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Learn what to see and do ...before you get here
Bogota, Cali, cartagena de Indias, medellin, Popayan, Salento and more...
After years of
traveling around the
world using branded
travel guides found
online and in book
stores I discovered a
need ...
ColombiaOne of the most fascinating countries in South
America, Colombia is the only country in South
America to have coas...
BarranquillaBarranquilla is an industrial city and port
on Colombia’s northern Caribbean Sea coast-
line. With a populatio...
5
Barranquilla’s Ernesto Cortissoz Internatio-
nal Airport opened in 1919, making it the first
airport in South America. I...
6
BARRANQUILLA cuisine
Things to see
You will find both local and international cuisine in Ba-
rranquilla. Local dishes in...
7
other places of interest
Each year, forty days before Ash Wednesday, Barranquilla
stages the famous Carnaval de Barranqu...
Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and,
with around seven million inhabitants, the
largest city in South America’s northern...
9
BOGOTÁ facts for the visitor
El Dorado International Airport is about twenty minutes
from downtown Bogotá. Flights land ...
10
what to visit BOGOTÁ
The Cathedral, built between
1807 and 1823, is on the eastern side
of the Plaza de Bolivar and is ...
11
cuisineBOGOTÁ
Traditional Colombian dishes available in Bo-
gotá include arepas (pancakes made with corn
flour) empanad...
12
Santiago de Cali, normally just called Cali,
is a city of some two and a half million people
in the west of Colombia. T...
14
visitor facts cali
Cali’s Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport is
located approximately ten miles northeast of ...
15
things to see cali
As you would expect from a city that dates from the Spanish
colonial era, Cali abounds in historic C...
16
The Zoologico de Cali has been called the best
zoo in South America. In an upmarket neighbour-
hood, it has an excellen...
17
Cartagena de Indias, normally just called
Cartagena, is a city in northern Colombia on
the country’s Caribbean coastlin...
18
facts for the visitor
Rafael Nuñez International Airport is the nea-
rest airport to Cartagena and has international
co...
19
sights to see cartagena
MostofCartagena’shistoricsightsaretobefound
in the old town. The five hundred year-old fort
and...
otherplacesofinterest
The most popular beach for tourists visiting
Cartagena is Playa Blanca. You can get here by
ferry fr...
21
With a population of thirty seven thousand, it stands on the left bank of the Amazon
River at the point where the borde...
22
Three airlines have direct daily flights from Bogotá to Leti-
cia, Aero Republica, AIRES and SATENA.
visitor facts leti...
23
other places of interest
As you might expect in a town on the Amazon
surrounded by jungle, there a lots of interesting ...
cuisine sights to see
There is a wide variety of
food available in Leticia.
As many of the town’s inhabitants origi-
nally...
25
There’s only one thing most people think of
when they hear the word Medellín: the drug
cartel led by Pablo Escobar that...
26
medellin facts for the visitor
José María Córdova is the nearest international airport
to Medellín and connects it to s...
27
medellinthings to see
Los Alumbrados, the Christmas lights which
can be seen from the beginning of December to
the midd...
28
medellin other places of interest
South Americans are known throughout the world for their
passion for football and Col...
Santa Cruz de Mompox, normally just called
Mompox, is a town in northern Colombia. It
stands on an island in the Magdalena...
30
hramirez
subcomandanta
31
mompox facts for the visitor
things to see
It has to be said that Mompox is not that easy to get to. From
Medellin, you...
32
cuisine
MOMPOx other places of interest
You can try local wines at ViniMompox, inclu-
ding ones made with unusual ingre...
POPAYáNPopayán is a town in southwest Colombia
which has a population of around a quarter
of a million. It is also known a...
34
popayan facts for the visitor
You can fly direct to Popayán on one of four daily flights
from Bogotá or alternatively y...
things to see
Many of the most interesting things to see in
Popayán are connected to its history as part of
the Spanish em...
popayán cuisine
other places
of interest
The distinctive foods and drinks are one of the main
highlights when visiting the...
37
Salento is a small town of just over three
and a half thousand people in the northwest
of Colombia, about fifteen miles...
38
factsforthevisitor
Most tourists get to Salento by bus from Ar-
menia. Buses leave between 5.30 a.m. and 8p.m.
and a ti...
39
things to see and do
The Cocora valley is the main attraction near Sa-
lento. It has quite a surreal atmosphere as a re...
40
This style of architecture can be seen especia-
lly on the Calle Real (Royal Road) that leads nor-
theast from the plaz...
41
Alone among the countries of South America,
Colombia has coastlines on both the Pacific
Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.
Co...
42
You can also travel to Santa Marta by bus
from Cartagena (three and a half hours), Me-
dellín (fifteen hours) and the c...
43
thingstosee
The most famous tourist destination in Santa
Marta is the La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino
hacienda, the ...
44
The Tayrona National Park is the main day
trip destination from Santa Marta.It has a uni-
que ecosystem because of its ...
45
Villa de Leyva is a historic Spanish colonial
municipality in the department of Boyacá in
central Colombia.
With a popu...
46
Most people travel to Villa de Leyva by bus
from Bogotá, a four hour trip that costs 20,000
pesos ($12). The main plaza...
47
The Iguaque Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna is
an ecological park that contains lots of different
native species and ecosy...
48
EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Police
Metropolitan Police (Policía
Metropolitana) 112
CAI Immediate attention center 156
D...
Colombia
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Colombia

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Colombia Travel Guide

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Colombia

  1. 1. 1 Learn what to see and do ...before you get here Bogota, Cali, cartagena de Indias, medellin, Popayan, Salento and more...
  2. 2. After years of traveling around the world using branded travel guides found online and in book stores I discovered a need of free, small, concise guides that would give me the highlights I need to know to decide what I should visit in each country. Mai Travel Guides are an attempt to satisfy this demand while saving you some money! It’s only recently that travelers have begun to realize that Colombia is actually a rather safe country where to travel, and that it offers a lot of entertainment for everyone. From mastering latin rhythms in Cali’s night clubs to tasting some of the bestcoffeeintheworldinArmeniaorenjo- ying the tropical beaches in the Caribbean the paisas will make sure your trip is one you will not forget. Please contact us via email if you’d like to have your business featured in this guide advertising Founder/ Editor Federico Arrizabalaga EDITOR IN CHIEF Federico Arrizabalaga CREATIVE DIRECTOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER VERO AVANT Mai Travel Guide COLOMBIA 1st Edition JUNE 2012 editorial COLOMBIA barranquilla leticia cali mompox bogotá medellín cartagena popayán salento santa marta villa de leyva emergency phone numbers 4 33 37 41 45 48 17 8 21 12 25 29 INDEX mai travel guide of... COLOMBIA!
