A Travellerspoint blog

San Andrés

sunny 30 °C

San Andrés is a tropical island almost 800 kms north of Colombia, 200 kms east of Nicaragua.
In itself, it is a very nice island with bounty ad beaches and waters in different shades of beautiful blue. Unfortunately however, it is a tax-free paradise, so San Andrés city is packed with expensive hotels (for poor quality), tax free shops and expensive restaurants. Once you get out of the city, it is slightly better.
We rent a bicycle to cycle around the island which was ok. I would recommend investing in another flight rather than in a flight to San Andrés. We heard Providencia (an island 90 kms north of San Andrés) is much nicer and less touristic but then it is more expensive still so we decided not to go there.

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Oh yeah, if you do go to the island, please watch out for men working, they are dangerous!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 14:30 Archived in Colombia Comments (1)

Villa de Leyva, San Gil, Barichara

sunny 26 °C

Villa de Leyva is a quiet little town, surrounded by hills, about four hours north of Bogotá. It has one of South America's biggest market squares, a lot of charming colonial houses and picturesque cobblestone streets.

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There are quite some attractions around Ville de Leyva, a (very small) botanical garden, a kronosaurus fossil, pozos azules (very blue little lakes), an old astronomic observatory made of phallic stones and a nice monastery called Ecce Homo. So we rent (crappy) bicycles for the day and went out exploring.

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Next station was San Gil, the outdoor adventure capital of Colombia. San Gil has an attractive central square, where local youths like to party on Friday and Saturday nights, a botanical garden and some nice hostals but it is definetely not the nicest city in Colombia.
Here's a picture of the 'barbas de viejo' in the botanical garden.

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San Gil's attraction, however, lies in the outdoor activities organised nearby. There is caving, rafting, rappeling, trekking and paragliding.
One day, when we had planned to visit the Chicamocha canon, which appeared to be closed that day, we decided to go paragliding. The company didn't look very professional. After an hour drive from San Gil we arrived in a finca-like kind of place where there was a big open area for launching and before we knew it, we were up in the air for twenty minutes. It was a really nice experience, though, and the funny thing is that we landed at the same spot as where we took off. Thermal winds would take us up a few hundred meters in no time, just amazing.

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Another very nice daytrip from San Gil is Barichara, a picturesque little village about one hour from San Gil.

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From Barichara you can take the nine kilometer walk over an ancient stone paved path to a little village called Guane. Do not make our mistake and take the asphalt road to Guane which starts from calle 4 (the path starts from carrera 4). After about two hours of walking, we thought the asphalt road crossed the ancient path so we took the path and got lost in the forest... As dark was coming in, we were preparing to spend the night in a deserted farm but we found the way back just before dark. Of course, we missed the last bus back to San Gil and had to take a very expensive, crappy taxi.

Posted by Gitan Jean 11:43 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Parque Nacionál El Cocuy

semi-overcast 16 °C

Buenos, buenas!

You could ask yourself why one would want to spend twelve hours on a night bus from Bogotá to El Cocuy. Roads are in very bad condition or have been washed away by last year's heavy rainfall. The driver was talking loudly to his colleague all night and did not mind to put the stereo system's volume up when there was a song he liked.
Around 9 in the morning we arrived in El Cocuy, a very picturesque little village in the east of Colombia, after a night with very little sleep.

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In the afternoon, we started walking in Parque Nacionál El Cocuy, carrying tent, sleeping bag, mattress, clothes and food for five days. Walking up to eight hours per day crossing one or two passes per day, the highest of which 4650m. Of course, showers nor toilets were available. Some days we did not meet a living soul.
Nights were bloody cold and in the late afternoon clouds and mist would appear over the mountains.
But it was all worth it very much!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 08:09 Archived in Colombia Comments (6)

Bogotá

overcast 19 °C

Hola a todos y a todas!

It has been a while, hasn't it? After a good three weeks in Colombia, here's some news about Bogotá, more to come soon, I promise!

With almost 9 million inhabitants, Colombia's capital is huge. Traffic is stressful and pollution is a problem. If it had not been for my good friend Andrés, who hosted me in a way I could never have dreamt of, I would perhaps only have given it 2 or 3 days.

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The tourist neigbourhood of La Candelaría boasts the majority of tourist attractions like the Museo Botero, Museo del oro, Plaza Simón Bolívar and many beautiful colonial houses in cobblestone streets.

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Zipaquirá makes a good daytrip from Bogotá. It is famous for its salt cathedral, hewn out in a former salt mine.

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Another must is the steep walk up to Montserrate, a little church towering high above Bogotá. Just two recommendations: don't go on Sunday (too many people) and go when the sky is clear (clouds tend to form over Bogotá in the afternoon and it can rain, rain, rain).

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Colombian food is good and affordable. Colombians love meat and don't eat too many vegetables. You can avoid eating meat only by ordering fish. Colombians love sweet stuff, any time of day, so the offer of ice-cream, pop drinks and pastry is abundant.
Never in my life have I seen avocados as big as the Colombian ones!

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Que les vaya bien!

Posted by Gitan Jean 13:19 Archived in Colombia Comments (5)

Chiang Mai

sunny 28 °C

Sawadee ka!

Chiang Mai is a village in the north of Thailand. It is much bigger than I had expected it. Chiang Mai must be the only city in Thailand where the number of wats is close to the number of 7/11's.
Here's some pictures:

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Chiang Mai is also the tourist hub for trekking tours in the mountainous north of Thailand. I could not find any tour without elephant safari and bamboorafting shite, so went downhill mountainbiking instead which was lovely though quite tough and technical.
In the background, through the ever present fog, you can see the mountain we rode down.

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Posted by Gitan Jean 21:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (3)

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