Cali

Cali is the undisputed South American capital of salsa. Situated in the warm Valle de Cauca, Santiago de Cali enjoys a temporate, warm but not overbearingly hot climate. The people are friendly without being intrusive and the salsa is everywhere.

Cali is Colombia’s third largest city and continues to grow, it is flanked to one side by El Cerro de las Cruces, a ridge with three crucifixes that overlooks the city. On an opposing hill stands Cristo de Rey, a giant statue of Jesus.

Cali is best known for its rumba, its animal-like salsa nightlife and once a year between 25th and 30th December, Cali is passion for salsa culminates in the Feria de Cali. A world famous salsa festival where dancer and bands from all over the world descend on Cali for the ultimate salsa party.

Cali is also known locally as La sucursal del cielo, literally a branch of heaven on earth. Whether it is true or not, you have to decide for yourself. But after a drunken night out in Cali you may well indeed feel like you are in heaven.

On the other side of the Rio Cauca is Juanchito, a neighbourhood with 24 hour licensing permissions. Juanchito is full of bars and the epicentre of Cali’s salsa scene, some of the best salsa bands in the world can be found performing there.

Aside from partying hard, Cali is an important city in Colombia because if its industry. Yumbo is an industrial zone that is home to many of Colombia’s largest industrials including Postobon, the makers of Pepsi and Colombian favourites Postobon Manzana, a fizzy pink apple drink and La Colombiana, a patriotic grenadine flavoured drink, both of which are consumed in large quantities throughout Colombia.

Programme

We can organise beautiful hotels in Cali, for example in the San Antonio neighbourhood, this is Cali Vieja, the hisorical part of Cali. Or perhaps you want to learn salsa, we can organise the most professional and orginal salsa teachers from the city for you. Or a visit San Cipriano, a unique village in the jungle which is only accessible via motorbike powered trolleys that run along a disused train track.

Both sugar cane haciendas close to Cali, Piedechinche & Paraíso are well conserved and fascinating day trips to learn about the history of sugar cane production. Or pay a visit to the Indian market of Silvia between Cali and Popayán home of the Guambaiano Indians, one of the most authentic Indian tribes suriving in Colombia.

Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to the Fallarones nature park, a beautiful park in the mountainous region around Cali. Alternatively a visit to Lago Calima, a lake best known for its watersports but also an excellent location for horseriding in the picture postcard surroundings.

Cali’s airport Alfonso Bonilla Áragon is served by LAN, Avianca and American Airlines and is located 45 minutes outside of the city. We will happily organise transfers for you to take you from the airport to Cali to begin your city adventure. Use our contact form to reserve your visit to Cali.

Laguna de la Cocha

Laguna de la Cocha is located in the Andes mountains at an altitude of 2800 metres above sea level and just 25 kms from Pasto, the capital of the Nariño department.

The laguna is one of the most idyllic mountain lakes to be found anywhere in Colombia. At the lakeside there are colourful chalet-style wooden houses and a very small village between swampland and nature reserves. The the most noteworthy feature of the laguna is its small island called Corota which has an area of only 0.8 square kilometres.

The main reason for visiting Laguna de la Cocha for most is the isolation, tranquility and the perfect place to escape the city. Accommodation options are based around the few chalet-style hotels built by Swiss immigrants which offer the last word in seclusion. One of the distinguishing features of the chalet-hotels in the area is that they are the only hotels that we know of in Colombia where they provide their guests with hot-water bottles at bedtime.

Rustic and simple rooms offer panaormic views across the laguna, we recommend you wind down after sunset with a local trout dish and put your feet up in front of the open log fire.

Even in a vast green country such as Colombia it is rare to find such tranquility and peace away from the daily grind. Coupled with the chalet hotels’ excellent hospitality, it really is the retreat that spoils you and revitalises the body and mind.

Programme

We organise private transfers from either your hotel or arrival point in Pasto and take you directly to the hotels on the border of the lake. We also offer a range of activities in Laguna de la Cocha including horseriding, fishing and boat trips to the Carota Island.

Journey by boat to the opposite side of the laguna and you can visit the nature reserve with its pure unspoilt páramo landscapes. Not to everybody’s liking but the nature reserve also has a simple restaurant which serves cuy.


Don’t feel obliged to fill your time in Laguna de la Cocha with outdoor activities, relaxing and taking in the warm ambience of the spectacular hotels is also a worthy pursuit, pamper yourself and take it easy why not.

Let us know how you would like your Laguna de la Cocha experience orgnising. Use our contact form

Pasto

Pasto is the first Colombian city you reach when travelling from the Ecuador border. The city is the capital of the Nariño department and its full name is San Juan de Pasto.

The town has a laid back leisurely ambience, as does the surrounding area. Pasto is nestled between beautiful Andean meadows and has the Galera Volcano as its dramatic backdrop. The volcano is still active and it is normal to see smoke rising from its summit. Luckily the volcano has not had a major eruption for many years as this would be catastrophic for Pasto.

