Departamento Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Basílica del Señor de los Milagros
Text by Juliana Rojas
Natural Splendor: To get to the Reserva Natural de San Cipriano (two and a half hours from Cali), head out from the town of Buenaventura. About 25 minutes later, you’ll arrive in Córdoba, where you can board small vehicles that run on the rail lines. At the end of this excursion is a tropical forest, full of trails, waterfalls and nine pools of crystalline water.
Outdoor Adventures: With healthy winds all year round, Lago Calima (56 miles from Cali) is perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. A number of schools based in the area offer guided lessons and equipment rental.http://calimadarien.com
Historical Heritage: Twenty-six miles from Cali, between the towns of Palmira and El Cerrito, is a museum dedicated to sugar cane, where you can learn about the history of the sweet economic linchpin of the Valle del Cauca.www.museocanadeazucar.com
Museum Going: Cali boasts one of the most extensive modern art museums in the country: La Tertulia. The museum recently opened a new space with three permanent exhibit halls that show works by Colombian artists, as well as international figures like Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana.Av. Colombia No. 5-105 Oeste, Cali
Souvenir Shopping: From all over the country, the faithful come to the Basílica del Señor de Los Milagros in Buga. Visitors can take home cards, rosaries or statutes of “The Miraculous One.” Don’t miss the chance to sample the manjar blanco, a traditional dessert made with milk, rice, raisins and figs, which you can find on any corner in town.http://milagrosodebuga.com
Tips from a Local: Cali native Camilo Beltrán suggests the Hotel Casa del Alférez, for its comfort, elegance and great location in the neighborhood of Granada, which is full of restaurants, bars, cafés and cultural centers.Avenida 9 norte Nº 9-24
Departamento de Puno, Perú
Isla de los Uros
Text by Rolly Valdivia
Natural Splendor: The Reserva Nacional del Titicaca offers nature, beauty and culture. Its blue waters, quiet bays and islands are still inhabited by native peoples and make for a truly unforgettable destination. The lakeside port of Puno, in the regional capital, is one of the gateways to this protected area.
Outdoor Adventure: Kayaking on Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world – is a fantastic experience. You can start your adventure from several different spots, but Llachón, on the Capachica peninsula, is a perfect place to start your excursion. Located 48 miles north of Puno.
Archeological Heritage: Kalasasaya was the ceremonial and urban center of the Pukará, a civilization that thrived between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. Farmers, carvers and skilled architects, the Pukará raised monuments on the slopes of Pukaorcco (which means “red hill”). Located in the district of Pucará, 66 miles north of Puno.
Museum Going: The Museo Municipal Carlos Dreyer showcases archeological relics and works of art that immerse visitors in the region’s history. A particular highlight is the Tesoro de Sillustani (Treasure of Sillustani), a valuable display of gold objects found in the pre-Columbian chullpas (tombs) of the same name.Jirón Conde de Lemos 289, Puno
Souvenir Shopping: The traditional toritos (little bulls) of Pucará represent the animals originally sacrificed in rituals meant to help animal breeding. They now adorn the roofs of homes to protect those inside. Buy one to take home in Pucará or Puno.
Tips from a Local: Tourism professional Antonio Cabezas Oruna suggests visiting the islands of Uros, Taquile and Amantaní on Titicaca and the monumental pink city of Lampa, 40 minutes form the airport. For lunch in Puno, try the chairo (a local soup) at Giorgio, and at night, raise a toast to the high plateau at La Hostería.Restaurant Giorgio, Jirón Lima 430, Puno
La Hostería, Jirón Lima 501, Puno
Provincia de Imbabura, Ecuador
Text by Shirley Estrada
Natural Splendor: The product of glacial activity thousands of years ago, the Laguna Yahuarcocha is nearly two miles from Ibarra, the provincial capital. Its Quichua name “Lake of Blood” is a reference to its history as the site of the battle between the Incas and the Caranquis. Located near the Autódromo Internacional José Tobar, which hosts national and international competitions.
Outdoor Adventure: Trek on the paths of La Carolina, approximately one hour from the capital of Imbabura, at kilometer 42 of the Ibarra-San Lorenzo road. Perfect for enjoying the cloudy sub-tropical climate, the native flora and fauna and the clear, fresh air.
Archeological Heritage: The Tolas del Tablón were built between the 18th and 19th centuries and remain perfectly preserved. Located east of the Laguna Yahuarcocha, this research site has been the object of several studies to determine when these mounds were made and why.www.touribarra.gob.ec/index.php/sitios-arqueologicos/145-tolas
Museum Going: The permanent exhibits at the Museo y Centro Cultural de Ibarra include famous art and archeological displays of great historical worth. Discover the past of the northern sierra (from 1571 onwards), while exploring the exhibit hall, library, historical archive and auditorium.www.museos-ecuador.gob.ec/bce/html_extras/mcibarra/index.html
Souvenir Shopping: Clay masks capture the authentic cultural expressions of African-descendant Ecuadorians. This great folk art can be purchased in Carpeula, a town in the Valle de Chota, located at kilometer 33 of the Ibarra-Tulcán route. Browse the exhibition spaces, where you can choose the face or motif that suits your taste.
Tips from a Local: Eco-tourism specialist Anita Acosta suggests sampling the delicious sandwiches sold at the former military barracks. Don’t leave without trying the nogadas, made with raw brown sugar, water, lemon, egg whites and walnuts. Also essential: the traditional arrope de mora, blackberry juice made into syrup. Both are native to Ibarra.Calles García Moreno & Olmedo, Ibarra