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Colombia: San Agustin, Popayan and Cali

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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.

Our holidays to San Agustin, Popayan and Cali

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Silvia Market

Off the beaten track Colombia: San Agustin and the Amazon

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12 days from £2,494pp

Rural Colombia

Undiscovered Colombia, Providencia and Panama City

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Things to do in San Agustin, Popayan and Cali

San Agustin to Popayan

Visit Purace National Park

Popayan

Walking tour of Popayán


Silvia Market

Visit Guambiano territory

San Agustin

San Agustin Archaeological Park

Our insider tips for San Agustin, Popayan and Cali

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Nelson

The San Agustín region is famed for the archaeological sites but also known for the sweetness of its coffee. The countryside around the town is well worth exploring, with lush pastures, bamboo, steep-sloped coffee plantations  and cheerful-looking houses painted in pinks and greens.

Isabelle

Isabelle Mazille

If you are staying in Popayán don't miss the chance to visit nearby Silvia on a Tuesday, market day. You can watch Guambiano indians in their blue and pink costumes spinning and weaving and amble around the colourful market stalls, where indians from Otavalo in Ecuador also sell their artisan craft work.

Claire Milner

Claire Milner

It's worth spending a day or two in the relaxed town of at Popayán itself to explore the cobbled streets lined by Andalusian-style houses and classic Spanish monasteries, many carefully restored following an earthquake in 1983.

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