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Colombia Experiences, Stories & Photos from a Backpacker

Places, Experiences, Travel Stories, Videos & 2295 Photos from Colombia


From my own experience and hearing from others I have met who have travelled in Colombia, it is all good (apart from the food)! The Santa Marta area on the northern coast, the small fishing village of Taganga and Tayrona National Park to the east of Santa Marta is a great experience! The city of Cartagena surrounded by a wall of stone and narrow streets has a lovely character and you can get fresh fruit salads on the street. I lived in Medellin for 5 months and studied Spanish at university in 2010 and am currently living in Colombia (2012-2016).

I have spent around 5 years traveling and living in Colombia. I spent 1 month in Colombia in September 2008 mainly in the Santa Marta, Taganga and Tayrona areas. I have also been in Cartagena, Medellin, Barranquilla and all around the country. In 2010 I was in Colombia for 6 months, mainly in Medellin but in other parts of Colombia also. In early 2011 I returned to Colombia and spent 5 months there. I spent the past 5 years living here - 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Here are my experiences and story.
Read more about Bogota
Bogota: An Absolute Must, So Much To See And Do  » photoset (212 photos) «
I spent 1 week in Bogota in May 2011, 3 days in 2013 and 10 days in 2014. I have passed through the airport several times on my way to other places also. Bogota is a huge city, the primary difference from the other places in Colombia that I have visited is that it was much colder with only 1 or 2 real days of sun the whole time. More
Read more about Taganga
Taganga: I Have Lived Here For 5 Years  » photoset (150 photos) «
March 2017 The truth is that Taganga is not a place I can really recommend anymore, it's a bombsight, it's a wreck, most of the bench-seats in the main street are in ruins, the locals still have no idea how to make any decent food, the only real decent restaurant in town is Babaganoush (international of course) and there is litter everywhere. More
Read more about Tayrona National Park
Tayrona National Park: Some Of The Nicest Beaches In The Country  » photoset (78 photos) «
Some friends and I took a boat from Taganga to Tayrona National Park, it takes only 40 minutes and is a real fun ride! We had stocked up on non-perishable groceries the day before at the big Exito supermarket on the main street of Santa Marta - cans, liquids and packets of things. More
Read more about Valledupar
Valledupar: A Very Colorful City And Home Of Vallenato Music  » photoset (91 photos) «
Valledupar is situated in the north-east of Colombia only about 25kms west of the Venezuelan border, it's a lively and colorful city and also is the home of Vallenato music! If you visit Valledupar from Santa Marta it is around 4hrs by bus. From Valledupar to Maicao to cross into Venezuela is around 3hrs. More
Read more about Minca
Minca: Escape The Heat In The Cool Mountains Above Santa Marta  » photoset (52 photos) «
In late 2012 while living in Taganga fishing village, my friends and I travelled up into the mountains to Minca. It's 1hr southeast of Santa Marta and 600m above sea, the temperature is several degrees cooler than down on the coast, it's a welcome break from the heat. More
Read more about Camarones Flamingo Sanctuary
Camarones Flamingo Sanctuary: There Can Be 100's Of Flamingos Here  » photoset (33 photos) «
The flamingo sanctuary in Camarones is located about 15mins south/west of Riohacha on Colombia's north coast. I came to Camarones on a day trip from Santa Marta nearly 3hrs west, bus $6USD each way. I was with 2 friends, we got out of the bus at the military checkpoint on the main highway and each took a motorbike taxi through the township to the lagoon for $1USD. More
Read more about San Gil
San Gil: Well-kept Colonial Town And Center For Outdoor Adventure  » photoset (51 photos) «
After spending the night in Bucaramanga, it took around 90mins to get to San Gil in a shared van the next morning. It's a nice trip down with scenery of the great river Rio Chicamocha on the righthand side. 20mins north of Aratoca is park Parque Nacional del Chicamocha where cable cars take you up into the hills for fantastic views. More
Read more about Barichara
Barichara: The Jewel In The Crown Of Colonial Towns Around San Gil  » photoset (104 photos) «
Just 30mins by bus from San Gil is a magical place called Barichara, an old colonial town that is so pretty, so perfect, like something from a fairytale, except its real. Barichara was originally founded in 1705 and is in flawless condition due to care and tasteful restoration work over the past decades. More
