Colombia by the Numbers

We had heard a lot of good things about Colombia before setting off on our trip and it was certainly high on our list of expectations. Luckily, it did not disappoint. Highlights from our first country in South America included colorful Cartagena, bustling Bogota, the mountains of Manizales, and spectacular San Gil.

After four months in Central America, we were slightly surprised to discover how much more modern most of Colombia is, with fancy shopping malls, nice restaurants, and well-organized transportation. Of course, these little luxuries come at a cost and prices in urban areas turned out to be much higher than expected.

Favorite/Least Favorite

Favorite Place: Medellin
Least Favorite Place: Taganga (to be fair, we were only there 1 night!)

Favorite Food: Obleas (thin wafers with dulce de leche filling)
Least Favorite Food: Hormigas (roasted leaf-cutter ants which we tried in San Gil)

Favorite Alcohol: Aguardiente (strong anise-flavored sugarcane liquor…Erik preferred the Viejo Rum, though)
Least Favorite Alcohol: Club Colombia Beer

Favorite Accommodations: Sam’s VIP Hostel, San Gil
Least Favorite Accommodations: Villa Colonial Hotel, Cartagena (which failed to hold our reservation!)

Favorite Sight: Juan Curi Waterfall, San Gil
Biggest Disappointment: Salt Cathedral, Bogota

Offbeat Must-Do: Tubing Pescaderito Natural Waterslide, near San Gil
Must-See: Cable Car to the top of Cerro Monserrate, overlooking Bogota at night

Other Numbers

Days in Colombia: 27
Distance Traveled: 906 miles (by bus and as the crow flies)
Cities/Towns Visited: 8 (Cartagena, Taganga, Bucaramanga, San Gil, Villa de Leyva, Bogota, Medellin, Manizales)
Buses: 10
Shuttles: 2
Taxis: 15
Cable Cars: 3
Boat trips: 0
Planes: 2 (Panama City to Cartagena, Medellin to Quito, Ecuador)
Beds slept in: 9
Rooms with A/C: 2
Nights under mosquito net: 0
Beaches: 1
Swimming pools: 0 (too cold!)
Ruins: 0
Traveler’s stomach incidents: 0
Days on antibiotics: 27
Museums: 8
Restaurants: 34 (1.26 times per day, on average)
Sunburns: 0
Pictures Taken: 2,260 (Colombia) / 10,877 (Total, trip thus far)


While we tried to save money by limiting visits to restaurants and drinking on the cheap (which usually meant enjoying a little aguardiente from the local bottle shop), we still spent quite a bit more than we expected to in Colombia. It was surprising how expensive parts of the country were – especially Bogota – where some prices were comparable to NYC. Transportation costs were a bit high as we decided to book a flight to Ecuador instead of embarking on a three day bus journey South.

Here were our daily expenditures:

Food $27
Drinks $5
Lodging $34
Transportation $28
Activities $10
Other $4
Total $108/day

Most/Least Expensive

Most Expensive Lodging: $44 (Tie – Hotel Viajero, Cartagena and Geo Hostel, Medellin)
Least Expensive Lodging: $17 (Hostel Sinduly, Villa de Leyva)

Most Expensive Meal: $26 (Dinner at Guru, Bucaramanga)
Least Expensive Meal: $5.55 (Dinner at El Zaguan Caldenese, Manizales)

Most Expensive Drinks: $3.64/ea (Beer at Medellin Beer Factory)
Least Expensive Drinks: $1.50/ea (Beers during Happy Hour near Parque Lleras, Medellin)

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