03.12.2012 - 08.12.2012 26 °C
A quick flight from Santa Marta and we were in Medellin. We took a bus into town from the airport and then checked into our hostel
( tiger paw hostel) which was in El Poblado, a very nice modern area. El Poblado is also known as "Las Manzanas de Oro" (The Golden Apples) because it is the main center of the industrial and commercial life of the second largest economy of Colombia ( bogota is the first).
That evening we walked the streets of El Poblado looking at the awesome Christmas lights and huge shopping malls then had a great dinner at kokoricos which is the Colombian equivalent of nandos!
After breakfast at the hostel we took the metro across town ( the city is in a huge valley so the metro is brilliant and covers a massive area) to ride the cable car to the highest point which is at 3000 mtrs above sea level. The veiw from the cable car is awesome! at the top we got a free bike to explore the national park but all the roads were closed so we decided to walk to the lake but after a very long stroll there wasnt anything very exciting to see so we headed back down and walked around the botanical gardens.
On the way back to the hostel we stopped off downtown to see the cathedral and iron statues. Downtown medellin is very very busy and When we got off the metro we were asked if we needed a police escort to walk around! we didn't feel the need although we weren't about to hang around for too long after seeing people spiking up under the bridge!
National park at the top of the hill
Square of bronze statues
The next day, after collecting our laundry, we set off early to catch the bus to Salento via Armenia and via Pereira. The drive was beautiful through some really lovely mountainous country side although I did have to take a few valoids to stop the car sickness and there was a man on the bus carrying sick bags up and down which never helps! We arrived at our hostel in Salento which was run by a Dutch guy from Amsterdam and then had a lovely dinner in the town.
The main route from Popayán and Cali to Bogotá used to pass through Salento, but when the route was diverted the town became isolated and did not develop as rapidly as the rest of the region. For this reason it has retained more of its traditional colonial architecture than almost any other town in the region.
After an early night we headed out early for a hike through the Cocora valley.
World War Two willie jeeps took us to the entrance of the national park where we started our 5 hr walk in rented gum boots which ended up being the best idea as it was extremely muddy! About half way through we stopped for a hot coco and sat watching loads of gorgeous humming birds. Byron had his big camera lense out and did a great job of capturing the very fast busy birds flying around us. we made friends with some lovely aussies and chatted to them the rest of the walk. there were lots of rivers and cool lookout spots along the way even though it was overcast. The best part of the day was coming across the Valley full of 40 to 60m wax palms, they are incredible.
After a pizza (not very Colombian) we went to play tejo. Tejo is a traditional sport in Colombia. It is played by throwing a metal plate or disc at a board spotted with gunpowder, named tejo, weighing about 680 g at a target so as to make it strike the "mechas" (folded paper). The noise is so loud when you hit the target and you only pay for what you drink, it's known as the sport of cervesa and noise! What fun and I was the winner!!
The following day Byron set off on a horse ride at 6 am and was back by the time I woke up. We then got the Wellies on again and went for a walk to a local coffee farm. We got a tour in Spanish which was interesting and we were happy because we understood more than expected.Colombian coffee has been recognized worldwide as having high quality and distinctive taste, it was delicious! The main importers of Colombian coffee are United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Italy.
Byron's horse ride
Gum boots and skinny jeans!
After a great brunch and some delicious maracuya (like granadilla) juice we took a bus to The town of Manizales. When we checked into the hotel the girl behind the counter spoke english which hadnt been very common up to that point and when she saw our passports she got so excited because she had studied english in cape town and loved South Africa. There isn't much to do in this student town but luckily our friend at the hotel told us that the lighting of the Christmas lights was on so we walked up the hill to the top of the city where they had a huge light festival going on. The Colombians go crazy for Christmas decorations, anything that is bright and colorful goes and people make a huge effort to light up their homes! We had delicious arepas for dinner and hit the sack!
Christmas lights in Manizales