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Travel Information, Activities, Restaurants, Maps for Valledupar Colombia, Sierra Nevadas de Santa Marta, Nabusimake, Maruamake, La Mina, Pueblo Bello, and more.

Valledupar Colombia

Valledupar is a wonderfully cosmopolitan city that is often touted by Colombian natives but continues to be overlooked by international tourists.  We suspect this is likely to change in the coming years.  Anyone who stays in Valle for as much as a week immediately senses the culture and community which exists here.

Geography/Surrounding Area

Valledupar sits along the southern bank of the Guatapuri river, and is bordered by the Sierra Nevada National Park.  The park, home to a number of indigenous tribes, boasts towering snowcapped peaks, visible from the city on a clear day.  Many of these indigenous tribes’ villages such as Nabusimake and Maruamake can be visited, and are the very embodiment of pastoral natural beauty.

Music & Culture

Valledupar is recognized as the birthplace and cultural epicenter of Vallenato music, a form of music whose very instruments are the embodiment of the three cultures which come together in this region.  The Arhuaca, the Kogi, and the Kankuamo indigenous tribes were responsible for the guacharaca, a woodblock instrument rubbed with a wooden stick.  The African descendents incorporated the tambora drum, while the Europeans contribute the accordion.

If you are lucky enough to have the chance to schedule your trip to Valledupar during the final week of April, you will be treated to the week-long Vallenato Music Festival.  The festival is a sort of competition between the best musicians, and singer/songwriters within three different age groups, and each year, the winners are crowned rey or king.  The incredible level of talent that is on display each year is due largely to the leadership and teaching of a few great men who have opened music academies to train the next generation of Vallenato musicians.

But Vallenato music is not the only culture on display in Valle.  Organizations such as the Allianza Francesa, and Fundacion Abiba, host regular piano concerts and art exhibits which have had a powerful effect not only in elevating the minds of the citizens of Valledupar, but by enabling the artistic voices through which a community’s identity is defined.

Every day of the week, hundreds of people can be found relaxing and swimming along the banks of the Rio Guatapuri.  While it is likely that you will experience a bit of panhandling, it is a great atmosphere to meet some fascinating people and practice your Spanish with an intelligent and patient crowd.

Period of Armed Conflict

Valledupar suffered unspeakable repression and violence during Colombia’s armed conflict, from the mid-1980’s until 2006.  The violence first took root when a prominent banker Juvenal Ovidio Ricardo Palmera aligned himself with the FARC and began kidnapping the wealthiest individuals in the region to obtain ransom money for himself and the FARC. Rodrigo Tovar Pupo “Jorge 40” came to power by putting an end to Palmera’s reign over the region, but promptly initiated his own far more bloody criminal enterprise.  He was responsible for the murders of nearly 1000 individuals in the region.  Jorge 40 was eventually captured in La Mesa, just south of Valledupar and extradited to the United States.

This era in Valledupar’s history was a terrible time and should be discussed, if at all, with great sensitivity.


Do not be put off by the descriptions of Valledupar as a bland destination where personal security is uncertain.  These depictions dominate the web, and leave us wondering whether the people writing them have even been to Valle.  We were unsure ourselves what to expect and wound up staying for two weeks longer than expected.  Check it out for yourself if you have time.  If you're like us, you may find you have a hard time leaving.

special thanks to Provincia Hostel

  • Things to Do

    Great Activities, Things to Do, Nabusimake, El Parque Besotes, Maruamake, Rio Guatapuri, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, Vallenato Music in Valledupar Colombia

  • Restaurants

    Restaurants, Dining, Food and Cocktails available in Valledupar Colombia

  • Travel and Transportation

    Travel Information, Airport, Bus Schedules, Bus Maps, Transit Times, to and from Valledupar Colombia