Where are we?

Last couple of days in Colombia

Saturday Nov 9th

Our spot last night behind the restaurant was nice and quiet. Only a couple of trucks came in after us and parked. Didn't even hear them leave. We did have some thunder and a bit of rain - seems to be norm for this time of year.

In the morning as we are driving along the highway we see quite a few bags of cement on the side of the road - most of them split open.  Next curve we see some more bags ripped open and probably another 2 curves later we see the truck that has rolled over into the ditch. Probably lost his brakes coming down the hill. No runaway lanes on these roads!

The next 4 hours of driving was through the usual mountain roads. The scenery is beautiful here. But the roads need a lot of repair! Alot of road washing away on the really steep side - not sure how that will be fixed because it goes waaaayyyy down! We end up following Marc and Herlinde and after awhile we pull over and have a chat. Told them we are going to Laguna de la Cocha for the night which is 20kms off the highway. They are going to continue on the highway and we'll meet tomorrow night.

When a trucker gets his truck cleaned it really gets cleaned -engine and all. There are MANY truck washes along the highway.

No we didnt come up that road, that one just goes down into the valley 

But we are taking the highway that is cutting across the mountain on the left

Our first tunnel and the second one was almost a kilometre long!
We finally get to the city of Pasto, which is where we turn off to go to the lake. But first we are going into the city and try and find an air filter for Vanna. She doesn't need it yet but Dwayne wants a spare if we can find one here.  We get to the area in the central area where there are lots of auto supply stores. Dwayne goes and checks out a few and finds one air cleaner that will fit! $6C, to bad they didnt have two. So after that it was already 3:00 but we decide to drive to the lake anyways. It's suppose to be quite nice.

Again the road there is windy!! I think Colombia is all mountains!!  As we get nearer there is a viewpoint so we stop to get a picture. It's a huge volcanic crater lake and second largest in Colombia - 15 square miles. And the surface elevation is at 8790'. Guess we won't be hot tonight when we go to bed! Plus it must have lots of trout because once we got down to the village all the restaurants serve it!

Arrow points to the little village we are about to visit
I was really surprised when we started to drive into the village. All the houses have a real Swiss feel about them. The structure and the colors. Flower boxes on all the windows. This is a really cute little village. There is a narrow river that flows through the middle and there are many boats, for fishing and for taking people out for a boat ride to an island nearby.  The houses on one side of the river are built on stilts and right behind them the reeds start. So some houses do have water underneath them. There is even a passageway cut thru the reeds so the boats can get out to the lake.

Cute houses here with lots of flower pots

This shows the cutline thru the reeds to the lake and how close they are to the houses on stilts

Lots of bridges cross over the river

Lots of restaurants

Funny to see sales of toques and mitts here

Tour going out to the lake 

Watched a girl make sherbet by spinning the copper bowl in the ice bath and scrapping the cream

Then we tested the finished product 😋 Blackberry sherbet

After walking for awhile and looking at all the stores we decide to have trout for dinner. Spaghetti can wait until tomorrow night! LOL! We go into one restaurant and take a seat on the second floor balcony. The guy comes over but has no menu. We ask about the trout and he starts listing off a bunch of things that I couldn't understand. I just asked "con ajo?" with garlic and he said Si! Then we asked how much and he said 26,000COP each. I repeated it and yes I heard right. Seemed awful expensive! Especially when most of the restaurants were advertising Lunch menu at 8,000COP. So we say No gracias, and left.  Went into another restaurant 2 doors down and asked for a menu - no dont have, showed us a picture on a banner outside - fried trout with rice, patones, and salad for 10,000COP - Ok! We'll order 2 please and head upstairs to their balcony and sat down.  First we got a bowl of soap with potatoes, yucca and corn. It was really tasty. Then we got the main course along with a glass of strawberry juice!  It was a great dinner and we were both really full after that.

