Vibrant Colombia invites to you to explore the vast history, culture and towns that bring it to life. Here is a small sample of the marvels of Colombia you may experience on our all-new Magdalena River journeys debuting in 2024.
Native culture and Spanish influences woven together through the course of history can still be witnessed along the Magdalena River.
Cartagena became a major port during the Spanish conquest, funded by the Spanish crown, which led to many pirate raids on the city. To protect against these raids, the Spanish royalty ordered the construction of stone walls around Cartagena, which can still be seen today. This fortification is the reason Cartagena is also called la ciudad amurallada —“the walled city.”
Because of the fear of attacks from pirates, many Spaniards felt they needed to have a safe place to keep their gold – and the town of Mompox served that purpose. With so much gold housed here, some of it was used to craft beautiful artifacts to celebrate religious ceremonies in the newly evangelized communities. Soon, gold- and silversmiths began to flock to this destination from Spain, and the delicate and detailed style of craftsmanship they brought with them has been preserved through the years. Today, you can visit this colonial town and purchase fine filigree jewelry for which Mompox has become renowned.
Palenque has the unique honor of being the first “free town” in the Americas. The Spaniards and the former slaves agreed on a Capitulation of Peace in 1603 and, in 1713, the Spanish crown issued a Royal Decree that officially freed the people of Palenque from slavery. With the autonomy this afforded, this vibrant town was able to continue its unique traditions and preserve its culture, which UNESCO officially recognized when they declared Palenque a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.
Visit all three of these incredible destinations on our new Magdalena River itineraries!
A Bird Watching Paradise
With around 1,930 species of birds in Colombia (more than the number of species found in the United States and Canada combined!), these feathered friends are vital to the river’s ecological system, and guests may see many rare or unique species while enjoying our special Colombia itinerary.
One such bird is the cianeguo hummingbird. Also known as the sapphire-bellied hummingbird, this colorful, tiny creature is found only in the mangroves of Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta and the arid scrublands directly beside it. Considered an endangered species, this blue and green bird is believed to have a decreasing population of between 285 to 440 mature adults, so to see it in its natural habitat is a unique delight.
The Northern screamer, known locally as chauna chavaria, also finds its home along the majestic Magdalena River. This stout-bodied thrives in the water, feeding on the leaves, stems and roots of aquatic plants. Though it is near threatened, you will likely hear its distinctive call of kleer-a-ruk, cherio! throughout your river journey.
Many other colorful birds flock to this magnificent river’s banks as well. On each sailing, you may enjoy unique sightings of these splendid birds, as well as a variety of toucans, eagles, quails, tinamou and more!
Taste Local Delicacies
The Magdalena River brings you to many wonderful destinations that are filled with delicious local treats that you can try. In Mompox, taste capa cheese, a mild cheese widely enjoyed in this beautiful town. Butifarra, a savory sausage essential to many Colombian cuisines, and chorizo, a spicy sausage made of pork flavored with seasonings such as smoked paprika and garlic, are also delicious dishes offered here. This destination is also known for its wonderful desserts made with lemons and pineapples, which are grown throughout the country.
In Palenque, the city’s famous palenqueras – women who sell goods with vast baskets of traditional treats and tropical fruit balanced on their heads – offer a variety of delicious goods along the colonial streets. At their market stalls, enjoy irresistible sweets such as coconut cake, tamarind balls (made with tamarind fruit and spices), sugared papaya, traditional cheeses and more.
Another meal you can enjoy during your Colombian journey is posta negra cartagenera, a mouthwatering dish that began in Cartagena. After marinating the meat in a variety of herbs, onions, and garlic, it is traditionally seared with its fat and butter, blending the savory flavors together. Once the meat is cooked, the dish is served with a delightful sauce, perfectly blending a spectrum of incredible flavors into one celebrated meal.
Immerse yourself in the marvelous sights, sounds and tastes along this magnificent river on our Colombia itineraries, launching in November 2024!