In November of 2017, I was attending a trade show in Colombia and went several days early. It was my first trip to South America and what a wonderful one. Bogota is less than 5.5 hours from Dallas and a pretty easy flight.
First stop was Bogota. I met up with another attendee and we went out to explore. We were headed to the Candelaria area and the Museo del Oro, but got side tracked and went to the cable car instead. The cable car takes you to the top of Mount Monserrate. While in line we met some German tourist who were traveling all around the country and they were saying how much they enjoyed Colombia. There are three ways to the top, you can hike, take the train (5min) or the cable car (4min). When we were there, they were refurbishing the train. Once on top you have a wonderful view of the city. There is a beautiful church and many shops (flea market style). Up higher, they have various food stands and mini restaurants. There are 2 main restaurants and we had lunch in the Santa Clara. The food was wonderful and as we were dining, the fog started to rolled in. Luckily, it cleared up by the time we were taking the cable car down. We shopped downtown with a local and her friend from Peru and then headed back to our hotel to meet the rest of our group.
The next day we flew to Pasto. Pasto is located in the southwest of Colombia in the department of Narino. It’s about 84km from the boarder of Ecuador. Elevation is just under 8300ft. As we were traveling around the Narino district, I would get alerts on my phone saying welcome to Ecuador. We were that close.
We hiked into Narino National park and spent the night in a lodge there. It was interesting and beautiful hiking up through the rain forest. The lodge we stayed in was very basic, but clean and great for a family reunion or group getaway.
We visited Santuario de las Lajas, which is a stunning church and impressive foundation. At night they light up the church with a fantastic light show. My photos do not do it justice. It’s gorgeous.
We went to La Cocha lake which is called the Switzerland of Colombia. We took a boat to Isla de la Corota which is a small National Park. There is a beautiful church on the island and some ladies visiting from Choco, sang beautifully as they were enjoying the acoustics. It was a treat for us and they were all so friendly and loved posing for pictures with us. Later we took small boats to the little town, walked around, shopped and tasted some local goodies. While at our hotel (Sindamanoy Laguna de la Cocha) we were treated to a Reiki session. The hotel was comfortable and very relaxing with good food. I loved the hot water bottles in the bed.
After 5 days in the Narino area, it was time to go up to Bucaramanga. Bucaramanga is north of Bogoto towards the Venezuelan border. Our trade show was at the Club Campestre which is Country Club in Spanish. They have a golf course and spa. It’s a bargain to play at that nice course and/or have a massages. Beautiful spa and nice rooms I hope to go back to Bucaramanga and stay there.
We had lunch on our final day at Ecoparque Cerro del Santisimo. You take a cable car/tram up to the top of the hill and have a fantastic view of Bucaramanga. Lunch was delicious and they have a huge statue of Jesus, 37 meter tall. There is an elevator in the statue which will take you up to 40 meters for an awesome view.
Overall, Colombia is wonderful. The people are very friendly, the food is fantastic and the scenery is amazing. I was surprised with all the color of Colombia, most of the hotel rooms are stark white with one or two paintings on the wall. I expected more color in the rooms. I felt safe there and it is just a lovely country. There are many areas I did not visit like the coffee region, Amazon, Medellin, Cartegena, desert, mountains and beautiful beaches, so I must go back. We met a couple of craftsmen. One made liquor (like moonshine) and one was a brick maker. Very interesting and makes the trip that much more special interacting with the locals and learning their trades. I wish my Espanol was better.