Guatapé, a magical place

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Colombia

With only a 2 hours’ drive from Medellin we arrived at the Hostal El Encuentro. Nicely situated at the lake and only a five minute stroll from town it was a perfect retreat. The small town had a special flair with its three-dimensional pictures on the houses. We have never seen something like this before and we fell in love with this extraordinary place.

We were just in time for the „XIII Encuentro Nacional de Caminantes“, which is a yearly hiking festival. People from all over the country and even from Venezuela come to join hiking tours. So we found ourselves in street parades and clots of people enjoying nature and chatting with us happily.

For sure we had to do the hike around part of the lake and climb the El Peñol de Guatapé, a big monolith poking out of the landscape. From here we had a breathtaking view over the artificial lake. The dam which created the lake, formed small islands and peninsulas the far your eyes can see. This was an astonishing place and the people here were so hearty and friendly.

We were actually very surprised when people in buses and the metro got up for women with children and older persons. Colombia is so clean since they even recycle. This is weird after seeing Central America – Costa Rica is an exception - where the folks just chuck trash out of the bus all the time.

The police we asked for the way were so curious about us they stopped and we had a longer chat. They gave us some information flyers about the different hikes and wished us a pleasant stay. We enjoyed Guatapé so much we could have stayed longer but the World Cup is pressing.

But not before we go and have a party. So we went out with Greg and Vanessa from the hostel and ended up with 7 or 8 shots of Tequila, dancing to some Salsa, Reggae and Techno mix. With 8 Tequilas – who really counts - in the system the dancing moves became more Columbian – that’s what we at least thought.

With a short night we left for Pereira, luckily only a 5 hours bus ride. We stayed one night in Pereira and found a street stall with many people. The hamburger was just great and we found a good night’s rest at the nice and clean Home Sweet Hostal. Than we were off towards Salento.

Accommodation: Home Sweet Hostal, Pereira

Price: COP 22 000 per person, 6 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen

Comment: nice, clean hostel with great food stalls close by and super friendly staff

Accommodation: Hostal El Encuentro, Guatapé

Price: COP 25 000 per person, 4 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen

Comment: just 5 minutes’ walk from Guatapé with a fantastic view onto the lake. The dorm “Agua”
                   was very small.



Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Colombia

After a freezing and Salsa blasting night on the bus, 16 hours in total, we arrived Medellin. With the taxi we drove to our Hostel Casa Kiwi which is situated in the Poblado area. This suburb is definitely for the Colombian upper class and has plenty of funky restaurants and bars.

After exploring the area and getting our barring we had an early night. The next day we took the Metro, which is a fantastic way to get around the city. To see the city from a different angle we took the Metrocable up over the barrios of Medellin. This city is quiet big and the poorer people living pretty cramped in those barrios.

In the Parque Arvi we searched for tracks to enjoy the forest but you can only go in with a guide, so we left for the Botanical Garden. When we got back to our Metro Stop Poblado we were surprised to see so many people at this time. Everyone was coughing and scratching their eyes. Soon we started doing the same since the air was full with tear gas.

Masked men had entered the closed by University and had activated some explosive devices. The special force dropped some tear gas and blocked the road. The tear gas was so intense, our eyes where burning and we were hundreds of meters away from the University. Well, let’s go back to our hostel.

The next day we started our city tour in the Parque Berrio with its funny sculptures from the artist Fernando Botero. He was famous for his oversized, weird looking humans and animals. From here we strolled down to the Parque de Bolivar and Cathedral Metropolitana.

From the Paseo Peatonal Carabobo we reached the Plaza de la Luz and the Parque San Antonio. One of Botero’s sculpture was blown up in a massive explosion in 1995 which killed 29 people. He placed a replica just next to it so you can see the massive impact.

Afterwards we drove back to our hostel and packed for the next day trip.

Accommodation: Casa Kiwi, Carrera 36 # 7-10, Medellin, El Poblado,

Price: COP 24 000 per person, 6 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, TV room, small pool, kitchen

Comment: big hostel with good facilities and friendly staff


Santa Marta, Tartagena and Minca

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Colombia

Let’s make it easy this time and just hop in a tourist shuttle for the 4 hours ride to Santa Marta. This Caribbean town was as sizzling as Cartagena but close to our next stop in the mountains. At the small, cute hostel with very friendly stuff we booked into a dorm.

We wandered around old town and got into a rain shower. Just in time we jumped under a roof where we had to wait for a little while. Sleeping was hard since this city is sticky and hot but after a daytrip to Tartagena - a small fisher village which is very popular for backpackers and a lot of dive schools - we continued into the mountains to Minca.

The hostel Casa Loma we chose is situated on a hill so the walk up there was pretty tough but it is worth every single step. Up there you got rewarded with this amazing view. The sunsets were stunning and the food was excellent. Kim, the German part owner had a nature like Heike Makatsch (a German actor). The ones who doesn’t know Heike Makatsch just let me say, she has this extremely positive and funny nature and her laughs are infectious.

We came for the mountains and we saw the mountains. On a 6 hours track to Los Pinos with our hostel dogs Lola and Boludo we had an amazing time. The dogs followed us like they were ours and it was so much fun. Especially Boludo, he was in love with Michael. Seems to be that Michael turns into a dog person.

For such a small town they had a huge variety of good restaurants and we found a beautiful property to buy. Already thinking things through and falling in love with this fantastic place we did some research but the property had been just sold. Maybe this was a sign and we continued our trip to the big city of Medellin.

But not without this extraordinary food of the Restaurant Bururake in our belly.  So don’t miss it in case you stay in Minca.

Accommodation: Casa Candela y Chocolate, old town Santa Marta

Price: COP 16 000 per person, 8 bed dorm, shared bathroom, WiFi, kitchen

Comment: nice and quiet, family atmosphere

Accommodation: Casa Loma, Minca

Price: COP 65 000 per person, double bed, shared bathroom, WiFi free zone

Comment: beautiful view, nicely arranged on top of the hill. Nice hike up to the Casa and the food is
                   also yummy