San Gil Backpacking – Colombias Outdoor Capital

San Gil Backpacking – Rafting, Hiking & much much more

San Gil. Nestled in the Santander department of Colombia, San Gil is a haven for the adventurous or for those looking to slow their pace. A city renowned for its outdoor activities, the options abundant and the scenery lovely.

Because most people come here for the outdoor offerings, it’s only appropriate that we start with what’s available to you here. Also, a price breakdown of how much these trips will cost. Keep reading for where to start your journey here:

Rafting

The Rio Suarez is what drew me here and if you want to get your adrenaline fill, start here. Class 4 & 5 rapids combined with some tranquil 2&3s, your day on the river will be more than worthwhile.

  • Pickup: 10 am
  • River Time: 2 hours
  • Transport: 2 hours
  • Cost: 130,000 COP

Not ready to jump in the belly of the beast or the water level is to high? (The latter is common as some of my friends had to wait a week for it to subside). Take a more calm but still eventful raft down the Rio Fonce up to class 3.

  • Cost: 35,000 COP
  • Transport: 30 minutes
  • River time: 1.5 hours

Parapente

Paragliding or Parapente, has glided into the list of must do while in Colombia. And if you’re going to choose one spot, this is it. Soaring into the sky for up to 30 minutes into the scenic Chicamocha canyon, your decision will be a highlight of your Colombia trip. not only fly longer than any area in Colombia but also inside one of the worlds largest canyons.

  • Pickup: 8am – 10 Am
  • Transport: 45 minutes
  • Flight time: 30 minutes
  • Cost: 180,000 COP

Bungee Jumping

Live life on the edge? Or a square looking to step out of your box? San Gil provides you with 2 heights to unshackle your fears or boost your adrenaline.

Starting at 70 meters & doubling the fun up to 140 meters. Aside from the rapid heart rate increase, the views from the platform in the mountainous setting are more than worthwhile.

  • 70 meters: 70,000 COP ($25)
  • 140 meters: 90,000 COP ($30)

Juan Curi Waterfall

This is a lowkey gem of Colombia. One of my favorite waterfalls & afternoons. Why?

  • Easy to get to
  • Gorgeous
  • Secluded
  • Refreshing

Hop on the bus towards Curiti for 5000 COP and inform the conductor of your destination. (The entrance is right on the main road, so it’s incredibly easy to find). 30 minutes later it will all make sense as of why you came here.

9000 COP to enter and 20 minutes of light trekking until you arrive at the beautiful Cascade (waterfall).

Most folks will only ooh and ahh at the beast in front of them but don’t be that person. After scaling across the stream make a left following a roped trail and follow it until you reach the first waterfall. You will be giddier than a fat kid with cake.

Mountain Biking

Don’t feel like jumping of a bridge or rafting? Or the list of a thousand other adventures? Take the bikes out for the day for a thrilling ride in the Santander mountains. I hate riding uphill too but lucky enough for you, the ride is 95% downhill. Sign up a day early for a guaranteed dose of fun.

The Camino Real

An ancient cobbled path constructed by the indigenous & then later used by the Spaniards in the 1800s for transporting goods throughout the Santander valley, the Camino Real shouldn’t be missed. Most people do the Barichara section to Guane but if you have more flexibility in your schedule I suggest the whole route. 2-3 days. Read more below about the whole trail.

San Gil Backpacking – The Complete Camino Real Trail

Aside from the outdoor activities offered here, San Gil offers a surprisingly lively market that can be compared to one of the better ones I have seen in Colombia .

Where are you headed next?

With San Gils central location, Bogota is only 8 hours south, Medellín 8 hours West & Santa Marta 12 north. Need some more help or ideas to for these cities? Read the older posts below:

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic and everything in between

5 Medellín Tours Every Backpacker Can´t Miss

Hiking to Colombias Tallest Waterfall: La Chorrera

If you haven’t noticed yet, Colombia is a land full of beautiful destinations and activities. With an armada of buses & cheap flights, getting from A to B is simple as depicting hieroglyphics. No, but options here are easy & infinite.

Escaping the concrete jungle of Bogota is a must whether you’re a backpacker that has been here for 2 days or a Bogotan thats been here for life. Luckily enough, Colombia’s tallest waterfall sits only 1 hour away in Bogotas backyard, Choachi. Measuring in at 590 meters, this beauty is a simple day trip or can be made into an overnighter if cool, crisp mountain air is your cup of joe.

Getting here is easier than the Macarena & costs about 8 million pesos each way. Take a bus from the Tercer Milenio transmilenio station & be on your way. The scenery rolling into the valley will keep your eyes hooked like a big mouth bass until your conductor (that you informed) lets you off at the trailhead.

The hike starts right off the side of the road past a convenience store where you can supply yourself for the beginning of the hike. You will continue on this path for about an hour passing fincas, farmers tending to their crop & a valley of lush vegetation. As you continue don’t feel lost as it make take longer than expected. It’s a mixture of ups , downs, & flats but mainly down hill stretches.

Arriving to the visitor center you will be briefed on safety & history of the area on an outdated computer and projector. It’s hard to watch this as you can see the beauty of the falls just staring you in the eyes upon arrival. Pay your entrance fee & hit the trail.

From the visitor entrance the hike to La Chorrera is about 1 hour. However it will take longer if you’re stopping at each designated area for pictures or a quick break. The first stop you can make is at Chiflón Cascade but like me I skipped and went directly to the main attraction.

The trail at this point is a narrow path that cuts through some nice lush jungle & switches between steep jagged slick rocks to mudd as the trail opens back into valley briefly. Another section of canopied covered area & an abundance of birds gives this place a particularly jungle feel. Think Costa Rica (although I’ve never been). Its what I imagine it as.

Arriving to the falls is when your hard earned steps come thanking you. The falls are massive, however on my day of visit the water wasn’t flowing like it really ideally should have been. Aside from the slow flow, the tranquility, solitude & verdance makes it all worth it.

Trip Review

Is it all really worth it? Yes. It’s well, well worth it. Especially the drive in.

Time: Total time 4-5 hours.

Price: 30 mil – Transport 8mil(x2) + entrance fee 12 mil + water/snacks

Difficulty: easy to moderate level hiking

Why? Lovely scenery. Escaping the City.

Need more ideas for your Bogota trip? Read below:

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic & Everything in between

Looking for more Colombian hikes? Read below:

San Gil Backpacking: Hiking the complete Camino Real

San Gil Backpacking – The Complete Camino Real Trail

El Camino Real

A diamond in the rough trek for those making their way to the San Gil región. Often overlooked by visitors in favor of other outdoor activities, don’t let this one slip through your fingers.

On average, those who complete the entirety of the trail will complete it in 2-3 days. The majority of others will only section hike from Barichara to Guane. An overview of the route is as follows.

Cabrera – Barichara (3 hours)

Barichara – Guane: 6.4Kms (2 hours)

Guane – Villanueva: 8.2 Kms (3 hours)

Villanueva – Jordan: 15 Kms (6 hours)

Jordan – Los Santos: 5.5 Kms (2 hours)

Cabrera – Barichara

I didn’t hike this section as I was informed after I had arrived to Guane but ask locals for its trailhead and relatively easy 3 hour hike.

Welcome to one of the most beautiful Puebla’s of Colombia. Stop & enjoy the scenery of Barichara because it really doesn’t get better than this. Head to the northern section cathedral & follow the signs to the trailhead.

Barichara – Guane 6.4 Kms

For most travelers, the only section of this route that is completed is the Barichara to Guane section. Close to 2 hours at a leisurely pace, this section is almost primarily downhill & provides an abundance of lovely scenery. Old cobbled paths, variety of trees, colorful plants, & canyon views for most of the path. This is an excellent post lunch hike.

Once arriving to Guane, wisen up & grab some homemade ice cream. You deserve it.

Guane – Villanueva 8.2 KMs

After getting your share of another light trekked Puebla, prepare yourself for a mostly uphill section. More farm land, & vistas around every corner. The trail can get a bit tricky in some spots, so have your maps.me handy if you’re in a pickle.

Villanueva – Jordan

Villanueva provides another look into small & hardly visited Puebla life in Colombia. Slow, small & tranquil. Friendly locals & enough spots to resupply on water & goods.

