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The city of Cali

The year round tropical warm city of Cali (Santiago de Cali) is the third largest city in Colombia. A fairly new city established in 1536 in the Cauca Valley by Spanish conqueror Sebastian de Belalcazar, who came with Columbus on his third voyage to the Americas in 1498. But It wasn’t until the 1950’s, when Cali managed to take control over the rivers and make irrigation systems in the valley, before the city really started to grow. The city’s official count is now more than 2,2 million inhabitants, but that’s without counting the outskirts and the, in sharp contrast to the rest of the modern city, so-called “invaciones” on the valley slopes (shack towns).

Cali is probably most famous for its  “Calena” women (some say the most beautiful women in the world), its buzzing nightlife and you might also know the city as the salsa capital of South America.

But besides the rumba (salsa party), taking salsa lessons and going people watching, there are plenty of other things to do and see in Cali.

 

Culture

 

Cali offer many sites of cultural interest, which include the old colonial church of San Antonio from where you get a great view of the city. The Sebastian de Belalcazar monument, Museo de Oro, a walk along the Cali river with its original bridges, the Ermita Church, Parque del Gato and the current local government building. There’s also the museum of modern art, Catedral San Pedro, Teatro Municipal and Plaza Caicedo right in the center of the city.
 
 
If you’re into long hikes its a nice one hour hike from the north of the city up to Las Tres Cruces visible high above the city on a mountain top or you can take a bus or taxi to Cristo Rey on a mountain top further south for a similar spectacular view of the valley.
 
 

 

Activities

  • Cali zoo - the best in South America according to Lonely Planet.
  • Soccer match – go the the Cali stadium to watch a soccer game and enjoy the atmosphere among enthusiastic champion team “Americas” fans
  • Casino – visit one of Cali’s many casinos and try you luck!
  • Spanish lessons – take a course at one of several Spanish institutes or we can help you set up private lessons with a professional teacher.
  • Salsa classes – take some private classes before heading out into the nightlife. Ask at the hostel for recommended teachers.
  • Chiva bus – party on a traditional Colombian bus build into a full blown bar with DJ, dance floor and drinks on board.
  • Rural tours – the tourist office offers rural tours in minibus to small villages and scenic spots around Cali. Check for availability.
  • Bowling alley - try the non-automatic bowling alley to hit some strikes or the guy at the end ;-)
  • Butterfly farm – visit the amazing butterfly farm Andore and see huge colorful native Colombian butterflies.
  • Work-out – enjoy work-out among beautiful Colombians with a special Casa Blanca discount.

 

Shopping

In Colombia you can get everything, so if you need to stock up on anything before heading south to Ecuador, north to Panama or east to Venezuela, you might want to check out some of Cali’s many huge shopping mall’s. The biggest being Chipichape in the north, followed by Unicentro, Jardin plaza, Centenario, Unico, Carrefoure, Exito, La 14 and more…

If you want cheap no-brand/copy imports without tax, you need to go the hectic city center. And there’s a huge Electronic mall with more than a 100 shops selling the latest gadgets on Av. 5a, Calle 23.

 

Bars

Cali have recently applied a curfew for bars and clubs inside the city limit. This means that all establishments have to stop selling alcohol by 1.30 a.m. and close by 2.00, so party starts early. But it continues outside the city in a couple of sectors with many salsatecs/clubs. In the north of the city you’ll find the sector “Menga” and east of the city its called “Juancito”. Here the party will continue until you drop!