve

It is a Private Natural Reserve, which has a protected area of approximately 124 hectares, of which 70% is in natural regeneration or in a state of conservation located in the village of La Joya. Here you can go bird watching, as it has a record of 299 species of birds, you can also observe frogs and insects and primates.

Kayaking on the Guineo River

You can do this activity surrounded by a landscape of Amazon jungle and pure waters that invite us to have fun and connect with mother earth.

Rio Vides Archaeological Park

In the park you can observe stones with petroglyphs that show motifs of stars, plants and animals and other classified carved by indigenous ancestors.

How to get to Villagarzon?

Bogota – Mocoa – Villagarzon

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city. Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 30 – minutes ride (17 Km) to Villagarzón.

Where to stay in Villagarzon?

In Villagarzón you will find a great diversity of accommodation options depending on your budget and personal taste. Our recommendations as follows:

  • El Escondite.

Sibundoy Valley

It is one of the cultural epicenters of Putumayo, with the presence of the indigenous cultures Kamentsá (men from here) and Ingas (close), unique in the world.

The inhabitants of the sector say that the missionaries arrived there during the colonial period, leaving numerous educational centers of great importance for the region.

What to visit in Sibundoy Valley?

The Interculturality Park

Known as the meeting point for the inhabitants of the municipality, it is adorned with eight sculptures made of wood by the indigenous communities, being an ideal place to spend the afternoon and visit the headquarters of the Municipal Administration.

Ambiaku Tourist Center / Colón Hot Springs Center

Termas Colón is a place where you can visit during the day or at night; you can experience shock therapies between hot and cold water, you can also have an outdoor mud therapy.

Ayen Botanical Garden

The place is ideal to learn about medicinal plants; you can also participate in harmonization or cleansing activities through the taita Juan, you can also participate in a yage ceremony with a previous reservation.

Villa Beatriz Viewpoint

From this wonderful viewpoint you will be able to watch birds and hummingbirds, besides having a panoramic view of the immense and magical valley of Sibundoy.

How to get to Sibundoy?

Bogota – Mocoa – Sibundoy

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Villa Garzón Airport (VGZ) at Mocoa city.

Once at in Mocoa you take an approximately 3,5-hours ride (81 Km) to Sibunday.

If you want to know more about Colombia, or wants to book your trip, please contact us.

References
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

Slow cities in Colombia: Pijao, at the Coffee Triangle

Pijao is a quiet and unexplored natural destination, and the first Cittaslow town in Colombia. A Cittaslow town is a community-managed system of continuous improvement with a sustainable outcome that strives for quality of life for its residents.

Pijao is a town with a coffee architecture tradition that stopped in time, as well as the church clock, with a long tower and with little grace, painted in pale orange that stopped at 7:25 minutes, one day, many years ago.

Discovering Pijao Cittaslow

It is located in the west of the department of Quindio on the central mountain range at 1700 meters above sea level, and has no more than 6,800 inhabitants.

At the village entrance there is an arch of raw brick columns with a chipped statue of Virgin Mary; when you are in the center of the village you will notice that the people live without worries.

In addition, Pijao has a high Andean forest ecosystem and Páramo; in the Páramo the rivers Lejos and Azul are the source of the town’s water supply and its average temperature is 23°C (73º F).

How to get to Pijao

Take a 1,5-hours flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to El Edén International Airport (AXM) at Armenía city. Once at the airport, take an approximately 1-hour ride to Pijao

Where to stay in Pijao

When in Pijao you will feel part of the town, as the facades of the hotels are very traditional and you will feel like you are in another era. There are few lodging options and we recommend you to stay at Finca el Otoño.

Activities and attractions in Pijao Cittaslow

Tour of the town

We recommend that you start your tour in the central park, from there you can have a panoramic view of the houses where you will fall in love with its beautiful architecture and colors.

Then you can visit the town hall which looks like an anthropological museum, in fact, it is in a way.

Moreover, you can visit the church of San Jose which has a very particular structure, the colors contrast with the architecture of the square and its clock tower preserves the original structure.

