The Caribbean Coast and islands arenâ€™t just about white sand beaches and scuba diving. You can delve into the depths of colonial and independence history, in such cities as Cartagena and Santa Marta, tracing the steps of Spanish explorers and SimÃ³n BolÃvar. Many astounding national parks and reserves, like Tayrona, Los Flamencos, CiÃ©naga and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, provide opportunities to see sea turtles and spectacular birds. Let your footfalls echo through the ancestral ruins of The Lost City and El Pueblito. Aracataca, author Gabriel GarcÃa MÃ¡rquezâ€™ hometown, is the ultimate Macondo (the mythical town in One Hundred Years of Solitude). But along this coast, every village is a Macondo, with strange festivals to celebrate with the locals, from the caiman in CiÃ©naga to the donkey pageant in San Antero. Of course, donâ€™t forget to join the big parties here, drinking whiskey with Valledupar at the Vallenato music festival and dancing traditional cumbia in Barranquillaâ€™s Carnaval. The visual arts are not neglected, with world-class art museums in the major cities, and Cartagenaâ€™s film festival. San AndrÃ©s is the most exotic of the Colombian Caribbean jewels, with an English-based culture, and the best of beaches and scuba diving.
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