Colombia

BARRANQUILLA

We’ve touched down in Columbia! First things first…Let’s get some cocaine!

Only joking  (we can wait until tomorrow) We landed at 7.30pm and decided to get the hell out of Bogota because for the next week or so it’s going to be raining!

After our time in Mexico we weren’t quite ready to leave the sunshine and we had heard Bogota didn’t really have the weather or much else to offer so we decided to jump on another plane up north to Barriquilla where it was a steady 32 degrees!

Turns out in Colombia we are millionaires! Before I started ordering Ferrari’s and Speed Boats I checked the exchange rate and realised its 3708 Colombian Pesos to £1 😫

You’d have to be Carol Vorderman to work out how much an apple costs here..

The cab drivers here seem to have no actual driving ability or any regard for safety – me and jay have been bouncing around the back of cabs like tennis balls in a tumble dryer.

So turns out Barriquilla is a bit of a bore, it’s dirty and there isn’t really much to do, they are currently having carnival here which is pretty much a watered-down version of the one in Rio so we’re catching a bus to the Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta which costs 40,000 pesos which I thought was a rip off but Vorderman assured me it was only about £10.

Also Im disappointed I haven’t seen Shakira or Pablo Escobar yet.. Il let you know if I do 😜 adios.

SANTA MARTA

We arrived in Santa Marta and headed straight for The Dreamer Hostel. We were greeted by a lovely guy on reception called Diego and felt so welcome. After a tough time going through customs in Bogota being served by who I can only describe as the meanest man I’ve ever met, my excitement about Colombia diminished some what, so I was glad we had at least picked a nice friendly hostel.

We chilled at the hostel when we arrived and got chatting to some people hanging at the bar and finding out what there was to do around santa marta. G was invited to play footie with others from the hostel out on the pitch in the square which is a regular thing against the little Colombian kids that live nearby. The girls all went out to watch the boys play and got a little taster of how into footie this country is. They bloody love it!

The next day we hung at the hostel and got to know the backpackers. It was a lovely mix of nationalities from holland to Germany…Japan and Canada and lots more im sure. Later that day three girls walked through with their bags. Newbies!!! We got chatting at the bar and found out they were Cleo, Carla and Frankie from Basingstoke. After about all of five minutes we all, (G included) fell head over heels in love. And here we are almost a week later, stronger than ever and at a new hostel in Palomino right on the beach.

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We spent a few days together at the first dreamer where we were dragged against our will on to the ‘Chiva bus’ which Is an all you can drink bus journey around town and then to a bar on the beach. Well, needless to say it was a horrific experience but very very funny. We all piled on to the back of this bus with a sound system that would rival fabrics! Two minutes in im doing the universal hand sign for ‘turn it down a bit’ to the driver. God I must be getting old.

Whilst at the hostel we all booked on to go to Minca which is a about 40 mins from Santa marta in the mountains where there are some waterfalls and a coffee farm. We had heard different views on minca bad and good so we thought we should check it out ourselves. To be honest we were all a little disappointed as it was a bit of a muddy site and the water was the coldest I have ever felt. We all had a little dip and then climbed up a hill to some more falls and then headed to the coffee farm.

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Now I really am not into coffee at all so this really wasn’t my bag but if you are into that stuff I guess it may be worth a look. I felt like a naughty school girl on a school trip, hanging behind and giggling and whispering to Carla-who like me had little to no interest in coffee beans. We found great amusement in proceeding to ask if ‘anyone had ever fallen in?’ When being shown deep holes or wells for the coffee.

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PALOMINO

After a few days at the dreamer in Santa marta we decided to go check out the new dreamer hostel in palomino about an hours drive. It is the same chain of hostel but right on the beach. When we arrived in the town we all jumped on individual taxi mopeds which was so fun. They drop you right to the hostel. I felt like I had seen a lot more of Columbia by this time and had started to adjust to my surroundings. It really is a beautiful country and the beaches are stunning in parts.
The sea is very rough in most places and as G will explain can be absolutely terrifying.

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So today I nearly drowned.. But i’ll get to that later.

Our day started off brilliantly we had decided that the 6 of us were going to go tubing, to get there we had to get on the back of a motorbike for about 20 minutes off-road and uphill on some pretty sketchy terrain, annoyingly we then had a 25 minute near on vertical climb to get to the start of the river, jay and the girls spent the entire time huffing and puffing but Me and Jez are pretty much professional climbers so we made mince meat of it.

After reaching the top of what Jay described as ‘Mount Fuji’ it was finally our time to sit on our asses and float down the river, two locals kindly donated us a big Bob Marley joint and sent us on our way.

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I’d definitely recommend going tubing if you ever happen to be passing through Palomino at any point in the future, it’s like sitting on a river in Jurassic Park – minus the dinosaurs. the jungle is beautiful and the river is pretty calm apart from a few bends and small rapids.

