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Ibague is the capital of the department of Tolima in Colombia. It is situated 1,285 m (4,216 ft) above sea level, on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera Central between the Chipalo and Combeima rivers, tributaries of the Coello River.It is on the road from Bogota to Cali near the high mountain pass known as "La Línea" ("The Line") which connects the interandean valleys of Magdalena and Cauca rivers; as a result, the city has become an important commercial center and road transport hub.The fertile surrounding countryside produces coffee, cacao, tobacco, sugarcane, and rice. Ibague is widely regarded as the "Musical City of Colombia" due to its long tradition in offering advanced musical education and its rich schedule of musical events during the year.

Ibague was founded by Spaniard Andres Lopez de Galarza on October 14, 1550 as "Villa de San Bonifacio de Ibague del Valle de las Lanzas" ("Town of Saint Boniface of Ibague of the Valley of the Spears") in the place where today is located the urban area of the neighbouring municipality of Cajamarca, which lies 42 km to the west of the modern city of Ibague.Due to the frequent attacks by the indigenous Pijaos commanded by cacique Ibagué, the city was founded once more in its current location on February 7, 1551.From April to December 1854 Ibague was briefly the capital of the New Granada following a coup d'etat promoted by Jose María Melo, a general and politician born in Chaparral, Tolima. In 1908, when the department of Tolima was created, Ibagué became its capital. Tolima University was founded in 1945, and was raised to state university status in 1954. The city is also the home of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ibague.

Ibague is located in the Colombian Andean region, in central Tolima department, surrounded by mountains in all sides, except for a plateau which extends to the east.Ibagué lies within the Andean Volcanic Belt. It has two active volcanoes in its immediate vicinity, the Nevado del Tolima, 28 km NW of the city, and the Cerro Machín, 17 km E of the city centre but still within the Municipality of Ibagué. The city is one access point to the Los Nevados National Park, the other being Manizales.Cerro Machín has been dormant for the last 800 years, but recently seismological activity has been registered, causing several earthquakesThe volcano is classified as "III - Changes in behaviour of volcanic activity" by Ingeominas, the Colombian Institute for Geology and Mining.A map of menaced areas has been published indicating that in case of an eruption the city of Ibagué would, despite its vicinity, not be affected.

Ibague features a tropical rainforest climate under the Koppen climate classification, albeit a noticeably cooler version of the climate due to the high altitude. Although the city does experience noticeably drier conditions during the months of January and July, the city has no true dry season month, as all 12 months see on average more than 60 mm of precipitation. As is commonplace with areas with this climate, temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the course of the year in Ibague, with average high temperatures of about 28 degrees Celsius and average low temperatures of about 18 degrees Celsius. Ibague on average sees 1700 mm of precipitation annually.

How to Reach

By Air

About 10 km east of the city lies Perales Airport which has several flights a day to Bogota and Medellin.

By Bus

Municipal transport is managed by several local bus companies that operate minibuses throughout the city and to neighbouring villages.Ibague is a 4 hour bus journey from Bogota, a 3 hour bus journey from Armenia, a 5 hour bus ride from Medellin and a 2 hour bus journey from Honda.Numerous companies serve these routes.The journey to Armenia involves going over the la linea and is notorious for accidents, landslides and occasional guerrilla activity. Avoid doing this part of the journey at night or in a small minibus.

By Road

Ibague lies at the intersection of national roads 40 and 43, connecting the city to Magdalena River Valley and Bogota to the east, Armenia and the Valle del Cauca to the west, and Honda to the north. There is a long distance bus terminal with connections to most big cities in Colombia. There are frequent connections to Bogota, Cali, Medellin, and several overnight buses to Cartagena, Barranquilla, and seasonal services to Santa Marta.

Key places to visit
La Martinica, Conservatorio del Tolima, Jardin Botanico San Jorge, Fundacion Orquidea del Tolima


Places to Visit

La Martinica

A nature reserve along the Armenia bypass that offers a good panoramic view of the whole city of Ibague and the surrounding area. It is the hill with several telecommunications masts on top of it. Start early, as it can get quite hot. It will take you 2-3 hours to reach the top (1530 metres).

Conservatorio del Tolima

It comprises an old, crumbling building and a modern one. Ask the guard to show you the views from the top. It's just round the corner from Plaza Bolivar.While the building itself is not that impressive, it's an important part of the city's heritage.

Jardin Botanico San Jorge

Botanical garden located at the edge of Ibagué boasting over 500 species of plants.It has 7 km of nature trails (visitors can choose between a short, flat walk, or a longer, more challenging one).You'll have the chance to see a coca plant, if you've never seen one before.

Fundacion Orquidea del Tolima

Nature reserve with an impressive selection of orchids, including the national flower of Colombia, the endangered Cattleya trianae.There is a nature trail leading to a mirador where you can see a large part of Ibague.

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