The route continues on the outskirts of the city passing through fincas, schools,& a few basketball courts.

It’s a pretty easy section with minor uphill gains until you get closer to the mirador. There’s maybe one or two parts where you might feel a bit confused about where to go but if you have the trail map on Maps.Me you should have no issues.

The toughest part of this section is dealing with the heat. Luckily on my day it wasn’t to bad as I embarked around 12 & had some bits of cloud coverage & thankfully not brutally hot.

Continuing downhill towards the mirador you start to see the trail shaping into something special. You become eye level with most of valley surrounding you & provided with more appealing stimulus. Once you have arrived to the mirador your legs will be reinvigorated with the beauty that lays in front of you.

This is where the beauty starts to unfold even more. Also, this is an extremely steep descent into a CANYON where your elevation change will drop roughly 1,000 meters. ENTONCES, the temperature is not to be misjudged. Bring enough water.

The trail is pretty interesting at this point meandering through ridges, switchbacks, a short taste of dense jungle & eventually down to the outskirts of Jordan. Once on flat ground your walk continues next to the river until you have made it to the hardly populated Puebla of Jordan roughly 20 minutes later.

Jordan – Los Santos

Depending on your timeline & heat, you’re staying or leaving. If leaving…. Find the bridge, cross it & it’s all uphill from here. Yes, that Canyon you just hiked down into has to be hiked out of. Enjoy the 2 hour leg burning hike up.

Note: You’re hiking in a canyon. It can be super hot depending on the time of day.

Once you have punished your legs & arrived to the top, reward yourself with yet another scenic view & a pat on the back. Meander the streets of Los Santos as it’s another little lovely Puebla that receives few visitors & look for your departing bus. Last bus usually leaves around 6:30 if you’re trying to return to San Gil.

The return Bus will be headed to Puedavista & will drop you at Turos. From there flag down a bus heading towards San Gil. Roughly 2 hours from Turos to San Gil.

Have you done the whole hike? Or are you a section hiker ?

Are there any other hikes in this area that I should know about? Let me know.

Where to next? Medellín or Bogotà or perhaps Santa Marta? Use these guides below if Bogota or Medellin

9 FREE Activities for every Medellin Backpacker

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic & everything in between

Colombia’s Must Do Hike: Paramo de Oceta

Nestled in the hillsides of the Boyacan department is the charming colonial Puebla of Monguí. Monguí one of Colombia’s most scenic Puebla’s & lightly visited, is your gateway to the Paramo de Oceta. This Paramo has been described as the most beautiful Paramo in the world. Interesting, but what the hell is a Paramo?

Keep on …

The Paramo is the ecosystem above the continuous forest line, yet below the permanent snow line. Something like this…

How common are these ecosystems? Well, Colombia is one of only 3 countries in the world with this ecosystem & plays home to more than 60% of the global population.

What can you expect to see within this gorgeous landscape? A variety of floral, fauna & animals but the most recognizable feature by far are the Frailejons. These plants are some of Colombia’s most important as they trap and supply the majority of the water supply to Colombia.

The animals that you might see but probably not, are worth the trek itself. They include White tailed Deer, the Spectacled Bear, Andean condors, reptiles & many more. The majority of wildlife take to the sky, with more than 69 different bird species.

How long is this hike going to take me? You will start at about 9 & be done around 4. To be honest the beginning of the hike was uneventful with not much stimulus which got me thinking if this was a waste of time but like a fine 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon you need to exercise …

Patience.

About 2 hours in, the Paramo finally springs to life. Patience is critical to reap this magnificent scenery.

& the most asked question in Mongui is….

Do I need a Guide?

Well it depends. Most locals will say you do but you really dont. However, I have heard & read numerous stories of people going without guides and being stopped by locals claiming it’s their land & to proceed you must have a guide.

Entonces……. It’s up to you.

I recommend a guide & for about 40 mil pesos, it’s worthwhile. Although there is a well marked path there are numerous breaks & ways to the trial that could lead you to a head dizzying disaster. Also, these guys know the lay of the land and will maximize your time & enjoyment.

Monguí is roughly 3 hours from Bogota making this a simple weekend trip or a welcoming to the Boyacá region. If you’re returning to Bogota or just arriving to Bogota, below covers most of what you can expect in the concrete jungle.

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic and everything in between

Have you been on this hike?

Have you done this without a guide?

Have you read this far? Haha

Bogota Backpacking: Street Art, Traffic and everything in between

Welcome to Bogota. Colombia’s capital and home to more than 8 million people. Overwhelming much? Yes, but don’t let the numbers or traffic scare you off, unless you want to miss another memorable Colombian city. So why am I here & why should you be here too? Read on …..

Street Art. Bogotas street art or murals is truly a sight. With an estimated 5,000 + pieces, you are almost guaranteed to see something new around every corner. With this density of art it’s no surprise why Bogota is rated as a top 10 city for street art. Keep your eyes off of your phone and peruse the free outdoor museum.

Best way to learn about the street art and history ? Book your free tour below:

http://bogotagraffiti.com/about-tour/

Monserrate. Aka the giant white cathedral on the hill. A pilgrimage destination as well as one of the top tourist choices in Bogota. Craving a leg burning workout? Hike up before 1pm and take in the best views of the city. Need to give your legs some solace? Use the cable cars or funicular to get yourself back down to ground level.

Cloudy vision at Monserrate. Bogota, Colombia
Cloudy vision at Monserrate. Bogota, Colombia
Cable Cars up & down at Monserrate. Bogota, Colombia
Cable Cars up & down at Monserrate. Bogota, Colombia

Food & Markets. Bogota is a melting pot of Colombians & is also a melting pot for food choices. Whether it be a 5 star restaurant that none of us backpackers are eating at. (Probably) Or Bogotas staple food, Ajiaco, your taste buds will be happier than a clam. Naturally like any other major Latin America city, the markets are a must visit. Paloquemao is a MUST, MUST, MUST. (Picture below)

Aguacate. Si o no? Bogota, Colombia
Aguacate. Si o no? Bogota, Colombia

Coffee. Coffee and Colombia are pretty much synonymous but Bogotas coffee scene like its rival city Medellin, is booming. Find yourself a solid spot and enjoy. One of these solid spots include:

  • Azahar Café
  • Café Cultor
  • Bourbon Coffee Roasters
Azahar Café. Bogota, Colombia
Azahar Café. Bogota, Colombia

Museums. I don’t go crazy for museums but I also don’t hate them. Bogota provides travelers with a wide selection ranging from art to history. Some must sees include:

  • Bortero Museum – Colombia’s most famous artist
  • Museo Del oro – The Gold museum

Climate & Environment. Bogota is situated at 8,660 feet above sea level which provides a crisp, cool environment. Bogota might be your city if you enjoy the chance to throw a sweatshirt on & hit the streets. However, unlike some of my flip flop toting travelers, they can’t live with the thought of throwing shoes and socks on.

Location. Bogotas location allows travelers to explore extreme differences in geography & activities. From the worlds largest Paramo ecosystem, Colombia’s tallest waterfall, & desert destinations, Bogota plays host for many opportunties.

Feeling adventurous? Bogota is the gateway to Colombia’s Amazonia which out of any Amazon in South America, is the least explored & arguably the best. Find out for yourself.

With the good, comes the bad. That bad as mentioned earlier, traffic, can be painfully brutal. As expected with any major city this traffic can make the most tranquil monk break his silence. Just kidding but it’s frustrating.

Have you been to Bogota? What do you like or dislike about the City? Drop a comment if I’ve missed something or if you have had the chance to enjoy some of these things.

CHOCO, Colombia. The gem of the Pacific

Choco, Colombia. One of the least explored & most beautiful regions of Colombia. Luckily for myself & those who have experienced this blissful region, you know what life is like out here. For those who haven’t, here is a look into a week long trip of my new favorite section of Colombia.

Half of the fun is getting to this region. Read below about the boat trip that went wrong:

https://ezmoments.com/2018/09/29/stranded-in-the-pacific-ocean-the-really-slow-boat-to-nuqui/

Stranded in the Pacific Ocean. The REALLY slow boat to Nuqui

“Yoni Yoni Yoni , yo copio”

“Yoni Yoni Yoni , yo copio”

It was at this moment I knew we were in trouble. Positioned somewhere 50 miles off the pacific coast, aimlessly floating, our stress call was made. 11:30 on a Friday afternoon the conditions couldn’t have been better but the situation couldn’t had been worse. After drifting for an hour or so and a nonstop barrage of Colombian explicits from the bottom deck, our situation was looking worse than a pimple on photo day.

