Vera and Tom

Joined October 2015
  • Day67

    Ipiales

    December 18, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    Our last stop in Colombia. Ipiales itself is not particularly nice and a bit a bit dodgy at night, but it is right next to the border with Ecuador and also El Santuario de las Lajas, a huge church built across a gorge for some reason. The original little church was built after a local man saw the image of the Virgin Mary on a rock, since then thousands of miracles have been reported and a much bigger church was built.
    While visiting the church we met a man from the Isle of Mann who joined us for the border crossing in the afternoon, lucky for us as he was prepared with US dollars (used in Ecuador) and could help us out.
    The border crossing was fairly easy, a stamp in the passport on either side and then we were in Ecuador! A new country and then a few hours later a new hemisphere as we headed down to Quito across the equator.
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  • Day65

    Popayán

    December 16, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Popayán is 7 hours away from Salento,, a bit long but we decided to make a bigger step towards Ecuador, the route was scary like always but the view was beautiful, very different landscapes to what we had seen before. We got there at night time but it was nice even in the dark.
    Popayán is the second most important colonial city in Colombia (after Cartagena) but much less touristy and pushy (they don't try to sell you something at every corner) Huge difference was that Cartagena was all colourful, Popayán was all white and we found a llama here!Read more

  • Day62

    Valle de Cocora

    December 13, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Valle de Cocora is a day trip from Salento. We left quite early in the morning to catch a jeep with a few other tourists (13 plus the driver! including three hanging off the back) to the bottom of the valley. From there we could have chosen a horse riding trip like most of the Colombian tourists were doing, but instead we decided to try a hike which we'd read about, supposed to take about 4 hours.
    We later found out that we'd taken the wrong road from that very first point, leading us in totally the wrong direction into the middle of nowhere. Luckily we met a group coming in the other direction after about three and a half hours uphill who suggested that we turn back rather than continue on the 3 day route which they were just finishing!
    On the bright side we did manage to see loads of great views, cross mountain rivers through the water or over very dodgy little bridges, make friends with some clever horses who were doing the route on their own, and eventually climb up to the top of the mountain at 3000 metres.
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  • Day61

    Salento

    December 12, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Left Manizales - one of the cities of the coffee triangle - to spend some time in the real Coffee Zone in Salento. The town is just tiny but we had some fun, walking around and drinking at night time on the first day.

  • Day60

    Manizales

    December 11, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Manizales was rather a stop over for us on the way of Salento as it's one of the three cities which makes the coffee zone triangle. Haven't seen much of it, apparently not even that nice but the surrounding areas are beautiful, it's part of the Andes, at 2000 meters high. (We even go some head and neck pain not sure if it was 'cause of the altitude.) So on our full day there decided to leave the city for a hot spring bath which was 15 minutes away. It was super relaxing there, the whole 2 pools were just ours for a while and even after just a couple of people appeared. Mountains all around, colourful flowers, interesting trees and plants and we even saw humming birds. We spent the whole day there, in the morning it was sunny and by the afternoon it started raining but it was actually cool like that 'cause the water was super warm and it just looked awesome how the big drops fall into the pool from these massive leaves above us.Read more

  • Day58

    Guatape

    December 9, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Arrived to Guatape by a little tuk-tuk, the closest town to La Piedra. Apparently that's where the Paisas (people of Medellin) come for the weekends for relaxing but we were lucky and it wasn't too packed on Wednesday. Had a bit of wander around, the houses are all colourful and have these hand-moulded decorations on. Each house has it's own designs but they all have something related to the family which lives in it. Apperantly you can swim in the lakes but the one at Guatape was a bit dirty and not particulary for swimming so we decided to wait for a better opportunity.Read more

  • Day58

    La Piedra

    December 9, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    After hearing so many good things about La Piedra and Guatape, we decided to go for them as a day trip from Medellin. The way there was fairly quick, the bus was stopped just once by police and a dog looking for some drugs, which was found.
    La Piedra means 'big rock' well we would rather call it massive. So this massive rock sticks out from the lake area, takes almost 700 steps to go up but was TOTALLY worth it. The view was incredible, lakes and islands all around in 360°. After taking hundreds of photos, walked down and got a tuk-tuk to go to Guatape.Read more

  • Day56

    Medellin

    December 7, 2015 in Colombia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Santa Marta to Medellin was our first really long bus journey, almost 20 hours door to door. It wasn't a lot of fun but actually wasn't as terrible as it sounds. We chatted to a couple of people, watched Mission Impossible in Spanish and slept quite well through the night. The worst part was the cold. The air-con was set to freezing and even trousers, jumpers, blankets and scarves weren't enough to keep us warm. Apparently this is normal here, haven't found out why yet.
    Coming into Medellin we saw some great views over the city as the road comes around the mountain. We arrived at a busy and modern bus terminal / metro station, quite a contrast to our previous couple of weeks.
    Next morning we were up early and out into the city. We found some funny little parks, some excellent statues of fat people and animals, and a lot of very friendly people. This city is definitely not the scary, dangerous murder capital it once was. The two things we noticed were how happy the city seems and how every street is a market, all the time.
    We seem to have picked a good week to be here. There are a few events all happening at once, the big switching on of millions of Christmas lights, a national holiday to celebrate the Immaculate Conception, and the Parade of Myths and Legends (more on that later).
    An area of the city called El Poblado seemed the best place to be in the evening. Some of the best (and strangest) Christmas lights, a nice park with lots of people sitting around with beers, and a great atmosphere.
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