La Floresta Coffee Shop

This cozy coffee shop despite its humble appearance has a space where you can live a wonderful coffee experience; where you can learn the methods of filtering and preparation. They gave us a live demonstration of the chemex method and we did a tasting of different types of coffee, both hot and cold.

Bar Los Recuerdos

The owner of this bar, Gonzalo, over the last 50 years has collected about 3,000 photographs and posters of Argentine, Spanish, Colombian and Mexican artists, which adorn the walls and ceilings of this magical place.

Inside the bar you can observe the collection of more than 2,000 vinyl records of boleros, rancheras, pasillos and tangos, which play in a 33 and 45 revolutions player.

Pijao Social Bar

Enjoy a delicious cup of coffee in the only steam-powered ink machine in Quindío that is more than 70 years old. While enjoying your coffee you can play pool with the locals and listen to the anecdotes of this historic bar.

Contemplate the sunset in “the place where the herons arrive”

Just 20 meters from the central square you will find a tree where every day hundreds of herons and other birds come to rest, including those flying  away from the North American winter.

Mountain biking through the Paramo de Chili

If you have previous experience in mountain biking you will love this activity, 28 kilometers of biking from Pijao you can live a unique and unforgettable experience where you will overcome your limits until you reach 3,750 meters above sea level.

This tour has a duration of 7 hours and its degree of difficulty is high.

Excursion to the Mellizas Lagoon

If you want to know a hidden place of Los Nevados Natural Park, if you like trekking and hiking this plan is for you. During 6 hours of hiking with a medium-low degree of difficulty in the middle of swampy paths but of special beauty.

During the tour you will be able to observe a great diversity of birds, trout and frailejones and  discover 7 additional lagoons that are little known by the visitors of the Natural Park of Los Nevados.

Coffee Experience

In the rural zone of Pijao it is possible to take tours of the coffee plantations. You will have a tour of the coffee process from the beginning, exploring from the coffee plantations to the coffee roasting and grinding process.

Finally, you will be able to enjoy a delicious cup of high-quality coffee, due to the soil conditions and the processes that the farmers of the town manage.

Tour to the Wax Palm Forest

Initially you must have a local guide to carry-out this activity. The first trail you take goes to the farm La Playa, where you can have breakfast and from there you will reach the school of Vereda Las Palmas. his point can be reached by motorcycle, jeep or bike before starting the ascent on foot.

During 40 minutes of walking at more than 3200 meters above sea level you will be surrounded by the imposing and beautiful wax palms, until you reach the farm El Alto. There you can have a hot snack or lunch while you contemplate the beauty of the mountains decorated by the enormous amount of wax palms.

It is recommended that you wear warm and waterproof clothes, if possible bring a change of clothes in case of rain.

If you want to know more about Colombia, or wants to book your trip, please contact us.

References
 About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

The Magical Realism of the Macondo Route in the Colombian Caribbean

Macondo does not appear on maps, and could be any town in the northern Caribbean of Colombia. Everything seems to indicate that Macondo is inspired by Arataca, a municipality in the department of Magdalena where Gabriel García Márquez was born. So, the Macondo Route is recently developed as a touristic project, since 2017.

What does it mean Macondo?

Macondo comes from makonde, which is the plural of likonde, a word used to refer to the prenominate fruit in the millenary Central African language, which literally means ‘devil’s food’.

The Macondo Route

The Government of the Department of Magdalena has designed the Macondo Route, which will take you to each of the places present in the book One Hundred Years of Solitude, by the Colombian novel winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This project integrates 8 municipalities that you will have the opportunity to discover.

You can also enjoy an eco-village in Macondo and the Mauricio Babilonia’s butterfly farm. This tour promotes the growth and development of these towns, in addition to promoting the protection of the environment.

Cienaga

The town is located in front of the Caribbean Sea, near the Cienaga Grande. Ciénaga has historical, colonial, archaeological and natural sites to visit; the beaches on the shores of the Caribbean Sea offer a moment of peace and tranquility. It is part of Colombia’s network of heritage towns.

