From Cali to Cartagena
03.10.2014 - 24.10.2014
In October 2014, I travelled with a friend by land across the western fringe of Colombia beginning in Cali in the southwestern corner of the country and ending up on the Caribbean coast in the historic city of Cartagena de Indias. Essentially following the Cauca River Valley that lies between the Western and Central Cordillera of the Colombian Andes, our route first took us to the Quindío in the heart of Colombia's Eje Cafero where we visited a working organic coffee farm, the picturesque towns of Salento and Filandia and the majestic Valle de Cocora that is home to the world's tallest palm trees, la palma de cera.
Inching our way northward, we journeyed on Colombia's modern highway system through the coffee country stopping briefly in Pereira before continuing on to Manizales where we stayed at an eco-tourist lodge just a few kilometers above the Termales de Otoño, a natural thermal hot springs resort about a half hour outside Manizales. We explored the páramo terrain that lies between the tree line and the snow line on the Nevado del Ruiz in the Parque de los Nevados.
After a few splendid days in the Eje Cafetero, we pressed on to Medellín, Colombia's second largest city with a population of approximately three million people. Once of the world's most troubled cities in the days of Pablo Escobar, the notorious drug lord who was killed in December 1993, Medellín has made an amazing turnaround winning accolades for its modern urban design and named by the Wall Street Journal as the "world's most innovative city" in 2013. Known as "la ciudad de la eterna primavera" for its year-around spring-like climate, Medellín did not disappoint as we visited the Parque Botero, the Museo d'Antioquia, Parque Berrío and the Jardín Botánico de Medellín traversing the city effortlessly and comfortably on its modern Metro de Medellín train system and its avant-garde Metrocable systems.
An overnight bus from Medellín landed us in Cartagena, a jewel of colonial architecture set upon a beautiful harbor on the shores of the azure waters of the Caribbean.