We decide to drive to another area where I see other overlanders have stayed but when we get there it is not as nice as where we were. So we go back, figure we can park on the street no problem. There was a sports field that other overlanders had stayed in before but now it was full of huge dirt piles!  We find a bit of a turnout from the road right next to a stream, figured this was a good place for the night and we can listen to the sounds of the stream as it goes by 😍

Sunday Nov 10th

Today we've been on the road for 1 month.  We left Cartagena on Oct 10th.  And now we are about 100kms from the border to Ecuador. Which we will cross on Monday.

We leave the cute village of Laguna de la Cocha and start our drive to Las Lajas Sanctuary right near the border. It shows it is 113kms away.  So we start bright an early at 8:30 and hope to be there by noon.  As we are driving back down to Pasto to get back on the Pan American highway we see many people on their bicycles ride up!! The summit is just over 10,000' and they start in Pasto at around 8700' quite the climb in 15kms!  No thanks!!

The valley looks so beautiful with a patchwork of greens- depending on what crops they are growing

Low hanging clouds 

We stop for a quick water fillup at a gas station just off the highway.  We probably drove for 20 minutes before we hit the construction! Colombia is making the highway into 4 lanes from the border to Pasto - so about 80 or so kms but with the amount of rock they have to remove and the bridges they are building it will take years to finish!! In the meantime the wait times are crazy. We probably wait close to an hour and then move for 15 minutes and then wait again for half an hour. We even catch up with Marc and Herlinda and follow them all the way to Las Lajas Sanctuary :)  And since this is Sunday with more cars on the road along with the regular trucks its absolutely crazy!! We did not arrive at Las Lajas Sanctuary until 2:30!! So five and a half hours to drive 113kms!! But nothing we can do since this is the ONLY highway to the border and we are just making a quick 20 minute trip east to see this spectacular church built over a canyon!!

There are many mountainsides that need to be removed along this 80 km stretch of new highway

New waterways have to be made along the mountainsides

Rocks get very close to the road!

We help out the local vendors as they walk car to car selling homemade chips or other junk food :)

We find the parking lot near the cable car that we will be staying at for the night.  The cable car will take us down to the church.  We get parked and Marc and Herlinde park next to us. Marc is not feeling great so he won't be going to see the church.  The three of us head to the cable car and go down into the canyon. The views are great - but not for pictures since everything is blurring thru the plastic windows.  There is a small window that is open that I did get a few pictures of the church as we were going down.  The cable car is very slow! Weird set up since there are 3 cars in a row that go down at one time. And I think another 3 cars come up from the bottom.  Anyways when we get down the church is something to see! Very beautiful but not that old. It is built in Gothic Revival style from 1916-1949.  And built in the canyon of the Guaitara River.  The history of the miraculous sighting of the Virgin Mary goes back to the 1700's and people have been making pilgrimages here ever since.

Riding down on the cable car and our first look at the church

Many plaques attached to the walls asking for miracles from the Virgin Mary

Beautiful mosaic tile work over the doors

Front of the church

The naive is carved out of the rock
Beautiful white and gold trim interior 

Looking up river with a walkway along the side from the church 

Downriver there is a park and waterfall to visit

people fill their water containers from this angel who continually pours water out of her jug

walked up the side of the canyon to get a shot of the opposite side of the church. So beautiful!

Monday Nov 11th

We wake up in a fog/cloud and it's drizzling a little. Had a nice quiet sleep.  Today we head into Ecuador which I've heard is not as green as Colombia. Once across the border  will have to find how to recharge my wifi and keep my Colombian phone number for WhatsApp. So see you in Ecuador 😃


  1. Looks like that village by the lake was a great side trip. It looked really pretty. When we were in Colombia we had wanted to get to that church but it was a little far for a side trip so we left if for another visit. I am so glad that you guys made it there, it truly does look beautiful and in a gorgeous setting too.

    Good luck with your border crossing today, I hope it all goes smoothly.


    1. The church was a beautiful ending to our time in Colombia :) The border crossing was the quickest we've had! Out of Colombia and into Ecuador in 30 mins! There was no one at the crossing :)