Top 10 Things to Do in Cali, Colombia During COVID-19

Now that Colombia has reopened its borders to international travelers, check out these social distancing-friendly activities for your next visit to Cali.

After ending one of the longest lockdowns in Latin America, Colombia has finally reopened for international tourism. Now that the five-month quarantine has drawn to a close, the country is focused on reviving tourism in a safe way. 

With the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón airport among the first to reopen, you may be entertaining the idea of visiting Cali, Colombia’s sunny capital of salsa. But in a time when dancing in crowded clubs isn’t possible, what is there to do in a city best known for its salsa

As local guides and longtime Cali lovers, these are ten safe, socially distanced activities for your next visit to Cali, Colombia. 

Visit the Cali Zoo

Top 10 Things to Do in Cali

The Cali Zoo reopened its doors on June 21 with special safety measures—including virtual ticketing, limited capacity, and temperature checks at the entrance. 

On the grounds of the sprawling outdoor zoo, you should have no problem maintaining social distance with other guests. While meandering the lush zoo grounds, you’ll have a chance to meet a huge range of animals from all over the continent and the world, from chiguiros (capybaras) and cebras (zebras) to avestruces (ostriches) and pitones (pythons). 

Climb Pico Loro

Located within the 1,500-square-kilometer Parque Nacional Natural Farallones de Cali, Pico Loro (“Parrot Peak”) is a seven-hour round-trip hike beginning in the tiny town of Pance—around an hour trip from the center of Cali. Because the park limits the number of hikers to 50 per day, you won’t encounter crowds on your trek to and from the mountain’s stone summit. You may, however, run into wildlife and colorful birds (the park is home to more than 540 bird species). At the peak, you’ll discover captivating views of surrounding landscapes and the Cauca River.

Hit the museums 

As the country loosens restrictions, many Cali museums have reopened their doors with social distancing measures. At the time of writing, these Cali museums are open and highly recommended: 

  • Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia: Cali’s modern art museum, the Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, reopened its galleries with limited hours on October 10. 
  • Museo del Oro Calima: The Calima Gold Museum reopened on October 1. The museum holds an impressive display of jewelry, pottery, bone, and other relics from pre-Hispanic cultures.
  • Museo de Arte Colonial y Religioso la Merced. Located inside La Merced convent, Cali’s oldest building, the Museo de Arte Colonial y Religioso la Merced showcases religious art from the colonial era. Visit on weekday mornings to catch nuns making communion bread.

Walk the Cali River 

Spacious streets and plenty of trees make Cali a highly walkable city. We recommend walking along the Cali River, where a walking path meanders through the Parque El Gato De Tejada. There, you’ll be able to admire Cali’s famous cat sculptures, including the three-ton bronze Gato del Rio from late Colombian artist Hernando Tejada. 

Climb Cerro de Las Tres Cruces 

If you can’t make it all the way to Pico Loro, Cerro de Las Tres Cruces (Three Cross Hill) can help you get your hiking fix without leaving the city. The hike is about two hours round trip and leads you to a lookout point with unparalleled views of Cali. Be sure to go with a friend and show up early to avoid the hot sun. 

Order Rappi 

Many of Cali’s best restaurants are temporarily closed for dine-in. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore the city’s abundance of local and international restaurants. The vast majority of Cali’s eateries offer takeout via Rappi, Colombia’s reliable, inexpensive food delivery platform. Enjoy a Netflix night while feasting on everything from regional favorites like almojábana (Colombian cheese bread) and chorizos (sausage) to international eats like sushi and pizza. 

Visit Mariposario Andoke

Part of the Fundación Andoke, or the Andoke Foundation—a group dedicated to promoting and conserving Colombia’s biodiversity—the Mariposario Andoke is an enchanting, off-the-beaten-track butterfly garden. Housed in mesh, the open-air butterfly garden is home to scenic walking trails and more than 15 species of native butterflies.

Kayak Calima Lake 

Two hours north of Cali, Calima Lake draws kayakers, windsurfers, and adventure seekers from around the region. Take a long weekend and stay in the nearby town of Darien, where you can rent private villas complete with pools and hot tubs. 

Eat pizza alfresco after visiting Cristo Rey

Located on the Cerro de Los Cristales (Hill of the Crystals) overlooking Cali, Cristo Rey—a towering Jesus statue—is worth the journey for the views alone. The uphill trek takes over an hour, but we recommend traveling by car for security reasons. On the way back down, you can dine alfresco at one of the area’s pizzerias, many of which have outdoor seating with dazzling views. 

Visit San Cipriano 

A two-hour trip from Cali, San Cipriano is a tiny mountain town hidden in a subtropical jungle. The magical town can only be accessed by the notorious moto-brujas (motorcycle witches), homemade trolleys pulled by motorcycles down train tracks. After your breakneck journey into town, you can relax by floating on the San Cipriano river on an innertube.
Planning a trip to the salsa capital of the world? We look forward to seeing you there! For more information about Cali neighborhoods or booking an apartment with Lifeafar, book online today.

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