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Colombia is absolutely gorgeous! My pictures are not doing it justice.

If I made a short list of the places I have been that exceeded all expectations, Colombia would be on it, and maybe at the top.

From the graffiti art covered walls of Comuna 13 in Medellin, to climbing the Stone of Guatape, the Sanctuary of Las Lajas built on a ravine cliff, and the countryside that kept reminding me of a tropical version of New Zealand...there is so much beauty here! 2 weeks is certainly not enough time to explore Colombia. Driving through it from Cartagena to Ipiales was certainly an adventure. 


Beautiful Countryside

Mountains and water

Embalse del Penol Colombia


Port city on the Caribbean coast in the north.  It has a wonderful walled old city, and beautiful beaches. 

During the driving trip through the Americas, this is the arrival location when shipping your car past the Darien Gap, so I spent a few days here retrieving my car.

The downside of Cartagena is that it is very hot and humid.  The upside is that doesn't really matter if you are hanging out by the water. 

Be sure to visit the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, and walk the walls around the old city. And, just wander the colorful streets and plazas.

San Felipe de Barajas Fort Cartagena
Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena Colombia
Cartagena Colombia


My favorite city in South America!

Imagine a city as green as Seattle, but with the weather of Honolulu. 

That is Medellin...Maybe even better.

Great neighborhoods, wonderful food, amazing people. 

And access to more day trips than you could possibly do.

It is one reason I think Colombia should no longer be overlooked as a vacation destination. 

A great vacation idea would be to enjoy Cartagena and Medellin in 1 trip. During my trip, I drove from Cartagena to Medellin, but for a vacation, that is unlikely as it is a 13 hour drive. and probably longer if there are issues.  However, you could take the 1 hour flight on Viva Air often for less than $50. 

While in Medellin, take the metro cable to Parque Arvi, visit Comuna 13, Plaza Botero, and the Botanical gardens.

Medellin comuna 13
Medellin comuna 13
Medellin comuna 13
Medellin gardens
Medellin Palace of Culture
Medellin from Metrocable

Favorite Places in Medellin

Comuna 13

colorful neighborhood in the hills of western Medellin.  Known for tis graffiti art all around. The hills are so steep, the neighborhood has an escalator.

Pueblito Paisa

a replica of a traditional Colombian village in Antioquia.  Plus, it gets you up above the city for great views.

El Castillo Museum

Museum in the Southeast of the city with beautiful gardens and views and permanent exhibitions of objects in porcelain and glass, stained glass, antiques, paintings, and sculptures.

Museum of Antioquia

Art Museum on Plaza Botero with numerous outdoor sculptures.

Cable-car station Santo Domingo

There is nore than 1 cable car in Medellin, but this one is my favorite,  heading up into beautiful country.


along the Caribbean, you don't have to deal with the crowds in Cartagena or Santa Marta to enjoy the beaches and water.  I made a short stop in Tolu, and it was great to have a beach to myself. Plus, the prices are fantastic. 

However, this will involve driving for a few hours.  Make sure you drive during the day, not at night! 

Tolu Colombia
Tolu Colombia
drive to Tolu Colombia
bridge to Tolu Colombia


Day trip from Medellin to enjoy the beautiful lakes, a gorgeous old village, and of course El Penon of Guatape. It is about a 2 hour drive from central Medellin heading east and there are buses that will take you there from the Terminal del Norte in Medellin and cost as little as $5 US each way.

The true pleasure of this town was to simply walk around and enjoy the colors. Do a little window shopping, grab an ice cream. 

And, the whole area around the Penol reservoir is beautiful. 

Parroquia Nuestra Señora Del Carmen Guatape

Adorable church on the Los Zócalos Plaza.  Surrounded by colorful buildings all around. 

El Peñón de Guatapé

600 steps up to this towering rock in the plain giving incredible views of the lakes around Guatape.  It is about 4 kilometers west of Guatape, and on he way if you are driving out from Medellin. Climb to the top, and find a cafe on top. Grab a drink and enjoy the views!

For some of the best and prettiest buildings, stop by the Parque Principal de Guatapé and the Plazoleta de Los Zócalos. But, you can just walk around town. It is only 1 kilometer wide, so you can take it all in. 

El Penon of Guatape
view from El Penon de Guatape
Parroquia Nuestra Semora del Carmen Guatape
Parroquia Nuestra Semora del Carmen Guatape
Guatape Colombia
Guatape Colombia

Las Lajas

In far southern Colombia, about 20 minute drive from the border of Ecuador, this beautiful church was built into a canyon creating a singularly unique view. 

The location is the reported place of an appearance of the apparition of Mary and the building of a shrine in the middle of the 18th century. 

The current church was built in the 1940's and is a very popular pilgrimage for Colombians and Ecuadorians

Las lajas Colombia
Las Lajas Colombia

Driving through Colombia

Colombia was one of the most beautiful places in the world to drive, and also one of the most challenging.  Traffic was difficult.  The one lane highways through the hills, stuck behind slow trucks and with miles and miles of no passing zones, you just need to take your chances and go for it.

Bridges that don't seem capable of holding your car, highways under construction causing hours of delays, fog that will roll in and eliminate visibility, and side roads through the jungle where your tires will absolutely take a beating. 

Quite the adventure!

I didn't take a straight line through the country, but if you did; driving from Cartagena to the southern border by Ipiales would take about 30 hours of driving to cover the 1000 miles. 

driving in Colombia
driving in Colombia
driving in Colombia
driving in Colombia
driving in Colombia
driving in Colombia
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