A bus from Medellin brought us to this salsa empire. We came to Cali for the Feria de Cali, a yearly celebration of everything Salsa from Dec 25th - 30th.
We arrived by bus from Medellin after a 10 hour ride through gorgeous Colombian landscapes. There was one stop midway through for delicious almuerzo lunches at a cafeteria overlooking the rolling expanses all around. It was one of the most pleasant bus rides we’ve had thus far.
Once we arrived in Cali we checked in at our hostel, Calidad, and went out to explore the nearby neighbourhood. It being Christmas eve everything was dead. We luckily found a place that was serving casado-style plates (Western Texas) and called family once we got back to the hostel.
We weren’t sold on Calidad overall and decided to move to a new hostel the next morning. We’re glad we did, because Iguana ended up being one of our favourite hostels in Colombia. Roman, one of the staff at Iguana, makes the hostel feel like home. He’s always around to offer advice and answer any of the most surely repetitive backpacker questions. There were free salsa classes at 7PM each night so we definitely made sure to learn the moves.
The Feria influenced a lot of our activities throughout our week in Cali. We went to the parade on the opening day and saw the salsa dancers march by. We danced the night away at Zaperoco and tried to learn Salsa amidst a packed bar full of locals. We also hung out at the fairgrounds multiple times and saw hundreds of people singing and dancing and clapping to their favourite songs. The people here eat and sleep Salsa and it’s an wonderful thing to watch.
Cali is a city in southwestern Colombia, capital of the Valle del Cauca department. It has about 2 million inhabitants and is a significant industrial and commercial center of activity in Colombia. Being at around 1,000 meters above sea level it tends to have a warm midday and afternoon with nice Pacific Ocean breezes while nights are cool.
It’s best known for its salsa music.
Salsa capital of Colombia where lessons can be had on the cheap. Hot climate. Also contains a celebrated zoo.
Cali is the third largest city and known as the capital of Salsa. Go there if you want to dance all night and listen to great bands.
December 25-30 2013. The Salsa Fair.
By Taxi: 15 minutes from the main terminal buses. Col Price $ 6000 (U.S. $ 3,oo) By bus: 25 minutes from the main terminal bus, get off at the MIO ‘Square Know ‘and walk 2 blocks. Col Price $ 1500 (U.S. $1, oo).
The hostel is near the Carulla supermarket, Dog Park (‘Parque del Perro’), the MIO station (transport system), the church San
Fernando Rey, the Pascual Guerrero stadium, park the flags and the Hospital of the Department.
Lugar: Canchas Panamericanas - Baloncesto. Hora: 7:00 p.m Artistas: Cali Salsa Big Band, Guayacán, Matecaña, Richie Valdés y otros. Mira los detalles AQUÍ
We bought tickets from the Empresa Arauca bus line yesterday for the 8AM bus.
|7:24AM||In a cab.|
|7:33AM||At the bus terminal.|
|8:10AM||On our way to Cali!|
|11:41AM||Took a solid nap while listenin’ to Avicii’s Super Glow set from 2012. Woke up to find out I’m in a dream (see pic).|
|11:53AM||Stopping for lunch!|
|12:33PM||Back on the bus.|
|5:18PM||Arrived in the city of Cali! Driving to the bus terminal now.|
|5:42PM||Taxi’d to Calidad House and checked in.|
|Total bus time||8:28|
Just arrived and it’s pretty empty here. The room’s decent (no seat on the toilet though, haha).
We ended up leaving early though because our room didn’t have circulation or hot water and we were paying quite a bit.
My tripadvisor review is here:
We were here for one night when we first arrived in Cali. The staff welcomed us with smiles and showed us around the place. Overall it’s a nice home with plenty of space and a decent kitchen. They also have a rooftop deck with a nice view of the city.
What made this place average for us though was the room. There wasn’t a toilet seat on the toilet in the private bathroom and no hot water in the shower. There also wasn’t any circulation in the room at all, making it noticeably warmer in the room than the rest of the house. For the price we were paying we didn’t feel it was a very good deal overall, so we decided to move hostels after the first night.
Judging by the other reviews it seems like we may have just not had the best room, but given our experience compared to other hostels at similar price-points it was just ok.
Most of them have a default password set. For example, a wifi by the name of UNE 4G LTE-0451 will have the password 4glte0451. It’s always 4glte followed by the numbers at the end. This has worked for us more than once.
