COLOMBIA

All the richness of a continent gathered in one country!

Welcome to Colombia!

 

Frequently overlooked by the majority of travelers, Colombia is still a widely unknown touristic destination. Nevertheless, all the elements of the charming South American continent are combined in the Colombian territory, which offers the traveler a fascinating natural paradise characterized by one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world: it features three monumental Andean ranges running from south to north through the western half of the country up to the Caribbean coastal lowlands. It also holds the fertile Cauca and Magdalena Valleys, the basin of the Orinoco River, and the vast tropical forests in the Pacific and Amazon areas.

 

Travelers will also have the chance to learn about the impressive pre-Columbian culture through the San Agustín sculptures and the fantastic gold work exhibition at the Gold Museum in Bogotá. The Spanish architecture from Colonial times, which is found all over the place, tells about a legacy which is both rich and tragic.

 

The great hospitality and friendliness of the Colombian people, along with the beauty and magical-multicolored landscapes will make of your visit to this country an unforgettable experience.

 

La Ruta Natural builds all of its tours in accordance with the safety regulations of embassies around the world, and the Ministry of Tourism of Colombia regarding the transit of foreign tourists in Colombia.

 

We are committed to providing the traveler with tourist plans that allow them to experience the great diversity of the country, along with a sound touristic infrastructure, and always based on the essential principles of responsible and respectful tourism, protecting local communities and the environment.

 

La Ruta Natural invites you to discover a new world!

mapaLocated in the northwest corner of South America, Colombia offers an entry to the subcontinent and serves as a main communication bridge with Central American countries. It is bordered to the north by the Caribbean Sea, to the west by the Pacific Ocean, to the north-west by Panama, to the east by Venezuela and Brazil, and to the south by Ecuador and Perú. With a continental area of 1.141.748 sq km, Colombia is the fourth-largest country in South America. In other words, it is twice as big as France.

precolombinaPrior to the arrival of the Spaniards, the present territory of Colombia was inhabited by diverse civilizations which had already reached a high level of socio-economic development. The burial sites at Tierradentro, hundreds of stone sculptures in San Agustín, and the roads leading to Ciudad Perdida still show the ruins of an earlier flourishing civilization.

 

On the high plateau of what is today Bogotá, the Muiscas, the most representative of Colombian indigenous peoples, really mastered the techniques to weld and join precious metals.

 

The Quimbaya, Sinú, Tayrona and Calima cultures, were skillful at pottery, gold and gemstone earrings, rings, diadems and necklaces crafting, using very advanced techniques for their time. Today, part of these master pieces are exhibited at the Gold Museum in Bogotá, which is one of the main stages in our tour.

colonialThere are many places in Colombia where travelers can appreciate and discover the architectural heritage of the Spanish colonial times. The old houses and churches in the historic neighborhood of La Candelaria, located downtown Bogotá, provides the traveler with an insight of the city during the Spanish domination period. The ancient colonial buildings featuring thick walls and large wooden gateways facing inner patios currently hold numerous museums, restaurants, and educational and cultural institutions.

 

Cartagena de Indias which stands on the Colombian Caribbean coast, is also one of the country’s most important colonial cities. Since it was the main commercial site and freight harbor for the treasures of the Spanish Crown it permanently boosted the avarice of corsairs and pirates. This made of the city an object of continuous sieges which led to its extraordinary architecture, exhibiting thick city walls and fortifications. Its narrow roads surrounded by splendid wooden gateways and balconies still preserve the charm of the colonial period. Declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, Cartagena de Indias is one of the most beautiful cities in the American continent, and currently a great tourist destination.

 

Other cities like Mompox, Popayán, Villa de Leyva and Barichara will also take the traveler some centuries back in the atmosphere of colonial times.

poblacionThe Colombian population is composed by various ethnic groups, which makes the country a multicultural nation. As a result, the main characteristic of the population is the blend of Hispanic, African and the Indigenous components which are present in the daily life and social development of the country. Such tri-cultural ethnicism finds its way through Colombia’s artistic and cultural expressions as well as through its people’s vision and identity.

 

Nowadays, there are nearly a thousand indigenous communities which account for almost 500,000 people, spread throughout the country and divided in two main categories:

 

On one hand, there are many communities already integrated into the main stream economic life of the country, such as the Guambianos and the Paeces in the Cauca Department, as well as the Guajiros, the Arhuacos and the Koguis in the northern part of the country. These last groups are characterized for being less adapted but more autonomous in their own territories.

 

On the other hand, there are some traditional communities such as the Yaguas in the Amazon forest, the Emberas in the Chocó Department, and the Guahibos, the Huitotos and the Tucanos in the eastern plains (Llanos Orientales). These communities live mainly off fishing and hunting.

musicaMusic and dancing are an important component of the daily life for Colombian people and have accompanied the indigenous ceremonies, battles and festivities since pre-Columbian times.

 

During the colonization period, the dances and drums brought by the African slaves mixed with the Spanish rhythms and guitars, resulted in a unique musical fusion. Such crossbreeding is expressed through the melancholic and lyrical Andean music, the liveliness and heartiness of the coastal tropical music and through the European classical music taught in the country’s music schools.

 

Considered the world’s capital of salsa, cumbia, and vallenato, Colombia has an outstanding musical diversity, one of the richest in the continent, which is expressed through its many carnivals and folklore.

fiestasThe calendar is full with popular celebrations, festivals and carnivals. The most important event is undoubtedly the religious holiday of Easter fervently celebrated throughout the country. Beyond expressions of collective joy, popular festivities, festivals and carnivals reveal much of the history and roots of the Colombian people. In addition to the representation of traditional events, these cultural treasures are an expression the joy of living and festive enthusiasm of Colombians.

