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Pasto to Popayan, Colombia - My Least Favourite Stretch Of Road In The Country

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Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman - Jun 2010 Jul 2011 Jul 2012 Sep 2020

Mark Berman, South America backpacker for over 12yrs!
I have traveled the road between Pasto and Popayan 4 times now, twice up, twice down, it is my least favorite stretch of road in Colombia.

First Time

The first time I travelled to Popayan was on an overnight bus from Pasto in the south, it took less than 5hrs because of the way the bus driver drove - overtaking at any opportunity. The journey was not that much fun, the roads have many curves so it was like some kind of rally race. I was not feeling well by the time we got close to Popayan and needed to hold a plastic bag near my mouth incase I brought up my stomach. I did get a little sleep at one point while I clutched tightly to my personal backpack full of my important belongings - laptop computer, camera, money and passport etc. I was fast asleep in the back seat when I got a tap on the shoulder by a policeman. I woke to find the whole bus was empty except for me. It was a checkpoint, all other passengers were out on the roadside while the police were checking under seats, in the back of seats, in the toilet, anywhere where contraband could be hidden. He immediately checked under the seat I was sitting on. I got off the bus and joined the other passengers out on the road in the middle of nowhere until the police had finished their inspection of the buses interior and luggage compartments. After arriving at the bus terminal in Popayan I needed to sit down for a while and recover and have a think about where I would stay.

Second Time

The 2nd time I just passed through Popayan traveling south to Pasto during the day. I did bring up my stomach this time and had to stop halfway in a place called Mojarras for the night and rest and continue on the next day.

Third Time

The 3rd time I visited Popayan in 2012 the bus took 8hrs 30mins from Pasto, we were stopped by police in the middle of the night for 90mins at one point because bandits were robbing the buses ahead of us. After it was safe to continue, we did so.

Fourth Time

From Popayan to Pasto in 2020, 5hrs 30mins this time and there were no problems at all!

Eat a Big Meal!

All I can say about this journey is to make sure you have a big meal before you leave. It's safer to do it during the day, but still reasonably safe to do it at night. Good luck!


Itineraries / Routes: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

My Hostel & Hotel Reviews for Pasto to Popayan, Colombia:

Hostal Carolina, Mojarres, Colombia - Large Photo
Hostal Carolina, Mojarres, Colombia (July 2011 - 1 night) - The road between Pasto and Popayan is not a good one for my stomach. I stopped for a night in the middle in Mojarres to recover and continue. The room was big and had a bathroom and tv, a restaurant is outside.

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Pasto to Popayan, Colombia - My Least Favourite Stretch Of Road In The Country. I have never had much luck traveling this road any of the 3 times north or south, car sickness, winding road, bandit country, not fun man!