Paisa Tours: Guide to Medellin and Colombia


Southern Colombia Travel:
San Cipriano
San Agustin

Cali & Nearby

Cali used to be Colombia's exemplary city, but over the last decade it has fallen into decline. Roads are pot holed and the drivers are maniacs (as they are throughout Colombia, but especially so in Cali). The hot, rather muggy city has a few interesting old buildings and churches, but nothing of any real note. The only real reason to visit Cali is as a launch pad for travel to other destinations in Southern Colombia. That, plus the nightlife, which is the best in all of Colombia. Cali's claim to fame is as such - and the vibrant 7 day a week nightlife is based on salsa clubs, and some of the most beautiful women in the country (& continent). Stag nights haven't come to Cali just yet (at least not like in Dublin, Prague, Riga etc.) but if they ever do, hands down this will be the stag night capital of the world.

Things to do in Cali

I can't make a list here as there isn't really much to do, other than experience Colombia. It is a great place to experience Colombian city life, and meet Colombians. It's a rather chaotic city recovering from the crazy drug baron years of the 80's. While Medellin has since surged forward to be one of Latin America's most exemplary modern cities, Cali has lingered behind mainly due to bad governance. Things to do in Cali? Go out salsa dancing, or eat in some fine restaurants (some of the best in Colombia). Cali is all about lifestyle - and you wouldn't bother taking your granny on holiday here. Family vacation? Don't bother. Lads backpacking around Colombia - you'd be mad not to visit.

One of the best times to visit Cali is during the Feria de Cali, which is essentially a five day long party lasting from 25 to 30 December.

Cali Hotels & Hostals

Now Hotel - a new, modern, boutique hotel in Cali.

Jovitas Hostel - a hostel with attached salsa school.  If you're a backpacker who wants tolearn a bit of Salsa on your vacation to Colombia, this is proably the place to do so!

Iguana - the good hostal / guest house for backpackers or those on a budget. It's Swiss owned.

Jardin Azul - a pleasant small hotel with garden and pool.

Cali Plaza - very good value, nothing fancy, well located and it gets fantastic online reviews also.

Toscana Plaza - modern and stylish with 40 rooms.

Posada San Antonio - a good value, pleasant posada.

Hotel Aristi - a smart, modern hotel with swimming pool, reasonably priced at about 100,000 Colombian pesos for a double.

Hotel Obelisco - rooms from US $150 for a double.

There's various other chain hotels in addition, such as the Four Points by Sheraton, the Radisson and the Intercontinental Hotel.

Travel Attractions Around Cali

In the 90's and early 00's Cali, and most of it's surrounding countryside, was a no-go zone for tourists as the area was full of paramilitaries and guerillas. Thankfully times have changed, and all of these areas noted below are now safe to visit.

Nearest to Cali (just 15km away, into the cooler mountains) is the village of Dapa, a countryside retreat that's popular (with Caleños) for outdoor activities at the weekends.

Two hours travel from Cali on the road towards Buenaventura, one encounters the man made Lago Calima. The lake is a very peaceful place to relax, go on hikes, go fishing or do watersports / take boat trips on the lake (kitesurfing is particularly popular). Lago Calima is becoming an increasingly popular place for Cali's richer residents to buy lake-side holiday homes. The most peaceful place to stay, is the excellent Hosteria Los Veleros (no website - advise me if you know of it), which has beautiful lake views and a lovely swimming pool - if you visit mid week it's likely to be almost empty.

Other interesting places to visit near Cali include the town of Buga, which is one of the oldest towns in Colombia dating back to 1555 (or 1650, depending upon who you ask). Most people visit Buga to see the town's famous church (Basilica del Senor de los Milagros). The nearby natural reserve of Sonso Lake is a great spot for birdwatching and wildlife viewing.

Anahuac (Spanish language website) is a small private nature reserve not far from the small holiday town of Pance, a town which is thriving over the weekends but almost dead mid-week. Various hikes can be arranged from here. Nearby is the Parque Nacional Natural los Farallones de Cali is an immensely biodiverse region whose landscape varies from lowland tropical rainforest to highland paramo, and has various nature trails and wildlife viewing possibilities (this beautiful National Parks' security situation should be checked locally).

In addition, there are nearby haciendas that can be visited, such as Hacienda Piedechinche which has a sugarcane museum, and also the riverside town of San Cipriano.

Cali, Colombia

Cali Feria
Cali Feria in December - a five day party in Colombia.

Salsa Dancing in Cali
Salsa Dancing in Cali, Colombia.

Lake Calima
Lake Calima - a shortish drive from Cali.

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