© 2019 by travel_with_carlo | travelwithcarlo@outlook.com

touring | colombia | 2017

February 25, 2017

 

(im not really writing a blog but more of a backpackers & travellers travel guide. i want to tell my story about the amazing places i visit but also to share helpful tips & tricks on how to make the most of your travels abroad).

 

colombia

 

medellin

 

'i arrived into Medellin (the eternal spring city) with some trepidation as this was once the most dangerous city in the world in the 80's'.

at the airport take the bus for $19k to the north of the city and there you can catch the metro to your accommodation be carful of the taxis as they rip you off i would recommend to use uber while in the city you can pay with cash on the app its cheap and easy to find places. 

 

I arrived at my accommodation la playa rooftop in the el poblado area of medellin, this is the most well know area and safest also the richest as you will see its also very residential. after getting set up in my amazing hostel i ventured out onto the busy streets. my first stop and should be yours is the arepa store. cooking you some fresh batches take the arepa de choclo don't worry its not chocolate it an arepa made with fresh corn and accompanied with some fresh colombian cheese. its one of the best street foods ive had the pleasure of eating. 

i had organised a private slum tour with a company for the following day and i was picked up the following morning for a day visiting what i thought was the slums of the city but what i realised is that this has now totally changed. In colombia they have a social structure that is graded 1-6 based on how good the areas you live in are for example el poblado is 6 and the areas i was going to visit are 1-3. scary, or so i thought.....

so you all know about pablo escobar and to be honest this is the main reason most people come to medellin is because they watched or heard something about pablo. what you need to understand now is that the city and the people have totally changed and moved away from drugs and to my surprise the mention of pablo from a foreigner is met with hostility as it was a dark time in the cities history.

 

 

medellin today is now one of the safest major cities in south america and the financial centre of colombia with some of the richest companies in south america. so how did they go from the most notorious city in the 80's & 90's to one of the safest now?? well they invested in the poorest communities in the city offering free education and increasing access to those areas to make it easier for them to get home. the city created what they call 'educational parks' these are centres that offer free education to anyone and they are based in the poorest areas of the city they also installed gondola systems as most of the poorest areas of the city are in hills this made it much easier for the poorer community to access their homes. 'This is the only city that i have visited that has introduced a gondola system in poorest areas if you think in europe they are in the rich areas like ski resorts'. this seems to have really resonated with the local population and the metro system that includes the use of gondolas at no extra charge is one of the cleanest in the world the people really take pride in it. this is a working city and not a tourist city but you will find amazing bars and restaurant everywhere in the city. 

 

from medellin you can go to guatape this is a beautiful lake side town. its about a 2 hours bus ride from terminal del norte costs no more than $15k one way on a local bus. the bus goes to the historic town but you can get off about 5 mins before as most people will get off her to see the giant rock that give you the spectacular views in the photo above its costs $18k to go up and be prepared for a vertical climb up stairs of course, be prepared for the amazing views. after the rock take a few hours to explore the town its extremely colourful and has a great vibe a good place to have a coffee in the square. the bus station is here so you can take one back to medellin they are hourly.

 

 

my recommended places to visit

- el poblado (main hostel area)

- exotic fruit tour 

- atv tour (amazing experience and the staff are great)

- the slums

- arvi national park

- 3 cordilleras brewery (every thursday they have a tour at 6pm including 5 beers)

- ride on the metro gondolas its only $2.5k for the whole system, great views

 

places to eat

- arepa de choclo (on the streets everywhere)

- pollos mario

- chef burger

-mondongo's (this is a great local colombian dish place)

 

how to get around

- walk

- metro ($2.5k for the whole system)

- uber (cheap and safe)

 

where i stayed

- la playa rooftop

 

length of stay

- i had 4 day but i could of stayed for 4 weeks its such a liveable city.  

 

money

- this is a really cheap city and you should spend no more than US$25 per day including accommodation. 

 

 

cartagena

 

 

i took a cheap flight from medellin to cartagena. this is the best way to get there as the bus ride is long and actually more expensive. you should only pay around us$40 for a one way flight. the first thing that you will notice is the temperature compared to medellin, your on the caribbean coast here so it can get extremely humid. 

 

cartagena; the walled city is a unesco world heritage site. it feels very different to medellin as this is a tourist city and has been for a while mostly from the caribbean cruise ships that pass through this port. the walled city is very compact and you can walk around the whole area on top of the wall in less than 30mins. this is the colonial part of town with architecture from the spanish era that have been beautifully restored. I stayed in the be lounge hostel while here it has dorms and privates, its very modern with a great staff on hand. 

so onto exploring the city. you just need your two feet here its super compact. you will find a lot of restaurants, bars and stores all around the city so go and explore...  

 

my recommended places to visit

- the wall

- getsanamet

- the squares (full of life in the evening)

- juice from the street vendors

- emerald museum

- modern art museum 

- churches 

 

places to eat

- epoca cafe (best cafe in the city)

- moshi restaurant (amazing japanese fusion restaurant)

- la mulata (local cuisine)

- street vendors 

 

how to get around

- walk

 

where i stayed

- be lounge hostel

 

length of stay

- i had 5 days but you can do in 2.  

 

money

- this is a really cheap city and you should spend no more than US$25 per day including accommodation. it will cost a little more than medellin. 

 

 

 

the north caribbean coast & tayrona

 

the easiest way to the north is to take a special mini bus to santa marta this is the gateway to the north and tayrona national park. you can use a company called berlinas they have mercedes sprinter vans equipped with wifi. it takes around 4 hours in total and costs around $50k one way. santa marta is an industrial city with a large port so i would only recommend staying here for a night its not worth it to stay longer. i did however have one of the best experiences of my life here and that has a motorcycle day trip organised by the drop bear hostel to minca in the mountains above santa marta. (see photo above). it was a whole day tour that took us up the mountain in harsh terrain to a mountain town called minca and then up the trails beyond near the top of the mountain. it was spectacular; included swimming in waterfalls and having lunch on the side of the mountain. it a must do experience for the thrill seeker but you need to have a good amount of motorcycle experience as this is not for beginners. 

 

after the exhilaration of the motorcycle trip the day before i decided to take a few days to relax next to the beach so i made my way to the north coast where you will also find the tayrona national park. unfortunately i could not visit the park as its closed for nearly the whole of february for a spiritual cleansing so be sure to visit before of after this period. i made my way to costeno beach hostel, its a cross between a backpackers hostel and beach resort where i slept in hammocks next to the beach it was a great experience i would  recommend it. the staff are not that great but the place is awesome and very safe.  

 

my recommended places to visit

- motorcycle tour drop bear hostel santa marta

- tayrona national park

- costeno beach hostel

- casa elemento (one of the best hostel views in the world)

 

places to eat

- eat at the hostel

 

how to get around

- walk

- bus to tayrona $7k

 

where i stayed

- costeno surf hostel 

 

length of stay

- save at least one week for this area. 

 

money

- the hostel should cost you around $20 per day at the beach including drinks and food. 

 

country travel tips

 

atm: davivienda bank does not charge a fee for foreign debit cards

taxi: uber takes cash here safe and cheap

sim card: i used claro its about $20k for 2gb

 

Promo codes:

 

uber: use code; carlm5078ue

Booking.com: get $20usd off your booking here

airbnb: get $20usd off your booking here

 

 

 

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