This region is named so because it is located in the vicinity of the Andes chain, the longest mountain range in the world. The chain enters the country in the south, at the boundary with Ecuador, and divides into several axes that cross the country vertically. Creating a rugged topography, the Andes landscape appears as towering peaks covered with snow, plains and Andean forests, and swampy valleys.
This diverse landscape hides an extraordinary wealth of exotic flora and fauna, many of which don’t exist anywhere else. Take a trek into the Columbian Andes in the dry season (December to March), where although the tropical climate may prove sticky, you’re likely to spot spectacular animals such as the Magdalena giant glass frog, the Colombian woolly monkey, and an array of colourful hummingbirds and parrots.
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The Andean region is Columbia’s most populated area, housing around 75% of its inhabitants, and is also the most important in terms of economic and industrial development. The region contains most of the country’s urban centres, including the cities Bucaramanga, Cúcuta, and the capital Bogotá. The 10 departments of the region are: Antioquia, Boyaca, Caldas, Cundinamarca, Huila, Norte de Santander, Quindio, Risaralda, Santander and Tolima.
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The capital Bogotá is one of the largest cities in Latin America. With a staggering array of museums and libraries, the city has the reputation of ‘The Athens of South America’, and is a great place for lovers of art and culture to explore. The historical centre of La Candelaria is a haven of beautiful architecture, magnificent hotels, and is packed with charming hostels for those travelling on a budget.
Sights to see in Bogotá include the botanical garden, the flea market at Usaquen, the salt cathedral, and the national observatory and planetarium. A must-visit is the Cerro Monserrate, which gives visitors a fantastic view over the whole city – reach this by cable car or funicular.
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No wonder Bucaramanga is called ‘City of Parks’ – it has over 160 parks scattered across its streets. Due to all its greenery, Bucaramanga is a beautiful place to visit, both inside and around the city limits. Apart from an array of museums and cathedrals to explore, the area is a popular choice for paragliders, with the Ruitoque mesa providing an ideal launch point. Also located just outside the city, Chicamocha National Park is an excellent spot to visit, with stunning scenery and a plethora of activities on offer, including bushwalking, camping, rafting, kayaking and mountain climbing.
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The city of Cúcuta is located in the Cordillera Oriental - the widest branch of the Colombian Andes – and also right on the border with Venezuela. Cúcuta has an enormous cultural presence, with plenty of art exhibitions and museums to explore, plus glorious city parks. Cúcuta is also renowned for its excellent restaurants and cafes – be sure to sample some of their famous coffee, or even the fiery Aguardiente. A must-visit if you are a history fan is the nearby House of Santander – a museum documenting the life of Colombian hero Francisco de Paula Santander.
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