We were finally out of the muddy Tyrona and off to Palamino. We had all booked into the Dreamers hostel there as we had heard it was amazing! It was! We felt like we were in a resort but it was a hostel. It was right on the beach and had an awesome pool and restaurant. This was lucky as there wasn’t much else in Palamino.
Even though we were right on the beach we didn’t spend that much time there. It was overcast the whole time and rained a bit and the swell looked pretty dangerous. I think Mike and Alex tried surfing once but didn’t get very far.
It was finally time for Austin, Radick and I to split up. Radick was at the end of his 2 year trip and wanted to be home for christmas, Austin was also heading home for christmas and wanted to do a quick Sand Blast tour before he left and I wanted to spend a bit more time in Colombia as I was in no rush. We went and found Radick, who was staying at a hammock hotel next door, and had a big last night out. We had one of our usual nights out, drinking at the local corner store. We bought some bottles of Aguar Diente (I sucked it up and drank some for the boys last night) and beer and pulled up a chair in the shop. Drinking in the shop is always fun coz you get to hang out with all the locals and have an awesome night people watching. It was a great last night together and of course we were all extremely drunk. It sucked having to say goodbye to Austin. I had been travelling with him for over 5 weeks (the longest I have ever lasted traveling with someone!). Thankfully I still had Danielle and Aiden.
The day after Austin left we were all very hung over but decided it was time to do something touristy. We hopped on the bus and headed out to see a waterfall. It was about half an hour out of Palomino on the way back to Santa Marta. Once you get off the bus you have to walk in and out of a winding river for approximately 20 mins. The waterfall is actually really cool. You can go swimming at the bottom of it and climb up it and jump off. Aiden and I kept trying to swim up to it and go under it but it was so powerful we couldn’t get close enough without my bathers flying off. There were these little colombian kids though that had obviously been here before coz they could just swim right on up to it. Kinda put us to shame but oh well.
After the coldest bus trip ever with a shitty kid kicking the back of my chair for a good part of it we arrived at the costal town of Santa Marta. We checked into the Dreamers hostel and found Danielle lying by the side of the pool. We soon discoverd half of the black sheep crew were also staying here! Our livers were not as excited as us to see them. We were in for a lot more partying! After a huge night of partying at the hostel, we were dying by the pool and suddenly Radick turned up and decided to drag us out to Taganga where he was staying. It was a shit hole. He had been held up at knife point there the night before and robbed but we could totally see why. He was staying down a dodgy back streets in a dodgy town and was blind drunk! We went for a walk around the coast to the beach there. It really wasn’t that nice. We chilled there for a little bit and then decided to head back to our hostel as Radicks “girlfriend” was arriving that night. While Radick was having a romantic night in, Austin and I and everyone else at the hostel decided to have another big night out and headed to El Mirador in Taganga. It was an awesome night out! It was on a hill with and outdoor dance floor that overlooked Taganga. We all attempted to do our shitty salsa and were there until closing time.
The following night we went out Again to a hostel roof party at La Brisa Loca. It was a pretty nice hostel and they had a really good dj and the drinks were sooooo strong. Its safe to say were were pretty shit tourists in Santa Marta too. We spent our nights partying and our days lying by the pool recovering. After 4 nights of partying it was time to move on and check out the famous Tyrona Park.
