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

Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - December 2010   » View Photoset (23 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
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.
Colombia Photo - Heading towards Cisneros on the way to Bucaramanga.
Heading towards Cisneros on the way 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
Colombia Photo - A country house with banana trees growing near Cisneros between Medellin and Bucaramanga.
A country house with banana trees growing near Cisneros between Medellin and Bucaramanga.
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
Colombia Photo - Huge boulder from mudslides sits on the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
Huge boulder from mudslides sits on the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
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
Colombia Photo - Fresh fruit stall with thatched roof on the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
Fresh fruit stall with thatched roof on the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
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.

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
Colombia Photo - Boulders on the side of the road from Medellin to Bucaramanga on the 2nd half of the journey.
Boulders on the side of the road from Medellin to Bucaramanga on the 2nd half of the journey.
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
Colombia Photo - Green hills and trees and red flowers beside the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
Green hills and trees and red flowers beside the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
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
Colombia Photo - Beautiful countryside between Medellin and Bucaramanga.
Beautiful countryside between Medellin and Bucaramanga.
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
Colombia Photo - The Medellin to Bucaramanga road is in good condition for the first half.
The Medellin to Bucaramanga road is in good condition for the first half.
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.
Colombia Photo - The town of Cisneros on the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.
The town of Cisneros on the Medellin to Bucaramanga road.

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.
Colombia Photo - A finca and palm trees before Cisneros between Medellin and Bucaramanga.
A finca and palm trees before Cisneros between Medellin and Bucaramanga.
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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Distances & times (if available) from about halfway from Medellin to Bucaramanga (Colombia) to:


Map location: Medellin to Bucaramanga, Colombia. The road east out of Medellin in 2010 was rained out and had problems with landslides, it was a bumpy ride!
 A : EAFIT University Medellin - Colombia 145 kms 145 kms straight distance | 3hrs 51mins 3hrs 51mins by car (197 kms) | 4hrs 37mins 4hrs 37mins by bus (197 kms) (197 kms)
 B : Bucaramanga - Colombia 141 kms 141 kms straight distance | 3hrs 15mins 3hrs 15mins by car (198 kms) | 3hrs 54mins 3hrs 54mins by bus (198 kms) (198 kms)
 C : Medellin - Colombia 151 kms 151 kms straight distance | 4hrs 16mins 4hrs 16mins by car (202 kms) | 5hrs 7mins 5hrs 7mins by bus (202 kms) (202 kms)
 D : Guatape / Penol - Colombia 109 kms 109 kms straight distance | 4hrs 39mins 4hrs 39mins by car (262 kms) | 5hrs 34mins 5hrs 34mins by bus (262 kms) (262 kms)
 E : Bucaramanga to Cucuta - Colombia 180 kms 180 kms straight distance | 5hrs 40mins 5hrs 40mins by car (276 kms) | 6hrs 48mins 6hrs 48mins by bus (276 kms) (276 kms)
 F : Barichara - Colombia 114 kms 114 kms straight distance | 6hrs 22mins 6hrs 22mins by car (282 kms) | 7hrs 38mins 7hrs 38mins by bus (282 kms) (282 kms)
 G : San Gil - Colombia 123 kms 123 kms straight distance | 5hrs 42mins 5hrs 42mins by car (298 kms) | 6hrs 50mins 6hrs 50mins by bus (298 kms) (298 kms)
 H : Bogota - Colombia 209 kms 209 kms straight distance | 5hrs 33mins 5hrs 33mins by car (329 kms) | 6hrs 39mins 6hrs 39mins by bus (329 kms) (329 kms)
 I : Cucuta to Venezuela - Colombia 247 kms 247 kms straight distance | 8hrs 11mins 8hrs 11mins by car (396 kms) | 9hrs 49mins 9hrs 49mins by bus (396 kms) (396 kms)
 J : Salento - Colombia 253 kms 253 kms straight distance | 7hrs 37mins 7hrs 37mins by car (403 kms) | 9hrs 8mins 9hrs 8mins by bus (403 kms) (403 kms)
 K : Armenia - Colombia 270 kms 270 kms straight distance | 7hrs 55mins 7hrs 55mins by car (416 kms) | 9hrs 30mins 9hrs 30mins by bus (416 kms) (416 kms)
 L : San Antonio to San Cristobal - Venezuela 261 kms 261 kms straight distance | 8hrs 57mins 8hrs 57mins by car (434 kms) | 10hrs 44mins 10hrs 44mins by bus (434 kms) (434 kms)
 M : Cali to Armenia - Colombia 345 kms 345 kms straight distance | 8hrs 40mins 8hrs 40mins by car (487 kms) | 10hrs 24mins 10hrs 24mins by bus (487 kms) (487 kms)
 N : Merida - Venezuela 411 kms 411 kms straight distance | 13hrs 21mins 13hrs 21mins by car (692 kms) | 16hrs 1min 16hrs 1min by bus (692 kms) (692 kms)
 O : Magangue to Mompos - Colombia 305 kms 305 kms straight distance | 10hrs 58mins 10hrs 58mins by car (739 kms) | 13hrs 9mins 13hrs 9mins by bus (739 kms) (739 kms)
Driving times are accurate but approximate and are listed in the order of driving distance! Drive times are always affected by weather conditions, the terrain, time of day, altitude, dinner and bathroom stops, animals on the road, protests, a fast or slow bus driver, police checkpoints, border and river crossings, dropping off and picking up passengers etc. These drive times are obtained from Google Maps and are meant as a guide. Note however, times quoted in the main text of this page are exactly as the author experienced it.


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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!

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