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The Upper Magdalena River Valley

If the Magdalena River could speak, it would boast of the countless riches that have been transported on its waters through the years. Shaped by the river, the Upper Magdalena River Valley runs from the lower extremes of the Andes, at the river’s source in Huila, to the well-preserved statues of San Agustín. It continues its run through the arid badlands of the Tatacoa Desert and past Nevado del Tolima, a mountain towering 5,200 meters (17,060 ft) over the departmental capital of Ibagué, before encountering the last navigable point from the coast inland, Honda.

Travelers to this area will be pleasantly surprised by the unique offerings in each town. Starting in Honda, known as both “the City of Bridges” and the “Cartagena of the Interior” (thanks to its narrow colonial streets), venture on to Ibagué, Colombia’s music capital. Nearby, explore verdant canyons and try to catch a glimpse of a Spectacled Bear. Move south to encounter the archeological wonder of Neiva, which will whet your appetite for the wonders further down the road at San Agustín.

Many of these towns and settlements date back to earlier than 1,000 B.C. So, given their history and the importance of the river as one of Colombia’s principal highways, it is no wonder that they have been of major significance in Colombia.









By Richard McColl
With over five years travelling and working in Latin America, Richard feels most at home here in the big Continent. From the former Scottish...
10 Feb 2012

VIVA Colombia

Top Places in the Upper Magdalena River Valley

Villavieja

117728Villavieja is a tiny village close to the Tatacoa Desert. There are no real attractions in the village itself, but it is the jumping-off point to the desert. Near Villavieja is Aipe, which is across ...
City
Villavieja, Colombia

Honda

Honda mainly exists because for a long time, it has been the last stop on the river journey to Bogotá. From Honda, conquistadors and royalty had to rough the rest of their journey overland. The city ...
City
Honda, Colombia

Ibagué

Ibagué resembles Bucaramanga but is smaller. The city’s recent growth reflects its growing importance, as multinational chain stores have sprung up on the city’s edge. As if trapped in a ...
City
Ibagué, Colombia

Neiva

Neiva is moving ahead in terms of tourism. A key intermediary city in this part of the country, Neiva has traditionally connected conventional tourist destinations like Popayán and San Agustí n to ...
City
Neiva, Colombia

Desierto de La Tatacoa

Right up in the northern part of the department of Huila is a little-known and little-visited attraction, the Tatacoa Desert. However, it should really be on every traveler’s list of things to do ...
City
Desierto de La Tatacoa, Colombia

Things to See and Do

Piscina Orfanda

121881Not quite an oasis but certainly a perfect location for a pool, Piscina Orfanda is a private pool about 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) into the desert. It provides visitors with perfect freshwater relaxation ...
Other Activity
Desierto de La Tatacoa, Colombia

Combeima Canyon

The Combeima Canyon is the gateway to the Nevado del Tolima and a favorite weekend getaway for ibaguenos due to its clean air, beautiful scenery, and interesting flora and fauna. Approximately 30 ...
Other Activity
Ibagué, Colombia

Explore the Upper Magdalena

Chopo Taxi

Chopo, a most enthusiastic local villaviejan, is more than happy to serve as your local guide and taxi driver during your visit to the Tatacoa Desert and around. He knows the best places to go and ...
Tour Operator
Villavieja, Colombia

Ecoguias

143609Eco-GuĂ­as is a Colombian tour operator run by Anglo-Colombian partners offering a wide variety of group journeys in Colombia. With 15 years experience in overland travel in Colombia, the combined ...
Tour Operator
Honda, Colombia
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