Feb 26


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This small colonial city is famous for it’s chalk-like facades( its nickname is “ La Ciudad Blanca, or The White City”), and is second only to Cartagena as Colombia’s most impressive colonial settlement. It sits beneath towering mountains in the Valle de Pubenza, and for hundreds of years was  the capital of southern Colombia, before Cali overtook it.

The town was founded in 1537by Sebastian de Belalcazar, and became an important stopping point on the road to Quito, Ecuador. It’s mild climate attracted wealthy families from the sugar haciendas of the hot Valle de Cauca region. In the 17th century they began building mansions, schools, and several imposing churches and monasteries.

In march 1983, moments before the much celebrated Maundy Thursday religious procession was set to depart, a violent earthquake shook the town, caving in the cathedral’s roof and killing hundreds. Little damage is visible today.

The city has numerous universities and during the day the streets are filled with students.

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Forty-five kilometers east of Popayan along an unpaved road to La Plata lies a 830 sq/km National Park ( Resguardo Indigena Purace ). The vast majority of the park lies within the reguardo ( official territory ) of the Purace indigenous group.

At this time , the indigenous community has taken control of the park following a dispute with the national government over it’s management. If you ask at any national park or official government tourist office they will tell you that the park is closed, however the community is still accepting visitors and is dedicated to expanding it’s fledgling ecotourism program. In addition to an entrance fee, each group is required to hire an indigenous guide to explore the park.


We had every intention to climb to the top of the volcano, I just wished we had done more research. After stopping at the small village, where our guides loaded supplies and rode in the back of the pick-up to a cabin at the start of the trail. They had us hold hands and asked the gods for guidance and protection so we would be safe walking to the summit to view the volcano.

The wind was howling and the temperature must have been hovering around zero, the altitude stealing our breath. It wasn’t meant to be, one by one we gave up.

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Our 2 guides eager to show us there land, told us they wanted us to see their most sacred area where we could see, and get close to Condors, noted to be the largest birds of the world. What started out with just 1 mating pair has become quite a success. Their wings spanning 10 feet or more as they glide serenely above Colombia’s Andes, condors are majestic physical specimens. They have been important symbols here since pre-colonial times, when indigenous tribes saw them as messengers of the gods and harbingers of good fortune.

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Check out the YouTube video on Condors


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We were also were shown the Termales de San Juan, which are on a high mountain plain (3200m), what an amazing area. These hot springs can not be bathed in due to the heat and the high acid content with the smell of rotten eggs.

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Feb 21


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Cali is rich in Afro- Colombian heritage; nowhere is the nations racial diversity and harmony more apparent than here. From the impoverished barrios to the slick big clubs, everyone is moving to one beat, and that beat is salsa. Music here is much more than entertainment, it is a unifying factor that ties the city together.

We arrived after a 50km bus ride from Armenia, not knowing exactly what we wanted to see, just knowing that we wanted to learn to dance. We had chosen a hostel in the barrio of San Antonio, the Hotel Terraza de San Antonio, a fantastic old restored building.The neighborhood has lots of great places to eat at great prices.

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We visited museum and the botanical garden, where we were escorted by a police officer to make sure no harm came to us as we walked the trails. Apparently it is not in a good area, but after the tour we walked back to town, we were fine.


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Hugging this tree is suppose to bring you good luck, while a little farther down the path is the plant that caused so much problems……Coca.

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Head phones …..Cali style

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We never did get to go inside the club where they teach you how to salsa, they wouldn’t let us in without the right shoes and we were suppose to be wearing the correct clothes. Oh well, we’ll have to sail to Cuba.


Feb 15

Armenia, Colombia

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Getting off the bus in Armenia, and walking through the station looking for a small restaurant to get something to eat we came upon a side of Colombia we never knew existed. Sitting in a restaurant which serves local food at low prices, on the board were posters of people who are missing from around the area. We could have caught the next bus out of town, but chose to stick around and see more of this coffee region.

Like Manizales, this department head offers few sights, most of it’s early architecture have been wiped out by earthquakes. Our lodging were on a  farm, just outside town at Finca Diamante . After trying to arrange a tour of the Coffee Park and Farm, which turned out to be closed on the days we were visiting, we decided to just relax and enjoy the country life.


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Finca Diamante is a working horse farm, with a small coffee field, along with many different fruits and vegetables. They also give riding instructions to all ages of students.

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When we walked in to town we were surprised to see so many Jeeps, Land Rovers, and Willy’s the only vehicle that can stand up to the terrain around here, and serve as public transport.

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Feb 08


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We left Medellin early to make our way by bus to the next town on our tour of Colombia. There are quite a few different bus lines, as you enter the station people are steering you toward their company. We chose one and after a short wait we boarded and were making our way to Manizales. The ride can only be described as exciting, part fast travel,  part white knuckle racing. The drivers mission is to pass every vehicle he comes upon, No passing zones or blind mountain curves makes a difference. 

Manizales is a city in the mountainous coffee  growing region of Western Colombia. Its know for its cultural events, steep streets, and views of the nerarby, Nevado del Ruiz volcano. Central Bolivar Square has a man- condor sculpture honouring revolutionary leader Simon Bolivar The city’s neo Gothic cathedral Basilica of, Our Lady of the Rosary has a roof top view.point. The neo-colonial governs palace is nearby.


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During this whole trip, Muriel as our agent has been picking lodgings from the internet and again she picked a fantastic place. Owned by a fellow Canadian,  the,   “ Mirador Finca Morrogacho “ turned out to be a highlight.


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Just a cheap taxi ride outside the town are the termales ( hot springs), so after a morning hike down to a waterfall on the farm property we decided to soothe our sore muscles.


Check out the video of our waterfall hike



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Feb 07

Guatape, Colombia

Number of View: 0


Medellin, has 2 bus terminals, one on the north side of the city, if you are travelling north, one on the south. This way, the buses avoid getting bogged down in the inner city congestion. We took a fast trip by metro then hopped a bus to go north-east to El Penol, a oddity on the landscape, an hour from town.

This piece of rock is a small mountain on top of a mountain, and attracts many visitors who come to climb to the top.

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When you get to the site, just off the highway, you take a rugged stair way to the base . We could have taken a small cart but chose to walk. By the time we got there we were warmed up and ready for the challenge to make it to the top.


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It took us approximately 45 minutes to reach the summit, meeting other climbers of all ages, we were glad to see the last step. After having a celebratory beer, …..hey we’re Canadian, we then had to walk down. This was harder on the knees and legs, our tired muscles aching all the way to the bottom.   Image00024



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We then went into town to catch the bus back to Medellin, spending some time watching people zip-lining across the mountain lake. A great side trip and well spent time exploring the country side.

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