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Medellin to Bucaramanga, Colombia - 8hrs Travelling By Mini-Van

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Map location: Medellin to Bucaramanga, Colombia
Map location: Medellin to Bucaramanga, Colombia
Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - December 2010   » View Photoset (23 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
After close to 5 months living and studying in Medellin it was time for more travel. I wanted to head to Venezuela, so first I made my way 390kms to Bucaramanga. I had heard the road between Medellin and Bucaramanga was in bad shape which it was and probably would be for some time. Many mudslides and lots of debris half covering the road in many places. The journey took about 8hrs but was quite scenic passing through beautiful countryside and through many small villages and towns.

Girardota and Barbosa

From the north bus terminal in Bello Medellin we began the bus journey to Bucaramanga firstly passing through the towns of Girardota and Barbosa. The mountains and hills are green and lush especially from all the rain. Some nice looking fruit stalls at the side of the road called Frutera La Central and Frutera La Mejor look inviting - grapes, mandarins, pineapples and bananas. We crossed over a river and began the accent into the hills. It looks rather tropical with palm trees in the hills as we get close to Barbosa. The town itself looks like a pretty laid-back place, there was a circus in town with their big tent pitched beside a soccer field and palm trees.

Barbosa to Cisneros

A large group of vultures on the road moved out of the way of the bus as we continued on Route 62 heading east, the river is close by. We still hadn't reached Cisneros when we had to make a stop in our 15 person mini-van to fix a tyre, it was losing air. There was some tea rooms right there where we had a quick bite to eat. It was sunny and the hills and countryside are green with many trees and with houses near the road. The condition of the road is ok at this point with 21kms until Cisneros, 24kms to Gomez Plata and Amalfi 75kms away (towns off to the left). I started to see farms known here as fincas, with farmhouses and animals grazing in fields. As we come into a small village I see a blue and white church towards the right with a clock tower. We pass over a bridge and wind around and up the street where houses sit close to the road on each side and pass the church again on the other side. We continue our accent on the winding road through beautiful countryside, the views into the distance are now getting better. Beside the road is the occasional shrine and some nice colorful flowers of pink, red and yellow. A sign says Cisneros is still ahead of us and to the right is a place called Santo Domingo, the views on the leftside reach into the distance. At this point we are at a place called El Limon. Now 5kms from Cisneros, a sign says that Cisneros is a paradise in the heart of Antioquia. On the rightside is a waterfall on the side of a hill which can be clearly seen as we decend down the valley into Cisneros.


A nice farm with palms and banana trees and a river are towards the right, we stop briefly to pick up a passenger. A little boy on the footpath sees my camera and wants his photo taken for which I oblige, now we are in Cisneros. It's a nice little town with houses painted colorfully in orange, green, blue, yellow and pink. There's horses and carts, a train monument and a carved tree painted with characters and objects. A train track runs through the town and the streets are decorated for Christmas.

Lunch in Maceo

Over the river and beginning to see many ravines - Quebradas La Sonadora, Cantayus, La Esperanza, Papayo, La Bella and several others. We go through an army checkpoint, the road is still fine at this point and the scenery green. Another army checkpoint where we are stopped by a man with a big gun. A sign points straight ahead for Maceo and left for Providencia. Over a river across a bridge and we come to Maceo, this is where we stopped for lunch.

Puerto Berrio

We carry on towards Puerto Berrio through La Floresta, past a brick church where people have riden their motorcycles and bicycles right to the front door and parked up. Puerto Berrio is 40kms away, Bucaramanga 263kms and Cucuta 455kms. Through toll gates, we come to Plaza de Ferias, then Sugaberrio. Puerto Berrio now 6kms away, Bucaramanga 229kms and Cucuta 421kms. We arrive now in Puerto Berrio which is a place built right next to the Rio Magdalena, people here ride around on motorbikes and use horses and carts to carry things around. We head over the river on a major bridge made of steel, train tracks are on the rightside and some army guys.

Puerto Olaya and Puerto Araujo

Puerto Olaya is on the otherside of the Rio Magdalena, the countryside has now opened up and is flat. There are oil pipelines extending alongside the road. A fork in the road points right to Bogota and straight ahead to Bucaramanga. Across Rio San Juan, past a few farms and banana trees, then we glide through Puerto Araujo and out. Bucaramanga 167kms, Valledupar 545kms, Santa Marta 611kms. Now on Route 45 and we cross the Rio Carare and shortly after the Rio Guayabito, banana plantations are out to the left. The road is straight and long in this area. 157kms to Bucaramanga. The next part of the journey is pleasant and is reasonably fast. La Lizama 72kms, Bucaramanga 102kms, San Alberto 159kms. After a toll gate, a fruit stand with a thatched roof has watermelons, bananas, mandarins and apples for sale. Straight long roads and easy travel. There is a ravine Quebrada Aguas Negras, a beautiful scene of tall thin trees, ponds and livestock are to the right.

Puerto Nuevo

A bridge over the Rio Opon and now we are at Puerto Nuevo. There's a large pond. La Lizama 43kms, Barrancabermeja 73kms, San Alberto 130kms, Bucaramanga 123kms, Valledupar 507kms, Santa Marta 571kms. We cross a river on a yellow bridge and are in the area of Campo Veintitres, Bucaramanga is 110kms to go.

Peroles to Bucaramanga

Lots of trees in this area line the road as we come to Peroles. Bucaramanga 83kms, La Lizama 3kms, Barrancabermeja 33kms and San Alberto 90kms. The oil pipeline can be seen now and again. We are 67kms from Lebrija which is a place just before Bucaramanga. We soon come to another ravine Quebrada Lizama, there is an oil drill station. After some long straight roads and some small towns we come to some major road works due to flood damage, we sit still for 15 minutes. There is a big quarry out to the right beside the river, a huge chunk of the side of a hill is being grinded away. Good views of this can be seen as you cross the bridge. The road has started to get a bit dodgy now and is not in great condition. Lebrija 41kms, Bucaramanga 54kms. Big boulders lay on the side of the road from mudslides, at one place it looks like there was an earthquake with a big crack in the road with one side sunken away. More large boulders and mudslides covering one side of the road make this area a little hairy in several places. A while after this point we had to stop for at least an hour because of an accident with a bus 1km ahead. During this time it became dark, cold and misty. It was now after 5pm and by around 6pm we decended into the valley and arrived in Bucaramanga.

Hotel Near Bucaramanga Bus Terminal

I was tired after the journey. A taxi took me back up the valley to the center of town to a street full of budget hotels. I found a room with wifi, tv and bathroom for $29,000 pesos.


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Medellin to Bucaramanga, Colombia - 8hrs Travelling By Mini-Van. The road east out of Medellin in 2010 was rained out and had problems with landslides. It was a bumpy ride!