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Cali, Colombia - Famous For Beautiful Women, Nightlife & Salsa Dancing

Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - June 2010 July 2012 May 2018   » View Photoset (155 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!

2018

I traveled through the night, firstly from Ibague to Armenia (3hrs 30mins), waited 90mins and then continued from Armenia to Cali (2hrs 30mins). It was good to be
Colombia Photo - Man and woman with tattoos embrace, amazing street art in Cali.
Man and woman with tattoos embrace, amazing street art in Cali.
back in Cali and this time I aimed to do and see some new things!

Cali Zoo

I visited Cali Zoo and really enjoyed photographing all the amazing and beautiful animals that are here. The zoo has lots of space and the animals are happy and well taken care of. I spent 3hrs at Cali Zoo walking slowly and waiting for the commotion of groups and crowds to disappear so that I could relax and make photos in peace! Animals and attractions you will see at Cali Zoo include flamingos, parrots, toucans, macaws, king of the buzzards, primates, emues, antilopes, crocodiles, ostriches, meerkats, zebras, mountain tapir, river otter, hyenas, lions, jaguars, Andes condor,
Colombia Photo - Glowing clock and bell tower of Ermita Church in Cali.
Glowing clock and bell tower of Ermita Church in Cali.
spectacled bear, tatabros, white tailed deer, pumas, llamas, rhea, tigers, cusumbo, giant otter, ring tailed lemur, amphibians, snakes, monkeys, turtles, wolves, anaconda, common tapir, soldier garzon, giant anthill, black swans, necklace lemur, pelicans, mountain eagle, the butterfly sanctuary and gold fish pond. See my photos of many of these animals!

Ermita Church, Retreta Park, The Center

In the city center of Cali there are some great sights to see, many located around the river. The huge park - Parque de la Retreta has many trees and open spaces, bridges and pathways. A beautiful and peaceful place to walk, ride a bike, play and relax. Ermita Church is a huge highlight standing on the other side of Ortiz Bridge (1845) from the park. The current Neo-Gothic structure was built between 1947 and 1953. The original chapel
Colombia Photo - A very watchful iguana on a wooden log beside the water at Cali Zoo.
A very watchful iguana on a wooden log beside the water at Cali Zoo.
was built in 1606, later a stone church was built in 1810 after earthquakes and then this stone church was destroyed in 1945 during World War II. Ermita Church houses the 18th-century painting called Lord of the Sugarcane that many miracles have been attributed to. Beside the church is Poet's Park, a social area, a place where you may see impromptu performances and dancing. Jorge Isaacs Theater (1931) stands beside Poet's Park and has been a national monument since 1984. From Poet's Park you can take a walk for quite some distance along the wide pathway beside the river. The park has security men around the place rather than police, it gives
Colombia Photo - Dormition of the Virgin, antique painting at La Merced Museum of Religious Art in Cali.
Dormition of the Virgin, antique painting at La Merced Museum of Religious Art in Cali.
people a little more freedom. A short walk of 1 or 2 blocks from Ermita Church is Cayzedo Plaza (Plaza de Cayzedo) where located are many of Cali's finest and most handsome buildings including the cathedral (San Pedro Apostol Metropolitan Cathedral), the National Palace and Courthouse, the Otero building, the Ulpiano Lloreda building and the Bank of Bogota building.

San Antonio Neighborhood

The artsy / bohemian neighborhood of San Antonio (Barrio San Antonio) has many art shops and awesome street art to enjoy and the streets are pleasant to stroll around. The neighborhood sits below the towering San Antonio Hill (Colina San Antonio). Walk up the long stairway to the top where there's a chapel, fantastic views of the city, refreshments and lots of hot sweetcorn for sale!

La Merced Archaeological Museum

La Merced Archaeological Museum (Museo Arqueologico
Colombia Photo - Beautiful red macaw with blue and green wings at Cali Zoo.
Beautiful red macaw with blue and green wings at Cali Zoo.
La Merced) in Cali features amazing Colonial art and pre-Columbian pottery. Many of the artifacts come from the Valle del Cauca and Tolima regions of Colombia. Among the highlights are figurines from the Tumaco culture and intricately painted Quimbaya vessels. In the words of the museum itself, "clay that makes us think of what we are and have been... volumes, vessels, faces, urns, folds, men, creatures, monsters that invite us to look closely, to doubt, to inquire, to feel, to look closely". La Merced church and museum is one of the oldest buildings in Cali and was founded in 1536. The museum is open from Monday - Saturday, 9am-1pm, 2pm-6pm. Beside La Merced Archaeological Museum is the Museum of Religious Art.

