The Upper Magdalena River Valley

If the Magdalena River could speak, it would boast of the countless riches that have been transported on its waters through the years. Shaped by the river, the Upper Magdalena River Valley runs from the lower extremes of the Andes, at the river’s source in Huila, to the well-preserved statues of San Agustín. It continues its run through the arid badlands of the Tatacoa Desert and past Nevado del Tolima, a mountain towering 5,200 meters (17,060 ft) over the departmental capital of Ibagué, before encountering the last navigable point from the coast inland, Honda.

Travelers to this area will be pleasantly surprised by the unique offerings in each town. Starting in Honda, known as both “the City of Bridges” and the “Cartagena of the Interior” (thanks to its narrow colonial streets), venture on to Ibagué, Colombia’s music capital. Nearby, explore verdant canyons and try to catch a glimpse of a Spectacled Bear. Move south to encounter the archeological wonder of Neiva, which will whet your appetite for the wonders further down the road at San Agustín.

Many of these towns and settlements date back to earlier than 1,000 B.C. So, given their history and the importance of the river as one of Colombia’s principal highways, it is no wonder that they have been of major significance in Colombia.