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It all went swimmingly until a machete wielding maniac started following us down the side of the river, Jay and two of the other girls were ahead of the rest of us and by the time we got there they were pretty shook up.

Turns out he was just a weirdo and not a mass murderer as they had presumed and we floated off on our tubes to safety, Jay still thinks of the rest of us hadn’t rocked up when we did that they would have been in some trouble.

So that was sticky situation number 1 which conveniently brings me onto sticky situation 2, when we got back to the hostel we decided to take a walk to the beach and we saw this sign..

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In hind-site I really wish I had taken it more seriously. The girls were laying on the beach and me and Jez decided to go for a swim, we got about 20 metres out and shit started getting serious, the current started pulling us out further and further into the big waves, Jeremy has 15 years surfing experience on his side and managed to get into shallower water, I however was being battered by the big waves and getting taken under literally every 2 seconds so gasping for air and swallowing sea water I desperately tried to signal to the girls on shore, I knew I didn’t have long before I was really fucked! Luckily somebody on land found a life jacket so he ran in and swam out to try and help, I knew I only had to hold on that long.

He got out to me but the current was still too strong to get out so we were definitely not in the clear and both of us were now being bashed around and taken under . Jay then saw somebody with a surfboard and screamed at her to help, when she finally got over to us and I finally got a chance to breath for the first time in what seemed about 10 minutes, The 3 of us still struggled to get in and when we did the guy in the life jacket collapsed on the beach, Jay was crying her eyes out screaming on the beach, it makes you realise how easily something fun can get seriously out of control in a heartbeat, I think another minute out there and I definitely would not be here writing this, I 100% thought i was going to die and if those two people hadn’t been walking past at that exact time I probably would have and 2 really would have become Juan.

So if you ever see a sign like that, take it seriously. (Coming from a Sign Maker)

P.s fuck you Poseidon you watery bastard.

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So G has explained the sea incident and to be honest it’s not something I can yet really think about in a serious way without balling my eyes out. All I will say is it was without a doubt the most horrifying experience of my life and I would not wish it on anyone. Standing on the shore watching the person you love most in the world, alone and struggling to breathe. So exhausted that their arms stop waving for help, and when you can’t get to them you feel so helpless. If Jez hadn’t had hold of me for dear life there is not doubt I would have been swimming in like a maniac to try and save him. I know I would have failed and made it worse for both of us but still. It’s impossible not to have that instinct. I didn’t think it was possible but I feel like I love G even more now and can’t stop looking at him and just balling my eyes out.

Please learn from this people. That is one thing I hope that come from what happened to us x

PARK TAYRONA

After two nights at the palomino dreamer and once I had got over the horrific sea incident we headed to Tayrona National Park. This is a protected park that covers most of the north east coast of Columbia. I had heard such great things about this place so was so excited when everyone agreed it would be best to stay over so we got to spend some real time at this place and see as much as we could. It is know for stunning beaches, diverse wildlife and being different in terms of type of forest and jungle from one side to the other.

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The park only allows you to sleep in a hammock or camp so we decided to camp along with Carla and Frankie, Cleo being cleo obviously wanted to sleep in a hammock, proper at one with nature that one. At any given opportunity Cleo is trying to shake a coconut off a tree and hack into it-usually to no avail. G however has started foraging with her and was mucho successful!

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So we arrived to the park and jumped on some horses for the 45 minute journey up to where we were camping. It was very basic but it was two minutes from the beach and that was what we were there for. We spent the day walking long distances and stumbling upon lagoons, white sand beaches, huge rocks that really made it look like something out of Jurassic Park. G was like mowgli from the jungle book climbing up them all in about 60 seconds.

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One minute he would be standing next to me and the next he is shouting down at me from about 100 foot up. Like I need another bloody heart attack! We all had this joke after G’s drowning incident about how I am not even gonna let him in a swimming pool with a wave machine and I Carla finished it off with “and if you think you’re having a bath you can fuck off”. That just about sums up how I am feeling about letting G do anything remotely dangerous. We got in the sea yesterday and I was treating him like a two year old. “Now stay where I can see you”

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Back to tayrona, the evening wasn’t great and we all had a little moan about how horrendous the food was and how it would have been great to just go for the day but we sucked it up and just got an early night. I popped a sleeping pill as I knew I was getting zero sleep in our pokey one man tent for two!

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In the morning we all woke up to blue sky and a lovely (well best we had had) breakfast of almost a chocolate croissant and a fresh orange juice. To be honest I was just happy to taste something a little different. The food is something I am really struggling with here in Colombia. The menu in pretty much every food establishment has the same meals; Carbonara, meat fajita, pizza, rice with chicken or rice with chips. I am trying not to let it bother me but to those of you reading this that know me…SEND HELP aka a roast dinner or a wagamamma.

