Author Archive: Guyton

Las Lajas Sanctuary in Narino

Top Tourist Attractions In Las Lajas Sanctuary

The top tourist attractions in Las Lajas Sanctuary may be little, considering the size of this attraction, but very memorable.  This iconic church straddling in the gorge between Colombia and Ecuador is one of the famous pilgrimage sites in the country, mainly due to the legend that surrounds the sanctuary.

According to local lore, an Amerindian Woman took refuge in the gorge where the sanctuary now stands with her mute daughter during a strong storm.  When the woman looked up, she saw the image of the Virgin Mary.  Right then and there, her daughter began talking and her disability was completely healed.

Shortly after, a blind man began collecting donations to build a chapel in the area.  When he got back to Las Lajas, his blindness was cured.

These local legends have inspired the townspeople to fund the construction of the Las Lajas Sanctuary from 1916 to 1949.

While Las Lajas Sanctuary is a popular pilgrimage site in Colombia, it is often overlooked by tourists visiting Colombia.  But these tourists are missing a lot.  Here are some of the top tourist attractions in Las Lajas Sanctuary:

Las Lajas Sanctuary in Narino

Las Lajas Sanctuary in Narino

The church’s architecture.  Las Lajas Sanctuary’s magnificent architecture may seem like it was built in the 18th century.  Its breathtaking façade is ornate and highly detailed, it probably looked like a displaced European basilica in the middle of a Colombian gorge.  But that’s the beauty of the Las Lajas Sanctuary.  Its uniqueness both in its architecture and location make it something worth visiting while you’re in the area.

The view below.  If you’ve seen one too many basilicas in your lifetime, Las Lajas Sanctuary may not be any different from any of them.  But take a few steps back for the door and look down.  The picturesque view of the Guaitara river canyon can be dizzying, but it makes the entire Las Lajas Sanctuary look like a hidden medieval European castle.

Its history.  What make the top tourist attractions in Las Lajas Sanctuary all the more interesting is its history and the local lore surrounding the mystic gorge the sanctuary is located in.

That makes it a mystery why the Las Lajas Sanctuary is often overlooked by tourist in a great hurry to go to Ecuador.

Villavicencio

Top Reasons To Visit Villavicencio

Astounding mountain scenery and some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan areas of Colombia are some of the top reasons to visit Villavicencio.  Located 2-4 hours away from Bogota, Villavicencio (or Villavo as locas fondly call it) is the gateway to the Los Llanos plains.  It’s also the capital of the Meta department.

And while Villavicencio is virtually devoid of 5-star hotels for a comfortable stay, the top reasons to visit Villavicencio will suffice to compensate on this lack of accommodations:

Villavicencio

Los Llanos.  A visit to this vast tropical grassland plain is one of the top reasons to visit Villavicencio.  Situated at the east of Andes in Colombia and Venezuela, these flooded grasslands are rich in flora and fauna.  As a matter of fact, the Los Llanos plains is home to more than 1000 species of Colombian wildlife, including the Venezuelan spectacled cayman, and a wide variety of birds such as herons, storks, egrets and spoonbills.

Peace, quiet and nature.  But Los Llanos is not the only attraction in Villavicencio.  There’s the Parque de los Fundadores, with its wide and green open spaces, and the Bioparque Los Ocarros, a zoo 3 km. from the city which exhibits Colombian wildlife including crocodiles.

Food.  While Villavicencio is no place to look for gourmet finds and a glass of wine, the food here is certainly a must-try.  One of the most popular ways food is prepared in Villavicencio is through roasting or cooking food around an open-fire, similar to barbecues.

One of the best places to go for a roasted meat fest is the Asadero El Amarradero del Mico, which is located 2 km. northeast of the city, on the road to Restrepo.

Nightlife.  For something as peaceful and rustic as Villavicencio, you’d be surprised that it has one of the most exciting nightlife in Colombia.  Los Capachos, one of the biggest night clubs in Colombia rests in the heart of this quaint little town.  Checking out this night club is the most perfect way to cap your visit to Villavicencio.

 

Taganga in Magdalena, Colombia

Top Tourist Attractions In Magdalena

There are a lot of top tourist attractions in Magdalena, Colombia in which tourists can take pleasure in. Magdalena is located on the Northern coast of Colombia. Since it is located near the sea, its climate is mostly in hot and humid temperature. Magdalena has only two seasons: The rainy season which happens every month of April to November and the dry season which occurs in between December to March. Magdalena being a department on the North Coast has many beautiful beaches and sceneries to spend a vacation to.

