Category Archive: Colombia

Panorama of the Orinoco River which runs from Venezuela to Vichada, Colombia

Top Reasons To Visit Vichada

Despite the presence of the guerrilla forces in this department, there are still top reasons to visit Vichada, for the bravest travelers. Bordered by other Colombian departments such as Arauca, Casanare and Guainia, great tourist spots and sights abound in and around the department of Vichada.

Panorama of the Orinoco River which runs from Venezuela to Vichada, Colombia

Panorama of the Orinoco River which runs from Venezuela to Vichada, Colombia

Here are some of the top reasons to visit Vichada and discover its natural beauty:

Reason #1:  Puerto Carreño.  The lush vegetation and breathtaking views of Puerto Carreño, Vichada’s capital, is one of the top reasons to visit Vichada.  Located close to the Orinoco River, the waters in Puerto Carreño are a great place to go fishing.

In addition, Vichada is also home to an indigenous community, where some of the best crafts, textiles and local delicacies are sold.

Reason #2:  Raudal de Maypures.  Found in the El Tuparro National Natural Park, the Raudal de Maypures is a sight to behold.  Discovered about 200 years ago by German explorer Humbolt, the rapids created by the Orinico and the Tuparro river is a combination of rapids, waterfalls, oddly beautiful rock formations including the “Balancing Rock” and lush vegetation surrounding the waters.

No wonder it’s called the “Eighth wonder of the world”.

Reason # 3:  Gaviotas.  Other developing cities and villages should follow the example set by this ecovillage in the savannahs of Vichada.  Founded in 1971, Paolo Lugari and his group of engineers attempted to search for ways to create a mode of sustainable living in one of the harshest locations in Colombia.

Among its numerous inventions produced are the water pump seesaw and the sunflower windmill.

Reason # 4: Parque National El Tuparro.  the El Tuparro National Natural Park is a must-see destination for three reasons:  1. the Maipures rapids as mentioned above; 2. It is home to a wide variety of local flora and fauna; and 3.  The sandy beaches of the Orinoco River.

Band playing at Fiestas Corralejas de Sincejelo

Top Tourist Attractions In Sincelejo

If you find yourself planning a trip to Sucre, make sure to include the top tourist attractions in Sincelejo on your itinerary. Sincelejo is the largest city and capital of Sucre, a department of Colombia. The municipalities of Sampués, Palmito, Tolu, Toluviejo, Corozal, and Morroa are right around it. Sincelejo lies 30 km from the Caribbean Sea, 125 km from Cartagena, and 200 km from Barranquilla. Often referred to as the “Capital of Savannah” since it is surrounded by savannah landscapes, it is a major Colombian city with plenty to offer.

1. Santander Park

The Santander Park was opened to the public in 1776 and is just about the same age as Sincelejo itself. It is where the first Corralejas Festival took place in January 20, 1845 and where it was continually held until 1946 when the venue was moved to Majagual Plaza. Right next to the park is Catedral San Francisco de Asís or Saint Francis of Assis Cathedral. It was built in 1853 and is the center of religious festivities that celebrate Easter, the Sacred Heart Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and even Las Fiestas del Dulce Nombre de Jesús, the most important religious celebration held ever January 20 of each year.

2. Majagual Plaza

The plaza, more popularly known as La Placita de Majagual or Little Plaza of Majagual is included in the top tourist attractions in Sincelejo. The famous Corralejas Festival took place here for many years until it was eventually moved to La Plaza de Mochila. Today, it features a massive, post-modern arch-shaped sculpture and a spaceous square where sports activities and cultural events are often held.

3. Municipality Theatre

Even though it’s a fairly modern infrastructure, it’s a nice place to catch theatrical performances, operas, concerts, musicals, and other cultural shows.

4. San Francisco Mall

Yet another modern tourist facility is the San Francisco Mall. Here, your entire family can enjoy the perks of shopping, entertainment, dining, and recreation.

5. Fiestas Corralejas de Sincejelo

Band playing at Fiestas Corralejas de Sincejelo

Band playing at Fiestas Corralejas de Sincejelo

The last yet certainly not the least of the top tourist attractions in Sincelejo is the Corralejas Festival. Other names for it are the 20th of January Party and Jesus’ Sweet Name Party. During the event, you will see a temporary wooden building known as the Corraleja. It is where the main attraction of Fiestas Corralejas de Sincelejo takes place. Inside it, bullfighters will face raging bulls. But these are no professional bullfighters. Rather, they are people from the masses who have to fight their way as bulls are introduced to the Corraleja one by one.

