Bogota, Colombia

I took the overnight bus to Bogota as it is the only way out of San Agustin without going back to Popayan. Arrived at Bogota early in the morning, the North bus terminal is very far from Centro and taking the wrong colectivos caused me a 3 hours ordeal getting to the Alegria’s hostel in Barrio La Candelaria. I always wanted to get to the Caribbean coast so a lot of time I spent in Bogota was devoted to internet air fare research. I found that Aires Airlines has the best fare and booked my ticket to Barranquilla for less than USD 100 that leaves in three days. For the attractions in Bogota, I only went to the Museo del Oro and Cerros de Monserrate. I did not take any photos of the Museo del Oro because I think museum stuffs are all the same. But it is a pretty interesting museum to visit to learn about the development of metal tools and accessories in Colombia. Cerros de Monserrate is a hill for viewing the city where there is a lovely church on top of it. The last day of my stay in town was the independence day so there was a parade on the main street not far from my hostel. I watched it for about 2 hours and decided to call it a day as it was way too crowded and I started to get bored. Another nice place to hang out in the area is Plaza de Bolivar which is right next to the governor’s office building Palacio de Nanino. People watching is a great activity to be done at Plaza de Bolivar. The Calle 11 street near the plaza going uphill where stores are selling very delicious delicacies. Overall, my visit to Bogota was a pleasant experience. And I love the free wifi provided at the BOG airport.

Just a big square with Cerros de Monserrate in the back

Plaza de Bolivar

On the way to my hostel

From Cerros de Monserrate

On top Cerros de Monserrate

TransMilenio

Independence Day's Parade

Snacks sold near Plaza de Bolivar

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San Agustin, Colombia

I made my decision to go to San Agustin to see the interesting statues that I have seen some photos in my hostel in Salta. The journey requires crossing mountains in dirt road which was the bumpiest ride I have ever ridden in my life. Some bumps literally launched my butt off the seat at least eight inches into the air. The bus dropped me at a Y-junction and transferred me to a jeep that took me to San Agustin. My guess now is that whoever that takes you to the town on the jeep will most likely be your tour guide in that town. I was already not feeling very well in Popayan and the bumpy and cold ride over the mountain made me fall sick the moment I arrived in San Agustin. I stayed for two nights in SA because of the fever. The potential tour guide that I met on the jeep was very attentive and even brought me his traditional drink for fever for the very obvious fact that he wanted me to choose his tour and I eventually did to repay his kindness. But he only does private horse riding tour which is against my budget principles. The tour was ok but the downpour the day before made the trail super muddy that my jeans and shoes were all full of muds after the tour. But still, the views from the tour were pretty rewarding.

Sight on the horse riding tour

Green hills simply look better than desert hills

What a great landscape!

San Agustin is all about these carvings on rocks

Some carvings are weathered

A couple of small waterfalls

In Parque Arqueologico

Simply love this statue!

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Ipiales; Popayan, Colombia

I arrived at Tulcan around 6pm and decided to stay for the night as my lonelyplanet book suggests. After an overnight stay in Tulcan with eating spree, I took a local colectivo by the central square to the border Rumichaca to enter Colombia. Lines were long on both sides’ of the border. Formalities took me almost two hours with the lines but everything was smooth after the border. I took a taxi to the bus terminal because I still had no idea of the location of the terminal after asking around with my broken Spanish. After getting the bus ticket to Popayan and leaving my big luggage at the luggage storage facility, I hopped on to another cab to see the beautiful church El Sanctuario de las Lajas that spans over a gorge. I had no choice but to pay the whole price (COP 12000) for the taxi service to and from the Sanctuary since given the fact that I only  had two hours of time before departure for Popayan. The church is really gorgeous and I wished I had more time to explore the entire attraction. I was picked by the policeman at the terminal for a thorough check of my possessions which almost caused me missing my bus. But thankfully I still made it to Popayan on the daytime bus to Popayan (recommended for safety reason) which arrived around 2am .

Popayan is a beautiful small town full of Spanish colonial architecture with really nice weather. I stayed for three nights just chilling in this small town while trying to figure out my next destination. The central plaza really gives me a strong Colombian feel with all the white-washed architectures surrounding it. Overall I enjoyed my stay at the Hosteltrail hostel in this small little Colombian town just for the sake of relaxing.

Colombia has really gorgeous natural landscape

A clearer view of the location of the church

Entrance is FREE!!

Isometric view of this beauty

It is a really deep gorge

Taken at the central square in Popayan

Beautiful sky, beautiful architechures and beautiful weather, Colombia!!

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Quito, Ecuador

I left Mancora for Tumbes because there was no bus to Ecuador that day but figured the border town would have more departure options. I took a van to Tumbes which took 2 hours then a mototaxi to the Cifa bus terminal which is the only bus company that goes to Ecuador. An 8-hour bus ride to Guayaquil for US$8 doesn’t sound bad, but there was no AC on the bus, and the temperature was mid-80s (30 oC) due to the fact that Ecuador is on the equator. Good thing is the bus driver will take you to the custom office at a who-knows-where location and wait for you to finish formalities. And both custom offices are the same, located at a pretty far distance away from the real border with the “Welcome to Ecuador” sign. Long distance buses in Ecuador are way below average when it comes to comfort but the fares are the lowest among the South American countries that I’ve been to so far. I arrived at Guayaquil around 7pm and was surprised by the bus terminal and the facilities. Everything looks new and nice except the buses. Another 8 hours of bus ride with a mediocre bus company after dinner and I finally arrived Quito. I will always remember to take Transportes Ecuador or Panamericano buses for long distance travel the next time I’m in Ecuador. The Blue House hostel I stayed at is situated in the night life zone. There is a place about 2-min walk from my hostel that serves Mexican food and I liked it a lot. I also went to some local restaurants for some $2 meal. As far as attractions go, the old town is a must, I also went to the Mitad del Mundo where there’s a monument built right on the equator separating the earth into northern and southern hemisphere. There is a cable car service to the highest mountain for view of Quito but I didn’t go due to the fact that I needed to catch the bus to Tulcan for Colombia which takes 16 hours. And to get the the Northern bus terminal Carcelen for bus to Tulcan from the takes about an hour by bus, I chose to skip the view of Quito and headed straight north to Colombia.

Plaza GrandeAnother shot in Plaza Grande

Head sculptures lined up along the way

Zero latitude

This is where the north meets the south

 

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