What a great suprise Colombia was.

Bogota Travel Blog

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historic part of Bogota

I just came back from the Philippines and was at Baker's pub, one of my local hang out's talking to a friend who's a music proffessor at a university here in town. In our conversation he told me that his deceased wife was from Colombia and that he's been there a few times. It is a beautiful place he said.

It caught my interest enough to get on the internet and start doing a little research. All I knew was that's were all the cocaine is coming from and there's a heck of a lot of kidnappings and murders. Suprisingly enought the more I started to read the more interested I became. Different temperatures year round in different regions within close proximities of each other. Snow peak mountains , fast rivers and Caribean beaches, with some of the worlds most beautiful woman all in a affortable travel destination.

historic part of Bogota
COUNT ME IN !!!!   It was also good to find out that the recent goverment has been turning around the country and that kidnappings were down by more than 80 % and that this country was actually safe to travel in.

I didn't want to read to much because I like a bit of unknow when I arirve, So I knew that waiting 'till next year would ruin that. I just got back from a trip, then agian that's where the phrase "You only live once" comes in. It wasn't to hard to convince my daughter that dad had to go AGAIN, since she is 17 and I promised her that she could stay at the house alone.  Since school was starting  a week into my trip at least I was off the hook about having to hear the 1000 reasons why you schould take me.  Now don't feel to sorry for her, both of my children will be in Europe over Christmas and my daughter has visited 17 countries so far.

historic part of Bogota main square

Here I am , on my way to another South American trip and I am all excited. Arriving in Bogota was a breeze, I hopped in a taxi who took me too a hostal I was reading about in my lonely planet book. First thing I observed was how clean the roads were. Upon arriving in the hostal which was in the historic area of town,  I couldn't wait to canvass this place. Within about a hour of landing i was out and about finding the tourist office to see what i could dig up. Conviently the tourist office is in the middle of the must see area of Bogota and I was IMPRESSED. Restored Spanish  buildings were just magnificient. I wondered for hours thru the winding streets with a constant smile on my face.

historic part of Bogota main square
Happy to be here. In the evening  a busy street was closed for vechicles and was turned into a fun circus. Food vendors, craftsman , comedians, dancers, treatre all was performed in front of thousands of spectators. I had never witnessed something to that magnitute without being it a festival. Just be there early enough because at around 10 pm everything was getting back like nothing had happened at all.  The next day I ventured out and find very interesting areas, all well kept.  Winding thru some very small and steep streets I find me on a square with over 100 people sitting around having coffee, beer and smoking dope that I was inhaling just as much as they were without ever having to take a puff. It was time for me to see another town.
historic part of Bogota main square
Ready to keep these feet moving.

Villa De Leyva was up next, a small town where all the house and buildings are painted white, cobbled stone streets and a main square  that is so large for such a small town that it is being used for childrens and adults alike to fly kites. yes that is a favorite past time in Colombia and it is fun to watch. This small town has it's charm and is a great place to sit around and relax. The market just a few blocks away from the sqaure offers some great street food and the locals were more than willing to educate me on the unknown fruits and sampling out some of their home made cooking. YEAH, that's what I call hospitality. From here I am on my way to Tunja which will bring me closer to my next destination.

historic part of Bogota main square
Tunja's main square is about 10 blocks uphill from the bus station. A nice size city  with some nice architect and a few interesting watering holes. One of which is on the sixt floor overlooking a part of the city with a small outdoor patio mainly used by non stop smokers. This was a stopover place for me and didn't spend much time here. I just couldn't wait for my ride to San Gill. Not just getting there but also the scenic touring that was to come.

Luckily I asked the bus driver if we were in San Gill because i think he was enjoyinmg the views just as much as me and forgot about his Belgian passenger. stepping of the bus i was informed by the taxi drivers that it was a long walk to town. As i smiled a said no gracias, muchu tiempo en busso, neccesito caminar or something like that.

historic part of Bogota main square
It was about a 20 minute walk that was far more rewarding to me that to plot down in the front seat of the taxi. Yes when i travel alone, I almost always try to sit in the front. Passing agian thru a square, this one was perfect, nice shaded trees, ice ceam stands this was a great place to chill for a few minutes before i had to hike all the way to the top of a very steep street were my hostal was located. It was nice to see the people linger around and that ice cream was tasting pretty darn good. Macondo geusthouse, one of the very few places that I remembered where I stayed at. Shaun the owner has a wealth of information that he is so willingly to share because of his outstanding personality. So here we go again,. Within a couple of hours being here I have all the info needed to pack 5 days of great fun in.
historic part of Bogota
Having ma cup of coffee and meeting Rena, a Australian solo traveler who is interested in joining me to go do the adventurous path to the top of a gorgeous waterfall.

