We spent 4 months backpacking in South America. Although each of the countries we visited was as unique and different from one another as can be, we did notice a few universal truths about backpacking in South America… things nobody told us about before we left. In no particular order and in various degrees of usefulness, we’ve compiled our observations into this list of 30 things no one tells you about backpacking in South America!
During our month of backpacking, we slept in a LOT of beds in Colombia, and stayed at at a LOT of different hostels. From cramped party hostels to isolated hilltop retreats, it seemed like no two hostels in Colombia were the same. To make things easier for you, dear reader, we’ve come up with the best list of hostels in Colombia: where to stay, and where NOT to stay!
It took us a month of travelling by bus, van, jeep, and motorcycle through Colombia to figure out the various forms of transportation in Colombia! Read our guide to find out the types of available transportation in Colombia and the pros and cons for each type.
Tucked away in the Eje Cafetero/coffee region of Colombia lies the little town of Salento. This town has become a major stop for travelers due to its proximity to the famous Valle de Cocora, myriad coffee farms, and stunning views of the area’s rolling green hills. Our experience in Salento was amazing, and one of the major reasons for that was our hostel, La Serrana Hostel and Eco-Farm.
With an extra week to kill in Cartagena, a day trip to take a mud bath in a dormant volcano sounded exciting and unique. Little did we know that our relaxing spa day would be foiled by an oil slick, vengeful abuelas, and Brazilian Dadbutt.
“How do I stop?? How do I make it stop going down?!?” I shriek frantically at my husband, who is calmly dangling in mid-air a few feet below me. I can’t make out his response through the roaring, cascading waterfall that we are both being drenched in as we rappel down a sheer rock face 250 feet in the air, but it’s probably something like ” Use the rope, idiot!” Oh, right.
I love coffee. Having lived in the Bay Area for the past seven years (minus the past year of backpacking), I can safely say I’m a coffee snob. I’m not so bad as to swirl a mug and say something like “There’s notes of pencil shavings in the nose,” but I can definitely taste things […]
It has officially been 1 month since we took off for South America with only what we could fit in our backpacks. Our first destination? Colombia. We got a lot of weird looks when we told our friends and family we were starting in Colombia; looks that said things like “but you know there’s plenty of coke in San Francisco, right?” Well, friends and family, our month in Colombia was spent coke-free, but we did end up with a lot of questions. Like, why are the coins all random sizes? What’s tranquilo? And what’s with all the honking??
The Valle de Cocora hike in Salento, Colombia is famous for its 200 foot tall wax palms. What people don’t tell you is that the hike also includes a difficult & dangerous uphill trek through deep, thick mud in a rainy cloud forest! Know what to expect. Tips for hiking Valle de Cocora, what to pack for the Valle de Cocora hike, and more information.
One of the things I was told before we left for South America was to not ride the Metro in Medellin. It bummed me out, since I had heard they had a great train system. The person’s reasoning was the trains get packed like sardines, which leads to discomfort and the increased chance of theft. […]
The town town of Minca, Colombia isn’t on the typical Colombian backpacker trail. Perched on a mountain in the Colombian Sierra Nevadas, with a population of 800, Minca is if nothing else isolated. But at only 45 minutes away from the much more popular coastal town of Santa Marta, and only 5 hours away from bustling Cartagena, Colombia, it is well worth the detour.
The smell of fresh baked bread and lush, rich chocolate. Quiet classical music. A high arched ceiling, dark exposed wooden beams against bright white. Artistically placed vintage treasures. A tiny, carefully selected menu, changing from day to day: artisanal bread with cream cheese; coffee from a local farm; thick fudgy oat cookies; gooey brownies baked […]
I’m writing this from an open air hut, swaying on a hammock. Nearby is a pool, complete with waterfall and slide. In front of me is our beautiful cabana nestled in foliage and trees. Around us we hear various birds, water trickling or splashing, and some mysterious animals we haven’t actually been able to see scuttling through the jungle. It’s hard to believe this is anywhere near a city. But we’re only about an hour outside of Santa Marta, Colombia, a bustling city that we passed right through on our way to paradisaical Eco Hostel Yuluka, just outside the entrance to Colombia’s famous Parque Tayrona. Little did we know that we’d end up liking our hostel more than the tropical, remote beaches of Parque Tayrona…