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Pasto, Colombia - Named After The Barbacoan People Of Carchi Ecuador

Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - June 2010   » View Photoset (32 Photos)

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for 10yrs!
I have passed through Pasto a few times. On the first time I arrived from the south through amazing terrain from the border with Ecuador.
Colombia Photo - A paramilitary with a machine gun on the street in Pasto.
A paramilitary with a machine gun on the street in Pasto.
Pasto is actually named after the Barbacoan people across the border in northern Ecuador!

Hotels Near the Bus Terminal

Outside Pasto's bus terminal I could see quite a few hotels over towards the right - a few minutes walk away. I decided to go check them out. Most of these hotels were cheap, ranging from $12000-$20000 pesos ($7USD-$11USD). I went for the cheapest option and it all seemed ok, until later that night.

A Different Culture

That afternoon I went walking around the city. From the bus terminal the center of town is straight ahead and towards the right slightly. Having been in Ecuador before
Colombia Photo - The street beside Plaza Narino and San Juan church in Pasto.
The street beside Plaza Narino and San Juan church in Pasto.
I came here, it was very apparant I was in a different culture now. It was very exciting and very Colombian, completely different. The senior men dress in the finest suits. The women nearly all look like models, in fact better than models because they have natural beauty and of course there are the paramilitaries with some scary looking weapons on them.

Around the City

I saw some wonderful architecture, churches, cathedrals and statues and ate some nice food for a change. I was so over rice and chicken based dishes after Ecuador. There is a huge plaza in Pasto that is unlike any other I have seen, in fact it's a park called Parque del Carnaval. It is an interesting shape, not the standard square with statue in the middle. It has a big archway at one end but it is
Colombia Photo - Walking around the clean and colorful streets of Pasto.
Walking around the clean and colorful streets of Pasto.
not the main plaza. Obviously by its name it is used for the carnival and possibly concerts and political rallies.

Plaza Narino and the Cathedral

As I walked more towards the center I did come to the main Plaza Narino with a statue of General Antonio Narino in the middle, he was an early political and military leader for independence in Colombia. The plaza was full of people sitting on benches and walking around. There are a couple of trees with each surrounded by shoeshine men dressed in blue underneath blue umbrellas. A large crowd was gathered around a busker dressed in a smart suit with bowtie who was singing and playing a classical
Colombia Photo - The beautiful main square in Pasto, Plaza Narino with hills in the distance.
The beautiful main square in Pasto, Plaza Narino with hills in the distance.
guitar, his name was Marcelo Belardinelli, he is from Argentina. The plaza is surrounded by some interesting buildings and streets including the huge cathedral with amazing statues at the top and fine engraved designs on the arched doors. It has arched and round windows and twin bell towers, a must see! In this area I came across a statue of Gobernador de Narino Eduardo Zuniga Erazo and also a row of typists with typewriters for hire in the street sitting at desks under umbrellas and also some interesting street art.

Awesome Churches

Pasto has some awesome churches. Some that I saw include La Merced, San Juan Bautista and Cristo Rey Temple. While walking back to my hotel I came across a statue of Atahualpa who was the last free-reigning emperor of the Incas, he lived in
Colombia Photo - The big wide open Carnaval Park in Pasto with church in the background.
The big wide open Carnaval Park in Pasto with church in the background.
the early 1500's.

In Summary

Pasto is set in a beautiful valley and has lovely green hills surrounding it, the city is quite clean and has a sense of authenticity about it - the people, the food and the historic center. I well recommend spending a day having a look around.

Bad Hotel Choice

My choice of hotel now came to haunt me. That night I went to sleep but not for long. At around 1am the place turned into a circus with couples streaming into the joint to rent rooms for an hour. The noise woke me up as they entered the front door drunk or talking loudly. It was then I realised I was staying in a rent by the hour hotel and that the sheets I was sleeping on were not at all clean. I yelled down the hallway a couple of times for them to be quiet but to no avail. About an hour later I
Colombia Photo - The street beside Carnaval Park in Pasto.
The street beside Carnaval Park in Pasto.
decided enough was enough, packed up my backpack, demanded my money back to the night watchman but also to no avail. I left at about 2:30am and walked the 5 minutes to the Pasto bus terminal and got a bus north to Popayan at 3:30am. At the terminal I ate some food and chatted to a couple of policeman who were walking around randomly checking people who might be carrying contraband.

