Colombia Travel Guide

(Words by Liz, photos by Justin, opinions by both of us)

colombia

Since we’ve now been in South America for five months and my mom thinks the only neat place we visited was Galapagos, I thought a list of all the reasons Colombia is amazing was necessary.  We were in Colombia for a little over two months so we’re pretty passionate about the country and the need to visit it. Read more

Trampoline Of Death

There is a road in the south of Colombia between the amazonian town of Mocoa and Pasto known to locals as the Trampoline of Death, or Trampolín de la Muerte. Most of the road is a single lane dirt track with some parts dropping straight down 1,000 feet with no railings. The road traverses through the cloud forests around 10,000 feet for most of the way. When not watching for a river crossing, or some crazed bus driver to come flying around a blind corner the views are pretty incredible. The road is called the trampoline because it effectively feels like a trampoline as your teeth rattle around from the terrible conditions. (below is the video shot from my helmet)

The first 15km or so out of Mocoa Read more

The Not Safe Way to Tierradentro

Just like Google translate I learned the lesson yesterday that Google maps can’t always be trusted. After a sweltering few days in Cali, we wanted to take a lesser traveled route to the national archaeologic site of Tierradentro which was supposed to have some interesting underground tombs and caverns remnant of a pre-Columbian era civilization. The route looked simple enough. According to Google it was major interstates the entire way. As we headed southeast out of Cali we stopped in a small town for some coffee. As expected the spectacle of two gringos on motos with ridiculous luggage strapped to the back drew some looks. I struck up a conversation with one man asking about the bike and he inquired where we were headed. I showed him on the map that we wanted to go to Tierradentro. The only one turn on the route was in a town called Corinto, which again Google maps highlighted as a major interstate. He commented to our surprise that this small town was pretty dangerous  and we shouldn’t stop, and we certainly shouldn’t drive past the town due to numerous guerrilla activity. He emphasized pretty heavily to just make the left, don’t stop, and we will be fine. The first red flag had gone up. map to tierradentro Read more

The Moto Way

I think ever since the little scooter in New Orleans I’ve had a fascination with taking some cross-country pan american road trip on a motorcycle.

(circa 2006)

Unfortunately, like many intrepid fascinations  in life this one was diluted by the sheer logistics of the task. That was until I took my first South American night bus. Stopping once in 12 hours for some cheap fried snacks in between being sleeplessly whipped around mountain roads by a driver that must clearly be on potent stimulants was enough for me. So when we were hanging out in a hostel in Medellin the idea was once again brought up to purchase motorcycles and say to hell with all trains, taxis, and dreaded night buses for the duration of travels. Read more

Escobar’s Elephants

Yesterday we experienced Colombia’s iconic jungle, complete with cave creatures. Today we experienced Colombia’s iconic history, complete with drug lords.  Pablo Escobar’s legacy is available for viewing (for $15 per person) at Hacienda Napoles.  As we rode the moto into the park on the rough dirt road my overwhelming first impression was awe. Colombia truly is beautiful and the hill country that Escobar chose for his rambling estate is breathtaking: incredibly green fields and trees in front of tall dark mountains.

MUD VOLCANO!!

Colombia has treasures to rival the Seven Wonders of the World.  Yep, unbeknownst to the rest of the globe, Colombia is home to two kinds of volcanoes: lava ones and mud ones…. Or at least that’s what our tour guide told us on our trip to one of the “mud volcanoes.”  Other backpackers had told us about this weird volcano thing outside of Cartagena (you basically play around in a mud bath–of course it had gained the attention of young travelers) so we squeezed it into our last day in the city. Read more