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Colombia - Zipaquira, Villa de Leyva, Cartagena, Girardot and Buenaventura

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From my own experience and hearing from others I have met who have travelled in Colombia, it is all good! 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 have lived in Colombia mostly since then.

I have spent around 8 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 here. I have spent the past 8 years living here - 2012-2018, 2020. Here are my experiences and story.
Read more about Pereira

Post Covid-19 Lockdown Travels In Colombia - Pereira

 » photoset (19 photos) « Located roughly halfway between Manizales and Armenia and not far from Salento, Pereira is a city where you can stop-off to spend the night to break the journey. Don't go too far out of your way to visit the city, it's not that exciting really. Yeah, it's part of the coffee region but this is a city not coffee country, go to Salento or Jardin instead! Pereira does have a good variety of food around the city, more variety than you find in most parts of Colombia except Bogota and maybe the Boyaca region. More   date: September 2020
Read more about Jardin

Things To Do In Colombia's Hidden Gem - Jardin

 » photoset (67 photos) « Jardin in many ways is similar to Salento but more off the beaten track. A pretty little town with colorful wooden buildings, balconies and doors and surrounded by nature. There is plenty to do and see in and around Jardin including nature walks, bird-watching, relaxing with a coffee or eating a large fruit salad at the park, tasting the local trout or just wandering the streets doing photography. More   date: September 2020
Read more about Manizales

Birdwatching At Tinamu Birding Nature Reserve - Manizales

 » photoset (60 photos) « After 3 weeks on the road backpacking in Colombia I was excited to arrive in Manizales. I knew I wanted to do something special but I didn't know exactly what yet. However, it didn't take long to work out what I would do, after some internet reading and research. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Buga

Famous Cathedral - Basilica del Senor de los Milagros - Buga

 » photoset (35 photos) « Buga is a place you may likely pass through if you're traveling up from southern Colombia or heading south from the coffee region, the city sits roughly halfway between Cali and Armenia. In many ways Buga is a junction to different parts of the country with Route 40 heading westward to Colombia's main port city of Buenaventura where I had arrived from (2hrs 30mins by bus). More   date: May 2018
Read more about Buenaventura

Beaches & Port City On The Pacific Coast - Buenaventura

 » photoset (60 photos) « Should you go to Buenaventura? Really, it depends if you want to or not, depends if your father asks you if you have been to the Pacific coast of Colombia and your answer is no, so I came here. I knew Buenaventura was a place 'your not supposed to go, not really a tourist destination, dangerous etc', but this makes it a little more intriguing in some ways. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Cali

Famous For Beautiful Women, Nightlife & Salsa Dancing - Cali

 » photoset (147 photos) « I traveled through the night, firstly from Ibague to Armenia (3hrs 30mins), waited 90mins and then continued from Armenia to Cali (2hrs 30mins). It was good to be back in Cali and this time I aimed to do and see some new things! I visited Cali Zoo and really enjoyed photographing all the amazing and beautiful animals that are here. More   date: June 2010, July 2012, May 2018
Read more about Ibague

Preserving The Musical Heritage Of Colombian Folklore - Ibague

 » photoset (72 photos) « Colombia's capital of music, Ibague, located west of Girardot (90mins by bus) and north-east of Cali was the next stop on my travels around the middle of the country. Known as the capital of music for its Music Conservatory founded in 1906, it's quite probable that Ibague produces some of Colombia's finest musicians because the children here learn to play an instrument from a very young age in order to preserve the musical heritage of Colombian folklore. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Girardot

Take A Magdalena River Excursion With Richard - Girardot

 » photoset (71 photos) « Tripadvisor says that in Girardot you should visit the cathedral, the commercial center, the swimming pool, the train park and the plaza. Well sorry Tripadvisor, have you even been to Girardot? Obviously not! If you want to swim at the pools or see the train park, these are the only things worth doing from the above list and I have some better alternatives for things to do in Girardot. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Guatavita

