Before I started my solo trip to South America, I did not think in my wildest dreams that it would pan out as it did. Yep, coronavirus happened! More about that later. Let’s talk about the beginning of my South American trip. So, I finally decided at the beginning of 2020 that I will be finally going to make my solo trip across South America. I had solo traveled to Four Continents i.e. Asia, Africa, North America, Europe. The continent that always intrigued me the most was South America for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s really far from India and faraway places are always seems like a mystery which one would want to unlock hahah. I heard/read many stories/articles about how South America is the best region for backpacking and I couldn’t wait anymore to explore this distant land.
I booked with Qatar Airways for the second half of February journey and was all set to explore the unexplored. After more than 50 hours journey and 3 layovers, I finally reached Bogota. Yes, you read it right! 50 freaking hours! Let me take you on this not so long journey 😉 I took a domestic flight from Mumbai to Nagpur. From Nagpur, my international journey begins. Nagpur to Doha flight was pretty comfortable, I literally slept during the whole journey on 3 seats-converted-bed. I was quite impressed by Doha International Airport. Truly World Class Airport. My next flight was from Doha to Los Angeles. The longest flight of my life till now. The outside climate was changing constantly and frequently from Sunset, Sunshine, Snowy Mountains, Deserts. After reaching Los Angeles, I had a serious Deja vu. 2 years ago, I was at the same airport and going through the same immigration line which I was quite confused about initially. After landing at Los Angeles, I thought I wouldn’t have to go through immigration since I was just transiting through the U.S. but I was completely wrong! The USA never disappoints to surprise me. Every passenger landing at USA airports has to go through the US immigration irrespective of their purpose. My next plane was from LA to Bogota. Bogota is the capital of Colombia. Colombia is a country located in the northern part of South America. I planned to start my trip from Colombia and travel my way down. After people watching for a couple of hours outside LAX airport, I board a plane to my final destination. I landed at Bogota Airport in the early morning. Needless to say, I was beyond tired and wanted to sleep sleep sleep sleep from Morning to Afternoon to Evening to Night. After doing currency exchange, I board a bus to reach my Couchsurfing host’s place. You can buy a bus card opposite Door 4. My host was really accommodating and didn’t bother me much and let me sleep instantly. I was fast asleep and directly woke up at night to just eat dinner and sleep again. Upon checking my luggage, I found the “Notice Of Baggage Inspection” pamphlet from TSA in my backpack and some of my Indian spices & medicines were missing. Oh, well…
A DAY IN BOGOTA
Next day was the fresh beginning. Leaving Jet lag behind, I was ready to explore the first destination of my South American trip. First stop was Mobile Network store of “Avantel” which I don’t recommend anyone to buy who want to travel extensively in Colombia. It only works in Big cities. It was quite cheap though as per the Colombian standards. 2GB for 20k Colombian pesos (COP) & 5GB for 30k COP. Claro and Movistar are far better options for good network connectivity.
Next stop was Monserrate. It is a hill located in Bogota which one could either climb by Pedestrian Path or take a cable car or Funicular I climbed the hill by walk. Without mincing my words, It is a steep walk and I was really tired once I reached the top of the hill. It took me around one and a half hour. I enjoyed the walk though. The path was full of greenery and nice views. On top of the mountain, you will have a beautiful view of Bogota City. There are several restaurants, eateries, souvenir & crafts shops among others. The main attraction is the Basilica of the Lord of Monserrate. It is a Basilica located on the top of the mountain inaugurated in 1920. One of the most beautiful churches I have visited. You should walk around on the hill to enjoy the views. You cannot use Pedestrian Path after 1 PM from the entrance and you cannot use it after 4 PM on the way back. Funicular costs 12000 COP one way. Since I was late to climb down by walk, I took a Funicular on the way back. I suggest you take the cable car or Funicular while ascending and climb down on the way back by walk if you are not a walker.
Next stop was Museo del Oro(Gold Museum). Entrance fees were 4k COP. A must visit place when in Bogota to get insight into the history of South America. It is an exhibition of gold and pottery pieces from indigenous cultures with more than 30,000 pieces made in gold, Lithic objects, ceramics, stones, shells, bones and textiles belonging to the ethnic groups of Quimbaya, Calima, Tayrona, Zenu, Muisca, Tolima and Tumaco etc.
At the end of the day, I walked around in the La Candelaria area. It has a great ambience. Street musicians, street chess players, street food, street shops. I really enjoyed my walk. I only spend 2 nights in Bogota because I wanted to experience the World’s second-largest carnival which takes place in Barranquilla, Colombia.