Bogota was our first taste of Colombia, and being the nations capital with the largest airport it is for most travellers. After spending a few days in the La Candalaria (read about that here), we were ready to move on. Some online research and talking with other travellers would help us decide on Medellin for our next stop.
Then came the bus vs. plane decision…
Plane: Cost 130,000 COP ($65 CAD) per person when we looked. Takes about an hour actual flight time. Does not include baggage and taxis to and from the airport (which is located farther out of central Medellin).
Bus: Cost 50,000 COP ($25 CAD) per person when we looked. Takes 9+ hours. Includes baggage and taxis are cheaper from the bus stop.
Given that we are traveling as cheap as possible and can afford the time to spend a whole day sitting on a bus, we opted for land travel. If money wasn’t an issue and we only had a week or so to see the country we would have flown.
Taking this bus is too easy. It was a 20 min taxi ride to the bus terminal in Bogota from La Candalaria District (about 12,000 COP). We went inside and looked for the Bolivariono wicket. We read it is best to book with them as they have the nicest buses. They are also a company that apparently pays off the right people to make sure the bus arrives safely, on time, with all luggage intact (this fact may be out of date given the leaps and bounds Colombia has taken in safety over recent years). At the wicket we bought two tickets for the next bus, leaving in about 20 minutes. Total cost of 102,000 COP. We walked to the terminal and boarded the bus after a short wait. As described the bus was clean, had comfortable reclining seats, on board movies, wifi, air conditioning and a bathroom. Not bad!
Buses leave on this route at least every hour and nearly 24/7. We opted for daylight travel and arrived at the terminal around 8:00am. There is no need to book a ticket in advance.
The bus ride took nearly 11 hours, we stopped once for about 30 minutes to have lunch. The ride is 90% twists and turns up and down steep mountain roads, with a small section of flat, straight road about half way, leaving just enough time for our stomachs to settle from lunch. We arrived at the bus terminal in Medellin and took a cab to our hostel in the Laureles district (another 12,000 COP).
For our decision to to save a few bucks and sit on a bus for a whole day, feeling queasy from all the twists and turns, we were rewarded by the most amazing views of Colombian country side, we wouldn’t trade that for a plane ride in a million years.