Then ……..

The Colombian armada arrived. Armed with iPhones recording our inconvenience like a group of Chinese tourists at the Golden Gate Bridge, these guys obviously hadn’t had much activity in their territory lately. Joke after joke they couldn’t have been more ready to save us from our misery and add some light to their day.

One after one we evacuated onto their ship with all of our belongings. We were then quickly escorted to the nearest Puebla close to 45 minutes away. The problem was we were still 4 hours away from our end destination, Nuqui.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the rest of the armada & documented for our safety & forward travel. This documentation also consisted of countless photos with the armada that probably will end up as their new myspace profile picture.

After a 15 minute walk through the ghost like streets we took respite in a strangers front porch that someone somehow knew. (Colombians seem to always know someone, somewhere) Our group of 12 had scattered but one after one made their way to the house as if some magnets were pulling them in.

Where is everyone going to stay was my first thought while we sat in this area awaiting news of possible evening departures but hate to spoil it for you; that never came. A few hours passed, nothing. Finally around 6 we got positive news,

“Ok! Entonces. Mañana a las 6:30”

Confirmation for our next boat to Nuqui was made loud and clear by our self acclaimed group leader. This was a relief and blessing knowing we could venture the city to become the main attraction of the night.

Yes the main attraction.

Luis, a 12 year old Colombian approached Mario & I armed with questions about our presence:

  • Why are you here ?
  • Where are you from?
  • How long will you be here?
  • Wait why are you here?

Minutes later we were quickly swarmed by 50 + young Colombians with a keen interest to hear our English accents and favorite futbol teams. This conversation lasted for about 20 minutes until the Puebla experienced a blackout sending us home to pack for our 6 am wake up.

The morning was early for Mario & I but for the Colombians, no. All of them were full of energy. After about an hour our boat was finally ready & we were off to wade through the water to continue on with the journey.

3 hours later & a morning of 6 whales, 10 dolphins & cloud reflected glassy water, we had finally arrived to Nuqui.

..Finally

This initial slow boat was intended to take 24 hours from Buenaventura to Nuqui direct. However, the minor inconvenience really made the destination more memorable. Throughout the moments of doing nothing, language breakdowns, anger & hopelessness, I would recommend this boat trip to someone with some flex on time.

Have you ever been on this boat journey?

Have you ever been to the Choco región?

Comment & let me know If you’ve had a similar or completely different experience. Also drop a line if you need an updated look at boats to and from Nuqui as information is few and far between.

Headed back to Medellin and don’t know what tours you should do? Check my must do tours list while you’re in the city of Eternal spring.

https://ezmoments.com/2018/09/08/5-medellin-tours-every-backpacker-should-add-to-their-list/

Backpacking Salento’s Valle De Cocora

Salento. I love you. You will too, i think. This is the spot for anyone and everyone. Nature enthusiasts cup will overflow, while the other portion of travelers will be searching for ways to stay longer. Taking the journey & hiking through the valley is a must, must do. The saying in Salento goes, “If the Wax Palm Trees don’t keep you here, the coffee will.” Actually that’s not what they say but enjoy some scenery I was able to capture.

Getting to Valle De Cocora

Getting here is the easy part, leaving is the challenging aspect. Take a Willy Jeep for 3 million COP from the Primera Parque center & 20 minutes later you are a matter of minutes from some of Colombia’s most pristine nature. Can it get any better than this? Yes, keep reading or browsing the scenery

Weather in Valle De Cocora

Rain that turned on & off complemented by fog that lingered on hillsides creating dramatic displays of color contrasts & a constant game of peekaboo with the wax palm tree tops. The sun did break through briefly & was a blessing to have a mix of all weather types in such a special place.

More pics are coming so stay tuned.

Have you been to Salento? What was your experience like?

Chaoooo

9 FREE activities in Medellín, Colombia for every Backpacker

Free is always the desirable price, but as we all know, that is almost never the case. Whether you have spent most of your money on cheap beers and are just holding on by a thread, or just looking to save few more pesos, here is a list of free activities you should take advantage of in Medellín.

Free City Walking Tour

Not exactly free as it operates on tips, but a must do activity. The amount of information presented and sights visited is worth its weight in gold (pesos). Tours operate daily & have three different time slots. My recommendation based on experience is try to book at least a day or two in advance.

In a perfect scenario you do this upon arrival so you get the best lay of the land of Medellín. Trust me & the hoards is others who have done it, it’s worth it.

Book here:

https://www.realcitytours.com

Parque Botánico

The Botanical Gardens are a perfect place to stroll, read a book and take in the sunshine. Situated next to Universidad station, this is a great place to lose track of time or get your legs moving in a lovely setting. Above is the libro festival that is currently taking place in the park.

Cable Cars

Not 100% free but if you’re already on the metro & headed to the direction of these innovative transportation capsules, I highly suggest at least one trip. They offer a unique perspective of the city & the innovativness that made this city the recipient of innovate city of the year in 2013.

Minista MarketMinista Market . Medellín, Colombia

Minista Market . Medellín, Colombia

Craving some exotic or typical local fruit? This place has it all. It’s a wild ride roaming these market corridors & for those who want a sensory enhancement, make this stop for sure. Easily accessible from the metro, I urge everyone and anyone to stroll through this Mercado.

Estadio Parque

Estadio Parque. Medellín, Colombia

This complex is a Mecca for anyone into fitness or sports. There is an outdoor gym, skatepark, volleyball court, baseball field, basketball courts, swimming pools & more. The list is lengthy so come by for the daily array of organized or impromptu action. You’re surely to find something that will get your heart rate up without spending a dime.

Puebla Paisa

Puebla Paisa. Medellín, Colombia

A tourist trap but a definite winner for incredible citywide views. This gem is well worth the journey from wherever you are, especially at sunset. When the winds are strong expect a crowd flying their kites into the Medellín skyline.

Spanish Immersion

Looking to improve your Spanish game? Chat up anyone on the streets to see if you can learn some new phrases / master your basics. Another Backpacker & local favorite option that may be less intimidating than going up to a stranger is Language meet ups. These are a great way to learn quickly & meet other travelers. Also these can be an invaluable resource to learn the most about the city you’re in to maximize your time wherever you may be.

Volunteer in Communa 13

Communa 13 niños & myself. Medellin, Colombia

Every Wednesday Communa 13 offers you a chance to teach English for free. What better way to see one of the most popular parts of Medellín & give back to the community. You could also just go up there and help anyone in need. The free choice is yours.

Pub Quiz @ Barrio Central

I haven’t been to this one yet but it comes as a suggestion from one of my friends in the Laureles Neighborhood. Already a popular spot for a weeknight or weekend drink, this place is perfectly situated off of Calle 70 for all of your evening activities. Every Monday night @ 8pm, come for the free entry & possibly the crown. They also offer a variety of other events to keep your schedules full. Bilingual! As I know most of you only speak one language

These are only a few free options that you can take advantage of. What are some of your favorite free things to do in Medellín? Let me know so I can update the list & make all of your Backpackers Times here in Medellín more memorable.

If you are looking for more ideas or some excellent tours to check out, take a look at this guide to some tours of the city.

https://ezmoments.com/2018/09/08/5-medellin-tours-every-backpacker-should-add-to-their-list/

5 Medellín Tours Every Backpacker Can´t Miss

Time. The ruler of all. Some of us backpackers have far to much of it whereas others only have a small window of freedom. With this tiempo libre, (Free time) we have many variables to balance. Distance, price, value and many more. With the vast amount of options to choose from in Medellín you may feel overwhelmed on how you should spend your money and time.

Luckily for YOU, I have experienced a majority of what Medellin offers and can help you cut through all the noise. Whether it be a late start to your day after a night of partying or the early bird worming type tour, you will definitely enjoy these tours as they are of high caliber.

Follow this for a range of activities I have felt are worthwhile & of high value to add to any Medellín backpacking trip.

Guatapé

Guatape. This is THE MUST DO trip. Ideally you stay longer but if not make it a priority to at least experience one day here.

