Colombia in the Spotlight: Prince Charles visits President Santos in Colombia to discuss environment and sustainability

Members of the British Royal Family, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall will visit Colombia from Tuesday 28th October to Sunday 2nd November 2014 after an official invitation from President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón of Colombia. Casa de Nariño, the Presidential Palace in Bogota will be the majestic setting for a lavish banquet on Wednesday 29th October. The Prince is also scheduled to tour two national parks in the south of Colombia and the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena.

The Prince, who is next in line to the thrown, last visited the shores of Colombia in 1974 as a naval officer in the Royal Navy, so his second visit is long overdue. It will be the first visit to Colombia for the Duchess of Cornwall. They are looking forward to seeing the richly varied and beautiful environment and meeting the warm and friendly Colombian people.

During a busy schedule many important subjects will be assessed including sustainability, climate change, trade, responsible business and investment, and historical and cultural links. The fact that the British government has asked the Prince to accept this invitation is a sign of the importance that is attached to progressive relations between Great Britain and Colombia. While not an official State visit, the programme will underline and promote the partnership that already exists between the countries.

While the British red-top newspapers attempt to generate readers with predictably alarmist stories that Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles are in Colombia to tackle illicit drug trade and violence issues, the reality is that that while these subjects are of huge importance, they are only a lesser topic on the agenda. In fact, most of the Prince’s time will be spent visiting national parks and attending conferences focused on the environment in this ground-breaking trip.

This week Colombia’s capital city will be the focus of attention while Prince Charles and his wife stay in Bogota. The Prince of Wales will find time to explore the traditional arts and crafts of Colombia and visit the historical architecture of beautiful Bogota. The visit coincides with the British Council’s 75th anniversary in Colombia and there will be a party at the residence of the British Ambassador, which will celebrate classic Colombian food dishes and craft traditions from around the country.

The Colombian President has arranged to show The Prince of Wales part of the largely unexplored, remote and pristine national parks in Colombia. The focus of these visits will be to promote sustainability and conservation of biodiversity within the environment.

The Prince has come to see the ecological success story of Chiribiquete National Natural Park in Colombian Amazonia, which was extended from 1.2 million hectares to 3 million hectares in August 2013 to become Colombia’s largest national park, at a time when neighbouring Ecuador chose to explore for oil in their territory.

The next stop will be the Serrania de La Macarena National Park in the south of the country. Initial studies show the 2,400 square miles national park to be one of the richest biological reserves in the world, with a number of species found nowhere else on the planet. The transition zone between Andean, Orinoco, and Amazonia habitats is full of impressive waterfalls and home to the spectacular Caño Cristales River, often referred to as the most beautiful river in the world for its striking colours.

The Prince will conclude his Colombian stopover by attending a summit promoting sustainability in growth of marine economies at the Health of the Oceans international conference in Cartagena. This will culminate with a sunset ceremony on board the HMS Argyll, which will be despatched to Cartagena at that time. From Colombia the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will continue to Central America for appointments in Mexico.

The Uncover Colombia Team wishes El Principe Carlos, as he is affectionately known in Colombia, and the Duquesa de Cornualles, a safe, pleasant and successful trip to Colombia!

by Mark Boultwood
About the author:

Mark Boultwood is an Englishman currently living in Bogota, Colombia. Mark first ventured to South America in the late 1990s, years later found himself volunteering at an animal refuge for a year, caring for a Jaguar in the depths of the Bolivian jungle. His passion for travel and new experiences landed him a decade-long role specialised in leading small group tours from Mexico right down to the tip of Argentina and almost every country in between. His interests include wildlife photography, hiking and collecting treasures from the places he travels. He is a freelance correspondent for Uncover Colombia.

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