Arriving from Peru, we crossed the Ecuatorian border and arrived in Pasto. I’m sharing here our itinerary from South to North! We started in San Augustin, Tatacoa desert, visited the big cities of Bogotá and Medellín, Guatape, la zona cafetera in Jerico, Jardin and Salento, Villa de Leyva, San Gil, and finally the caribbean part with Tayrona, Palomino, Minca, Taganga, Cartagena and Rincón del Mar.
Border Ecuador / Colombia
We started our trip from Peru: Mancora – Tumbes (20 soles in colectivo) and crossed to Machala (31 soles). We slept there and arrived in Tulcan with a night bus (23$, 12h).
- Taxi from to the border (4$us)
- Taxi colectivo to Ipiales Terminal (1$ or 3K)
- Mini bus to Pasto (15K)
We passed one night in Pasto to get rest as our first destination was San Augustin. 2 options there: go to Mocoa or Popayan. As Mocoa bus just left, we took the one to Popayan (7h). We slept there and first hour we left for San Augustin.
We arrived in this amazing old town lost in the mountains, at 6h from Popayan. We found Bambu Hostel, an amazing place to stay (50K a double room with balcony and hammock). We started our preparation to the Ayahuasca ceremony and ended in Masaya hotel, probably the most beautiful hotel I have ever been (260K for the lodge with jaccuzzi).
45min walk from our hotel (20K by taxi) you find a museum and a parc where have been found few of the 500 statues in the region.
More than 5km from the city center you will discover El Purital, with coloured statues. You can walk or ride a horse (6K).
Bus from Popayan: 30K and the bus leaves you on the cross road, then 3K to the center
Villavieja and Tatacoa desert
Villavieja is a small town at the doors of the Tatacoa desert. We arrived there by night, found an hotel (Merkezi Saray: 50K a double room) and visited the desert the day after (not much to see in the town).
How to visit the desert of Tatacoa:
– We used a Tuk-tuk for a 4h tour in all the points mentionned (120K).
– Access to Xilopalos trek: 2K
– Access to the swimming pool in Los Hoyos: 10K
– Note that the access of the red desert was closed because of the rain the day before, so we only visited the upper part which is free.
Coming from San Augustin:
Bus San Augustin – Pitalito 10K
Bus Pitalito – Neiva 60K
Neiva – Villavieja 17K
Going to Bogota: from Neiva 52K
We arrived at CQ Chapinero hostel by night (53K) and ordered sushi (Rappi or Uber eats Apps).
The day after we visited the National Museum and the Museum of Gold (museo nacional y museo del oro). Then we walked to the main square, plaza Bolivar, via street 17th. We crossed the Candelaria and headed to The teleferico to go to Monserrate.
Second day we went to Usaquén and get back home walking through Zona T (lot of terrasses, bars and restaurants), and Zona G.
We took a nightbus to Medellin from the Salitre Terminal.
– La puerta falsa nearby the principal square
– Brewpub rooftop in Usaquéen
– Andres Carne de res (2 restaurants, both with amazing food, ambiance and design)
– Museo nacional: 4K
– Museo de oro: 2K
– Hostal CQ Chapinero: 54K
– Night bus Bogota-Medellin: 87K
– Taxi from terminal salitre to Chapinero: 20K (use Uber or Cabify)
You can visit Medellin in one day, or choose to pass more time there (to visit the Memory house museum, I heard it worth it!)
List of sites you can visit in one day:
- Parque Botanico
- Centro and plaza Botero (not a lot to see but stores)
- El Poblado (best place to stay, full of restaurants and bars)
- Comuna 13 (Tour for tips or by yourself as it’s very safe now)
Malibu hotel: 42K
Metro: 3K + 5k for the card
Tour graffiti in comuna 13: 40K but again you can walk alone to the Mirador de la Comuna 13
Guatape and Peñol stone
Very beautiful village, famous for its paintings on the walls called Zocalos. You can visit everything in one day: the lake, the village, and Piedra del Penol (keep it for the sunset).
– Boat tour: 50K for 2
– Tuktuk Piedra: 12K for 2 one way from the center
– Entrance piedra top: 20K
– Hostel Casona Guatape: 60K
– Bus from and to Medellin Terminal Norte: 17K one way
Jerico and Jardin
We only stopped by Jerico, a very nice but small town. Main activity is to take a coffee on the main square.
Then we went to Jardin, a precious small town with a lot of walks you can do all around. First day we had the best trout ever at La Argelia restaurant, and we’ve been to La Garrucha, passing by Camino de la Herrera, an old colonian road (5km, 200m D+, 1h) and cascada del Amor.