  3. 3. ColombiaOne of the most fascinating countries in South America, Colombia is the only country in South America to have coastlines on the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea, and also include the stunning scenery of the high Andes. Its ethnic mix reflects its history as part of the Spanish Empire between the sixteenth and nineteenth century, and includes the descendants of Spanish conquistadors and African slaves and the original native Indian inhabitants who have lived there for at least thirteen thousand years. Yet despite this unique heritage mention the word “Colombia” and people will immediately picture images of drug lords and kidnappings, or the civil war between right-wing death squads and left-wing guerrillas that began in the mid-60’s and continues today, albeit at a lower level and in a much smaller area than a couple of decades ago. Big cities like Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena are relatively safe, although crime is a problem in some areas, especia- lly at night. Colombia has been an independent country sin- ce 1810 when, along with Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia, it was freed from Spanish colonial rule by the revolt led by Simón Bolívar, still known and revered as the Liberator of South America. As well as Bogota with its theatres and museums, attractive cities to visit include Cali, the salsa capital of Latin America, Cartagena on the Caribbean coast with its mixture of Spanish colonial architecture and ultra-modern skyscrapers, Medellín, Popayán, the white-washed religious center of the country which hosts one of the world’s largest Easter festi- vals, and Santa Marta whose white, palm-fringed beaches together with its proximity to the Sierra Ne- vada mountains attract thousands of tourists. The official language of Colombia is Spanish and you’ll find you get a much friendlier reception from locals if you attempt to speak it, not that this is an issue. In the big cities, most people speak at least some English as many people have worked, studied in or traveled to North America, England or Austra- lia. Colombians love to hold impromptu street parties and celebrations with music and dancing, and don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of own while tasting Colombia’s fantastic cuisine, es- pecially rich and tasty with dishes such as buñue- los (deep fried corn flour balls with cheese), are- pas (thick corn tortillas), tamales (maize and meat, poultry or vegetables in steamed banana leaves, traditionally served with a mug of hot chocolate), empanadas (pastries stuffed with meat and vege- tables) or sancocho de gallina (a rich chicken soup, served with rice). Food lovers will dwell on the hea- viest breakfast you can think of, the bandeja paisa. Easily accessible from North America with regu- lar direct flights from cities across the United Sta- tes, Canada and the Caribbean you can also enter the country by road from Ecuador and Venezuela, and there are long haul flights from many Euro- pean countries as well. Transportation within the country is done primarily by bus (with excellent services) but there are frequent flights between the main cities if on a short spree. Colombia is, without a doubt, one of the most fascinating countries in South America, and many travellers consider it to be their number one desti- nation in this continent, choosing to settle here in- definitely. It is only a matter of time before the word spreads out and tourists flock here en masse, hence I strongly recommend you forget about all the sto- ries you’ve heard and become a Paisa… if only for a few weeks!
  4. 4. BarranquillaBarranquilla is an industrial city and port on Colombia’s northern Caribbean Sea coast- line. With a population of just over a million, it is the fourth biggest city in Colombia after Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. Barranquilla was established in 1813 and by the mid-twentieth century had become the country’s main port, nicknamed La Puerta de Oro de Colombia (Colombia’s Gol- den Gate). As well as being an important industrial center and port, Barranquilla is known for its cultural scene and the festivals which attract tourists from across Latin America. History and Overview
  5. 5. 5 Barranquilla’s Ernesto Cortissoz Internatio- nal Airport opened in 1919, making it the first airport in South America. International direct flights land here from U.S. cities including Fort Lauderdale and Miami and domestic flights from Bogotá, Medellín and Cali. Ernesto Cortissoz is nine miles from the city center, on the far south side of Barranquilla. The taxi fare should be around 17,000 pesos ($10). There are also buses which make the same journey for a lot less – about a thousand pesos, or less than a dollar – but it can be a bit of a bumpy ride. You can also travel quite cheaply to Barran- quilla by bus from other cities on the northern Caribbean Sea coast of Colombia. A long dis- tance bus ticket from Cartagena for example will cost you about 21,000 pesos ($12) for the two and a half hour journey. Getting around once you’ve got to Barran- quilla depends to a large extent on your budget and how much Spanish you can speak. It is not that expensive to rent a car in Ba- rranquilla. Prices start around 150,000 pesos facts for the visitor ($75) a day and gasoline costs about 8,000 pe- sos ($4) a gallon. A cheaper and easier way to explore the city is by taxi. The minimum fare is 6,000 pesos ($3) and the maximum you should be charged for a journey within the city is 16,000 pesos ($8.5). Mototaxis, motorcycles plying for trade as taxis, are an illegal but po- pular means of transportation in Barranquilla. They are even cheaper than the licensed taxis and can go pretty much anyway although some of their riders can be a little reckless. If you want to get to know the locals though, there is no better way than taking a bus. A litt- le Spanish will be of great help here, both to tell the driver where you want to go (most will let you know when they arrive at your desti- nation) and also to chat to your fellow passen- gers. A bus journey will cost around 1,200 pesos (less than a dollar) for a standard bus and only a little more for one with air conditioning. Buses often set off before you have sat down, brake abruptly and will move off while you are still getting off so take care! juanerregl
  6. 6. 6 BARRANQUILLA cuisine Things to see You will find both local and international cuisine in Ba- rranquilla. Local dishes include sancocho de guandul (a soup made with peas and meat), bocachico frito (fried fish), and fritos (fried dishes) such as arepas and empanadas. Las Flores in Bocas de Ce- niza is a very good seafood restaurant right next to the Magdalena River which serves authentic food at very affordable prices. As a port, Ba- rranquilla has welcomed visi- tors from around the world and this is reflected in the wide ran- ge of cuisines available here. International dining options include Doña Linda (Arabic), El Arabe Gourmet (Leba- nese), Bora Bora (Thai), Nena Lela (Italian) and the La Caprichosa pizzeria where a large slice of pizza will cost you just 2,500 pesos ($1.50). Although it is mostly a modern city, Barranquilla does also feature some historic buildings such as the famous Teatro Amira de la Rosa, the Edificio de la Aduana former Customs building that now houses a library and museum and numerous Art Deco buil- dings built between the late nineteen thirties and ni- neteen fifties. (If you can, pick up a copy of the book Barranquilla-Ciudad Art Deco by Gustavo Garcia be- fore your trip which will guide you around these). The Museo del Caribe has an impressive collection Caribbean flavours are like its people: colorful and with character. of artefacts relating to the history of Barranquilla and Colombia’s northern Caribbean coastline which outline the interaction of immigration, native cultu- res, the natural environment and the local cuisine. It also has a section dedicated to the renowned Co- lombian writer and 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez best known for his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude who was born eighty miles away in Aracataca. Entrance to the mu- seum is 10,000 pesos ($5). raunov
  7. 7. 7 other places of interest Each year, forty days before Ash Wednesday, Barranquilla stages the famous Carnaval de Barranquilla which lasts for four days and includes street parties and parades, dances, concerts and other cultural events. If you are in the city during carnival time, be prepa- red not to sleep as the locals enjoy making lots of noise with brass bands, drums and general merrymaking. Barranquilla is situated primarily on the west bank of the Magdalena River’s picturesque delta, which has long offered water sports enthusiasts a wealth of amu- sements. Kite surfers can catch the breeze of the river mouth to glide over the waves, and tourists can rent jet skis and boats to spend an afternoon on the water. Baranquilla has a lively nightlife scene outside the carnival period as well. Along with lots of clubs and bars there are also estancos (liquor stores with outsi- de tables which play music at the weekends) and pun- tos frios where you can buy a beer any time of day. colombia travelsimon sanchez
  8. 8. Bogotá is the capital of Colombia and, with around seven million inhabitants, the largest city in South America’s northernmost country. The Spanish conquered Colombia in the 1530’s and the city of Bogotá still shows the influence of colonial rule which lasted until independence was achieved by Simón Bolívar in 1819, especially in its architecture such as the Plaza de Bolívar which was created in 1553 at the same time that construction of the city cathedral began. History and Overview bogotá
  9. 9. 9 BOGOTÁ facts for the visitor El Dorado International Airport is about twenty minutes from downtown Bogotá. Flights land here every day from numerous destinations including New York, Washington, Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Paris, São Paulo, Madrid, Barcelona and Buenos Aires. To get into Bogotá from the airport you can take a taxi from a stand where you will be gi- ven a printed ticket indicating the price you will have pay to your destination, ensuring that you don’t pay more than the regulated fare which should be between 15,000 and 25,000 pesos ($8- 12) depending on the journey. Alternatively, you can also take a bus from a stop outside the main entrance for just 1,500 pesos (a little less than a dollar). Buses are a pretty safe way of traveling around Bogotá and most of the dri- vers are friendly and helpful, pointing out your destination when you get there. When it comes to accommodation, Bogotá has a wide range of choices from budget hostels for the backpacker to luxury hotels for the well-he- eled international tourist. Cheap hostels can be found in La Candelaria, a colonial neighborho- od in the center of the city, and low to medium price hotels downtown and in the Chapinero neighborhood near the university. At the other end of the scale, upmarket hotels include the Cabrera Imperial which has rooms with air- conditioning, a safe and cable television and fitness facilities including an indoor swimming pool, sauna and gym. fitness room, room servi- ce, car rental and airport transfer. Room rates start at around 537,000 (about $300). Make sure you join the free tours that begin in Bogota’s main square.