We took a half hour bus ride and upon arriving we saw the other 6 people going to the right. This was not our direction, no, we had to choice the left side and off we went.The longer we walked the more challencing it became, first it was just a nice walk. Then it became a little slippery as they have had so much rain in this area. Then after we crossed the river and slipped and slided our way  thru muddy think forest we had to crss the water which was hayve rushing thru the rocks which were to far apart to jump over. A large tree trunk sticking out between the rocks was the only solution if we wanted to continue.

historic part of Bogota
reaching our arms out as far as we could then grabbing 2 seperate banches and trowing your body forwards over the sticks was something I had never done before. We made it and with a few more jumps from one rock to another we were on the other site. There was no lighting up, only able to grab on whatever was sticking out of the dirt and having just enough space to move one foot at the time we finally made it to were we could put both feet next to each other.  I had to let go of my hiking boot earlier as it was just to slippery and dangerous to wear. Here we are finding ourself in the front of a jungle made latter that on a normal day would be just a climb up to the next level. But this was not a nornal day and because of all the excess water we will have the most powerfull shower we've ever had.
historic part of Bogota
  Thank goodness Rena decided to come along, I don't think I would have been so brave to finish if I wanted but wouldn't been able to because she was the smart one with a protective plastic bag to put our cameras in. We climbed ans slipped and sleded some more  and had to cross over again but this time there was a rope across the river and oh boy was that needed. The water was not that deep but the slippery rocks on top of the enormous pressure of the water was pretty scary to cross, knowning that if you fall, 10 meter further ther is about a 5 meter drop that at the bottom is full of rocks. Once crossed there was another rope this this the climb the rocks that were about 10 meters hight. We had reached our final destination. Just a little short of being actually on the top of the waterfall but that's as far as you were able to go and I was ok with that.
historic part of Bogota
Next was returning where we came from. Oooohhh boy, here we go again.  It was 5.30 pm when we where on the site of the road and we were told that there was a bus about every 20 minutes untill around 6.30 pm. At that moment 2 fun french guys that we had met earlier happened to cross our path again and they decided to grab a beer before leaving. We taught we slowly walk back and will hop on the bus as it comes by. After 45 minutes walking I taught it be good to hitchike since no bus appaered to be coming our way. those dangerous roads they all talk about were nowhere to be seen but as the sun was going down and walking along a country road with no lights, it would be nice to have a little luck. A few cars and small trucks passed bye but no brake lights were seen.
historic part of Bogota
After over a hour of walking a car seen from a distance i decided to step on traffic in the hopes to syop the car. It works... the car was actually a taxi and by suprise in the back seat we see 2 smiling french man. At last, some luck. we shared the ride and all went to dinner that evening in which we ended up in a local chichen place that was about to close. Being alrady 10 pm and not many people out this probably was not a bad decision for the restaurant. It was kinda for us, since the chicken was on the rotary for quite some time. The next morning we were going paragliding. The first choice was waterrafting but the river had been closed for the last 3 days (at least the part i wanted to go on) due to heavy rain the level was too hight. around 11.30 am while waiting to go gliding we heard that the river just opened and our buddy Shaun informed us that we should go raftting instead.
historic part of Bogota
There aren't to many times that you get the opportunity to get on a river that high. 5+.  After getting there and listening for about a half hour on all what do do in the boat and on the river, we finally step foot in the boat. A volunteer was asked to fall off the boat to show the others the proper rescue, pulling in the boat and how to hang on to the kayak. This river was not a cake walk and no hands went up, so I decided to fall out since i've been on a few before but nothing higher than a 4+. On our way back to the boat, i am pendling off the kayak and hit my foot on a rock, a cut that is going to be costly for my entire trip and after. bavk in the boat and off we went. A strong stream quicky got us to one of very many currents and those were like i've never seen before. Going tru those and exhelarating, scary and fun, the edrelarine rush is just amazing. At times you just don't think you are going to make it. The rocks you are bypassing are at times 10 meters tall and almost just as wide. water is coming from every dicertion to you and once over a wave you see yourself back down staring at what appears to be a 5 meter wall of water in front of you., and here you are sitting in a little rubber boat. "TOO THE LEFT, TOO  THE LEFT' as we sitting on the right side have to jump the the lest and hold on to the rope that is on the side of the boat. We are going up the wave, feeling your body rapindly remove from the boat and just as quickly by the praise of god,l fall back in the boat. With no time to think of what just happened since our instructor is yelling to paddle we pass thru the waves and salute each other on a job well done and slowly we can put our heartbeat back in place. Yet there isn't much time before you get to do it all over agian All while we awaiting the "suprise" as our local heroes (crew) call it. We are scared to ask how bad the suprise is. Only time will tell and time is going pretty quick when you are on a river like this one.  After taking time for lunch and at times enjoying the scenery we arrive safe and sound and are ready for our 45 minute ride back to town.  This was a day that will be remembered 'tilll I loose my memory. I really need to stay here longer and really want to do paragliding and have the days left for it, but this gorgeous Australian is leaving this evening to santa Martha, my next destination and having hanged out with her for 2 days doing such fun things it is a whole lot better to take a night bus with someone that is fun to be around. I surely hope to be in a place soon to experience paragliding so I won't regret leaving this awesome and beautifull San Gill area.  Arriving in the early morning hours i try to put my foot back in my shoe. yes the same foot that hit a rock earlier that day and had been giving me a burning feeling most of the nightwas now double it normal side and hurting bad.  One off the reasons I   came  to this area was because this is the place too head to The lost city.  A 5 day jungle hike which is a huge highlight in my trip. Rena my travelbuddy has a french friend who's a nurse in the area so help is on the way for my foot. With some good ol cleaning and disinfecting stuff and a pair of new sandles I am good to go. This town or small city by the Caribean is not very inspiring. A rather large market and a beach strip that has a few hotels, restaurants, cafe's and bars are the main attraction here. There's no shortage of girl here who have nothing but themself to sell.  the next day we take a 20 minute van ride to Taganga, a much smaller beach town.