We spent the day lazing in the sun and taking in the scenery. Swimming in the sea was great as it is a lot calmer here than on the normal coast back in palomino, so I let G in without armbands. It was a big risk but hey…I’m a risky bastard.

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Such a risky bastard in fact that whilst on the beach a long way from civilisation (of the horrible toilets back at camp) I decided to take my self off into the rocks to see a man about a dog. It turns out he didn’t have a dog…but I had a log. Too much information?

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Clearly A Natural..

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Clearly Struggling.

When it was time to go we decided to walk back instead of jump on the horses. Partly to take in more of the views but also because I think we all felt lucky to have survived on the horses on the way in and didn’t wanna get too cocky. Talking of cocks you should have seen Frankie’s horse. Actually whilst we are back on the horses- Cleo’s horse was infront of mine and at one point it decided to back up Onto my knee lift it’s tail and fart. It was the loudest most powerful thing I’ve ever felt I thought it had blown my kneecaps off. Imagine that.

J❤️

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Oh and heres an ant colony we found hard at work, crazy little bastards.

CARTAGENA

After Jays botched knee realignment surgery we were ready to go to Cartagena, which we now know is the hottest place on the planet, so we decided to get a hostel without air conditioning to really test the strength of our relationship.

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Playing With Lights

 We stayed at Media Luna Hostel which is a short walk from the centre of town and pretty much spent the last three days peeling ourselves off of the furniture and trying to stand in the right spot in the room to catch the   Draught from the fan. Me and jay had a constant battle for who got to sleep on the outside of the single bed and not get stuck up against the sticky prison cell like wall. Rock-Paper-Scissors being the fairest way to settle it.

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The hostel was actually pretty sick with a massive roof terrace where we partied at night and a pool downstairs. One night at about 2.30am on the roof terrace the whole city had a blackout. It was fun just running round in the pitch black pissed as a fart! It made me think about how if something like that happened in England you would definitely be evacuated out of the building for health and safety reasons. Here they were like “oh just run around until it comes back on” sweet.
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Sunday had arrived and it was the day Frankie and Carla were going home (well, starting their 2 day mission home) so it was a bad day for us, we were losing 2 of the 3 people we had been closest to so far but we still had Cleo which softened the blow – speaking of blow, we watched it last night and never has a film been more apt. Onwards and upwards as they say.
After the emotional goodbyes and three days of the lava pit known as The Media Luna hostel and saying goodbye to two of our beloved amigos we decided that we would escape before we actually begun to evaporate so we’ve booked a bus to Playa Blanca.
P.s Carla if you read this there’s definitely a lack of toilet humour floating around now – pardon the pun.
Ciaõ for now.
G x
 PLAYA BLANCA
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‘A Day Without Laughter Is a Day Lost’

After We lost Frankie and carls to heathrow, Cleo g Libby (a girl we had met staying at media luna) and I all headed to playa blanca. I had heard a lot about this place on various blogs and from other travellers. Basically the beach in Cartagena is a city beach and pretty grimy. Playa blanca is about a 30 minute bus or boat away. Because I read about the boat I always pictured an island but it actually is just a long beach with wooden individual cabanas overlooking the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

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Cartagena was way too humid for us so when we all jumped out the car at Blanca I was ecstatic to be greeted by the strong cool breeze. We walked up the beach until we found a cabana we liked. We paid £20 a night and had it for three nights. You can see what I mean in the pictures but anywhere else in the world you would be paying way over £100 a night to have the waves literally lapping at your door. It was quite basic but had everything you needed. The bed was the comfiest yet, it had a fan -not that you needed one with the sea breeze flowing through. It had mosquito nets covering the whole bed which meant I finally had the best sleep I have had since I came away. The shower situation was interesting as you got given a 5ltr bottle of water to wash with. I actually got quite into it and so did G. We showered together and every time had a right laugh just chucking it over eachother whilst trying to ensure we actually cleaned ourselves. I am thinking Of adopting this way of showering in oz 😉

G and I decided after Cartagena to have a bit of a detox so it was a lot of early nights and no beers for a few days which felt great.

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My only downfall to P.Blanca was the food. Although I had some delicious fish it was all very samey and also it is known for not being very sanitary in terms of food which obviously doesn’t help. I’m sure it has nothing on India though and to be fair I didn’t get sick.

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There was a guy that owned the cabanas next door to ours named Orlando who was 56 going-on 15 who loved playing frisbee and G joined him every day for about an hour at sunset.

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Overall all we have had a lovely time here on Blanca and would recommend it if you are ever passing through cartegena. The water is one of the best I have swam in, a beautiful bluey green with just the right amount of waves. Calmer in the morning and then getting choppier in the afternoon when it can get really quite windy.

