I left cold Salasaka behind me and headed for the warmth of Columbia, a multi-day road trip with a few stops along the way. I started in Salasaka, Ecuador and finished in Bogota, Columbia, stopping in Ipiales, Popayan and Cali along the way.
Las Lajas Sanctuario is church built based on the story of a woman and her deaf daughter who sought shelter in a storm, and a miracle occurred when the daughter saw an apparition and regained her hearing and voice. The first shrine was built in 1756, and since has been redeveloped and the church in its current form was built between 1916 and 1949.
I thought the stop in Ipiales was well worth it to see this stunning piece of archtecture nestled into the surrounding landscape. Visits are free, but the taxi ride costs approximately $3 each way.
Popayan is listed in the Lonely Planet guide as a hidden gem that most tourists miss, so I decided not to miss it. With a late night arrival and a hotel booked in the bad part of town, my first response was to get out as soon as possible.
The historic centre of Popayan is all whitewashed colonial style architecture reminiscent of the Spanish occupation. The avenues are wide, cobble stones and super cute to explore. If you happen to be passing through this town it a worth a stop to explore, just be sure to get a hotel/hostel in the historic part of town.
Wandering after dark by yourself probably isn’t a brilliant idea, but exploring the streets by day is an absolutely brilliant idea. Wander, get lost, look at the walls around you and of course make stops in the gorgeous cafe’s for delicious coffee and tasty treats.
I stayed at Kingbird Hostel in San Antonio, which I would highly recommend for location, atmosphere and awesome staff.
Ecuador-Columbia Border Crossing
The border town on the Ecuadorian side is called Tulcan, and the border town on the Columbian side is called Ipiales. Neither town is exactly on the border, so you can catch buses to these towns and then a taxi to/from the actual border. Once you clear migration on one side, you walk across the bridge to the migration on the other side. It was probably the easiest border crossing I have ever completed.
|Bus: Salasaka to Quito (via Ambato)||$4||4hrs|
|Bus: Quito to Tulcan||$7||6.5hrs|
|Taxi: Ecuador border||$3.50||10mins|
|Walk: across Ecuador-Columbia border||$0||20mins incl. immigration|
|Taxi: Ipiales||$8 (was ripped off majorly)||10mins|
|Bus: Ipiales to Popayan||$11||8.5hrs|
|Bus: Popayan to Cali||$5||3hrs|
|Flight: Cali to Bogota
* I decided I was prepared to spend more money to save myself yet another 10hr bus ride!
|$ 45||1 hr|