  • The crisp, non polluted air.
  • The tranquility
  • Slower pace of life
  • Outdoor Activities – Hiking to hidden waterfalls, Biking, Wakeboarding, Paddleboarding

These are just skimming the surface of what Guatape provides. Tours are offered but I would recommend going on your own as it’s far cheaper & extremely simple to do.

If you choose to go your own route simply go to Caribe Norte Station & find window 9/14 & buy your ticket. Whatever the next departure time is, hop on & be in Guatape roughly 2 hours later. This has been my favorite and a plethora of other backpackers highest rated activity to do outside of the city. Below is a more in depth breakdown of Guatape.

More than a day trip in Guatape, Colombia

 

You will also love this city if you’re into photography or adding scenic pictures to your Instagram feed. You can find some of my favorite Guatape shots on my Instagram as well. (@errythang__19). This city is like a box of crayons, full of colors.

Parapente

I know this might stretch some of yours budgets but for what it’s worth, it’s worth it. Parapente or Paragliding, is not a cheap activity elsewhere in the world but for around $40 in San Felix, you can have the sky to yourself for about 15-20 minutes.

Getting here? Book your tour from your hostel or other booking agency you might know. I chose GTopik & it was an excellent choice top to bottom. Safety instruction, English spoken, everything to make the trip that much more worthwhile. The trip is about one hour from Medellín & if done solo I would suggest taking a bus from Caribe station to save some pesos. If in a group of 3 or more, the hired van is about the same price.

https://gtopik.com/en/

Free City Walking Tours

This is a MUST. Informative, enticing, hilarious, everything. Try and do this as early as possible on your trip so you really get the most of Medellín. They are popular and get booked quick, so check your schedule & plan your days accordingly. They also offer other PAID tours but with what I’ve seen & heard, the juice is worth the squeeze. Book below:

https://www.realcitytours.com

Communa 13

One of the most popular tours in Medellín & probably will be yours too. This tour gives you a look into one of the most historically violent barrios of Medellín & the recent transformations that have taken place. From the installment of the escalators to the outstanding artwork of Chota, music & break dancing this tour will touch your soul, just like the hoards of children in Communa 13 will do. Enjoy & listen, as it will be a class of learning not about Colombian history but yourself as well.

Futbol

I add this to the “tours” list because going to a Colombian Futbol match is like a tour & real look into Colombian culture. The passion these fans express is a cultural display of the pride they have for the things of importance. Many hostels offer packages of tickets & drinks with other hostels & I recommend checking this off your list this way. Sitting in the Sur section or Norte will take your Colombian experience to the next level with constant cheering, dancing, jumping, yelling, crying, laughing & whatever verb you can add to the list. Vamos! If you’re lucky, Atlético Nacional will be in town and you will see the city come to life.

Others that come highly recommended:

Exotic fruits tour – Do you choose destinations based on foods? This tour will dive into the fruits of Colombia & explain the process of seed to market of what you’re about to consume. Done by the same company as the Free City tours, these guys know what they are talking about.

Pablo Escobar – A primary reason many travelers end up in Colombia. This tour will take you around Colombia to many of the important spots that were involved with Pablo. It’s an interesting look at his life especially in his barrio and some of the old artifacts that remain.

Urban Coffee tour – Don’twant to spend a day out in the coffee fields or pay the exorbitant price to do so? Stay local & much cheaper but still learn about the coffee of the region & the importance it plays in Colombian culture. I have yet to do this but badly want to.

Interested In more activities or need additional ideas to plan your 4 day trip? Follow my 4 day guide to maximize your time in this chaotic city:

4 Day Backpackers Guide to Medellin

Coffee break in Medellín, Colombia? 5 cafés to slip into

There’s no surprise that Colombia plays host to a range of exotic, enticing & adventurous things but one thing in particular really knows how to create a buzz. (Pun intended)………..

Coffee

Coffee plays an important role in colombian culture from social gatherings to job creation. From bean to cup, the needle has to be thread all along the way. Although many Colombians still prefer a cheap & heavy sugared cup, the rise of cafe culture has changed peoples drinking habits.

Being a producer of some of the best Coffee worldwide, Medellín will keep your cup half full with a range of excellent cafes to choose from. If you’re lucky enough to be in Colombia but more specifically, Medellín, make sure to slip into any of these outstanding options.

Pergamino

My first coffee experience in Medellin & still probably my favorite. From the coffee quality, staff & ambiance, this place doesn’t disappoint. Located in foreigner central, Poblado, Pergamino is a gem worth trekking to if not staying in the area. Food options are excellent especially the delectable chocolate almond croissants.

Hija Mia

This quaint corner cafe spot is one that can easily be missed if you haven’t had your first cup of morning joe. New Zealand owner, Shaun runs this joint & has outfitted the place almost entirely from Australia or New Zealand aside from the antiques & decorations provided by his father in laws shop from Medellín. All of the coffee is roasted on site which makes the aroma of this place worth your while. Get here as soon as you can. Try some Mani Bros peanut butter, a side venture Shaun has pursued with a fellow New Zealander.

Café Revolución

Since moving over to the Laureles Area, I’ve racked up countless hours at this fantastic coffee spot. Multiple roasting options, great vibras, makes this an easy revolución to the list. With its success a 2nd storefront has been added to cater to the flocks of people who call this their go to cafe. Be apart of the loyalty club with 8 purchases to get yourself a free drink of choice. Coffee & writing workshops as well as weekly trivia makes this much more than just a place for a buzz.

Rituales Café

Awarded best coffee in a blind taste test, this is a deserving winner. From the minimalist design to the intricate presentation, it’s straight class top to bottom. Attentive & knowledgeable staff plus food options makes this a must stop when craving that afternoon or morning pick me up. Located in Laureles, make sure to get over here at least once.

Algarabia

A quaint Laureles gem, Algarabia provides the city with another quality cafe and excellent baristas. Cata is a wiz behind the bar & is teeming with information about brewing techniques & styles. Big fan of the vibes in this place and now it’s amidst construction to double it’s cafe. Word on the streets is they offer some of the best cakes in the city.

Panorama

Recommended to me by multiple baristas, this place always delivers. The vibe is more like a backyard bbq with the welcoming staff & cafe decor. Some days offer grilling on the outdoor patio whereas others is just pure quality cafe & delicious food options to decide from. First timer or daily ritual, Julio & the crew will be happy you have arrived.

Laureles. Your home away from home in Medellín, Colombia 🇨🇴

Medellín is not a small city. With more than 16 communes to choose from, your options of where to stay may feel endless. Don’t worry though most extranjeros tend to stick to some of the more known areas like Poblado, but for this article Poblado is not your choice. Laureles will be

Laureles. The ultimate location. The next big thing. Local flavor. Call it what you want, this place offers so much more than anywhere in the city & let me explain to you why.

So why should you position yourself in Laureles/ Estadio? There a whole slew of reasons to be in this area but we will start with the most important one. Location. The central location is right in the heart of the city which makes your proximity to the north, south, east, or west and back as simple as possible. For those who love exploration this is probably the most important.

What’s next? Proximity to Metro.

If you’re closer to the estadio side, most areas are a quick walk to the metro. That quick walk complemented by a central location make exploration far easier & enjoyable. Did I forget to mention? This area is flat making walking & biking a breeze, whereas Poblado is a constant uphill or downhill battle.

Calle 70!

Calle 70 is the main drag here & is lined with countless bars, cafes & restaurants. The crowd here is definitely more local allowing visitors a more authentic experience of the daily taste of life. Don’t get me wrong there is a sizeable extranjero population here but nowhere near the likes of Poblado. If you are a Fútbol fan this street gets pretty wild before & after Fútbol matches.