Ciénaga can be reached from Santa Marta or Barranquilla by car or bus. From Santa Marta it is 17 kilometers, while from Barranquilla it is 62 kilometers. To get to Ciénaga from Bogotá you must take a 1-hour flight from the city of Bogotá at El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) in Santa Marta. From the airport you have to take a cab to Ciénaga, 33 km away (40 minutes).

It can be said that Ciénaga has the privilege of possessing an invaluable historical and cultural heritage. The Templete, the Chapel of the Santa Teresa School, the Old Railroad Station, the Church of San Juan Bautista, the Masonic Lodge, “La Casa del Diablo” transport us to past times and accompany us in the present with its colonial air.

Its colonial style houses show the former prosperity of the sector and is testimony of the economic boom that Cienaga had since 1900, through the export of bananas. It went from being an indigenous town in a state of colonial occupation to become the third most important city in the Colombian Caribbean.

García Márquez’s grandparents arrived in Ciénaga in the first decade of the 1900s. Although García Márquez only lived a short time in Ciénaga, the municipality is full of tributes to him.

One of the most visited places by the local people is the Balneario de Costa Verde, a place with beautiful landscapes and natural pools, where the Cordoba River flows into the Cienaga Grande and its countless pipes.

You can not forget to take a tour of the historic center of the town along with its streets, which will transport you to another era full of history.

The Cemetery of the Rich

The tomb of Remedios, la bella, is located in the San Miguel de Ciénaga cemetery, better known as the cemetery of the rich. According to local guides, the name of the person who gave life to the character in the book is Rosario Barranco, who was the first Miss Magdalena, in 1934.

Many stories related to her unparalleled beauty were told about her, hence the nickname ‘Rosario, la bella’ (Rosario, the beautiful). Some say that García Márquez took the reference and adapted it to ‘Remedios, la bella’, because for him she was so beautiful that she was a remedy for ugliness.

Their deaths even resemble each other, unmarried, flying between white sheets. Rosario collapsed in front of the church of San Juan Bautista, of a fulminating heart attack, from her shawl Garcia Marquez created a sheet for Remedios, in which she flew to heaven.

Banana-growing Zone

It has a natural and historical wealth that marked the territory with the inclusion of the railroad train and the cultivation of bananas. It also has the privilege of having three basins that are maintained with water throughout the year.

Most of the banana towns were built on the sides of the railroad, so there is an element that connects the Colombian Nobel’s magical realism literature and the passage of the train loaded with bananas that transformed Macondo.

Nowadays, in terms of agriculture there is corn, rice, beans, fruit trees, horticulture and cassava, in addition, there is an important area planted with bananas and oil palm.

The Riofrío Commissariat

The Riofrío Commissariat is located in the Riofrío district, in the banana-growing zone. There, the day laborers of the United Fruit Company, the U.S. multinational that marketed fruits grown in Latin America, went on strike in order to improve their working conditions.

The company’s managers did not comply with their demands and twenty-four days later, on December 6, 1928, one of the most chilling events in Colombian history took place: The Banana Factory Massacre.

The nonconformity of the workers were narrated in One Hundred Years of Solitude explaining the state of mind of the workers, who needed a change. And although they only demanded that their rights be respected, no one supported them.

The most frequent activities take place in Rio Frio, Sevilla and Tucurinca, where you can enjoy a swim in crystal clear waters, you can also make kayak tours that end where the Sevilla and Rio Frio river basin joins.

To get to Zona Bananera you must take a 1 hour flight from the city of Bogota at El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Simon Bolivar International Airport (SMR) in Santa Marta. From the airport take a cab to Zona Bananera, 59 km (1 hour).

Varela, municipality of the yellow butterflies

Near the commissary stop, and still next to the train tracks, is Varela.

“After the massacre of the banana plantations the quantities of bananas that remained on the plants uncut began to decompose. This caused the proliferation of many butterflies of different colors, being the yellow ones the predominant ones“, says a local guide.

