Overview

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.

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Where to go when - our guide to San Agustin, Popayan and Cali

Popayan

The weather in San Agustin, Popayan and Cali is wide and varied

This region of volcanoes, luscious green valleys, sugar plantations and traditional villages is not to be missed. The tropical city of Cali is alive with salsa. Thanks to its location in the sweltering Cauca Valley it is hot and humid throughout the year, though it may rain at any time. At a higher elevation you’ll find the colonial university town of Popayán and also the archaeological gems of San Agustin. The temperature here feels a little cooler, the air a little drier, though you’ll still get warm sunshine.
Rain can fall at any time here which keeps the landscapes verdant, with the wettest months usually April- June. The region can become busy during holidays and cultural events; for incredible salsa dancing and live music head for the Cali Fair in December / January, or see traditional costumes and parades at Popayán’s Festival de los Negros y Blancos in January.

View our San Agustin, Popayan and Cali weather guide

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Real Latin american experts

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

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    Alex Walker - Travel Expert

    A globetrotter since her childhood, Alex spent a year studying abroad in Guadalajara and has returned to Latin America countless times since then.

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    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

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    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

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    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

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