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Colombia route!

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1. Posted by Benito2k (Budding Member 37 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

!Hola amigos!

We're on the verge now of booking flights from London -> Montreal -> Toronto -> Bogota -> Sao Paulo -> London

Leaving in July and returning in December.

When we get to Colombia, what's the best route if we want to head into Ecuador afterwards?

You read a lot of things in blogs and travelguides, especially, regarding the safety of 'busing it' but we would prefer to use buses rather than fly from place to place (due to carbon footprint and cost).

Bogota -> Cartegena -> Barranquilla -> Taganga/Tayrona/Santa Marta -> Medellin -> Quito

Is that realistic and is there anywhere else we should be heading to?

Is it worth going to Aruba?

!Muchos gracias!

2. Posted by CanadaKid (Full Member 71 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!


Sounds like an awesome trip!

We just traveled from Bogota to Quito about a week ago. As far as busing goes... we had no trouble what so ever. We decided to avoid buses at night, but other than that, just the regular safety precautions.

We went to Popayan, which was a beautiful little town. Not tons to do there, but it'd make a nice pit stop if you needed. Also Santuario de Las Lajas is definitely worth a stop. It's in a town right near the border.

We had tons of trouble at the border... we have a blog if you want to read about it.. but it was mostly because last time I was in Ecuador, they neglected to enter my exit stamp into the computer. I have since renewed my passport, so I couldn't show them the stamp to prove that I exited legally. The officials at the border wanted $200 because of this. Eventually we took a copy of the passport to them and after about 3 hours of waiting, got through. But in those 3 hours, we noticed that *most* people got through ok. If you have never traveled through here before, it should be a breeze. The reputation of this crossing is horrid, (since talking to many Ecuadorians since), but as long as you don't have bad luck like us, it should be fine. Many other backpackers were there and had no problems.

If you have any more questions or want greater detail, send us a message!

Bien Suerte,


3. Posted by natewhd (Full Member 35 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

This really depends on your schedule. If you have the time to deviate a bit, a trip to the coffee region, and the to San Augustin via Popayan is worth it. This will take a few weeks. If you are curious about deatils you can check out my travel blog. I stayed in Colombia for two spectacular months.. but you can definately make things happen in much less Also when crossing the border take a bus to Otavalo (about 3 hours) .. if you can plan your arrival so you will be there on a Saturday. The market is the best i have ever seen in latin America you wont be dissapointed
Any questions feel free to send a message
Buena suerte happy trails

4. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 924 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Unless you are a big Shakira fan, there is no reason to go to Barranquilla. There is nothing there to see at all except her statue. They have a very nice Boulevard in the Prado district, but nothing beyond that. I would just go to Santa Marta et al.

If I were you and set on going to Colombia, I would land in Cartagena first. There is a lot of backtracking involved which could waste your time. I suggest looking to see just how much extra it would be to land in Carta first. It seems to me you will either be taking the bus up there anyways, or taking the bus back and flying there. SO just get her done right of the top and make a flow of it.

Truth to tell, if you want to really twist my arm, Bogota, while a nice and safe city, is not filled with interesting things. The Gondola up the mountain there is nice, and the Candelaria district has it's charm. But I consider it limited. This does not come from someone who just passed through, but a guy who lived in Colombia for ayear and a half. Bogota is a business city.


5. Posted by Benito2k (Budding Member 37 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the replies guys.

We haven't been able to find flights, from the UK that aren't very, very expensive landing in Cartegena rather than Bogota.

My interest in Barranquilla was that I heard it had a great football stadium and it was worth trying to catch a game there?

I'm a huge fan of Carlos Valderrama and thought I might spot him there!! I plan to find his statue in Santa Marta.

I wonder if we could look to fly from Bogota to Cartegena, though. Will look into that, although the tumbling £ means that things are already looking more expensive!

6. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 924 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Yes. That's fair enough. The culture of Colombia happens outside of Bogota, although they have a great music and art scene. It is worth a couple of days of bombing around.

Different people enjoy different things. Maybe Barranquilla will be your cup of tea. Best of Luck on that quest.

You're going to love Medellin.

Cartagena is good for maybe two days. If you have the chance, take a boat out to the Islas Rosario from there. They are gorgeous. Stay away from the Boca Grande beaches. The water sucks and the vendors will make you want to take up arms. Try Marbella instead. Much quieter, AND the water is better

DO NOT go to any museum in Cartagena. Period. New paragraph. Here are the suggested ones from guide books. Gold Museum --five exhibits, shoddily put together Museum of the Inquisition--- One interesting room of torture devices and an old holding cell which is, admittedly, a good place to take pics. Ten minutes of looking for five dollars. The Museum of the Battlements. Two cistern rooms with nothing in them but sixteen panels explaining the battlements...Ten are so water damaged that you can't read them. Jade Museum--Just a way of getting you inside so they can hardsell you Jade.


I tell you this only so you have the most enjoyable time you can have in Colombia, which I love. There is lots to recommend it. Taganga, Popoyan, Medellin, the music of Cartagena (in small doses. After a year, I will quite happily die without hearing another salsa song) The music clubs of Bogota. Random small towns while hopping off a bus. People with a shocked warm smile on their face when a tourist stops and says hello. I love Colombia.



7. Posted by Benito2k (Budding Member 37 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Did some more reading last night - Barranquila does sound like it would be a waste of precious time and so I've scratched that from the list.

Looking at the route from Bogota to Cartegena, it looks like there might be a few places to stop and break up the journey - Villa de Leyva sounds worth a visit.

Another thought, bearing in mind what you said about doubling back, I wonder if it might be worth us flying into Caracas (shudder), as it's cheaper to fly into there and then working our way across via Merida.

I'm not keen on Caracas, but I think the airport is outside of the main city and so we could whizz stright off to somewhere nicer?! Macuto, maybe?

Thanks for your advice, which is really useful!

I've not been travelling before, only ever 2 weeks backpacking at a time, and am finding a little more stressful than I expected trying to plan a route!!

8. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 924 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

Well, I am not completely against Caracas...but yes, better to avoid it if it isreally just a place of convenience.

I can't see how going there will save you time, to be honest. It's a long trip from there to the border. I guess you just have to eat the time when you land in Bogota, and then have to backtrack.

Don't get stressed over the route. Pick a route and stick to it and you get to see what you see. I mean, it's all new experience, and there is no way you're going to see it all, so you get a new experience everyday and see as much as you can.

Let me know if there are any other things you need to know about. I sure wish Rastapaul was on this board. That man is the KING of all things Colombian and would have you feeling like you had nothing to worry about.


9. Posted by Benito2k (Budding Member 37 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

I guess rather than save time, it might save doubling back if we arrive in Venezuela and then work our way down and around from there. The girlfriend is very keen to go to Merida.

Also, if we fly from London to Caracas and then Sao Paulo to London it will be £670

London to Bogota and then Sao Paulo to London is £880

That's wuite a good saving. Decisions, decisions!

10. Posted by Benito3k (Budding Member 5 posts) 8y Star this if you like it!

So, we have been doing more research and it sounds like San Augustin is worth a visit?

So now we're thinking Bogota -> Villa de Leyva -> Cartagena -> Taganga -> Tayrona -> Medellin -> Popayan -> San Augustin -> Ipiales (Las Lajas Cathedral) -> Ecuador

Am I missing anything there?

Is it worth adding Santa Marta to the list?

Is Cali worth a visit or are Cartagena, Bogota, and Medellin cities enough?