It is in Valera, where a mechanic of the United Fruit Company lived and who in One Hundred Years of Solitude appears as Mauricio Babilonia, who is in love with Renata Remedios Buendia. The yellow butterflies preceded Mauricio Babilonia’s appearances, indicating to Remedios when she could meet her forbidden love.

City of the “gringos” and Casa Museo de Sevilla

After crossing the Aguja and Frío rivers, you arrive at the city of the “gringos”.

As “Gabo” once recounted, Prado Sevilla was a privileged place in the banana region. The high officials of the United Fruit Company, who were generally American, French and German citizens, enjoyed a swimming pool, bilingual school, golf course, the only movie theater in the region, heliport, electric light (which none of the other towns had), a military battalion that guarded its inhabitants all day long, a clinic and buildings completely different from the other workers’ camps.

There you will find the Casa Museo de Sevilla, which still preserves the original furniture that the United Fruit Company provided to its employees.

Macondo

There in Zona Bananera is a small village called Macondo. Its inhabitants tell that Garcia Marquez knew it, and that he simply didn’t give them the credit out of interest or embarrassment.

At the entrance of the village, which is located in the heart of the banana zone, there is a giant, colorful sign that reads: “I love the real Macondo. Land of inspiration that gave birth to the magical Macondian world. Fertile land blessed by God on the banks of the Sevilla River”.

In an interview with Gabriel García Márquez asking him where Macondo was, he answered that it existed in everyone’s mind. For this reason, the inhabitants of this village consider that he was not loyal to them. And, although Macondo generates a lot of money for the film, manufacturing and literary industries, the inhabitants of the real Macondo are impoverished.

Aracataca

Aracataca is the birthplace of the writer Gabriel García Márquez. It is located in the north of the department of Magdalena, in the sub-region of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the temperatures range between 33°C and 36°C.

Many of the places in Aracataca pay homage to Gabriel García Márquez. The most recent is the Macondo Linear Park, which was founded in 2019. There you can see a colorful artistic path of 350 meters with more than 30 murals that capture some fragments of the author’s most representative works.

There is also the Gabriel García Márquez Public Library, the Remedios la Bella Municipal Library, the statue of Remedios la Bella, the Railway Station and the Telegraph House, where Eligio García, Gabo’s father, worked.

The first place we recommend you to visit is the Gabriel García Márquez House Museum, where the famous writer lived. Admission is free but they ask for a voluntary donation for its maintenance.

You can also go to the old Casa del Telegrafista (Telegraph House), where the Colombian writer’s father worked, the entrance is also free. Finally, you can take a tour through the streets of the town in the company of a guide, who will tell you the stories of Gabo when he lived in the town.

To get to Aracataca you have to take a 1-hour flight from Bogota city at El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Simon Bolivar International Airport (SMR) in Santa Marta. From the airport you have to take a cab to A, 84 km (1.5 – hours).

Other places you can visit around the Mancondo Route

Sitionuevo and Puebloviejo

Sitionuevo is a municipality of the department located in the department of Magdalena, is on the right bank of the Magdalena River is one of the ideal places to enjoy nature in the Caribbean.

Puebloviejo It is located in the north of the department of Magdalena, linked by an isthmus to the city of San Juan (Ciénaga). It has an incalculable hydrographic wealth, as it is surrounded by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta.

The villagers summarize the essence of the true fishermen of the country, so when visiting this town you can learn about traditional fishing techniques and hear many anecdotes of veteran fishermen.

To get to Sitionuevo you must take a 1-hour flight from the city of Bogota at El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to the Ernesto Cortissoz International Airport (BAQ) in Barranquilla. From the airport take a cab to Sitionuevo, 37 km away (1-hour).

To get to Pueblo Viejo you have to take a 1 hour flight from the city of Bogota at El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to Simon Bolivar International Airport (SMR) in Santa Marta. From the airport take a cab to Puebloviejo, 37 km away (1 hour).

