People complain about Bogota, saying it’s dangerous and there isn’t much to do, but I actually enjoyed it (maybe just because they had good WiFi and normal city things). I stayed the first few nights in a hostel in La Candelaria, the more touristy area. A couple girls tried to steal my bottom bunk the first night, and I had none of it, as I’m an old, seasoned traveler that doesn’t fall for those cute girl shenanigans anymore. I’ll die alone in my lovely bottom bunk, thank you very much. But anyways, overall very nice people, a couple vegetarian restaurants close by, and mostly walkable.
As I’ve done my fair share of work in the gold industry, and the Museo de Oro is one of the “must sees” of Bogota, it seemed like a good idea to go. This part of the world is very famous for their gold deposits, and this made my second gold museum. This one was quite a bit more impressive, with several rooms of gold produced over the past few thousand years.
I stole some guided tour from another group and learned some things (but I forgot them now). It’s definitely worth going if you happen to be in Bogota. If Midas walked into a real-life Etsy and started touching stuff, it would be this museum. Who knows, maybe that’s what happened.
There was also a huge square (Plaza de Bolivar) nearby with, you guessed it, a massive church.
The other thing to do is walk up the mountain that overlooks Bogota, Monserrate. I took a cable car up (still wasn’t really feeling well enough for a long walk) that was too cramped to get a good picture, but the views from the top were nice enough.
After a few days in that area in the hostel I was feeling a little better and really needed to get some work done, so I decided to book a nice little hotel with a desk. It served its purpose well – pretty cheap ($25ish a night I think), good hot showers, free breakfast, and a safe location that wasn’t touristy. The older guy I met (late 60s probably) liked the hotel because it had a strong foundation in case of an earthquake. At least I’m not that old yet.
We talked every morning at breakfast though – very interesting guy, and it was a good break from the backpacker “where are you from, where are you going, how long are you traveling” line of questioning.
Pita Wok – A delicious little pita place that was great for lunch.
La Hamburgueseria – They can substitute veggie burgers for any of their menu items, and they make a delicious burger. All the fixings (guac, basically), good fries – it felt like I was in America again.
Also, Subway is a huge thing here. They’re everywhere. I ate there a couple times, and I think it’s the first time I’d been to one in years. I also went to Dunkin Donuts. But I go to those all the time back home too, because they’re legit.
After getting some advice from my old friend on where to go, I started making my way towards Ecuador. First stop, the desert.
It was a long day of travel that ended with me riding in the dark in a truck through the middle of nowhere for about 30 minutes, ending at a shack in the middle of the desert. Sleeping in a hammock ran about $2 and the hostel bed was $4, so I sprung for the bed. Big spender. This seemed like a part of the country which really didn’t know how to do tourism yet.
Waking up early, you were basically right in the desert. My morning walk, while lovely, resulted in sand fly bites that took over my legs. But anyways, I wandered for an hour or so in the red part of the Tatacoa desert very early in the morning.
After having breakfast back at the hostel, I went on a long walk in the other direction to take a look at the grey section of the Tatacoa desert. It’s very much like the red section, except it’s grey.
When I arrived at the hostel, the American girl I did the Lost City Treak with was randomly there, which was cool. I joined her, another America, and two English people for the grey part of the hike. It was nice to have some conversations in native English.
And then I went to San Agustin. It was a small town with a lot of history, hiking, and sculptures. The hostel I stayed at was really cool – I had a loft bed in a 4-person room, and it was the kind of place that attracted an interesting group of people.
The main attraction there was this park/museum with statues that no one really knows anything about (or the civilization for that matter), which I suppose makes them more interesting. It poured rain the entire day, which was annoying, but I survived.
Due to mountains and such, it isn’t exactly easy to bus from Bogota to Quito. Thus, another stop. This time, in the “white city” of Popayan. It lived up to its name. Very white.
From here, I decided to make the long trek to Quito. That meant an overnight bus leaving at around 10pm and arriving in Ipiales at around 6am. I did that to give myself enough time to visit Las Lajas Sanctuary, which you’re supposed to visit, because it looks awesome, and then continue on to Quito.
Here it is, looking awesome.
The inside is pretty neat too. There’s a museum with church things, and an event area.
I ended up doing that with another American, two Mexicans, and a Swedish person. Always good to split cab fares.
After doing that early in the morning, we grabbed some breakfast and headed to Quito. The border crossing was thankfully very easy, as I didn’t have a place I was staying yet and hadn’t booked any forward travel.
Another 6 hours on the bus, I was finally done with all my bus trips for a while. Booked a hotel on the way for one night before moving into my AirBnb.