Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Crossing the Colombian border from Tulcan in Ecuador is a straight forward process, very easy compared to crossing the border between Peru and Ecuador.
From the bus terminal in Tulcan I took a taxi to the border town of Rumichaca for $3USD. I then went to the immigration office on the Ecuadorian side
for my passport stamp and walked across the bridge into Colombia for more passport procedures, very simple and safe. In this area around the immigration
offices and bridge there are many money changers and taxis. Police were checking vehicles for contraband. The border has a few duty-free shops
and you can buy things to eat off the street. After immigration on the Colombian side, I got a taxi to Ipiales for about $5000 pesos which is
around $2.50USD, the journey takes 5-10 minutes and is 3kms away. The driver took me to the bus terminal in Ipiales so that I could catch a bus up to Pasto.
One or Two Way?
Between Tulcan and Rumichaca you will pass a gas station that has a miniture truck monument and
colorful water windmill beside it, the scenery is green and hilly. At one point the road becomes one-way but I didn't realise at first and was worried I was about to die when the taxi went round the corner on the left side!
The town of Ipiales is fairly simple with some colorful houses and buildings, some horse drawn carts, vehicles and green hills and trees as a backdrop.
From the bus terminal you can see the cathedral in the distance. In the area of Ipiales, 8kms away is the gothic church built in the middle of a bridge
called The Sanctuary of our Lady of Las Lajas, which can be visited by taxi or bus. It is well worth visiting Las Lajas, it was better than I thought it
Take a walk from the top of the hill in Las Lajas where the taxis wait down the cobblestone road. I left my main backpack with one of the shopkeepers for a small fee.
It felt very much like Ecuador here, there are many indigenous people and llamas dressed up in colorful hats, crowns, clothes and jewelry. There are many
souvenir shops also. The walk down the hill to the church has beautiful scenery, flower gardens, trees, plants and monuments and you can see a waterfall
on the hillside. A bronze statue stands along the pathway of Manuel de Rivera - a blind man and there is another statue of a woman and a girl. They are
Maria Mueses de Quinones with her deaf-mute daughter Rosa, there are plaques explaining what they did. It really is a beautiful church with intricate
designs, colored stained glass windows and angel figures playing musical instruments - guitar, harp, xylophone, drum, violin and trumpets. I got to see
inside because there was a service going on at the time, it has pilars and archways of white and gold.
At Las Lajas look down to the river and bridge below, you will
see a walkway along the riverside amongst nature, it looks spectacular. It really is a very lovely place.
Bus 90mins to Pasto
From Ipiales it is 78kms to Pasto
about 90 minutes. The journey has some of the most beautiful scenery I have seen - green mountains and valleys, rivers and small communities. The road has many curves so make sure your tummy is full before you travel up to Pasto.