Meet Florencia, Colombia: the Golden Gate to the Colombian Amazonia
Florencia, Caqueta, is a city located in the foothills of the eastern Colombian Andes, by the Hacha river. Florencia is a humid and warm city, near the Amazon forest. It’s a paradisiacal place and a great spot for those who want to experience the beauty and magic of Colombian natural areas. Come with Colombiabybus and discover the tropical fauna and flora in the beautiful city of Florencia!
The Golden Gate to the Colombian Amazon
In recent years, Caqueta has experienced a touristic boom. Many factors have contributed to the increasing rate of visitors. First, the end of the armed conflict, which was particularly severe in the region. Second, the investments made by the local and national government, who want to make Florencia the Ecotouristic Capital of Colombia. However, it’s not only a national issue, as ecotourism has heavily increased in the world, and Colombia certainly has taken advantage of it. Lately, the city has built many hotels, resorts and apartments given the ever growing number of visitors. If you are planning to come to Florencia, you shouldn’t worry about hosting… there are many options available for all budgets.
Known as the Golden Gate to the Colombian Amazon, Florencia leads to many of Colombia’s natural wonders. The country is one of the most biodiverse in the world. Its water sources are some of the purest and most crystalline, as well as an important source of life. In Florencia, you can witness all of the natural beauty the Colombian Amazon has to offer.
As previously stated, the water is the most important resource in the tropical forest. In Florencia, its waterfalls and cascades are definitely the most beautiful spectacle. And there are many of them, such as Golondrinas, Nueva Jerusalen, La Avispa, Las Pailas and La Novia (outstanding as the most amazing). The plan is simple, you go to the cascade and admire it, swim or relax in their waters. If you feel more adventurous you can even climb or rappel in them.
The rivers are also good places to go. For the locals, going to the river can be a whole plan, bringing food and music to its shores. You can sail, kayak, camp or just hang in the rivers nearby. The shores of the Hacha or La Perdiz rivers are also good for trekking and animal watching. In the Moniya Amena road you can do some trekking, know the Amazon fruit orchards and camp. There’s a waterfall and some caves as well, so you can have a full experience there.
However, if you can, make sure you visit the Guacharos cave. Located in the National Park of Los Guacharos, named after a bird called guacharo, the caves are some amazing ecosystems, full of animals like monkeys, deers and tapirs. As many animals take refuge inside the caves, you must be careful. Always travel with a guide and be respectful with nature.
A modern and ancient city
Although Florencia is one of the youngest cities in Colombia (it’s barely one hundred years old) some of its buildings have a very interesting history. Its architecture mixes the classical republican style with some modern forms, giving the city an eclectic look. The first thing you should look for is the Curiplaya Building. It was practicably built with the city at the early XX century and it has served many purposes: it was a rubber shop, a slaughterhouse, a radio station, a hotel, a courthouse and the Town Hall. It currently hosts the Culture, Sport and Tourism Institute, as well as a handcrafts shop, some official buildings and a public library. It’s been declared as a National Heritage Building by the Ministry of Culture, restored and renamed as the Palace for Culture and Arts of the Amazon.
Also, if you like colonial architecture, you may want to visit the National Reserve building. Built in 1945, it is one of the best preserved buildings in the city. It currently holds some of the banks offices and a Cultural Area who serves as a small museum. Located in front of the city’s main square, Plaza Pizarro, they both constitute a set worth seeing. Some other buildings, such as the Casa Valencia or the Royal Plaza Hotel complete the picture of the historical city centre.
Modern architecture amidst the jungle
However, there are also some modern buildings that catch the eye. The Jorge Eliecer Gaitan theatre, for example, is one of them. A twelve-story onyx coloured tower built in 1984, it’s one of the highest buildings in the city. It usually serves as the main indoors event spot. The theatre is located next to the Town Hall Luis Hernando Turbay Turbay, a green and white building with a side mural depicting Florencia as the Ecotouristic city of Colombia.
The most emblematic modern structure, nevertheless, may be the Victoria Regia Building. Opened in 2002, the edification is property of COMFACA, a Family Compensation Fund in Florencia. It currently has the most modern multiplex in the city. Its rounded design and the glass frontage give the building a unique look.
Native American heritage in Florencia
One of the most important parts of Florencia is its indigenous heritage. Near the urban area of the city you can find the Huitoto Maloca, a native longhouse that serves as the gathering point for the tribe. In here, you can see the locals celebrating rituals, dancing and partying as their ancestors did. It’s a mesmerizing experience, as it’s one of the last remaining tribes in the Amazon rainforest in Colombia.
Huitotos, however, were not the first inhabitants of Caqueta. In the margins of the Hacha river you can find some well-preserved rock art dated hundreds of years old. The artworks, located in El Encanto, are friezes sculpted in rock which depict some of the animals in the region, as well as myths and rites. Their author, the Andaki tribe, disappeared from the region, leaving only these petroglyphs as a reminder of their existence.
La Voragine (The Vortex)
For those who love history and literature, Florencia may be familiar because of the Colombian novel La Voragine. Set in the 1930’s the book narrates the horrors of the rubber companies in the Peruvian and Colombian Amazon region. Its author, Jose Eustacio Rivera, was born in Rivera, Huila, near the Caqueta region. Its crude depiction of the rainforest may be compared to Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The above mentioned Curiplaya Building, for example, was once a rubber shop similar to the ones depicted in the novel. Even though it is a sad history, its importance for Colombian cultural landscape is undeniable.
If you want to get in touch with nature, walk, swim and rappel in the gates of the Amazon rainforest, Florencia is definitively your best option. Caqueta, with all its touristic landmarks and infrastructure will guarantee you a one of a kind experience. Come to Florencia and see by yourself the biodiversity, history and indigenous cultures of Colombia. You certainly won’t regret it!
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