Medium 9781907099106

Michelin Green Guide Colombia

By: Michelin
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CThis eBook version of the Green Guide Colombia by Michelin is an exciting new addition to the Green Guide family of comprehensive travel guides. The Green Guide Colombia brings to life this amazingly diverse land whether your travels take you to the Amazon River and the surrounding rain forest, the rolling plantations and coffee-farms set in Zona Cafetera’s verdant valleys, or the vibrant nightlife and great museums of Bogotá, Medellin and Cali. With each page packed with sight descriptions, maps and color photos, Michelin makes sure you'll see the best Colombia has to offer.

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When and Where to Go

ePub

PLANNING YOUR TRIP

When and Where to Go

WHEN TO GO

Colombia is a year-round destination, but one of the best times to visit is during the short summer (December-March), since these months are the driest. Another popular time of year is mid-June to mid-August, but bear in mind that these two travel periods are also the time for school holidays in Colombia, so reserve accommodations and domestic travel well in advance. Advance bookings are advised for all big public holidays throughout the country, when many Colombians travel to visit family and friends.

Although it can rain at any time year-round, it is possible to catch at least some sun whenever and wherever you go. Colombia’s climate is generally pleasant year-round, with an average temperature of 25°C/77°F. Medellín, in particular, is known as “The City of Eternal Spring,” with a 22°C/71.6°F average at any time of year.

That said, temperatures in Colombia are strongly influenced by altitude, and what is true for lowlying areas does not apply to more mountainous regions, where temperatures can plunge as low as -10°C/14°F to -15°C/5°F at high altitudes. The opposite is true for the coastal areas and the Amazon, which can be very hot and humid. The latter gets plenty of rain, even when the rest of the country experiences a dry season.

 

What to See and Do

ePub

PLANNING YOUR TRIP

When and Where to Go

WHEN TO GO

Colombia is a year-round destination, but one of the best times to visit is during the short summer (December-March), since these months are the driest. Another popular time of year is mid-June to mid-August, but bear in mind that these two travel periods are also the time for school holidays in Colombia, so reserve accommodations and domestic travel well in advance. Advance bookings are advised for all big public holidays throughout the country, when many Colombians travel to visit family and friends.

Although it can rain at any time year-round, it is possible to catch at least some sun whenever and wherever you go. Colombia’s climate is generally pleasant year-round, with an average temperature of 25°C/77°F. Medellín, in particular, is known as “The City of Eternal Spring,” with a 22°C/71.6°F average at any time of year.

That said, temperatures in Colombia are strongly influenced by altitude, and what is true for lowlying areas does not apply to more mountainous regions, where temperatures can plunge as low as -10°C/14°F to -15°C/5°F at high altitudes. The opposite is true for the coastal areas and the Amazon, which can be very hot and humid. The latter gets plenty of rain, even when the rest of the country experiences a dry season.

 

History

ePub

History

From ancient civilizations rich with gold through exploitive Spanish rule, Bolívar’s hard-fought liberation and a bloody civil war to a brief dictatorship and ruthless drug cartels, this land of emeralds and coffee beans has emerged to face the 21C with renewed hope and the promise of greater security.

PRE-HISPANIC PERIOD (PRIOR TO 1500)

Mystery surrounds the pre-Hispanic period of the region now called Colombia; biased, Spanish colonial accounts are not reliable sources. In recent years efforts have been made to unravel parts of this history, and scientists have made progress in attempting to undo some of the damages inflicted upon sacred areas by successive waves of marauders.

The earliest evidence of human habitation in present-day Colombia is found at the El Abra site outside Bogotá, in the municipality of Zipaquirá. First excavated in 1969, the remains at El Abra were discovered in rock shelters around swamp areas, and date to about 12,400 years ago. Closely linked to the remains of hunted game found at the Tibito site near the current day town of Tocancipá, they are believed to be among the earliest in the Americas.

 

Art and Culture

ePub

Art and Culture

Colombia‘s arts and architecture have evolved from imitation of European styles and traditions to experimentation with themes and settings that are unique to the country. Not only has Colombia forged an individual artistic identity, it is breaking new ground globally.

