Cali and the South West
The South West of Colombia encompasses the best of the country without the crowds. A region of immense biodiversity, archaeological treasures and beautifully preserved colonial gems, it’s a captivating area to explore and offers a glimpse into Colombia’s best kept secrets.
The vibrant city of Cali is the gateway to this unexplored area of Colombia and is the country’s third largest city after Bogota and Medellin. Revered as the salsa capital of the world, the salsa beat pulsates through the streets of the city and forms the basis of the local culture. It is the place to dance, wiggle your hips and become captivated by the rhythm this city lives and breathes. Cali is bursting with national monuments, ornate churches and pre-Colombian museums to explore. As the largest sugarcane producing region in the country, the city is surrounded by steamy fields of sugarcane and visits to plantations serve as a popular day trip to explore the countryside surroundings and learn about the history of the sugarcane production. With its year-round spring like climate, friendly people, and variety of things to do, Cali is an excellent city to explore.
Heading south you will find the colonial gem of Popayan. Brimming with beautiful colonial architecture, chalk-white facades and leafy plazas, the historic downtown is considered to be one of the most beautiful and best preserved in Latin America. It’s a crowd-free Cartagena nestled in the Andes Mountains and exploring its peaceful streets is a charming experience. Sprinkled with churches and cathedrals, Popayan is one of the most important religious destinations in Colombia and its Easter processions are world-famous and one of the oldest traditional celebrations across Colombia, so much so it has been named as having an intangible UNESCO heritage.
One of the main allures to this region are the remnants of a mysterious civilisations found in the small towns of San Agustin and Tierradentro. San Agustin and its Archaeological Park, is set amongst lush green hills and is one of the most mystical places in the country. Over 500 ancient volcanic statues depicting sacred animals and anthropomorphic figures are scattered across this jagged landscape. Although little is known about the people who created them, they provide a glimpse into pre-Colombian culture and form Colombia’s most important archaeological reserve which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tierradentro receives far fewer people than San Agustin, and is Colombia's second-most important archaeological site. Spread across five different sites, Tierradentro is revered for its elaborate and mysterious underground tombs. Best explored on foot, walking around to each burial site follows a 14km loop through spectacular mountain scenery.
The southwest captivates the essence of ‘traditional’ Colombia. Rich in history, intricate architecture, and stunning natural wonders; it ticks all the boxes and remains off-the beaten path!!