In this blog article, you will find some tips and information about Popayan, the region of the Cauca, tours from Popayan, adventure trips, social impact experiences and amazing facts about one of Colombia most off-the-beaten-path destinations!

What to do in Popayan?

The most common things to make on your visit to the White City of Colombia are:

  • Strolling around the historic city center dating back to 1527. The most important sites are Parque Caldas, the Central Cathedral, the Clock Tower, the temple of Santo Domingo, the Church of San Francisco, and the Arched Bridge. 

  • Visit Popayan during Easter week and witness the processions, celebrations, and traditions that trace back to more than 500 years. 

  • Museums. The best ones are the National History Museum, the House of Poet and writer Guillermo Valencia and the Religious Museum, the Mosquera Museum and the Artist Edgar Negret House Museum.

  • Daytrip to Puracé Volcano and National Natural Park. 

  • Visit Silvia, and its Tuesday Market where the Misak community descends from the Mountain in their traditional garb to trade. A visit to the Misak territory is also a highlight, with their community territory, malokas and botanical gardens is also possible if you contact us!

  • Tasting the delicious empanaditas de pipian and the carantantas, unique from this region of Colombia. You can live this experience in our Popayan Gastronomic Wonders new experience! 

  • Dance Salsa in La Iguana Afrobar or hear the classics of Colombian Music directly from LP Records in El Sotareño Bar located in the city center. 

Off the beaten plans in Popayan (bookable at the end): 

Why is El Tambo the HEART of Cauca?
El Tambo, 33 km away from Popayán, lies the heart of the Cauca. It is the largest municipality in the department and has one of the most biodiverse territories in the region as it is located on a high plateau between the central and western mountain range of the Andes and less than 100 km in a straight line to the town of Timbiquí on the Pacific coast. This combination of natural factors is reflected in the diversity of activities and exchange of goods, services and natural resources on which some 50,000 people in this small town subsist.

Within this wealth, we can find agricultural activities such as coffee, bananas, sugar cane or panela, corn, beans, cassava, lulo, avocado, fique or cabuya and chontaduro (the largest national producer of the latter product). The chontaduro is a palm native to the western region of the Amazon Basin and has been a staple food for indigenous communities for hundreds of years for its fruit, the fresh stem (palmito), the ripe stem and the leaves to be used in the construction of jungle dwellings. In more recent years it has been cataloged as a superfood for its beneficial components and versatility in cooking and is very common and easy to find in the streets of major cities and towns with salt or honey. In APACH (Association of Cocoa and Chontaduro Producers) they have managed to transform this complex fruit into flour, cookies, preserves, the delicious chontacones, a variation of the famous green plantain patacón, and even sparkling gluten-free beer.

General facts about the region:

The excellent geographical location makes the territory of central Cauca a fascinating and optimal region for a number of productive activities that historically have been developed in El Tambo and today still exist and are recognized throughout the country as the aforementioned Chontaduro and other fascinating activities that you can soon live firsthand with Impulse. First of all, El Tambo is located at an altitude of 1750m. It has an average temperature of 18° Celsius degrees, where the coldest is 14° and the hottest is 28°; it has 3 (warm, temperate, cold) of the 5 thermal floors we have in Colombia (warm, temperate, cold, moor and perpetual snow) and also has 3 watersheds that nourish the territory of permanent fresh water and a rainy season of almost 8 months from September to May and the less rainy season from June to August. 

On the other hand, the most notable demographic characteristic is that 96% of the population is rural while 4% is located in the municipal capital where the main meetings and exchanges take place, so we can firmly say that El Tambo is a purely rural territory, which is largely attributed to its productive vocation of the land. 

Why you should visit the Cauca and take a day to visit El Tambo:

Now we will see in detail a little more of the fascinating stories that are found in this territory and that make it even more special. Due to the multifunctionality of its tropical territory, other economic activities such as forestry, sericulture, charcoal extraction, and agriculture with main products and foods known all over the world such as coffee, cocoa, banana, etc. mentioned above, also stand out and are possible.

Wait a minute, sericulture, what 's that? Sericulture or silk cultivation, is the cultivation of worms to produce silk, one of the finest and most expensive fabrics that exist in the world and that was introduced in the territory at the end of the 80's due to the need to diversify the coffee crops on which the peasant families were very dependent and with the help of the National Federation of Coffee Growers this product was introduced to the country with the cooperation of Japan and South Korea as main cooperators and buyers of Colombian silk.

