Description Region Southwest & Pacific
The Pacific coast of Colombia is dominated by dense jungle, which is even more impenetrable than the tropical rainforest. Often the jungle reaches the sea, between hidden fantastic coves and beaches. The variety of plant, animal and bird species in this region is one of the highest in the world. Rare toxic frog species, tiger cats, caimans, turtles, dugongs (manatees) and humpback whales can be witnessed here with many other species. The 1,300 kilometers of coastline is original, unexplored, rough and rainy. The southern part of the coast is crossed by streams and rivers and covered by dense mangrove forests. The dominant landscape of the northern part is mountains, whose rugged slopes sometimes extend into the ocean.
In the Natural Park Utría this lush, seemingly endless nature can be explored and marveled at. In the woods there also live some native tribes that, almost completely isolated from the outside world, pass on their traditions and customs from generation to generation.
In front of the coast are the islands of Gorgona and Gorgonilla, which have been declared a nature reserve. Thus, the unique flora and fauna, the breathtakingly beautiful coral reefs and colorful marine life are strictly protected. This makes it a paradise for divers. A very special play happens every year from July to September, when huge humpback whales arrive from the South Pacific to breed and give birth to their young. Located further out in the Pacific is the Island Malpelo, which is also protected as a nature reserve and is very popular among divers because of the large volumes of different species of sharks.
The hinterland is dominated by the western foothills of the Andes, which rise here up to more than 5,000 meters, higher than about the highest peak in Europe (Mont Blanc, 4,800 meters). Largest city in the region is Cali, one of South America's oldest cities. Today there are only a few remains of the colonial period. Gone are the days of the "Cali cartel", the city is modern, young and dynamic. Around the city you will still find many traditional sugar cane plantations and beautiful colonial cities such as Popayán, also called Ciudad Blanca – ‘the white city’ and the center of Guambiano Indians. On the way to the Ecuadorian border, there are some very beautiful lagoons in the Andes, especially around the city of Pasto, partially located in national parks, and a rich flora and fauna. Buga and the Church Sanctuary de las Lajas are two important Christian pilgrimage sites of national importance. Located more inland is the Tierradentro region with its so called archaeological park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where the remains of Tierradentro culture are. Further south, there is another important archaeological site in San Agustin, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its stone sculptures and mythical figures.