This post is simply to help out any other travelers considering a trip to Colombia. Like i said earlier I really wanted to see Bogotá but in the end I had to end up in Medellín. I started to research different ways to get from BOG to MDE. I asked a few of my friends in Colombia and they all told me the buses where safe, even at night. I was still a little bit nervous about taking a 9+ hour bus ride overnight through Colombia. My other option was to take it during the day. While this option would let you see all the scenery, it also meant an entire day sitting on a bus. The third option was to fly, which in my opinion sounded like the worst of the 3. As long as buses and trains take, I seem to get enjoyment out of it.
I was pretty dead set on taking the bus, I just wasn't sure if i wanted to take it at night or during the day (for safety). Luckily I had some really great people in Bogota to show me around and tell me everything I needed to know. Both Manuel and Carlos said the buses at night were fine. Since I trusted both of them, I decided on the night bus.
After spending Thursday - Sunday in Bogotá I packed up my bags and headed to the bus station around 9pm at night. I took a cab from Manuel’s place. It was probably a 30 minute cab ride and cost about 7 bucks. Manuel suggested the bus company Bolivariano. They had buses leaving every 15 minutes for Medellín. In very broken Spanish I managed to get a ticket and make sure I had a window seat. The ticket cost 60mil, which at the time was about 24 dollars.
When i was in Mexico I took a few buses and was blown away at how nice they were. I had high expectations for the buses in Colombia. Unfortunately they did not live up to the expectation. The bus was still nice (just your average coach bus) but nowhere as nice as Mexican buses. For those of you from the east coast, the bus was about the same as a Chinatown bus.
I got a ticket for a 10:15pm bus. Boarding the bus was simple. They checked your bags and gave you a claim slip (make sure to hang onto it). The bus ride itself was interesting. It happened to be a full moon so I could at least see the outline of the mountains. The one thing i under estimated was how hard it would be to sleep on a bus that was constantly flying around tight turns. I finally fell asleep but then awoke to the bus passing a Semi on a blind corner. This was the first of many scary driving maneuvers the bus driver pulled, but there was giant Mary and Jesus decals on the bus, so I figured I was safe (no joke).
The bus was direct to Medellín. There was one rest stop (at least that i remember) other then that the bus did not stop moving. I read before leaving the bus typically takes 8 to 10 hours depending on traffic. By the time we boarded the bus and left Bogotá it was probably 10:30pm. We pulled up to the Medellín bus station at exactly 7am.
Overall the bus trip was fine. I have had worst experiences on GreyHound and honestly it wasn’t nearly as sketchy as some overnight trains I have taken in Europe. If you plan to take this route, I would recommend having an Ipod or something to drain out the bad movies they play. I would also make sure you have a jacket (or blanket) handy. The buses do get cold (this was something else i read ahead of time but didn’t give much consideration too).
Taking the bus from Bogotá to Medellín was the one part of the trip i was worried about, but it went as smooth as possible. Once I made it to Medellín I found someone renting their cell phone and called up my friend Pablo and soon we were off on another trip.
Bus Company - Bolivariano
Just outside Medellin. I didnt take many photos for 2 reasons. First off, it was dark for most of the trip. Second, I didnt want to draw attention to the fact i was carry a few grand worth of camera gear.
The Cab driver noticed me taking this picture. As i put the camera down he smiled and give me the peace sign. Welcome to paisas land!
We entered Medellin from the North, which totally throw off my sense of direction off (Bogota is south of Medellin).