Moved here today from Calidad and liking it waaay better. We’re in dorms here for 25,000 COP. Roman makes the place feel like home and is incredibly friendly. On our third night we moved to a private room for 60,000 COP.
We’re at the opening parade! We grabbed casados for 5000 COP each! Cheapest casado plates we’ve found yet: La Colmenita.
We arrived at the parade street at 2PM when the festival was supposed to kick off and attempted to find a spot with good visibility of the parade. We didn’t end up seeing any part of the parade until close to 4PM and by that point we were somewhat over being in the sun and crowds. We walked up the street to try to see more of the parade and then settled on meandering back home.
Decent burger and chicken skewers.
Just ok almuerzo plates. Rubbery meat and slimy soup.
We stumbled upon this park overlooking the city on our way home from downtown. There was a group of silk aerialists playing in the trees and at least three people playing acoustic guitar on the hill-side.
Mexican food! We had tasty burritos and Coronas because there was a promoter there. The machos were pretty disappointing (just jalapeno poppers).
After hanging out at the main festival grounds til they shut we headed to Zaperoco, a tiny locals bar that was packed with people dancing salsa together. The atmosphere was electric with everyone dancing and smiling and laughing.
I made an attempt to start learning how to salsa by watching the locals moving their feet. The locals were getting a kick out of watching me try to figure it out and encourages my efforts with cheers (for when I’d start figuring it out) and laughs (for when I’d monstrously fail).
Had 5000 COP almuerzos. Were ok.
This place was a surprise for us because on the outside it looks much more expensive than it is. We ended up eating here twice because the food is so good and the menu is so big.
The salmon with passionfruit was super freaking delicious and both of the chicken plates we had on the first night were also good. Our waiter was attentive and the food was served quickly. The smaller serving size (the default) for the chicken plates was a little too small, so it’s a good idea to order appetizers and/or the bigger portion.
On the second night we ordered one of the salads and were blown away by how delicious it was. It had nuts and apples and a light cream sauce that made us inhale it. It was almost a dessert for how sweet it was, but it was a perfect start to the dinner. I ordered an asian-style plate that was just ok. I would probably choose the chicken or fish over it.
We also had drinks the second night that were ok. The mojitos were a bit too sweet and I added tabasco to my bloody mary to give it a bit more bite.
Overall the food here is great for the price and the staff are wonderfully friendly, so it’s definitely worth a try during a visit to Cali.
A hostel off the beaten track. Half-decent rooms that get incredibly warm at night. Filthy showers with no hot water.
We (three) stayed here for two nights in one of the private rooms. The staff were generally nice when we checked in and throughout our stay. We chose the private room upstairs because it had a lot of light and a big window.
The room had A/C though it would have been fine to have a fan in the room.
The showers were advertised to have hot water but any time we took a shower the water was glacier cold. Turns out there is one shower that has hot water, but any time we used it the hot water would disappear within seconds. The bathrooms were also completely filthy any time we used them. Asking the staff about this we were told simply that we should “use the shower with hot water in it”. This proved quite difficult given that this hostel can have 30 people in it and only one working shower.
The location is also far from the more happening streets in the city, so be prepared for a walk or cab to any clubs or restaurants.
Had tasty pizzas and a milkshake.
5000 COP almuerzo plates.
Really good pastry shop
Grabbing drinks before heading out dancing.
After seeing that the zoo was the number one attraction in Cali we obviously had to make a point to visit it. A quick cab ride from our hostel brought us to the front gates of what turned out to be a very happening place.
Once we paid the (very reasonable) entrance fee, we walked in and started exploring. Overall we were actually delighted to see many animals we hadn’t seen before: anteaters, many colorful parrots, iguanas all over the place, plenty of turtles, and pelicans hanging out with the flamingos. There was even a movie theater near the exit that was completely dedicated to leaf cutter ants, complete with synched lighting and scale models of ants in the walls.
We spent about two hours at the zoo overall and had a blast seeing kids getting excited by the monkeys and then getting excited ourselves (like kids).
Saw these carnivorous little guys in the aquariums!
Grabbing some slices of pizza.
We dropped in here one night to try out the sushi. The service was really great with a quick, attentive waiter. The sushi was just ok. The flavors weren’t super exciting and the texture made it seem like they had been defrosted. For the cheap prices it’s tough to expect more, but overall this place was just ok.
Heading back to Cartagena for New Years! Flying Avianca.
|9:01AM||Grabbed a cab.|
|9:25AM||At the airport.|
|9:52AM||Checked in and waiting at the airport.|