Second day we’ve been to the Cristo Rey view point and to Cascada La France on the other side of the town (11km, 330m D+, 3h). We stopped by Finca la Antigua where you can taste the coffee in the middle of the plantation. There are many more walks to do but as it was raining every day we decided to keep going!
To sleep in Jerico: Atena hotel (60Ka double room)
Bus Medellin – Jerico: every 30min from Terminal Salitre or Terminal Sur
Transportation Jardin – Jerico (see the video):
– Escolera to Andes at 7am: 15K (2h)
– Escolera Andes: 2K (10min)
– Taxi Andes – Jardin: 25K (30min)
Hotel in Jardin: Hospedaje Turista (58K a double room)
An other treasure city! You will find on it’s hill the main square, main street leading to a view point, and the Jeeps leaving to Cocora parc from 7am to 6pm.
How to get to Salento from Jardin:
You need to take a bus first to Rio Sucio (25K) and Salento (36K) – 7h trip!
– To sleep in Jardin: Casa Eliana (70K)
– Cocora parc entrance: 10K
– Jeep from the main place to the parc: 8K with return
Villa de Leyva
Quiet town with a lot of paths into the houses (dont hesitate to enter in the patio, you can visit it freely). It’s also known for its main square: the largest of the country!
How to go to Villa de Leyva from Salento:
– Bus to Armenia (45min, 5,5K)
– Second one to Bogota (usually 6h but it lasted 24h!!! 53K)
– Bogota – Villa de Leiva 35K
– Hostel Natureo (50K)
– Museo de Fossil: 20K / Taxi to go there: 15K
San Gil, Barichara and Chicamocha canyon
San Gil is not a very nice city but has some nice buildings, a cute parc and very nice villages all around. We took a bus to Barichara, where you can take the Camino del Rey until Guane and take a bus to go back to Barichara.
After this nice day we took a bus to Bucaramanga and went back by colectivo to see the Chicamocha Canyon (better do a quick stop on your way to Bucaramanga).
– San Gil: La Casona Don Juan (50K a double room)
– Bucaramanga: Palmera Real (70K)
Parque Tayrona: See the dedicated post
With one Main street full of restaurants and bars, a nice beach and a river where you can do Tubing (50K), Palomino is a nice hippie stop for few days. At the end of the river you have plenty of restaurants where you can eat fresh fish.
To sleep: Mar Azul (45K)
Bus from Santa Marta terminal: 2h (25K)
Minca is for the nature lovers: wherever you walk you will be in the mountains or find waterfalls, coffee and chocolates farms and great hotels with view on the valley (like Casa Colibri, 25k a bed in a dorm).
First day we walked to the Mirador (3h) passing by the Finca Victoria (you will be charged 2K to pass through a private property).
Second day we walked to Pozo Azul but it was closing when we arrived. We made a stop to the nice Siembra Boutique hotel with a great restaurant and swimming pool.
Third day we walked to Marinka waterfall, a bit touristic and too cold water…
Small and not really interesting place, but great to dive (the city is full of diving centers). We stayed in a very beautiful hotel with the best view on the bay: Casa Horizonte (55K).
To arrive in Taganga:
You have cheap colectivo leaving from Santa Marta market or taxis for 20K.
We arrived in the afternoon, did a tour in the historical center and had dinner in Marzola Parilla. Everything is expensive there (it’s the most expensive place of Colombia), and it’s so touristic that you cannot visit it without being harassed by people.
The second day we walked around Getsamini, a nice and quiet place (in the morning only, by night it’s really crowdy).
Tips: To go to the center from the bus terminal you can take the Transcaribe bus for only 2,7K (1h). If you want to go to the airport you need to take the T 102 from the center.
To stay: Balconcito hotel, 58K.
Rincón del Mar
Rincón is a very small and quite city, with (expensive) hotels on the beach. We volunteered in a new hostel for 2 weeks and enjoyed the peaceful ambiance.
You have plenty restaurants (best ones were Dos Aguas, vegetarian and chill place, and Che Restaurant). You also have bars on the beach (15k a coctail).
One advice: take cash as there is only ATM in San Onofre and bring all the food and drinks that you can, as there are only small and expensive shops there.
You can also enjoy a tour in San Bernardo islands (we did one 60k to Tintipan with 2 snorkelling spots and a stop on a very small island, Mangles). We also did a plancton tour (50k) leaving around 5.30pm to the Parajo island, and crossing to a lake plenty of this bioluminescent effect, it was magical!