  10. 10. 10 what to visit BOGOTÁ The Cathedral, built between 1807 and 1823, is on the eastern side of the Plaza de Bolivar and is one of the biggest in South America, its in- terior dominated by large stone pi- llars supporting the massive roof. Cultural highlights in Bogotá in- clude the Botero Museum which has works by major modern European artists such as Picasso, Renoir and Dali. Entrance is just 2,800 pesos ($1.50). The Banco de la República Art Collection features around three thousand paintings and sculptures by some of the most important Co- lombian and Latin American artists from the sixteenth to twentieth cen- tury including Gregorio Vázquez de Arce y Ceballos, Alejandro Obregón, Enrique Grau, Rufino Tamayo and David Alfaro Siqueiros. The Gold Museum (2 USD) is considered one of the best gold museums in the world and perhaps the most inter- esting of them all. Taking the cable car (about 8 USD round trip) to Cerro de Monserrate is a must, and getting there an hour before sunset will offer you some great views during the day and once the sky gets dark. The most impressive things to see in Bogotá are mainly loca- ted in the La Candelaria, district, for example the Cathedral and Plaza de Bolivar, and it is here that you can also see many examples of architecture from the Spanish colonial era including churches, houses and other buildings. Don’t be fooled: despite it’s history Bogota is a modern city by any standard.
  11. 11. 11 cuisineBOGOTÁ Traditional Colombian dishes available in Bo- gotá include arepas (pancakes made with corn flour) empanadas (pastries filled with meat), potato, vegetables and rice, tamal (a boiled breakfast dish of meat, chicken, potato, vegeta- bles and yellow corn wrapped in plantain leaves and usually served with a large mug of hot cho- colate), and ajiaco (a thick soup made from po- tatoes, chicken, avocado, cream and corn). Henry Comida Rapida is a fast food outlet in the center of Bogotá which is popular with stu- dents from the nearby university campus and whose speciality is a Godzilla, a giant empana- da that could easily feed four people. Eating places in La Candelaria that specia- lize in cuisines from outside South America include PitaWok, a small Middle Eastern/Thai restaurant which serves excellent shawarmas, kebabs, pitas and wok dishes from just 5,000 pesos (about $3) and La Monapizza, a pizze- ria with small pizzas starting from 8,000 pesos (about $5). For a more interesting place to drink than your hotel bar, head for one of the pubs owned by the Bogota Beer Company which are dotted across the city and which serve beers from its impressive range including Belgian-style strong ales, stouts, wheat beers and an English-style India Pale Ale. The Jirafa (giraffe) is a yard long glass filled with the beer of your choice. otherplaces ofinterest As you can see, there are plenty of interesting things to see and do in Bogotá. That shouldn’t stop you though from getting out into the coun- tryside around the capital which also has many sights to offer the more adventurous tourist. One of the most popular excursions for international visitors is the renowned Salt Cathedral of Zipa- quirá, an underground Roman Catholic church built in 1991 in the tunnels of a salt mine seven hundred feet below the surface of the earth. As well as being a popular tourist attraction, this site thirty miles north of Bogotá near the town of Zipaquirá is also a major pilgrimage destination for Colombian Catholics which can attract up to three thousand people for Mass on Sundays. The church’s three sections represent the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ and featu- re icons and other religious imagery carved by hand into the rock.
  12. 12. 12 Santiago de Cali, normally just called Cali, is a city of some two and a half million people in the west of Colombia. The third largest city in the country behind Bogotá and Mede- llín, it was founded in 1536 by the Spanish. Cali is one of the most dangerous cities in Colombia with more than two thousand homicides a year. You should therefore exercise caution when visiting the city, espe- cially at night, and avoid the downtown El Centro and Sucre neighbourhoods which can be very dangerous. History and Overview CAli
  13. 13. 14 visitor facts cali Cali’s Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport is located approximately ten miles northeast of the city center. There are buses into Cali from the airport but they can be a bit uncomfortable, especially if you’ve got a lot of luggage. A taxi journey will take about twenty minutes and cost 45,000 pesos ($25). International connections from Alfonso Bo- nilla Aragón include Madrid and Miami and you can also catch domestic flights to Mede- llín and Bogotá from here. Once in Cali, taxis are probably the quic- kest and cheapest way to get around the city with a set minimum fare of 3,700 pesos ($2). There is however also a reliable public trans- port system, including a fleet of large air-con- ditioned buses. A single journey costs 1,500 pesos (less than a dollar) to anywhere in the city. cuisine As with other cities in Colombia, Cali has its own distinctive local cui- sine. Dishes and drinks you can try here cholados (ice and exotic fruits mixed with raspberry and sweet condensed milk sauces and normally sold by street vendors) pandebono ( baked rings of cheesy bread), sanco- cho de gallina (a chicken soup) manjar blanco (candy made from cooked sugar and milk), mango viche (a green unripened mango sold on the street with salt and lemon juice), guarapo (a refreshing drink of freshly pressed sugar cane juice served with ice and lemon), arroz atollado (a risotto-type dish with chicken, sausages and potatoes), cham- pus ( a mixture of pineapple and corn) , abo- rrajados (plantains filled with fried cheese), dulce de Guayaba con queso ( guava paste on a fresh slice of cheese), and marranitas (plantains mixed with fried pork skin). The food in Cali is a great example of how to combine smooth and strong flavours. zack durland
  14. 14. 15 things to see cali As you would expect from a city that dates from the Spanish colonial era, Cali abounds in historic Catholic churches which are among the most architecturally impressive buil- dings in the city. The Iglesia de San Antonio is a colonial- style church located at the top of a hill from which there are stunning view of the city. While the area around the church can be dan- gerous after dark, during the day it is popular with tourists, not only for the views from the top of the hill but also because it is a lot cooler here than in the bustling city center. You will also find performers, story tellers, handy craft sellers and cheap restaurants, hotels and hostels for travelers here. In the city center, one of the most popular churches visited by tourists is the La Ermita, a Gothic-style church built in 1678. The other main cultural highlights in Cali are its museums. These include the Museo del Oro del Banco de la República which has archaeolo- gical exhibits such as pottery and gold artefacts from the city’s pre-Columbian era, the Museo Arqueologico La Merced, housed in a Colonial- style church and also featuring archaeological exhibits and religious art from the pre-Hispa- nic era, and La Tertulia Museum of modern art which showcases international exhibitions and also has a movie theatre showing art house and foreign language films.
