By Vicky Santana Cortés
Photos: Francisco Forero
How much do Colombians know about their country’s iconic places and how much can they tell others? With these questions in mind, a group of adventurers joined photographer and expedition leader Francisco Forero, director of the Ecoplanet Foundation, armed themselves with cameras, patience, and desire, boarded helicopters, airplanes, and hot air balloons, and were given the task of identifying and photographing the one hundred places that, in their opinion, best represent the wild and urban beauty of Colombia.
This project, which began in 2007, culminated in the 2015 publication of a large format luxury book, now on sale in bookstores. Its 254 pages bring together astonishing images, inviting viewers to discover and explore the country’s moors, snow-capped peaks, torrents, deserts, waterfalls, plazas, parks, mountains, bays, beaches, and even imposing works of infrastructure.
The book’s aerial views offer a surprising perspective on each place, arranged according to their altitudinal gradient. From the eternal snows, the view goes down to the region of fog, high plateaus, and steep slopes, then to the spring like regions, the hot regions, the forest, and finally the sea.
As Francisco Forero points out, the ability to compare places like Bogotá, which sits nearly 8,530 above sea level in the very middle of the country, and some of the settlements in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta that are located at the same altitude, allows curious observers to discover interesting similarities.
Although the images speak for themselves, the book’s text gives an overview, in just five paragraphs, of what each place represents to the country from a historical, social, ecological, architectural, or economic perspective.
“Our signature is the rigor we apply to everything we do. Each coordinate, each altitudinal gradient, has absolute precision. Each text was written with the same precision,” says the project leader, who emphasizes the work carried out by the technical team and staff that traveled through Colombia for eight years, covering the country from north to south and east to west. He does not hide his pride when he points out that they spared no expenses in their work so none of the selected places would be excluded.
For example, “The San Agustín Archeological Park did not allow any aircraft with a motor. Our solution was to use a hot air balloon. We didn’t stop because of costs and we were able to photograph all of the places on our list,” said Forero.
The book —the production cost of which reached six hundred million pesos, not including the work donated by some participants— was financed by several organizations with missions that intersect with that of Ecoplanet, a foundation that gave life to the project, along with IM Editores.
Forero and his team are now in search of a platform that will allow them to offer this experience digitally, so the entire world can have access to this information.