Cafes

Cata explaining the roasting styles at Algarabia. Medellín, Colombia

Coffee plays an important role in the fabric of Colombian culture. Not only the social aspect but also for job creation. From seed to cafe, the needle needs to be thread throughout the entire cycle. Luckily for the people living in this area there is no shortage of excellent choices. The list is exhaustive but here are some of my favorites:

Café Revolución – solid , fast , reputable. Had to open a 2nd shop because of the success

Algarabia – extensive knowledge and excellent selections, Cata will take care of you as well as the rest of the crew

Panorama – extremely friendly staff that makes this place feel more like a backyard bbq than a cafe

Rituales – my go to and should be for everyone else. Won a blind taste test & for good reason, top quality LOCAL beans

With all this coffee talk, you must have a hankering for some food. Like coffee, food options are endless here with everything from típico comida to italiano, to Mexican to Japanese. Don’t be afraid to try some of the Calle 70 street offerings as well. Cheap & well stocked, have your pick. Intestine may shock your taste buds but make you return for more. Some of my favorites:

Ay Guey – Delicious Mexican joint with great economical choices

Uno más Uno – Solid Menu del día plates combined with a quiet lovely corner location

Chef Burger – nice burger options and ambience for those looking for more of a taste of home

Physical activity

Traveling everyday you may have forgone your physical regimen & your typical leisure sport. Parque Estadio offers almost every type of sport for free including an outdoor gym, skatepark, & Beach volleyball. Have you been meaning to work on your inner Michael Phelps or become a world champion ping pong player? Don’t worry, it’s all here.

Futbol fans rejoice. This is a Mecca for seeing a Futbol Match. I am not a futbol fan at all but had quite the memorable experience at a match. If you’re in Medellin and have the opportunity don’t miss out, opportunity doesn’t knock twice. Here is a link to everything you need to know about matches in Medellín.

http://www.stadiumguide.com/atanasiogirardot/

Hostels

The Laureles Area is home to a number of backpacker friendly hostels. My favorite and home base has been Enso Hostel. Situated in a tranquil area only one block from Estadio station & one block from Calle 70, this place is an incredible value for what you get.

Incredible location, cheap price point ($7), and loads of adventure around you make this a no brainer for the backpacker in need. Also included is free Breakfast + Towels. Is that not enough? Come meet Oso the loving labrador & enjoy your favorite Netflix series in spacious & welcoming common area.

Discovering the real dangers of Medellín, Colombia

Colombia and concerns of safety go hand in hand for most folks who have never visited, especially my Mom. Immediate thoughts of Narcos & Pablo Escobar inundate peoples mind, leaving nothing but fear along for the ride. Are you ready to here what they don’t tell you about in the guidebooks? Are you ready to here about what it’s like to witness this city from a first hand perspective.

Because of how Colombia has been portrayed to most people, the reality of this country is far from true. Buckle up for the ride as we explore the real dangers of Colombia.

  • You might get stuck here – with so much to choose from & situated perfectly within the Andes mountain range, your itinerary might be adjusted. Trust me I’ve talked to countless backpackers who have planned for 2 weeks & now it’s been 2 years. It happens
  • You might really, really like it here – Yes, you probably will. Not everyone will but there is a high probability you will. From the weather , to the people, there is so much for you to like. Coffee fanatics can easily get lost in Cafe culture here.
  • You might appreciate the beauty and diversity – The biodiversity of Colombia is no joke. That beauty is on repeat throughout the city with more species of trees & fauna than you could imagine. Keep your eyes open throughout the Botanical Gardens & you might just see a Monkey.
  • You might never want to leave -Yes similar to getting stuck, you may not want to leave. And although you might you’ll know that you’ll be back in the future to see more of this beautiful sanctuary
  • You might fall in love with a Colombian. It’s no surprise to outsiders & Colombians, but Colombia does play host to a country of beautiful people. Keep your head on a swivel.
  • You might learn to become a Salsa profesional. With the availability of Salsa around the city, you might become footloose and end up on a podium or the face of gringo Salsa. Free classes are offered daily if you look hard enough. More information on this can be found on one of my favorite resources: http://www.catalystweekly.com
  • You might become fluent in Spanish. This is a real danger as immersion is all around you. Especially with the amount of schools catering to backpackers looking to master the art of language. Favorites in Poblado include Toucan & Elefun in the Laureles area.
  • You might learn your new favorite futbol teams war cry’s and become the newest addition. The love of futbol here may transform your thoughts about the countries past time into a newfound passion.
  • You might encounter a pickpocketer on the metro. Shouts out to the Quebec crew who gave me this story. ” -” got pick pocketed , realized it quick enough and grabbed the guy before he got away. Not always the case but keep in mind of your valuables while on the train.

These are some of the REAL dangers when it comes to Colombia. Narcos, gang affiliation, & things of that matter are really just dust in the wind in the big picture. Although they do exist you’re probably more likely to encounter a problem ordering your lunch than some sort of drug activity.

Have I missed any other real dangers of Colombia? Drop a comment and or a share to someone who might agree/ disagree.

13 things you will constantly see in Medellín, Colombia

Oh the beauty of the unknown. Is that the beauty of travel? Not knowing what smell, sound or sight is around every corner. For some that is a complete nightmare whereas myself and many others, ideal.

Bussing into Medellín I had no idea of what to expect except for hoards of people nestled into the Andes mountain range. After 2 weeks of exploration, here is a list of what I have regularly seen while roaming the streets of Medellín. These are in no particular order but particularly normal.

Fútbol uniforms

Medellín, Colombia

Futbol uniforms. For sale & people wearing them. Everywhere. South America is well known for its futbol fans, and particularly here there is no shortage of uniforms around the city.

Menu del días

Menu Del Día. Medellín, Colombia

The infamous food offerings found everywhere throughout the city. Enjoy these meals as they are filling & easy on the wallet.

Street vendors.

Street Vendors. Medellín, Colombia

Food, clothing & whatever else your mind can think of will be sold on the streets. It Can be annoying with everyone constantly trying to sell you something, but a kind “no gracias” will have you on your way.

Ques

Metro Que. Medellín, Colombia

Metro lines are no joke during rush hour here and the lines here to buy tickets can painfully long. ⬆️ If you can, buy your tickets when there is no que.

3 Bandas

The ever confusing 3 Bandas. Medellín, Colombia

Colombians like to have fun and this is one of their many ways they like to enjoy themselves. Expect to see this game being played just about everywhere. I still don’t understand this game and probably never will but it’s a staple here for sure.

Salsa

There’s no surprise for this one. Probably the most recognized Colombian activity worldwide, Salsa plays a major role in the fabric of this country. Everywhere and anywhere has it.

Empanadas

Sold everywhere & about every time of the day, it’s impossible to miss or not try this country favorite.

Arepas

Gibbo con Aprepa con queso. Medellín, Colombia

Some with queso, chocolate or neither. Have your pick as they are delicious.

Aguardiente

The Colombian drink of choice. Sip, don’t shoot. Slow, not fast. Is the motto of this beverage. Can almost guarantee you will be offered this drink at some point throughout your trip.

Tours

Communa 13 Tour. Medellín, Colombia.

There seems to be a never ending amount of tours in Medellin, which is great, but choosing with limited time can make things tough. Follow my 4 Day Guide for some of the best tours the City has to offer here:

https://ezmoments.com/2018/08/25/4-day-guide-in-medellin/

Crazy driving

Upon entering my first taxi it was clear that drivers are reckless here. I think it’s calculated recklessness but be careful on yields as drivers rarely will stop for pedestrians.

Coffee

Hija Mía. Medellín, Colombia

You guys were just waiting for this one I know . Everywhere you will find it. Some better than others but another important piece of the puzzle in Medellín.

Street Performers

These guys are magicians I swear. Some of the best street performers I have seen have been in Medellín. Walk down just about any street and a red light will welcome you with a memorable show.

4 Day Backpackers Guide in Medellín

Medellín, Colombia. A city transforming from a war torn past of drugs & Pablo Escobar. Once a no go, has shaped into a hotspot for tourists & Colombians. Now with so much to choose from & so little time, what will you do? Here’s a 4 day guide to the city to maximize your time & dollars.

You have arrived and have checked into your hostel in Poblado. We will use Poblado as a reference point because:

1) Its where the majority of backpackers stay

2) Its where the highest density of hostels are located.

Thursday

Start with a stop at Pergamino Cafe for some of the cities best coffee & pastries. Grab a bag to bring home with you while you’re at it, you won’t regret it.

Gibbo @ Pergamino Cafe. Poblado, Medellín

Post Pergamino head to your meeting location for your Free City Walking Tour with Real City Tours that you booked in advance as it is an extremely popular activity. This the ideal start to your Medellin experience as you will not only hit the main spots of the city, but be informed of the history, foods & customs of everyday life in a 4 hour tour.