 

The most important events are:

 

Blacks and Whites Carnival (January)

 

During the first week of the year, the city of Pasto is the scenery of a traditional celebration which takes us back to the colonial times. To reverse social positions, the colonists painted their faces in black on January 5th and the following day, the slaves in turn painted theirs in white. This tradition has been kept alive to our days. Today, during the festivities people cake each other’s faces with clay, shoe polish, flour, talc or oil paintings.

 

Barranquilla Carnival (February)

 

The largest carnival in the country has been celebrated for more than a century, during the four days before Ash Wednesday. It was declared cultural and intangible heritage of humanity and every day is characterized by a specific activity. The festivities begin with the Battle of Flowers, a big parade where people dance to the rhythm of music and Afro – Native dances. The last day the Carnival ends with a symbolic representation of the burial of Joselito Carnaval.

 

Flowers Fair (August)

 

This festivity is held in Medellin during the first week of August. Silleteros , small farmers coming from nearby fields with baskets of flowers , join groups of folk music and folk dancers and parade escorted by trucks bearing huge mosaics of flowers. With them all the floral diversity of the region is expressed.

 

Petronio Alvarez´s Pacific Musical Festival (August)

 

This festival, which takes place in Cali, the city with the third largest black population in Latin America, makes tribute to the African music inherited from the black slaves that once populated the Pacific Coast of Colombia.

 

World Salsa Festival (September)

 

As the World´s Capital of Salsa, Cali hosts a worldwide competition to elect the best dancers and schools of salsa music, at the beginning of September.

 

National Gastronomic Congress (September)

 

Popayán, declared “Gastronomic City” by the UNESCO, organizes every year in early August a gastronomic congress that brings together leading chefs from different countries.

 

Cartagena Carnival (November)

 

This is the most important event in the city which celebrates the independence of the city on November 11. For this occasion, parades, street dancing, and concerts are organized for an entire week. The carnival ends with the National Beauty Contest and the election of Miss Colombia.

 

Cali Fair (December)

 

Taking place on the last week of December, this festivity gathers millions of visitors who come to enjoy and take part in activities such as cultural events, bull fights, beauty contests, salsa schools parades, and music and dance festivals.

faunaThe vast variety of the country’s natural resources is reflected in its flora and fauna which is the second most diverse ecosystem in the world. Colombia’s proximity to the equator creates microclimates that make possible the existence of an abundant and varied flora: tens of thousands of plant species have been scientifically classified, from which orchids and bromeliads are some of the most representative.

 

Colombian fauna is also one of the richest in Latin America, with approximately 480 reptile, 450 amphibious and 380 mammal species. The jaguar, puma, tapir, ocelot, and numerous monkey species inhabit the forests and the savannah. The spectacle bear and the mountain tapir live in the high plateaus, and Crocodiles and alligators are found on large riversides and swamps.

 

It is also estimated that there are about 1750 different bird species, such as eagles, condors, parrots, toucans, hummingbirds, and ibis, among many others. Thus, ornithology lovers will have more than enough sites for bird-watching in their natural habitats.

deportesThe irregular topography of the country allows for the practice of different sports. The imposing Andes is ideal for mountain sports such as hiking and climbing. The two oceans and many rivers crossing the country allow navigation, fishing and diving. Winds blowing over Colombia make it possible to practice parachuting, windsurfing, kite surfing and paragliding.

 

The traveler can not only attend high-level sporting events, but also find facilities to practice their favorite sport.

 

Diving

 

The Caribbean coast, with its transparent waters and its coral reefs, San Andres and Providencia Islands, Santa Marta Bay, and Morrosquillo Gulf, among others, will delight diving enthusiasts. The Pacific Ocean has one of the best diving spots, the island of Gorgona, declared Natural Park Wildlife Sanctuary .

 

Trekking

 

Colombia is the meeting point for hikers and high- mountain adventurers attempting to climb the snow-covered peaks of Santa Isabel, Ruiz and Tolima in the Nevados National Park. Also important are the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta with its Bolivar and Colon peaks, and Chita and Guican, in Boyacá. Certified high mountain guides are always available to avoid unnecessary risks and make of you excursion a safe one.

 

Rafting and Kayaking

 

With its spectacular class IV and V rapids, San Gil has become the rafting capital of Colombia. However, many other places allow practicing this sport, as the San Agustin’s surroundings in Magdalena River or Claro River, close to Medellin. It is also possible to practice kayaking and set out visits to the Pacific Coast mangrove swamps and estuaries, in Nuquí, or Ladrilleros, in Málaga Bay.

 

Sailing

 

The Caribbean Region is a paradise for those interested in sailing sports. There are several facilities for the practice of these sports, especially in Cartagena, Tolú and Coveñas. Inland, at more than two thousand meters above sea level, sailing sports can also be practiced in mountain lakes such as Calima, Tota, Cocha and Paipa.

 

Sport Fishing

 

The Atlantic Coast of Colombia, from Turbo to La Guajira, offers fishermen many possibilities to try their luck with huge specimens of grouper, sword fish, barracuda and snapper, among others.

 

Horseback Riding / Equestrian Sports

 

Equestrian sports are very easy to practice in Colombia and many places can be visited on horseback. In the valley of Cocora, St. Augustine or around Barichara, you can make excursions on horseback to discover the natural wealth of the country that can last from a few hours to several days.

gastronomiaColombian food is the result of the combination of Spanish, African and Colombian indigenous cuisine. This fact, combined with the richness of its agricultural and marine products, provides it with great diversity. Every region gives travelers an opportunity to try different typical dishes where vegetables, roots, meat and fruits are prepared in a particular fashion.

 

You can also try various tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, guava, banana, pitahaya, sapote and lulo, among others.

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