Search

Our (Detailed) Journey Through Colombia



In recent years, Colombia has boomed as the "must visit" destination for travelers of all types from families, bloggers, photographers, backpackers, and solo travelers--and for good reason! From it's rich culture, colorful, colonial towns, big metropolitan cities, tropical resorts, lush greenery and wildlife and not to mention it's vibrant coffee region, this country has it all!


We started in Cartagena and traveled all the way down to Ipiales via bus. Here is an all inclusive insight into what we ate, where we stayed, and what we did during our travels throughout this marvelous country.


Cartagena


Old City, Cartagena

What We Ate

-Pasteleria Mila: Arepa con huevos, a customary breakfast item from the coast that could be eaten any time of day. It consists of an arepa filled with ground beef, an egg, and cheese!

-Juan Valdez: The Starbucks of Colombia! Try their alforjores--a caramel filled soft cookie, and coffee.

-Donde Magola: Local and inexpensive empanadas, no frills but so good, starting at $1!


Where We Stayed

-Patio Getsemaní: An upscale hostel with a cute rooftop courtyard, nice rooms with AC, and breakfast included.

-Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa: Luxury 5 star hotel located in the heart of the Old City with a rooftop pool, his and hers spa, and a bangin' breakfast buffet.


What We Did

-Isla Barú: Island off the coast of Cartagena. Stay a day or overnight in one of the many hostels on the beach in Playa Blanca. The best part about staying the night is that the crowds leave before 5pm leaving you with a quiet beach and an epic sunset.

-Old City: Also known as "The Walled City," due to the giant stone wall surrounding the area. The wall was built to protect the city from possible pirate attacks and offers great views of the town from all corners. Wander the colorful streets, explore the artesanal markets, and photograph colonial-style balconies draped in bougainvillea flowers.

-Clocktower: karaoke bar - the locals take this very seriously, enjoy a live band and great drinks.


Note:

1. Whatever city you arrive in, exchange most of your money outside of the airport. The rate will be more favorable! There are many money exchange shops throughout the cities.

2. Be sure to tip the chiquita ladies before photographing them or they get very upset!

3. When heading to Playa Blanca, there are two ways to get there. I recommend the boat ride that you can catch at Muelle de La Bodeguita! However, if you get easily seasick, try the other route. Sometimes the waters get a bit rough! Also, don't go with anything you don't want to get soaked. If you are bringing a camera, be sure to have it sealed in a plastic bag.


Santa Marta


Santa Marta

What We Ate

-Ikaro Cafe: A trendy shop with couch beds to lounge on while you enjoy the large variety of coffee beverages, desserts, and vegan options! We loved the coca lemongrass tea, and the coconut milk iced latte.

-Lazy Cat: Inexpensive and delicious burgers, good for budget travelers!

-Bienvenue Crepes: A cute French creperie with outdoor seating, and tons of crepe options to choose from.


Where We Stayed

-Masaya Hostels: A trendy, young, and cool hostel with 2 small pools, and a rooftop bar/restaurant. They also have a travel agent on-site to help you book your tours.


What we Did

-The Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida): A difficult but rewarding 4 day hike through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The Lost City is the archaeological site of an ancient indigenous town built in 800AD.

-Tayrona National Park: Great for small hikes, and beaching it. (See section on Tayrona below).


Note:

1. From Santa Marta, we took buses to Tayrona National Park and The Lost City Trek.

2. Be careful with your belongings even with the crowds around, and don't wander the streets late at night! Two friends of ours were held at knife point and robbed of $120 during a live music festival with families and people everywhere.


Tayrona National Park


Casilletes, Tayrona National Park

What We Ate

-Restaurante Playa Cañaveral: We ordered the menu del dia which included an entree, main plate, a dessert, and a juice. The mojarra (a typical dish of fried fish) was excellent and the maracuya juice was divine!


Where We Stayed

-Casilletes: While most people flock to areas such as Cabo, we tried Casilletes on for size! To our surprise, it turned out to be a secluded and quiet beach with very few tourists. We stayed in a tent next to the ocean and were accompanied by a stunning starry sky with our dinner.