  15. 15. 16 The Zoologico de Cali has been called the best zoo in South America. In an upmarket neighbour- hood, it has an excellent reputation for caring for its animals which include Bengal tigers, butterflies and birds. Pla Cristo Rey is a statue of Jesus Christ on the top of a hill, similar to the one in Rio de Janeiro. Like its Brazilian counterpart, it has wonderful views over the city. Cerro de las Tres Cruces is a hill with three big crosses which also offers views of the whole city. Plaza de Toros is Cali’s bullfighting arena and is most active in December during the city’s an- nual festival. The other main sporting venue is the other places of interest Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero, a football sta- dium which is home to local professional teams Deportivo Cali and America de Cali. League mat- ches are played here every Sunday between May and June and in November and December there are also playoffs for the national championship. If you are going to visit the Estadio Olimpico Pas- cual Guerrero for a football match, it is probably a good idea to join the other tourists in the “Occi- dental”, a seating section on the on the west side of the stadium. The southern end side of the Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero stadium has a lively atmosphere but can be dangerous as this is where the most fanatical fans of the two teams gather. corfecali
  16. 16. 17 Cartagena de Indias, normally just called Cartagena, is a city in northern Colombia on the country’s Caribbean coastline. With a population of just under a million, it is the fifth-largest city in Colombia. It was founded by the Spanish in 1533 and is named after the city of Cartagena in Spain. Cartagena is popular with both Colombian and international tourists and can get very crowded, especially at Christmas and in Holy Week. There are two main tourist areas, the walled colonial city (“ciudad amurallada”), and the long strip of skyscra- per hotels known as Bocagrande. History and Overview cartagena
  17. 17. 18 facts for the visitor Rafael Nuñez International Airport is the nea- rest airport to Cartagena and has international connections to North American cities including Fort Lauderdale and Miami and domestic flights from Medellín, Cali and Bogotá (Cartagena is six hundred and fifty miles north of Bogotá with a flying time between the two of around an hour). To get into Cartagena from the airport, you can either take a taxi from the rank outside the arri- vals hall for a prepaid set rate of 15,800 pesos ($9) or alternatively walk down the street and hail a yellow cab which will take you to the city center for between 5,000 - 7,000 pesos ($3-4). Cartagena is an important port for the ship- ping of goods from Panama to Colombia. Some of these ships will also take passengers. The fare varies depending on the size of the ship and the onboard facilities available but it should be bet- ween US$375 and US$500 for a trip that takes four to five days. Once you’ve got to Cartagena, you’ll find that most places - the old town and Bocagrande for example - are within easy walking distance but for longer journeys buses run to other parts of the city. A popular way for tourists to get around the old town is to hail one of the horse-drawn chariots that ply their trade here. When it comes to finding somewhere to stay, accommodation ranges from upmarket hotels in the ciudad amurallada like the Sofitel Santa Clara and Charleston Santa Teresa (both converted mo- nasteries) to more affordable hotels in Bocagran- deandbudgethostelswhichchargearound50,000 pesos ($30) a night. If you can, you should try to stay in the ciudad amurallada which is the most historic and atmospheric part of Cartagena.
  18. 18. 19 sights to see cartagena MostofCartagena’shistoricsightsaretobefound in the old town. The five hundred year-old fort and walled city are still remarkably intact and it is here that you will find some of the most impressi- ve examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the whole of Latin America. The Castillo de San Felipe a fortress for example was designed by the Spanish to protect ships carrying gold back to Spain from attacks by pirates. It is open between8am-6pm and the entrance fee is 17,000 pesos ($10). Not far from the San Felipe fortress is the five hundred foot high La Popa hill which has stun- ning views over Cartagena and its harbor and is also the site of the seventeenth century Santa Cruz monastery with its beautiful, restful courtyard and a renowned image of the Virgin of La Candelaria. Although the entrance fee is only 8,000 pesos ($5) a taxi ride to the top of the hill and back can cost as much as 50,000 pesos ($30). Try to negotiate a lower fare with the driver before you set off as it’s not really safe to walk, especially if you are on your own. There are also museums you can visit while you are in Cartagena, including the Palacio de la Inqui- sición (Palace of Inquisition) where in the seven- teenth century the Spanish Inquisition tortured, judged and condemned people for their suspected heresy against the Roman Catholic Church. The Pa- lacio is located on the Plaza de Bolivar in the old town and tourist guides in English are available. The churches in the old town are also worth see- ing, especially Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, the Ca- thedral just off the Plaza de Bolivar and the Iglesia de Santo Domingo.
  19. 19. otherplacesofinterest The most popular beach for tourists visiting Cartagena is Playa Blanca. You can get here by ferry from the port or by road via the bridge to the island of Baru. Boats leave from the port every morning and a day trip costs around 50,000 pe- sos ($30) including lunch (Feb 2012). The beach at Playa Blanca is very clean but you will be hassled by vendors selling drinks and souvenirs. You can also rent a hammock or even a cabin if you want to stay overnight. If you’re a nature enthusiast or simply want to spend some time away from the city take a day tour to Tayrona National Park, about an hour away. The 3,500 pesos park fee ($20) allows ex- cellent trekking and beach relaxation, and basic overnight accommodation is possible too. cuisine The food in Cartagena reflects a cultural fusion of Spanish and South American cui- sines together with influences from Africa and the Middle East. A set menu meal in a basic restaurant will cost about 6,000 pesos ($3) and will typically include fried fish, chicken or meat served with coconut rice (arroz de coco) and fried plantains (pata- cones). There are many places that sell $1 fruit juices. Colombia boasts a very good range of exotic fruits that can be mixed with water or milk (make sure you try Jugo de Lulo, a juice made from an exotic fruit only found in Colombia). In the old town, the best restaurants are to be found around the Plaza Santo Domin- go in the El Centro district.
  20. 20. 21 With a population of thirty seven thousand, it stands on the left bank of the Amazon River at the point where the borders of Colombia, Brazil and Peru converge. Leticia has a typical tropical rainforest climate with pretty much the same temperatures throughout the year. The wettest month is May and the driest July. The average monthly rainfall in Leticia is a little over four inches. Tourism in Leticia is a major source of income and the town is today the second most po- pular destination for international visitors after Cartagena de Indias. Attractions nearby include the Mundo Amazonico Ecological Park. Most of Leticia’s inhabitants have moved there from other cities in Colombia such as Bogotá and Medellín. A significant proportion are native American Indians rather than the more common mixed race mestizos. History and Overview Leticia & the Amazon BasinLeticia is the southernmost town in Colombia, the capital of its Amazon region and the country’s only major port on the river.
