Believe it or not, tourism in Pereira is quite strong. We are constantly visited by the adventurers, the seekers and the backpackers who follow the path of serendipity. Pereira is a crossroads. In this place energy gathers and disperses.
Tourism in Pereira
There isn’t a single motto that adequately describes the city. Instead we have three names or motto’s:
- La Perla del Rio Otun, or The Pearl of the Otun river. A beautiful river that gives us our water and even electricity she is carefully protected. There are actually several national parks (Ucumari et. al) and a few environmental agencies who ensure that we have this beautiful landmark for generations to come.
- La Ciudad Sin Puertas: The City Without Doors. As a city that was started as a refuge for immigrants fleeing the Liberal/Conservative violence, it was virtually without doors. All who come are welcome here and the general sentiment is very warm and inviting of strangers and locals alike.
- La Querendona, Transnochedora y Morena. The lover, the All-Nighter and the Brown Girl. Pereira is a city with open arms taking in the displaced and wanderers alike. The streets are never empty and a bar always open, even in the night. The women of Pereira are softly browned from the sun and generations of Latin heritage which comes in a rainbow of brown skin tones from the darkest burnt umber to the lightest beige. The women of Pereira are beautiful, they are renowned lovers and a credit to their surroundings.
What Pereira isn’t, is a massive hub of tourism. We are like a charming downtown bookstore. Visitors will find small nooks and crannies jam-packed with amazing finds. There is a little bit of everything and more of some things. For example, we have a small but active night life. We also have great nature areas. Within minutes of the city center you can be out in nature in one of the four different microclimates which Pereira encompasses. Here are three places that you won’t read about in shiny mass-produced tourist pamphlets:
- Reserva Cauquitá: A top rate ecological nature experience. Wander down one of the nature trails and you will encounter a rare type of tropical forest, several species of Colombian bamboo, abundant wildlife and organic agriculture. With special therapeutic services and products available on-site this is a great experience for birdwatchers, hikers, school groups and even families with children.
- Anukara Eco-Cultura: If you enjoy nature but love organic agriculture then this could be a “must” on your to-do list. Relax with a yoga session, receive a reiki therapy or just wander the permaculture terraces. Coming soon in 2016: Rustic bamboo cabins for rent. Close to a creek with plenty of swimming holes and nature trails.
- Cascada de los Frailes: A great tour to check out. Check with your hotel for tour info. As of 2018, El Santuario de Fauna y Flora are now the admins of this tour. You can book private tours during the week, or take a larger, cheaper – public tour – on Sundays.
Animales Exoticos Kamala:This is a well-kept secret of Pereira. With over 40,000 exotic plants from various parts of the world, Kamala is a treasure which has been the subject of numerous scientific studies and Intelligent Tourism. Pose with giant turtles and meet exotic lizard species from around the world including bearded dragons and the blue tongued lizard from Australia. Tours are extremely limited so call ahead of time for information and space.
Truthfully, Pereira is in her adolescence as a tourism destination. A bit awkward and gawky like a teenager but full of promise and potential. The city has become ambitious in recent years to create bigger tourism attractions in the city. This includes infrastructure upgrades and attractions. Infrastructure in this region is some of the best in Colombia. Employment rates are high and while growth has slowed in response to international economic conditions, there are still many new businesses and industries which are flourishing and helping to grow the city.
Pereira has often been compared to Medellin, as a smaller version but similar in modern conveniences and a good transportation system. Right now there are many grassroots tourism operators, which in my opinion are the most authentic, I hope you don’t miss out!
While we are at this time only a small local blog it is our hope to help visitors gain access to the grassroots tourism and quality places in Pereira via an eBook which was released July 1, 2016. We are happy to share with you a city which is scenic and beautiful, a startling mix of old and new, and the Pearl of The Otun River. Bienevenidos!
Owner/Editor of OpenMindedTraveler.com, Erin is also the Project Administrator/Editor of Pereira City Guide.com - She has been living in Pereira, Colombia for several years.