Read more about Guatape/Penol
Guatape/Penol: A Fairytale Town, The Big Rock And Spectacular Lagoon  » photoset (205 photos) «
I had a great opportunity to travel down to Guatape and Penol from Santa Marta on budget Colombian airline Viva Colombia with a friend to stay on his houseboat on the lagoon for 6 nights, the return ticket was only around $85USD. Guatape is very close to Medellin and despite the fact I lived in Medellin for 5 months in 2010 I never visited Guatape during that time. More
Read more about Barranquilla to Santa Marta
Barranquilla to Santa Marta: My First Time In Colombia  » photoset (11 photos) «
2015/2016: I did this trip after returning to Barranquilla from Georgetown (Guyana) and again on the way back from Cartagena. Fairly unexciting to be honest but you get glimpses of the coast and can see many birds on a nice sunny day, sit on the left. More
Read more about Santa Marta
Santa Marta: The Oldest City In The Country  » photoset (148 photos) «
The extremely hot city of Santa Marta on the north coast is Colombias oldest city founded in 1525. I have been here many times - in 2008, 2010, 2011/12/13/14/15/16 and have spent over 4yrs living and having fun in nearby Taganga, just 10 minutes away. More
Read more about Magangue to Mompos
Magangue to Mompos: Like Stepping Back In Time To A Previous Century  » photoset (105 photos) «
In the latest edition of Lonely Planet a new destination in Colombia has been added, a place called Mompos. It sounded mysterious and was off the beaten track - I was definitely interested. Someone in my hostel in Cartagena had just been and described the journey to get there as horrendous and the blogs I read on the internet about this journey said the same thing but as I was to find out for myself this was not the case at all, getting to Mompos was actually half the fun. More
Read more about Medellin
Medellin: I Planned To Stay 2 Weeks But I Stayed For 5 Months  » photoset (162 photos) «
I arrived in Medellin for my second time in the middle of July 2010 for a few weeks at the most, nearly 5 months later in early December I was still here! After 5 weeks up on the coast in the hot weather, when I got to Medellin I felt a sense of the climate being perfect enough to be able to live here for a while. More
Read more about Universidad EAFIT Medellin
Universidad EAFIT Medellin: I Went To University To Learn Spanish  » photoset (15 photos) «
I wanted to improve my Spanish while living in Medellin in 2010 so I checked out some universities. I visited 3 universities to see what they offered in language courses and decided I would enrol at Universidad EAFIT which is in Poblado and close to where I was, it was also the nicest looking university of the three I looked at. More
Read more about Ipiales From Colombian Border
Ipiales From Colombian Border: Don't Be Scared, Come On In  » photoset (39 photos) «
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 got 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. More
Read more about Pasto
Pasto: An Interesting City To Look Around  » photoset (33 photos) «
I have passed through Pasto a few times now. On the first time I arrived from the south through amazing terrain from the border with Ecuador. Outside Pasto's bus terminal I could see quite a few hotels over towards the right - a few minutes walk away. More
Read more about Pasto to Popayan
Pasto to Popayan: My Least Favourite Stretch Of Road In The Country
I have travelled the road between Pasto and Popayan 3 times now, each year between 2010 and 2012, twice up, once down, it is my least favorite stretch of road in Colombia. 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. More
Read more about Popayan
Popayan: The White City, A Photographers Playground  » photoset (38 photos) «
I have visited and stayed in Popayan twice now, in 2010 and 2012. Popayan is known as the 'white city', like Arequipa in Peru and Sucre in Bolivia because of the color of the stone that the buildings are contructed of. It is pleasant to stroll around the streets and take it all in and there are some obvious things to take photos of and also, if you have an artistic eye, some not so obvious things to photograph. More
Read more about Cali
Cali: Get Yourself Some Salsa Lessons  » photoset (20 photos) «
I travelled 3hrs from the southern city of Popayan to Cali by bus, the views from the right side of the bus were breathtaking. After arriving at the terminal, I found a hostel about 15 minutes away. Cali didn't look like anything special to me at this stage. More
Cali to Armenia: Heading Towards Coffee Country