Outside the bull ring, you can join street parties, listen to musicians playing music, and admire folkloric song being played in the background. The festival lasts from January 16 until 21.

Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox

Top Things To Do In Santa Cruz de Mompox

There are a lot of top things to do in Santa Cruz de Mompox that will inspire you in ways you will never expect. Near the prominent city of Cartagena, within the Bolivar department, lies the beautiful region of Santa Cruz de Mompox. The place is believed to be an enchanting town situated on an island amidst the Magdalena River emanating with rich cultural and architectural heritage.

Among the several ancient churches nestled in the region, Iglesia de Santa Barbara is perhaps the most visited in Santa Cruz de Mompox since more often than not, the structure is featured in majority of its postcards and photographs owing to its remarkable structure. Visiting this beautiful spot is indeed one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz de Mompox. What is more eye-catching about the renowned church is its uniquely-styled tower with a veranda which is ideal for picture-taking. For lovers of photography, this would be a perfect place for your activity. Be sure though to pay a visit in the morning to guarantee that you get a more vivid capture of the place.

Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox

Historic Centre of Santa Cruz de Mompox

If you have the fad for shopping gold jewelries and may consider this as one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz de Mompox, then the town is just the perfect place to be. Being famed for its precious offerings of gold gems, you will surely fall in love with its wide array of jewels that you will find here. Moreover, among the beautiful lure in Santa Cruz de Mompox are its great showcase of furnishings like that of the conventional sets of chairs and tables as well as its luscious delicacies such as Doña Ada’s lemon sweets and capa cheese which are perfect combinations along with your tours.

If you are in Santa Cruz de Mompox, do not forget to stay in Bioma Boutique Hotel situated at Calle Real del Medio. This is the most stayed hotel due to its conventional accommodations and facilities that have caught the eye of picky travelers. After the completion of the hotel’s refurbishment and development in 2011 and being in a strategic position in the core of the town,  Bioma Boutique Hotel has gained the fame of offering an inimitable and an unforgettable getaway and experience to its guests. Among the renowned facilities that tourists can enjoy include captivating gardens, a restaurant, swimming pool and a Jacuzzi. Apparently with their facilities, you together with your families, friends and loved ones can absolutely enjoy looking at the beautiful flowers and greens, eating their sumptuous delicacies especially their local cuisines, swimming at their beautiful pool and taking a dip at their Jacuzzi. These are one of the top things to do in Santa Cruz de Mompox, particularly in the said hotel. Truly, Santa Cruz de Mompox offers wide arrays of activities just at the comforts of your hotel, what more is there which awaits outside. Hence never take for granted visiting the beautiful town of Santa Cruz de Mompox.

View of Lake Tota

Top Things To Know About Visiting Iza

Impress your friends and family by sharing some of the top things to know about visiting Iza.  This town and municipality in the Boyaca Department is a great jump off point to the nearby attraction, Lake Tota.

But there’s more to Iza than being just a short stop on the way to Lake Tota.  Here are couple of top things to know about Iza.

Green nest of Boyaca.  It’s no surprise that Iza is known as the “Green Nest of Boyaca”, with its rustic charms and abundant greenery which makes the landscape of the town even more attractive.

It was once named Sta. Isabel.  Back in 1895, Iza was renamed Santa Isabel, for a very peculiar reason:  “Iza” means “concubine” or “prostitute” in Spanish.  But for the locals, Iza comes from the indigenous word “Za” which means “night”.

But thankfully, the change in name was short-lived and Iza is now known as “Iza” once again.

View of Lake Tota

View of Lake Tota

Colonial Wonder.  Take a stroll around Iza and marvel at the town’s colonial architecture.  The Hispanic and Italian influence in Iza is much more evident in pine-tree and hydrangea-lined Plaza Mayor, which is a perfect stop on Sundays when locals sell their best obleas or Colombian sweets and pastries.

Trout and terrines anyone?  Weekenders will certainly enjoy fruit terrines and trout in Iza.  Choose from trout smothered in garlic and butter, or grilled trout which is served from most of the eateries and restaurants in Iza.  While there isn’t much variety as to the preparation of the trout in most of these eateries, you can certainly enjoy the ambiance of most of the restaurants in Iza as most of them as most of them has expanded their restaurants to included their very own private theme parks.

