If Colombia than Carribean coast!

Colombia was my first country I visited during the trip across South America. That’s when it started to really dawn on me, that I am thousands kilometers away from home, pretty much on my own and that I had the greatest adventure of my life ahead of me.

My travel itinerary in Colombia (see map below)

Altogether I spent 6 weeks in Colombia (one of them, stranded to a hostel bed because of some crazy tropical fever). My travel budget was around 35 dollars a day, including everything. Below the list of the bus trips I made.

  • Bogota – San Gil: 7 h bus ride
  • San Gil – Santa Marta + Taganga: 13 h
  • Santa Marta – Tayrona National Park: 1,5 h + 3 amazing hours hiking through the rain forest (highly recommended)
  • Santa Marta – Cartagena around 5 h
  • Cartagena – Medellin: 14 h (expensive bus – around $55)
  • Medellin – Guatape – Medellin: 2 h each way
  • Medellin – Salento: 8 h (change in Armenia)
  • Salento – Popayan
  • Popayan – Quito (Ecuador): around 15 hours including border crossing

Favourite Spot:

I don’t have to think about it too much. It was definitely Tayrona National Park. 3 days sleeping on a hammock, away from civilization. Beach, sand, swimming. What else can you ask for?

Least Favourite Spot:

Call me crazy, but I would have to say Medellin. I really didn’t get all that fuss other travelers were making about it (supposed to be great for partying, but if you are coming from Berlin then…oh well). But as always this is just my personal opinion.

Tips and Recommendations:

  • If you are going to Tayrona NP, don’t forget your student ID (If you have one). Thanks to mine I paid 7000 pesos instead of 35000 to get in.
  • A lot of guide books said travelling on the night buses is dangerous. My choice was usually night bus and I never had problems. Take a blanket though. AC is definitely overused sometimes.
  • Food: you should definitely try Patacones and Arepas…delicioso!
  • Hostel ‘La Brisa Loca’ in Santa Marta. It was my favourite hostel in Colombia (except the hammock in Tayrona NP, but this doesn’t count). Great atmosphere and awesome rooftop terrace!
  • If you are in Colombia during the rainy season (as I was) be prepared for bus cancellations on certain routes an try to check in advance to avoid dissapointments. My trip to Quito was delayed by one day because of some nasty landslide. My friend missed his flight to Galapagos because of another!
  • Expect to hear latin music all the time…everywhere, and after a while the songs all sound the same. Let me tell you, after 6 weeks in Colombia I could not listen to one more latin song. Right now I would love to hear that drumming on the streets again!

The End of the Beginning!

It’s been almost 8 months since my last post in here. 8 months since I am back in Europe, living and working in Berlin and daydreaming about my future travels. 8 months. That is longer than my actual trip Across South America.

So I hope you wonder what have I been up to and how can I explain my absence?

After I got back from South America and quickly hit the reality of being in a slight debt, I had to prioritize (for those who don’t know, I planned my budget for six months, but extended my trip for another month. No regrets though.) It meant finding a job and some kind of income as quickly as possible. First months I spent juggling between Poland and Germany, staying either at my parents place, in my motherland or living on a couch at my friends place in Berlin. Luckily, both of the places are only few hours apart by train. And what means few hours for someone who had traveled for 7 months!?

At the end of June I moved into a shared flat and ended up in a pretty international environment that consisted of Me, Half-German half-Russian guy and a couple from Spain. Believe it or not most, of the time we ended up communicating in Spanish, as that was the language that each of us could speak. Personally I found it great. This let me practice and improve what I already learnt while on the road.

Even though the flat was right in the center of Berlin, just few minutes walk from the famous Alexander Platz, it had no internet connection. I know it shouldn’t be an excuse, as I had to face this problem many times in South America, but back in SA at least I had a laptop. Unfortunately my laptop, that was so devoted to me until my last days of the trip, had decided to give up its life right when I got back (what cost me to lose some of the photos, that I took at the end of my trip, but didn’t back up on my external hard drive).

First 2 months were horrible. A mixture of what I call post-travel-depression with job seeking and being broke. I am not gonna lie. There were moments, when I just sat miserably in my room and cried over my terrible faith. Ha. Thinking of it now makes me laugh really hard.

After few months I was back on track, working quite a lot and slowly getting used to my ‘new’ old life. Since then I moved twice and now have my own small place. Have I got used to it by now? Absolutely not. Also, the fact that it is -10 degrees outside whilst I am writing this text and thinking that exactly one year ago I was learning to surf at the beach in Ecuador definitely doesn’t help. I already have a big plan for another trip in my head and hopefully it comes into reality not too long from now.

In the meantime, I finally decided I am going to do what I promised to do long time ago. Give a summary of my trip around South America, post my overall experiences, tips for other travelers, who are there right now, doing what I was doing a year ago! I know it is quite late, but my memories are still very fresh and hey…better later than never, right?

Rio de Janeiro

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This gallery contains 15 photos.

Unfortunately Brasil wasn’t on my list of things to see on this trip. The whole plan was to get a bus from Iguazu Falls to Rio de Janeiro, spent few days at the beach and depart home. After being here … Continue reading

San Telmo

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Buenos Aires did not charm me. Just another big, and in this case huge, south american city with very rich and beautiful and extremely poor and ugly areas. But I must admit there are some parts of the city, that … Continue reading

Gaucho and Yerba Mate

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If you have been to Argentina, Paraguay or Uruguay you must have heard of yerba mate. It is typical for this region beverage, prepared by steeping dry leaves of mate plant in hot (but not boiling) water. It is very common to drink it with friends from shared, special cup (in spanish called mate) through metal straw (bombilla). To those who are not used to it, yerba mate might have very bitter taste. Also by now I have already learned that argentines are very sensitive with the whole ritual of drinking it. You certainly should not play and move around the straw, because it stirs the mate too much and causes the straw to clog. I’ve done it once and been told off by a loca personl!

Yesterday I had the pleasure to meet up with the real argentine gaucho (south american cowboy) and drink the best yerba mate I had so far, prepared by him. Mayo (named after the month May he was born in) spends his life here in Patagonia on taking care of one of the estancias and animals living on it. I was very impressed by his way of living, especially when he showed me the skin of puma that he killed the night before in order to protect the other animals. Even though it was very difficult at times to understand him, due to the very strong patagonian accent that he has, I had a great time talking and listening to him and promised to give him one of the photos that I took during the visit.

El Chaltén

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If there is a perfect time for me to photograph mountains it would be in the morning light. Few days ago I went on a trek to Laguna de Los Tres near the town of El Chaltén in the northern part … Continue reading

Perito Moreno Glacier

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Almost 300 square km of snow and ice, up to 70 meters high, and still Perito Moreno is not the biggest glacier in the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Viedma Glacier, which is very hard to reach is over … Continue reading

Lago Argentino

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I just got to El Calafate, a litle town located in the southern argentine Patagonia, have by now only seen Lake Argentino from a viewpoint and I am already in love with this place. Because of my very small budget … Continue reading