When planning my partner and I’s journey overland from Colombia to Ecuador, we had to find a place to stop along the way to break up the journey from Bogotá to the border. We could have stopped in the eclectic, salsa-loving city of Cali, but since we prefer smaller places, we decided to take a 12 hour overnight bus from Bogotá to the small city of Popayán. Popayán is known for its colonial architecture and as Colombia’s “White City” due to the historical centre which is filled with white buildings. It is surrounded by mountains, including the Purace Volcano. Once you’ve explored the colonial centre, it’s worth it to either attempt the Purace volcano climb (only allowed with a guide and trips aren’t made every day if you’re tight for time) or take a trip to the nearby indigenous village of Coconuco for some time in hot springs and an adrenaline-pumping bike ride. I booked the trip to Coconuco through my hostel, HostelTrail. It cost 55,000 Colombian Pesos, or about $25 Canadian. It included getting …
The idea of racing to get a camping spot in a hammock or inside a hardly-washed tent to spend an evening in Tayrona National Park was never particularly appealing to me. Although witnessing a sunrise and/or sunset on its magnificent beaches would be amazing, I decided that the conditions under which you spend the night were not appealing to me. So, along with a new friend, I daytripped to Tayrona National Park all in one day, and though it was a busy day, it can be done!
I originally read that Guatapé, a two hour trip outside of Medellin, was busy and crowded on weekends, and so, not being a fan of crowds, planned to visit on a Monday as a daytrip. But some things in our Medellin schedule had to get rearranged, and so we had to change our daytrip to fall on a Sunday. It turns out this was the best decision that could have happened – the vibe of Guatapé on a Sunday was one of my most fun days in Colombia.
It doesn’t have a UNESCO-certified historical centre, a recognizable tourist attraction, or a particularly happy recent history. Nonetheless, Medellin, home of the proud “paisas” of Colombia’s Antioquia province, is one of the most interesting cities I have ever visited.
Coming from a country with a zero tolerance policy to street art and graffiti (beyond commissioned murals, which also often get painted over), I was excited to experience the street art scene in Colombia, having heard about it from other travellers. I went on two free street art tours while in Colombia, one in Cartagena and one in Bogotá, both of which I highly recommend.
Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, though the primary location is never stated, is said to take place in Cartagena. At the very least, it was inspired by Cartagena – this was the place where Márquez dreamed; perhaps, even where Márquez’s version of magical realism was invented.