Colombia/transportation from Pasto to Coffee Region
QUESTION: I am entering Colombia from Ecuador in March and have read that it is not a good idea to take a bus over night from Pasto to Popayan. So, I would have to do a 6-hour ride during the day. Once I arrive at Popayan, I would like to save time to move north and am wondering if I could take a night bus from Popayan to any of the three towns in the Coffee Region: Manizales, Armenia or Pereira.
1. If so, please let me know if it is necessary/possible to make a booking for the night of 24 March.
2. What is your recommendation about a way to visit Parque Nacional Natural Los Nevados?
Thank you very much.
ANSWER: Hey Kaius,
great that you are coming to Colombia.
It's true that some areas near Popayan have security issues, so it's better to travel between Pasto and Popayan in daytime. I would advice that you check the news and ask how things are going along the way.
Your travel date is at the beginning of the Easter holiday, a time when lots of colombians take to the roads to visit their families and have vacations, so buses could be packed and tickets may be scarce. If you do speak some spanish or have friends who do, try booking your tickets online a few days or even weeks in advance. Try a bus company like Expreso Bolivariano.
I think that Armenia, which is smaller could be the best option. Parque Nacional del Cafe is very near. You might have to chsnge buses at the Cali terminal.
As for the Parque de los Nevados, there are many tour operators to choose from. I believe that the majority. is based in Manizales.
I hope that this helps.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thank you JC. Your suggestion is helpful.
I have checked Expreso Bolivariano and tried to purchase a ticket. But the site is no working well. Are there other bus companies?
In addition, I am wondering if there is a facility where I can leave my backpack. After arriving from Pasto, hopefully early PM, I want to see Popayan before taking an over-night bus to Armenia that night. For that, I would need to a locker or some service to hold my backpack.
Looking forward to hearing your answers.
Expreso Bolivariano offers the best service and they even have buses with wi-fi. Try booking the ticket in a few hours or days. Another option is Expreso Palmira (http://www.expresopalmira.com.co/
I think that you can leave your backpack at one of the budget hotels listed on the Lonely Planet guidebooks for Colombia. They might charge you a small fee for that.
Are you sure that you just want to spend a few hours in Popayan? Itīs such a lovely town. I would stay a night, walk around, check the amazing architecture and leave the next day. Easter is a special time there with lots of religious music concerts and street celebrations. It used to be a must for foreigners travelling through Colombia. Now with the security issues in the region, it is not as visited as before.
Have a good trip!