Taganga in Magdalena, Colombia

Taganga in Magdalena, Colombia

One of the highly regarded top tourist attractions in Magdalena is the Tayrona National Park. In this park, tourist will see various beaches, reefs, mangroves and ruins of the Tayrona Indians. This tourist attraction needs about an hour or two hike for the visitors. Along the hike, tourist can have a glimpse of various plants and animals, trees and vegetation which are surrounded with birds and butterflies. In Magdalena, tourists will truly enjoy the nature and its wildlife. As tourists reach the beach, they will utterly be stunned with it as it is clear blue. The beach has also huge boulders wherein you can climb to truly see the beauty of the horizon. Tourists can even stay for a night in hammocks on the boulders. There are also restaurants in the park where you will enjoy the sumptuous treats of Magdalena. Tayrona Park is beyond doubt a fine-looking spot for beaches and jungles.

If you want to see various ruins and if you love to trek, then the Lost City is one the suitable tourist attractions in Magdalena Colombia that is for you find out. On the way to this attraction, along with seeing various ruins and the scenic jungle, you need to do some trek. You will see lush palms and trees, colorful parrots and butterflies. In the jungle, you will find rivers in which you are allowed to dip and relax into in the middle of your trek. Since this is a four-day trek, camping is a necessity which you would truly enjoy with family and friends. You can sleep on hammocks as you enjoy the sound of nature, the sound of the jungle. In the lost city you will absolutely enjoy not only the beautiful scenery but also the experience that goes along with it.

For nature lovers you can visit Sierra Nevada wherein you can see top species of birds and beautiful mountains. You can also enjoy outdoor activities along with this scenic adventure. As you track on the mountains, you can ride on mountain bikes to enjoy the ride as you go downhill. You will also find beautiful waterfalls and go canyoning, wherein you will jump down the falls. This is truly a top attraction in Magdalena Colombia. If you want to go snorkeling and enjoy swimming on the beach and at the same time enjoy delicious seafood cuisines, you should visit Rodadero. This is a peaceful and attractive spot for tourists indeed – wonderful beach coupled with splendid food and brilliant activities.

Finally, for tourists to have a feel of Magdalena, you should visit the well-preserved museum at Quinta de San Pedro de Alejandrino. You will learn the history of Colombia in this excursion, including the fact that this is the place where Simon Bolivar; a leader who liberated South America, resided and died. You will truly be amazed with the history as well as the spectacular artifacts and exhibits.

Make sure to visit Magdalena when you drop by Colombia and be stunned by its amazing beaches, people and culture. Magdalena Colombia is surely a wise vacation choice.

Satellite view of Punta Gallinas and Guajira Peninsula

Top Reasons To Visit Punta Gallinas

The top reasons to visit Punta Gallinas might not be a hard list to fill in one’s travel notebook if deserts would give a bad impression for a holiday site. But Punta Gallinas might prove desert-haters wrong once they finally arrived at the area. One may say that not all paradises are made of thick foliage that fosters a plethora of overgrown plant life. The Punta Gallinas might be one of the most unique topographies of Colombia since this country is known for its greenery. This region’s uniqueness alone could captivate many offbeat travellers who come for a unique vacation experience. This headland location might have earned a comical moniker that meant “Cape Chicken” in Spanish, but outdoor adventures in this dry region is no chicken feed. Tourists planning to stay in Punta Gallinas should up their physical condition.

Satellite view of Punta Gallinas and Guajira Peninsula

Satellite view of Punta Gallinas and Guajira Peninsula

1. Rough exhilarating 4-wheel drag race

Perhaps one of the strangest causes among the top reasons to visit Punta Gallinas is to find out how true is the ferocious reputation of the terrain. Since Punta Gallinas is greatly deprived of a proper infrastructure, the entire vast land area is accessible only via a rugged 4-wheel drive. This vehicle is built to imitate the durability of the army land rover, but one may be alarmed to find out that in the middle of the journey its wheels can even break down. Adventurous travellers will be totally thrilled to consider this an adrenaline-packed journey.

2. Serenity in the sand dunes

After crossing a considerable mileage throughout La Guajira Department’s hostile terrain, one may be pleased to know that the rough rides often end at the smooth expanse of the desert dunes. The landscape is a breath taking sight, seemingly an imitation of a caramel-coloured zebra pattern sprawled throughout the entire coastal area of Punta Gallinas. An aerial view might prove to be even twice more magnificent. Travellers ought to avoid missing the chance to take some panoramic photographs worthy of a polished wooden frame.