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As I write this we are heading back to media luna hostel to gather our thoughts and work out how we are getting to our next stop…Medellin.

Hasta luego amigos

J❤️

CARTAGENA PART 2

After Playa Blanca we made our way back to Cartagena to stay a night at another hostel called Mamallena Hostel which was opposite to the sweaty Media Luna In which we had stayed before, the rooms had air con and we got a double bed in dorm which was pretty sweet, also it was 20,000 pesos a night cheaper so we were kind of kicking ourselves that we never stayed there the first time round, Also it being a weeknight made us see the city in a whole new light. 

We found a lovely Italian restaurant nearby on Calle De Sierpe called Di Silvio with an inside outside vibe (Abi and Duncan You would have loved it) the food was easily the best we had had in Colombia so far and was a far cry from the usual chicken and rice. The thing I find strange here is there is just no passion about food, I mean even when you go to a McDonald’s or a greasy-spoon cafe they At Least make the pictures of the food on the menu look appetising, but here the sample pictures look like something shot from a canon onto a paper plate from 50 yards – I mean, sure that’s probably hard to do and would be fascinating to watch but please just show a little pride in what you do.
Ok, that’s the food rant over. Today we’ve been to… Wait for it..the worlds smallest volcano! And to make it even less cool, there’s no lava, no explosions, Just mud. Lots of mud. So we’re looking on the bright side and pretending it’s done wonders to our skin, but in reality I’m sitting on a bus, half naked and with mud in my teeth.
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To be fair to it it was really enjoyable and like nothing I’ve ever experienced, theres 3 services they offer at the volcano:
1. a photographer which costs £1
2. A massage man – also £1
3. Cleaning lady’s – you guessed it £1
After climbing the 20 or so stairs to conquer the mini mud volcano I looked around with a false sense of achievement, I mean have you ever climbed a volcano?! Didn’t think so.
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 See, Now You’re Impressed.
 
So then you climb down a pretty rickety mud clad ladder into the volcano and the massage man begins to rub you down even before you’re in, so even if you don’t want a mud massage you’re going to get one anyway then as soon as somebody else starts climbing down the ladder, he just leaves without warning and you’re left feeling used and unwanted as he floats off to make his next £1
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The warm mud and rising heat keeps you buoyant so it’s impossible to sink even if you try – sort of like zero gravity (which costs thousands of pounds to experience) so this is a bloody bargain! There was a couple of awkward moments when bubbles started floating up from the depths and a lot of people had their ‘I hope they don’t think that was a fart’ faces on, although one did smell a bit too much like  burger king to come from a volcano.
After a while it gets quite crowded and there’s a lot of limbs and bums floating about so before it got too weird we had had enough.
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So after you’re bored of wallowing in mud and have all painted each other’s faces you have to climb up a even sketchier ladder to get out and get scrubbed up by one of the local ladies who where rather thorough and wasted no time in whipping my swimming shorts off. I noticed nobody else had had theirs taken off but i can’t complain, you usually have to pay extra for that kind of stuff.. 😒 so all in all if you enjoy mud, being rubbed by half naked strangers and then stripped in a nearby lagoon by a Colombian lady then go for it. I’d highly recommend it.

G x

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We have been slightly off the blog radar since Cartagena due to having far too much fun.

MEDELLIN

We arrived in Medellin and I instantly warmed to the city. Driving in from the airport I enjoyed the beautiful lush green views of the valleys and mountains. The city of Medellin is in a bowl and you drive around and down into it. There are a number of cable cars to get you to each quarter of the city and they also have a metro system.

The first night at our hostel casa kiwi we met some young English guys and ended up out on the town with them. The city has loads of bars and clubs and I didn’t once feel unsafe whilst walking around with lots of different nationalities into the early hours. We stayed in an area called el poblado which is known as the nicer part of town. It has lots of tree lined streets with lovely cafés and restaurants so I was in heaven. I even found the equivalent of a whole foods so that was me sorted for lunch.

With the limited time we spent in Medellin we made sure we did a whole tour of the city both by cable and the metro which was so fun and the weather was perfect for exploring.

Overall Medellin was an enjoyable city and I think one of which I could probably live if I was to choose.

J.

GUATAPE

We’re currently on a bus to Rio Claro, we’re finally leaving Guatape after staying 3 times longer than originally planned, it’s so easy to fall in love with Guatape, it is probably the nicest place we have stayed in Colombia, in fact it’s easily the nicest place so far, the views are breathtaking, tree topped mountains are surrounded by dozens of green lakes and in the distance you can see El Penõl towering over the landscape.

