December 2022

After we left Bogota our first destination was the town Guatape. This colourful town has 3D murals which made it different form the many other towns with the regular murals without any dept or relief. But this town is mostly famous because of a very big rock called El Penon. After visiting the town we found a nice campspot with a good view on El Penon.

Driving to and again form Guatape took a lot of time because of a long detour along a dirt road. The detour was necessary because the main road was blocked due to a landslide. Landslides are very common in Colombia. Not being able to make it to an appointment or work because of a landslide is a valid and believable excuse here. Even when it is a main road it can take days or weeks before the road can be used again, depending on the size of the landslide and the damage that was done. You will find warning signs for landslides everywhere.

We drove from one colourful town to the next; Jardin. After visiting it we found a great place to stay, near bridge. While relaxing there a parade of honking and sometimes decorated cars drove by including a big fire truck. Apparently as a way to celebrate the start of the December festivities. It was now December the 7tht. The next day on our second visit to town we saw the fire truck parked in the church (yes really) and also saw a lot of kids dressed in what we would describe as “communion clothes”. The girls looked like little brides and the boys wore suits and ties. We don’t know if the really just had their first communion or if this had something to do with the December festivities but it was very interesting to watch. In the Netherlands children from a Catholic family traditionally have their first communion in May and they wear the same kind of clothes.

After all these towns it was time for some nature again and we drove on to Los Nevados, you can read about that here. From Murillo we took another off road track to the town of Salento which is close to Cocora Valley. From Salento it was a long drive to Cali with a few uninteresting camp spots. But in Cali we were pleasantly surprised with a very nice campspot in the middle of the city. Just behind Parque del Gatos which was of course our main reason to visit 😉 We also had a nice pre-Christmas dinner in a French restaurant, which I choose specifically for the deserts: creme brulee and lemon meringue pie. We especially enjoyed the creme brulee. A French desert that’s easily available in the Netherlands but not on this continent. Getting to eat something from home can be a real treat sometimes!

As we were now slowly on our way to the border with Ecuador we drove further South, to Popayan. Here we found a great place to stay; the Green hostel that also has a little bit of room for overlander vehicles. The family that runs the hostel really included us. The first night we arrived, the 24th, they invited us to dinner with the other guest. We played boardgames talked to everyone, went on a hike to a nearby waterfall an got a tour across the farm. There were several cats and 4 (cat)friendly dogs and several farm animals including some nosey chickens that drank our pineapple juice when we unknowingly put our cups on the ground 😉 Binkie also really liked this place, he soon got used to the dogs, found the chickens interesting and liked the hikes we took. All in all we had a great four days and even didn’t really want to leave, but of course we had to sometime.

From Popayan we drove the infamous routa 10 to Pasto. It’s called “trampolin del muerte”. We don’t know why however. The road was perfectly safe although a bit narrow in some places. It even had guard rails in most places. It was gravel but in a good condition, you don’t need a 4×4 to drive it. And it was a beautiful road to drive! Halfway we found a nice spot to spend a quiet night.

The next day we drove in to Pasto. Definitely a boarder town and not a rich one with nothing really worth visiting. We would stay here for a few days however, mainly to prepare for the border crossing. Getting Binkies papers and filling out online immigration forms. We stayed at a camp site for one night but since we didn’t like it, we drove around the area and found a great wild camp spot. A field next to an mostly abandoned road. With a nice view, several small waterfalls nearby and good internet. Binkie also really liked it. It was possible the most quiet camp spot in the whole of Colombia. Even on New Years eve we barely heard a noise. We are not exactly fans of fireworks so this was just how we liked it. We made our own tapas and that was it. The end of a 2022, a year with lots of beautiful nature, nice people, (unexpected) adventures and as you know also some lows. We have no New years resolutions and we’ll just see how 2023 will go!

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