Pasto to Popayan

During the journey I dozed off while clinging to my small backpack with my valuables inside for dear life. The journey was supposed to take 6hrs but only took about 4 and a half due to the way Colombian bus drivers drive and overtake at any opportunity. I had read about not doing this journey at night because of bandits and robberies. I asked at Pasto's bus terminal about this and was told it was safer now, there were more police on the road between Pasto and Popayan, so I chanced it and it was fine.

     

View all photos in the Pasto Photoset


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Distances & times (if available) from Pasto (Colombia) to:


Map location: Pasto, Colombia. If you are traveling overland through southern Colombia you will pass through Pasto! It's green here, the city is pleasant to look around, head south to Ecuador or north to Popayan.
 A : Ipiales from the Colombian Border - Colombia 56 kms 56 kms straight distance | 2hrs 2mins 2hrs 2mins by car (88 kms) | 2hrs 26mins 2hrs 26mins by bus (88 kms) (88 kms)
 B : Tulcan - Ecuador 64 kms 64 kms straight distance | 2hrs 22mins 2hrs 22mins by car (101 kms) | 2hrs 50mins 2hrs 50mins by bus (101 kms) (101 kms)
 C : Pasto to Popayan - Colombia 75 kms 75 kms straight distance | 2hrs 29mins 2hrs 29mins by car (126 kms) | 2hrs 58mins 2hrs 58mins by bus (126 kms) (126 kms)
 D : Montufar & Ibarra - Ecuador 90 kms 90 kms straight distance | 2hrs 59mins 2hrs 59mins by car (140 kms) | 3hrs 34mins 3hrs 34mins by bus (140 kms) (140 kms)
 E : Quito to Tulcan - Ecuador 134 kms 134 kms straight distance | 4hrs 25mins 4hrs 25mins by car (226 kms) | 5hrs 18mins 5hrs 18mins by bus (226 kms) (226 kms)
 F : Otavalo - Ecuador 152 kms 152 kms straight distance | 4hrs 46mins 4hrs 46mins by car (245 kms) | 5hrs 43mins 5hrs 43mins by bus (245 kms) (245 kms)
 G : Popayan - Colombia 157 kms 157 kms straight distance | 5hrs 6mins 5hrs 6mins by car (253 kms) | 6hrs 7mins 6hrs 7mins by bus (253 kms) (253 kms)
 H : Cayambe - Ecuador 161 kms 161 kms straight distance | 5hrs 21mins 5hrs 21mins by car (278 kms) | 6hrs 25mins 6hrs 25mins by bus (278 kms) (278 kms)
 I : Quito Zoo in Guayllabamba - Ecuador 184 kms 184 kms straight distance | 5hrs 54mins 5hrs 54mins by car (306 kms) | 7hrs 4mins 7hrs 4mins by bus (306 kms) (306 kms)
 J : Mitad del Mundo - Ecuador 185 kms 185 kms straight distance | 6hrs 33mins 6hrs 33mins by car (344 kms) | 7hrs 51mins 7hrs 51mins by bus (344 kms) (344 kms)
 K : Quito - Ecuador 192 kms 192 kms straight distance | 6hrs 32mins 6hrs 32mins by car (346 kms) | 7hrs 50mins 7hrs 50mins by bus (346 kms) (346 kms)
 L : Machachi - Ecuador 238 kms 238 kms straight distance | 7hrs 8mins 7hrs 8mins by car (387 kms) | 8hrs 33mins 8hrs 33mins by bus (387 kms) (387 kms)
 M : Cali - Colombia 252 kms 252 kms straight distance | 8hrs 14mins 8hrs 14mins by car (396 kms) | 9hrs 52mins 9hrs 52mins by bus (396 kms) (396 kms)
 N : Mindo - Ecuador 215 kms 215 kms straight distance | 7hrs 48mins 7hrs 48mins by car (415 kms) | 9hrs 21mins 9hrs 21mins by bus (415 kms) (415 kms)
 O : Tena - Ecuador 252 kms 252 kms straight distance | 8hrs 51mins 8hrs 51mins by car (494 kms) | 10hrs 37mins 10hrs 37mins by bus (494 kms) (494 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.


My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Pasto, Colombia:

Hotel Hilton, Pasto, Colombia - Large Photo
Hotel Hilton, Pasto, Colombia (June 2010 - Half a night) - Just because a hotel is called Hilton does not mean quality. In fact this is the worst place I have ever stayed, the sheets were not clean and they smelled and they run it as a rent by the hour hotel. Do not stay here ever.

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Pasto, Colombia - Named After The Barbacoan People Of Carchi Ecuador. If you are traveling overland through southern Colombia you will pass through Pasto! It's green here, the city is pleasant to look around, head south to Ecuador or north to Popayan.

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