Wednesday, 10 October 2012

A looong fairwell to Colombia!

After nearly a month in Colombia it was time to move on. You never really appreciate how big a country is until you have to travel overland by bus! We were now faced with a 23 hour bus ride to the border with times! At least we caught some nice scenary on the way!

We got the 2.30pm Fronteras bus from Bogota (COP 107,000pp) to the border town Ipiales. It was scheduled to take 25h but thankfully it only took 23h! 

There is not much to say about this journey, other than it was long, we stopped 4 times for bathrooms and (not so great) food. Because it was an overnight bus we spent most of the time trying to sleep. I say "trying to" because South American buses are infamous for playing loud and violent movies full of screaming, gunshots and fighting... not the best atmosphere for doozing off!

We arrived in Ipiales around noon and man was it a depressing town! A cold, windy, drizzly town with literally nothing worth seeing or doing in the town, it is soley a rest stop for crossing the border to or from Ecuador.

We decided to stay the night to recharge at Hotel Metropol as it was across the road from the bus station. It was extremely basic and there was no hot water but for $10pp for a double we weren´t too fussed.

We knew that one of Colombia´s hidden gems was only a 15min taxi ride away from Ipiales. Las Lajas Sanctuary was a beautiful church located on a bridge surrounded by the green mountains and waterfalls of southern Colombia! I´ll let the photos speak for themselves.

The scenary in Las Lajas

The famous Las Lajas Sanctuary

The classic shot

To get there we took a (white) collective taxi for $1 each from the bus terminal. There were plenty of taxis to take us back into town.

The next morning, we woke to a freezing October morning and took the 6am collective bus from outside the bus station (COP 1,500pp, 10mins) to the border. We exited Colombia very quickly and then there was a short walk to the Ecuador border which was on the other side of a bridge. It was quite cool to be in Nomansland (a bridge) between countries.

We cleared immigation in Ecuador and exchanged money in the office  for the best rate (Ecuador used the US dollar). Overall, it took only half an hour (go early!) and then we took a tazi to the Ecuadorian border town Tulcan ($3.50). Alternatively, we could have taken a collective taxi ($1pp) but there was nobody else around to fill the bus. 

The taxi dropped us off at the bus (which was JUST about to leave). The general rule in Ecuador was $1 for 1h bus ride. From Tulcan it was only 5h to Quito... 5 hours seemed like nothing after our last bus ride!

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