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Colombia Tourist Guide

Colombia

Colombia is one of the most beautiful but least explored countries of South America and has coastlines facing the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Pacific to the west. The Cordillera mountain range, part of the Andes, has the Cauca and the Magdalena River valleys cutting through it, both of which are important commercial waterways that have huge potential for a fascinating river cruise experience. A coastal cruise may take you to Santa Marta and nearby Taganga - one of the best places in Colombia for snorkelling among coral reefs - the beaches of El Rodadero, Tayrona National Park and the paradise island of Rosario. The tiny island of San Andres is a free port and a delight for duty-free shopping.

The beautiful city of Cartagena is a sea port on the northern coast founded in the 1500s by Spanish settlers and has a fortress and walled town designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. So too is Mompox, a river island and port located where the Cauca and Magdalena meet. It's associated with Simón Bolívar, regarded as the Liberator of Latin America, and has well-preserved colonial architecture including fine mansion homes, churches and plazas.

Colombia gets a bad press in Europe and America because of reports of conflict and narcotics but this overlooks its potential for trouble-free visits to its coasts and riverside towns, and a big drive is on to promote tourism.  The UN World Tourism Organisation has declared Colombia a safe environment and Lonely Planet guides have rated Colombia in their top ten countries worth a visit.

Colombia has colourful festivals throughout the year celebrating Catholic feasts - notably Christmas and Easter - or other traditional events. The city of Cali has an annual fair renowned for a parade of horseback riders and a Salsa marathon, while the annual Carnival in Barranquilla brings the city to halt as the streets fill with music and dancing in the days before Ash Wednesday.

The most important cultural event in the city of Medellín is a summer Flower Festival, while in Pasto the townspeople celebrate the liberation of slaves in the carnival of Blacks and Whites every January. The capital city, Bogotá, has its own Summer Carnival which has become an important cultural event and a rock music festival in Simón Bolivar Park that rivals Rock in Rio for modern live music and international bands.

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