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Attractions and Things to See and Do

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Top Things To See • Bogotá, the capital, founded in 1538, is the largest city and situated almost in the centre of the country at an altitude of 2600m (8600ft). Bogotá reflects a blend of Colombian tradition and Spanish colonial influences. Many historical landmarks have been preserved, such as the Capitol Municipal Palace and the cathedral, the Capilla del Sangrario, on the main square, the Plaza Bolivar. Bogotá also contains the Gold Museum, with its unique collection of over 100,000 pre-Colombian artworks. • Travel to Zipaquirá, an area well-known for its many salt mines, and see the famous Salt Cathedral (capable of accommodating 8400 people), an underground church built within a salt mine, in the body of a mountain. Stalactites and specks of salt jostle with crosses and chapels, all bathed in subdued lighting. • Guatavita is best known for its Laguna de Guatavita, the ritual centre and sacred lake of the Muisca Indians. Flanked by undulating hills, it is a calm and beautiful lake that is definitely worth a visit. • Amble around the colourful market on the side channel of the Magdalena in Barranquilla. • Enjoy the peaceful vista of Colombia's many beaches. The main tourist resorts on Colombia’s 1600km- (1000 mile-) long Caribbean coast lie near Santa Marta, one of the first major cities founded by the Spanish in South America. Its modern hotels, white beaches and proximity to fashionable beach resorts now make it a popular base for visitors wishing to explore the coast. • Go to the Tayrona National Park, some 35km (22 miles) south of Santa Marta, to see one of the country’s most popular parks. Its major attraction is its deep bays, shaded with coconut trees, beautiful beaches and several coral reefs. • Cartagena, an ancient walled fortress city on the north coast, is also worth a visit, particularly for its fascinating Old Town. Tourist facilities have been considerably developed in recent years, particularly at El Laguita, an L-shaped pensinsula, now packed with hotels and expensive restaurants. Some 35km (22 miles) west lie the Islas del Rosario, an archipelago of about 25 small coral islands now declared a national park. Cruises and tours are widely available and can be booked in Cartagena. Easily reached from Cartagena, by plane or boat, are the islands of San Andrés and Providencia, nearly 500km (300 miles) north of the Colombian coast. San Andrés was once the headquarters of the English pirate Captain Henry Morgan, the scourge of the Caribbean. The islands are duty free, and consequently often crowded, but there are still several less spoilt parts. Popular excursions include visits by boat to Johnny Cay and the Aquarium. Top Things To Do • Water-skiing, boating, sailing and skindiving can all be practised on the coast (check with authorities before diving, as sharks and barracudas have caused fatalities). Providencia with its paradisal waters, is ideal for scuba diving. • Mountain climbing begins 48km (30 miles) east of Santa Marta, with peaks of up to nearly 6000m (19,000ft). • Watch the major cycle race, the Tour of Colombia, which takes place every March and April. • Good skiing can be found on the slopes of Nevado del Ruiz (5400m/ 17,700ft), 48km (30 miles) from Manizales. • Try swinging your hips at the world's capital of salsa: Cali. and if you just want flight and flight Medellin-Colombia is the only and right place for this activity in South America. • Take a jungle tour into the Amazon basin, which covers almost one-third of Colombia’s territory, an area of thick tropical forest in the southeast, with no roads and inhabited mostly by Indians. The most popular base for tourists wishing to explore the area is Leticia, a small town with well-developed tourist facilities, located on the banks of the Amazon River and close to the border with Brazil and Peru. The jungle trips to the nearby Amacayu National Park are widely available and highly recommended, often including visits to Indian tribes. • For those interested in archaeology, why not dig for or examine the great number of relics and massive stone statues in San Augustín Archaeological Park? For architectural history, the traditional city of Popayan is the birthplace of many of Colombia’s most illustrious statesmen, and contains many fine colonial houses and churches, as well as hosting a fantastic Holy Week procession. Tierradentro, in the southwest of the country, has beautiful manmade burial caves painted with pre-Colombian geometric patterns.

Edited byjoni2006 on 17.09.2006

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