Trip Report

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Trip Report

Colombian Craziness

7 days in Colombia

by atlasalAtlasGuru Contributor

Colombia6 days / January 2020

Highs & Lows

Playing tejo in the candellaria

Getting hassled by police twice in Cartagena

Itinerary Overview

We spent the first night checking out the bars in and around the famous zona T. On day 2 we hit the super touristy hot spot that is Montserrate, a cathedral on top of a hill overlooking the city. Its a pretty steep climb of an hour to get to the top, especially leg sapping when the sun comes out. But you can stop for a beer along the way and the view is grade A outrageously amazing of the entire city, so its a must do. Warning: avoid eating at the top as the food we had was really bad and very expensive. We were pretty shattered after this. That night we went to the Candelaria, the centre of tourist town, and hit a few spots in the Parque de los Periodistas area. It didn't seem very buzzing even though it was a saturday night however. On day 3 we took a Bogota walking tour starting in the Candelaria, right outside the Museo de Oro. You just turn up around midday and join the crowd. I would recommend it. We were taken to the Botero museum, (the artist that only paints fat people - not my thing but good to see) and learnt a lot about colombian history. They also give you good advice on where to buy an emerald if you are so inclined. Then we hit the Museo de Oro, which I highly recommend - it contains many gold artefacts. 

Cartagena

Completely and utterly different to Bogota. The heat really hits you when you step out the plane door. We stayed at media lune hostel right in the tourist area, on calle 30. The hostel is in a perfect location but has a funny vibe due to the suprisingly unfriendly staff so I wouldn't recommend it. Go to another hostel in the same area. On the first night we ate at a great little peruvian place on a side street literraly round the corner called Ceviche Peru. You can sit out on the street and just chill. We then went to the clocktower area which is interesting if only for the fact the main square is crawling with escorts. There are some nice rooftop bars here. 

The next day we got on a hop on, hop off bust tour and stopped at San Felip Castle. I would recommend it. Intellectual stuff done, we got the bus to the beach. There are a few in Cartagena, but we went to Playa de Castillo Grande which was decent enough. I've been to better beaches but its sure worth a visit - just be prepared for quite aggressive street sellers passing by at a very high rate. That night we hit Cafe Havana. Paid entry but well worth it. Cuban live music and great atmosphere. 

Next day, we hit a beach on Carrera 1, which was busier. The seafood cocktails sold there are utterly divine, if you are willing to risk buying prawns from a man with a cart. 

Final word of warning - the police in Cartagena are dodgy. After 2am or so, be careful out on the street, as they will stop anyone after that time looking foreign, with the intention of extricating money from them. This happened to me. 

Guatavita

The site of the origin of the El Dorado myth. We took a bus from bogota portal norte station. It takes about an hour and drops you in the town. From here we got a taxi to the site. Its very controlled so you have to take a tour, which is in spanish. If you don't speak any spanish, this could be a problem. They lead you on a short hike up to the viewing point. The lake is very beautiful but its mainly the history that makes it worth a visit. you can see where conquistadors attempted to blow a hole in the side of the lake in order to drain it and access all the gold on the lake floor, with partial success. Curiously, the guide claimed nobody knew how deep the lake was exactly. Weird. 

  • 3 Nights: Bogota
    They speak very clear spanish, so its great for learning the lingo.
  • 3 Nights: Cartagena
    Caribbean heat and sea
  • Day trip: Guatavita
    The famous lake

Q & A

  • What would you have changed?

    The hostel in Cartagena

  • What tips would you give a friend?

    Beers are pretty cheap

  • Packing tips?

    STRONG sun lotion

  • Transportation Tips?

    Fly from Bogota to Cartagena and back

Lodging