While we were waiting for the bus we made friends with a group of brits that were staying at our hostel that we decided to head to the park with. After standing on the side of the road for over an hour, we finally found a bus going to Tyrona. The process to get into Tyrona is a massive pain in the butt so leave nice and early as it takes forever to just get in. First you have to watch this video. Then you have to line up to pay for your ticket. Then you have to line up to get your bags checked. Then you have to line up to get into the park and finally you have to wait for a bus to take you into the park. This took us at least an hour to get through. We then setted off on our hike to the campsite. Everyone recomended we stay at El Cabo which is the furthest campsite away but has the best beaches and a cool place to stay on a rock in the ocean. The walk is kinda tough. It is nice and flat with a few hills but it is so hot and humid!! I think the walk took us a total of 2 hours and we were drenched in sweat! The place was packed when we got there. It was a public holiday so all the locals were there. I would prob recomend going on a week day if you can as there will be less people. Thankfully by the afternoon most of the people had left as they weren’t staying the night and needed to be out of the park by 5. We had been told to try and get some hammocks in the hut on top of the rock out in the ocean as it was nice and cool here and there were less mosquiots. Sadly it had all been booked so we got some hammocks in the campsite*. This turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. That night there was the biggest storm! It started pouring down at 6pm and didn’t stop until 4am (yes i know what time as we didn’t get any sleep). It was freezing cold and everything was flooded. When we woke up in the morning half of the beach had been washed away and the toilets weren’t working….
We really didn’t have the greatest experience at Tyrona. The walk back wasn’t as hot thankfully but the path was completley flooded and by the time we got out we were sweaty and covered in mud!
*I would recomend getting the tents at the campsite if you can as i think it was around the same price as the hammocks (if there are 2 of you). While sleeping in a hammock sounds like it would be awesome, it sucks!! The tents even had mattresses in them!
We were off to very talked up city of Medillin. We had booked into the black sheep hostel as this is where everyone we had met had told us was the place to be. It is not as central as some of the other hostels but it pretty much had no rules. You could bring in as much booze as you wanted and party for as long as you wanted. We took full advantage of this the whole time we were here. The first night we were there we bumped into Danielle and Aiden again but sadly it was their last night. We decided to have a massive party on the roof of the hostel involving a lot of wine!!
This pretty much set the standard for the rest of our time in Medillin. We were pretty shit tourists while we were in Medillin. We did manage to do the Pablo Escabar tour. Poor Austin was pretty hung over but still made it through the tour (Just). There wasn’t all that much to see but they drove us around to some of the places that were bombed during the cocaine wars and some of Pablo’s old hangouts. The tour ended with us visiting the outside of the house where they finally tracked him down and shot him and then is grave site. While there wasn’t all that much to see I thought the tour was really interesting. I didn’t really know all that much about Pablo before so thought all the stories and information on the tour was really good. You can also do a tour where you meet his brother which a few people I met did and said it was pretty cool.
Radick decided he had had enough of us at this point and headed up off north to lie on some beaches. Austin and I decided to do a quick overnight trip to the colourful town of Guatape. It is such a cute town and I would say a must for everyone to do when you are in Medillin. It isn’t to far away so you can do a quick day trip if you are short on time. Guatape is famous for its giant rock. This rock is huge and sits in the middle of the town. You are able to climb up to the top of it by hiking up a lot of stairs. The climb is definitely worth it though as the view at the top is amazing! Guatape is on a man-made lake that is huge and full of all these little islands. The next day Austin and I hired a canoe to go for a paddle on the lake. At first we thought we would try to find some of Pablo’s old houses but we didn’t have a map and we really weren’t moving too fast… In the end we just paddled around a few islands, pulled up to a rock and went for a swim.
Like I said we weren’t the best tourists in Medillin (we hardly left the hostel except to go to the huge grocery store down the road, walk around town a little bit and drink in the park) but we had an awesome time here!
As soon as we set off I knew I had made a mistake in inviting Chad! Austin and I were ready to leave and we had all agreed to meet at the front gate in 10 mins. 20 mins later Chad wasn’t there…. I went to the back of the hostel and he was sitting there having a beer! I told him we were ready to leave and waiting for him at the gate. 10 mins later he still wasn’t there. I was loosing my shit! Luckily for him Austin went and got him. We should have left without him. We were finally outside the gate and trying to get a taxi and Chad was like oh I’m hungry and put his bag down on the ground and went off to find some food! I was furious!! We eventually got into a Taxi 1hour after we had originally planed. Thankfully Chad had developed a little man crush on Austin and never left his side. I felt bad for Austin but was so happy it wasn’t me!