Pasto’s biggest event is the Carnival de los Blancos y Negros, a colourful festival held in January of each year. During the festival the city is intense and bustling and all the hotels are fully booked. A trip to the carnival needs advance preparation to secure accommodation.

Outside of carnival, the city is calm and unhurried, nevertheless it is worth a visit to Pasto before continuing your journey, not least because of the surrounding area’s spectacular beauty with its marvellous lakes and Andean meadows and pastures. Pasto is also the key launchpad for a visit to Colombia’s famous Las Lajas church near Ipiales, a church wedged in a tall valley.

Pastusos, the people of Pasto are often ridiculed by other Colombians as the city is secluded in the south of the country. The dialect of the Pastusos is closer to that of Ecuador than typical Colombian Spanish. Pastusos are a little bit reserved but welcoming and friendly people.

Programme:

If you are arriving from Ecuador you should definitely visit the Las Lajas church in Ipiales. The current incarnation of the church was built in the first half of the 20th Century and as legend would have it, it is the site of a miracle, the deaf-mute child of an Indian woman is said to have spoken when passing the valley on his way home. Because of this miracle, the construction of this incredible church commenced.

The visit to the church is scheduled into your road trip towards Pasto, we can arrange your hotel in Pasto, or we can also arrange accommodation close to Laguna de la Cocha. The Laguna has some spectacular Swiss chalet style hotel accommodation which was built by Swiss immigrants. It is the perfect location for a romantic break and to enjoy the local speciality of fried trout in front of a blazing fireplace. You can also take a boat trip out onto the lake.

Hikers might want to consider a walk to Volcán Azufral, in its crate lies the Laguna Verde, a beautiful green mountain lake. The hike to the lake leads through Andean páramo landscapes with interesting vegetation such as frailejones.

Pasto is not at the top of everyone’s Colombia list but it is one of our favourite destinations and we urge you to consider a visit, it is well worth taking the time.

Please contact us for more information or would like to plan a trip there.

Popayán

The White City of Popayán is a unique and important destination in Colombia’s vast arsenal of enchanting places. Located in the country’s lush green Cauca department, the city boasts a large centre of imposing white-washed colonial architecture, a great university-town ambience, well manicured public spaces, impressive churches and unforgettable sightseeing opportunities.

Founded as a city in 1537 by Sebastián de Belalcázar, Popayán has long been an important colonial city due to its location between Lima, Quito and Cartagena. The city existed as a gold trading point under Spanish colonial rule and has rich mineral deposits and gold and silver. Popayán continued to mint coins after Colombia was declared a republic in 1826.

It is exactly this history of colonial importance that gifts Popayán its wealth of colonial architecture. The city’s architecture has a turbulent history as Popayán is located in a zone of seismic activity. The most recent earthquake being 31 March 1983 when many parts of the city were destroyed. The reconstruction took 10 years and today, on the whole Popayán has been restored to its former glory.

Do not underestimate the beauty of Popayán, it is reverred by many as Latin America’s most beautiful and best preserved colonial city. It is a serious challenger to Cartagena‘s crown as queen of the colonial cities.

As a destination in its own right, Popayán offers the visitor not only beautiful architecture but also a charming ambience in Parque Caldas, impressive churches such as San Francisco, Santo Domingo, La Ermita, San Agustín and Catedral Basílica Nuestra Señora de la Asunción and also a wealth of museums such as The House-Museum Mosquera, The Archdiocesean Museum of Religious Art and The National Museum Guillermo Valencia.

Programme:

Popayán is somewhat multi-faceted as a tourism destination and there are a wealth of programme opportunities. It is served by Popayán Guillermo León Valencia Airport and has regular flights from Bogotá. We offer airport transfers and recommend a stay of at least 2 nights in one of the city’s excellently preserved colonial hotels.

Within Popayán we offer a guided city tour in English, German or Spanish to enjoy the city’s highlights with an expert.

Popayán is also a UNESCO First City of Gastronomy and we will be delighted to recommend local delicacies to look out for as well as our favourite restaurants in the city.

Popayán also unassumingly finds itself as the perfect launchpad for some of Colombia’s most spectacular day trips. The incredible seismic páramo landscapes of Puracé, the Guambiano Indian town of Silvia and Tierradento, the superb Pre-Colombian burial site of the Paez Indians are all within easy reach. The discerning traveller could readily combine 5 nights in Popayán with 2 nights in Tierradentro to build the perfect one week experience in Colombia’s south.

Finally, Popayán is also perfectly located to be included in a truly impressive road trip. Cali – Popayán – San Agustín is a popular route that takes the traveller from Colombia’s vibrant capital of Salsa, onwards to everything that Popayán has to offer, then finally across 3300m páramo landscapes to San Agustín’s archeological sites, El Estrecho del Magdalena, El Salto de Mortiño and Isnos.

For off the peg itineraries including Popayán then the city also features in our round trips The Colombian Heritage Experience and The Colombian Way Signature.

