Hidden Gems: Cali, Colombia

Colombia is fast becoming one of the most sought after holiday destinations in South America. You only need to brush past the city of Cali to see why first hand. A rainbow of colour, arguably symbolic of Colombia’s timelessly vibrant personality, is splashed all over; from the decor of the city’s many quaint cafes, to the greens and blues of rivers winding all round.

Colombia is fast becoming one of the most sought after holiday destinations in South America. You only need to brush past the city of Cali to see why first hand. A rainbow of colour, arguably symbolic of Colombia’s timelessly vibrant personality, is splashed all over; from the decor of the city’s many quaint cafes, to the greens and blues of rivers winding all round.

With any “new” place, as I discovered whilst visiting Cali, there is an abundance of treasures hidden just below its surface beauty. Cali, firstly, would not be Cali without its Salsa. So whether you are a novice like myself, accustomed only to a few meagre attempts at a ‘front step back step’ at the Christmas party, or a professional, it’s salsa bar El Zaparroco located in the centre of Cali, that is a gem not to be missed. The glow of the bar draws people of all ages into its lair, and once inside, the feeling that you alone have just uncovered one big fun secret is likely. All that’s left to do is enjoy.

Not long after arriving in Cali (or leaving the salsa bar for that matter) I heard whispers of Pance River. However, word of mouth alone does not do it justice. The river, pictured above, situated in the south of Cali, is quite spectacular. Swimwear, a few pesos for refreshments and a friend or two maybe (as solid proof later to the rest of the world that this place really exists) is all you need to enjoy the shallow waters of one of the last rivers left in the city for bathing.

Lastly, before you set off on your own tailor-made Colombian voyage, it would be an injustice to omit the town of Buga, which after a relatively short bus journey out of Cali, really is worth what awaits you. As one of the oldest cities in the country, it oozes character and beauty, not to mention an abundance of museums to explain in just as many languages how special it is. The city is famous for miracles, drawing people from all over to pilgrimage and others to enjoy witnessing those doing so, all set in a wonderful little cobbled town full of cafes and market stalls, that by evening, is a site of twinkling lights and happy faces.

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