Caño Cristales-an Experience Out Of This World
Colombia is one of the mystical countries I have been to. For a country that that runs through the equator the weather is hot and sticky in the low- lying coastal regions. One of its coasts looks over the Pacific Ocean while the other is washed by the Caribbean Sea. It has many extremes of landscape and climate. In September of 2011 I was able to visit this bustling country which is home to many groups of Native Americans. For six months I worked there as a consultant for an advertising agency in Villavicencio, Colombia. On weekends I toured the city and its surrounding attractions with my fellow workmates. Living there in comfort, enjoying the scenic spots and getting to interact with the kind locals made my stay in Colombia an enjoyable and memorable one.
In my first week I visited an enchanting park called the Caño Cristales National Park. It is a place in the Sierra de la Macarena that lies along the eastern plains of Colombia where the river has many colors. This spectacular place is one of the best ways to connect with nature. In my view it is one of the most beautiful rivers in the world. It is crystal clear fresh water with different colors due to the formation of the algae. The colors bloom mostly from September to December on this natural wonder. Around this time the river presents itself in a symphony of color combinations of blue, red, green, blue, yellow and black. The changing colors are really a sight to behold in the middle of forest and nature. This waterfall with wildlife multi diversity offers visitors a unique and memorable experience in the middle of its colorful algae rivers. The scenery is amazing, the encounter with nature, the colors of the river, and the tranquility of the place are great food for the spirit. This glass pipe of algae enjoys the most endemic species of flora and fauna that can only be found on its rivers. It is something really wonderful that I recommend visiting.
While I was there I had a great time seeing wildlife animals at Bioparque Los Ocarros. It is a well kept park where the animals are in good condition. A very nice park that is kid-friendly. This ecological park and rides between the rivers is a must. Admission is cheap and there are ready guides to explain the value of its animals. It is home to its famous resident, the Ocarro a giant armadillo that can only be found along the Orinoco region. The bio-park is host to other endemic wildlife species that is common in Colombia. In the afternoon, I find time to stroll and enjoy a cup of Cholao (ice cream) along the benches of the Obelisco Alto de Menegua. It is a family park lined with restaurants and makeshift stalls that sells fresh produce of the local farms in Villavicencio. I also did not miss seeing live cowboy action at the Parque Las Malocas. It is a rodeo themed park that has amusing skeletal statues on its park grounds to pose pictures with. Inside this attraction they have a farm full of peacocks and chickens. The cowboy show in the afternoon packs in most of the crowds as two horse riders chase a bull around the rodeo grounds.
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For a good amusement experience, the Parque La Llanura Sikuani does not fail one’s hunger for fun and adventure. Walking around the park gave me an impression how much Colombians value their being physically fit and healthy. It has a workout gym with complete exercise equipments, wall scaling activities, a huge tennis court and a tube slide swimming pool. For kids and family they have a huge amusement park lined with a good selection rides that would surely delight the young and old alike. It has safe toboggan rides, small Ferris wheel, colorful carousel, fun train ride around the park and a huge playground for kids. On my free weekend I enjoy having a leisure time at the Parque de Los Fundador. The imposing park lies at the entrance of the city. It is one of the most beautiful and large park with large green areas for recreation and play. Shopping and cinema is what I enjoy most at the Centro Commercial Unicentro Villavicencio. It is one of the prominent malls that have ten theaters and auditorium for social events and concerts. I enjoyed watching the Japanese anime “Naruto” with English subtitles in one of its cinemas.
A week before our assignment in Colombia was over we have time to enjoy a road trip to the nearby Boyaca Department. The journey was long but it was all worth it. We were totally captured by the charm of the serene lake at Laguna de Tota. It is a three thousand meter lake perfect for relaxing and watching the scenery. I like the mix of magical scenery, color of the water, sky, crops and nature around this lake. We enjoyed a delicious trout being served at one of the restaurants surrounding the lake. This place is truly wonderful. On our stay at the hotel we had a chance to join a fisherman for an early dawn fishing adventure on the lake. We also swam at the beaches found in the Aquitaine village called the Playa Blanca (White Beach). It is a nice beach with soft white sands and waves that brings the winds and ideal camping areas. It is complete in amenities like restaurants, hotels and clean toilets fronting the beautiful waters of the lake. This natural wonder in the middle of the mountains is ideal for families who enjoy a BBQ party, boating in the lake and a bonfire at night. We had a good and enjoyable stay at one of the hotels around the lake.
I had a deeper understanding of Colombian history after a visit to the Puente de Bayoca (Field of Boyaca). Arriving at noon we were just in time to see the changing of the guards and I admired the solemnity of their presentation. It is a compulsory place to visit when one is in the Boyaca region. This field is the scene of the most important battles for the independence of Colombia. On this huge field they have built many monuments to commemorate their historic victory of independence on August 7, 1819. It is known as the Battle of Bayoca that granted full freedom from their conquerors. Apart from its beautiful scenery and a special memorial, this historical site provides a good way to educate the future generations especially the kids to make them aware who fought hard to give freedom to this country in the 18th century. The concrete bridge plays an important part of history for every Colombian. This park is very well organized; clean and well maintained even the statues are all in very good condition. The eternal flame in honor of the heroes of the country gets lighted during night time when most people, couples and families stroll and linger on its park grounds.
Having visited its famous pipe of seven colors (Caño Cristales) and exploring all the other attractions near and far from it has made me appreciate nature and history. The myth to see the barrel of the seven colors is true as I have witnessed it with my own eyes. However, what obscures the beauty of their landscape is the heavy presence of the excessive military forces in the area. As it is located in a red zone area, it is recommended not to take pictures on government establishments and unexplored areas. The country still earned my respect as it prides itself on preserving their interesting history and brave fighting spirit. It is a paradise lost that is worth seeing.
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