Quito Ecuador 123rf

Discover Quito, Ecuador’s Capital City

Ecuador’s capital is a city that scales many heights, not least in terms of elevation. Quito is an intriguing mix of old and new: colonial squares and concrete office blocks, traditional markets and modern malls, indigenous artisans and fashion-conscious professionals—and this diversity allows visitors to have the best of both worlds.

View from the path to Laguna Verde. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking to Laguna Verde

The hike up to Colombia’s sulfurous Laguna Verde, a dazzling, emerald green crater lake on the north side of the dormant Volcán Azufral, is easy to make from Pasto. A sacred site for the Pasto indigenous people, the volcano is part of the Nudo de los Pastos mountain range and requires some preparation and an afternoon to scale.

A rainy trip on the Amazon. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Planning Your Time in the Colombian Amazon and Los Llanos

The main draw in both the Colombian Amazon and Los Llanos is the unique natural landscapes and the magnificent wildlife inhabiting them. Learn about these vast territories, the way of life there, what to see and do, and most importantly, how to plan your time to take in as much as you can of these amazing areas.

A wooden cart and motorbike ferry passengers on train tracks near San Cipriano, Colombia.

The Little Witches of San Cipriano

A popular day trip from Cali is to take a ride on the brujitas, literally “little witches,” of San Cipriano. Train tracks run through the two villages of Córdoba and San Cipriano, and since trains rarely pass, local entrepreneurs saw an opportunity; wooden carts set upon the tracks now zip along on an incredibly unique 30-minute journey.

Réveillon in Trancoso. Photo © Robert Miguel (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Brazil’s Many Festas

Brazilians’ fame for merrymaking is not an exaggeration. Carnaval is a spectacular example, but the year is filled with fantastic events–and many of them are quite different from Carnaval. Here’s what to expect from each celebration along with when and where they’re held.

Parque Gran Colombiano. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Where to Go in Norte de Santander, Colombia

In the department of Norte de Santander, visitors are drawn to Pamplona, a charming and cool highland town that was important during the colonial era, and Cúcuta, a large, boiling hot commercial city and gateway to Venezuela. Here are notable sights, highlights, and things to do.

2,000 Colombian pesos note. Photo © Fibonacci (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

A Practical Guide to Money in Colombia

When planning foreign travel, knowing the ins and outs of practical day-to-day money matters counts. Familiarizing yourself with the local currency and general exchange rates is key, as is knowing how to access your money, common methods of payment, and even banking laws and tipping customs. Here’s what you need to know to make your travels easy in Colombia.

The mariposario (enclosed butterfly garden) at the Jardín Botánico del Quindío. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Colombia’s Jardín Botánico del Quindío

Outside the town of Armenia, the well-run Jardín Botánico del Quindío is home to hundreds of tree and plant species, many of which are threatened. Knowledgeable volunteer guides lead visitors on a mandatory 2.5-hour tour along jungle paths pointing out plants, trees, and birds visitors would otherwise miss.

Iglesia La Ermita in Cali. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Sights in Popayán’s Centro Histórico, Colombia

Popayán is a dignified city, proud of its place in history and its enduring colonial charm. Idyllic churches and museums are the main places of interest in Popayán, but lingering in the Parque Caldas on a sunny afternoon or strolling the lonely streets on a Sunday evening may be what you remember most.

The colorful pools of Caño Cristales. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking Caño Cristales, Colombia

Here in the remote Llanos, you’ll be rewarded as you trek through the stark lowland hills of the Serranía de la Macarena, with its unusual dry tropical vegetation, and behold the vibrant purple, fuchsia, goldenrod, and green Macarenia clavigera plants swaying in the gushing streams of Caño Cristales.