After the big city of Cali I headed by bus about 3 hours north to Armenia where I wanted to see Colombia's coffee country. The bus ride was an easy one with flat and open countryside to travel through. We travelled towards the towns of Palmira and Buga. More
Read more about Armenia
Armenia: Visit The Coffee Park, Panaca, Filandia And More!  » photoset (181 photos) «
2014 Over 4yrs after my 1st visit to Armenia back in 2010 I returned and spent 3 days really getting to know the area outside the city. This was a family holiday complete with a baby too! My girlfriends cousin lives here and drove us around the area in his car, places like Quimbaya, Salento, Circasia, Filandia, The Coffee Park and Panaca, it was a fantastic 3 days! Like I said in my writings from 2010 below, the area around Armenia has a lot of stuff you can do with kids, like the Coffee Park and Panaca Animal Farm especially. More
Read more about Salento
Salento: Nice Town And Area, Great Coffee Farm Tour  » photoset (77 photos) «
I took a local bus for 30-40 minutes from Armenia to Salento into the heart of coffee country. I sat in the front with the driver for the journey so that I could take some pictures out of the window more easily. The countryside along the way is beautiful and green with rolling hills and lots of trees. More
Read more about Cartagena
Cartagena: Fantastic Historical City On The Coast  » photoset (273 photos) «
2016: Wow, 6yrs since I was last in Cartagena! Nothing has changed much, it's still as hot as hell inside those old city walls (the cool coastal breeze just can't find a way in it seems) and it's still as mindblowing, as well-kept and as awesome as I remembered it from my other visits in 2010 and 2008. More
Read more about Medellin to Bucaramanga
Medellin to Bucaramanga: The Rain Had Caused Many Mud And Landslides  » photoset (30 photos) «
After close to 5 months in Medellin I decided it was time for some more travel. I wanted to head to Venezuela, so first I made my way to Bucaramanga. It was early December 2010. I had heard the road between Medellin and Bucaramanga was in bad shape which it was and probably will be for some time, many mudslides and lots of debris half covering the road in many places. More
Read more about Bucaramanga
Bucaramanga: A Modern City With An Historical Edge  » photoset (52 photos) «
It took 8hrs from Medellin to Bucaramanga, the road at the Bucaramanga end was having problems with mudslides this year (2010). Bucaramanga bus terminal is located at the bottom of the valley, but the center of Bucaramanga is at the top of the valley so I had to catch a taxi back up. More
Read more about Bucaramanga to Cucuta
Bucaramanga to Cucuta: How Does It Take 6hrs To Travel 200kms?  » photoset (19 photos) «
You wouldn't think it would take 6hrs to travel 200kms, but with the condition of the road between Bucaramanga and Cucuta it certainly does. Much rain in Colombia in 2010 had caused many mudslides and problems on this road. The problems with the road are mainly at the Bucaramanga end and the Cucuta end, the middle part is fairly OK and offers some spectacular views. More
Read more about Cucuta to Venezuela
Cucuta to Venezuela: I'm Crossing Into Venezuela For The First Time  » photoset (37 photos) «
From Bucaramanga on a rough road I came to Cucuta on my way to Venezuela. I stayed in a budget hotel right across the road from the bus terminal. In the afternoon I went into the center of town to find a branch of Citibank because their ATM machines allow you to withdraw larger sums of money than the other banks. More
Read more about Leticia
Leticia: Jungle City, Heart Of The Amazon, Gateway to Peru & Brazil  » photoset (35 photos) «
2016: I spent the night in Leticia after flying up through Manaus from Rio de Janeiro to get back to Colombia where I live. Later in the year I arrived in Leticia by river from Iquitos - Peru and spent the night. I was lucky to see a local parade and I made some new photos from around town. More
Read more about Barranquilla Carnival
Barranquilla Carnival: One Of South Americas Best Carnivals  » photoset (34 photos) «
In early March 2011 I spent a day at the carnival in Barranquilla. I was staying in Taganga and went on a bus as part of a group, the cost was 60,000 pesos ($33USD). I went with the tour organisers Leticia and Ursula who have an office next door to the police station in Taganga. More
Santa Marta to Maicao: Heading To The Venezuelan Border At Paraguachon
The bus journey from Santa Marta to Maicao or in the opposite direction and continuing on to the border town of Paraguachon in Venezuela can take anywhere between 3hrs 30mins to 5hrs. It depends how many times you are stopped at police checkpoints along the way. More


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