Spanish Colonial Town With A Lake & Sacred Lagoon - Guatavita

 » photoset (59 photos) « Between a bullfighting ring and the Tominé Reservoir sits the small town of Guatavita with its whitewashed buildings and red-tiled roofs some 70kms north-east of Bogota. The reservoir, completed in 1967 flooded the original town of Guatavita and the new town was built on higher ground. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Zipaquira

Underground Salt Cathedral With Fantastic Light Show - Zipaquira

 » photoset (63 photos) « Through a brightly illuminated red tunnel into pitch black corridors illuminated by crosses, this is the first stage of the journey to what could well be the worlds most amazing underground light show! It's none other than the one-of-a-kind Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira built 180 metres underground in an unused salt mine and it's the light show that makes this place so special. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Villa de Leyva

Iconic Cobblestone Town, Terracotta House & Nature - Villa de Leyva

 » photoset (157 photos) « Villa de Leyva is a place I had heard a lot about over a period of several years before deciding I would visit myself. It's one of the must-see destinations in Colombia! Villa de Leyva is a 16th century colonial town where all its original architecture is intact - a town of whitewashed buildings, cobblestone streets, art shops and galleries, museums, good restaurants and many activities in and around. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Tunja

City of Colonial Churches & Food Culture - Tunja

 » photoset (76 photos) « I headed north from Bogota (3hrs 30mins by bus) to get to Tunja on my way to Villa de Leyva. I wanted to have a good look around the city and not just pass through. Tunja has a nice array of colonial buildings highlighted by a number of churches. You'll no doubt discover that Tunja also has some interesting street food, some good restaurants and street corners selling fresh fruit and creamy sponge cake. More   date: May 2018
Read more about Bogota

Top 6 Things To See & Do In The Capital - Bogota

 » photoset (61 photos) « Bogota is a huge city, the primary difference from the other places in Colombia that I have visited is that it is much colder, especially at night! It is the most colonial of cities I have been to in Colombia. North of Bogota are some great and popular destinations, they being the colonial town of Villa de Leyva, the salt cathedral in Zipaquira, the Spanish style town of Guatavita and Tunja - a place of interesting street food. More   date: May 2011, Jul 2013, Nov 2014, May 2018
Read more about Taganga

I Lived Here For 7 Years - Taganga

 » photoset (111 photos) « Taganga is no longer the place it once was! All the backpackers have gone, meaning they no longer come here. The police and government have (since 2015) closed down and ruined all that made Taganga what it was. The public seating here in Taganga has been broken for the past 5yrs and nobody has repaired them, what a disgrace. More   date: Aug 2008, Jul 2010, Feb 2011, Jul 2012, Jul 2013, Nov 2014, Sep 2015, Jul 2016, Aug 2017, Jul 2018
Read more about Tayrona National Park

Sleep In Hammocks Or Go Camping - Tayrona National Park

 » photoset (29 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   date: August 2008, October 2012
Read more about Valledupar

Home Of The Vallenato Music Festival In April - Valledupar

 » photoset (53 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 the Vallenato Festival of music! If you visit Valledupar from Santa Marta it is around 4hrs by bus. More   date: November 2014
Read more about Minca

A Jeep From Santa Marta To Cool Mountains - Minca

 » photoset (32 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! Jeeps and small buses will get you there from Santa Marta Market. More   date: October 2012
Read more about Camarones Flamingo Sanctuary

There Can Be 100's Of Flamingos Here - Camarones Flamingo Sanctuary

 » photoset (29 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   date: March 2013
Read more about San Gil

Activities Include Paragliding, Horsetreks, Hiking & Rafting - San Gil

 » photoset (32 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   date: July 2013
Read more about Barichara

30mins From San Gil The Jewel Of Colonial Towns - Barichara

 » photoset (63 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   date: July 2013
Read more about Guatape / Penol