Via-Parque Isla de Salamanca

Near this town is the Via-Parque Isla de Salamanca. This park is located on the right side of the Troncal del Caribe highway, 110 km from Santa Marta and 10 km from Barranquilla after crossing the Pumarejo bridge. It is full of exuberant trails with unique fauna and flora of the Tropical Dry Forest.

Along the way you will find a considerable variety of freshwater vegetation, as well as mangroves and the aquatic community of floating species, water lettuce, freshwater grasses and swamp forest.

In terms of fauna, mammals are represented by the presence of 14 families and 33 species. The park has a record of 241 bird species, and since 1964 it has been declared a refuge for birds and amphibians.

El Retén

El Reten is located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta subregion. This town has two large rivers, the Aracataca River to the north and the Fundación River to the south, both of which originate in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and flow into the Ciénaga Grande.

During your visit to these lands you can dance and enjoy the cumbia and other rhythms enlivened by flutes, bagpipes, drums and others; you can wear the typical costumes and enjoy a rumbero atmosphere.

You will have the opportunity to visit the natural reserve El Chuval which, in turn, borders the Ciénaga Grande. In this wonderful place you can find a diversity of fauna and flora, you can go fishing, or just to see the view.

To get to El Retén you must take a 1 hour flight from the city of Bogotá at the El Dorado International Airport (BOG) to the Simón Bolívar International Airport (SMR) in Santa Marta. From the airport take a cab to El Retén, 97 km (2 hours).

Santa Marta

Santa Marta, officially the Tourist, Cultural and Historic District of Santa Marta, is the capital of the department of Magdalena, Colombia. It was founded on July 29, 1525 by the Spaniard Rodrigo de Bastidas, which according to the texts, makes it the oldest standing city in Colombia. It is located on the shores of the bay of the same name.

Santa Marta is known by the slogan The magic of having it all. In addition to several beaches and sites of historical value, it has the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which has archaeological sites such as Ciudad Perdida.

Its most famous beaches are El Rodadero and Taganga, the latter being the entrance to the Tayrona National Park.

In the Plaza de Bolivar, next to the boardwalk, is the Casa de la Aduana, where the body of Simon Bolivar rested in a burning chamber. It currently houses the Tayrona Gold Museum of the Bank of the Republic.

The city also has several sites of cultural interest. Among them are the San Juan Nepomuceno Cloister, the Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino, from 1830, and the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Marta, built in the 1760s. This temple houses a small urn containing the heart and entrails of Simón Bolívar.

Where to stay?

You can visit the Casa D’ Remedios La Bella hotel boutique in Ciénaga, where each room is named after the female characters of the work One Hundred Years of Solitude, or visit the Amaranta Restaurant, which includes other elements in honor of “Gabo”, such as a clock that gathers 12 of his books.

Want to plant your trip to Colombia? do no hesitate to contact us!

References
 About the authors

Sara Colmenares

The current director of Sula. Doctor in Biological Sciences. Her main interests are to explore and understand the organism-environment interactions, taking advantage of emerging knowledge for the management and conservation of species and ecosystem services. She is currently working as a consultant in functional ecology, ecosystem services, and conservation projects in Colombia related to ecotourism and birdwatching.

Salamina the ‘City of Light’, is the perfect alternative to Salento

In the midst of the mountains of northern Caldas, the ‘City of Light’ of Colombia, Salamina, declared a National Monument and a National Asset of Cultural Interest, highlights its cultural and historical legacy through its colonial houses, balconies, steep streets and its extensive religious tradition.

This municipality, founded in 1825 and today inhabited by more than 18,000 people, was the birthplace of Mother María Berenice Duque, the nun who is in the process of beatification by Pope Francis since 2018.

The catholic temples have given way to the construction of the cultural identity of this beautiful municipality. Wwhile other municipalities in Caldas exhibit and are recognized for their panel, coffee or mining culture, the people of Salamina proudly preserve the religious legacy of their history.