City Center. Medellin, Colombia
Monsa the Free City Tour Guide. Medellin, Colombia

Post tour your hunger levels are high so it’s time for a bite. Experience a Menu Del Dia which Can be found just about anywhere in the city for about 10-12 mil pesos. Usually an offering of a soup, meat, salad, rice & beverage.

Menú Del Día. Medellín, Colombia

You’ve probably seen the photos of the cable cars shuttling people over the city up deep in the hills. It’s now your turn for a completely different perspective of the city. Take a trip up to Parque Arvi to see some of the Park, or just ride up & enjoy the scenery.

Metrocable in Medellin, Colombia

Hustle back to Envy rooftop and catch the sunset. You will be glad you didn’t miss this spot.

Park 37 for dinner & drinks. Post meal hang around outside and enjoy the bustling scene of Poblado before checking out a neighborhood favorite, Mad Records. Go with the flow as Poblado has much more than needed to make your night a memorable one.

Friday

Cup of coffee at the quaint Hija Mia & you’re on your way to Communa 13 tour. Communa 13 tour will give you the scoop of one of the countries most dangerous barrios & an inside look at the transformation that is currently unfolding.

Communa 13. Medellin, Colombia
Communa 13. Medellin, Colombia

Hop on the metro & take a stroll through the Botanical Gardens for an afternoon of gorgeous scenery & tranquil vibes. Next to the Botanical Gardens you can also find the very popular Parque Explora.

Cheap & Efficient Metro. Medellin, Colombia

Friday night in Poblado. Head to Parque Lleras and embrace the chaos that will be found around every corner. Grab a bottle of the Colombians favorite, Aguardiente & have your pick at one of the many bars/discotecas around.

Saturday

Today is a slower day as your poblado evening zapped the energy from you. Catch an extra hour of sleep and when ready head out to find the countries most infamous dish, Bandeja Paisa. Props to those who can finish the massive serving of eggs, chicharrón, beans, and avocado.

Bandeja Paisa. Medellín, Colombia

Post lunch it’s time to circulate the blood with an afternoon of Paragliding. A 1 hour bus ride will have you high in the mountains of GTopiks launch zone wondering if you should just take in the beauty or actually go through with this extreme sport.

Parapente with GTopik. Medellín, Colombia

Back to Poblado for dinner at the always delicious & cosy pizza joint, Café Zorba before another night out. Calle 9+1 for the electronic music lovers or a whirlwind of craziness in the ball pit at Octava.

Sunday

This day can go many ways but should end with a tour. If you want to learn more than just the inaccurate portrayal of Pablo Escobar in Narcos, then take the Pablo tour. You will be shuttled around the city to a number of spots that have played a major role in the history of this infamous Colombian. Theories will be discussed, personal opinions expressed, & a plethora of information you probably have never heard of before.

Pablo Mural in his barrio. Medellín, Colombia

Back to Poblado for your belongings & a quick bite & it’s time to get back to the airport for your evening flight. Keep in mind the airport is far so give yourself time for the trek ahead.

Gibbo heading back to California ☹️. Medellin, Colombia[[[[[[[[[[[[
There are loads of other activities & things to choose from, but I have found these will give you the best taste & provide you with the best bang for your buck in this city. Have a better itinerary or an idea that can be included? Drop a line and let me know

Medellín Kite Day aka Assumption of Mary Day

Yesterday was Assumption of Mary day aka go fly your kite day in Colombia. The masses took to the air with their kites as the country celebrated one of their many national holidays. How many holidays do they celebrate? I don’t know but google might 😉 .

Below we have Pueblo Paisa where it was a madhouse of families fighting for airspace atop of the city. The beautiful setting was complemented by constant laughter, joking & nonstop string dodging.

The highlight of this day was the involvement of the entire family. Most of the time it seemed as if the parents were the ones having the most fun, grandparents too! Also the usual kite stuck in one of the many trees and cell towers surrounding the platform.

Post Pueblo Paisa we took to another viewpoint over the city at El Volador. This park had even more action & was a stunning setting for sunset. This is the spot to check out if you want a 360 view light show of the city

More than a day trip in Guatape, Colombia

It’s 5pm and you’re sitting in your Medellin hostel deciding on your next days activities. Paragliding? Communa 13 tour? Pablo Escobar tour followed by rooftop drinks at Envy? Guatape? All excellent choices but if you’ve decided on Guatape & have the time, make sure it’s more than one day.

Guatape. Tucked away deep in the Colombian hills roughly 2 hours from Medellin (depending on who you’re driver is) is an oasis that is much more deserving than a 6 hour tour. Escaping the concrete jungle of Medellin & cruising into the tranquil city of Guatape, it’s an easy place to relax for a few days & let nature work it’s magic.

Nature. The main reason for this venture is the obvious, El Peñon de Guatape Aka “the best view in the world”. After a 700 stair ascent to the viewing platform it’s obvious why people journey for this view, just look at it. The beauty far exceeds these shots & every step is worth it once reaching the top. Refreshments are available for those in need of that afternoon, early morning, or sunset cerveza.

As you can see from this viewpoint, nature is your playground. With an abundance of water, water activities range from wake boarding, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, swimming, boat cruising & many more. If you fancy your dinner to be moving, you can even dine on a moving yacht for your hearts desire.

Water isn’t the only playground here. With miles & miles of trails to choose from, the most adventurous can hike or hire a bike to some lightly trekked trails that finish at waterfalls, hidden lagoons, & secluded lookouts. Popular day trips include those to San Rafael.

Green & blue aren’t the only colors this place offers. Touted as one of the most colorful cities of Colombia, the city center & it’s adjacent streets offer a new color combo around every corner. Uplifting & inspiring, those with artistic visions will find it here. Go ahead and count the colors, you will lose track fast.

Now where do you stay after you’ve taken in all the sights for a day? Casa Rosa Hostel. More of a home stay than a hostel, Francesca is a wonderful host and especially great for those looking to improve their Spanish. With a perfect location a block away from the center & a low key vibe, Casa Rosa lets you slow down & find some tranquility.

Another popular option for backpackers is Lakeview Hostel. I didn’t stay here but many people I met in the city did and loved their time there. Also highly regarded is Thai Terrace which is above Lakeview Hostel.

Have you been to Guatape? Comment your favorite part of the city.

How to Paraglide in Medellín Cheap

It wasn’t until I arrived to Colombia that I heard about the opportunity to go paragliding or “parapente“. The primary topics of the country had always revolved around coffee, the beautiful women, its drug filled past & the recent surge in tourism. This afternoon in San Felix, all of that would change.

(This Is not a sponsored post)

How to get to G Topik Parapente?

Two options:

Less economical, more efficient, easier route:

Door to door transport for 100 mil pesos up to 4 people

Economical Route : This route makes sense for 2 people or less

  • Metro to Caribe station (North station) – roughly 3 mil pesos
  • 45 minute bus to San Felix – 3,200 mil or expreso 4,700

The scenery along the road was breathtaking. With every hair pinned corner turn a new wide open vista would open up providing city wide views & scenic beauty of the Andes mountain range.

Gibbo getting set up
Gibbo getting set up

How much is this going to cost me?

15 minute Tándem flight : 130.000 COP ($45)

If you’re like Gibbo, (Above) or the masses of visitors, you’re probably looking to update your AIM picture so a picture package is going to be your call.

15 minutes + Photo Package: 170.000 COP ($60)

Craving more air time?

Each additional 5 minutes = 30.000 COP ($10)

Straight up
Straight up

After catching our breath from the scenery & the workout, we were ready to fly. We were certain that they used these stairs to dissuade anyone who was on the fence about doing this activity as it gave you that “am I really going through with this?”. The zone was nothing but good energy & roughly 70 people partaking, waiting, watching & enjoying the scenery.

Once we checked in at the launch zone , I was in the air 5 minutes later. Felipe my pilot was gregarious, experienced, & nothing but the perfect fit for my first time.

Did I forget to mention?

We made it back safely so I could write this for everyone 😉

So was the $60 worth it?

Some of the best money I have ever spent, aside from buying the ticket to get to Colombia. It may seem like a budget breaker but comparatively you can’t do this sport anywhere else in the world for this price.

