We woke early this morning and packed up quickly as we had a big day of travel ahead. We headed downstairs to find the reception locked. So was the garage door leading to the street. We were trapped!! After lots of knocking on doors (we accidentally woke some guy up that was not the manager..) finally someone appeared to let us get our leftover Chinese food out of the reception fridge and open the garage so we could walk to the bus terminal. What if there had been a fire! Very disconcerting.
After getting to the terminal and buying our bus tickets to Tulcan ($3 each) we sat and ate cold Chinese and waited for the 2hour bus ride that would take us to the border town of Tulcan.
The scenery from the bus window was a patchwork quilt of shades of green and yellow farming land covering valleys and mountains. Tom watched the dubbed movie and I have discovered that podcasts are a great way to pass the time. They don’t use up much battery life and they are free to download. Soon enough we were at the terminal in Tulcan where there are plenty of taxis waiting that can take you to the border ($3.50). It was an easy process to stamp out of Ecuador and walk across the bridge into Colombia. A simple stamp in (no forms to fill out) and we were in another country.
Our maps.me said it was 1km to town, so we ignored the taxi sharks and walked into the town of Ipiales. It was actually more then that and after a couple of km’s we found a bus that was heading to the terminal so we happily (and sweatily) got on board.
Border towns are usually pretty bleak, but there is one thing that you should do here before getting the bus to Pasto and that is to visit the amazingly beautiful Santuario Nuestra Señora de las Lajas. You can leave your bags at the luggage storage on the 2nd level of the bus terminal (2000cop per bag) and then grab a Collectivo (2000cop) for the 10km journey to this fascinating church nestled on the side of a canyon. There is a rushing river that flows underneath the churches bridge flanked by musical Angels. It is a sight to behold, especially with the waterfall and lush greenery surrounding the grey bricks of the church.
After admiring this architectural wonder it was back to the terminal and on to the city of Pasto (8000 cop/ 2.5 hours) to stay the night before another long bus ride the following day to the colonial city of Popayan. Ensure you do this leg of your trip during the day as this six hour stretch of road is notorious for armed robberies in the evening.