Overland from Salento to Quito

We had a lot of travel ahead of us. We had to make our way to Peru in less than 2 weeks for our volunteering, on the way hopefully seeing a bit of Ecuador. We also had the problem that Easter was only a few days away - after our experience in the Philippines the year before we knew we'd probably need to be settled in a city for it - we'd decided on Quito as the Easter celebrations were supposed to be really good. The first part of this involved getting a bus from Salento in Colombia to Quito in Ecuador, something we'd allocated a day for but which we quickly realised was impossible. We left Salento town early and took a small bus to the nearest transport hub - Armenia. From Armenia we took another bus to the large town of Cali. We could have stayed here but it isn't the most pleasant looking city so we took a third bus to the colonial town of Popayan. The whole days travel, including inevitable waiting around in bus stations, took 9 hours. Popayan is a nice town to look around and I do wish we could have stayed for a day, as we only had the evening to look around before we left the next day. That said, it probably isn't an essential stop and by this point we had seen more than our fair share of pretty colonial buildings. The next day we could have potentially got all the way to Quito, but the buses were slower than we expected. Where we did get was Ipiales, a town virtually on the Colombia/Ecuador border. As a town it is extremely unexciting with little for tourists, except for a cathedral. Not just any cathedral though, the Sanctuario de las Lajas is spectacular. Built in a ravine over a river, it is well worth an hour or two to visit en route.As our hotel was a little way from the bus station, we left our backpacks at the luggage storage office at the bus station – this cost 2,000COP each and meant we could leave quickly after the church. Outside, colectivos regularly drive the 15-20 minutes to the church and we hopped in one for only 2,000COP each. Once at the site, we walked down a long hill to the cathedral (which is fairly tough to get back up).Overland from Salento to Quito Greg June 29, 2015 Colombia No Comments We had a lot of travel ahead of us. We had to make our way to Peru in less than 2 weeks for our volunteering, on the way hopefully seeing a bit of Ecuador. We also had the problem that Easter was only a few days away – after our experience in the Philippines the year before we knew we’d probably need to be settled in a city for it – we’d decided on Quito as the Easter celebrations were supposed to be really good. The first part of this involved getting a bus from Salento in Colombia to Quito in Ecuador, something we’d allocated a day for but which we quickly realised was impossible. We left Salento town early and took a small bus to the nearest transport hub – Armenia. This cost 4,000COP per person. From Armenia we took another bus to the large town of Cali. We could have stayed here but it isn’t the most pleasant looking city so we took a third bus to the colonial town of Popayan. These buses were 16,000 and 20,000COP respectively per person. The whole days travel, including inevitable waiting around in bus stations, took 9 hours. Popayan is a nice town to look around and I do wish we could have stayed for a day, as we only had the evening to look around before we left the next day. That said, it probably isn’t an essential stop and by this point we had seen more than our fair share of pretty colonial buildings. The next day we could have potentially got all the way to Quito, but the buses were slower than we expected. Where we did get was Ipiales, a town virtually on the Colombia/Ecuador border. As a town it is extremely unexciting with little for tourists, except for a cathedral. Not just any cathedral though, the Sanctuario de las Lajas is spectacular. Built in a ravine over a river, it is well worth an hour or two to visit en route. As our hotel was a little way from the bus station, we left our backpacks at the luggage storage office at the bus station – this cost 2,000COP each and meant we could leave quickly after the church Outside, colectivos regularly drive the 15-20 minutes to the church and we hopped in one for only 2,000COP each. Once at the site, we walked down a long hill to the cathedral (which is fairly tough to get back up). It was rammed full of worshippers so we couldn’t get much of a taste for the interior, however it’s the exterior we were there to see. We’d recommend climbing up the steps to the official restaurant, not for the food but for the fact you can get a better sense of how impressive the construction is, as well as get crowd free pictures. After visiting the official museum, which wasn’t bad considering it was only 1,500COP per person, we trudged back up the hill, got a menú del dia for lunch, and caught a colectivo back to Ipiales bus depot.