The area of southern Colombia leading off from the Cauca valley south of Cali and embracing the cultured city of Popayán and pre-Colombian archaeological sites was lamentably off limits for visitors during the recent era of guerrilla activity. Fortunately nowadays the security situation has improved and many of the highlights of this region of quiescent volcanoes, steep emerald green valleys, pastures, sugar plantations and attractive villages can be safely explored.
The Spanish colonial university town Popayán is a delightful stop, its lanes resonating with both salsa and classical music, while the mountain village of Silvia is famous for the striking costumes worn by the friendly Guambiano Indians. The UNESCO-listed archaeological site at San Agustín is the must see of the region, with its remarkable ‘Bosque de las Estatuas’ consisting of a number of enigmatic statues dating from 3,300BC.
Prosperous Cali is the second largest city in Colombia after Bogotá and is famed for being the country’s party capital: salsa really rules the roost here. It’s a tropical city with a tropical vibe, surrounded by a fertile agricultural land with plantations and cattle.
When's the best time to visit San Agustin, Popayan and Cali?
Sitauated in the sweltering Cauca valley, Cali is hot and humid all the year round though it can rain at any time. Popayán, Silvia and San Agustin are at a higher elevation and so substantially cooler, with a drier feel to the air: all in all the climate is sunny, warm and pleasant. Most rain falls Apr-Jun but it can rain here at any time too, which explains the verdant landscape.This region can be busy with visitors at holiday times: Christmas, Carnival and Easter, and there are other festivities throughout the year when the towns and cities are very crowded..
What's the official language of San Agustin, Popayan and Cali?
How do I get local currency in San Agustin, Popayan and Cali?
Peso. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs in major cities using a UK credit or debit card, though you may have to advise your bank first and amounts that can be withdrawn may be lower than in the UK. Be aware that some ATMs are often out of service but there should be a working one nearby. Banks will offer advances on a credit card, but with a lot of paperwork. Money exchanges (casas de cambio) change US dollars cash (very few accept euros or sterling and the rate will be poor).
What's the time difference between San Agustin, Popayan and Cali and UK?
GMT - 5 hrs
How do I get to San Agustin, Popayan and Cali?
There are daily flights from Bogotá to and from Popayán.
Cali receives flights from Bogotá, Medellín, Cartagena and other cities.A road journey between Cali and Popayán takes 2-3hrs; from Cali to San Agustin 9hrs; from Popayán to San Agustin 7-8hrs, from Popayán to Silvia 90mins.
What are the cultural events in San Agustin, Popayan and Cali?
25Dec - 3Jan - Cali International fair.
Variable Feb-Mar - Carnival.
Holy week - Easter, variable.
June - artisan fair.
Aug - Festival of Music from the Pacific.
Sep - International Art festival.
5-6 Jan - Dia de los |negros y Dia de los Blancos.
Variable Feb-Mar - Carnival.
Holy week - Easter, variable; spectacular processions throughout the week.
International Sacred Music Festival.
Sep - Gastronomic fair.