3. Can you handle the sea kayaking?

Farther from the velvety dunes of the western dry coast is the sea shore. One of the top reasons to visit Punta Gallinas is the kind of thrill that the steep beaches can offer its adventurous tourists. It is here that most locals haul a very marvellous catch. It is not surprising for audacious tourists to imitate the hard way the natives catch fish – braving the gargantuan gales. Some may call it madness, while other will call it another wild ride. These waters are so fierce that visitor foresight is advised.

4. Meeting the Wayuu desert people

The Wayuu people are unique natives in Colombia strewn all over the entire country. Many of them lived in Punta Gallinas. One thing that fascinates visitors about them is that they can be role models of human resilience in the wild. Adventurous travellers who wished to optimize their sense of resourcefulness could learn a lot from these robust locals.

San Agustin Archeological Park in Huila

Top Tourist Attractions In San Agustin

Famous for its prehistoric monoliths and archaeological spots, the top tourist attractions in San Agustin will never fall short of your expectations. San Agustin is a little settlement nestled in southern Colombia’s department of Huila, with a distance of around 230 kilometres from the department’s capital city Neiva. After San Agustin’s archaeological sites were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, tourists were drawn towards visiting the place in turn boosting its tourism.

San Agustin Archeological Park in Huila

San Agustin Archeological Park in Huila

Unquestionably, San Agustin Archaeological Park is among the top tourist attractions in San Agustin being the only site in the globe housing 500 impressive structures of rocks engraved to utmost intricacy based on the renowned legends of its Indian carvers. Majority of the structures are deemed to be an inclusion in the memorial services of the primeval locals of the region that connects reality with the paranormal realm. Each of the rock statues and graves signify an epic character resembling that of the multi-faceted schemes of customs impressed and commemorated in the stone statues. Among the other sightseer attractions to look forward seeing in the park include the four mesitas which exhibit most of the stone monuments in the area and the Bosque de las Estatuas which display 39 statues in the open field surrounded by fine-looking plant life.

Among the archaeological displays, La Fuente de Lavapatas is probably considered as the grandest of all the carved figures in the top tourist attractions in San Agustin. The fountain is composed of a compound web of puddles and channels engraved in the substratum of the watercourse. Furthermore the encompassing carvings which are a stunning blend of images like that of lizards, snakes and a whole lot more of animal species with varied facades and contours greatly signifies the strong sense of artistry among its makers.

The jeepney tour is also considered as one of the top tourist attractions in San Agustin owing to its unique adventure-filled trip along the picturesque sights of the region. Among the famous tourist spots included in the trip are the El Estrecho of the Magdalena River where you get to have a glimpse of the scenic setting of the river; the Village of Obando as well as the Salto de los Bordones and Alto de las Piedras.

Another outdoor activity included in the top tourist attractions in San Agustin is the wild water rafting in Magdalena River. The water adventure usually takes about two to four hours in the water depending on the package choice and the level of difficulty. In addition to that, Magdalena rafting also features tours in French, English and Spanish languages thus the barrier in communication won’t be a problem to many tourists who would like to indulge into this activity. Aside from water rafting, waterfall rappelling at Los Tres Chorros can also be booked.

Aerial view of San Jose del Guaviare

Top Reasons To Visit San Jose del Guaviare

More people need to know about the top reasons to visit San Jose del Guaviare. Quite frankly, the city isn’t getting the attention it deserves as it is stolen by more popular destinations in the country. San Jose del Guaviare is a town and municipality located in southeast Colombia and is the capital of the department of Guaviare. It lies along the Guaviare River about 200 miles northwest of the town of Mitú. Farming and cattle raising are its main livelihood. Given its geographical isolation from the rest of Colombia, one can expect a dominantly rural atmosphere from it. That said, San Jose del Guaviare won’t disappoint as a travel destination. Here are the reasons why you should go there.

Aerial view of San Jose del Guaviare

Aerial view of San Jose del Guaviare

Reason one: San Jose del Guaviare is a gateway to the Amazon

The town is often called “Entrance to the Jungle”. Its strategic location puts grants easy access to the Amazon region of Colombia, namely the Orinoquía. During colonial times, this region was called Llanos Orientales or Eastern Plains. Orinoquía is one of the only five natural regions of Colombia that forms the Orinoco watershed. The Orinoquía region encompasses wetlands, rivers, forests, and a tropical savanna; landscapes that are typical of the Amazon.

Reason two: National parks

National parks are usually established to protect forests. There are a few in this city and they are among the top reasons to visit San Jose del Guaviare. One of which is the Chiribiquete National Park which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pre-Cambrian rock formations, flat-top mountains called tepuys, deep canyons, rapids, caves, rock shelters, and lush valleys can be seen throughout Chiribiquete. The park also has impressive biodiversity. Moreover, there is evidence of ancient human inhabitants living in the area as seen in the rock art. The Nukak Nature Reserve is a must-see as well.