In this guide you will have the necessary information for your visit to this beautiful town, and also how to get to know the wax palm neat to it.

Discovering Salamina

The town was founded in 1825, Salamina is known as “The City of Light” of Caldas. Its name “the city of light” is due to the fact that many famous poets and actors have come from this traditional paisa town.

One of the most traditional and important events for the people of Salamina is the celebration of Holy Week, which enjoys great renown at the departmental and national level, as well as the “Night of Fire”, the celebration of the day of the Immaculate Conception, patron saint of this municipality.

The night of every December 7 and 8, the streets and balconies of the town are decorated with thousands of lanterns and lights to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

Salamina is located north of the department of Caldas and has a township called San Felix is located 74 Km away from Manizales, the capital of the department.

Moreover, Salamina is a beautiful town with streets of iconic wattle and daub houses and clay tiles, the average temperature in Salento is 23 ºC (73ºF) and it is located at an altitude of 1,775 meters above sea level.

Salamina is considered a representative of the paisas’ traditions and customs because of its well preserved 19th century architecture.

How to get to Salamina

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to Airport La Nubia (MZL) at Manizales city. Once in Manizales you take an approximately 2-hours ride (75 Km) to Salamina.

Remember that you can get to Manizales from any of the major cities in the country by air.

In addition, if you wish to take the overland route from Bogota, the journey takes 9-hours and 365 Km.

Where to stay in Salamina

In Salamina you will find a great infrastructure, depending on your budget and personal tastes you can choose; our recommendations for you are:

  • Las Marias Family Home
  • La Estancia Hotel Boutique
  • Hospedaje Casa Real

Salamina Attractions and Activities

La Pila de Salamina

It is a fountain that you cannot miss, it is located in the central square of the town and is an imitation of another one that can be found in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. It is considered the most beautiful fountain in Colombia.

It is said that it was brought to the country via Barranquilla and transported by the Magdalena River to the department of Tolima where it was then transported by mule to Salamina.

Visit to the Rodrigo Jiménez Mejía House of Culture

It is considered the most important architectural jewel of Salamina thanks to the wood finishes, beautiful balconies, majestic doors, lintels carved with figures and lanterns complete a wonderful set.

Visit the San Esteban Cemetery

It has a chapel of gothic architecture, beautiful gardens and a relaxing view of the mountain.

When you walk through the cemetery you can notice the socio-economic differences of some tombs, since in ancient times the dead were buried in certain places of the cemetery as a distribution of the social classes of the former inhabitants of the town.

The Natural Forest of Wax Palm La Samaria

Wax Palm Forest

Located just 30 km away from Salamina’s urban, this forest is one of the most amazing and best preserved corners that the department of Caldas offers.

Unlike the Cocora Valley in Salento, Quindio, in this forest there is not much noise, nor commerce around. It is a place with more tranquility, more contact with nature, a solitude that will help you to have that encounter with yourself.

Besides, the forest is the habitat of one of the most beautiful birds in America, the yellow-eared parrot lives in the canopy of these immense plants.

Birdwatching

We recommend you visit the  “Mirador de la Samaria”, where you will be able to do birdwatching, and check one of the most representative birds of the region, the woodpecker and one of the most beautiful birds of America, the yellow-eared parrot that inhabit the tops of the immense wax palms.

The entrance fee to the forest is COP 10,000 and you can stay in the forest for a maximum of 7 hours.

Taking into account the above you can decide when you can know the beautiful town of Salamina. Plan your trip with us!

References
  • https://colombia.travel/en/salamina
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.

What to do in Salento in the Colombian Coffee Triangle?

In the department of Quindio you will fall in love with one of the most beautiful towns in Colombia: Salento, which historic center was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of the “Coffee Cultural Landscape” in 2011.

It is perhaps the most important municipality for tourism in Quindío, due to three fundamental reasons:

  1. The first, the beautiful and preserved architecture left by the Antioquian colonization;
  2. the second, the imposing Cocora Valley, which is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Colombia;
  3. and the third, the contagious atmosphere of peace and well-being that permeates immediately upon arrival.

