Colombia-Central Andes

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The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world – Alexander Von Humboldt

 

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries – Aldous Huxley

Love these quotes and they are so true! One of the highlight is conversing with locals and getting to see the country in a different light. Colombians are passionate about their country and want everybody to enjoy it. We experienced amazing hospitality…. they shared their food with us, their home and even a bottle of “Aguardiente” (means firewater in English = distilled spirit). Also they are very curious, so are we, and that makes it easy for nice conversations. How many times we shared our story and at some point they all had the same question: “What do you think about my country”? or “How do you like my country”? Of course we always answered with a positive answer and shared our favourite places. And then always with a warm welcoming smile they said: “Thank you for visiting my country”!

Rio Claro – Nature Reserve

From the comfortable climate in Bogota (altitude 2’600m) we drove to the hot and humid tropical forest in Rio Claro. This nature reserve has been voted the most beautiful in Colombia surrounded by very green, lush hills, carved rocks, waterfalls & captivating rainforest! How refreshing it was to swim in crystalline waters after a hike in heat & humidity.

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Marble plates in the riverbed

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Piedra El Peñol & Guatapé

On our way to Medellin we visited this tourist destination: the towering monolith of El Peñol, a 200m (656ft) high rock that marks the skyline above the Guatapé reservoir. Guatapé is a colourful, friendly, cute little typical paisa town in lush hills surrounded by a unique labyrinth lake. We enjoyed to visit this beautiful area and to climb the 659 steps to the top of Piedra El Peñol with sunning views.

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towering monolith of El Peñol in the distance

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the stairway to the top of El Penol

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the views are stunning from the top

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walking back down the stairway

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colorful streets of Guatape

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Medellín – city of eternal spring

Medellín is Colombia’s second largest but also possibly the most progressive city in Latin America. It used to be the most dangerous city in the world in 1990, in hands of Pablo Escobar, but was rated the most innovative city world-wide in 2012. We immediately noticed how clean and modern this city is, with a fantastic integrated transport system: efficient metro, cable car and even escalator system.

We could not believe when we checked in at the Black Sheep hostel that we run again into Jan – love surprises! My mission was to find a good optometrist and new glasses (as my old ones broke). Since I need special glasses I had to wait 6 days. Spending 6 days in a big busy city is not our favourite thing to do but well…. I really needed my glasses. We went to the ARVI Park, spend a nice evening with Colombians we met in El Cocuy National Park, had dinner at a really good organic vegetarian restaurant in El Poblado and found great coffee places. For the weekend we drove to Amagá to escape from the big city and to relax at the Eco Hostel Medellin. They cook amazing vegetarian food, you can learn about permaculture/gardening, they offer yoga, meditation, Spanish classes etc. We also visited their neighbour who has a beautiful orchid farm. Thanks Paula & Fabian for a great weekend at your place.

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this is a typical road side restaurant where Ivan tried the typical meal called “bandeja paisa”

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I love how the guests sit around the kitchen. I counted 21 pots and there is always action. They have to feed a lot of wood to keep the fire going. And note the sausages that are smoking above…

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the girls loved to pose and look at the pics

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more kids showed up and they wanted to learn more about Canada. They asked if its true about the wild animals etc. So we showed them a bunch of pictures.

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never seen this way of transport in cities…

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Medellin Metro

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at the top of Arvi Park

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Valle de Cocora & wax palms

From Salento we drove up to the verdant Valle de Cocora with its towering wax palms, native to the Andean high-altitude. Under ideal growing conditions, the wax palm can grow to a height of 50 m (160 ft)—or rarely, even as high as 60 m (200 ft)—making it the tallest palm and by extension the tallest monocot in the world. We went on a beautiful hike surrounded by wax palm trees and green hills. Along the way we stopped at a litte farm where we watched the energetic hummingbirds – see pics below.

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one of the best camping spots in Colombia

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Valley of wax palms

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cows, alps, meadows yes…. but with palm trees?!

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great hiking trails

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this cute dog was our guide

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the other guide

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so much fun these trails with all the hanging bridges

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some shots of the beautiful and energetic hummingbirds:

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Salento – traditional town in Colombia’s coffee zone

In Salento we stayed at the Plantation House. We joined a very informative coffee tour by Don Eduardo. He owns a small traditional coffee finca, a short walk from its hostel. He explains the entire process from growing to roasting. The tour was really interesting and opened my eyes. Incredible how much work goes into 1 cup of coffee! And the best part: drinking the freshest, organic coffee ever!

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process from fruit to roasted coffee grain

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roasting the coffee beans

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freshest coffee ever….

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grinding coffee

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brewing the coffee. The foam is a sign for freshness.

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bringing milk to the depot by horse

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