-Cabo San Juan: A popular destination! You can stay in a hammock at the top of a lighthouse or a tent near the shore. From here you can walk over to other small beaches.


What we Did

-Hiking: There are a variety of hikes to choose from during your stay. Getting from beach to beach, be sure to wear sneakers as you will be inevitably hiking in between! We hiked to Pueblito which are the ruins of a town from 500 years ago.

-Beached it: We lounged at several beaches. The most popular beaches usually allow you to swim in the water. The further you go, the less people you'll find!


Tips:

1. Stay the night in a tent or hammock in Casilletes, the small beach has a kitchen for use and an outdoor restaurant. When you arrive at the park entrance, there are booths outside where you can purchase tickets for your stay.

2. There is a restaurant on-site in Casilletes as well as a kitchen you can use if you bring your own food.

3. Wear a ton of sunscreen! You will still get tan. The sun is brutal here.

4. Stay hydrated!


The Lost City Trek (Ciudad Perdida)


The Lost City Trek

For a day to day look inside the trek, check out Jose's post.


What We Ate

-The tour provided us with daily meals for the duration of our trek.


Where We Stayed

-Each night we stayed at campsites and clocked out early for 5am wakeup calls. We each had our own bed with mosquito nets (needed).


What We Did

-Hiked through the Sierra Nevada mountains, pushing ourselves to the limit, and discovering hidden waterfalls, valleys, and lastly, the ruins.


Note:

1. If you're headed to The Lost City, be prepared. Bring mosquito spray and sunscreen.

2. It is very strenuous and not meant for inexperienced hikers (like me, lol).

3. Be sure to pack lightly but smartly. You will sweat through everything you have, and most items won't dry overnight. You might also walk through a river, so make sure your hiking boots aren't brand new!

4. Practice good hygiene. Bring hand sanitizer as there is a communal bar of soap and sometimes nothing at all.

5. Bring toilet paper!!!


Minca


Marinka Falls, Minca

What We Ate

-Dumi Cafe: Fresh foods, and delicious fruit juices. They also have a variety of vegetarian and vegan options!

-Black cat: Yummy burgers and drink selections.

-Hostal Casa Loma: The pesto pasta and the burritos were BOMB.


Where We Stayed

-Hostal Casa Loma: A beautiful, trendy, and tropical hostel with an insane view of the valley. Fair warning! Prepare for a hike up a mountain of stairs to get there with your backpacks.

-Casa relax: This chill hostel had breakfast included and a 24hour pool. It was off the beaten path and the only way we found how to get there was by walking across a river via plank! We later discovered that there was an alternate route, haha!


What we Did

-Marinka Falls: a one hour hike or a 20 minute mototaxi ride. A restaurant with a hammock overlook the falls and you can walk down to the small natural pool.


Note:

There is lots to do in Minca, unfortunately, we were only there for 2 nights and 1 day.

We would recommend:

-Kennedy mountain for great views

-Pozo azul, another natural pool

-If you're interested in bird watching, there are many tours offered!


Medellin


Parque Lleras, Medellin

What We Ate

-Mundoverde: Delicious veggie bowls and fresh juices/smoothies

-Pergamino: Super cute and trendy cafe with fresh baked goods.

-El Rancherito: Bandeja paisa-which is a traditional dish of rice, beans, pork, plantain, chorizo, morcilla, and an avocado.


Where We Stayed

-Hotel Du Parc Royal: Classy, French-style, hotel, with clean and comfy rooms.

-Ayenda Rooms: A great website that finds and books you the perfect room based on services, prices, and location.


What we Did

-Comuna 13: Walk around and photograph the historic Comuna 13 which was once known as one of the most dangerous areas in Colombia. It's still remains a poor neighborhood, however the area available to the public is decorated in stunning graffiti. You can either go alone or with a group via walking tour).


Note:

1. There are many great restaurants around Parque Lleras.

2. It is super lively at night, so we don't recommend the area if you are a light sleeper!

3. Visit Pueblito Paisa for cute photos.

4. Take a cablecar to Arví park (closed on Mondays).


Bogotá


What We Ate

-Brot: Pretty restaurant, great ambiance, and delicious food! The fresh baked goods were excellent. Be sure to try the calentado (a bed of rice & beans topped with avocado, chorizo, and an egg. More like a lunch than a breakfast, ha!). Highly recommended!

