Well, yesterday we brought you seven aspects of Colombia we personally were suprised to find when we got here. Being the lazy sods, we threw it over to you to make it a nice round ten. The ever-helpful Steph of Discovering Ice fame rocketed right back with not one, not three, but FOUR more amazing places around these parts that´l make even the ¨least goggy person, well, agog. Thanks to Steph´s expertise, we thought we´d give you guys a BONUS ROUND of surprising sights, by imparting Steph´s wisdom, and three more of our own, just to show how utterly unpredictable and incredible this little old place is…
The Salt Cathedral, Zipaquira.
It´s kinda famous (around these parts at least), but that doesn´t stop it being completely unexpected and inexplicable. Some people would look at a hole they´d just taken a whole bunch of salt out of, and think, ¨hmmm… seems to be some kind of hole.¨ Not the good citizens of that wonderfully-named town, Zipaquira, just outside of Bogota. No, no: they thought, ¨what a great place to build a cathedral.¨ And so they did. Even though there´s reportedly a bigger one in Poland (how is ¨biggest salt cathedrals?¨even a category), it´s nowhere near as pretty.
50 kilometres out in the Pacific Ocean, Gorgona Island was cut off from the rest of the world for millenia, which explains the rich and exotic flora and fauna that has thriven here, including the Brown Booby. Its remoteness led to an impenetrable prison being built there in the 60s. After the prison was closed in the 80s, it was justly named a Natural National Park, with some of the old prison buildings converted into visitor´s centres. It still remains cut off, only accessible by boat, keeping the boobies and their companions relatively safe.
Santa Cruz del Islote.
I bet you didn´t know that the most densely populated island in the world is a Caribbean island off the Colombian coast. Santa Cruzians just can´t get enough of the pristine surrounds, so much so that they don´t mind living cheek-by-jowl in it. Crazy!
While we´re on the topic of world-beaters, the title for the Wettest Place on Earth is proudly owned by the good people of Choco. Not only blessed with plenty of the wet stuff, Choco has a proudly unique Pacific culture and nothing less than stunning environments, something that helped make their favourite children, ChocQuib Town, such an exciting group.
The Green Lagoon.
The National Natural Park surrounding the Green Lagoon in Nariño is just the Lagoon Gods showing off: ¨Look at the colours I know.¨ There´s a Crystal Lagoon, a Black Lagoon, and, of course, the Pizza of Resistance, Laguna Verde. Colombia seems to be pretty good at creating unexpected alien landscapes, and she has excelled again here. Ethereal billows of sulphur gust past you on your hike, until you´re finally confronted with the semi-active (but safe, I´m assured) Sulphur Volcano, backdropping the Green Lagoon, with its little natural footspas and eerie emerald hue. Colombia continues to suprise.
Rusty desert hills meeting the ocean, the semi-autonomous Wayuu living their own indigenous way; La Guajira is nothing like Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, or anything you would ever expect in this country. If you´ve made it here, you´ve made it to the tip of South America, and something like the edge of the world. Something you´ll never forget.
Let´s play a word association game. What do you think of when I say Colombia? Coffee? Sure. Shakira, Fair enough. Salsa, OK, probably. Whales? Not really the first thing that comes to mind, right?
Colombia´s actually got some of the best places to watch humpback whales mucking around in the world. Get in a little boat just off Bahia Solano, in the aforementioned Choco, around this time, and you´ll get as close as you´d ever like to these giants. Unexpected.