Climb 659 Stairs Up The Rock & Lake Tour - Guatape / Penol

 » photoset (93 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 lake 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   date: December 2013
Read more about Barranquilla to Santa Marta

90mins By Taxi-Van - Barranquilla to Santa Marta

 » 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   date: Aug 2008, Jun 2010, Apr 2015, Aug 2016
Read more about Santa Marta

What To Do On The Hot Coast - Santa Marta

 » photoset (49 photos) « The extremely hot city of Santa Marta on the north coast is Colombia's oldest city founded in 1525. I have been here many times - in 2008, 2010, 2011/12/13/14/15/16/17 and have spent over 5yrs living and having fun in nearby Taganga, just 10 minutes away. More   date: Aug 2008, Jul 2010, Feb 2011, Jul 2012, Jul 2013, Aug 2014, Jul 2016, Aug 2017
Read more about Magangue to Mompos

Stepping Back In Time To A Previous Century - Magangue to Mompos

 » photoset (68 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! I left Cartagena by taxi to the bus terminal while the soccer world cup final was on - I figured there would be less traffic during this day. More   date: July 2010
Read more about Medellin

Things To Do In The City Of Eternal Spring - Medellin

 » photoset (92 photos) « My most recent time in Medellin in 2018 after arriving from Manizales was another good experience in the city and I did some new things! On one side of the famous Plaza Botero where all the bronze sculptures are is the Antioquia Museum (Museo de Antioquia). More   date: Sep 2008, Jul-Dec 2010, Nov 2014, May 2018
Read more about Universidad EAFIT Medellin

I Went To University To Learn Spanish - Universidad EAFIT Medellin

 » 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. More   date: August 2010
Read more about Ipiales From Colombian Border

Don't Be Scared, Come On In - Ipiales From Colombian Border

 » photoset (23 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 took 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   date: May 2010, July 2011, July 2012
Read more about Pasto

Named After The Barbacoan People Of Carchi Ecuador - Pasto

 » photoset (20 photos) « 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. Pasto is actually named after the Barbacoan people across the border in northern Ecuador! Outside Pasto's bus terminal I could see quite a few hotels over towards the right - a few minutes walk away. More   date: June 2010
Read more about Pasto to Popayan

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

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   date: June 2010, July 2011, July 2012
Read more about Popayan

A Photographers Playground, The White City - Popayan

 » photoset (25 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   date: June 2010, July 2012
Read more about Cali to Armenia

3hrs By Bus To The Coffee Region - Cali to Armenia

After the big city of Cali I headed by bus about 3 hours north to Armenia where I wanted to see Colombia's coffee region. 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   date: June 2010
Read more about Armenia

Visit The Coffee Park, Panaca, Filandia And More! - Armenia

 » photoset (80 photos) « 2014 Over 4yrs since 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, Panaca and Panaca Animal Farm. More   date: June 2010, November 2014
Read more about Salento

Valle de Cocora Wax Palms & Coffee Farm Tour - Salento

 » photoset (38 photos) « I took a local bus for 30-40 minutes from Armenia to Salento into the heart of the coffee region. 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   date: June 2010, November 2014
Read more about Cartagena

An Historical Gem With Many Things To Do & See - Cartagena

 » photoset (142 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   date: Sep 2008, Jul 2010, Aug 2016
Read more about Medellin to Bucaramanga

8hrs Travelling By Mini-Van - Medellin to Bucaramanga

 » photoset (23 photos) « 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. I had heard the road between Medellin and Bucaramanga was in bad shape which it was and probably would be for some time. More   date: December 2010
Read more about Bucaramanga

Things To See Around The City - Bucaramanga

 » photoset (34 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   date: December 2010, July 2013
Read more about Bucaramanga to Cucuta

6hrs To Travel 200kms By Bus - Bucaramanga to Cucuta

 » 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 did. 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   date: December 2010
Read more about Cucuta to Venezuela

Border Crossing To San Antonio - Cucuta to Venezuela

 » photoset (36 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   date: December 2010
Read more about Leticia

