Cauca Valley: Cali and Popayan
The Cauca Valley has sustained human settlements for over 7,000 years.
The earliest-known residents were hunter-gatherers, living off the land before eventually learning to cultivate maize.
Later cultures such as the Ilama, Yotoco, and Sonso developed complex social, agricultural, and trade systems—evidence of which is still abundant today.
In 1536, Spanish explorers arrived from Quito, founding a network of villages. Among these were Popayan in the south valley and Santiago de Cali in the north.
Popayan flourished, later becoming an important gold mining and transfer point.
Almost as influential as the lure of gold, the city’s spring-like climate quickly gained notoriety, enticing wealthy landowners from steamy surrounding regions by the droves.
Over the next three centuries, Popayan amassed one of the finest collections of colonial architecture in South America.
The City of White
Its mansions, churches, universities, and monasteries are coated in chalk-plaster, giving rise to its nickname: “The City of White”.
Today Popayan’s temperate climate and architecture continue to draw admirers.
This city is also well known for its Holy Week celebrations (February and March) and a world-class gastronomic festival (September).
These events inspired two separate UNESCO declarations, one honoring the city’s culinary traditions and the other its Easter Week processions.
Santiago de Cali
Colombia’s third largest city, Santiago de Cali lies on the Cauca Valley’s steamy western edge. Caleños work hard and play hard—this major industrial and export hub is also the country’s Salsa capital.
Dancing in Cali is serious business—competitive, dynamic, and sophisticated.
The passion inherent in this style may help explain Cali’s role in establishing Colombia’s reputation for exceptionally beautiful people.
Among Cali’s other attractions are:
- The San Antonio District’s fine collection of colonial architecture;
- An excellent museum of pre-Columbian gold;
- Two famous fútbol (soccer) teams; and
- A well-managed zoological park, highlighting Colombia’s native species.
Popayan’s average monthly high temperatures hover around 75ºF, with overnight lows nearing 55ºF.
The wet season extends from October to May, with several months seeing average precipitation of seven inches or more.
Highs in Cali can reach above 85ºF in any month, with monthly rainfall rarely exceeding five inches.
Geting to Cali
Cali’s Palmaseca / Alfonso Bonilla Aragón Airport (CLO) is the principal air gateway to this region, linking the city with:
- Bogota (1 hour)
- Cartagena (1.5 hours)
- Medellin (50 minutes)
International connections are available to Quito (75 minutes), Panama City (1.5 hours), and Miami (just under four hours).
In contrast, Cali is warm and humid year-round.
When you travel with LANDED, our team of travel experts and network of local contacts are at your service. We’ll handle the details, freeing you to savor the moments. Call us today at 801.582.2100. Dream big. We’ve got you.
“When your heart speaks, take good notes.”
GO WITH LANDED.
Could not have been more pleased. This was the trip of a lifetime for our family. Thank you!
IF YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL.
What an amazing adventure we have had. Many thanks to you for putting it together. The whole rhythm of the trip was perfect, and leaving one place for the next worked perfectly. This trip definitely made me want to experience other great spots in South America as the people have been wonderful and the places incredible. Wish we had a month to really explore. Everybody in the family had a great life experience. Thanks again!
One of our best trips ever, made excellent by LANDED’s attention to detail. When planning the trip our travel planner listened to us carefully, asked the right questions, and customized the trip to have just the right balance of adventure and city sights for us. The guides, drivers, and “handlers” were superb. The hotels were top notch. We felt relaxed and pampered all the way. Will definitely look to LANDED to plan our next trip to South America.
Absolutely amazing. Thanks again John. Carlos was the best guide I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Top notch talent.
We returned yesterday from our trip and I wanted to let you know that it was absolutely amazing! There is not a single thing on the itinerary that we would change. The guides were knowledgeable, friendly, and prompt. The hotels were beautiful, the food delicious and the pace of the activities was perfect for us. Thank you so much for making our trip such a fantastic experience.
In short, our trip was amazing, and, as we had hoped, the Inca civilization was fascinating to us. Thanks so much for your constant assistance and thorough planning.
The planning, service and execution of the trip was flawless – thank you for making it perfect!
LANDED’s services were excellent. You were helpful and knowledgeable, making our trip a memorable one. I will use your services in the future as I continue to explore Central & South America.
It was like being in a very well organized dream. Your patience with my questions and concerns during the planning stage was remarkable.
I’ve never had such great service from a tour operator. Not only were you a great help on the planning-insuring that I was staying at the right places and enjoying the type of activities we love-but the follow up was incredible. Your team checked in with us several times during the trip to confirm that everything was going well, and that the guides you assigned were satisfying us. It’s one thing to get a “thank you card” or a “hope your trip was great” note after you’re back, but to insure that it’s going well during the trip is a welcome first! I look forward to working with you again on a another trip.
You actually got to know us, which made it possible to know just what we like. You promised the best trip ever and you kept your promise.
The entire trip was amazing. Both the hotel & restaurant recommendations were well thought out and helped us thoroughly enjoy our honeymoon.
LANDED is like the ultimate virtual guide, suggesting the high points and helping us get the most out of a week’s time.
We had a great time, and didn’t miss anything. We zip-lined, rafted, sailed and surfed. The contacts and drivers were professional and courteous. We don’t want to be back at work. Thank you for all of the work you did to set up this trip.