Southern Colombia

Shutterstock/49323580/javarmanMuch of Southern Colombia is characterized by the three mountain ranges that eventually join up to form the high Andes, South America's spine. The people of this region have adapted to the physical obstacles these mountains present, while inaccessibility has kept at bay the cultural dilution that comes with modern advancements. The sensual city of Cali has branded itself as the capital of salsa music and sits in the tropical, sugar cane-rich plains of the Valle del Cauca. To the west lies the port of Buenaventura, gateway to the Pacific coast and its many isolated beaches and islands, most notable of which is Isla Gorgona. The Pan-American Highway continues south to the city of Popayán, known for its dazzling-white colonial buildings and its solemn Easter processions, second in size only to Sevilla in Spain . Hidden in the mountains east of Popayán are the mysterious archaeological sites of Tierradentro and San Agustín, while next to the Magdalena river lies the geographical anomaly that is the Tatacoa Desert.

From Popayán, the Cordillera Occidental reaches ever higher as it rises up to the highland towns of Pasto and Ipiales, ideal places to observe indigenous ways of life. Before crossing into Ecuador, the extraordinary Gothic cathedral that straddles a gorge at Las Lajas is worth a visit.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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