Colombia travel blog by Mark Berman -
» View Photoset (20 Photos)
Crossing the Colombian border from Tulcan in Ecuador is a straight forward
From Tulcan To Ipiales
From the bus terminal in Tulcan take a taxi to the border town of Rumichaca for around $3USD. Go to the immigration office on the Ecuadorian side
for a passport stamp and walk across the bridge into Colombia for more passport procedures, very simple and safe. In this area around the immigration offices and
bridge there are many money changers and taxis. Police check vehicles for contraband too. The border has a few duty-free shops and you can buy food to eat on the
street. After immigration on the Colombian side, take a taxi to Ipiales for about $5000 pesos which is around $2USD. The journey takes 5-10 minutes and is 3kms away.
From the bus terminal in Ipiales you can catch a bus up to Pasto
. The town of Ipiales is fairly simple with some colorful houses and buildings, horse
drawn carts, street art and green hills and trees as a backdrop.
In the area of Ipiales, 8kms away is the gothic church built in the middle of a bridge called The Sanctuary of our Lady
of Las Lajas, which can be visited by taxi or bus. There are hotels here if you want to stay the night. Take a walk from the top of the hill in Las Lajas where the
taxis wait, down the cobblestone road. It is very much like Ecuador here, there are many indigenous people and llamas dressed up in colorful hats, crowns, clothes
and jewelry. There are many souvenir shops also. The walk down the hill to the church has beautiful scenery, flower gardens, trees, plants and monuments and you
can see a waterfall on the hillside. Look down to the river below the bridge, you will see a walkway along the riverside surrounded by nature, it's spectacular! A bronze
statue stands along the pathway of Manuel de Rivera - a blind man and there is another statue of a woman and a girl. They are Maria Mueses de Quinones with her
deaf-mute daughter Rosa, there are plaques explaining what they did. It really is a beautiful church with intricate designs, colored stained glass windows and angel
figures playing musical instruments - guitar, harp, xylophone, drum, violin and trumpets. You can see inside if there is a service on at the time - there are pilars
and archways of white and gold. This famous Gothic church took 33 years to build between the years of 1916 and 1949. The best time to visit Las Lajas is at night
for the amazing lightshow, come at around 5:30-6pm, you won't be disappointed!
Bus 90mins to Pasto
From Ipiales it is 78kms to Pasto
and takes about 90 minutes.
The journey has some of the most beautiful scenery with green mountains and valleys, rivers and small communities. The road has many curves so make sure your stomach is full before you travel up to Pasto