A Sunday morning stroll around Ipiales belies the reality of this city. These now-quiet streets will soon bustle with travelers and merchants crossing the border, and Ecuadorian and Colombian pilgrims on their way to the Santuario de Nuestra SeÃ±ora de Las Lajas.
Located on the Pan-American Highway just three kilometers (1.8 mi) north of the Rumichaca border crossing into Ecuador, Ipiales is only a transit point for many. However, it is worth passing a few days here. Services are improving in this southern Colombian city; unfortunately, however, it still lacks a tourism office to orientate visitors, whuish is a shame as there are interesting places to get to know. The city has several pleasant parks where you can people watch, and churches to visit. The breathtaking neo-Gothic Santuario de Nuestra SeÃ±ora de Las Lajas that spans the RÃo GuÃ¡itra is only eight kilometers (4.8 mi) from Ipiales. Not too far from that pilgrimage site are petroglyphs of the ancient Pasto indigenous culture. The village of Cumbral presents you with not only incredible vistas of two snow-capped volcanoes, but also walking and climbing opportunities.
So, don't be so hasty in flying through Ipiales to your other destinations in Colombia. Take a break to visit some of the surprises this region hides from fleeting eyes.
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