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.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

Top Tourist Attractions In Cesar

Most of the top tourist attractions in Cesar are in Valledupar. Valledupar is the capital of Cesar, a Colombian department located in Andino. It is bordered by the departments of La Guajira to its north, Magdalena and Bolivar to its west, and Santander to its south and west. The country of Venezuela lies on its eastern border. If it weren’t for its capital, Cesar wouldn’t be on the radar of tourists who visit Colombia.

Valledupar is known as the greenest city in Colombia. It has a number of eco parks and other natural attractions. It is also a place for history having been occupied during the Spanish colonial era. Furthermore, the city has earned its spot as a major cultural hub after giving birth to vallenato music.

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta

1. Festival de la leyenda Vallenata celebrates vallenato music whose origins can be traced to the city. It is undeniably one of the top tourist attractions in Cesar. At which time, vallenato bands compete against each other, attracting huge crowds in the process. The event is held annually, during the last week of April.

2. Alfonso López Pumarejo Square is ideal for rediscovering the colonial past of the city and perhaps, the rest of Cololombia. Located in downtown Velledupar, it is home to some nicely preserved Spanish colonial architecture.

3. Guatapurí River is a major point of interest in the city. Also known as Rio Guatapurí in Spanish, it comes from Curiba Lake and flows through the east of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta before reaching Cesar River. It spans 80 km long. The river is a nice place to take a swim. In fact, it is usually filled with people during weekends and holidays. An alternative to Guatapurí is the Badillo River.

4. Nabusimake is a secluded town where you can witness and experience the traditions and cultures of the Arhuaca tribe. For local handicrafts, you can visit the village of La Mina instead.

5. Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a mountainous region worth traveling to if you want to enjoy scenic hikes. The savannah section of Cesar Department is an interesting place to visit as well for remarkable sceneries. Both the savannah and Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria are included in the top tourist attractions in Cesar.

6. Ecoparks such as Los Besotes and Paraver offer unique sights and activities. Los Besotes more renowned for its bird watching opportunities as well as hikes to the verdant park. Paraver is suited for seeing a wide array of flora and fauna.

7. Monuments and parks abound in Valledupar and they are among the must-sees in Cesar. Among them are El Folclor Vallenato, Los Gallos, Los Poporos, María Mulata, Mi Pedazo de Acordeón, and Revolución en Marcha.

Arauca

Top Tourist Attractions In Villa de Santa Bárbara de Arauca

Despite the armed conflicts in the Arauca department, the charms of the top tourist attractions in Villa de Santa Barbara de Arauca (or Arauca City) hasn’t worn off and has continued to lure the bravest of travellers.  Located along the River Arauca on the Venezuelan border, Villa de Santa Barbara de Arauca is one of the largest municipalities in the Orinoco region.  It is also home to some of the most interesting and breath taking tourist destinations in Colombia.

Arauca

Arauca

To name a few, here are some of the most notable top tourist attractions in Villa de Santa Barbara de Arauca.

Jose Antonio Paez Bridge

Built in the late 1960’s, this bridge in Arauca was built for the mere purpose of allowing ease of transportation of crude oil between Venezuela and Colombia.  From the bridge, you’ll be treated to the spectacular view of the Araucan plains as well as the Arauca River, especially when the sun is setting.

The Malecon Uptown

The Malecon uptown is located near the border separating Arauca and Venezuela.  From here, you can see the little islands where the Guahibo tribe lives, by treading the thriving Arauco path.  The place was renovated in 2002 to improve its facilities.

Aguaparque las toninas

For a safer way to beat the summer heat, Arauca’s famous Aguaparque las toninas is a good place to hang out.  The resort has something for every member of the family:  Olympic sized swimming pools, slides and children’s pools.  Water games and competitions are sometimes held here.

Aguaparque las toninas is located five minutes away from Villa de Santa Barbara de Aruaca via Piquetierra.

Saravena

Aside from being the main and most important source of crude oil in Arauca, Saravena is also home to some of the top tourist attractions in Villa de Santa Barbara de Arauca, such as the Bojada beaches and Sun Valley.

Villa de Santa Barbara de Arauca itself

Take a walk around the city proper itself and you’ll find some of the most interesting museums and landmarks, showcasing the city’s cultural and historical heritage.  Among the notable landmarks in the city are Park of the Poets, Museum of Culture, and the Velodrome.

Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park

Top Reasons To Visit San Jacinto

There are plenty of top reasons to visit San Jacinto even if it is not as impressive as other Colombian towns. The people here are friendly and the environment is undoubtedly relaxing. Besides, San Jacinto’s ecotourism features are quite astounding even for a destination its size. For those who are not familiar with this place, San Jacinto is actually found in the northern side of the country. And it belongs to the department of Bolivar. It is blessed with numerous hills, mountains and streams. But some of the most amazing highlights it presents are found a few miles away from its center.

Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park

Rosario and San Bernardo Corals National Natural Park

Among the top reasons to visit San Jacinto is the Natural Marine National Park Corales del Rosario and San Bernardo. It is about 165 kilometers away from town and provides a myriad of unique ecosystems that promise to provide guests with the most exciting excursion options imaginable. Here, you’ll  be able to access wetlands, mangroves, prairie grass beds, and sandy beaches with just a few minutes hike. Moreover, there are plenty of coral reefs offshore you can snorkel or dive into. The marine wildlife in this area is amazing with its collection of urchins, starfishes, crustaceans, fishes, and mollusks; not to mention seabirds.

