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Colombia - Itinerary Help!

ChicagoJamie

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2011
Hi everyone! I´m hoping I can get some advice from you all for my upcoming trip to Colombia (arriving Feb 15)...

I fly into Bogota and then have 2 months in Colombia before heading to Ecuador. I think the best route is essentially an open ended loop starting in Bogota, then going north towards Santa Marta, and then South towards Popayan (close to the Ecuadorian border). My guidebook is almost completely useless, as the Colombia section is only 30 pages, and it only covers Bogota, Medellin, Santa Marta, and Cartagena (and mostly focuses on restaurants and hotels). So, any advice at all for places to visit (or that can be skipped), how much time to spend, things to do, hostels, anything at all, would be greatly appreciated!!

I´m easy to please and generally have a good time doing just about anything, but I think I tend to prefer cities and tranquilo-without-being-too-hippyish-places over party towns and beaches. Also, since I´m traveling alone, I probably don´t want to go anyplace TOO remote (unless you can recommend a good tour guide/group to go with).

The only 2 concrete places on the list are the starting point and ending point, Bogota and Quito. Other than that, please add to the list or let me know what you think could be removed! More or less, this is just a list of places I´ve heard of.

Bogota
San Gil
Barichara
Bucaramanga
Santa Marta-Tayrona-Lost City
Cartagena
Providencia Islands
Medellin
Cali
Popayan
San Augustin
Quito

Thanks so much!!

EMH

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  • Added on: February 1st, 2011
I'm living in Medellin right now and haven't visited elsewhere so I can only suggest places that jump out for me in my Lonely Planet Colombia (beyond what you've already listed):

Villa de Leyva
El Cocuy (city plus national park)
Pamplona
Tolu and surrounding beaches
Sante Fe de Antioquia
Rio Claro
Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados

I also have a Colombian friend who's traveling around Colombia before heading off to grad school in Australia. This is her itinerary: Bogota-> Quindio-> Medellin-> Cartagena-> Santa Marta-> Ciudad perdida-> Tayrona-> Cabo de la Vela-> San Gil/Barichara-> Bogota
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

Qwovadis

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  • Added on: February 2nd, 2011
Hi Jamie,

Congrats on your upcoming trip just did a nice 10 K road trip there last fall.

www.paisatours.com good site for Colombia info.

I flew www.aires.aero shuttles cheaply or did www.boliviarano.com nice bus when down there

the usual dafety issues on bus but had tonnes of fun.

In Colombia did Bogota Medellin Cartagena Taganga

Platypus and Cranky Croc in Bogota were fun hostels.

www.casaviena.com www.lacasadefelipe.com 2 others that were nice on the coast.
Then headed down to Cali Poapyan and Ecuador overland.
Hostel Trails Hostel was nice in Popayan then Pasto Ipiales Tulcan
www.guanguiltagua.com good direct locals Dennis and Eva got me 30% discounts Ecuador cruises/etc.
www.haciendapisaqui.com Otavalo Magic Bean Hostel best located in Quito
www.bellavistacloudforest.com www.hosteriamandala.info then Galapagos
Cuenca Banos www.huaorani.com awesome for deep jungle if time Cotopaxi etc.

Both countries are awesome Ecuador for me was the most amazing in its Eco-Density
and variety of wildlife and landscape the Galapagos a do not miss for me if budget permits.
If not www.exploradiving.com has alternatives on the coast if shoestring.

www.saexplorers.org/clubhouses/quito good general info for you.

www.travel.state.gov for a heads up on entry/safety issues trip/backpackers insurance wise.

Moon/FootPrint guides best avoid LP dated old bad info sold out BBC headed downhill from there.

Happy Journey!

EMH

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  • Added on: February 2nd, 2011
Just came across this which might be of interest:

http://www.slate.com/id/2282933/
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

EMH

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  • Added on: February 2nd, 2011
Oh, found another thing. I copied these itineraries off the internet somewhere. They come from a guidebook (maybe Moon, don't remember). Course, they all start and end in Bogota which isn't quite what you want, but it might give you some ideas.

Two Weeks
The fast northern loop
• Most visitors to Colombia make a beeline for its sparkling Caribbean coast. Start by flying from Bogotá to Santa Marta and the beaches of Tayrona National Park. After a few days unwinding it's a short hop along the coast to Cartagena. Spend a couple of days exploring the city's labyrinthine walled city before relaxing on Playa Blanca or the coral island of the Islas del Rosario (depending on your budget). The colonial town of Mompós is a worthwhile (though travel-heavy) stopover on the way to Medellín. After taking in the Antioquian capital's culture and nightlife, spend a few days sampling the department's beautiful traditional villages, such as Santa Fe de Antioquia or Guatapé, before catching a plane back to Bogotá.

Three weeks
The more leisurely northern loop
• An extra week allows for more bus travel and a chance to see Colombia's interior up close. Start by exploring Bogotá and its colonial sector, La Candelaria. A visit to the Gold Museum is a must. It's then a short bus ride to Villa de Leiva, with the magnificent Zipaquirá salt cathedral a convenient stopover. Soak up Villa de Leiva's colonial atmosphere over a couple of days and explore its many surrounding attractions before heading up to San Gil for some rafting, kayaking and hiking. The neighbouring village of Barichara will provide more colonial architecture. From San Gil, make your way up to Santa Marta and follow the same loop as above as far as Medellín and on to Bogotá, stopping off at the Río Claro Nature Reserve en route.

Four weeks or more
The figure of eight
• Start by following the northern loop described above and then from Bogotá, take a bus due south stopping off at the Tatacoa desert for a night under the stars. From nearby Neiva it's a hard day's slog (but a worthwhile one) to Tierradentro. Spend a couple of days exploring the extraordinary tombs in the surrounding hills before heading down to San Agustín for a well-earned rest in one of the town's many comfortable country hostales and for some horse riding in its stunning countryside. From San Agustín it's a spectacular drive to the dazzling white city of Popayán, which has several attractions in its environs such as the market at Silvia. From here, head to the salsa-mad city of Cali, but try and be there for the weekend. Next, venture into the 'coffee zone' for a stay on a coffee finca. The village of Salento and the Valle de Cocora are a must if you find yourself in this region, as are the snowy peaks of Los Nevados. From here it's an nine-hour bus journey or a short flight back to Bogotá.
Follow my travels through Central and South America: www.talesofagringo.com

ChicagoJamie

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  • Added on: February 5th, 2011
Thank you so much!! Really useful info!!

Thesmalls88

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  • Added on: February 9th, 2011
Hi, I'm off there on the 19th feb, only for two weeks but will make the most of that! Does anybody know where the best nightlife/party towns are? I'm not going mainly for that but have already half planned my other visits such as a jungle trek etc.

Cheers

Paul



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