In this guide you will have the necessary information for your visit to these beautiful town, and also how to get to know the wax palm, the national tree of Colombia.

Discovering Salento

Located 26 km from Armenia, on the western side of the Central Mountain Range and to the northeast of the department, Salento is like a historical account of the region, since its streets reflect intact the tradition of the initial settlers.

Tradition that even today many still strive to preserve so that the place projects its full charm. This town of colorful houses and balconies adorned with flowers has among its residents some foreigners who one day arrived and decided to remain trapped by the charm of the place.

And speaking of charm, Disney released its new movie, called Encanto, inspired by this place.

Salento was founded on September 16, 1842 but its creation would only take place until 1908. Moreover, Salento is the oldest municipality among the 3 departments that make up the Eje Cafetero (Quindío, Risaralda and Caldas). In addition, it is the gateway to the Cocora Valley and one of the entrances to Los Nevados National Natural Park.

Bear in mind, the average temperature in Salento is between 17 ºC (63ºF) and 23 ºC (73ºF) and it has 2 dry season periods, one from mid-June to early September and from late December to mid-January.

How to get to Salento

Take a 1-hour flight from El Dorado (BOG) in Bogotá to El Edén International Airport (AXM) at Armenia city. Once in Armenia you take an approximately 45-minutes ride (25 Km) to Salento.

Remember that you can get to Armenia from any of the major cities in the country by air. In addition, if you wish to take the overland route from Bogota, the journey takes 6.2 hours and 305 Km.

Where to stay in Salento

In Salento you will find a great diversity of accommodation options depending on your budget and personal taste. Our recommendations as follows:

  • Hotel El Mirador del Cocora
  • Montana Glamping
  • Hotel Terraza
  • La Cabaña Ecohote
  • Hotel Kawa Mountain
  • Hotel Real

Salento Attractions and activities

Tour the town

We recommend that you start the tour walking through the beautiful streets of Salento, where you will see the predominance of adobe and mud houses with colorful wooden balconies and gates decorated with flowers. On your walk you will be able to appreciate the authentic architecture of the traditional coffee towns from the beginning of the 20th century.

Walk along the Calle Real (Royal Street)

This is the main street of the municipality. On your walk you will be able to appreciate beautiful restaurants, coffee shops, handicraft stores and commercial passageways.

At the end of this street you will find some colorful stairs that take you to one of the viewpoints of Salento, the viewpoint of Alto de la Cruz. From the viewpoint you will be able to see a large part of the town and its church, and if you are lucky you will be able to see part of Armenia and the mountains of Los Nevados National Natural Park.

Visit the Cocora Valley

This beautiful tourist place is something you cannot miss on your visit; it is a world-class tourist attraction for its majestic beauty and it is one of the last cloud forests that are home to the Ceroxylon quindiuense or Quindio wax palm, the tallest in the world.

The Cocora Valley is an important habitat for many animals such as the yellow-eared parakeet, the toucan and the spectacled bear, hence its importance of protection.

That is why we recommend you to have a lot of respect for the flora and fauna, and to walk ONLY along the areas allowed by the park rangers.

To get to the Cocora Valley you must take the road that takes you to the access point, the trip takes 25 minutes by car 11 km from Salento.

Visit Acaime and the hummingbird house

Acaime is a natural reserve full of native flora and fauna, located on the Central Mountain Range 4 Km from the Cocora Valley.

In this reserve you will be able to appreciate a great diversity of hummingbirds, as well as other species of the region and beautiful streams.

The entrance fee is COP 5,000, which is redeemable for a traditional snack (panela water with cheese or a delicious coffee).

Visiting the Los Nevados National Natural Park

It is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country, where you can visit beautiful landscapes and see the greatness of the most important snow-capped mountains where you will connect with nature and its majesty.

For more information on how you can make the most of this beautiful National Park you can read our blog:  Best Things to Know Before Visiting Los Nevados National Natural Park.