  21. 21. 22 Three airlines have direct daily flights from Bogotá to Leti- cia, Aero Republica, AIRES and SATENA. visitor facts leticia It is a two hour flight to Alfredo Vásquez Cobo In- ternational Airport which not only serves Leticia but is also the gateway to the whole of Colombia’s Amazonian region. On arrival at the airport in Leticia, non-Colombian citizens are required to pay a impuesto al turismo (entrance fee) of 18,500 pesos ($10) which is valid for one year. You can also get to Leticia from Iquitoso in Peru on a rapido (speedboat) to the border towns of Tabatinga in Brazil or Santa Rosa in Peru which are very close by. This costs $75 and is a ten hour trip. A slower boat on the same route costs $20- 25 which includes meals on board. A number of riverboat cruises also stop off in Leticia including the MV World Explorer, MV Bremen, MV Le Le- vant. . Whether you are travelling to Leticia by air or by boat you will need to have a yellow fever cer- tificate showing that you have been vaccinated against the disease at least ten days before your arrival. It is a legal requirement and the officials at the Amazon river port and Alfredo Vásquez Cobo International Airport will usually check that you are carrying one. juan ferr alvarez
  22. 22. 23 other places of interest As you might expect in a town on the Amazon surrounded by jungle, there a lots of interesting ac- tivities to take part in and around Leticia. Many of these center on the river, the nature and wildlife as- sociated with it and the rainforest along its banks Bird watching in Leticia is an unforgettable expe- rience. At sunset, thousands of small parrots flock to the trees where they spend the night. For 2,500 pesos ($1.50), you can watch this amazing spectacle from the bell tower of the church which also offers stunning views over Leticia and the Amazon river. Other fun things to do while you are in Leticia in- clude going kayaking on the Yahuarcaca lakes, visi- ting Micos Monkey Island, a nature reserve where you can feed the monkeys, and taking a bicycle trip to Tabatinga across the border in Brazil. It is from Tabatinga that river and speed boats can take you downstream to Manaus in Brazil in one to three days or upstream to Iquitos in Peru. Because of its unique position on the triple fron- tierofColombia,BrazilandPeru,Leticiaisaperfect starting point for eco-tourism activities and trips to look at the wildlife and flora of the Amazon region. From Leticia you can also visit indigenous tribes which live along the banks of the Amazon such as the Tikunas, Yaguas, Huitotos and Boras and on the Yavarí River, a tributary of the Amazon, the Ya- guas and Mayorunas people. On the Yavarí River you can also visit a nature reserve and learn more about the wildlife that lives in this region. Another popular destination for tourists visiting Leticia is the ribera peruana (the Peruvian bank of the Ama- zon River opposite the town) which is a strip of vir- gin tropical forest along the Cayaru river, another of the Amazon’s many tributaries, where you will find some stunning flora and wildlife. hembo pagi
  23. 23. cuisine sights to see There is a wide variety of food available in Leticia. As many of the town’s inhabitants origi- nally come from other parts of Colombia, you will find lots of dishes only normally seeninaspecificregionofthecountryhere. Staple dishes in Leticia include sancocho (a thick soup which is made with varying ingredients in different parts of Colombia), fish caught in the nearby Amazon, meat, rice, vegetables and potatoes. Cooking is usually done in a pan on a wood-fired stove. A special meal might include meat grilled over charcoal served with rice and plantains. The most popular tourist attractions in or near Leticia are the Amacayacu Parque Nacional Natu- ral (Amacayacu National Natural Park), the scenic Isla de los Micos (monkey island)island and the Lago Yahuarcacas lakes. There is also the Parque temático Mundo Amazónico park about five miles from the town and the Banco de la República mu- seum which is in the downtown part of Leticia. If it’s adventure you’re after this is probably the best place where to find it. Tourists seldom make it here, and the jungle is sure to surprise you, in more ways than one. juan ferr alvarez
  24. 24. 25 There’s only one thing most people think of when they hear the word Medellín: the drug cartel led by Pablo Escobar that operated from the city in the 1980’s and 1990’s. But it would be a mistake to let the city’s international reputation as a crime center stop you from visiting. Not only has the murder rate dropped dramatically over the last twenty years but gang crime is largely confined to neighbourhoods outside the city center which few if any tourists ever visit. If in doubt, ask a local for advice about where it’s safe to go. Tourists who aren’t put off by Medellín’s now largely undeserved reputation as the gang and homicide capital of Colombia will soon realize how much the city has to offer. The second largest city in Colombia with a population approaching three million, Medellín is a lively city with lots of street markets, several universities and a thriving cultural and night- club scene. History and Overview medellin
  25. 25. 26 medellin facts for the visitor José María Córdova is the nearest international airport to Medellín and connects it to several North American and European destinations including Miami, New York and Ma- drid. A taxi from here to the city center takes around three quarters of an hour and will cost you about 40,000 pesos ($22). You can also get to Medellín by bus from other cities in Colombia including Cartagena and Bogotá. The journey from Bogotá takes between seven and nine hours but it does in- clude some spectacular scenery along the way. A number of bus companies run services bet- ween Bogotá and Medellín and their coaches are generally comfortable with plenty of leg room and toilets on board. Once you’ve reached Medellín, traveling around the city can be done quickly and che- aply on the Metro system. You can go to an- ywhere in the city with a single ticket costing 1,800 pesos (about a dollar). Taxis are also pretty cheap with a set minimum fare of 4,200 pesos (just under $3). laloking97
  26. 26. 27 medellinthings to see Los Alumbrados, the Christmas lights which can be seen from the beginning of December to the middle of January, make Medellín an impres- sive sight during the festive and New Year period and people travel from all over Latin American to see them. The most popular sections are to be found along the banks of the Medellín River and downtown and include large religious statues made up of lights. The Metropolitan Cathedral in Medellín is one of the biggest cathedrals in South America and contains more than a million bricks, and Pueblito Paisa, located in the center of Medellin, is a quaint historic traditional pue- blito and a great place to see what life was like in Medellin 100 years ago There are also lots of museums to visit in Me- dellín but probably the most impressive is the Museo de Antioquia which houses a collection of paintings and sculptures by the acclaimed modern artist Fernando Botero who was born and grew up in the city. The Plaza Botero in front of the museum also has several large sculptures by him. The museum itself is open during the week between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. The entrance fee is 8,000 pesos ($4.50), or 4,000 pesos if you’re a student. Interesting buildings in Medellín include the Ferrocarril de Antioquia train station, which also has a small area for exhibits, and the iconic Edificio Coltejer, owned by a textile company and shaped like as a threading needle. You might also want to take the cable metro (cable car) to the nearby mountains for some great views. guia de viajes oficial de medellin
  27. 27. 28 medellin other places of interest South Americans are known throughout the world for their passion for football and Colombians are no different. There are two professional teams in Mede- llín, Atlético Nacional and Independiente Mede- llín, and they both play their home matches at the 45,000 capacity Atanasio Girardot Stadium which is named after a Colombian revolutio- nary hero who fought alongside Simon Bolivar in the early nineteenth century battle to oust Spanish colonial rule in South and Central Ame- rica . A game here is an unforgettable experien- ce because of the electric atmosphere created by the fans on the terraces. The normal days on which matches are played are Wednesdays, Sa- turdays and Sunday. Line B of the Metro runs to the Estadio stop near the stadium. You can buy your match tickets at the ground on the day of the game. For a day outside the city consider a visit to El Penol rock at Guatape, well worth the trip. You can hire a taxi by the hour for the trip. Plan to make frequent stops along the way at La Fe Re- servoir, Fizebed farms to see the orchids, make a stop at El Tequendamita waterfalls, buy some hand made and painted pottery in Carmen de Viboral and have lunch in Rio Negro (excellent place to buy handcrafts of all kinds and taste traditional dishes). cuisine Colombian cuisine varies a lot between different parts of the country so things you might see in Bogotá or Cartagena aren’t ne- cessarily available in Medellín. Local specia- lities here include sancocho de gallina (chic- ken soup), carne en polvo (ground beef), arepas de choclo (corn tortillas), buñuelos (fried cheese), rice with coconut, sobrebarri- ga (flank steak) mantecada (a bun made with lard), pan de yuca (yucca bread) and carne desmechada (shredded meat). A typical breakfast in Medellín consists of arepas with butter and cheese washed down with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. A filling main meal is arepa con queso (flat- bread with cheese) served with beans, chic- ken, rice, fried eggs, bacon and deep-fried plantain pancakes. When it comes to drinks, Colombians, like most people in Latin America and the Ca- ribbean, enjoy their spirits. A popular one in Medellín is Aguardiente which is distilled from sugar cane, has a sweet taste similar to licorice and is usually drunk neat. The local rum, Ron Medellín Añejo, is available aged from 3, 8, 12 and 30 years and is normally mixed with Club Soda, Coca-Cola or lemon juice. bertbox
