While it may not have the looks to front the tourist brochure, Cali is the kind of place that provides all the substance. It’s a hot, gritty city with a passion for life that draws you in and stays with you long after you leave town.
It is not an easy place to get to know – tourism doesn’t seem to be high on anyone’s agenda here – but if you make the effort you will find great nightlife, good restaurants and plenty to do, especially in the evening, when a cool mountain breeze dissipates the heat of the day.
Cali is rich in Afro-Colombian heritage; nowhere is the nation’s racial diversity and harmony more apparent. From the impoverished barrios to the slick big clubs, everyone is moving to one beat, and that beat is salsa. Music here is more than entertainment, it is a unifying factor that ties the city together.
Cali’s cheerful nature is manifested in salsa, a Caribbean rhythm that is danced here among the sugarcane in its own unique way. In this city, nicknamed “Branch of Heaven,” the peaks of Cristo Rey, the hill of the Three Crosses, and the hills of San Antonio jut upwards from the plains that make up most of Valle del Cauca.
Top sights in Cali
Cerro de las Tres Cruces
Three crosses high in the mountains overlooking the city. The views are spectacular and the hike up here is a popular outdoor activity among health-conscious caleños. It’s best to come early on weekends when there’s a crowd and don’t bring any valuables – the area is isolated and robberies are not uncommon.
La Ermita Church
Overlooking the Río Cali, this striking neo-Gothic church houses the 18th-century painting of El Señor de la Caña (Lord of the Sugarcane); many miracles are attributed to the image.
Cristo Rey is a statue 26 meters tall located in the Cerro de los Cristales (Hill of the Crystals) in the village of Los Andes, west of the city of Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia. The hill is so named because of the large amount of quartz that could be collected in the surrounding area.
On Sunday October 25, 1953, the statue was inaugurated at its summit an image of Christ in celebration of the fifty years following the end of the War of a Thousand Days. It is made of iron and concrete, with a mass of 464 tons and a height of 26 m, of which 5m belong to the pedestal.
Zoologico de Cali
The Zoo belongs to a foundation that carries its name and whose mission, since it took the zoo’s administration in 1981, has been to improve the animals’ diet, their natural environment, and the medical care of the existing fauna.
Cali Zoo promotes and performs different educational, recreational and investigative programs.
The Cali Zoo’s 10 hectares (25 acres) are home to about 1,200 animals, representing some 180 species – from lemurs to condors. The Cali River runs through the zoo’s park-like grounds.
What to eat in Cali?
A Mixture Of Fruit (Bananas, Strawberries, Grapes, Mango, Pineapple, Etc.), Condensed Milk, Sweet Syrup, And Ice.
Blancmange Is Made From Milk And Sugar, Simmered Until Solidified.
Pandebono Is Bread Made From Cassava Flour And Cheese.
This Creamy Dish Is Prepared With Sausage, Pork, And Yellow Potatoes.