Amazon Rainforest Gateway to Colombia, Peru & Brazil - Leticia

 » photoset (20 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   date: Feb 2011, March 2015, April 2016, Oct 2016
Read more about Barranquilla Carnival

One Of South Americas Best Carnivals - Barranquilla Carnival

 » photoset (24 photos) « 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 a special tour organised by the tour office next door to the police station in Taganga. It included the return trip and some fun and giveaways on the bus on the way there. More   date: March 2011
Read more about Santa Marta to Maicao

Heading To The Venezuelan Border At Paraguachon - Santa Marta to Maicao

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   date: March/April 2013, August 2014

Hostel & Hotel Reviews:

  • Residencias Teresitas - Bogota
  • Hotel Mare Mar - Santa Marta
  • Hotel Suite Imperial - Tunja
  • Hotel Ciudad del Sol - Sogamoso
  • Hotel Castilla - Duitama
  • Hotel Paipa Inn - Paipa
  • Hotel El Dorado - Bogota
  • Hotel Cabañas Rio Mayo - Pasto
  • Hotel Super Estrella - Pasto
  • Danny Hotel - Las Lajas
  • Hotel Niko - Pasto
  • Hotel Popayan Plaza - Popayan
  • Hostal Girasoles - Salento
  • Hotel Pereira Lago - Pereira
  • Hotel El Lago 2 - Pereira
  • Hotel Diana Campestre - Jardin
  • Hotel Brisas del Cauca - La Pintada
  • Hotel San Esteban Center - Medellin
  • Hotel La Pintada - La Pintada
  • Casabella Hotel - Manizales
  • Hotel Tinamu - Manizales
  • Hotel Nevado y Cafe - Manizales
  • Sebastian Real Hotel - Buga
  • Hotel Cordillera - Buenaventura
  • Hotel Centralia - Cali
  • Hotel Confort - Ibague
  • Adventure Hotel - Girardot
  • Hospedaje El Mirador de Pueblo Viejo - Guatavita
  • Hotel Colonial - Zipaquira
  • Hospederia Balcones de San Sebastian - Villa de Leyva
  • Hotel La Casona - Tunja
  • Hotel City Express Junior - Bogota
  • Casablanca 98 Hotel - Bogota
  • Fernando Real Hotel - Leticia
  • Mama Waldy Hostel - Cartagena
  • Chia Xue Hostel - Bogota
  • Hotel Dann - Bogota
  • Decameron Panaca - Armenia
  • Hotel Al Caravan - Medellin
  • Richards Houseboat - Penol
  • Tip-Top Hostal - Bogota
  • Hostal El Papillon - San Gil
  • Hotel Palmeras de Mariana - Bucaramanga
  • Oscars Place - Minca
  • Hostal Cacique Real - Popayan
  • Hostal Carolina - Mojarres
  • Hotel El Delfin - Taganga
  • La Jangada Hospedaje - Leticia
  • Hotel Hilton - Pasto
  • Hotel Pass Home - Popayan
  • Hostel Trail - Popayan
  • Pelican Larry Hostel - Cali
  • Hotel Cafe Real - Armenia
  • The Plantation House - Salento
  • Ocean Reef Guesthouse - Taganga
  • Hostal Casa Maria - Taganga
  • Dreamers Hostal - Santa Marta
  • Hotel Hispano Americano - Barranquilla
  • The Chill House Hostel - Cartagena
  • Hotel Rivera - Magangue
  • Hospedaje La Union - Mompos
  • Hotel Don Kike - Monteria
  • Black Sheep Hostel - Medellin
  • Hotel San Patricio - Bucaramanga
  • Hotel Mary - Cucuta
  • The Pit Stop Hostel - Medellin
  • Divanga Bed & Breakfast - Taganga
  • El Miramar Hotel (The Inns at Playa Grande) - Santa Marta
  • Hotel El Viajero - Cartagena

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