56 Chapters
Medium 9781628872842


Nicholas Gill FrommerMedia ePub


The Pacific Coast

by Nicholas Gill

O ff limits to most travelers for decades until just a few years ago, Colombia’s Pacific Coast is a natural para dise just waiting to be discovered. This is some of Colombia’s most spectacular landscape. It’s here that jagged hills covered in dense, tropical foliage meet the Pacific in dra matic fashion. El Chocó, as the northern half of the region is called, is one of the wettest places on earth, though that doesn’t stop adventurous tourists from camping out in a growing number of small eco-lodges perched on rocky bluffs or pristine black- or white-sand beaches. They take surf lessons, fish for big game, or go whale-watching. To the south, Colombia’s largest port, Buenaventura, once a dreadful place to spend the night, is even coming around with some good places to stay and eat. The vibe up and down the coast is less mestizo and gravitates more toward the Afro-Colombian and indige nous groups that call this region their home. Visiting isolated communities that still cling on to their traditions is just a hop on a canoe or makeshift motorcycle-powered rail cart away.

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Medium 9781628872460


Nicholas Gill FrommerMedia ePub


the sacred valley

The Urubamba Valley was sacred to the Incas, and it’s not hard to understand why. Better known as the Sacred Valley, it’s a serene and incomparably lovely stretch of small villages and ancient ruins spread across a broad plain, split by the Urubamba River and framed by magnificent Andes peaks and a massive sky. The Incas built several of the empire’s greatest estates, temples, and royal palaces between the sacred centers of Cusco and Machu Picchu, positioned like great bookends at the south and north ends of the valley. Many visitors use the valley as a base for visiting the region, as it’s about 300m (1,000 ft.) lower than Cusco, making it a better introduction for visitors prone to altitude-related health problems.

History    The entire valley is suffused by the great, if brief, presence of the Incas. From extraordinary temples to fortresses, no region in Peru is more marked by the continent-spanning civilization. Today, Quechua-speaking residents work fields with primitive tools and harvest salt using methods unchanged since the days of the Incas.

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Medium 9781628872842


Nicholas Gill FrommerMedia ePub


Cali & The Southwest

by Nicholas Gill

The southwest of Colombia used to be bypassed by travelers because of security concerns, so it never got the attention of some other regions. Yet this part of Colombia is packed with major attractions. Of course there’s Cali, the region’s sprawling urban center, home to both grit and glamour that dances to an Afro-Colombian rhythm. There’s so much salsa going on that it’s considered the world capital. There are unusual landscapes too, like one of the country’s only deserts and the mountainous, cloud-covered páramo. History is much deeper here than many other places in the country, from an impressive collection of stone statues and burial chambers to beautifully preserved colonial cities. There are little-known indigenous groups, lakes for windsurfing, and horses outnumber cars in many places.

As long as 5,000 years ago, civilization spread in the Cauca and Magdalena river valleys. In Tierradentro, elaborate underground burial chambers were built in the hillsides (they can be seen on a 14km walking loop). At the headwaters of both waterways, in the lush green hills surrounding San Agustín, hundreds of stone statues can still be found, best seen on horseback rides that take in towering waterfalls and coffee plantations. Together they provide evidence of a sophisticated, evolving society with artifacts that are unlike anything else in the Americas.

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Medium 9781628871548

4 The Best Shopping

Alexandra deVries FrommerMedia ePub

Shoes on display at Havaianas.

Shopping Best Bets

Best Place to Buy an Engagement Ring

H. Stern, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 490 (p 74)

Best Hip Women’s Clothing

Farm, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 365 (p 72)

Best Untouristy Beachwear

Blue Man, Rua Visconde de Pirajá 351 (p 70)

Best ’80s-Inspired Design

Mercado Moderno, Rua do Lavradio 130 (p 71)

Best Treats for Chocoholics

Kopenhagen, Rua Figueiredo Magalhães 131 (p 74)

Best Party Outfits

Casa Turuna, Rua Sr. dos Passos 122 (p 71)

Best Footwear Under R$15

Havaianas, Rua da Alfândega 176 (p 75)

Best Trendy Rio Souvenirs

Gilson Martins, Rua Figueiredo Magalhães 304 (p 73)

Best Mall for Spotting Celebrities

Shopping Leblon, Av. Afrânio de Melo Franco 290 (p 76)

Best Antiques Selection

Shopping Cassino Atlântico, Av. Atlântica 4240 (p 70)

Best Look Good & Do Good Cosmetics

O Boticário, Rua Santa Clara 70 (p 70)

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Medium 9781628872842


Nicholas Gill FrommerMedia ePub


The Amazon & Los Llanos

by Nicholas Gill

On the other side of the Andes, Colombia takes on yet another new look. This is the most isolated part of the country, a place where few roads are able to penetrate. Colombia’s Amazon takes up a full third of the country, yet most Colombians have never even been there. Leticia, Colombia’s tiny foothold on the Amazon River, adjacent to the borders of Peru and Brazil, is the main point of access to the region, with multiple daily flights from Bogotá. It’s so close to Tabatinga, the town’s Brazilian equivalent, that many residents in both cities speak the two languages and have adapted to both nations’ customs, so you might not even notice where you are until the waiter serves you a cachaça instead of rum. Within a short boat ride you can be face to face with capuchin monkeys or spotting pink river dolphins near Parque Nacional Natural Amacayacu, home to more than 500 different species of birds, hundreds of mammals, and giant spiders and snakes, fulfilling your wildest Amazon fantasies. In Puerto Nariño you will chat up indigenous groups whose culture has changed little in centuries, then dine on typical Amazonian cuisine, like the mojojoy, a palm grub that gets skewered and grilled, or pirarucu, an enormous freshwater fish.

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