Into the unknown

Popayan Travel Blog

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On Monday morning I finally arrived in Colombia. A 5 hours bus from Quito to the border, which I slept through most of, and then surprisingly quick border formalities, before I got a taxi from the border to Santuario Las Lajas. Near to Ipiales is a spectacular gorge and this church is built upon a bridge with very tall arches above the river, the church being built at one end onto the cliff face. It's an odd architectural style from the outside, but no doubting the spectacular backdrop. There was an apparition of the Virgin Mary here once, so it's also a place of pilgrimage.

After a quick lunch to escape a downpour of rain, I moved on to Pasto to spend my first night in Colombia. It's a pleasant town with a nice central square and everyone I met was friendly and curious to find out why I was in Colombia and what I thought of it.
Me at the crater
No need to be shifty here, I love the place and told them it.

The next day I moved onto Popayan, one of Colombia's best preserved colonial cities despite a big earthquake in 1983. It's a town of white washed buildings and what I imagine will be a beautiful central plaza when the work is finished. The view from a mirador just on the outskirts was fine too.

Today, I went out into the countryside by bus to the Reserva Nacional Natural de Purace. The reason? To climb an active volcano of 4760m height. It was one hell of a climb, perhaps not so used to the altitude now as I was before. We started at about 3300m and got lost twice on the way up. However, I made it and shortly after arrival at the crater, the mist cleared and we got a great view inside (if not of our surrounding countryside). Definitely worth going for it and worth showing that it's possible to be independent and strike out from the big cities in Colombia, without getting into trouble.
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Me at the crater
Me at the crater
Popayan
photo by: AndySD