  28. 28. Santa Cruz de Mompox, normally just called Mompox, is a town in northern Colombia. It stands on an island in the Magdalena River and is about a hundred and fifty miles from the city of Cartagena. With a population of around thirty thousand, Mompox’s main industries are tourism, fis- hing and cattle breeding. Mompox was founded in 1537 by the Spanish and quickly became a prosperous port ship- ping goods upriver into the interior of the colonial province of New Granada. Simón Bolívar, liberator of South America from Spanish colonial rule, arrived in Mompox in 1812 and re- cruited four hundred men who went to become the backbone of his army. Today Mompox is known for its colonial architecture and its historic center has been de- signated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Unlike many towns and cities in Latin America, most of the colonial buildings are still used for their original purpose. History and Overview MOMPOX
  29. 29. 30 hramirez subcomandanta
  30. 30. 31 mompox facts for the visitor things to see It has to be said that Mompox is not that easy to get to. From Medellin, you can travel to Magangué, catch a ferry across the river and then make the short journey to Mompox. Mompox is one of the best examples of a Spanish colonial town in the whole of Latin America. From Cartagena, you can catch a bus direct to Mompox which includes the ferry trip but leaves at 6 a.m. You need to confirm the day before that the service is running. It is also possible to get to Mompox by boat upriver from Barranquilla and occasionally to fly in by private plane. Getting around Mompox itself is fairly straightforward. Given its small size, you can easily walk to pretty much anywhere in the cen- ter. Taxis will also take you anywhere in Mompox for 600 pesos (less than fifty cents). However they do like to pick up several passengers for each trip and drivers may be reluctant just to take you on your own. As you walk around the town you will see lots of wrought iron work on doors, railings and window grills on buildings, especially those on Calle de la Albarrada, Calle Real del Medio and Calle de Atrás. Mompox also boasts some finely preserved churches from the Spanish colonial era. These include Santa Bárbara (built in 1613), San Agus- tín (built in 1606), San Juan de Dios and Immacu- late Conception where there is also a museum of religious art and gold. Immaculate Conception is also called the Cathedral of Mompox because of its large. Two of the oldest religious buildings in Mompox are San Francisco Church, built in 1564, and the Convent which was founded in 1580. Santa Bárbara is the most unusual church because of its Moorish-style tower with a bal- cony and appears in many photos of Mompox. Santa Bárbara is also decorated with moldings of palm trees, flowers and lions. The tower’s dome is baroque and the church’s three altars are heavily decorated with gilt. Most of the chur- ches are only open for Mass so plan to visit them at these times if you want to see the interiors. San Juan de Dios Hospital dates from 1550 and has been run by the La Orden de todos los Her- manos Hospitalarios (Order of the Hospital Bro- thers) since 1633. San Juan de Dios is the oldest hospital still in its original building in the Ame- ricas. The House of the Apostles on Calle Real del Medio is a mansion that was once owned by a prominent local shipping family. It is popular with tourists who come to see the superb mu- rals of the twelve apostles and Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. The Municipal Palace in Mompox, also known as the Cloister of San Carlos, was ori- ginally built as a convent in 1660. The City Hall in Mompox contains the dun- geons in which prisoners were held in the Spa- nish colonial era as well as the mayor’s ornate reception room. It is celebrated throughout Co- lombia as the place where in 1810 the Act of In- dependence from Spain was proclaimed to cries from the jubilant crowd of “Ser Libres o Morir” (Freedom or Death) .
  31. 31. 32 cuisine MOMPOx other places of interest You can try local wines at ViniMompox, inclu- ding ones made with unusual ingredients such as bananas and oranges. There are lots of cheap cafes serving local dis- hes while at the other end of the scale the Mom- poj Restaurant at Bioma Boutique Hotel serves good but pricy fusion dishes and a variety of exo- tic cocktails. Two blocks upriver from the Santa Barbara church is El Fuerte, an Italian bar and restaurant which specializes in stone-baked piz- zas and homemade pasta. Other places to visit in Mompox are the mu- seum on the Calle Real del Medio and the bota- nical gardens. A popular day trip from Mompox is to Cienaga del Pijiño where you can see a wide variety of wildlife including exotic birds and rep- tiles. If you are interested in going on a trip to Cienaga del Pijiño, pop into the La Cuarta hotel where the staff will be happy to make all the ne- cessary arrangements for you. hramirez
  32. 32. POPAYáNPopayán is a town in southwest Colombia which has a population of around a quarter of a million. It is also known as the La Ciudad Blanca de Colombia (White City of Colombia) due to the color of its historic buildings. For many years, the city’s cathedral was home to the La Corona de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción de Popayán (also known as the Crown of the Andes), a thirteen inch high gold crown made for a larger than life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the sixteenth cen- tury and set with emeralds seized from the captured Inca Emperor Atahualpa. Popayán was founded by the Spanish in 1537 and there are many examples of colonial houses and churches from the Hispanic period. Many people who travel to this area of Co- lombia combine a trip to Popayán with a visit to the nearby town of Silvia, a popular wee- kend getaway for residents of the city of Cali about forty miles away escaping the heat in the summer months. History and Overview
  33. 33. 34 popayan facts for the visitor You can fly direct to Popayán on one of four daily flights from Bogotá or alternatively you can fly to Cali, about ninety miles away, and make your way from there. A bus from Cali to Popayán takes around two hours. Check with your embassy or consula- te about the current security situation in the area before making this journey as there con- tinues to be a high level of guerrilla activity in the countryside around Popayán (the left-wing FARC militia have been fighting the Colombian government in the South of the country since the mid-1960’s). Once you reach Popayán, you’ll find that it’s a pretty easy city to explore on foot. You can easily walk from the bus station to the city cen- ter in ten to fifteen minutes and many of the his- toric buildings from the Spanish colonial era are located in a relatively small area.
  34. 34. things to see Many of the most interesting things to see in Popayán are connected to its history as part of the Spanish empire between the sixteenth and early nineteenth century when it was an impor- tant city due to its location between Lima, Quito and Cartagena, the main port for shipping gold dug out of the mines in the Andes mountains back to Spain. As a result, it is rich in well-pre- served Spanish colonial era architecture – inclu- ding bridges, museums and churches – and its historic downtown is thought by many to be the most beautiful in the whole of Latin America. The architectural highlights of Popayán are without doubt the many Spanish colonial chur- ches. Among the most impressive are the Igle- sia de San Francisco, Iglesia La Ermita, San José, Belén, on a hill overlooking the city, Santo Do- mingo, San Agustín and the Cathedral Basílica of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción (Our Lady of the Ascension). The Gobernacion government offices and the Universidad del Cauca univer- sity (established in 1827 and one of Colombia’s oldest institutions of higher education) are also housed in Spanish colonial buildings. Another architectural gem to see in Popayán site is the Puente del Humilladero, a long stone-built foot- bridge over the river. Popayán ‘s central square, the Parque de Cal- das, is the site of a famous landmark, the Torre del Reloj Clock Tower whose timepiece was made in England before being shipped to Colombia. Popayán is a major Catholic pilgrimage des- tination in Colombia with people flocking to the city for its renowned Easter celebrations, known as the Semana Santa and the second lar- gest in the world after the ones in Seville, Spain. They feature street parades in which large woo- den floats weighing up to two hundred pounds and displaying religious statues are carried on the shoulders of the faithful watched by tens of thousands of people lining the sidewalks. In 2009, UNESCO declared the Easter Week proces- sions in Popayán a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Patrimony of Humanity.
