Colombia 6: Medellin, then via Utica to Tobia

Medellin – this city may conjure up certain thoughts about its past. Drug centre? Pablo Escobar and his drug empire? Let us go and have a look , we thought.

Kolumbien hat auf alle Fälle eine gemischte Geschichte hinter sich, nicht zuletzt wegen der berüchtigten Medellin Drogenkartelle. Gefährlich oder nicht? Auch haben wir an den Brücken noch regelmässig Militär gesichtet und die Abstimmung wegen der Friedensgespräche mit der Farq ist noch nicht abgehandelt. Ein spannender Besuch stand bevor, als wir uns auf den Weg machten.

Due to major roadworks we drove along the Ruta 29 and 25 up to the turnoff at Pintada and find our way to Santa Elena outside Medellin, where the camping site Al Bosque was situated, run by David and his brother, both Columbians with good knowledge of English. Useful Wifi and a lounge to work from were a blessing in the cold and wet weather.

From the campsite access to Medellin city centre and the Plaza with the Botero statues was convenient by taking a scenic ride on the teleferico to an intermediate station, which links a poorer area of Medellin to the centre of the city.

Main attraction for us have been the many bronze statues by the well-known Medellin-born artist, Fernando Botero.

The plaza is unfortunately also the meeting point of druggies and prostitutes which is a legacy of the past.

All in all Medellin today seems to be a thriving city and many modern buildings bear testimony to this. We did not feel unsafe but remained cautious while shopping .

Interesting was a jeans shop with inserts for ladies to ensure your behind would have the roundness so typical for South America.

We drove to embalse El Peñol via Marinilla to see the Réplica Antiguo Peñol (a replica of the ancient church).

Then our journey continued south towards Bogotá and onwards to Cocorna and to Rio Claro, where we camped at Zona del Camping on a hacienda, a very quiet place along the Rio Claro river under a canopy of large trees. With cows grazing all around us it felt like a real farm holiday.

The next day’s journey was interrupted by a road accident and subsequent traffic jam which prompted us to take a small back road through the mountains from Honda to Utica after talking to some local truckers.

Here we found Camping Rio Negro ( aptly named as the river was a brown/black run of water) and we had consistent rain during the night like most nights before.

However, the many birds in this area made up for the inconvenience and a swim in the pool was most welcomed.

We proceeded from Tobia on Highway 50 , turned off at El Rosal and took highway 55 Norte to Laguna Guatavita.

Finally we decided to call it a day after we reached  Camping La Huerta just short of Guatavita -it continued raining and we were fortunate to be able to sit inside until 10:00pm, warm and dry as the restaurant was closed.  Our ladies spoiled us with a cheese fondue followed by a desert of chocolate fondue. What a treat in this remote location.

After a quiet night we were ready to tackle the town Villa de Leyva the next day.

This post covers 26th -30th September 2016

Author: Dieter

A passionate traveller and photographer with an urge to share the beauty of our planet.

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