Cali and Valle del Cauca smell of sugar cane, taste of salsa - one feels the kindness of its people and appreciates the beauty of its scenery.
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Cali's Salsa is known all around the world, another activity to enjoy during your vacations
Get to know Cali, Colombia thru this travel guide; where you will find culture and top tourism activities.
Cali is known in Colombia as the capital of fiestas, street partying, dancing, and salsa as Cali's Salsa Clubs are among the most famous in the entire continent. Among many other things you can experience on your vacations, the people from Cali have developed a playful and hedonistic culture in harmony with the natural surroundings and country life.
Cali is a great place for tourism and leisure. The capital of the department of Valle del Cauca has become a mecca for tourism thanks to the beauty of its women, its historical sites, and a multitude of spots for day and night entertainment. Cali is one of the major economic and industrial centers of the country, and the main urban, economic, industrial, and agrarian city of southwest Colombia.
In Cali, salsa dancing is more common than walking
On Sundays, the caleños worship rivers. They go en masse to bathe in the cool streams and rivers that flow down the hills, the favorite being the Pance river. The daring walk upstream to the campgrounds of the Fundación Farallones, where guides are always ready to tour the park with visitors. Lodging is available for extended stays in the park.
In the evening, the devotion turns to dancing. In Juanchito, Cali's Salsa hotspot, humble mulatto floorboards have become “dance-o-dromes”, where tourists and locals come together to dance until dawn. The climax occurs during the Feria de la Caña and the Bullfighting Season, at the beginning of the year.
Cultural activities flourish around centers like the Instituto Departamental de Arte y Cultura, the Instituto Popular de Cultura, the Teatro Municipal, the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, the Sala Beethoven, the Escuela Departamental de Teatro, and the Universidad del Valle.
The traditional cuisine of Cali and the department of Valle del Cauca can be easily identified. It is a fusion of the region’s Spanish, Quechua, and African heritage with the culinary secrets of Antioquia. Favorites are the sancocho de gallina (hen stew), arroz atollado (pork sausage, beef ribs, and oxtail in a rice stew), tortilla soup, aborrajado (ripe plantain with melted cheese), toasted green plantain with hogao (a stir-fry of onions and tomatoes), and tamales. Sugarcane plantations inspired a variety of desserts such as cookies, manjar blanco, gelatina de pata (cow’s hoof gelatin with molasses), coconut sweets and champús, a beverage made from corn, the pulp of the lulo fruit, pieces of pineapple, cinnamon, and brown sugar syrup.
The climate of Cali is equatorial tropical hot. The west branch of the Andes blocks the cool, humid air coming from the Pacific Ocean. Average temperature is 26º C (79º F), with an average low of 19º C (66º F) and an average high of 34º C (93º F). The dry seasons go from December to March and from July to August; the rainy season go from April to June and September to November.
1003 meters (3290 ft.) above sea level.
La Ermita Church, Cali
Cali lies on the west bank of the Cauca River. To the west, the city is guarded by the Farallones de Cali, which are part of the western Andes mountain range. The city is located in a strategic position, linked to the west with the Pacific Ocean and to the northeast with the industrial city of Yumbo.
Cali has one of the main airports in Colombia, the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport (CLO), located in the municipality of Palmira, a fifteen minute drive north of the city. CLO is the second busiest airport in number of passengers and the fourth in freight traffic in Colombia.
By plane, through the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport. An extensive road network, which includes the Pan-American Highway, connects Cali to the rest of the country.
Buses, taxis, and vans add up to 43,000 public service vehicles. All taxis are yellow. The names of bus companies go by colors, Blancos y Negros, Azul Plata, Rojos y Grises (white and black, silver blue, and gray red).The capacity of vans ranges from ten to twenty passengers. In the near future, a bus-lane based transport system, the MIO, will begin operations.
Oficina de Turismo Cali
Phone: + 57 (2) 885-8855
The Basilica of the Lord of Miracles, Buga
While in Cali, Colombia the traveler should not miss visiting the Hacienda Piedechinche, in the municipality of Santa Elena. This is where the sugarcane museum is housed, actually a theme park for displaying of the evolution of sugar mills. It offers rides on a sugar train and horseback rides through fields of sugar cane.