Bus To Buenaventura

From Cali I traveled to Buenaventura (2hrs 30mins) for my first time on the Pacific coast of Colombia.
Colombia Photo - A cotton-top tamarin searching for food at the zoo in Cali.
A cotton-top tamarin searching for food at the zoo in Cali.

2010

I travelled 3hrs from the southern city of Popayan to Cali by bus, the views from the right side of the bus are breathtaking. After arriving at the terminal I found a hostel about 15 minutes away. Cali didn't look like anything special to me at this stage. To be honest Cali is not that attractive in many parts of the city, but it did slowly grow on me over the next few days. Cali is mainly known for its beautiful woman and nightlife. It's also known for its Salsa dancing but I will also remember it as a place that has the most amazing street art on the walls around town. I stayed in a safe part of the city near the foot of Monumento de las Tres Cruces - the mountain with the 3 crosses at the top. It is an easy part of town to get to anywhere else around the city, either by walking, taxi or bus.
Colombia Photo - Large grey iguana on the grass at Cali Zoo.
Large grey iguana on the grass at Cali Zoo.
In the middle of the year the temperature is warm here, it was sitting at 30 degrees most of the time. There are some public swimming pools, a group of us from the hostel visited them one afternoon, it was $7,000 pesos for entry. If you are in Cali between Christmas and New Years Eve, you will see the cities main festival, the Feria de Cali.

Nightlife, Clubs and Women

As for nightlife, there are many clubs in the city where all the beautiful women are. A big group of us from the hostel went out on Friday and Saturday nights. Starting off at a bar with a live rock band and laid back atmosphere was great fun. Later it was time to hit the nightclubs and experience some of what Cali is best known for! Well, yes it is all true, the clubs are packed with some very attractive woman. It was not always easy for our big
Colombia Photo - Small yellow and orange bird in a tree at Cali Zoo.
Small yellow and orange bird in a tree at Cali Zoo.
group to gain entry, some clubs refused to let us inside. I ended up somewhere called 'Prada' and had a good time there for a while. If you can dance Salsa, that's a bonus, shame I couldn't.

Salsa Lessons

The next day I went with some friends to watch them have some Salsa lessons, it cost $20,000 pesos, about $11USD for a 1hr lesson. This was no ordanairy dance studio though, it was owned and run by a Salsa champion. There were trophies and awards all around the building, it is called 'Escuela de Baile - Swing Latino'. The lesson consisted of the instructor showing my friends Salsa moves of different varieties to various beats for the next hour. The floor was of great quality and there were mirrors on the walls.

Bus To Armenia

After 3 nights in Cali I headed north to Armenia.
Colombia Photo - Face of a boy created with pottery, like the boy from the Mad comics, La Merced Archaeological Museum, Cali.
Face of a boy created with pottery, like the boy from the Mad comics, La Merced Archaeological Museum, Cali.

Problems with FARC

I passed through Cali again in 2011, arriving by plane from Santa Marta via Bogota and took a taxi to the bus terminal to head south to Ipiales. This was the beginning of 5 months on the road through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. The area around Cali has problems sometimes with the FARC, sometimes when arriving or leaving Cali by bus there may be a roadblock as was the case on this day. We were stopped at a police roadblock for over an hour on a stretch of highway 1 hour out of the city waiting for any problems ahead to be sorted out. We got away finally and passed through Popayan 2 hours later. In mid 2012 I arrived in Cali overland from the south and spent the night in the airport terminal waiting for an early morning flight via Bogota to Santa Marta.