Go to Santa Rita Waterfall

This beautiful waterfall of no more than 20 meters high has a natural with a quiet and romantic atmosphere for its visitors.

In the village of Los Andes, 4 km from the center of Salento, at this point there is a walk of 1.5 km, on the way to the waterfall you will see tunnels, suspension bridges, water sources and the old train track.

The entrance fee is COP 5,000.

El Mirador Ecopark

It is an obligatory point of visit because from there you can observe the Cocora valley that is born between the mountains of the Central mountain range and slides parallel to the Quindío river; it is possible to arrive by car and park it in the parking lot of the place, which also has public restroom.

The structure, in the form of a balcony, is built in guadua, thus representing an excellent tribune to admire the landscape, even through some telescopes rented by the locals. From the lookout point, a short trail leads from the lookout point to the Alto de la Cruz.

There they sell delicious sweets, honey, wafers and candies for the cold. The best way to get there is to ask any inhabitant.

Coffee Process and Coffee Tour at Finca Hotel El Ocaso

Finca El Ocaso is located on a hill just 4km from Salento (20 minutes by car or one hour walking), with a unique landscape surrounded by mountains and adorned by the murmur of the Quindio River that passes along the farm 300m downhill.

It has a typical coffee house with more than 100 years of history and tradition where lodging services are provided for a maximum of 10 people. Finca El Ocaso has extensive gardens with a great variety of flowers and native trees and several hectares of coffee.

Enjoy the trails that go to the bamboo forest, to the hill (viewpoint), to the water source and to the Quindio River where you can do bird watching and learn about the flora and fauna of the tropical rainforest.

Alto de la Cruz Viewpoint

Through the more than 200 steps that start where the Fieal de Salento street ends, you can access this site that allows you to get an idea of the magnitude of the Cocora Valley, and at the same time offers a panoramic view of the town.

During the breaks in the tour, the images of the Way of the Cross that Jesus traveled on his way to Mount Calvary appear. The viewpoint, besides being a tourist attraction, is a permanent pilgrimage destination.

Morrogacho Hill

This is the stage before Los Nevados Park, which can only be reached on foot from the Cocora Valley and by a difficult road on which all precautions must be taken.

The hill, of unique morphological characteristics, is located at an altitude of 3,450 m, in the midst of a dense Andean forest landscape that makes it one of the favorite natural destinations of the people of Quindio.

The cave represents the mystery of having been a cemetery and ritual center of the Quindos Indians who once lived in the area. It is recommended that the expedition be accompanied by a guide.

La Explanación Bridge

Around 1948 this western railroad crossing was built as part of the road project between Buenaventura and Bogota. Currently, the structure, with arched bases, is a national monument belonging to the Boquía trail. It is also known as the Amparo Bridge.

Quindío National Road

When in other times communication between east and west was required, this road was the most important articulation route. Although since the 18th century Viceroy Pedro Messia de la Cerda was interested in its creation, it was not until 1823 that the work began, while in 1830 it was Simón Bolívar who ordered its opening. The old road extends between the Boquía trail, the river of the same name and the Quindío River.

Bird watching

The upper canyon of the Quindío River is the habitat of endemic and near-endemic species and specimens that captivate with their colors, shapes and behaviors. In the vicinity of the Cocora Valley, near the canyon, you can go on hikes to observe birds such as the torrent duck and the blackbird.

Along the same route, going up on horseback, the Acaime nature reserve is home to birds such as the masked saltator, the Golden-plumed parakeet, and the White-capped tanager. Other special birds can be observed along the Estrella de Agua, La Montaña and La Picota nature reserves, considered one of the best corridors for bird watching.

The Ocellated tapaculo, the Mountain cacique, the Grey-breasted mountain Toucan and the Chestnut-naped antpitta, are special birds that fly through this landscape.

References
  • https://colombia.travel/en/salamina
  • https://www.colombia.travel/en/salento
About the author

Luisa Martin

Engineer, world traveler, amateur photographer, traveling blogger, and foody.