5 Outdoor Adventures Near Cali, Colombia You Must Do

Located in the stunning Cauca Valley, between the mighty Farallones de Cali mountain range and the Cauca River, Cali is a great city to base yourself for adventure.


Cali cityscape Photo © iStock/piccaya

Known as the salsa capital of the world, this city in the Colombian mountains is also a hot spot for all types of outdooor adventure, from hiking and trail running, to technical sports such as rock climbing and mountain biking. Here are our picks for the best places to go.

Staying fit in Cali

You don't need to venture far from – or even outside of – Cali to get your dose of outdoor activities.

For a refreshing morning hike, walk just one hour up the mountain from the Santa Monica neighborhood to reach El Cerro de las Tres Cruces (Hill of Three Crosses), which offers fabulous views of the city sprawled out below.

Every Sunday, some of the city’s roads close and locals hit the streets to walk, run, skate, or cycle.

Swim, hike, and bike near the Pance River

Spend the day splashing in the freezing waters of the Pance River, which originates high in the Farallones de Cali, or running, biking, and hiking through the surrounding mountains.

This little gem is 25min from Cali, so avoid the weekends if you want some peace and quiet.

Towards the bottom of the river, you’ll find Pance Eco Park where there are restaurants and bathrooms.

About 1km (0.6 miles) up lies the small village of La Vorgáine, providing similar services, as well as access to the river.

For an even “fresher” experience, head about 3.5km (2 miles) further up the river to La Chorrera de Indio. Here, you’ll encounter a 35m (115 ft) ice-cold waterfall that crashes down into a natural pool.

You can also walk all the way up to the village Pance, where the locals like to bring their pots and pans and make a fire to cook sancocho, a chiken and vegetable soup, for a hearty lunch by the river on weekends. 

Pico de Loro hike

Within a few hours of hiking into the National Park Farallones de Cali, you’ll reach Pico de Loro, a mountain peak reaching to 2,832m (9,291 ft) above sea level.

The steep and strenuous hike takes about 3-4 hours, depending on your fitness levels, but the effort is worth it as the peak has stunning panoramic views of Cali and the rest of the mountain range. Going with a guide is highly recommended.

River floating in San Cipriano

About 2hrs from Cali towards the Pacific coast is San Cipriano, a village hidden in the jungle.

The beautiful natural environment and clear waters of the San Cipriano River Natural Reserve offer visitors several fun activities to do.

Hire a tube and walk up the river for about 40mins to La Platina and enjoy the float back down to the village.

There's also a beautiful nearby waterfall. If you're keen to explore this, pause your tube ride at Charco Oscuro and ask a local guide to take you there.

Wildlife and water sports at Lake Calima

Enjoy the hot summer afternoons that beat down in the Valle at Lake Calima, just 2hrs from Cali.

The artificial lake is one of the largest in Colombia, and offers many outdoor activities: nature walks, bird watching, horseback riding, kayaking, or just soaking up the stunning scenery in swimming pools and ferry trips.

The continually blowing winds make the lake ideal for extreme water sports, with kite surfing and windsurfing being a local favorite.

With forested mountains rolling into the lake, clear waters glistening in the sunlight, and a huge choice of activities, a trip to Lake Calima is the perfect place to relax and get some vitamin D.

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1 Comment

  • Giancarlo said

    Hello Jacqui,
    Your articles are spot on for introducing newcomers to Colombia's fascinating travel.
    I lived for a few years as an adolescent in Colombia in the 70's and still your choices reverberate and jive with my experiences of traveling there over the past 40 years!
    But for the sake of clarity, may I correct the spelling of a place name? In the Pance river section that village further up, which I think is the last buseta stop is spelled La Voragine.
    meaning the vortex, the chasm, I guess....

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