Reason three: Indigenous tribes

Indigenous people including the Guayabero, Nunak, Sikuani, and Tucano still live in the forests of the town and they are among the top reasons to visit San Jose del Guaviare. They add a touch of culture to what is largely a rural area.

Cerros de Mavecure in Guainia

Top Reasons To Visit Guainia

The top reasons to visit Guainia may depend on what one may consider worthwhile in having a vacation. Like most unfamiliar countries, Colombia is one of those picked by tourists from first world countries in order to experience something rare and extraordinary. This South American nation is pretty much misunderstood and its mystery continues to captivate foreigners. On one hand, there are those who wish to visit this country because of its close connection to nature. Others want to learn more about the curious history of Spanish colonies in the New World, including the advantages and ills resulting from imperialism. There are also others who are simply curious to know the boundaries between stereotype and fact, especially concerning hot topics like FARC rebellion and drug trade. The remoteness of the department of Guainia is seemingly appealing. This part of the country shares borders with Brazil down south and Venezuela to the east. Remote places like these appeal to travelers seeking off-beat tourist environments.

Cerros de Mavecure in Guainia

Cerros de Mavecure in Guainia

1. The ideal rural paradise to go native

One of the top reasons to visit Guainia is that it is one of the departments in Colombia that has very few licensed municipalities. In fact, this department only has one decent civilization. Inirida is the capital city of this department and it is teeming with military presence because it was believed to be nearby a formidable FARC rebel stronghold. One meaningful aspect about wilderness environment is the experience of living away from the comforts of civilization. It is simply taking wilderness camping to a whole new level. One can learn a lot from the inhabitants of the department how wonderful simple living really used to be. One may think that being in Guainia is an ideal retreat from the mechanized lifestyle of the city.

2. Guainia – the home of indigenous South Americans

Another of the top reasons to visit Guainia appeals to anyone very interested in studying the Native American population existing in South America. For academics possessed with this insatiable interest, one may visit Guainia for one reason – the Arawak Indians. They were believed to be extinct in the Caribbean ever since the Europeans came to finish them off after centuries of persecution by the wild Carib natives. It is interesting to know that the living relics of this extinct culture still thrive in this department, assimilating with the rest of the pastoral Colombian people’s culture.

3. Experience unadulterated ecotourism

People who visit Guainia will truly appreciate nature in its very crude form. This is one of the many places in Colombia where civilization truly finds hard to penetrate. Eco tourists are bound to be amazed by the wonders of the endless forests that stretch further to borders of Venezuela and Brazil. The only conceivable danger that hardy nature lovers ought to avoid is the presence of roving FARC rebels. For many years they have proven to be a bane for the Colombian department. It would be of one’s best interest to venture inland with a guide.

Sumapaz Paramo, Cundinamarca

Top Tourist Attractions In Cundinamarca

In the core of Colombia lie the top tourist attractions in Cundinamarca. Curdinamarca hosts several awe-inspiring vacation destinations that are filled with rich history and heritage.

One of the top tourist attractions in Cundinamarca is the Chingaza Park. The park’s position is shared along with Meta and contains an abundant source of water which springs from several watercourses, some of which are recognized as a World Heritage site. Chingaza Park fundamentally takes pride of the various breeds of flora and fauna it exhibits such as deers, condors, bears and a whole lot more species of birds, mammals and amphibians. Chingaza park has also varied points of entrance to choose from and most of them lie in the Calera path. It is also feasible to take hikes using different trails, all of which offer a breathtaking sight of the scenic landscapes.

Sumapaz Paramo, Cundinamarca

Sumapaz Paramo, Cundinamarca

The terrains of Sumapaz are an inclusion to the top tourist attractions in Cundinamarca. It is among municipalities of Colombia’s capital city Bogota sharing the boundaries between Huila and Meta. It is renowned for its picturesque mountain scopes with many lagoons. Also it is noted to have the most extensive moorland in the world providing one of the biggest water supplies in Colombia and a thriving nature sanctuary for a wide variety of wildlife creatures. Sumapaz is also deemed to be an archaeological landmark in Cundinamarca owing to the gems that has been discovered in one of its lagoons. Some of the found gems are now under the safeguarding of the Gold Museum in Bogota.

The dam of Tomine is another worth visit among the top tourist attractions in Cundinamarca. Beneath the dam lies the prehistoric village of Guatavita which was already fully submerged by the flooded waters of Tomine’s dam. What draw travellers to this place are the tours being offered towards the island where kayaking is also featured. Tourists can also experience a serene stroll towards the dam’s perimeters or perhaps experience horseback riding and even camping. Being filled with abundant heritage, a visit to its local museum is a great way to be enriched about Cundinamarca’s history and way of life.