If something happens & you get cold feet, the scenery at GTopiks launch zone & office area are more than worth your time. The scenery, energy & fresher mountain air make the trip unforgettable.

Birthday month? Video & photo package covered in your month. Feliz cumpleaños!

Found a cheaper price? GTOPIK wants your business & will price match whatever that cost is.

Is it safe?

For those who aren’t biting the bait right away & have to get talked into it, yes it’s safe. All activities have their dangers but the professionalism & certifications of these pilots make everything smoother than grandmas butter.

Interested in getting your feet off the ground & soaring through the sky? Check out GTopik with the information below.

Some practical & useful information:

*VERY VERY IMPORTANT*

Flying conditions are all based on the thermals of the valley. Meaning, you can’t fly all day. The normal weather patterns are in the Morning 9-11 AM or afternoon 1-5 ish.

These aren’t set in stone so be aware and use these numbers below to get a more accurate idea on your desired day.

Local phone: +5744445642

Nacional toll free line: 018000423594

Only WhatsApp Edison Valencia: +573146427265

Mobile and WhatsApp Laura Alvarez: +573127496306

Jorge Muñoz Correa English info: +573017263960

Need some more ideas for what else to do in Medellín? Follow the guide here to save time & money:

9 FREE Activities in Medellín for every Backpacker

Not sure where to go next after Medellín? Read here why Salentos Cocora Valley needs to be your next stop:

Hiking Salento’s Cocora Valley

Weekend Getaway: Santa Cruz

 

The weekend is approaching and you want to escape for a few days but where to go? North to Point Reyes and the beautiful Mendocino coast? Lake Tahoe and Truckee for some fresh alpine air? South to Big Sur? All great choices but for this weekend getaway, Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz, or Holy Cross, is much more than its shadow of the Beach Boardwalk and Mystery House. While these do draw significant tourist numbers, dive a little bit deeper into this quaint coastal gem and you’ll know that your time here is well worth the trip. Here are 5 reasons you should be Cruzing here.

Cliff Cruise
Cliff Cruise

Surfing. Surfing is king here and with breaks all along the coast, you’re sure to not get bored or be limited to a style of wave to choose from. Beginner? Great, plenty of waves to choose from. Intermediate? Excellent, got that covered too. Pro? Ya, well Santa Cruz is home to some of the best surfers in the world so those rights and lefts will be getting handled. Head over to Cowells for all your surfing needs.

https://www.cowellssurfshop.com

Beaches. Home to some of the most pristine beaches around, Santa cruz offers up to 29 miles of beach to choose from. Grab a towel, sunscreen and friends, and your beach day will be more than fulfilled.

Shark Fin Cove
Shark Fin Cove

Scenery. Being a coastal town, Santa Cruz has scenery for days. Whether it be a west cliff cruise, Pleasure Point stroll, Natural Bridges hangout, scenery is around every corner. Just ask Loggy, this local legend as he was spotted over at Cowells.

 

 

Food. Got a hankering for Mexican cuisine? Seafood? Freshly picked fruits? These three are at your fingertips daily as this region packs it all into one. Head over to La Hacienda for your al pastor burritos. Cruise the coast and pick some fresh fruits from one of the many U-pick farms. Book a table at the Crows Nest for some freshly caught seafood. These are just a beginning, come and discover your favorite.

Location. Being only 1 1/2 hours from San Francisco and just north of Monterey, Santa Cruz really does offer ideal location. Whether you want to cruise to the adjacent mountains for outdoor activities or even farther down the coast, location is prime here.

What are you waiting for? Cruise down , up or west to see what you’ve been missing out on. Shout out Rob, Peter, Ben, Eli, Terre, Jonah, Jazz, Pappas family, and everyone else down there.

 

 

National Ice Cream Sandwich Day & Oakland Drone

 

Yes, here is another one from the gem of the Bay, Lake Merritt. Not sure what brought you here but enjoy the views while they last. All hands, feet, and arms must be kept inside the fully autonomous drone at all times. Seatbelts fastened as well.

This is the full length feature rather than the teaser from my instagram of only a minute. Shockingly longer I know, but there are certain parameters we all have to follow and i don’t know if anything longer than a minute 10 you guys can stay glued to. Anyways, whats your favorite part about Lake Merritt? Below is an older post where I highlight my favorite spots:

https://ezmoments.com/2018/06/19/best-of-the-best-around-lake-merritt/

Share, like, comment so i can keep an updated list for those who are unfamiliar with the area and want to get the best trip to the Lake and Oakland. Whats worse than exploring somewhere new, have no clue what to do, and end up despising the place?

For any of my readers, where do you get your information from if you are going to a new city?

  • Google search ?
  • Friend ?
  • Family ?
  • Yelp ?
  • Stranger ?

I typically google and use a blog that covers the region so I can get a unique perspective rather than a possible paid yelp account or skewed / outdated tourist website. Instagram can be a gold mine too if you find an active account that is committed to their city.

As the title reads, yes it is “National Ice Cream Sandwich Day” which means its one of the best days of the year. If you’re in the Bay cruise through your local CREAM establishment (Walnut Creek, Berkeley, Oakland, SF) for a 1c mini sand. YES, 1 cent. TODAY ONLY. You’re welcome. And if you aren’t already aware of the acronym its Cookies Rule Everything Around Me (shout out Wu-Tang).

What are you waiting for? Get out to the Lake and holler if you see me. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. There seems to be a solid amount of cats out there operating drones so if it happens to look like me drop a line and if its not maybe you will have a new friend and change the course of your life.

Happy National Ice Cream Sandwich Day. Hope there is no limit for how many 1 cent sandos I can order. Also praying the lines don’t wrap around the block. Guess I shouldn’t be telling everyone about the gold mine they are walking into.

Oakland & the Bay Areas best sunrise/sunset spots

With great location comes great opportunities for scenic moments. This is a collection of some of my favorite spots I’ve had the chance to frequent over the years. With these spots listed your eyes will be happy they rose early or extended themselves into the evening.

Twin Peaks

If you’re in San Francisco and need the ultimate spot, THIS IS IT. Without a doubt the best views & with a 360 perspective, you get a taste of it all.

Lake Merritt

Merritt won’t give you any type of heightened view or advantageous vantage point, but the lake vibe & vibrant lake reflections make it all worth your while.

Berkeley Marina

An easily overlooked stop to take in the beginning or end of the day. Insider tip: grab a Mai Tai from Trader Vic’s before the glory unfolds in front of you.

Treasure Island

This used to be my favorite spot for sure but with recent island renovations that has changed. With limited access to avenue of the palms the beauty & ease has drastically affected the viewing pleasure. However, this is still a great option.

Mt. Tamalpais

Mt. Tam is a photographers dream and is my favorite spot for sunset in the North Bay region. With windy roads & unobstructed 360 views depending on where you position yourself, Mt. Tam can’t be missed. Bring your camera so you can catch the coastal fog lingering on the hillsides.

Middle harbor Shoreline

Definitely a hidden gem here but will require little more of an effort getting here. Tucked away next to Oakland’s shipping port this lightly trafficked park gives you the closest view of the bridge & Treasure Island. Just watch out for duck droppings as they are everywhere.

Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak aka Fish Ranch is the top dog in the East Bay. With ridge line views of the surrounding area & into San Francisco, this spot never disappoints unless it’s cloudy. Even when cloudy, still worthwhile to enjoy your time up in the clouds

Katchafire live @ Cornerstone Berkeley

Katchafire. No these guys are not arsonists but they do bring the flame with their electric reggae sound. Hailing from Hamilton, New Zealand, these Kiwis are a testament to timeless reggae spirit. Turning the clocks back, these guys started as a Bob Marley cover band and as their skills and popularity grew, transformed into one of New Zealands and the worlds top reggae acts.

Coast to coast, country to country, Katchafire has played with almost and everyone who has a reggae pulse and usually can be found headlining some of Reggaes grandest festivals. Family runs deep in this group with father Grenville and sons Logan and Jordan, accompanied by Tere Ngarua (bass), Hani Totorewa (keyboards, vocals), James Ferguson (keyboards, saxophone, vocals), and Leon Davey (percussion, vocals). Opening up for Katchafire was local artist Nocean & renowned reggae artist E.N. Young. E.N. Young was apart of the band Stranger which won the 2009 San Diego Music Award and Tribal Seeds.