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El Penõl is a huge rock just outside Guatape centre that has made this small town into a must see location.
The Rock its self has 669 steps to the top plus another 60 or so if you want to go up the tower on top!
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The views from the top are even more  special than they look in the pictures. Me and Jay stayed at the top for about an hour watching the sun set before we were told we had to leave because they were closing up, we tried to drag it out and stayed another 15 minutes or so before the lady started getting pretty aggy with us. Oh and you have to walk back down all those steps too. 1338 steps.
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When we were back down to earth we went to the same restaurant we had visited the day before ‘Don De Sam’ we ended up becoming regulars here, the food was a far cry from most Colombian restaurants, they cooked Italian, Chinese, Indian, and Mexican food. One of the days we ordered nachos that literally could have fed Africa and this was only a starter!!. We couldn’t even bring ourselves to order mains after so that meal only came to £3. Bargs.
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This is where cleo fell off of the canoe into the lake fully dressed.
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Our last day in Guatape we went to a park called Laculebra or Comfama. Theres massive inflatables in the water and you can also go kayaking or get a pedallo – I have no idea how to spell pedallo? Cleo spent the whole day falling off things and making us laugh. There was a school trip the day we went so we spent a couple of hours playing on the inflatables with the kids and pushing them in the water! They kept asking me and Jay if we were a couple and once we had got across that we were they all started shouting this word over and over which we soon realised was “kiss” “kiss” “kiss”. So we had a little smooch to a huge round of applause from 10 year olds. The children here are so friendly and have no malice in them whatsoever. They are always willing to help you and try and speak to you as best they can.
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The hostel we stayed at was called Rock A Town Hostel and was 20,000 pesos a night which is about £5-£6 and the owner Juan Camilo was wicked, I don’t think I ever saw him without a joint in his hand. At night you could go onto the roof and the combination of the stars and fireflies was beautiful.  This hostel is literally the most chilled hostel I’ve ever been to. One night we were all really high and Camilo got a shop to deliver us crisps and beer on a moped. Sweet.
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Oh I almost forgot. When we were on a trip to El Biscocho to go swimming in the river and find some waterfalls we found a tiny puppy, covered in dirt and on the side of a road. So we took it with us to the river, cleaned her up, fed her. She was a different dog by the end of the day, a lot more spritely. We had to get a bus back to Guatape so we took her with us and we managed to find her a new home with a Colombian family. It felt kind of nice to know we helped her out because if we left her there or hadn’t have found her she definitely wouldn’t have made it.
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I know my posts are usually a laugh fest 😉, but this place is really worth knowing about. If you go to only one place in Colombia, Go to Guatape.
On to Rio Claro.
G.