Taganga here we come !!!!! Aaaahhh, just by stopping off the bus, which stopped on a dirt road you can see and smell the difference. a occasional scooter might be more noticed here instead of headfast traffic. This seem as remote as it get, yet this quite sleepy town is so much more than that. We walk around and from here there are 2 more remote beaches you can hike to. That's what we are doing and a nice hilly and curvy hike does so good for the body.Here the are no houses or hotels but there are plenty of make shift restaurants, fresh juice stands and massages ofered, which is just what my buddy Rena is looking for. She choice wisely as I observed a lot of guys giving massages probably because they make more money that way than any other skill. Fornutately for Rena, this guy really has the skill and is taking his time.  After being here for a few hours all we could think of is getting our bags out of the previous hotel and bringing them to this gorgeous getaway. Casa De Felipe A hostal about 2 km from the beach, which is a little distance was highly recommended to us and also by Lonely Planet. What a great place this is, surrounded by trees a huge courtyard with about a dozes hangmicks a kitchen, tv room and eating area on the 2nd floor all open. This is just the perfect place for this town and we are glad to stay here for a few days. This is were we become beach bums and party animals at night. This place has grat restaurants, a few great and very busy bars that are loaded with fun, a awesome sunset and did I say great beaches???  Small quite streets with very friendly local and backpackers. durinfg the day you can also buy fish here right on the beach, altough the prices we were giving it was just as cheap to eat at the restaurant and let go of the cleaning and time that comes with making your own meal. I geuss this is the first time I feel like i am being treated like a tourist :)

Parque Tayrona is just a small boat trip from here. A gorgeous park with extrordinary beaches awaits but right now I am haeding to the hospital, my foot is getting worse and the infection is spreading. I am being treaded by 3 nurses, who said that you can't enjoy life when yopu are in pain. My friend rena is waiting for my outside the office. What a great gal, only known her for a few days, yet she is willing to let go a afternoon of beach bummin so I can feel better.  The Lost City is not available for me at this time, thius is a tough hike in the jungle, trikking thru knee deep waters I am not in the position to take the risk. Rena wants to go to the parque but I can't even get in the water.

Cartagena is the next destination and Rena is coming also for a couple of days and then she will come back to spend some of her last days in Clombia in the Parque tayrona. driving into Cartagena we come along the coast and within minutes of entering the city we are in the Spanish build wall that surrounds the old town. just on the outside on the grass area we see dozens of people flying their kites. A smile on my face, this is Colombia as we know it :)  The hostal  Casa viena that we were planning on staying in was all booked up. Luckly this friendly staff helped us find another place just 2 blocks down the street. No wonder this hostal is enormously popular, you just can't meet nicer people than the ones running this place. We are located in the Getsemani area, just a couple of blocks outside the main tourist area. This is a neighborhood with at the end of the street a courtyard earea were gatherings take place.  We are lucky to have find this little treasure in this city and a few times I end up here having a drink, some street food and chatting with the locals. Inside the 15 meter thick wall i9s where it is all happening. This is world famous and I can see why.  Courtyards, small parks, clean gorgeous winding streets with artist selling their wares. Horse carraiges and patio's filled with people. Restaurants and bars some of them with their windows open and music blashing. This is the capital of the Caribean. Great temperatures that drop a little at night makes this people dress up nice and showing off what they have going on.The first night was the only night Rena was going to spend here. Her travel plans had to continue. Let's make the best of this night, we went to a 4 course mael restaurant and were half of the customers for the night. That was ok with us having the restaurant and the wine to ourself. A mariachi band came in and Rena got Serenated and we left very happy with a full stomach and a couple of empty wine bottles.  later we ran into a few local people we met earlier and they were deternime to show us the party town were most locals don't know about., It worked and we had fun untill about 3.30 am when all were closing down. Rena left the next morning and I stayed behing in the fun and beautiful town, never bored for a minute. There are things to see and do around here to keep you busy for a few days.  My next step is on the airplane on my way to Panama City for a week.  i truly fell in love with this country and hope to be back some day, but with so much more to see i'll need to start buying some years onto my life.

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historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
main squa…
historic part of Bogota main squ…
historic part of Bogota
main squa…
historic part of Bogota main squ…
historic part of Bogota
main squa…
historic part of Bogota main squ…
historic part of Bogota
main squa…
historic part of Bogota main squ…
historic part of Bogota
main squa…
historic part of Bogota main squ…
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
historic part of Bogota
Bogota
photo by: caliphil007