Days stayed: 35 days (5 weeks)
Cost per day: $30 per person
Cities visited: 9
Days sick: 0 (yay!)
Longest continuous bus ride: 15 hr (Armenia – Pasto)
Conversion rate: $1 = 1800 COP
Arriving in Colombia, we didn’t know what to expect. The brutal coastal heat in Cartagena drove us south to San Gil and then Medellin where the temperature was cooler and the landscape was greener. This was when we started to warm up to Colombia and started to understand why everybody loves Colombia.
In the end, it was hard not to be won over by the beautiful Colombian landscape, the good vibes, and the friendliness of everyone we’ve come across during our visit.
Our Colombia itinerary
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– Saying ‘Buenas dias’ to everyone you pass on the street is the norm. I swear on some days we must’ve said it upward to 40 times.
– Identity check on buses is common. Bring a copy of your passport at all times.
– I wasn’t sure which attracts more attention in Colombia; my Asian look, or my Tevas-clad feet. I think it’s the latter.
– The night buses are cold and they play the worst movies that ever come out of Hollywood. And the most violent.
Cost per day: $30 per person
This is by staying in hostels every time and eating out at least once a day (since we suck at cooking). It’s about equal part transportation, accommodation, and meal.
– Hanging out in Salento and San Gil
– Being taken on a run by a horse in Salento
– The bountiful tropical fruit (maraculla, lulo, guanabana… yum!)
– Visiting cute pueblos such as Jardin and Guatape
– Getting by (and actually having fun) with minimal Spanish in a country where nobody speaks English
– Lack of variety in Colombian food
– Cold and long bus ride from Cartagena to Bucaramanga
– Suffering under Cartagena’s daytime heat
Colombia was more expensive than we’ve expected. Accommodations run between 45000 – 60000 COP for a private room and meals go for about as cheap as 4000 COP (chicken) to 12000 COP (for fish).
Very little English is spoken here, especially in the smaller cities. A very good country to do a Spanish language immersion, we think.
Cartagena – 5 days
Beautiful colonial buildings and hot, hot, hot. So hot we didn’t venture out until after 4 pm on most days.
Our hostal – Hostal Marlin – is located in Getsemani district. If we had to do it all over again, we’d have stayed in San Diego district where it’s quieter, cleaner, and just in overall a much more pleasant area to stroll around.
Giron – 1 day
We stopped here to break up a long trip from Cartagena to San Gil. It turned out to be a charming pueblo to spend the night in. This is where we first encountered the curious and friendly Colombian school kids – a preview of many more to come.
San Gil – 1 week
Jack loves San Gil. Me – just so so. We ended up staying longer than we expected because we were hoping to go white water rafting on the Suarez. But the daily rain kept the water level high so we ended up hanging out in our hostel (Sam’s VIP, it’s right by the plaza – recommended), going caving, visiting Barichara (a pueblo), and other nearby attractions.
Medellin – 5 days
One of the highlights of Medellin is the interesting characters we’ve met there. We met up with Dave for dinner along with Collin and Adrian – which led to one of the weirder and more interesting nights we’ve had in awhile.
The other highlight is a visit to Guatape – a town that looks like a ‘product of Crayola’, as one of our readers commented. We can’t agree more.
Jardin – 5 days
This is the place where time stands still. We really didn’t mean to stay here for that long, but we ended up really enjoying our time in this pueblo – sipping coffee, going horseback riding, and just hanging out.
Our hostal (Fami Hotel) is on the main plaza (it has a blue balcony) – and even though it doesn’t have WiFi we could piggyback off the town’s wifi from our room. The price includes breakfast or dinner.
We stayed in La Serrana – an ecofarm about 10 minute walk from town. The location is beautiful and the farm house is very comfortable. But it was a little bit on the pricier side.
Pasto – 2 days
A logical city to stop before crossing the border to Ecuador. We stayed an extra day to check out the nearby Laguna de La Cocha. It was just ok.
We stayed in Koala Inn – our room was large but basic.
Coming up next: stories from Colombia that we haven’t had a chance to tell you and of course, our latest adventures in Ecuador.