The backpackers Latin America route. Part II.

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In our previous guide Ecuador, you have explored its magical cities, towns and beaches. Now, you continue your Latin American trip and the next destination is Colombia. Your trip starts then in the frontier Equatorial city Tulcán. Access there is quite easy, you just need to show your passport and that’s all! And, you will explore the most beautiful cathedral of the world made over a stone, the worldwide famous Las Lajas Cathedral. This basilica church was built inside a canyon of the Guaitara River. And, it is exactly that what makes it that special, they place and the materials it is made of. This visit is a must if you are in the southern Colombia. Then, the closest and important city you will find from Las Lajas is Pasto.

Image courtesy of Andrew White at Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Andrew White at Flickr.com

Pasto is one of the oldest cities of Colombia, located in the middle of the Mountain range of the Andes in the denominated mountainous bulk of the Pasto on the foot of Galeras volcano. The region is mountainous and surrounded by several indigenous towns. The following places are the best option to connect yourself with nature when visiting Pasto: La Cocha Lake, Galeras volcano, Laguna Verde, and a several number beautiful and colonial churches and cathedrals.

At this point your route can keep right or turn right. If you turn right, you will find the wonders of the Colombian forest. But, this guide keeps right since that is the most common route backpackers follow. So that, next stop will be Neiva. Although Neiva is the capital City of Huila, the city itself has not too much to offer but there are two magical places you can go from Neiva. The closest one is El Desierto de la Tatacoa. This “desert” that is more like a dry forest, is a good choice if you want to watch the stars since there is not light pollution. Plus, the exotic colors you can appreciate there will make the exhausting weather worthy. Then, after a couple of days there, you go back to Neiva and go to one the town defended by The UNESCO, San Augustin. This is a small town in the best known for its pre-Columbian statues that are spread all around. Magic and some kind of mystery if the main dish you will have in San Agustin. The stance there requires 3 days minimum.

Image courtesy of Juniperus_scopulorum at Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Juniperus_scopulorum at Flickr.com

The next stop will have a dramatically weather change, it is Popayan. This city is the hometown of the most important Colombian politicians since Popayan has played a major role in Colombia’s history dating back to the early days of the Spanish conquest and into the twentieth century. The city is a colonial city founded in 1537 hence, beautiful places will take you to the colonial time.

When in Popayan, you can spend no more than 2 days and then, next destination will be Cali. Cali is also known as the Salsa world capital. This place is perfect if you want to see, dance, enjoy salsa in its most pure sense. Actually, Cali breaths Salsa anywhere. And, it is not possible to leave apart the city itself. Museums, churches, and so many other places make Cali so enjoyable.

Have you finish your Salsa classes? So now it’s suggested to go towards Salento. This very colorful city is recommended in all touristic books from Colombia and even some others from Latin America. Why Salento? Salento is a colorful little town that is close to a Valley full of endemic palm trees (Palma de Cera). In fact, in the city is easier to find more foreigners than local people. And, you are getting closer to Medellín.

Medellín is in so many cases the city foreigners prefer the most among all the destinations they explore in Colombia. Despite the “narcos” image Medellín had during the past decades due to Pablo Escobar, this city has a lot of things to offer. It is a well-developed city in the middle of a Valley. It means, surrounded by mountains everywhere you look at.  For sure you will desire to spend more days in this amazing city.

Now, it is time to enjoy the most beautiful Colombian beaches. Cartagena is a city that impresses all its visitors with its castle as well as houses and little islands. Santa Marta on the other hand has the Tayrona Park where visitors explore a forest near to the sea while looking for “The Lost City”. A 6-day walking tour that take you back in time. Be patient when walking, Tayrona’s ancestors are always watching you.

Image courtesy of Hugo A. Quintero G. at Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Hugo A. Quintero G. at Flickr.com

Your trip almost arrives to its end and you can leave Colombia without visiting its capital city Bogota. Bogota is the most important city and the biggest one. Do not be afraid of its size, give it the chance to show you its touristic places as Monserrate and La Candelaria.

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