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira completes your travel itinerary towards the top tourist attractions in Cundinamarca. The cathedral lies within the Zipaquira town just 47 kilometres to the north of Bogota. The church is positioned within a salt mine excavate which is about 200 metres beneath the ground. The vibrant hue of light inside the tunnel which elucidates the path also adds more attraction to the church. Not to mention the naves and sculptured-statues which the church also features are also attention-grabbers. Furthermore, tourists can also view a 3D documentary video about the history of the salt mine.

Puerto Limon, Isla Fuerte

Top Reasons To Visit Isla Fuerte

A peaceful retreat away from the city is one of the top reasons to visit Isla Fuerte.  This little island off the coast of Cordoba is a little slice of heaven, with a rich marine and land flora and fauna, including about more than 80 species of birds.  Surprisingly, Isla Fuerte is under the Bolivar department.

Puerto Limon, Isla Fuerte

Puerto Limon, Isla Fuerte

This off-the-beaten-track tourist destination is only a well-kept secret of Colombian tourists from Cordoba, and a few travelers tenacious enough to do a little research about the island.  But if your curiosity is piqued, these top reasons to visit Isla Fuerte may be the nudge you need to book that flight and take that trip.

Friendly locals.  Only in Isla Fuerte can you find locals who’ll happily invite you to their home for a home-cooked meal or eager enough to explain the history and legends about the island, while touring you around.  Most of the settlers here are of African ancestry and have infused part of their culture into their cooking (which you can taste in the food they prepare).

Some peace and quiet.  Tucked away from the mainland Colombia, you will always have the chance to have the entire island for yourself, especially during off-peak season.

But don’t expect for 5-star accommodations and nightclubs.  The place is devoid of cars, restaurants and other amenities you will usually find in other crowded beaches.

But the lack of these accommodations also means, you won’t have to deal with boisterous tourists and garbage strewn shorelines.

Some of the most interesting trees in Colombia.  A stroll around the island will give you a chance to see some of the most interesting trees in the country.  One of Isla Fuerte’s famous trees is the Cashapona or the “walking tree”.  But this tree doesn’t “walk” as its name suggests.  The tree gained its moniker from the stilt-like root systems, and the aerial roots that grow from the stems and form another root system once it hits the ground.

Diving sites.  One of the top reasons to visit Isla Fuerte is the dive sites.  A trip to Isla Fuerte is never complete without exploring the dive sites off its coasts.

Some of the popular dive sites in Isla Fuerte are Bajo Bushnell which is known for its reefs filled with barracudas, giant gorgonias and horned corals, Burbujas and Los Pargos.

Playa Blanca

Top Reasons To Visit Choco

The top reasons to visit Choco are unknown to most people, even among tourists of Colombia. Chocó is a Colombian department located west of the country. It is the only department of Colombia with a border to Panama.

Playa Blanca

Playa Blanca

Reason one: The coastlines

Besides being the only Colombian department that borders Panama, Chocó is also alone in having two coastlines. One of them faces the Pacific Ocean while the other faces the Atlantic. The Atlantic coast is shorter so it has fewer beaches. The Pacific coast of Chocó is much longer.

Bahía Solano is one of the best beaches in the department. It occupies a narrow strip of white-sand beaches on the foothills of Baudó Mountains, facing the Pacific Ocean. Bahía Solano has much more to offer than just scenic beaches and clear waters for swimming. It also presents a myriad of opportunities. Fishing is a popular sport undertaken by many in its beaches, especially during May when they can catch the flying fish. By September, its coast turns into a vantage point for spotting migratory birds as they make their way. Between July and October, humpback whales can be seen from the shores of Bahía Solano. They visit the area for mating season. With the help of organized boat tours you can get close enough to hear humpback whales sing as part of their mating ritual.

Beaches suitable for swimming aren’t enough reason to go to Choco. So is having two coastlines. But the recreational and wildlife spotting opportunities they present are included in the top reasons to visit Choco.

Reason two: Unspoiled natural beauty

The natural resources of Chocó remain unexploited to this day. The thich rainforest which comprises most of the department is still unspoiled. An untouched natural beauty is one of the top reasons to visit Chocó as well. It almost certainly equates to a thriving ecosystem with a wide variety of flora and fauna.

The biodiversity hotspot of Chocó is El Chocó. It encompasses both dry and moist tropical forests. The ecotouristic area extends to three more South American countries, namely Peru, Ecuador, and Panama. An unspoiled beauty is one of the top reasons to visit Choco.