Up next on the top reasons to visit San Jacinto is the Wildlife Sanctuary Los Colorados, a small protected area found in Monets de Maria. It covers about 1000 hectares of native forest right in the heart of Montes de Maria. And it hosts hundreds of spider and red monkeys as well as 280 species of birds – some of which include the blue and yellow macaw, the hummingbird, and the parakeet. Of course, it also has other mammals in smaller quantities like the red deer and saino. But it is its monkey population that makes it very special. The Sanctuary of Fauna and Flora – The Corchal “El Mono Hernandez” is just a few kilometers away from Corales del Rosario and offers a similar environment with the latter for tourism interests. But what makes it as compelling to visit as the given are the mangrove species it introduces people to. Sure, it may not be as exciting. But do take note that these types of flora serve as habitat to a variety of animals. So who knows what treasure you may find exploring this site.

Popayán downtown in Colombia

Top Reasons To Visit Popayan

Lovers of history and architecture will find many top reasons to visit Popayan, capital of Cauca and a city located in southwest Colombia. These reasons range from the practical to sights you can expect from the city.

Popayán downtown in Colombia

Popayán downtown in Colombia

Reason #1: Popayan dates back to the colonial era.

The old colonial city was founded by Sebastian de Belalcazar on 1537 in behalf of Spain. As of this writing, Popayan is around 470 years old. Spanish occupation helped shape most of the city’s architecture, therefore earning its title as “the white city”. Spanish colonials are also responsible for much of Popayan’s historical attractions.

Reason #2: Ease of travel.

Buses and taxis are commonly used in Colombia, not just for traveling within a city but also between cities. This makes getting to Popayan cheap and easy. A more convenieent way of traveling would be to take a plane. Scheduled flights to the city are available from Bogota. Buses and taxis may also be used to get around Popayan but not always necessary. One of the top reasons to visit Popayan is that because of its small land, you can pretty much explore most of its attractions by foot.

Reason #3: It’s one of the most picturesque cities in South America.

As expected of any colonial era city, Popayan has a wealth of historical and architectural landmarks. They are among the top reasons to visit Popayan. These structures make it one of the most scenic cities throughout Latin America.

The most impressive sights are normally churches such as Iglesia de San Francisco and Iglesia La Ermita. Government buildings like Gobernacion follow suit as interesting attractions. The school grounds of Universidad del Cauca have colonial buildings as well. Puente del Humilladero is yet another noteworthy landmark that contributes to the city’s colonial charm. It is a Roman-style walking bridge that goes over a city river.

Last but not least is Parque de Caldas, the central square of the city. It was named after Francisco Jose de Caldas who designed Torre del Reloj, a clock tower located on one side of the square. The clock tower was constructed in Croydon, England and was shipped to Colombia as a gift.

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area, Norte de Santander Colombia

Top Tourist Attractions In North Santander

Bringing together colonial charms and a rich and diverse landscape, the top tourist attractions in North Santander (Norte de Santander) is worth experiencing while you’re there in Colombia.  Bordered by Venezuela to the east and north, and by neighbouring departments:  Santander and Boyaca in the south,  South Santander and Cesar in the east, this haven has a lot to offer, from spectacular rock formations and semi-desert landscapes and colonial architecture.

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area,  Norte de Santander Colombia

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area, Norte de Santander Colombia

Here are some of the highlights you must never miss out when you pass by North Santander:

Pamplona

With its colonial infrastructures and environment, a stroll down the idyllic municipality of Pamplona is like being taken back to the 1800’s.  Pamplona is home to various historical structures which is pivotal in the independence of the municipality.  One such example is the Casa de Doña Agueda Gallardo, where meetings were held before the July 4, 1810 coup.  But today, it is the current location of the Virtual Library of the University of Pamplona.

Other notable establishments in the area are the House of the Royal Treasury, which was once the colonial governor’s residence, and the Colonial House Museum where visitors can view exhibits of historical artefacts as well as enjoy activities such as workshops and artistic and cultural trainings for children.

In addition, Pamplona is also known for their churches.  Notable churches in Pamplona include the Shrine of Humilladero and the Metropolitan Cathedral.

San Jose de Cucuta

Commonly referred to as Cucuta, North Santander’s capital brings the best of both worlds:  old colonial monuments and infrastructures juxtaposed with modern architectures and facilities, making it to the list of top tourist attractions in North Santander.

Some of the best highlights in San Jose de Cucuta are the Monument to the Christ the King, which gives you a breath-taking  view of the entire Cucuta and the various monuments dedicated to the most important people in North Santander, such as the Monument of Santander located in the middle of the Santander square.

Los Estoraques Unique Natural Area Park

Adorned with carved columns, and unique rock formations, the Unique Natural Area Los Estoraques is one of the top tourist attractions in North Santander.  Various columns and figures are formed and sculpted by thousands of years of erosion.

In addition to the unique rock formations and columns, Los estoraques is also home to a plethora of local flora and fauna (albeit a small population due to the fragile ecosystem of the location), natural pools and the Le Teneria stream.