The first night we were there we stayed in a hostel called La Floresta. It was an ok hostel and is where we first met Danielle and Aiden. We ended up running into them the rest of our trip which was awesome coz they were really cool. We didn’t do much the fist night except go to the greatest burger place in the world!! It was called Brunch and it also did the best peanut butter brownies and milkshakes! We ended up eating here ALOT!
The next day we moved to the best hostel I have ever stayed in La Serrana. It was a little bit out of town but well worth it. It was so homey and felt like we were living in a nice country house. We ended up staying here 5 nights. This was partly to do with the hostel and partly to do with trying to get rid of Chad. Thankfully Radick came to our rescue! He even rode up to the hostel on a horse like a night in shinning armour. Sadly Austin and I both missed this as I was in town and Austin was sick in bed (man flu).
We didn’t get up to too much in Salento. We did do the Cocorra Valley trek which was awesome! The trees were insanely tall and looked like something out of Jurassic Park. Poor Austin was stuck with Chad for most of the trek so I’m not sure if he enjoyed it too much but I had a great time walking with a Scottish chick, Ailsa, from the hostel. The path is pretty easy to follow and it isn’t to strenuose a hike except for the massive hill you have to climb in the middle.
We had one of the best nights out in Salento. It isn’t known as a party town by any means but we stumbled across this bar that is usually just full of men but this time there were 3 women in there so I thought it would be ok to go in. The bar was full of very drunk Colombian cowboys. We sat at a table with 3 very drunk Colombians that did shot after shot of Aguardiente (the grossest drink there is) with the boys. I was just drinking beer and didn’t get anywhere near as drunk as the boys as I had to keep getting up and dancing with all the cowboys. It was a very random but awesome night.
After 6 days we had finally outstayed The Chad and it was time to move on. I think we could have stayed in Salento for ever!
As we are hiking through the Cocora Valley we are all sweating as it is a humid day and then we look over at chad that is wearing the biggest jacket ever and looks like he is about to pass out. “I heard it wasn’t a hard trek so I wanted to make it harder!” After a bit of persuasion he takes his jacket off and has actual steam coming off him for the next 10 mins!
“During long bus trips if you want to get a bit of exercise in you should stand up in the aisles on windy roads and try not to fall over”
Pulls out his wallet to pay for his hot chocolate. Has currency from every other country except Colombia in there…..
Had flown into the North of Colombia to then Spend 50 hours on a bus to go south to Peru to then turn around and start making his way back to the North of Colombia…..?
There were loads more that I will add when I think of them. I had them all written on my phone before it was stolen.
After a crazy few days we were back on the shitty bus to Cali, the home of Salsa. We had recently found out that young Radick was a ballroom dancer! Never would have picked it. He was very keen to get to Cali and learn some salsa. The rest of us weren’t as excited as him about salsa but thought we would give it a go. Ryan and Sophie left San Augustin the night before so we were meeting up with them at El Viajero Hostel. The hostel was pretty cool and offered free group salsa lessons and had a pool.
The first night we were there we went out to this cool club that wasn’t playing salsa music but had a live band. They were pretty cool but I can’t remember the type of music they were playing.
Sophie had a salsa lesson or 2 already and was a pretty good dancer. I think Ryan had a go but wasn’t all that coordinated. Radick booked up his week with private lessons as he wanted to be a salsa pro. He was actually really good. Way better than Austin! I managed to convince Austin to do 1 group lesson with us. He wasn’t the worst but wasn’t the best either. I don’t think we learnt too much as we were so hot and sweaty and were laughing the whole time at how shit we were. I had a few private lessons which were really run. The guy teaching us was so good and that then made you good as he would just spin and push you around into the right spots. By the end of the class you would be drenched in sweat but was super fun!
There were loads of people at our hostel that became obsessed with Salsa. There were even a group of people who ended up renting an apartment there and signing up to full-time classes for 3 months. I liked it but not that much. It was fun to go to the clubs there though and watch people salsa all night and even give it a go but I was still pretty shit so I liked watching more than dancing.