Asociación Agroarte are the main silk producers in the region and have been working for 30 years to turn this material into the engine of socioeconomic transformation and female empowerment. At the farm you will learn about all the processes of the fabric from the cultivation of the mulberry tree, the plant from which the worms feed, the incubation stage, the food trays, the rooms where the worms finally begin the beautiful process of cocooning to become butterflies and the production process on the loom where many women have trained hard to produce garments of the highest international quality. Additionally, another thing that makes Agroarte's organic process unique is the dyeing of the garments with extracts from native trees and natural elements such as loquat, avocado, nacedero, totumo, turmeric, achiote, veranera among others such as the coca leaf
, which have proven their quality and beautiful tones when painting the textile with different plants and obtaining truly unique results. 

Taken from Artesanías de Colombia (2018)

Yes, Coca leaf.

With the support of several clothing, art and design studios in Bogota, government strategies for territorial development such as PDET and other international donors who saw the enormous potential for social and economic transformation in the midst of the difficult context of historical violence that has affected the region of El Tambo due to the presence of armed groups and drug trafficking, in July 2022 a historic event was achieved, demonstrating with convincing arguments that coca is not cocaine and that with the use of this plant 96 different colors were achieved to dye the silk in the Agroarte project.

This impressive milestone once again highlights the fact that the failed war on drugs in Colombia has destroyed visions and alternatives to the development of peasant knowledge and wisdom to generate their welfare and calls for forgetting the logic of war and prohibitionism to consolidate a culture of peace and prosperity.

The department of Cauca has some of the biggest insights and lessons on the Colombian conflict:

In Colombia, one of the departments most affected by the armed conflict has been Cauca, which has suffered the violence of multiple armed actors that have destroyed the social organization of indigenous, peasants, Afro and mestizos living in the territory and have led them to dependence and misery of drug trafficking thanks to the low attention of the state and its ineffectiveness to solve structural and historical problems that have developed since the times of Spanish colonization. After La Guajira (42%), the department of Cauca has the largest indigenous population (21%), including the Nasa, Misak or Guambianos and several other identities and idiosyncrasies such as the Yanaconas, Coconucos, Epiraras, Siapiraras, Emberas, Inganos and Guanacos; additionally, 22% of the population is black that has migrated from the coast due to the violence and lack of opportunities. The struggles for land ownership are the strongest calling for true territorial autonomy and "The Liberation of Mother Earth" and to protect their ancestral legacies against the mechanisms of the capitalist world system, the main indigenous territorial organizations have organized to eradicate illicit crops and expel armed groups from their territories, However, other ethnic problems have flourished in recent decades due to the cooperation of peasants and Afro groups in the sugar cane crops of large landowners who defend the vision of their bosses and watch over the right to dignified work. 

Taken from Centro de Memoria Histórica

The department of Cauca is definitely a region with an infinite number of variants to study and an ancient and modern history that is worth reviewing to learn from it and to know many different visions of how to see the world and how to solve some of its problems. For this reason, we have developed 5 new products of our iconic brand HEART for you to come to Tambo, the heart of Cauca and live the power of travel to transform lives. 

So finally you can book these tours on our webpage! 

The visit to the Agroarte Silk Farm can be pedaled in our spectacular "Silk Route" on mountain bikes that will take you 23km through the most beautiful surroundings and landscapes of El Tambo and learn about the incredible history of Agroarte and El Tambo in a half day trip from Popayán. 

On the other hand, for people who want to enjoy the scenery, the daily life laidback atmosphere with moderate exercise by bicycle on unpaved roads and many peasant farms we have the Sugarcane MTB Tour. or Ruta de la Panela. A shorter route of approximately 15 km where you will start the tour in the central square of the town and visit two farms to learn about the industrial and artisanal process of panela (sugarcane) , one of the most important foods in Colombian recipes and a natural sweetener with a lot of flavors. 

If you like more adventure and want to try new things, the visit to our waterfalls experience in canyoning mode is for you, you will visit 7 waterfalls ranging from 7m high to 20m in the middle of lush nature. Book now our Humming Bird Waterfall Circuit!

Continuing with the most extreme adventure plans, we have a paragliding jump appreciating one of the most beautiful landscapes in the patía depression in the experience of paragliding in the patía depression from Popayán. Book this adventure with confidence in our webpage!

And finally, one of our newest and most wonderful HEART tour, the Gastronomic City Tour of Popayán will take you to know the most important points of this colonial jewel, learn about its interesting history and taste typical dishes that made Popayán a gastronomic city declared by UNESCO in 2005.

Got questions?

Reach out to our travel experts with any doubt or concern you have about traveling to Colombia and they'll be happy to provide you with up-to-date, transparent information.


Tag us @impulse_travel during your experience #travelwithheart #exploreresponsibily #movewithus and show your support for this projects by following them at @agroarte_artesanias

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