RIO CLARO

We were sad to say goodbye to guatape and camilo, our hostel owner from rock a town. After some goodbye hugs, well wishes and a couple of tokes we waved down a tuk tuk and had one last ride past the rock, the water and the local dogs who had come to love us so much they jumped on the tuk tuk for a ride!
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We then had an hour ride round the mountains to the bus station where we got a connecting bigger bus to Rio Claro. Both bus rides were pretty tragic for me as I felt sick going round the mountains and then needed what would soon be known to me as the worlds longest wee. Just an all round bad couple’a bus journeys.
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Now to the main attraction. Rio Claro was somewhere I had been reading about on blogs and what not since we booked our round the world trip. It’s a nature reserve a few hours from Medellin right in the jungle with the Rio Claro (clear river) running through it. I had read various pros and cons to this place. The cons being that it can get pretty crowded on weekends and in holidays with local Colombians and school kids. The good outweighed the bad for me though especially as we had decided (after much deliberation) to leave out Letitia and the Amazonas due to safety issues with the south of colombia.
Cleo had decided to also just do Rio Claro and came along with us which we were obviously psyched about. After Cleo’s epic fail on the canoe the day before this was gonna be a laugh a minute with our new bezzie.
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As we walked into the reserve and up to the reception to book our one night stay in a cabana in the tree tops we knew we had made the right choice. Now I’m a river girl. Having been brought up on the thames I am most at home on the water and when it is crystal clear and the perfect width and depth for swimming I am in my element. That is exactly what Claro was offering us. We hadn’t even dipped our toes in yet but already we were having some serious fun just watching the flow of it reaching deep into the jungle stretching round bends meeting the marble stone of the banks. Love at first sight for all of us.  Don’t get me wrong we had seen some seriously beautiful beaches in Colombia but there is something about rivers that make you feel so much more at one with nature.
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We decided as we were staying one night we would get the best cabana, and by best I mean highest and furthest cabana from society. We were told we needed torches to get anyway after six as that is when the sun goes down and the jungle is pretty much in darkness. How exciting!
Another lovely revelation as we arrived was that it is the quietest time to travel Colombia and therefore we had the reserve pretty much to ourselves. I mean we are talking eerily quiet. We could have screamed we were so happy to have the river all to ourselves. It also hadn’t rained for a month and half, which is something unheard of in the jungle. This meant however that the rio was the clearest it had ever been. No wonder we almost peed our pants with delight when we clocked our eyes on it.
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Although it was a massive trek to our rooms both up the river and then up about 1000 steps to our cabana in the sky, it was totally worth it. We were greeted by a double bedroom with only sheer light curtains separating us from a balcony overlooking the huge tops and the river down below.
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If you look carefully you can see our room up by the tree tops..
After smugly checking the place out, running water-tick, electricity-tick, comfy double bed-tick worlds biggest insects-tick, we met Cleo directly under us on the marble beach. Basically everything here is natural marble so the 80’s would have had a wail of a time picking out their work tops here.
 We wasted no time in wading to the other side of the river, balancing on the ropes and just generally pretending to be in the lake scene in dirty dancing. Didn’t quite have the skills to cross the rope but did however manage to climb on top of G’s shoulders. Not bad for someone who for the last 7 weeks has only had carbs past her lips. I always thought the water was the one place a girl could get picked up by her man and feel light as a feather-he looked genuinely in pain-awks!
Rio Claro
We had an early dinner at the main and only restaurant that evening and headed back to our cabanas to get a good nights sleep before the action packed day ahead. What the hell?! The walk back was a bit of an eye opener. Imagine walking through a jungle in pitch black, over little bridges with the sounds of a rushing river and every species of animal going screaming at the top of their lungs-proper little shows offs. It really did put the shitters up me and Cleo but G…as always was acting like he was walking down the aisle in his local supermarket. I’m pretty sure at one point he started to whistle whilst he walked. I mean really?!
The night proceeded to get even more scary but I must explain, when I say it was scary it was also at the same time thrilling and fun. The jungle brings with it a very strange mixture of emotions.
Once back at the cabana and after G had fought a moth the size of my head out of the ‘curtain’, we heard an all mighty thunder. A storm was a brewing people, yep you heard me…we brought the rain with us!
We sat on the balcony and watched this storm for about two hours before finally giving in to bed. It was pretty insane to watch though and it definitely added to the mystique of the jungle.
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After the moth episode I decided that every insect in the jungle was on their way to our cabana to lay eggs in my ears so I dug out my old trusty mosquito head net (a prezzie from me ol’pal murph). I woke G up at about half five much to his dismay. I however was just happy to see daylight and know that the critters had done one.
After a pretty much Inedible breakfast we got on our life jackets and helmets and waited for our first adventure of the day to begin. White water rafting for two hours down the river. Unfortunately the night befores rain has brought with it the mud from the banks and so the rio was a lot murkier than the previous day. Instead of be a bit pissed we just thought how lucky we were to have experienced it how we did the first day as according to the guide the river hasn’t been that clear in about 25 years!
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The rafting was great fun with a few little rapids and a stop off at a lovely viewpoint with high marble walls and a huge branch you could jump off onto a rope swing. Mui bien
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After lunch we had our second and last adventure, a 3 hour jungle trek wading through rivers and ending with a cave tour and then climbing out the cave along side a waterfall on a rope ladder. All this whilst dressed up as the village people.
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Now the river crossing was pretty easy for us as we had done this the previous day unassisted. They make it a little safer by making you all hold on to the rope who his kind of necessary as the current is quite strong and would just take a lot longer if peeps were just getting swept off down the river every two seconds.