Hot Thermal Springs.  One of the top things to know about visiting Iza is that they have some of the best thermal springs in Colombia.  These thermal springs have healing properties due to the minerals the waters have.  So whether you’re seeking ways sooth rheumatic pains, or simply relaxing your tired and aching muscles after a long day of strolling, then there’s no better place to go to than Iza’s  hot thermal springs.

View of Guatape, Colombia

Best Time To Visit Guatape

Finding out the best time to visit in Guatape is easy if you have access to information resources like books and the internet. But you should make sure that the references you use are accurate to ensure your vacation to this part of Colombia. Now, some may argue the uselessness of pre-reading your destination since facts change over the years but there is definitely some value to knowing beforehand what travel and destination options you have. Apart from helping you build the right expectations, it also enables you to plan your itineraries well and not miss out on anything. With that said, you should be aware that the best time to visit this town is early in the year since it receives the least amount of rainfall and accommodates sightseeing pursuits.

View of Guatape, Colombia

View of Guatape, Colombia

Now, one of the places you should check out when you’re here is La Piedra Del Penol, a monolithic formation found one kilometre inside the city limits. The stone stands at a height of 2,135 meters and provide a great view of the city, including the hydroelectric dam of Penol-Guatape. It was recorded to have been first climbed back in 1954 by the locals and was formally developed in 2006 through the combined effort of Luis Villegas, Pedro Nel Ramirez and Ramon Diaz, who fixed sticks against the rock’s wall. Today, the top of the rock is reachable via 740 steps and is occupied by a handful of shops that sell handicrafts, postcards as well as refreshments. The best time to visit in Guatape for this would be early in the morning since the heat would not be as menacing as it would be in the afternoon. Yes, the evening also does provide a stunning view. But the climb might prove to be quite dangerous to the inexperienced in the cloak of darkness.

To add to this National Monument, you could also check out two monasteries in town that are run by the Benedictines. They are very welcoming so don’t worry about being intrusive to their privacy. Just make sure that you wear the appropriate clothes. If you’re lucky, you might even get to taste a free sample of their baked goods and preserved products. The lakes and waterfalls within and surrounding the region also extend adventure seekers a few activity options that are bound to spike their adrenalin levels. You can do everything here from ziplining to rock climbing, kayaking and island hopping. But be forewarned that the best time to visit in Guatape for these would be between December and February.

Plaza Jardin in Antioquia

Top Things To Know About Visiting Envigado

Among the top things to know about visiting Envigado is the fact that it is located in the department of Antioquia, north of El Poblado, Medellin. It is within the territory of the Aburra Valley and has El Retiro, Caldas and Itagui as neighbours. It is currently regarded as the birthplace of the philosopher Fernando Gonzalez and even has a cultural center and museum dedicated to his work and memory. But beyond this point of interest, Envigado is well-known for its paisa traditions and architecture, which is recognized as one of the best standard of living.

Plaza Jardin in Antioquia

Plaza Jardin in Antioquia

If ever you find yourself in town, make sure you drop by Pueblito Paisa, located on top of El Cerro Nutibara. See, apart from providing guests a better understanding of the traditional Antioquian lifestyle, it also offers a great view of the city and a challenging hiking experience. In addition, you should also check out Museo de Antioquia and its collection of contemporary art, which include those made by Fernando Botero, a Columbian artist and one of the most prominent sculptors in the world. Museo Universidad de Antioqiua is a great alternative to the former, with its assortment of visual art, natural science, anthropology and university history displays. Here, you’ll get to see a large number of pre-Columbian ceramic pieces, not to mention engage in a Galileo interactive room, which provides some of the top things to know about visiting Envigado. Now, just make sure you come by during weekdays between 10 AM to 5PM so you’d get to enter both premises.

To complement this experience, drop by the Wishes’ Park (Parque de los Deseos) near the University and check out the newly reconstructed planetarium. Plaza de Cisneros is also a fun highlight for you to explore a few miles away, with its 1920’s architecture, EPM library and line-up of shops. Parque de Berrio is just close by and has all the important financial buildings of the metropolis. And if you want to get acquainted with other top things to know about visiting Envigado, you should set aside time for Parque Periodista, the hang out spot of bohemians and musicians.

