San Juan de Pasto- city at the foot of a volcano | Insider tips for our DW travel guide | DW | 14.11.2013
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Travel Guide

San Juan de Pasto- city at the foot of a volcano

Carnival has a special meaning in Steven’s hometown. San Juan de Pasto is also well-known for being in the middle of the mountainous Atriz valley and for its culinary delights.

A colored float from the the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival.

A colored float from the "the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival".

San Juan de Pasto is the capital city of Nariño province in southwest Colombia. San Juan de Pasto is located at the foot of the Galera Volcano on the high plains of Atriz.

View of volcanic landscape of Atriz.

View of volcanic landscape of Atriz.

Right now I am living in San Juan de Pasto, a city that is also known as the "city of surprise". The name probably comes from the fact that the city is hidden behind many curves and is surrounded by nature and mountains. So it really is a surprise for travelers when they find this place somewhere out in the great wide open. I would recommend it to everyone at DW and everyone who reads my story to take a trip here. San Juan de Pasto has to be the most beautiful place on earth and is particularly influenced by colonial and pre-Colombian culture.

Nariño province is especially well-known for its culinary specialties that are typical for the entire Andes region. One delicacy is "cuy" – guinea pig meat or also different types of potatoes known as "papas". Why not also enjoy a delicious "quimbolito" – a small cake made by wrapping corn flour, eggs and raisins the leaf of the Ahria plant and steaming it to perfection. They are similar to "Tamales" and are one of the most characteristic and popular dishes of the region. The little buns are usually eaten for desert or along with coffee.

San Juan de Pasto offers more than just interesting culinary specialties. The cultural attractions here can be compared with Colombia’s major cities. As a special attraction, I highly recommend that you observe the Galera Volcano in the morning hours. It is now one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

Colored figures on the carnival floats.

Colored figures on the carnival floats.

The people in the "city of surprise" also really know how to have fun. Like Germans in Cologne, we too in San Juan de Pasto celebrate Carnival, known here as the “the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival”. This festival is dedicated to the preservation of indigenous, European and African values.
On colorful floats we present legends and traditions to spectators and these days there are also many references to political events included. Our carnival begins every year on January 2 and offers a rich and entertaining program until January 7. On one of the days, participants color their faces black and on the next they cover themselves with flour or white powder. Because of its colorful diversity and cultural value, UNESCO has added the carnival in San Juan de Pasto to its Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

I hope that my travel tips have made you enthusiastic about this region of Colombia. We are looking forward to your visit.

Sent by: Steven from Colombia
Edited by: Jeanette Müller

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