  35. 35. popayán cuisine other places of interest The distinctive foods and drinks are one of the main highlights when visiting the Cauca region, which includes Popayan and Silvia. In 2005 Popayán was designa- ted a City of Gastronomy by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Orga- nization (UNESCO) because of the culinary traditions which have been passed down orally by generations of local people. Cheap and au- thentic food is most plentiful at the market adjoining the Plaza Bo- livar. A meal here should cost around 1,500 pesos (less than a dollar). Dishes you will see in Popayán and Silvia and throughout the Cauca region include ta- males de pipian (corn-based dough steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapping and then filled with a thick stew containing garlic, tomato and onion) and empa- nadas de pipian (baked or fried pastries stu- ffed with the same fi- lling). A popular drink in southwest Colombia – and indeed across the border in Peru and Ecua- dor – is champús (maize, pi- neapple and quince sweetened with an unrefined cane sugar called panela and seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and orange leaves). Near Popayán is Puracé National Park, a geo- thermal site where you will find hot springs, waterfalls and the dormant volcano from which the park takes its name. Another town not to miss is Silvia, just 1.5 hours away by bus (van). Surrounded by beautiful mountains it is know as the Switzerland of Ame- rica and has managed to maintain a rich cultural heritage thanks to the neighbouring community of Guambinos, who’s picturesque clothing will not go unnoticed to the visitor. Make sure you vi- sit the local market (try to eat there) and walk to the Church of Belen on the nearby hill top for a great view of the area. Note that the Guambinos only visit the town on Thursdays (market day), so try to schedule your visit accordingly.
  36. 36. 37 Salento is a small town of just over three and a half thousand people in the northwest of Colombia, about fifteen miles northeast of the departmental capital Armenia. The town was established in 1864 and named after Salento in the southeast of Apulia in Italy. It.used to be on the main road between Cali and Bogotá but since this was diverted the town has became quieter and more laid back, retaining most of its Spanish colonial architecture. Its popularity with tourists is due in part to its proximity to the Cocora valley, one of the most visited places destinations in Colom- bia. It also has a fiesta in the first week of January when this sleepy little town comes alive and parties around the clock. Armenia itself is nicknamed the Ciudad Milagro (Miracle City) because of the rapid rate of urban growth and economic development it experienced in the second half of the twentieth century. The local economy still depends on the growing of coffee, plantains and bananas as well as tourism. The Colombian Coffee Triangle (Triángulo del Café) includes the department of Quindio, of which Armenia is the capital and in which Salento lies, and is famous around the world for the quality of the coffee it produces. Many coffee buyers regard it as the best coffee available on the world market and its reputation among coffee drinkers is also excellent. History and Overview Salento and the Armenia Coffee Zone
  37. 37. 38 factsforthevisitor Most tourists get to Salento by bus from Ar- menia. Buses leave between 5.30 a.m. and 8p.m. and a ticket costs 3,400 pesos ($2). A taxi is also not that expensive, costing around 20,000 pesos ($12). You can also catch a direct bus on wee- kdays from the city of Pereira forty miles nor- thwest of Salento. These services leave Pereira at 6.20 a.m. and 1.20 and 4.20 p.m. every day and a ticket for the journey which takes about three hours will cost you 5,500 pesos ($3). Getting around Salento itself is pretty easy gi- ven its size and most people just walk around but there is also a taxi that will take you where you want to go. One of the best places to stay in Salento is the Hostal Tralala which has a garden with sun terrace, hot showers and beds with comfortable mattresses, soft pillows and clean white linen. The staff are also very friendly and helpful to travelers and tourists. cuisine As you would expect in a town in Colombia’s coffee growing area, Salento has several places where you can sample the country’s most famous exported beve- rage. Bar Camino Real is a small, arty pla- ce with a fireplace and benches where you can sip your mug of coffee in the evening. Café Jesus Martin is another cosy coffee house which is known for its cappuccinos and chocolate cake. Fish are also abundant in the rivers around Salento. A meal of fish and rice will cost you between 10,000 and 20,000 pesos ($6-12) depending on how fancy the restaurant is. Restaurants in the Co- cora valley specialize in freshwater trout baked and served with patacones (plan- tain fritters).
  38. 38. 39 things to see and do The Cocora valley is the main attraction near Sa- lento. It has quite a surreal atmosphere as a result of the two hundred foot high wax palm trees that grow there. There are two main ways to reach the Cocora va- lley from Salento. You can hire a bike in Salento for around 35,000 pesos ($20) a day and follow one of the trails which offer stunning views of the valley and coffee plantations. You can also hike into the Cocora valley. A jeep will take you in to the foothills of the valley for about 3,000 pesos ($2) from where you can trek through grassland and towering wax palms and wade across small streams in low-level cloud. You can also hire a horse for around 10,000 pesos ($5) an hour. The Cocora valley lies on the upper reaches of the Quindío River at an altitude between 6,000 and 8,000 feet. It is part of the 360 square mile Los Ne- vados National Park. Popular activities here include bird watching, mountain biking, horse riding, raf- ting and swimming in its rivers.
  39. 39. 40 This style of architecture can be seen especia- lly on the Calle Real (Royal Road) that leads nor- theast from the plaza in the center of Salento. You will also find lots of shops selling locally- made handcrafts on the Calle Real. Specialities include jewelry, candles and artisanal goods made from the bamboo which grows locally. The Calle Real leads to the Alto de la Cruz, a mi- salento other places of interest Salento is renowned for the large number of buildings in the Spanish colonial bahareque architectural style that is typical of the Triángulo del Café area. rador, or look-out point, with spectacular views of the Cocora valley and the mountains of the Los Nevados National Park. The Calle Real ends in two hundred and fifty steps with the fourteen Stations of the Cross spaced along them. You can however reach the Alto de la Cruz mirador without walking up the steps via an alternative, less direct route along a nearby road.
  40. 40. 41 Alone among the countries of South America, Colombia has coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Colombia’s northern Caribbean coast is well known to travelers – the historic Spanish colonial cities of Cartagena and Santa Marta for example – but the region also has some areas of great na- tural beauty like the Tayrona National Park and further to the north the islands of San Andres and Providencia. Santa Marta was founded in 1525 by the Spanish conquerors of South America and named after the city of Santa Marta de Astorgas in Spain. The Tayrona National Park was created in 1969 from twelve square miles of Caribbean Sea and fifty square miles of shoreline and includes a wide ran- ge of terrain and climatic conditions. The islands of San Andres and Providencia have a complex history, having been occupied or claimed through the centuries by England, Spain, Argentina, Ni- caragua and the United States. History and Overview santa marta
  41. 41. 42 You can also travel to Santa Marta by bus from Cartagena (three and a half hours), Me- dellín (fifteen hours) and the capital Bogotá (sixteen hours). The best way to get to the Tayrona National Park from Santa Marta is by bus. These leave about every half hour, take around an hour and cost 5,000 pesos ($3). If there are three or four of you, a taxi might be a bit cheaper and will take you straight to the entrance to the park. Ano- ther way to get there from Santa Marta is to hire santa marta facts for the visitor Simón Bolívar airport in Santa Marta has direct connec- tions with Bogotá and Medellín and is thirteen miles down the coast from the city center, close to some fine beaches. a boat which will take you to one of the park’s beach although this is only really economical if you’re with a large group. When it comes to the islands of San Andres and Providencia, the only way to get there is by air. There are direct flights to San Andres from Bogotá and from San Andres you can also fly to Providencia in about twenty minutes. There is also a catamaran which makes the trip between the islands which takes around two and a half hours and costs 210,000 pesos ($120).