     

View all photos in the Cali Photoset


Itineraries / Routes: 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008



Distances & times (if available) from Cali (Colombia) to:


Map location: Cali, Colombia. Cali is known as the city of Salsa dancing and pretty women! See the amazing La Ermita Gothic Church, visit the zoo, museums and relax and walk in Retreta Park.
 A : Cali to Armenia - Colombia 91 kms 91 kms straight distance | 2hrs 32mins 2hrs 32mins by car (116 kms) | 3hrs 2mins 3hrs 2mins by bus (116 kms) (116 kms)
 B : Popayan - Colombia 104 kms 104 kms straight distance | 3hrs 10mins 3hrs 10mins by car (148 kms) | 3hrs 48mins 3hrs 48mins by bus (148 kms) (148 kms)
 C : Armenia - Colombia 165 kms 165 kms straight distance | 3hrs 48mins 3hrs 48mins by car (202 kms) | 4hrs 33mins 4hrs 33mins by bus (202 kms) (202 kms)
 D : Salento - Colombia 183 kms 183 kms straight distance | 4hrs 23mins 4hrs 23mins by car (226 kms) | 5hrs 15mins 5hrs 15mins by bus (226 kms) (226 kms)
 E : Pasto to Popayan - Colombia 178 kms 178 kms straight distance | 5hrs 46mins 5hrs 46mins by car (274 kms) | 6hrs 55mins 6hrs 55mins by bus (274 kms) (274 kms)
 F : Pasto - Colombia 252 kms 252 kms straight distance | 8hrs 22mins 8hrs 22mins by car (399 kms) | 10hrs 2mins 10hrs 2mins by bus (399 kms) (399 kms)
 G : EAFIT University Medellin - Colombia 334 kms 334 kms straight distance | 8hrs 29mins 8hrs 29mins by car (437 kms) | 10hrs 10mins 10hrs 10mins by bus (437 kms) (437 kms)
 H : Medellin - Colombia 336 kms 336 kms straight distance | 9hrs 9hrs by car (451 kms) | 10hrs 48mins 10hrs 48mins by bus (451 kms) (451 kms)
 I : Bogota - Colombia 302 kms 302 kms straight distance | 9hrs 53mins 9hrs 53mins by car (473 kms) | 11hrs 51mins 11hrs 51mins by bus (473 kms) (473 kms)
 J : Ipiales from the Colombian Border - Colombia 305 kms 305 kms straight distance | 9hrs 47mins 9hrs 47mins by car (484 kms) | 11hrs 44mins 11hrs 44mins by bus (484 kms) (484 kms)
 K : Tulcan - Ecuador 310 kms 310 kms straight distance | 10hrs 7mins 10hrs 7mins by car (497 kms) | 12hrs 8mins 12hrs 8mins by bus (497 kms) (497 kms)
 L : Guatape / Penol - Colombia 350 kms 350 kms straight distance | 10hrs 7mins 10hrs 7mins by car (505 kms) | 12hrs 8mins 12hrs 8mins by bus (505 kms) (505 kms)
 M : Montufar & Ibarra - Ecuador 339 kms 339 kms straight distance | 10hrs 44mins 10hrs 44mins by car (536 kms) | 12hrs 52mins 12hrs 52mins by bus (536 kms) (536 kms)
 N : Quito to Tulcan - Ecuador 376 kms 376 kms straight distance | 12hrs 11mins 12hrs 11mins by car (622 kms) | 14hrs 37mins 14hrs 37mins by bus (622 kms) (622 kms)
 O : Otavalo - Ecuador 394 kms 394 kms straight distance | 12hrs 31mins 12hrs 31mins by car (641 kms) | 15hrs 1min 15hrs 1min by bus (641 kms) (641 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Cali, Colombia:

Hotel Centralia, Cali, Colombia - Large Photo
Hotel Centralia, Cali, Colombia (May 2018 - 3 nights) - Located across the road from the bus terminal down a sidestreet. $35000 pesos for a basic room with bathroom. Bed was good, window opened, easy-going staff, secure and easy to get to and from by taxi. Makes a good base for a few days in Cali for the budget traveller - no hostel dorm required!
Pelican Larry Hostel, Cali, Colombia - Large Photo
Pelican Larry Hostel, Cali, Colombia (June 2010 - 3 nights) - In a good part of town near a few things, dorms a bit crowded, has a nice outdoor area where you can hang out, lots of space to walk around in the hostel.

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