Another must is a visit to Hacienda El Paraíso, the house where writer Jorge Isaacs and his cousin lived. Isaac’s cousin was the inspiration for María, the name of the main character, as well as the name of the book, that epitomized Colombian romantic literature. The rooms with his personal effects, the blooming rose garden, and the wishing stone are carefully preserved.
For Catholics, there is a pilgrimage to the city of Buga, the site of the Lord of Miracles
An essential pilgrimage takes Catholics to the town of Buga, with its Crucified Christ — known as “the Miraculous” —, which lies in the Basilica. Another reason for traveling to Buga is a visit to the well-preserved 75-hectare tropical dry forest of El Vínculo. Situated at the foothills of the central mountain range, it shelters a wide variety of local fauna and is the seat of a biological station by the same name.
On the way to Madriñal, visitors can admire the Sonso lake, which covers an area of 2,045 hectares that provide sustenance for fishermen and their families and food for migrating birds coming from the northern hemisphere.
The road that goes west to connect Buga with the port of Buenaventura, on the Pacific coast, crosses areas of notable interest for tourists. The Calima lake, for instance, is the reservoir with the third strongest winds in the world, a water-sportsman’s paradise.
This is also an area of considerable archaeological interest. The Calima archaeological museum merits a tour to admire the figures, pottery, and burial urns of the Yotoco, Sonso, Malagana, Buga, and Bolo, or Quebrada, cultures.
And there are many reasons to go north. In the village of Roldanillo, the Omar Rayo museum exhibits the pictorial work of this artist and other Latin Americans. Following the visit, you can visit the vineyards of the municipality of La Unión. In addition to the wineries, there are two hotels, one in the style of a luxury vacation center and the other, more discrete, in a typical house of the region.
Calima Lake near Cali, Colombia
Read the following travel guide to get more information on Cali , Colombia’s surroundings.
Empty boats bob up and down at the tourist wharf in Buenaventura; when they fill up, they go northward without delay to the place where the bay ends and the coastline of Valle del Cauca is lined with spectacular beaches bathed by the Pacific Ocean.
Travelers accustomed to sailing take the seats at the stern; they know that the fury of the ocean continually lifts the prow of the boat causing a difficult journey. Besides, sitting next to the helmsman is an opportunity for listening to the stories of the area.
Málaga Bay — home of a naval base — has 32 islands and islets that constitute the archipelago of La Plata and offer humpbacked whales food and the ideal temperature for mating. At the northern end of Buenaventura bay is La Bocana, a village inhabited by Blacks and bathed by the Dagua and Anchicayá rivers, which form freshwater pools and cascades along the Santa Clara path.
Not far is Paradise Island, a floating islet with beaches that are red due to the huge number of red crabs that inhabit them. Piangua is a hamlet where gentle waves and solitary beaches allow visitors to be at one with nature.
Another appealing place in the Valle del Cauca is its Pacific Coast, which has destinations such as Málaga Bay, Paraíso Island, Isla Palma Park and Cangrejal Island
The attractions of Juanchaco are not so evident and, paradoxically, this makes the village memorable. It is the gateway to Isla Palma park, a large forest-covered rock that is the feeding ground for a large population of aquatic birds and is surrounded by a sea of many shades of green — surprising hues that result from the absence of rivers spewing sediment into the sea.
From Juanchaco you can travel to Chucheros, a beach of black sand bathed by a green sea, where a crystal-clear waterfall tempers the saltiness of the ocean. Close by is the 65-meter Sierpe waterfall, part of the Bonguito river, in the rainforest north of Málaga bay.
However, the best thing to do is to take the path that goes from Juanchaco to Ladrilleros, a hamlet where life moves to the rhythm of the tides and most houses serve as hotels, restaurants, or crafts shops. At high tide, the place becomes a reef with streams that enter the forest, forming freshwater pools and waterfalls; at low tide, it becomes a romantic place that inspires you to walk along the seashore or spend the entire afternoon in a lounge chair.
Another charming destination is Cangrejal island, located to the south of Buenaventura bay. The beaches there are narrower, but the water is very clear. Estuaries and watercourses like the Yurumangui River take you to where the Emberá Indians live.