Price:

The price shown on this page is our best deal for Popayán and represents a 3 day/2 night hotel break in one of our preferred charming colonial hotels in the city’s downtown. The price is per person based on two adults sharing a double room. The price is based on a bed and breakfast basis. Half board and full board can also be quoted.

Other accommodation options, activities and private transfer services will be priced accordingly.

Please use our contact form to tell us exactly how you want your visit to the city of Popayán to be organised.

San Agustín

The south of Colombia plays host to Colombia’s major archaeological sites with San Agustín and Tierradentro both declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO. 

San Agustín is a quiet village which lies deep in the Andean Cordillera. The climate is humid which means that the soil is very fertile and a great place to sample the excellent local organic coffees.

The highlight of San Agustín is certainly the archaeological park, we organise multi lingual guides who can provide detailed explanations and cultural insight.

We also recommend you try horse-riding in this region, it is possible to reach La Chaquira on horseback and take in the views of the Magdalena Gorge.

You can also visit the archaeological park of El Alto de los Ídolos, there are white water rafting opportunities in the Estrecho del Magdalena or perhaps you’d be interested in a Jeep tour around the surrounding countryside.

San Agustín combines perfectly with Tatacoa, Tierradentro and Popayán to create a uniquely Colombian trip to the south.

Programme

The most convenient way to reach the Huila province is by air from Bogotá to Neiva. For clients visiting San Agustín with The Colombian Way, an afternoon in The Tatacoa Desert is a no cost option.

Continuing from either Neiva Airport or Tatacoa, the drive to San Agustín is approximately 5-6 hours. You will have ample chances to stop and take in the scenery at Represa Betania or to stretch your legs in the village of Gigante. 

Archeology buffs will want to visit both the archeological park and El Alto de los Ídolos. Time permitting you should be able to visit El Estrecho del Magdalena too. If you have two days in the town then we recommend a visit to La Chaquira on horseback.

Culture junkies should consider adding a trip to Isnos for even more archaeological delights. Nature lovers might want to include a visit to the El Salto de Mortiño waterfall.

For a complete archeology experience, consider adding Tierradentro on to your visit to San Agustín. To see how such a trip could fit together, our round trip The Colombian Heritage Experience includes both San Agustín and Tierradentro

From both San Agustín and Tierradentro we recommend onward travel to Popayán if time permits.

Use our contact form to tell us exactly what you want in the south of Colombia and we will build the perfect itinerary for you.

Tierradentro

Tierradentro is one of our favourite spots in the lush green Colombian south. Ideally located to combine with a visit to San Agustín, you can also reach Tierradentro from Neiva and Popayán.

The name Tierradentro was given to the region by the Spaniards and reflects its location in the in country’s interior surrounded by seemingly endless hills. The landscape is unique, rugged and seems to stretch for infinity.

At the bottom of the Tierradentro Valley is the small town of San Andres de Pisimbalá, a town inhabited by Paez Indians and people that have migrated to the town from other parts of the region. The focal point of the village is the beautiful church, a true mixture of cultures it boasts a Paez indian thatched roof and Spanish colonial whitewashed walls.

Outside the church is the village square where still to this day ancient punishments are meted out to those in the community that have embezzled, committed adultery or broken one of the community rules. Punishments are very infrequent but as a visitor you may just witness a whipping or more commonly, someone being hung upside down by their feet from wooden stocks. Whenever you visit though you will be able to see ancient punishment and torture devices in the Museum of Tierradentro.

With altitudes as low as 800 metres above sea level, many parts of the region enjoy warm temperate climates. The circular ecological walk to the underground tombs on a typical sunny day is one of Colombia’s most beautiful walks.

The archeological site itself is a UNESCO world heritage site composed of ancient tombs buried deep in the Tierradentro landscape. These underground burial chambers range from 2 to 7 metres in width and are decorated with elaborate geometric designs.

Programme

Like many of Colombia’s finest destinations, to reap the benefits of this marvelous place, one has to make a particular effort to get there. As it’s name suggests it is very much in the middle of nowhere and requires a 6 hour road journey from either Popayán or San Agustín. The roads to reach Tierradentro invariably make for an arduous adventure, but those that undertake the journey will be delighted that they did.

We recommend you spend two nights in Tierradentro. The village of of San Andres de Pisimbalá and the archeological park itself have limited tourism infrastructure but a number of simple restaurants and a cute simple hotels.

The spectacular circular walk itself takes a complete day as it takes you up the steep hills to Alto de Aguacate from where there is an incredible view across the Inza Valley. After a break for lunch close to the museum one descends again back to San Andres de Pisimbalá.

Take a look at our popular round trip The Colombian Heritage Experience to see how Tierradentro fits into a broader itinerary in the Colombian South.

Use our contact forms to plan your perfect trip to this highlight of Southern Colombia, we organise transfers To Tierradentro from Popayán, Neiva or San Agustín as well as accommodation in the simple yet charming posada accommodation on offer at the destination. After your stay in Tierradentro we organise onwards transfers to the destination of your choice