This post is different from our others. Since we’ve received so much value from others who have shared the nitty gritty details about their travel expenses, we thought we would return the favor to the travel universe. So, if you’re just following us to keep tabs on where we are and what we’re up to, you can probably skip this one. If you’re travelling, or planning to be, and looking for another perspective on the cost of travelling in Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama, then read on.
We have just finished a week in Medellín, Colombia, but we wish we had much more time in this city, and in the rest of the country. We tried to pack as much as we could into every day–our usual vacation style vs. the slow-travel approach of the last three months. And since we haven’t posted once, we have so much to share.
Everyone told us that if we had time for one out-trip, it should be to Guatape. There are many different tour options, but we found fantastic, simple transit instructions (The Backpack Diary) and were able to take ourselves on this trip for a fraction of the cost.
Guatape is a village high in the mountains, on one arm of a complex lake system.The roads were excellent, and the countryside just as lush and green as is Medellín.
To learn more about Medellin, we signed up for a 4-hour Free Walking Tour (our first, but definitely not our last). We met up with Mari, of Real City Tours, and 19 other tourists, at the Poblado metro station, a 10-minute walk from our accommodation. We purchased a metro ticket ($2,150 COP/~70 cents USD) and hopped the metro for a few stops into the downtown area.
The transit system in Medellín is a source of pride in the city, and with good reason. It has received awards for its innovation and impact on the lives of those it serves.
Atacames is a local-tourist beach town among several beach towns on the northern coast of Ecuador. Thanks to a tidal river, the main parts of town are divided with the beach and town sides of the river joined by bridges. We stayed on the beach (or playa) side at the Casa Chill Inn (aka Hostel Chill Inn, and our first hostel … ever).
We spent 2 1/2 weeks in San Alejo, a small fishing village between San Clemente and San Jacinto. Here are a few final notes about this area.
Today we travelled up the coast of Ecuador approximately 293km on a trip that Google Maps says should take just under 5 hours. Here’s how we did it (all prices are for two people):
- Taxi from San Alejo to San Vicente–30 minutes/35km, $20
- Bus from San Vicente to Pedernales–2 hours/110km, $8
- Moto taxi from where we arrived in Pedernales to where the next bus was parked (surprise to us that they weren’t in the same terminal)–5 minutes, $1
- Bus from Pedernales to Chamanga–1 hour/55km, $4
- Bus from Chamanga to Atacames–2 hours/99km, $8
- Moto taxi from Atacames to our hostel–5 minutes, $1
At first, finding food can seem a bit challenging in San Alejo. The nearest SuperMaxi (large grocery chain) is a 45-minute bus ride away, there are no mercados in town, and the small tiendas that are here are often not open. Despite the challenges, we have managed quite nicely here–mostly cooking for ourselves, eating out here and there, and taking advantage of the treasures in our midst.
We arrived in San Alejo, late last Sunday afternoon, by bus from Guayaquil with a ticket to San Clemente ($8.50), as we were advised by our host. The San Clemente stop was an almost-deserted intersection. From there we had no instructions for getting to our accommodation for the next two weeks, The Cottages by the Sea. I talked to a couple of people (everyone who was on the street at the moment) and learned that the address I had in San Alejo was back a ways, not far, but too far to walk with our suitcases. We pondered our predicament, having no way to contact a cab, when miraculously one appeared and we flagged it down. $2 to San Alejo, which turns out to be a tiny fishing village between two other small fishing villages: San Clemente and San Jacinto.