Parque Santander and Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral

Top Reasons To Visit Sucre

The top reasons to visit Sucre can all be found in one notable city – Sincelejo. The Sucre Department is a vast region in Colombia with a very curious pre-colonization history. Interestingly, a huge kingdom known as Zenu once inhabited this region as well as the Cordoba Department and other parts Bolivia and Antioquia. The Zenu people are such an advanced race whose expertise in hydraulics engineering continues to baffle many of the modern academics. However, the Zenu people are among the many victims of Spanish cruelty and Sucre Department is just one of the many areas where such inhumanity occurred. Somewhere around 1775 the city of Sincelejo was reestablished, which according to history; becomes the starting point in the foundation of the Sucre Department in 1966 after decades of appeal from the central government of Colombia.

1. A good place for studying the Zenu people

If studying pre-Colombian history is one of the top reasons to visit Sucre, then there is plenty to know about this department’s ancient inhabitants. The Zenu people are one of the many civilizations that comprised the overall nations living the Mesoamerican (South American natives) world. If the Aztecs are known for their cosmological temples and the Incas for their building of impossible fortresses, the Zenu are known for their advanced knowledge of hydraulics engineering. These waterworks provide excellent irrigation systems in their vast farmlands. Although these people are virtually extinct, their ruins can be found in several archeological sites all over Sucre.

2. Playing around Majagual Plaza

The Majagual Plaza could represent a symbol of resilience for the people of Sucre, particularly in Sicelejo City. This plaza was once devastated by a massive earthquake and was totally ruined. But it never stopped the locals from rebuilding it into a much more spectacular design than before. It incorporated post-modern minimalist design since its reconstruction in late 1980’s. This plaza is an excellent venue for cultural gatherings. It can also be an appropriate place to try out the new skateboard or practice tai chi together with a huge group of enthusiasts.

3. How sweet is Jesus’ Sweet Name?

Another best motive among the top reasons to visit Sucre is to join a special holiday in January. The feast of Jesus’ Sweet Name may have an overly extravagant ring to it but this festival may be considered an extension of the fun-filled Christmas and New Year days. One can experience being bedazzled by the splendor of local Colombian ladies in a beauty pageant. Parades are also a joyous sight but if there is one thing that truly takes the cake in the thrills, it is viewing of bullfighting that takes place for several days.

Parque Santander and Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral

Parque Santander and Saint Francis of Assisi Cathedral

4. A good spiritual experience in St. Francis of Assisi Cathedral

St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of Sincelejo as well as all of Sucre Department at large. His cathedral, built around 1853, is the center of important religious festivals such as Easter and other religious holidays.

Chicamocha Canyon in Bucaramanga, Colombia

Top Tourist Attractions In Bucaramanga

The top tourist attractions in Bucaramanga are not as plenty as other Colombian countries. But that does not imply that it is a boring destination. There are still a significant number of things to do and see while in town. And you’re bound to spend a memorable weekend here if you do ever decide on coming by. The best way to tour Bucaramanga is to experience it. And what you need to do is expect less visual stimulation and more of the other senses. But first, we must discuss the landmarks that make this place unique from everywhere else.

Chicamocha Canyon in Bucaramanga, Colombia

Chicamocha Canyon in Bucaramanga, Colombia

When you are in Bucaramanga, you should make sure that you visit Panachi or the Chicamocha national park, which is located just 50 kilometers from the center. It features spectacular landscaping and facilities, perfect for activities such as camping, mountain climbing, bushwalking, fishing, rafting, spelunking and paragliding, to name a few. If you are not that big on adventures, then the aerial tramway, viewing decks, skating rinks, petting zones, and karts circuits should be enough to entertain you. After you’ve spend some time there, then you should head on down to the Museum of Modern Art, which is one of the top tourist attractions in the city of Bucaramanga. It has two showrooms which present a collection of 217 artworks, composed mostly of sculptures. As an alternative, you could also drop by the historical town of San Juan de Giron, which was the first Spanish Settlement in the Santander region.

Once you’ve had your fill of sightseeing, you should then visit famous local restaurants like Desayunadero Tony, Restaurante Mercagan and Restaurante La Puerta del Sol to order any of the dishes that make Colombia a hotspot for delicious cuisines. If your stomach can take on a challenge, you should also search for delicacies that are uniquely served in Bucaramanga. One of which is Fritanga, a traditional dish traditionally made in the city and is composed of steak, sausages, yuca, corn and potatoes that’s deep fried. Cutonas is also another exclusive specialty within this place that’s made up of toasted bodies of leaf-cutter ants.

When you are already satiated, you can then save up your energy for the top tourist attractions in Bucaramanga at night, such as Parque Las Palmas, Calle 52, and Carreras 34 and 35, which are mid/upscale bars and clubs. If these turned out to be crowded during your stay, you could also seek out Babilonia, Con Arte, Saxo and Giron Chill Out.