-El secreto del amor: If you're looking to try the classic Colombian dish of ajiaco, look no further!

-La Puerta Falsa: Anthony Bourdain called these tamales here "a thing of beauty." A tamale is a dish of seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough and steamed or baked in corn husks. YUM!


Where We Stayed

We chose Airbnb for our time in Bogotá. This bustling city has loads of Airbnb, hotel, and hostel options.


What we Did

La Candelaria: Explore the cities historical downtown area covered in graffiti, colorful homes, and cool restaurants and shops.

Monserrate: Rising to 3,152 metres (over 10,000ft) above the sea level, where there is a church with a shrine, devoted to El Señor Caído. Here you get to ride up the mountain via cable car, shop the artesanal market, and feast your eyes on an epic view of the city.

La Zona Rosa: Visit the trendy shops and restaurants.


Note:

1. Many blogposts mention La Candelaria as the best location to stay in, however, the area can be dangerous at night. Look up reviews of where you're staying in beforehand to see what people are saying.


Guatapé


Guatapé

What We Ate

-Cafe La Vina: Cute cafe overlooking the water.

Where We Stayed

-We made it a day trip, but the town is adorable and we would've loved to have stayed longer.


What We Did

-Explored the town of Guatapé.

-Climbed 740 steps up to the lookout El Peñon de Guatapé.

-Once up there, enjoy a mango michelada and an ice cream to go with the panoramic views.


Note:

1. El Peñon de Guatapé is outside of the city. If you're doing it without a tour of any kind you'll have to go there first, and then get transport to the town separately. There are a variety of colectivos at the bottom of the mountain that could take you to the town.

2. Guatapé is a great place to spend the day. A lot of activities to take advantage of, including: zip lining, jet skiing, and riding a motor boat around the city.


(Eje Cafetero) Coffee Region


Cocora Valley

Pereira

What We Ate

-Arepunto: A no-frills, Colombian, fast-food restaurant nearby out hostel. We tried the chuzo desgranado but would recommend the meat and potato platter--it looked so good!


Where We Stayed

-Kamalion Hostel: A cute and simple hostel, perfect for what we needed.


What We Did

-Cocora Valley: Experience the tallest palm trees in the world. It can be a 5 hour or 1 hour hike. Due to Salento being closed off for a national bike race, we arrived late and only had the option for the short route. Regardless, it was an amazing sight you shouldn't miss!


Note:

1. We used Pereira as a hub to get to Filandia. We landed here from Medellin.

2. If you plan to go to Cocora Valley you should stay in Salento. Jeeps leave from the main square throughout the day and you'll be able to enjoy the colorful town once you're done!


Filandia

What We Ate

-La Casa Del Pandebono: Eat for good and cheap. Try the pandebono, empanadas, buñelos, and an arequipe donut. Basically, anything fried!

-Jahn Cafe: Coffee, juices, and quick bites!

-Don Fernando: Try a bonbon, which is an espresso with condensed milk. Super yum!

Where We Stayed

-Bidea Hostel: Adorable hostel with comfortable beds, breakfast included, and a lounge area with guitars and books.

-Casa Country Finca: If you feel like exploring deeper into the region, we stayed at Greg's finca! The location was a 10 minute walk from another finca which offered a coffee tour (highly recommended).


What We Did

-Explored the cute and colorful city.

-Coffee tour: Such an enjoyable experience! We learned the ins and outs of the world of coffee.


Note:

1. If you plan on staying at Greg's, be sure to text him before you head there. We had to wait for 2 buses that seemed to never come, and Greg offers a pickup service for free.

2. Dinner is not included! If they offer you tacos, be sure to eat as much as you want since you will be paying upon checkout.


Tatacoa Desert


Tatacoa Desert, Neiva

What We Ate

-Goat: Jose liked it. I stuck with the chicken.

-Cactus wine: Sweet and tasty with a high potency!


Where We Stayed

-Sol de Verano Doña Lilia: Accommodations ranging from hammocks to private rooms. in the summer, we recommend rooms due to the high heat.


