By staying in Vilcabamba much longer than we had planned, we had to skip a few places on our agenda to get to Bogota, Colombia in order not to miss our flight to London,UK. Of course, the crazy idea of not catching that plane and stay in South America came to mind several times but unfortunately that wasn’t feasible for us at the time as we had another flight to catch from London to start our adventures in a new continent, Asia, the week after.
So after a very hurried week travelling through 5 cities in 2 countries and after 4 buses and two flights we reached our final stop in South America to finish the first leg of our round the world trip.
The Germans, the American girl and us once again were on the road to get to Cuenca where we would say good bye to each other after almost two weeks of being travel buddies. We had a night and full day in Cuenca before we catch a flight to Quito the day after.
Although we didn’t have enough time to explore everything, we were impressed by the beauty of this colonial town and really wished we had more time here.
We flew to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, instead of taking a 10 hour bus ride to save time. Plus domestic flights are very reasonable in Ecuador. We only had a full day walking around the city here also. I must say though, the highlight for us was not the city but the hour flight to Quito when we were treated to the sight of an erupting volcano and saw 5 to 6 volcanoes even though we flew 26000 ft. Do yourself a favor if you do take this route and sit on the east facing side of the plane for some exceptional views.
As we were heading towards the Colombian border up north, we also wanted to squeeze in a day to go see Otavalo market 2 hours away from Quito. We spent a really nice day walking around the colourful market and couldn’t resist buying some souvenirs. Otovalo has the most indigenous population in Ecuador and considered to be the most economically successful indigenous group of Latin America.
Phew, we made it to Colombia, two days before our flight!
“Yes, I know honey. All those plans we made for Colombia out the window now. We just need to make it to the airport in two days.” I said when we were on the bus to Tulcan from Otovala to cross borders. We felt pretty bad about not having any time left for Colombia to be honest as in the two days we had in the country we saw that it has a lot to offer from beautiful scenery to quirky little towns. We have to come back!
So, when we got off the bus in Tulcan and caught a collectivo to the Ecuadorion border, it all went well and quick regardless of what we had heard about the queues. We walked across the road to get an entry stamp from Colombian border and jumped on another collectivo to get us to Ipiales and another one to go to Pasto where we took a break for the night to continue towards Cali the following morning. The whole journey with border controls and change of transportation took us about 9 hrs from Otavalo.
We arrived in Cali the next evening and booked a random hostel which turned out really nice and had a lovely dinner at a Mexican restaurant nearby. From what we have seen in the short time we had in Cali, it’s a beautiful, colourful and modern city with a friendly young crowd. The people seemed very laid back and to be enjoying a hedonistic life style. We didn’t get a chance to visit its famous salsa clubs but I’m sure they are lots of fun too. This is somewhere that I’m certain that we would have stayed for a week if we had time. Again, we have to come back!
Next morning, we took an hour flight to Bogota instead of a 12 hour bus journey so we would have a day to wander around in Bogota. We stayed in the quirky neighborhood called La Candelaria with lively street scene, plenty bars and restaurants. We spent our last day in South America admiring another colourful place on this gorgeous continent.
When we were on our way to the airport the next morning to catch out flight back to London, we were emotionally overwhelmed by our feelings towards this continent. It has been one amazing adventure full of surprises, colors and an unforgettable experience. We realized that 5 months is nowhere near enough time to explore everything South America has to offer but more than enough time to fall in love with it. Therefore, we won’t say good bye but see you again South America.
Hasta luego Chicos!