Torre Sant'Andrea in Santa Catarina

Top Reasons To Visit Salento

It doesn’t seem like it but there are a number of top reasons to visit Salento. Salento is a sleepy little town in Quindío, Colombia. The seemingly boring place is bound to surprise you. It is enriched by culture and has plenty of sights and activities to offer. As a matter of fact, tourists from Armenia and Pereira come in droves during weekends and holidays. Still not convinced? Here’s why Salento should be your next destination.

Torre Sant'Andrea in Santa Catarina

Torre Sant’Andrea in Santa Catarina

1. Eat Trucha. Trucha is a type of fish that lives in abundance in the region. Restaurants normally serve it with rice at different prices, depending on how it was prepared. Restaurants around the main plaza are your best bets for eating Trucha. You can also go fish for one at the farm and cook it yourself. The only drawback of this is that it would turn out to be more expensive than dining at a restaurant.

2. Play Tejo. The national sport is played throughout Colombia and something you can enjoy in this town. Tejo is one of the top reasons to visit in Salento. Participants are required to throw a weight underarm into a wooden packing crate. The weight is usually around 500 g to 1 kg and the crate is filled with clay and elevated at an angle. Embedded on the clay is a metal circle. The goal is to get your weight inside this metal circle. To make tejo more fun, Colombians place gunpowder on the top and bottom of the circle. If you hit the metal with your weight, the gun powder will explode. Extra points are awarded for the bang. You can play the game at the Plantation House in Salento.

3. Celebrate the fiesta. On the first week of January, Salento transforms into a lively place from a sleepy town.

4. Go hiking at Valle de Cocora. The picturesque landscape is one of the most scenic places in Colombia. You can get there by taking a jeep from the Plaza in Salento. The jeep leaves as soon as it is filled so come early and bring food and water with you. Hiking up Valle de Cocora takes several hours but the trail is easy. Just 2.5 hours of hiking and you’ll get to the Acaime ranger post where you can take a break, have a cup of hot tea or chocolate, enjoy the sceneries, and listen to hummingbirds. There are many other things to do and sights to see in Valle de Cocora. No wonder it’s one of the top reasons to visit Salento.

Spectacled Bear in Serrania de los Churumbelos

Top Tourist Attractions In Putumayo

If you want to see some of the most remarkable places in Colombia, then you wouldn’t dare miss the top tourist attractions in Putumayo. The Putumayo department is located in the southwestern corner of the country, with Peru and Ecuador around its border. Its name was derived from two words of the Quechua dialect: the word putuy which means “to spring forth” and mayu which refers to a “gushing river”.

Putumayo was originally inhabited by various Indian tribes in different regions; the Kamentxá in the north west, Cofáns of the south west, Tukano-speaking tribes in the central and southern areas, and Witoto-speaking tribes of the east. Spanish colonization eradicated most of them but some survived and continue to thrive, accounting for Putumayo’s richness in culture. But there is more to Putumayo than just cultural attractions for it also teems with bounties of nature.

1. Ríos Rumiyacu y Mandiyaco

The Rumiyacu River lies south of Mocoa, the capital of Putumayo. It forms a number of water holes where you can take a relaxing swim.

2. Cañon de Mandiyaco

The Mandiyaco Canyon is a 19 km road trip from Mocoa through a paved road. It features nature trails that meander through portions of the canyon and surrounding rivers and forests. Guided tours of the Mandiyaco Canyon are available and last for about 10 minutes. Even travelers inexperienced at hiking will find its trails easy to trek.

Guided tours of Cañon de Mandiyaco go beyond sightseeing. The tour guide will also tell stories of myths, legends, and folklore involving the area. Tourists are allowed to rest, eat, and drink in between. Mandiyaco Canyon is one of the top tourist atractions in Putumayo.

3. Hornoyaco Falls

It is a 60-meter waterfall surrounded by a beautiful landscape with thick vegetation.

Spectacled Bear in Serrania de los Churumbelos

Spectacled Bear in Serrania de los Churumbelos

4. Salto de Churumbelo

Resting on the mountainous region of Churumbelo lies Salto de Churumbelo, one of the top tourist attractions in Putumayo. It is an impressive waterfall more beautiful than Horoyaco Falls. Moreover, Salto de Churumbelo used to be the cradle of an ancient civilization that has gone extinct over the centuries.