Tag Archives: bogota

Buzzing around Bogota

After a late night arrival and only a few hours sleep, my friends Steve, Jake, Laura and I hit the streets of Bogota for our one day of exploring the city.

Conveniently we were exploring on a Sunday which meant that entry to all museums was free and most central streets were closed to cars, which filled the city with people and street stalls. We visited Museo del Botero, Casa de Moneda and Museo del Oro. I’m not much a museum person, so I have simply provided a short summary of each of the museums. Aside from exploring the city on foot we also did the Graffiti walking tour and rode the cable car to the top of Montserrate for an awesome view of the city.

Museo del Botero

Fatty Mona Lisa at Museo del BoteroMuseo del Botero is an art gallery primarily displaying the artwork of Fernando Botero. His style is to represent women, men, animals as ‘voluminous’ or in my words, fat. In addition to the quirky artwork, then architecture of the building is beautiful. It is very Spanish looking, whitewashed, multiple archways leading to an internal courtyard with a garden and fountain.

Casa de Moneda

Attached to the Museo del Botero is the Casa de Moneda, a museum about the history of the currency in Columbia. It then also extends into another art gallery with a wide variety of works in various styles.

Museo del Oro

Further into the centre of town is the museum of gold, which informs the visitor of the history of gold mining in Ecuador. Showcased as also many traditional gold artifacts.

Plaza Bolivar

Plaza BolivarThe main central square of the city is Plaza Bolivar. It is flanked on all sides by beautiful historic buildings. The plaza is a hub of activity, with street sellers of food and toys. Kids whizzing around on roller blades and bikes.

One of the main streets runs through the plaza, though I have forgotten the name. It is worth wandering down the main streets to enjoy the atmosphere, the local street performance art and random games, such as guinea pig racing. The streets were also full of various stalls selling almost anything you might want to look for.

Bogota Graffiti Tour

Indigenous Lady Street ArtThe Bogota Graffiti Tour is a free walking tour (tips based) around the Candelaria area of the city and then continuing into downtown, where the artwork becomes more politically based.

Our tour guide Jay was absolutely brilliant at explaining the various art styles, as well as discussing the various artists their styles, history and motivation.

We were able to see numerous pieces by the same artist, and given visual indictors to look for in identifying the work of each of these artists. For example, the work of an artist referred to as Rodez can be identified by the use of multiple eyes and large array of colours. Jay’s intricate knowledge of the styles of each of the individual artists and the way he taught us to identify the artists made the tour so much more fascinating and personable.

Homeless Person - Political Street ArtThough I am not by any means a politically minded person, some of the more controversial and fascinating stories Jay had to share were regarding Plan Columbia and a concept referred to as False Positives. To assist Columbia combat the drugs issue, the USA implemented an initiative called Plan Columbia in the late 90s. While there is debate as to whether the initiative was successful or not. There were some definite negative results. Possibly the most negative result of the initiative, were the false positives. There was some form of reward for killing guerillas (I’m no expert on the matter, so I am not going to say who was providing the reward or what type of reward it was, though I suspect financial). In order to gain a greater reward and appear to have greater success in the war on drugs, many civilians were kidnapped, dressed in guerilla clothing and murdered. These deaths were referred to as False Positives and were absolutely horrendous. While the US may have had good intentions, this was a case where the assistance may have been misguided and done more harm than good.

So much of the art was absolutely spectacular and I would highly recommend the tour!


To round off our visit to Bogota, we watched a sunset from the peak of Montserrate. Access to the mountain top is via cable car and/or funicular. I was given the recommendation to catch the funicular up and ride the cable car down, but the funicular was not running that evening. No matter which transport method you use the cost of a return ticket during the day is 18,000 pesos, or 19,000 pesos after 5:30pm.

The view of Bogota from Monsterrate was absolutely spectacular. It gave a good overview of just how far the city sprawls. As the sun dropped in the sky bathing the city in golden light, the street lights came up and the busy street network became visible.

The sunset from the mountain was the best way to end our visit!

Sunset over Bogota


We stayed in Casa Bellavista Hostel for a reasonable cost per night with a delicious breakfast included; 28,000 pesos per night. The location was in La Candelaria, it was close to many bars and food options. It was easy to walk to all of the things we wanted to see, and there was loads of street art in the area.



Road Tripping from Quito to Bogota

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 SanctuarioIpiales is mostly a border town with not a whole lot to offer, except surprisingly an incredibly stunning sanctuary/church which straddles a gorge over the Guáitara River with high arches.

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.

Cute church in PopayanHowever, after a night of rest I was determined to see what exactly Lonely Planet was on about. So off I went in a taxi to the historic part of town, and wasn’t disappointed.

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.


Cali Street ArtCali is a city known for Salsa, while I didn’t engage in any dancing I did however find the suburbs of San Antonio to be full of character and charm, not to mention absolutely fantastic street art.

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.

Transport Summary

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
Total: $83.50 24hrs approx