From the jagged peaks of the Andes Mountains to the vast, sandy beaches of the Pacific coast, the ever-changing landscapes of Valle del Cauca provide an idyllic backdrop to one of Colombia’s most important agricultural sectors. and the region’s undeniable beauty and tropical climate draw a steady stream of tourists all year round.
The obvious starting point for exploring Valle del Cauca is the state capital of Cali, from where many of the region’s attractions can be visited on a day tour. The countryside surrounding the city is largely agricultural, with sugarcane, coffee and cocoa plantations sprawling through the fertile Andean valleys and lining the banks of the Cauca River. Highlights include the town of Buga, a popular pilgrimage site and home to a number of impressive churches; the Hacienda el Paraíso, former home of Colombian writer Jorge Isaacs; and the colonial town of Popayán, but the region is also dotted with natural parks, reservoirs and lakes, making it a top choice for outdoor activities and wildlife spotting.
Heading west toward the coast, the lush valleys give way to stretches of tropical rain forest, unspoiled coastline and sandy beaches lined with palm trees. Colombia’s largest seaport, Buenaventura, is the main hub and despite its less-favorable reputation for drug smuggling, makes a popular starting point for exploring the ruggedly beautiful Pacific coast.