A long awaited visit to Colombia, as it had always been too dangerous when we had been in South America before. Coming in from Ecuador we were able to walk over the border and visit the beautiful church at Ipiales. Stunningly constructed over a canyon it was a real tourist attraction but well worth the trip. 


Southern Colombia has some rarely visited archeological wonders, namely the rock tombs at Tierradentro and the strange statue tombs at San Agustin.


From tomb-raiding we headed up to Bogota where the stunning Gold Museum gave up it’s treasures as did the coffee shop with sumptuous "cheesy-breads”. A bus/train ride out of town brought the salt cathedral to our morning. A really great tour through many carved places of prayer. Very impressive.


You can’t visit Colombia without a trip to Medellin, erstwhile centre of Colombia’s drug trade and home of Pablo Escobar. It’s now a lively place with good food and beer, but a Pablo Tour is a must. His family grave can be visited and is kept looking neat by an ex-bodyguard. 


From here you can see the self-built prison he resided in for a few years, in the distance. But the best was saved for last with a visit to his mother’s house where he also lived. A collection of his belongings are here so you can sit in Pablo’s car, sit on Pablo’s jets, sit at Pablo’s desk, and so on. Really great stuff.


Time for a flight and we zipped up to Cartagena, the famous walled city on the Caribbean coast. Incredibly hot, it was an effort that required strategically placed beer-stops. Some nice forts in strategic places, failed to keep out the British.


Deciding relaxation was needed we headed to the Santa Marta area of Colombia for beach, walks and good food. We arrived on what turned out to be election day with all alcohol sales banned for the day, unless you knew where Jose would serve you under the counter. We found him and retired to what turned out to be the best value accommodation of the entire trip. Great room, tasty in-house restaurant, massive roof terrace with panoramic views, all for $15 a night.   

© Paul Hyland 2012