FINE ARTS AND CRAFTS

PAINTING

Pre-Columbian Period

Colombia’s painting tradition extends all the way back to Tierradentro (Cauca), where geometric designs in shades of red, black and white (600-900 years ago) were found in huge underground burial caves. By no means are these the only examples of “primitive” art in Colombia, as new discoveries in Chimita (Santander) have revealed petroglyphs dating to 1300 BC. A spectacular piece of rock art known as the Mural Guayabero (300 BC) was discovered in the Sierra de Chiribiquete, a region at the confines of Caquetá and Guaviare, where the Cerro Azul, a large rock covered with layers of indigenous graffiti, was also found. Other remote parts of the country could reveal many other treasures like these.

 

Nature

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Nature

Colombia sits atop the South American continent, benefiting from both Pacific and Caribbean coasts and covering a total of 1,138,914sq km/707,691sq mi. Marking the beginning of the Andes, its high cordilleras run the length of the country, drawing together the tectonic plates and making way for vast savannas, depressions, topographical anomalies, and coursing rivers that include the mighty Amazon. Given Colombia‘s great variety of landscapes and shared borders with Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Brazil, it takes no stretch of the imagination to realize that just about every microclimate on earth is represented within its boundaries—which is why Colombia belongs to that restricted circle of the world’s “megadiverse” countries.

With such natural riches comes a great responsibility: that of protecting the wealth of fragile ecosystems. A large network of national parks and natural reserves exists in Colombia, allowing humanity to observe rare birdlife, unique flora and fauna and amazing landscapes. Drawn by the opportunity for high-altitude adventures, visitors will be just as pleased as those seeking the country‘s coralline islands, white sand Caribbean beaches or verdant settings of the Coffee Zone.

 

Bogotá and Surroundings

ePub

DISCOVERING COLOMBIA

Bogotá and Surroundings

Located on the eastern portion of the Andean plateau of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, Bogotá is the nation’s capital and the country’s largest city, a metropolis of nearly seven million people. The lofty altitude of 2,640m/8,661ft did not dissuade the Muisca people—the original inhabitants of this altiplano—nor the Spanish conquistadors from settling here. “Bacatá” was a thriving region, principally due to its key geographical location, a fact not lost on Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada who, in 1538, founded what became known as Santa Fé de Bogotá. The city boasts years of tradition and history that can be viewed and experienced by wandering the colonial center as well as making day outings into the surrounding rural communities. With clear, crisp mornings that give way to drizzly and gray afternoons, Bogotá and the surrounding areas lend themselves to strolling picturesque streets, investigating museums and enjoying a hearty broth of traditional ajiaco after a day of cultural and historical excesses.

 

Northeastern Colombia

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Northeastern Colombia

Head north from Bogotá toward Venezuela or the Atlantic coast, and you take a journey into the beating heart of historic Colombia through picturesque valleys, canyons and spectacular mountain passes. Still known as the “Land of Freedom,“ Boyacá has a history that runs deep since Simón Bolívar’s army fought a decisive battle against the Spanish there. Set high on a plateau, Tunja, the ancient Muisca capital, stands apart due to its splendid colonial heritage. Gorgeous green valleys and ornate villages such as Villa de Leyva litter the core of the pre-Columbian Muisca empire, whose gold the Spanish greatly coveted. Hot springs at Iza and Paipa and the rich culture and fresh mountain air of Monguí act as therapy for both body and soul. In the region’s northeast lies the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, a range of jagged ice peaks and breathtaking lakes that rival any in South America. In all, through the departments of Boyacá, Santander and Norte de Santander, there exists an enormous diversity of topography and geography, from Colombia’s largest glacier mass to the sweltering lowlands of the border city of Cúcuta.

 

Medellín and the Inner Northwest

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Medellín and the Inner Northwest

Tierra Paisa—the lands that encompass Medellín, its surrounding rural areas and the Zona Cafetera—is blessed with fertile, sweeping terrain characterized by banana plantations, coffee fields, dramatic valleys and soaring volcanoes. Sleepy colonial villages seemingly stuck in time provide a stark contrast to the sophisticated urban chic and ultra-sleek modernity of Medellín, the prosperous capital of Antioquia. As the center of Paisa Country’s cultural scene, Medellín boasts a long-standing patrimony of the arts, finding expression in innumerable theaters, orchestras, operatic companies, ballets and comedy clubs. Having emerged from darker years of conflict, Medellín has been reborn as one of the nation’s most progressive and safest cities, and has taken its place again in the global community.

