“Calima is just a lake,” one very ill-informed friend once told me.
“Just a lake? Just a lake!?” I said, in horror.
Oh no, Calima Lake is more than just a lake – it’s one of the largest man-made lakes in Colombia, it is a lux vacation spot, a great place for kite surfing and other water sports AND it is part of a hydroelectric plant created to generate power for the whole department of Valle de Cauca.
And it’s gorgeous. Just a lake? I don’t think so, dear friend.
On the banks of Calima, staggered up the hillside which surrounds it, are Euro-style chalets, small hotels and cozy cottages with inviting swimming pools. Calima is a destination and a pretty shwanky one at that. But if you want to rough it a bit you can camp on the banks of the lake, eating obleas with the locals.
Calima Lake is about three hours from Cali and the scenery along the trip is apparently stunning. Unfortunately, I’d had a big week and saw the drive as an opportunity to catch up on some Zs. Fail.
But I made up for missing out on the scenery on the way there with some gorgeous landscapes as we arrived.
People pulled up along the sides of the road in their cars to take snapshots of the immensity and beauty of the lake, the quaint buildings, the waterfall that trickles along the side of the mountain.
A Portuguese friend who I was travelling with commented, “This is a world-class destination.”
He sounded surprised, too surprised I would say.
“I was not expecting this.”
He’d only been in Colombia for a week though, so we’ll forgive him just this once.
It was pretty chilly on the day we visited Calima Lake so there was no chance any of us were going kite surfing, or going anywhere near the water for that matter. But if you have a couple of lazy hours to burn, head along to the ferry. It is gorgeous at sunset.
When you’re done at Calima Lake for the afternoon head to the closest town Darién. Here there are more hotels, a quiet square full of restaurants and day trippers and small shops with artisan goods and grilled food.
Calima lake, just a lake? I don’t think so. More like a world-class destination hidden in the hills of Colombia.