Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia

Cartagena de Indias is a port city and the capital of Bolívar Department, Colombia. It is located on the northern coast of the country, at the edge of the Caribbean Sea, about 120 km from Barranquilla. It has been very important to the Spanish Empire for almost three centuries; it was also a center for the slave trade itself as well as the transit of gold from looting destined for Spain. The city and its fortress are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. There are several fortifications such as the fortress of San Felipe de Barajas and its twelve kilometers of ramparts. The historic center is inside the ramparts. It has a semi-arid tropical climate. To see: the San José Bastion, the San Fernando Fort of Bocachica, the Church of Santo Domingo, the Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, the Gold Museum, the Church of Saint Peter Claver and the sanctuary with the relics of the saint. It is a very touristy city and also receives a lot of people thanks to the cruise ships. Most hotels, restaurants and shops are located in the Bocagrande area.

Tips

Avoid traveling in May-June or October-November as rain will be present.

Let yourself be charmed by the old colonial city, you will find many colorful and flowery balconies, monuments, even churches as small restaurants very pleasant.

For a lively night out, go to Santo Domingo Square, the perfect place to have a drink and mix with the city’s residents. You will also find a famous statue of Botero, the Gorda Gertrudis (the fat Gertrude).

If you like the beach, ask about visiting nearby islands either by land or with small excursion boats.

Salta, Argentina

Salta is a city in Argentina, capital of the province of the same name, located at the foot of the Andes in the fertile Lerma Valley at 1187 m. Thanks to its location, the city is well communicated with Bolivia and northern Chile. There is even a weekly flight that connects it to Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia). It is also an important agricultural region with several export products (cereals, sugar cane, tobacco, etc.). The city is an episcopal seat. There are two universities, museums and libraries. Renowned for its colonial architecture, known as Salta la linda (Salta the Beautiful). It is a tourist place of course. To see: the Cabildo (City Council building), the Cathedral and San Francisco Church.

Tips

If you want to get a spectacular view of the city and the Lerma Valley, go to the Cerro San Bernardo (Mount St-Bernard, 200m). If you are going to spend a few days in the city, do not miss the opportunity to take the Train of the Clouds which climbs the Andes Cordillera in the province of Salta, on a railroad with sections that exceed 4000 meters of altitude, a rather special walk in the area of the Puna arriving at the small village of San Antonio de los Cobres located at more than 3500m. If you have heart problems, breathing problems or are pregnant, this is not recommended. If you like grills, you will find restaurants called Asador where you can taste all the parts of the cow by eating excellent Argentinian meat. Do not leave without having tasted the typical empanadas that according to the region from which they come, change a little the recipe and their ingredients. The empanadas of Salta are among the most famous of the country.

 

Salinas Grandes, Jujuy and Salta, Argentina

The Salinas Grandes in Jujuy and Salta, Argentina, are a small salar or salt desert located on the high plateau of the provinces of Jujuy and Salta. The salar extends in fact to the southwest of the ‘Laguna de Guayatayoc’. It is an expanse area of salt in the form of hard crust, with a thickness of 30 centimetres. You can drive by car on its surface. It is dazzling whiteness, and almost always forms with the blue sky, a landscape of stunning beauty. A nice asphalt road leads directly onto 190 kilometers departing from San Salvador de Jujuy (national road 52). This road (Paso de Jama to Chile) passes through Purmamarca. It takes two hours in total. The Salinas Grandes is located at the small town of Abra de Potrerillo. It is the third salar in importance in South America. Their origin dates back to about 5-10 million years when the place had been covered completely by waters of a volcano. The evaporation of the liquid and its components through the time formed the salar.

Tips

You can visit the Salinas Grandes by yourself or through a local tourism operator. You will find tours departing from the cities of Jujuy and Salta and they generally make a stop to visit Purmamarca and see the ‘Cerro de siete colores’ (mountain of the seven colors) and to take advantage of its market of craft products.
If you decide to go by yourself by car, remember that it is an isolated area with very little villages on the way so have your tank full and carry water and food. Once there, you will find a restaurant.
Don’t forget to bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from so much brightness. Comfortable shoes are recommended.
If you go by yourself, you will have the explanation from the workers working on the spot. They are very friendly and welcoming as all the people of the region.

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