What we Did

-Labyrinth of Cusco: Wander through the desert and learn about why it exists, how high the land used to be and experience the massive cacti!

-Observatory: We highly recommend doing this! 10 minute walk from where we stayed to enjoy a fun and educational stargazing experience!


Note:

1. We went in the off season, so restaurants and food were limited. It might be better to bring food with you or at least snacks!

2. We took an 8 hour bus ride from Pereira to Neiva, then a taxi to the bus station, then an hour to Vieja Vieja, then a mototaxi to Tatacoa.


San Agustín


La Chaquira, San Agustín

What We Ate

-Casa de Francois: The crepes were super bomb. One of the biggest menus we've seen in a hostel. Along with the dulce de leche crepes, we enjoyed a fresh veggie pasta, chicken salad sandwiches, and plenty of coffee.


Where We Stayed

-Masaya Hostels: It was still under construction when we went, but they showed us around the property. There were unique hut-style rooms, a sustainable farm, goats, and an oversized hammock with a killer view. They are now open and accepting reservations.

-Casa de Francois: Highly recommend! This hostel was nestled at the top of a hill overlooking San Agustín. The lush gardens, pebbled pathways, and wooden cottages made this place very appealing to the eye. The rooms were comfortable, facilities clean, and did I mention the food?


What We Did

-La Chaquira: An ancient archaeological site with a statues, one in particularly of a woman, believed to have been carved between 50–400 A.D.

-In addition to the statues, you can enjoy a walk down the long staircase leading to an epic view of the valley.


Note:

1. When visiting La Chaquira, you can either walk there or take horses. We ended up taking a long walking route, unsure if it was the correct way, but enjoyed wandering through the lush fields of green and cows!


Popayan, Pasto, & Ipiales


Leguna Telpis, Pasto

Las Lajas Sanctuary, Ipiales

Popayán

What We Ate

-Cuasenor Pan Tolima: The service wasn't superb, but the breakfast was inexpensive and good! There was also an attached bakery.

-Tequilas: Great Mexican food! The quesadillas were awesome!


Where We Stayed

-San Cristobal: Spacious and simple room! We had a balcony that overlooked the small bustling city.


What We did

-Used as hub to our next destination.

-Spent the day exploring the city even though we were caught under the rain. It's called the white city due to the color of most of the colonial buildings in the city center.


Note:

1. There wasn't much to do besides explore some of the churches.


Pasto

What We Ate

-Pollo Sorpresa: The town goes to sleep early, so when we arrived late, there weren't many restaurant options available. Lucky for us, we stumbled upon one near our hostel. The service was great along with the arroz con pollo.

-Guadalviquir: An inexpensive and delightful breakfast, so good we went there twice!


Where We Stayed

-Hotel Casona: Friendly staff! The room was very small but there was a kitchen on the roof.


What We did

-Mijitayo falls (attempted and failed): Because of the bad advice from a local, we ended up hiking up the river leading to the base of the waterfalls. While fun for a bit, it got progressively harder and we weren't able to reach the falls themselves. Also, Jose got bit by a dog standing guard by a door. Make sure you get good directions and take the right trail!

-Laguna Telpis: Located on the side of a the stratovolcano Galeras, this was a 5 hour roundtrip hike with beautiful panoramic views. If interested, make sure you call the tourism office in Yacuanquer so they can have a guide ready. You also have to be in the town around 8am because they close the gates to the hike early!


Note:

1. Be careful when trusting the locals with directions for you may end up in a situation similar to our failed waterfall attempt.


Ipiales

-We finally made it! We had been dying to visit Las Lajas Sanctuary since discovering it's existence, and let me tell you, it was worth the wait! Built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River, and next to a waterfall, the scene was spectacular.


Note:

1. Ipiales is a 2 hour bus ride from Pasto. From there, you can take a 35 minute colectivo ride to the Sanctuary.

2. We crossed over to Ecuador from here. The only other way to visit the Sanctuary is by starting in Quito, Ecuador and making the drive up.


Well that's it guys! I really hope you've found this helpful and you enjoy Colombia as much as we did. I'd love to hear from you. Tell me about your journey in the comments below. :)

©2017-2020 EYE OF SHE