A beautiful city and misinformation
Driving from Pasto to Popayán
The drive from Pasto to Popayán was cozy and the climate was milder again, as it was rather cool in Pasto. When we finally arrived, we headed towards the old town and were very impressed with the historic core. Popayán is in excellent condition, the buildings are well maintained and pedestrians have plenty of space. Popayán is a perfect destination for a few days Colombia holiday.
As fast as we thought, we still did not reach our destination. A police checkpoint within the old town stopped us. We were told that due to “Pico y Placa” we are not allowed to drive the city center with our car number. There is one exception, however. If you come from outside the region, this rule does not apply. The friendly policeman therefore demanded the receipts received for the paid road fees. After 15 minutes we were able to continue our remaining distance of 50m.
We explored the city center and immediately felt very comfortable. The climate was very mild and perfect for wandering around the historic buildings without a jacket. We felt welcome in the city dominated by white color. The next day we inspected the obligatory hotels and visited local tour operators and had an exchange with the authorities and the tourism managers. During the talks, our attention was directed to a park, which is about an hour away. We were told that the park was very nice, but there were always conflicts with the local indigenous people. To get a picture ourselves, we wanted to visit the park the next day.
Puracé: The land of the condor
After an hour’s drive and breakfast on the way, we met with a young sympathetic Indio and made a short visit to the village and the nearby waterfall. We learned that the local indigenous live very harmoniously with nature and they want to share the area in a sustainable way with visitors, but do not primarily cultivate a pecuniary interest. Therefore, an access restriction was introduced, which limits the daily number of visitors. The conflicts with the travel agencies arose, because they did not respect the limits, because the profit maximization stands in the foreground. With this knowledge we will coordinate our visits directly with the indigenous community and limit our cooperation with the travel providers in Popayán.
On the same day we wanted to continue our Colombia travel further to Cali, with a short detour to Silvia. In Silvia we quickly found inhabitants who informed us about the local conditions and a local guide accompanied us to a fish farm, which is located outside of Silvia. Due to the folklore tradition, the village has many visitors, but the locals are not very happy about it. Apparently Silvia is visited by busloads full of tourists. We have been told that within an hour, the visitors seem to snap everything and everyone without asking for permission. Instead of consuming in coffees or restaurants or local shops, the hordes would leave as quickly as they came. Corresponding talks with the tour operators about this situation were apparently only met with incomprehension.
For me, Popayan is a Colombian destination with huge potential. Foreign tourists are seen only sporadically so far. The city is comparable to the beauty of Cartagena. When you travel to Colombia, in Popayán you can spend a few days with in mild climate. In addition, the region offers nice day trips.
Blog Frank Spitzer