Traveling Through Colombia: What to Expect

Lately we have been traveling a lot by bus. There are other options for traveling around the country but taking a bus is the most budget friendly. To put it into perspective, a flight from Bogotá to Medellin would have cost us around $100 per person, but the bus only ran about $15. Taking a flight gives you more time in your destination, so if you can find a cheap flight, buy a ticket. Traveling by bus is about as fun as having a cold on the first sunny day of spring. It is not quite as cool as they make it look in Almost Famous. Instead of a group rendition of Tiny Dancer, you usually just have people talking inordinately loud on their cell phones.

Fever Dog
This bus ride is giving me a “Fever Dog”. If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

After looking at a map of Colombia you would imagine that a bus trip to most destinations would be pretty quick. For example, If Zach and Johanna are traveling 300 miles from Bogotá to Cali at a speed of 65mph when would they arrive? It should take them 4.6 hrs to get from point A to point B.

I just mathed. Boom.

In Colombia this word problem is incorrect. A more accurate word problem would be the following. Zach and Johanna are traveling 300 miles from Bogotá to Cali. Their bus driver travels at warp speed on straightaways, and passes truckers on blind turns in the mountains. The trip can only be taken on Colombia’s road infrastructure that is in dire need of bridges and tunnels. How long will it take Zach and Johanna to arrive at their destination? Answer: 10hrs. A flight to Cali only takes 40 minutes, but a bus ride can take you anywhere from 10-11hrs.

A one, a two, a 12hrs to get to the center of your country. 

If you travel by bus, and you get motion sickness easily, pick up some Mareol. Every trip winds through the mountains, hence the long travel times. A lot of drivers tend to go as fast as humanly possible on straightaways and on mountain curves. When you hit bumps you feel like those kids on the school bus video that hit the ceiling. I know I shouldn’t laugh at that video, but I can’t help myself. If you are leaving from a terminal in a big city like Bogotá, buses leave about every hour. I would suggest looking up all the information before going to the terminal so you can choose a company with large buses. The small buses don’t have bathrooms, and the ride is uncomfortable, but they have good WiFi. The big buses have bathrooms, but if you use them while you are moving you might as well just pee your pants. The big buses have slow WiFi, but they show movies. I have now seen Real Steel in Spanish 3 times.

Real Steel
“Look at me, the only way we are going to get people to watch this movie is by traping them in a bus for 9 hours and playing it over and over.”

The buses always crank the A/C and they will not change the temperature, so bring long sleeves. Ladies, bring toilet paper, they don’t have any on the buses and you will have to pay for toilet paper at any stop. Add 2hrs to any estimate the company provides for your trip. A 6hr trip is really at least an 8hr trip. Your bus will stop along the way for lunch/dinner. The food is usually good but the places never look very clean, so if you are picky bring your own food. Last but not least, if you decide to drive yourself, check out my friends website for a great way to travel and save money.

2 thoughts on “Traveling Through Colombia: What to Expect

  1. vellissima says:

    When I take buses while traveling, I try to find places along the way about every 4-6 hours to visit and spend the night. This takes me to small towns I might have missed, and takes the torture out of the bus rides. In Colombia, I did fly from Medellin to Bucaramanga, but had great little bus rides between several places along the way to Bogota. Then I flew from Bogota to Pereira. I bused from there south through some lovely little towns on short bus rides all the way to the border of Ecuador. The flights were about $50 and saved about 12 hours each. In Ecuador there were and will be no flights. Just 4-6 hour bus rides till I get to Peru. Rumor has it the buses can be great in Peru. I’ve already plotted the map of Peru in 4-6 hour increments. Yes, and don’t forget the toilet paper and keep all of your valuables on your body.

    Liked by 1 person

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