After a few days in Cali Austin and I decided it was time for us to head off and leave Radick to his Salsa. It was in Cali that my friendly and inviting nature got us into a shit situation that Austin never let me live down…..The Chad!!
We left Otavalo pretty early in the morning as the boys wanted to make it all the way to San Agustin in one go. We also heard that the stretch of road just after the border crossing was a bit dodgy and to try to avoid being on it at night. We ran into Sophie and Ryan (the coolest couple that we had met at vibes) at the border crossing and talked them into heading to San Agustin with us. We were now a group of 6 and off towards the infamous town with its “special tour”
It was all smooth sailing on the bus with no hold ups or robberies and we were making good time to Popayan. Then all of a sudden the bus came to a stop and a police man with a machine gun came onto the bus, said a bunch of stuff in Spanish, got everyone mad and then got off the bus. We had no idea what was happening. After a lot of miming and broken Spanish we worked out that the bridge was under construction and we had to sleep there for the night. We were in the middle of no where and there wasn’t really anywhere to stay. We decided that the only thing there was to do was try to get as drunk as possible! We headed to this little road side bar and drank them out of beer. I don’t think they had ever had so many people there before. We then went down the road to another bar/brothel. Ok it wasn’t really a brothel, I don’t think, but there were young scantily clad girls working there that were all over these older men that were driving the trucks and really didn’t seem to appreciate us being there. We drank a few more beers here and then decided we should try to get some sleep. We were rudely woken up at 3am when the bridge had been re-opened and our driver decided to take off like a lunatic and make up for lost time. When the locals are screaming at the driver for his driving you know it is bad. He slowed down a little bit but was still really scary. Thankfully we made it to Popayan and jumped onto another shitty bus to head to San Agustin.
After the longest bus journey ever we arrived in San Augustine. There was a guy waiting at the bus stop for us to take us into town. He let us know that he could book tours for us and find us some good accommodation. We took him up on his offer as we didn’t have anywhere to stay and Radick was quick to ask him about the “special tour”. He said he could organise it for us and would let us know once we were at the hostel. We stayed at a place called Hotel Bambu. It was an awesome hostel with comfy beds, nice staff and a kitchen. The best part was they didn’t have too many rules. A lot of hostels were really strict about bringing in drinks and things like that but they were happy for us to bring as much booze as we wanted and even partied with us all night.
The next day we were off on our tour. We were going horse ridding through the Archeological park to see some stone carvings and sculptures. They were pretty cool but to be honest we just wanted to ride the horses and act like cowboys. Radick truly thought he was a cowboy and even insisted on getting a hat. Ryan on the other hand looked sooooo awkward and uncomfortable I couldn’t stop laughing. He was the tallest out of all of us and was on the smallest horse and his feet were almost touching the ground. It was a really fun day and thankfully wasn’t as painful as ridding the horses in Banos.
That night we were off for our “special tour”. I have to admit we were all pretty nervous. We had a bit of a rundown of what was going to happen as some of the guys staying at our hostel had been on it the day before. Our nerves weren’t settled when the tour started. The boys said they had just walked a few blocks down the road so that is what we were expecting. We were told to get into a car and then proceeded to drive a good 15 mins out of town. Our driver suddenly stopped the car and then told us to get out and walk down this pitch black road. I was truly scared at this point! I think the others were too but were trying to put on a brave face. After walking for 5 mins we arrived at this house where there were heaps of dogs going crazy. We waited at the gate till we got the all clear to come in. I still don’t know how the dogs knew it was ok for us to come in but thankfully they didn’t attack us. We were all still on edge until our “guide” rocked up. He was a chubby, jolly looking guy wearing a Bahamas t-shirt. Not really the person I had pictured was going to be our guide but he was so jovial and friendly that he put us all at ease. It was a really interesting tour and we learnt a lot! We spent the next few days partying and recovering.