In the north of Colombia lays Valledupar known as the Capital of Music Vallenato. In this blog, I write about what there is to do in the region and where to go hiking in the beautiful surroundings of Valledupar.
Where is Valledupar?
It is a city and municipality in the northeastern of Colombia. Valledupar is the center of the vallenato music and is the place to know everything about the traditions of the vallenato. The most authentic music in the country. In this beautiful region, there are indigenous communities in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Serranía del Perijá. This gives the area a unique cultural richness.
The old colonial buildings are dating back to 1600: the Alfonso López Pumarejo square and the churches of La Concepción and the Rosario Cathedral.
Passing the Hurtadao bridge on the Guatapurí river is the Sirena and the Lineal park where the Pueblito Vallenato is located and where you can learn about the ancestral customs of the region.
The flag of Valledupar is made with blue color (symbolizes waters of the rivers and the sky of the region ), the white one, the perpetual snows on the mountains in the Sierra Nevada, red, the blood that the aborigines shed in defending their race.
Balneario La Mina, a natural pool that forms on the Badillo River. 40 km above the road that leads to the Atánquez district. You can drive there in the car, and it is about a one hour drive. The water comes straight out of the mountains, and it is lovely to swim in the river. The natural rock formations are amazing. Also, a beautiful village to visit in Pueblo Bello is a pleasant drive from Valledupar to this lovely village in the mountains.
One of the greatest tourist attractions of the city is the Vallenato Legend Festival; this is held every year at the end of April in the Parque de la Leyenda Vallenata Consuelo Araújo Noguera. It is essential to make your hotel reservation early because everything will be full this season.
The Livestock Fair of Valledupar finds a place in the second half of the year an held annually, and it is an open market where farmers of the region come, and musical groups are playing.
In the surroundings of the city, there are indigenous populations of cultural interest, such as Nabusímake.
Snow from the jungle
Less than 45 kilometers away from the Caribbean Colombian beaches there is a beautiful, icy landscape with rising snow. The two highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are Colon and Bolívar, at 5,775 meters above sea level, some say the first is one meter longer than the last.
Hiking Sierra Nevadas and see the glaciers
The peak is named after Christopher Columbus.
The Pico Cristobal Colón is the fifth most prominent highest mountain in the world and was first climbed in 1939 by W. Wood, A. Bakerwell, and E. Praolini.
The adventure starts with the car in the city of Valledupar and continues to San Sebastián, a city with the indigenous population of Arhuaco. From there you can walk along the paths, lakes, and glaciers up to 3000 meters above the sea level. If the mountain becomes too steep, good mountaineering equipment and experience are needed, but it is not easy to travel on to it because it also requires a permit and permission from the local population. The mountain is considered sacred and is not accessible to tourists, but you can visit the mountain village Nabusímake and ask from there.
Is it safe to visit?
This remote mountain range has been difficult to access for years due to guerrillas, narco-traffickers, and reclusive Indian tribes, but now the conditions have been improved, and the region is getting economically better and safe and stable for tourism. The same situation is with Cuidad Perdido, years ago it was impossible to visit, but now tourists groups are daily visiting the area. A mountaineering group went in the mountains in December 2015 to attend the Pico Colon and succeeded in making the first ascent of the highest peak, for many years.
Hiking Sierra Nevadas – snow from the jungle
Where does it snow in Colombia?
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is one of the greatest wonders that Colombia has to offer in the area of the Andes, and this one of the most northerly mountain ranges in South America. The mountain ranges are permanently snow-capped, and with permission, it is possible for experienced mountaineers to hike up and down these mountains. Usually, the snow accumulates for about one-fifth of winter days and has at least an inch of snow on the ground. The storm mostly gathers during December and January. On one or two days in January and in December, the snow gets to five or more inches deep. When I left Cartagena going back to Aruba with Avianca, we passed the Sierra Nevada, and I made a beautiful video and photos of the mountains. I knew the area because I was there for two months and now it was lovely to see it from the sky view.
Snow on the Caribbean coast
Colombia is full of incredible destinations; ancient ruins in the forest like Cuidad Perdido and jungle-covered beaches where whales are leaping from the ocean and fascinating bio marine life in the area of Santa Marta to go diving and snorkeling.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is a magical destination where the beauty of nature and the indigenous people come together. Every step taken in this area is a meeting with the unique beauty of this nature reserve. It is one of the highest mountainous areas in South America.
The region has all weather conditions, from very hot and dry to the eternal snow, whose meltwater feeds the creeks of lakes and rivers from 3000 meters above sea level downwards. Countless birds, more than 550 different species, and howling monkeys live along the 29 most important rivers of the Sierra, such as the Buritaca were you can visit the monkeys and go with a boot upriver.
UNESCO declared in 1979 the Sierra Nevada, a biosphere reserve and a world heritage because of the ecosystems with countless life forms and different indigenous communities. This impressive mountain range is located in the north of Colombia and covers parts of the departments of Cesar, Magadelana, and La Guajira.
The indigenous people of the Sierra
The Tayrona culture inhabited from the beginning of Sierra Nevada, and they maintain their traditions, and they are one with nature.
They are the Kogis, Wiwas, Arhuacos, Kankuamos and Wayúu.
The Kogi community is in the north part of the Sierra, between the valleys of the Palomino, Don Diego, San Miguel, and the Ancho rivers.
The meaning of «Wiwa» is warm, and they lower, more temperate part of the country in the department of Cesar, close La Guajira.
They were living south of the Sierra in the higher valleys of the Piedras, San Sebastián, Chichicua, Ariguaní, and the Guatapurí rivers. The capital is Nabusimake and is located in the central area. They speak a language that belongs to the Chibcha family. Nabusimake is also the leaving point to go higher in the mountains to see the snow glaciers.
They live on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, in the Cesar department.
This community is from La Guajira,
Tutu iku in Ika language is a fashionable Colombian artisan bag made by the Arhuaco people of the Sierra Nevada. In recent years, the bags have turned into a cultural symbol for Colombian identity.
The richness of the Sierra Nevada offers the indigenous people the materials needed to create objects of beauty such as the Tayona shoulder bags, which symbolize the creation of life. The indigenous women weave them with cotton, sisal, and wool, and they have lovely colors.
Materials such as coconut, tree bark, seeds, wood, and tagua. Tagua is vegetable ivory for its resemblance to animal ivory. This is a product made from the very hard white endosperm of the seeds of individual palm trees, the Latin name is Phytelephas or elephant plant, what is native to South America
Also, bones and snail houses are used to make earrings, necklaces, bracelets and creative decorations,
Another craft is making sandals and belts from leather and the sombrero vueltiao, the typical hat of the Colombian Caribbean.
Decorative accessories made from stone and clay, such as ceramic pots, plates and spoons, and the totumo, pumpkin-like fruit, when dried, it can be shaped to a bowl and be used for decoration and for eating and drinking.
A beautiful store where you can order these articles is and support the local people is found in the Sonesta Hotel Valledupar.
One of the most significant iconic trekking experience is visiting the Lost City or Cuidad Perdida and takes place within the forest and beautiful valleys. You can read more about this trek when you click on the letters of this text
I hope you liked my blog and the given visuals which inspire you to visit and enjoy Valledupar and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and in all it’s mysterious and unique glory.
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Rio Guatapuri, Valledupar