Colombia map

Region by Region

Bogota: Covering an area of 81 sq. mi. the Colombian capital city lies in a wide and fertile valley. First settled by the Chibcha Indians the city was known in pre-Columbian times as "Bacata." City tours visit the central Plaza Bolivar and National Cathedral, Quinta de Bolivar (the Liberator's summer home) with its colonial memorabilia, and usually take the 1,300 ft. funicular to the top of Monserrate Hill for a splendid city view. Most popular visitor attraction in Bogota is the world famous National Gold Museum which contains over 23,000 pieces of pre-Columbian gold - all produced by Colombia's pre-Hispanic cultures. Here one can walk into vaults filled from floor to ceiling with gold. Also on display are pieces of art that substantiate the legend of El Dorado. Don't miss it! A popular tour from Bogota is to the nearby Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral. The cathedral began as a mine of the Chibcha Indians who used the salt to trade with the Mayas and Incas. It has been estimated the mine, which is still in use today, can supply the world's salt needs for salt for the next 80 years! Located 500 ft. below the surface, the cathedral's altar is carved from solid rock salt and weighs over 18 tons. The cathedral can seat 10,000 people.

Bogotá Surroundings:
From Bogotá many day trips or overnight excursions can be made into the scenic valleys and mountain basins to beautiful colonial towns. There is a good selection of charming country inns and small hotels in the area for overnight accommodations. Guatavita Nueva: Located 47 mi. from Bogotá, this little town bustles on the weekends, its artisan shops, museum and cathedral fill with visitors. The colonial town has been reconstructed and sits astride the lagoon of Guatavita, made famous by the El Dorado legend.

Tunja: Historic town founded in 1594, making it one of the country's oldest. Visit Church of Santo Domingo with its ornate wood interior and the house/museum of Don Juan de Vargas. Nearby is the famed bridge of Boyaca, site of a fierce battle for independence.

Villa de Leiva: A colonial gem, this pretty little village was home of Antonio Narino who translated the Rights of Man. The town has been declared a national monument.

Cali: Colombia's third largest city, founded in 1536, and today one of the country's most important agricultural and industrial areas. Cali is famed for its winter fair, bullfights, museums, and as the locals often proudly boast their beautiful women.

Medellín: Second largest city in Colombia, at 4,461 ft. above sea level, Medellín is surrounded by mountains on all sides. A good selection of restaurants and hotels are located in this industrial city. The new Cathedral of Villanueva is one of the world's largest brick structures. Colombia's fashions start here and leather is a good buy. Orchid expositions, conventions, trade shows and trips into coffee-growing and jungle regions are popular.

San Agustín: World famous archaeological park on the Magdalena River headwaters in southern Colombia. Getting there requires effort, but is well rewarded. The park contains 14 sites with over 209 monolithic ceremonial carvings. Explore burial sites and visit lavapatas, a uniquly sculpted stream site. A smaller though equally interesting stop is nearby subterranean Tierradentro.

The Amazon
Leticia: Deep in the heart of the Amazon basin, at the headwaters of the world's largest river, lies the jungle town of Leticia. Just 1 hr. 40 min. from Bogota by air makes it possible to visit the Amazon from Bogotá in a day trip. From Leticia excursions are available by motorized dugout canoe to view the flora and fauna and visit Indian villages. Accommodations are available at several jungle lodges. From Leticia one can also board comfortable river boats that cruise the Amazon to Iquitos, Peru and Tabatinga, Brazil.

The Caribbean Coast:
Cartagena: Originally built in the 16th century to protect and store goods on the Spanish Main, Cartagena is one of the most fascinating in all Latin American cities. In the old walled are of Cartagena visitors may walk 400-year old cobble-stone streets protected by balustrades 50 ft. tall and 40 ft. wide. Popular tours to San Felipe Fortress, the New World's largest, is a Cartagena highlight. Best way to see the city and appreciate the fort's prime position is from the bay on an "aqua-tour." Modern day Cartagena is really two cities. Along the Boca Grande peninsula one can see the new city with wide beaches, resort hotels, casinos and the large convention center. Shopping is great and emeralds are bargains.

Santa Marta: Founded in 1525 by the Spanish, Santa Marta is one of the oldest New World settlements. Located 60 mi. east of Barranquilla, Santa Marta is famed for excellent white sand beaches and fashionable Rodadero resort. Twenty two miles east of town Tairona National Archaeological Park clings to the slopes of the Sierra Nevada (Colombia's highest mountains) and offers a good look at an ancient mystery civilization.

San Andrés & Providencia: These two attractive little Caribbean islands off the coast of Nicaragua have belonged to Colombia since 1822. Populated by Zulu tribesmen brought by the Spanish as slaves, the islands combine unique culture with good visitor facilities. Coral reefs surround the islands making the offshore waters great for swimming and snorkeling. Johnny Caye is a popular recreation isle. Colombians enjoy the freeport status of San Andrés, and many fly the 1 hr. 45 min. flight from Bogotá just to shop for the day. Good accommodations are available in all categories. Cycling is the way to see the islands.

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