Cali, Salento, Medellín and Parque Tayrona - Colombia

Overview

We spent part of our journey through Colombia in the salsa capital (Cali), the coffee area (Eje Cafetero), the city of endless spring (Medellín) and Tayrona National Park (between Santa Marta and Palomino). This article is for travellers interested in this itinerary.

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1. Cali

We booked a fantastic place at the top of San Antonio hill, popular spot for its street art fairs and salsa classes. Instead of dancing, however, we tasted lots of local flavors: pan de bono, arepa, lulo juice, chontaduro with honey and salt...

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Thanks to our friend's family, we discovered the natural reserve of San Cipriano (2 hours away from Cali by car). Get ready for an unusual ride through the jungle and don't forget your swimsuit.

2. Salento

We took a bus from Cali to the colorful town of Salento. In Boquia (3km before Salento) we found a gem that kept us away from crowds.

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We spent one day trekking in the Cocora Valley, known for having the tallest palm trees in the world. Pack your lunch and don't hesitate to rent out boots during the rainy season. 

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On day 2, we took a long stroll along the coffee farms and eventually got to Salento for an amazing non-local lunch at Veggies.

3. Medellín

After an endless bus ride from Salento (10 hours instead of 4), we reached Medellín. Given it is the second largest city in Colombia, we felt lucky to have another friend's family there to drive us around.

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We enjoyed walking through the neighborhoods of Manila and Provenza. To see a complete different face of the city, we would recommend taking the cable cars from Acevedo station, which go over El Popular and Santo Domingo.

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If you have a good appetite and a strong stomach, you should try the regional dish, La Bandeja Paisa. For a local experience and alternative evening, check out La Pascasia

4. Parque Tayrona

After flying to Santa Marta, we took a bus to Palomino. From there, we visited the region of La Guajira. On our way back towards Santa Marta we decided to spend 1 day and 1 night in Tayrona National Park. We dropped our backpacks at El Zaino entrance and continued the bus ride to enter from Calabazo. 

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We began our hike to Pueblito, an Indigenous site, and then worked our way down through the rocks until Cabo San Juan. 15 minutes away, we found Piscina beach. Spectacular.  

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We arrived at Camping Castilletes for sunset hour and slept in a tent right in front of the beach. Although we had to wake up at 6 am to catch our flight departing from Santa Marta at noon, we felt it was totally worth it.