Why Visit Cali?

A toucanette at Araucana Lodge.

A toucanette at Araucana Lodge.

Our friends at www.colombia.travel published an article titled, “4 Reasons Cali Should Be at the Top of your Vacation List,” and our favorite reason is number four: nature. It is difficult to explain the grandiosity of the flora and fauna Cali has to offer for those who have not experienced it…suffice it to say, you will not be disappointed!

What makes Colombia so biodiverse? As the Andes mountains enter Colombia, they split into three ranges. This creates wet and dry environments at many elevations from sea level to 5000 meters, with lots of variation in mean temperatures and rainfall. It also allows for cloud forest formations where the presence of water is mainly through fog. These conditions mean many species can thrive in a few square kilometers of forest, with a wealth of endemic species. Our nation holds the most species of palm trees, orchids, birds and daytime butterflies. We host 10% of vertebrates and 20% of the world’s plants. We have 55,000 plant species, a third of which are endemic. While this biodiversity is phenomenal, it is also fragile. For instance, if a parrot eats only one type of fruit from specific palm tree, if that tree becomes endangered, so does the parrot.

While Cali is known for being the salsa capital of the world, and rightfully so, it also has so much to offer to nature lovers. Cali is a large river valley at 3,300 feet, ensconced between the Western and Central ranges of the Andes, where one can change altitude and ecosystems dramatically in a short amount of time. Cali is the city of birds, with over 550 species, about 5% of the world’s birds, in our municipality. Our state, Valle del Cauca, has over 1000 species.

We’d like to add a fifth reason to the list of reasons to visit Cali: the people! We know the following statement is somewhat biased, but Caleños excel at hospitality. From our 4+ hour long ‘almuerzos,’ (luncheons that start at 1 pm and run through 5-7 pm), to our genuine curiosity about foreigners, to our lively parties, Caleños know how to entertain! We may be a little new to this whole tourism deal, but our friendliness is in our DNA.

Our resident Cali expert, Vivian Carrascal, is everyone’s favorite and friendliest tour guide! If you’ve ever been on a tour with Vivian, you know she doesn’t miss a beat in her attentiveness. She anticipates everyone’s needs, goes out of her way to nurture anyone who isn’t feeling well, makes sure people are fed on time, and that we do not fall behind schedule. Not only is Vivian excellent at her job, at Araucana Lodge we’re happy to call her family and Chris’s better half. If you’ve been thinking of visiting Cali, take a peek at her company, Colombia Exploring. From day tours to 14 day extravaganzas, she has it all! If you are thinking of a specialized bird watching tour, Chris’s company Colombia Birdwatch can help!

If you’d like to learn more about travel in Cali and/or Colombia, here are a few of our favorite articles:

A lengthy and academic delve into the birds of Cali for all aficionados. This article is in Spanish.

A beautiful photojournalism piece on travel in Colombia in the post-conflict era by the Washington Post.

Nat Geo covers the rugged, remote and very biodiverse jungles of Chocó.

Colombian artist Doris Salcedo’s new work honors the victims of violence.

The Washington Post discusses what is happening to Colombian forests after the peace agreement was signed.

A visualization of Cali and it’s surrounding areas, including the Farallones mountains.

A visualization of Cali and it’s surrounding areas, including the Farallones mountains.

Artwork by C. Lago.

Artwork by C. Lago.

Anna Calonje