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Once across we started our uphill trek. I thoroughly enjoyed this as it was climbing up and over various rocks, tree branches and general jungle tings whilst trying your hardest not to slip and look like an amateur infront of the 12 year old guide. What is that all about in foreign countries? They love a teenage guide to make you feel stupid and inept and also relatively unsafe but that bits to come.
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After the trek we arrived at the entrance to the cave. The guide explained what we were to expect when we made our way through to the other side. Inside the cave were a certain nocturnal breed of birds that the guide warned us not to shine our torches at up high once in the cave as they are very protective of their young. Two seconds after this we heard the most horrifying sound come from within. Its a hard sound to explain but imagine all the axe murderes in the world came together and screamed in your face. To put it bluntly I was shitting it. After the birds had kindly let us know they were in there in their millions the guide then told us that we had to shine our head torches wherever we lay our hands down whilst climbing through as there were deadly spiders rocking around. Doesn’t this just sound like a dream adventure?
spider
Anyway I had to suck it up because there was no way I was gonna be the only person to turn round and pussy out…so in we went. Because Im just a lucky kinda gal I got to see the deadly spider pretty much as I entered the cave. Cleo was infront of me as I insisted I was to be sandwiched between G and her the whole way. Cleos hand missed it by about a millimetre (she obviously didn’t get the torch memo) and thats when I got the full frontal. POW right in the kisser! SO bricking it even more I trudged on and managed to start getting into it. If Bear Grylls can do this shit then so can I…wait actually maybe not. G being the next best thing to Bear was in his element and together we all decided to enjoy it and crack on. I don’t know about you but when I think of a cave or think back to when I have been in a couple they are generally small things that you walk through and are out in minutes. In this one you had to psychically climb up and over rocks, jump off marble into plunge pools in the pitch black, slide down wet rocks into the abyss not knowing whether there was going to be this bloody deadly spider on your face when you emerged, all the while these friggin birds were screeching at you. The scary thing was you couldn’t see the bird, you could only hear them. Petrifying stuff. Oh and here is the icing on the cake…the whole cave ordeal lasted…an HOUR!!!!!!!! Never again G, from now on I get to choose the activities, coffee farm anyone?
 MANIZALES
After saying goodbye to Cleo after Rio Claro we hopped on the night bus from Honda to Manizales. There was a couple of bus changes and G and I had one of those horrible journeys that were so bad we just ended up with a fit of the giggles. Firstly we sat right at the back and then realised that the bus had a toilet, which absolutely stank. Everytime someone walked past us and opened the door we pulled our tops up over our noses and held our breaths. About an hour before we arrived a man who had clearly been affected by the windy mountain roads puked everywhere and therefore added to the pure hatrid for this bus journey.
We arrived in Manizales fairly late and there was no room at the hostel we had looked up. Tired and stinky we tried the hostel opposite. It is at times like this that you end up paying way too much for hostel beds because you are tired and grumpy and just want a place to lay your head. Luckily this ended up being a cheap but very comfortable hostel. There were two old guy on the bottom bunks in a four bed dorm when we peeked our heads in so not wanting to wake them (old people need their kip) we got undressed into our pjs on the landing.  I woke pretty early for the free breakfast. I dont even need to set an alarm if I am told the night before there is a free breakfast. My brain just knows to wake me for free food. The breakfast want get but the coffee on the other hand was the best i’d tried so far. They had an actual coffee machine that the cook was more than happy to start up anytime of the day. We got talking to the old american guy from our room at brekkie and he asked if we wanted to go to a footie match. We knew it wasn’t going to be great but we fancied it so went along. It was pretty fun and the they do get well into it . The crowds did not stop drumming and singing for the whole game.
The next day we went to the hot springs up in the mountains. There were two springs with one a little hotter than the other. It was a cool experience cos if you think about it when do you ever get to actually swim in really hot water? Unless your really rich and your bath is the size of a swimming pool. Also this will be the closest we get to having a bath for the next six months so we made the most of it.
hot springs manizales
SALENTO
After Manizales we headed to Salento which is a couple of buses and about three hours away. Salento is famous for coffee farms and for having the highest palm trees in the world. We booked to do the day hike up the mountains. You meet in the main square at 9.30 and then all jump in a jeep (or as they call them Willys) to head to the bottom of the mountain.
jeeps in salento
They cram so many people in this jeep that me and G ended up standing on the back holding on to the bloody roof rack for a 45 minute drive round the mountains. You really do end up doing things you just wouldn’t do at home when you travel…but hey we lived to tell the tale!
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As we started the hike we met a lovely australian couple Scotty and Carolyn and ended up doing the whole trek with them. It was a fun but very exhausting day. You walk over lots of wooden swing bridges over waterfalls and streams and the weather changes from sun to rain the higher up you climb. At the top there is a hummingbird house where you can have a drink and try to take pics of the little beauts.
hummingbirds salento
These little buggers are notoriously hard to Photograph.
giant palms
Back in Salento we just had a lovely couple of days walking round the town, looking in the all the quaint market stalls and enjoyed being in a typical colombian village where everyone is so friendly. You spend the whole day just saying “Buenas”.
tallest wax palms in the world salento
Tallest wax palms in the world.
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BOGOTA
Now as I write this we are sitting in our hostel room in Bogota. Tonight we have Cleos leaving drinks as she flies back to the UK tomorrow after  six months in Bogota.  Today we walked around the city and popped into the gold museum. Not much to it really just a lot of gold ornaments. YAWN. Bogota isn’t really our ind of place but we definitely wanted to check it out before we fly out of Colombia. We sent Cleo a whatsapp earlier saying (and I think this sums up Bogota) “Well Bogota’s a shit hole and why has no one got any arms or legs?”