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About halfway through their tour Katchafire took aim at a packed house at one of Berkeley’s newest venues, Cornerstone. Cornerstone was once an old famous Berkeley Pool Hall, but has transformed into another Berkeley music gem. With music in its bloodstream, Berkeley adds to the list of quality music venues. Aside from ample seating, an outdoor patio equipped with fire pits, delicious and generous food portions, Cornerstones real attraction is the Beer. With over 40 beers on tap and 100 offerings at your disposal, deciding is probably the only blemish this place has.

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Cornerstones venue space is a real treat. The design and size make it intimate but at the same time gives you some space to work with if you want to spread your wings a bit. If you want to take in the show from above, there is a 2nd floor option that gives you a nice vantage point while keeping you close enough to not feel isolated from the action.

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When the music isn’t pumping in the venue, Cornerstone uses the space for corporate events and bar games such as Ping-Pong & Cornhole. With an inviting vibe, modern aesthetic feel, and all these other offerings, Cornerstone is a place to not miss out on. Get here before all the beer is tapped out, which i don’t expect to be happening anytime soon.

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Bay Area Drone – Oakland’s Grand Lake Theatre

Here is one of my latest productions that I am glad to show from Oakland, California. It is of the Grand Lake Theatre. The Grand Lake Theatre is a haven for Bay Area photographers/movie goers. With its beautiful exterior, especially lit up at night, it’s easy to see why its been crowned as the top Bay Area movie venue 3 years running. Aside from its stunning exterior, the interiors aesthetic is breathtaking as well.

A little background on the history of the Theatre. The Grand Lake opened in 1926 by the Reid Brothers for West Coast Theaters Inc. A serious of expansions have happened over the years to increase size and update its rustic appearance. Tuesday is the day to enjoy a show here as it offers a $5 all day admission price. On other days you’re cost of admission is $11 and $6 matinees.

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Have you been to the Grand Lake Theatre recently? What is your favorite bar and or restaurant in close proximity that I haven’t mentioned here on my blog? For those who are looking for some of the best places to spend your hard earned dollars in The Town, look at some of my old posts where I lay it all out for you.

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I have always wanted to get on this rooftop for a photoshoot but for now this drone shoot will have to suffice. As a fanatic of drones and this area, is there a particular spot in the area you wish to see highlighted on one my posts? If so, comment below and or send me an email so i can take dreams to realities.

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I am a movie fanatic but I really don’t get inside to see many. However, this July 13th don’t miss out on the release of Boots Riley, Sorry to Bother You. I mention this because the movie was filmed in Oakland and has had a few pre release view parties to get people buzzing about this hometown made flick. See you there.

Some of my favorite shots from Backpacking Mexico

If Mexico isn’t on your radar or if it is, you should make it a priority to visit to take in the sights, sounds, and tastes of this diverse country. Here are some of my favorite shots from my 2 months throughout this massive country. If media portrayals of excessive violence and unsafe conditions are influencing your decision, let them go. But do be cautious of where you are going. Just like ANYWHERE, danger is around any corner but by staying out of certain regions where most tourists won’t go anyway, you are sure to have an excellent adventure.

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The shots featured in this post come from four different regions of the country: Mexico, Puebla, Oaxaca, & Chiapas. To be exact, Mexico treaties shots of Mexico City. Puebla features shots from Cholula and Puebla. Oaxaca includes Puerto Escondido, Zipolite, & Mazunte. Chiapas has some action from San Cristobal de Las Casas. These photos aren’t in any particular order at the moment. Posting as they come, so many more are on the way.

Most of my pictures that come from Mexico are from Markets, Beaches, Museums, Buildings, & food. With the gastronomy of this country its hard to not capture any type of food that is put in front of you. As the pictures upload you shall see what colorful, unfamiliar, caliente, and what other adjective you want to fill in the blank with will come along.

Do you have a favorite part of Mexico I missed or have a memory from any region I mentioned? If so, don’t forget to drop a line and let others know where the best of the best is at.

Oakland’s Kaiser Rooftop Garden

Whether or not you are from the Bay, theres a good shot you haven’t been to Kaisers rooftop garden. Situated on the 5th floor of Kaisers parking structure, this hidden gem shines bright like a diamond (Rihanna, yes) when you actually make it there. Take a nap, snap some pictures, gander at the geese, grab a snack, its all there waiting for you.

 

Reflectos at the Rooftop
Reflectos at the Rooftop
Kaiser Garden Rooftop
Lounge, Lunch, Nap
Do you have the courage to cross?
Do you have the courage to cross?
Scenery all around
Rooftop Scenery

Read more

Oakland Street Art

If your eyes have been open while cruising the streets of Oakland, you’ve definitely had the chance to take in some pretty incredible art. Aside from the art being so moving, the artists themselves really come to life when getting the chance to talk about the meaning and the message they are trying to portray. Here’s a teaser for some upcoming interviews and what inspires these artists to showcase their talents.

 

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More to come. So stay tuned.

KD artwork credit:

@Vogue_tdk

@localeditionmktg

@jettyextracts

@montana_colors

 

 

Lake Merritt Warriors Parade Day

Rolling through Oakland its almost guaranteed that you will see or hear something that will make you smile or catch your attention. A city of energy and eclectic characters fill the streets and undoubtedly carries on wherever they may roam. A few days back at the Warriors parade, Lake Merritt was full of the above and provided not only a gang of laughs, but some candid shots while the camera was rolling. Enjoy and comment which one is your favorite.

 

 

Saucey at the Lake
Saucey at the Lake

 

Short and sweet, the warriors sweep.

4-0 as we seem them go.

Missed 3’s, made 3’s. Nothing less while Lebron pleads

Late game confusion, obviously someone’s snoozin (JR)

2 of the last 3, with the future as bright as I take flight

 

Best of the Best around Lake Merritt

The Jewel of Oakland, Lake Merritt, encompasses 155 acres of land with a circumference of 3.4 miles. It’s clear to most locals that Lake Merritt is so much more than an estuary, but a gathering place for events, an excellent spot for photography, & a enjoyable destination for exercise. Aside from these options, Lake Merritt’s provides close proximity to a number of delectable restaurants and outstanding bars. Need inspiration to check out the surroundings of the lake? Well keep on reading.

 

Drone View of Lake Merritt
Drone View of Lake Merritt

Grand Lake Theatre

This is THE SPOT near the lake. With a history that stretches back almost 45 years, the Theatre has been awarded the best place to see a movie in the Bay Area for 3 years running. $5 movies all day Tuesday.

Burma Superstar

Burma Superstar has really exploded in recent years as its original location has expanded into 4 different locations around the Bay. Luckily enough there is one in close proximity to the lake providing Oaklanders the opportunity to savor some Burmese cuisine. Inside tip –> Tea Leaf Salad is off the charts

Arizmandi 

Arizmendi Promise
Arizmendi Promise
Arizmendi
Grab a slice of pie or joe and post outside

 

Whole Foods

I mean its not a proper restaurant but being aware of a full scale grocery store within walking distance of the lake is a game changer for anybody on a picnic day at the lake.

Lake Chalet 

A classic upscale Lake Merritt spot provides restaurant goers with a lakeside retreat and some delicious offerings. For those on the lower end of the budget, hit this spot up on a Taco Tuesday for Happy Hour from 4 to close for excellent taco and drink prices.

Lake Chalet Drone
Lake Chalet from above

 

Mad Oak

Outdoor patio, rooftop bar, and an extensive draft list. Hard spot to beat especially when surrounded by friends and animals. Yes, pet friendly. Cheaper options around but the vibe and setting is definitely worth a stop in.

Athletic Club 

One of Oakland’s newest Bar, The Athletic Club, is one for those who want a good dosage of viewing options to take in any sport offered that day. With a plethora of Tvs, 10+ beers on tap and variety of food options, The AC is a solid spot for your drinking pleasures. The  original AC started in SF and has done so well, the East Bay was lucky enough to put one one in. If you go with enough people, and or thirsty enough, order a Bathtub of beer. Yes, a BATHTUB.

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The AC, one of the newest additions to Oakland

 

The list goes on for days but who has time to read all that without missing the beauty of being there. If I missed anything comment below so I can add it. I know I missed a lot but the full guide will be updated as we go.

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