Hiking in Manizales: A Photo Essay

 A few posts ago, I mentioned that while in the hilliest city in Colombia, I got to go on a rather scenic hike that wouldn’t have been  possible to figure out on my own.

At the time, I felt that I’d paid my local guide a bit too much.  However, as I was just browsing through photos from that hike, I came across some that made me realize that the 30,000 COP or $16.85 for the five and a half hour guided hike was far from the worst deal on earth.

Valle de Cocora

 While sleeping in a hostel dorm room for my first five nights in Salento, I noticed a trend of backpackers coming for one or two nights.  They make it to Cocora for a hike, and then they’re on their way out to see another site at another Colombian destination.  It took me over a week in these idyllic surroundings before I finally got a jeep out to this natural wax-palmed wonderland.

Just a short time after I entered the premises of the national park I was reminded of something.  Not far from where the trail started, memory of footage from the film The Lord of the Rings popped into my mind.

I’ve been told by travelers that New Zealand has the most beautiful terrain on earth.  I’ve recently realized that the topography and flora of the Andes must rival that of New Zealand where the film was set, in a far-away land at the other end of the planet, where I’ve never drifted down to.

Hiking in an Andean Paradise

While on one of the three microbuses I took to get to the cute little town of Salento from Manizales, I thought about engaging in some hiking.  I’d heard that it was a major attraction there.  I pondered: I’m in the Andes, there has to be endless trails that are incredibly worthy of hiking.  I’d really like to get in touch with more nature, with my diverse earth.

What I didn’t know is that I’d end up going on four unique hikes in just over a week’s time.

After arriving in Salento and being brought to my hostel, I decided to take a stroll into the tranquil and idyllic Salento night.

Within minutes I found myself sipping straight rum outside of a small bar. I started talking to a few people that were already hanging out and shooting the fresh mountain breeze.

El Rincón de Lucy: A Party on Your Peso

Only on the inside of the restaurant will you see the sign: El Rincón de Lucy. Nothing on the outside of the establishment will give an indication that it’s a restaurant that’s colloquially called Lucy’s.

On my first day in Salento, a British couple in my hostel asked if I’d like to join them at a place that they said was good and incredibly reasonable for only 6,000.

Massage Therapy in Salento

About three weeks ago, on my second night in Colombia, I stayed in a hostel’s dorm room in Poblado, figuring I’d save money.  But, I didn’t like the place or the night’s sleep that I got.

After that night, I hadn’t slept in a dorm room for over two weeks.  In Colombia, the main advantage of sleeping in a community setting is that it often costs half the price of a private room.

After having private rooms for most of my stay in Medellin and all of my stay in Manizales, I figured that it was time to cut costs and try to suck up some cheap living.

The private rooms always provided me with two pillows.  The one dorm bed I slept in in Poblado had a thick pillow that was perfect for my needs.

The Mini Metropolis of Manizales

 The smooth 38,000 COP or $20.93 minivan ride through the mountains from Medellín to Manizales reminded of a jaunt from Boston to New York City.  The picturesque Andean landscape is not what made me think of the Northeast of the United States.  I compared the two rides because the time and costs are similar.

Manizales is a city of around 400,000 people.  It sits at an altitude of 2,150 meters or 7,054 feet.  The average temperature is only 18º C or 64º F.  It tends to be very chilly in the morning and can warm up a bit during the afternoon.

7 Great things About Medellín

After being in Medellín for a short time, I realized some great reasons to visit this mammoth Andean capital of the state of Antioquia.

●  The high Andean valley boasts clean drinking water.  I’ve been drinking the tap water.  This saves money and minor logistics.  You don’t have to compare costs of different water brands and sizes.  You’re spared the tasks of having to purchase and lug liquid back to your place.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to make special trips to a store because my water supply was scant or even empty.

The World-Class Medellín Metro

I never thought I’d write a post about a city’s metro system.  But, I’ve seen a few of the world’s finest and the Medellín Metro is now my favorite on earth.  Using it is also what I believe to be the best activity you can take-part in during your stay in Medellín.

Alumbrados: Lighting up the Night in Medellín

While on my way across a small stretch of the city, a man on the metro asked:

“¿Sabes Exposiciones?”

No tengo idea.”

When in Medellín: A Traditional Sunday Dinner

For a while now,  I’ve been loosely thinking about doing a weekly cuisine series.  I didn’t want it to sound cliché or like any of the million blogs out there that are already doing something similar.

Yesterday, while throwing my vegetarian ideals into an amoral abyss, I devoured a typical slab of Colombian steak and all of its accompaniments.  It was during that feast when the idea came to fruition:  When in Medellín: My Traditional Sunday Dinner.

On occasion, I’ll seek out a traditional dish from the local area I’m in.  Ideally it’s healthy and therapeutic local fare.  However, because this is a flesh consuming land, the main focus for now is to eat something traditional that the locals eat.