Highlights

1 Marvel at Medellín’s spectacular array of urban outdoor art, iconic landmark buildings and space-age structures, all symbols of the city’s rebirth

 

Cartagena and the Caribbean Region

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Cartagena and the Caribbean Region

Along its 1,600km/995mi Caribbean coastline, Colombia possesses a lifetime of travel opportunities, from elegant colonial cities to pre-Columbian ruins nestled deep in rain forests. Rivers and plains bless these lands, adding an untamed, yet pastoral feel. Culturally diverse, the Colombian Caribbean is an inspiration for artists, writers, historians and musicians with its blend of indigenous, African, Spanish and other heritages. The indigenous communities of the area further offer venues for ethno-tourism, while the deserts, mountains and jungles, teeming with flora and fauna, provide innumerable options for ecotourism. This melange all contributes to making the Caribbean coastline a unique tourist destination, marked by sharp contrasts and variations. It is a perfect place to escape the contingencies of everyday life and get an education in the process.

Geo-Cultural Diversity

Most of the Caribbean region is made up of lowland wetlands and jungles.The geographical anomaly is the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, which fill the region’s rivers with cooling runoff. The nation’s highest peaks, these mountains reach lofty altitudes of close to 6,000m/19,000ft.

 

The Pacific Region

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The Pacific Region

Overlooked by most travelers visiting Colombia, the Pacific region is long overduesome attention, and is slowly but surely opening up to ecotourism. In the north, bordering Panama, this awe-inspiring terrain includes the impenetrable tangle of the Darien, a notoriously lawless area blessed with outstanding biodiversity. The Pacific coast stretches southwards through protective mangrove swamps and bays of crystalline waters, favored by migrating humpback whales. The shore continues all the way along the ports of Buenaventura and Tumaco before reaching the border with Ecuador. The Colombian Pacific region is one of the rainiest on earth, and its fiercely tropical climate and ecosystem, combined with the problems of the armed conflict here, have seriously inhibited successful development of a capable and inclusive infrastructure. However, the Pacific is gradually being placed on the map as a tourist destination. The local populations, of Afro-Colombian and indigenous descent, have set about creating ecolodges geared toward nature lovers, and national parks such as Gorgona, Sanquianga and Utría are receiving more visitors every year.

 

Cali and the Inner Southwest

ePub

Cali and the Inner Southwest

As one of Colombia’s great expanses of topographical diversity, the Inner Southwest region is characterized by striking, contrasting terrain. Among dramatic altitudinal and climatic variations, lush tracts of jungle lead to snow-topped mountains, cactus-scattered sands and plunging valleys. Here dusty pastoral towns give way to whitewashed colonial settlements and some of Latin America’s most amazing pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Sparkling mountain waters nurture the region’s sugarcane, cotton, tobacco, soy and coffee crops across vast swaths of countryside. Subdued religious prayer sites, pilgrim trails and other-worldly stone-carved deities honor ancient gods and spirits. Cali, the region’s capital and Colombia’s third-largest city, is recognized by its ultra-modern sprawl of futuristic high-rise towers. Dubbed “Salsa City,“ Cali boasts a rich and rhythmic salsa tradition and is proud of the sashay, sway and sizzle found in its dozens of urban dance halls.

 

Los Llanos and Amazonia

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Los Llanos and Amazonia

Together, Los Llanos (the Plains) and Amazonia (the Amazon) cover more than half of Colombia’s territory, yet contain less than three percent of its population. As two very different wilderness regions, they have few common characteristics. Located east of the Andes, Los Llanos is an expansive stretch of rolling tropical grassland nourished by the Orinoco River and reaching out into Venezuelan territory. In contrast, the Colombian Amazonia is wet, lush jungle and represents a small, yet complex and varied part of the whole basin region. Located in the far southeastern part of the country, this muggy flatland expanse is particularly susceptible to the ebb and flow of the Amazon River. An equatorial climate and heavy rainfall nurtures dense plant growth that supports an inconceivable list of rare and unusual wildlife and botanical species. Scattered indigenous communities rich in tradition, language and culture, such as the Nukaks, Ticunas, Tucanos, Camsás, Huitotos, Yaguas and lngas, can also be found in riverside settlements.

 

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