Currently, I’m in Calí. I’ve been here for two days, and tomorrow I’m going to Ipiales, on the border of Colombia, as I make my way to Quito, Ecuador.
Tomorrow is also when I say goodbye to a travel companion who has turned into a very dear friend. We’ve traveled together since Panama City, almost a month now, and needless to say, we’ve had a damn good time. I’m sad to say goodbye (and slightly nervous to be on my own) but she taught me so much about traveling, helped me with my Spanish, and I know we’ll see each other again. She’s been a beautiful reminder that people come in and out of your life for a reason and has been an amazing teacher about how to travel as a solo female.
The rumors are true. Medellín is an incredible, beautiful, friendly city that has stolen my heart.
We arrived late Thursday night after what should have been a one-hour flight that turned into three hours of sitting, waiting, delays, and finally flying. When we landed I immediately felt as if I was back in the Pacific Northwest. The city is so green and right now is the rainy season so it rains every afternoon, making it a bit cooler, which was a nice change after the sweltering heat of the Caribbean.
Aside from the beauty of Medellín, what I loved about the city was that it was so easy to get around. There is an awesome, clean, safe, reliable metro that runs through the city making everything super convenient. There is also a cable car (really it’s a gondola) and you can take it to a national park at the top of a mountain behind the city while getting great views of the city as well. Highly recommended.
Tour City in Medellín
The day before we went to Salento, we did a Pablo Escobar tour and a free walking tour of the city with Real City Tours. After doing these tours and hearing about the violent past of Medellín, and Colombia in general, I have a whole new appreciation for the country.
Learning about how violent the city was, that 15 years ago it was the world’s most dangerous city, and seeing how much it’s changed and how happy people are to see you visiting the country, stopping you in the street and on the metro, asking where you are from and if you like Colombia, I fell in love with it that much more. I had no idea just how violent and dangerous the area was until these tours (I was just a kid when this all happened and I now understand why everyone was freaking out about my trip!) but I can confirm that Colombia is a beautiful, safe and friendly country, working to put its bad reputation behind it for good.
Salento is about a seven-hour bus ride south of Medellín is in the coffee region of Colombia. It’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s a tiny town in the lushest, green mountains you’ve ever seen and we stayed at a hostel about 20 minutes outside of the town called La Serrana. It was a charming and relaxing hostel with family-style dinners and incredible views. Also highly recommended if you make it there.
What was supposed to be a one day/two night stop turned into two days/three nights with coffee farm tours, mountain biking (that kicked my butt) and hikes to the world’s tallest palm trees – I also saw my first tarantula. That was terrifying.
Next up for us was Calií. We then took another five-hour bus ride further south to the salsa capital of the World. Over the weekend was also Mev’s birthday so that night we went out and roamed the city.
Calí is nice but I prefer Medellín. Although, I think the nightlife might be better in Calí but I’m also quickly learning that this heavily depends on the hostel as well.
Not knowing that buses to Quito only leave on Saturday and Monday, I thought I’d be taking a 20-hour bus to Quito on Tuesday until I did further research and found out that’s not possible. So now I’ll be taking a 10-hour bus to Ipiales, spending the night, crossing the border, and then taking a five-hour bus to Quito on Wednesday. Should be interesting. It’s also Semana Santa, which of course is a huge holiday in Latin America so I’m curious to see how it’s celebrated.
Colombia has been amazing- it’s everything I could have hoped for and more. Next up is Ecuador as I work my way south to Peru and Cusco.
Until next time my friends!