WELCOME TO THE LAND OF COFFEE AND EMERALDS
Welcome to the land where the Andes put their roots into South American continent, where the Pacific Ocean embraces the Caribbean Sea, where the desert winks on the amazon and where the sound of an ancient time has left space to poetry; the land where there is a salsa step or blue chords of an accordion at the sea shore. Welcome to the land of Gabriel Garcia Márquez and its magical realism. Welcome to the archaeological ruins of San Agustin and the Lost city. Welcome to Cartagena de Indias with its colonial class, to Barranquilla and Pasto with their famous carnivals, to Santiago de Cali with its joy and its musical rhythms, to Medellin with its Flower Festival. Welcome to the country with the most birds and orchids species in the world. Welcome to a magical land that is joy and elegance. Welcome to the legend of “El Dorado”… Welcome to this wonderful trip which is the Colombian mosaic with its people, music, culture, traditions, smiles, flavors— Welcome to Colombia!
The Andes are the most spectacular and important mountain range in Latin America. They split Colombia’s territory into three distinct branches: the Western Range, the Central Range and the Eastern Range. The mountains enter into Colombia in the southwestern part of the country and divide into two distinct ranges: the Western and the Central. The Central massif splits into two branches, also known as the Almaguer Knot, giving birth to the Eastern Cordillera. The Pacific Ring of Fire, also found in this region, is very popular because it is formed by numerous volcanoes. The volcano Galeras, near the town of Pasto, and the Nevado del Ruiz, near Caldas and Tolima, are famous for their recent activity.
This region extends 1,600 km (994 mi) along the Caribbean Sea. Despite the typical Caribbean weather conditions, this region encompasses the Guajira desert, sand dunes covered in rain forests, and the snow capped Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. At 5,770 msnm (18,930 ft) this is the world’s highest coastal mountain range. This area is also home to the Magdalena swamps and savanna, the Cesar and Sucre departments, white sand beaches in the gulf of Morrosquillo, the tropical jungle in the gulf of Urabá, and other fascinating typical Caribbean landscapes. Near Cartagena in the Rosario and San Bernardo archipelagos you’ll find paradise adorned in coral. 700 km (434 mi) north of the Caribbean coast are the islands of San Andres, Old Providence, islets, and sand bars that form an authentic oasis stretching 500km (310 mi) over the Caribbean Sea.
The Colombian pacific coast extends 1300 km (807 mi), and is characterized as being one of the wettest areas on the planet with 10,000 cubic meters of rainfall per year. Starting in the north, the serranía del Baudó mountain chain enters the Pacific Ocean. This region is characterized by bays and inlets that are the entrance to a marvelous jungle of biodiversity. The southern side of the region is less mountainous and characterized by the presence of voluminous rivers that flow into wild, pristine beaches, and a variety of mangrove ecosystems. 56km (34 mi) off the coast, you’ll find the extraordinary fauna and flora sanctuaries of Gorgona and Gorgonilla. These islands, declared as National Wild Parks, are an important site for humpback whale migration each year. 300km (186 mi) off the Pacific coast is Malpelo islet, a seemingly barren rock emerging out of the ocean, yet surrounded by an extraordinary submarine life, including hammerhead sharks.
This extraordinary region, the Orinoquía covers an area of 230,000 square kilometers, 20% of Colombia’s territory. It reaches the Orinoco River, forming a natural border with Venezuela, and it extends from the center of the country to the east in a flatland that is characterized by savannas and pastures interspersed among forests and high-flowing rivers. In the southwestern side of the region, you’ll find a mountain range independent from the Andes, the Serranía de la Macarena. This area presents extraordinary biodiversity due to its characteristics, in which converge natural and typical elements from the Andes, the Amazon, and the Orinoquía itself.
With the biggest tropical rainforest and the largest river in the world, the Amazon covers a third of Colombia’s territory and is one of earth’s greatest treasures. It is an extraordinary place, not only for the indigenous people that inhabit it, or the immense river that in some places looks like an ocean, but also for the life that it generates both on land and in water. It is the planet’s largest ecological reserve, with an unimaginable abundance of plant and animal species. The rainforest is also a traditional place for scientists interested in learning the indigenous shamans secrets of “talking with nature.” The world views the Amazon rainforest as it’s largest oxygen reserve, but it is much, much more than that: it is the home of a very special population and a living laboratory of plants and animals.