A north to south itinerary for Colombia that you’ll love

photo by CC user 	Pedro Szekely on Flickr

Looking for an itinerary for Colombia that covers the north to south land journey that many overlanders use to begin their trip in South America? This post will help you start your trek towards Fin Del Mundo through one of the most misunderstood and amazing nations in the world…

1) Cartagena

Flying into Cartagena is the perfect way to begin your Colombian tour, as this fortified colonial city offers both historical highlights, and a sizzling hot nightlife.

The confines of the walled city are filled with brightly coloured, yet stately commercial buildings and mansions, many of which contain local and trendy restaurants, boutiques containing the work of local creatives, and hotels that are fun to walk through even if they are way out of your price range.

Outside of this area, Castillo de San Felipe grants impressive views of the old and modern parts of town alike, and when darkness falls, be sure to hitch a ride on a Chiva Bus, which is basically a bar and a disco on wheels.

2) Medellin

After taking an overnight bus ride to Medellin, you’ll enjoy the relief from the oppressive Caribbean heat, as being almost 5,000 feet above sea level takes a big bite out of it.

Instead, you’ll enjoy late spring temperatures as you take its modern train system around a metropolis that used to belong to Pablo Escobar and his ultra-violent band of cretins.

These days though, things are much, much safer than they used to be, as the worst of the criminal element that surrounds the drug trade has been contained.

This will allow you to enjoy a dining and social scene that is quickly gaining attention from around the world, thanks in large part to the vastly improved security situation.

Shoppers will love this town as well, as El Poblado has no shortage of stylish malls filled with the trendiest Colombian stores, and many of the world’s top international shops as well.

3) Popayan

Want to sample the best of Colombian cuisine without hardly having to disturb a bill in your wallet? If so, make a stop in the whitewashed city of Popayan on your way south from Medellin.

Even if the colour scheme of this charming city doesn’t make an impression on you, the restaurants here will serve up delectable local dishes that will leave you scratching your head when you ask for the bill. Only 8,000 COP ($4 USD)? Yes, that’s right, and no, you’re not dreaming.

4) Ipiales

The final stop in Colombia before moving on into Ecuador isn’t noteworthy on its own, but its proximity to one of the most awe-inspiring Christian churches in the world is enough for Ipiales to make our list.

Sanctuario de las Lajas, located within a ten minute cab ride of downtown, is built over a gorge that rages perpetually with runoff from the almost daily rains that fall in the area.

The statues, prayer walls, and the cathedral will have you snapping your camera shutters throughout much of your time here, so make sure your battery is charged the night before.

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