Cinco semanas de viaje en Colombia/Five weeks of travel in Colombia

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

– Aldous Huxley

After spending 9 months living and working in Manizales, Colombia, as a teacher at a private bilingual school, I took advantage of my summer holiday to explore the country for five weeks before returning to Canada.

While I’ve traveled solo before, I felt incredibly grateful to have company this time. My parents, my brother Brian, and my friend, Ashley (who I travelled with for 3.5 weeks), joined for various segments of the trip.

Although traveling with someone else requires some negotiation and compromise (Mom slept in a yurt!), a travel companion, especially someone you love, allows for deepening of relationships, shared memories, and opportunities to explore places you wouldn’t venture to on your own.

WHY COLOMBIA?

At first, when Ashley and I decided to embark on a South American adventure together, we planned to cover a typical tourist route: meet in Cartagena. Fly to Bogotá. Fly to Lima. Hike Machu Picchu. Visit Lake Titicaca. Bus to La Paz. Tour the Salt Flats in Bolivia. AMAZING. However, once we began our research, we felt like we were designing a trip for the sake of checking items off a bucket list. Too much time on overnight busses and racing from one place to the next. Not the adventure either of us had in mind.

We wanted to travel more slowly, allowing ourselves to stumble upon hidden gems. So we decided to spend the time we had together exclusively in Colombia. For me, this was a special chance to really get to know the country I’d been living in, before returning back home to Canada.

One of the gifts of travel is that it opens your eyes to many new possibilities for adventure and discovery. Travel also teaches you many lessons and I wrote about what I learned from teaching and traveling in Colombia here. My summer in Colombia certainly left me with a yearning to come back and explore more!

Check out this map of my five-week adventure, beginning in Bogotá. If you’re visiting Colombia for the first time, I’d recommend adding a few days in Medellin. (With it’s trendy cafés, progressive transit system, and eclectic arts scene, it was one of my favourite places in Colombia.)

A picture says a thousand words...

Here’s a taste of my five-week adventure in Colombia in photos!

Bogotá

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Monserrate
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Mom and Dad at Monserrate
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Colourful graffiti in La Candelaria
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Cyclovia: A main road is closed to car traffic on Sundays in many cities in Colombia

Manizales

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Yellow castillo coffee beans
Tio Conejo coffee plants
Tio Conejo Coffee farm
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My parents riding the chairlift at Recinto Pensamiento
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Mom and Dad on a coffee tour of Tio Conejo

Salento

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Town of Salento
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Acaime Hummingbird Sanctuary

Cartagena

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Cartagena Old Town
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Panama hats!
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Playa Blanca
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Sunset at Café del Mar
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Shameless photoshoot
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Strolling through Getsmani

Taganga

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Playa Grande
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Sunset in fishing village of Taganga

 

Tayrona National Natural Park

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Cabo San Juan
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Parrot love
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Finca Barlovento
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Enjoying the sunset at Finca Barlovento #D R E A M

 Minca

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Hiking in Minca
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Pozo Azul

 

Palomino

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Playa Palomino
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Beach life
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slow. slow. slow.
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Paradise

La Guajira

These are the places that we visited on a 3-day tour of La Guajira. We joined the tour in Riohacha and traveled northeast to Faro, Punta Gallinas, the northernmost tip of South America.

 

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Manaure Salt Mine
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Cabo de la Vela
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Playing frisbee in Cabo de la Vela
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Taroa Dunas, where desert meets ocean
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Faro, Punta Gallinas, the northernmost point of South America
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Flamingoes, Punta Gallinas

 

Bucaramanga

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Stage 2 of our trip was the transition from the coast back to the mountains. We flew with Avianca from Riohacha to Bucaramanga (via Bogotá). I don’t have any pictures of our time in Bucaramanga…we spent most of it at the mall!

 

San Gil & Barichara

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San Gil is an Andean city situated in northeastern Colombia
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Barichara is known as the “Prettiest town in Colombia”
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White walls of Barichara
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Camino Real, a 2 hr pilgrimage-style hike from Barichara to Guane
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Cobblestone streets of Barichara

 

Bogotá

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Ashley & I at the top of Monserrate
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Bogotá arts scene
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Botero Museum
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Ashley admiring Adam and Eve sculptures by Fernando Botero
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Street performers in La Candelaria
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Ashley & I in Plaza Bolivar
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Ashley caminando

Thank you to Mom, Dad, Brian, and, of course, Ashley, for joining me on this amazing adventure!

 We all learned that Colombia is an extremely diverse country with a warm & vibrant culture…no longer the Colombia of Narcos (drugs, violence & Pablo Escobar). I feel so lucky to have been able to discover this beautiful country con mi familia y una amiga increíble. 

9 thoughts on “Cinco semanas de viaje en Colombia/Five weeks of travel in Colombia

  1. Shannon What a fantastic trip. I’m so glad you were able to take the time to explore this beautiful part of the world. I will look forward to your hearing about your future adventures. All the best Tom

    Sent from Tom Holmes

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    1. Thanks! It was an awesome trip! Hope that some of the places we visited can help you with future travel plans when you go back to visit Jill! I think you and Julie would love Finca Barlovento just outside Tayrona Park. It is paradise!

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  2. Awesome, Shan! Love the pics [😊] And it was a great read!

    One minor change to make – the accents in Spanish only go in one direction, so your accent over the “a” in Bogotá is headed in the wrong direction! haha.. too much French influence now! (thought you’d want to know)

    Miss you!

    Jill

    ________________________________
    De: Shannon Mullen
    Enviado: viernes, 09 de septiembre de 2016 10:49 p. m.
    Para: jill_holmes@hotmail.com
    Asunto: [New post] Cinco semanas de viaje en Colombia

    shannon mullen posted: ” After spending 9 months living and working in Manizales, Colombia, as a teacher at a private bilingual school, I took advantage of my summer holiday to explore the country for five weeks before returning to Canada. While I’ve traveled solo befo”

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    1. Thanks Jill! The trip was amazing. I feel so lucky…as you can see, I went a bit photo crazy (surprise, surprise). Thanks for the corrections on my Spanish. I will make the changes. Please let me know anytime you see them! First Spanish class in TO is this Wed…and YES it’s confusing now that I’m speaking in French! But there are actually 3 Colombian students in my classes who have been catching my ‘Fra-nish’!

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  3. I enjoyed your travelogue and pictures. Brought back good memories having taught in \Pereira 20 years ago at LICEO INGLES for 3 years. Manizales is a great city to have lived in. The hike to the Lost City in Tayrona National Park is a challenging 3 day hike but worth it to see where an extinct Indian civilization used to live…..also going to the Amazon was neat. But you got to many places I never went to….glad you enjoyed Colombia and its people/culture.

    Rob Graham

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Robert– thanks so much for taking the time to read my post and share your memories of your time in Pereira. I didn’t spend much time in Pereira, other than as a stopover for other trips…but like Manizales, it is in a beautiful part of Colombia, right in the coffee triangle.

      I didn’t do the Lost City Trek as my friend and I opted to go to La Guajira instead…but I would love to go back to Tayrona Park to spend more time there and do the Lost City Trek before it gets too crazy touristy!

      I also went to Amazon, but from Ecuador. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend a bit of time in such an interesting and diverse country.

      Have you gone back to Colombia since working there????

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