  42. 42. 43 thingstosee The most famous tourist destination in Santa Marta is the La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino hacienda, the estate where Simon Bolivar, the Liberator of South America from Spanish colo- nial rule, died in 1830. You can get to the estate from the city center by bus for 1,000 pesos (less than a dollar) or in a taxi for 4,000 pesos ($3). The estate is known for its extensive gardens as well as a museum dedicated to the life of Boli- var. Entrance is 10,000 pesos ($6) and includes a guided tour. cuisine As you’d expect in a region along the sho- re of the Caribbean Sea, seafood is plentiful and delicious when cooked fresh after being landed by local fishermen. Restaurants spe- cialize in dishes using locally caught lobs- ters, squid, fish, crab, and prawns and in the islands of San Andres and Providencia you will also find rondon (a soup made from crab, fish, pig tail and plantain). In Santa Marta, street vendors and small cafes also sell a wide range of ethnic cuisines including pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs and kebabs Santa Marta might not have the best beach in the country, but its charm and easy going pace keep visitors here for longer than they expected.
  43. 43. 44 The Tayrona National Park is the main day trip destination from Santa Marta.It has a uni- que ecosystem because of its location between the mountains and the sea and the wildlife you can see here includes monkeys, woodpeckers, eagles, condors, iguanas, jaguars, lizards and tropical fish. A short walk will take you to La Piscina, a la- goon where it is safe to swim. At El Cabo you can also snorkel. The visibility is normally very good and you can see plenty of marine life inclu- ding tropical fish near the rocks and on the reef further out in the ocean. Around El Cabo there are a several excellent beaches and also walking trails, including one to the archaeological site of El Pueblito which takes between two and three hours with quite a lot of uphill hiking. You will also find plenty to do on the islands of San Andres and Providencia. On San Andres you santa marta places of interest can go scuba diving and snorkelling and there are lots of place that offer jet skiing, kayaking, windsurfing and horse riding. Providencia’s main appeal is its beautiful volcanic scenery, as well as white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, scuba diving and fishing. Santa Catalina is a smaller island connected to Providencia by a footbridge and is a lot quie- ter than the other islands. It has some beautiful beaches and Morgan’s Head, a rock formation that is supposed to resemble the head of the se- venteenth century English privateer and pirate Henry Morgan who used the islands as a base for raiding the Spanish Main. About ten miles north of Providencia, at the top of the barrier reef, is the remote island of Low Caye which is ideal for fishing trips. You can get there by hiring a boat which will also take you to some of the other smaller islands. colombia travel
  44. 44. 45 Villa de Leyva is a historic Spanish colonial municipality in the department of Boyacá in central Colombia. With a population of twelve thousand, it is more of a village than a town but is extremely rich in colonial architecture. The valley in which it is located lies at over seven thousand feet and con- tains fossils from the Mesozoic and Cretaceous eras. Villa de Leyva was founded in 1572 by Spanish conquistadors. In the colonial era, it was a favourite resort for Spanish viceroys who enjoyed the clear mountain air and the pleasantly mild climate. With its attractive, stone built colonial buildings, it continues to attract tourists from the capital Bogotá ninety miles to the south. History and Overview villadeleyva
  45. 45. 46 Most people travel to Villa de Leyva by bus from Bogotá, a four hour trip that costs 20,000 pesos ($12). The main plaza is only a couple of blocks from where the bus drops you off and in fact, given the size of Villa de Leyva, it is pos- sible to walk pretty much anywhere you want to go from here. facts for the visitor cuisine SNACKS> There is a very wide variety of cheap, authentic food to be found in Bo- yacá and Villa de Leyva is no exception. Dishes you will come across here inclu- de the traditional fried snacks of arepas, empanadas and tamales made with pota- toes, flour, onions, rice and cheese, soups of corn, wheat and meat, main courses containing lots of rice, meat and sau- sages, and desserts such as cuajada (somewhat similar to cheesecake), roast bananas filled with cheese, apple cake, feijoa candy and co- cadas (coconut cookies). Slightly more unusual dishes you will see here are lamb’s testicle soup and lamb’s head stew.
  46. 46. 47 The Iguaque Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna is an ecological park that contains lots of different native species and ecosystems including the An- dean high jungle and eight glacier lakes. A bus from Villa de Leyva will drop you off about a mile and a half from the park. East of Villa de Leyva you can climb a mirador (look out point) that is known locally as the Sa- grado Corazón (Sacred Heart). It is a steep climb through the forest and very rocky in parts – if you’re reasonably fit, it should take you about an hour. Other attractions near the town include an ostrich farm, a museum and ancient Muisca In- dian astronomic observatory constructed with giant phallic stones known as El Infiernito (Litt- le Hell) which is about five miles from Villa de Leyva. A popular day trip is to the seven water- falls called La Piriquera which are about ten mi- les from Villa de Leyva. The El Fósil fossil museum is about three miles from Villa de Leyva on the road to Santa Sofia. It boasts an almost complete kronosaurus which was discovered locally in 1977. El Fósil is open things to see places of interest from 7a.m. to 6 p.m. and entrance costs 4,000 pesos ($2). The Convento Santo Ecce Homo is a Catholic monastery about ten miles from Villa de Leyva on the road to Santa Sofia which was founded in 1620 by Spanish missionaries attempting to convert the local Indian population and which is now open to the public. Entrance costs 3,000 pesos ($1.50). There are a large number of colorful festivals celebrated in the main plaza of Villa de Leyva throughout the year. They attract thousands of visitors from other parts of Colombia as well as from overseas and include the gastronomical festival, the water festival and the tree festival. Most of the sights in Villa de Leyva are to be found on the Plaza Mayor (Main Square) where as well as the church there are lots of stone built houses from the Spanish colonial era. The Spanish colonial style of architecture you will see in Villa de Leyva is typified by the bal- conies, arches and main entrance doors of buil- dings such as Casa del Primer Congreso, Casa de Don Antonio Narioño, Casa de La Real Fabrica de Licores and Claustro de San Agustín. There are also a number of museums in Vi- lla de Leyva. The Museo Paleontológica houses an impressive collection of some of the many fossils found around Villa de Leyva. These have included a hundred and fifteen million year old Plesiosaurus and a Ichthyosaurus, a twenty-four foot long marine reptile that also lived around the same period, before the geological forma- tion of the Andes Mountains when what is now Villa de Leyva was under the sea. The museum is open every day except Monday and entrance is 2,000 pesos (just over a dollar). The Museo del Carmen has an impressive co- llection of religious art. The Antonio Ricaurte museum specializes in military history and is housed in the former home of Antonio Ricaurte, a soldier from Villa de Leyva who in 1813 joined the army of Simón Bolívar, to fight against Spa- nish colonial rule. Ricaurte is famous for deli- berately blowing himself and a large number of enemy soldiers up with a barrel of gunpowder at a decisive moment in the Battle of San Mateo, a heroic act commemorated in the last verse of the Colombian national anthem. Slow paced Villa de Leyva is the ultimate desitnation for those who want to take a break, but there are great day trips nearby.
  47. 47. 48 EMERGENCY TELEPHONE NUMBERS Police Metropolitan Police (Policía Metropolitana) 112 CAI Immediate attention center 156 Dijin - Judicial Police 157 Transit Police 127 Civil Defence (Defensa Civil) 144 Tourist Police (Policía de turismo) (571) 337-4413 - 243-1175 Medical emergencies 125 Red Cross 132 Fire department 119 Bogota Prevention Center and Emergencies 429-7414 Information 114 EMBASSIES AND CONSULATES United States Embassy, Bogota +57 (0)1 315 1566. British Embassy, Bogota +57 (0)1 326 8300. Canadian Embassy, Bogota +57 (0)1 657 9800. Australian Consulate, Bogota +57 (0)1 694 6320. Honorary Consul of Ireland, Bogota: +57 (0)1 446-6114 New Zealand Consulate, Bogota: +57 (0)1 633 1322. Spain Embassy Bogota: +57(0)16181288 TOURIST INFO Colombia Tourism, Bogota: +57 (0)1 212 6315 or www.turismocolombia.com

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