So we’ve left Colombia and now we’re in Brazil, Colombia is a really hard place to sum up but the best way i can describe it is like standing very close to a really big horse, the horse looks great, it’s really strong and beautiful but you never really feel too at ease, the horse could kick you at any moment, we were lucky the horse never kicked us..it took us on a great adventure and now we love Horses. Some people we met however did get kicked by a horse – and when i say kicked by a horse i mean robbed at gunpoint. so we’re counting ourselves lucky.

High Vibes and Low Sides – Our Top 5 Things In Colombia:

  1. Guatape- A great little lakeside town away from the crazyness of the city. Good for walks and spending time in the calm waters. Friendly people and one of our favourite places to eat. Look for the restaurant Don de Sam
  2. Rio Claro- Adventure packed crazyness but only if you do the cave tour. The rafting is fun but very chilled. If you’re lucky you may see some monkeys hanging in the trees above. We did!
  3. Tubing in Palomino- Even the moped ride to the river was a highlight. Very serene as we had this huge river all to ourselves. Great for bird watching and generally pretending your in Jurassic park.
  4. Salento – for me this is Colombia. It’s exactly what I had pictured before arriving, it took nearly 5 weeks of being here to finally see it but the picturesque  landscapes and beautiful long hike made it worth it. Make sure you check it out.
  5. Playa Blanca- The colour of the sea here alone is knockout. I don’t know anywhere else you can get a wooden cabana two metres from the Caribbean Sea for about a tenner per person. Try and go on a weekday for pure chill out bliss vibes.

On the flip-side, 5 not so great things about Colombia:

1. The food. I mean it’s great if you want to eat the exact same meal for your entire trip, not so great if you actually have tastebuds. I’ve easily had some of the worst meals I’ve ever had over the last 5 weeks – And hot chocolate with cheese in?! That’s just stupid.

2. We thought safety should be on this list, not due to personal experience I may add however pretty much everyone we met either has or knew someone who has experienced dangerous crimes. We are talking made to empty out their bank accounts with guns and people being mugged at knifepoint. G and I really took care of each other and always had each others backs. We never went out with a bag, G always just kept a few small notes (enough for a drink and some food) and if we did take our phone or camera for pics one of us would take watch whilst the other one papped away. Never walk anywhere quiet or unlit alone and just generally stay with as many people as you can. I personally wouldn’t travel Colombia alone as a female and would no way in hell let my child. Don’t let it put you off going with a friend, partner or group though.  You need to experience this stunning and diverse country.

3. The driving – it’s great if want constant near death experiences and high adrenaline rides home. The taxi drivers are constantly cutting each other up and overtaking on blind corners. No wonder all of the cars here have dents in them.

4. There are so many homeless in the cities of Colombia which is upsetting, we always kept our leftovers from every meal to give to somebody on the street on the way home. They really appreciate it and no food went to waste. The government need to do something about this as it is a really big problem.

5. Hot showers are very hard to come by here. You are sometimes blessed with one in a big city, but even then it will be a dribble. I think in 5 weeks I had one memorable hot powerful shower. To be fair in the hot parts of the country hot water isn’t that important but I did find you don’t get as clean in cold water. We pretty much stank the hole time. 😫

15 thoughts on “Colombia”

  1. Bloody Hell G!! READ THE SIGNS!! Sounds like you’re having an amazing time, just remember who your original travelling buddy is though Miss Milne – don’t go replacing me yet, I will be there soon enough. Love you both. X

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  2. Steven. I didnt kno you nearly drowned I cried reading that! I felt so bad. Reminded me when I was drowning in pool when young deep-end guards just lookin on. Please b careful Yr my youngest. Dnt take them dangerous risks please enjoy bt safely Love+Miss You tons xxx

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  3. Just read this, be so careful you two, I’m sure you’ve learnt by this though, missing you so much looks gorgeous, be happier when your in Patagonia onwards I must admit, take care love you both xxxxx

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  4. 16 March, just updated myself on your latest adventures
    Keeping an eye on your muvver, she is looking good on her juicing diet, living on beetroot, kale, fruit, green veg – she actually looks slightly green

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  5. Ah bless you hunny bunn, iv learnt from the best, your looking lovely & trim, must be all that running away from spiders, love to stevie mummy xxx

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  6. Love reading about this. Hahaha my family is from Colombia and your highlights and lowlights are spot on. Hopefully you got to try the amazing bread and maybe dance some salsa?? Check out the soundtrack for love in the time of cholera. It brings me back to colombia every time. Loved hearing this adventure! Glad you are safe.

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  7. I was in colombia november of 2014. i guess you were stalking me: Cartagena, Santa Marta, Parque Tayrona, Playa Blanca. Loved hiking that national park. Have a friend now that lives in Cali, so will be backto visit other parts of the country. Rio Claro sounds intriguing. –U.S.A.

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2 Become Juan. A Couple Of Travellers, Worldwide Wanderers, International Explorers, Land Roamers. A BackPacking Couple On The Trip Of A Lifetime.

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