Salamina, Colombia

Charming villages of Colombia

Charming, little villages were our absolute favorite in Colombia. There is nothing better than sitting in a little bar with an old man, drinking coffee almost looking at the coffee beans growing on the bushes ahead. So sit down with your cup of coffee and let’s go through the best of the best 🙂

  1. Salamina

This little town has completely stolen our hearts. It’s close enough to Medellin to get there with just one bumpy, bus ride but far enough to get far away from the big city life. There is no traffic, rush or groups of tourists in Salamina. Instead there are lovely cafes, colorful houses and green, mountainous heaven around it. It’s truly a perfect place to just relax, read a book and enjoy nature and good weather. Close by there is a stunning valley of Samaria, (to be) famous for its very high wax palms.

In Salamina we stayed with Martin and Angelica, an extraordinary couple on Airbnb. They are not only very inspiring people who create everything around their house by themselves with love, but they also made us feel at home there 🙂 Not to mention they make the best breakfast ever with fresh juices, arepas (corn pancakes) and eggs.

  1. Filandia

When nearby Salento is attracting all the crowds with its wax palms in Cocora Valley, Filandia stays a wonderful, peaceful treat. You won’t see crowds or overpriced hotels over there. Just peaceful but very colorful town with lovely and a bit curious locals. They will ask you how you like Colombia and why you chose Filandia. It’s it obvious? Not only it’s very colorful and has a lot of character but it has the best surroundings ever! Here you will find waterfalls, ever green forests, endless coffee farms and amazing hikes. Not to mention you will see hummingbirds, toucans and even howler monkeys.

In Filandia we volunteered in a really nice hostel called Bidea which is owned by a lovely Colombian-Basque couple. It’s not only a beautiful, Colombian house but also a great atmosphere that makes it a great place to stay. Don’t forget to visit Helena Adentro for great food and a romantic, charming vibe.

  1. Villa de Leyva

Nothing can compare to the white houses or cobblestone streets of Villa de Leyva. Not to mention the one and only, massive, gorgeous Main Square. Although it’s number one on many lists of towns of Colombia, it’s not busy. Not at all. We were actually really positively surprised. All the little streets were charming, white and really clean, even outside of the center. Little markets on the corners were selling true curiosities like dried bushes of pink pepper! And we will never forget an amazing ice cream place, Santa Lucia. Although we shouldn’t, we went there every day… and every single time it was delicious and the owners were just the most cheerful people on earth.

In Villa de Leyva we stayed in a stunning hostel (Buda Hostel), just outside of the city on a hill. It was a struggle to drag the backpack up there but once there the views made everything ok again. The house itself is wonderful, with lots of terraces and open space, not to mention the huge barbecue and chill out space outside.

  1. Palomino

The town itself is not really that nice, there is no beautiful architecture and it was just build along a busy road which goes just in the middle of it. But… those beaches. If you can’t go to Providencia than that’s the second best. Kilometers of sandy paradise with not too many people. There are quite some charming, boutique hotels out there. The beauty of the place is that there is not much to see, just pure relax 🙂

  1. Santa Elena

Probably the most calm place of them all. Middle of absolute nowhere and so close to Medellin. We stayed there surrounded by green, luscious nature in a trailer made into a house (Airbnb). It was just an unforgettable experience to stay away from everyone and everything in this charming little place where all we could do was to just relax, walk around and enjoy. During the evening when it was getting chiller we could sit on our deck, start a fire and observe all of the weird bugs coming to visit us 🙂 It was our last place to visit before we ended our Latin American adventure and we wish such an end to all of you 🙂

Useful tip!

If you’re going to Colombia and you would like to get to charming, little villages that are not so well known you should visit There you will find a whole list of tiny towns well worth a visit:) Enjoy!

Casapueblo, Uruguay

Our favorite highlights of south america All created by man

Ok, we- humans destroy a lot, we kill animals and our environment. But sometimes we create. And when we do, it can be pretty incredible. Here is a list of the most impressive human creations in South America

  1. Casa Pueblo in Uruguay

It reminds me a bit of architecture that I saw on Lanzarote from Cesar Manrique: big, white and fascinatingly futuristic. Casa Pueblo was constructed by Carlos Paez Vilaro as a summer house and workshop. It took him 36 years to finish it. The artist passed away already but his family still lives in a part of the house, the rest is a museum and a hotel! It’s truly magical and it’s situated just by the water which makes it even more enchanted. Every evening at sunset they have a nice peaceful tradition of playing one of the poems written by Vilaro and some music. We enjoyed that moment a lot because it was just so relaxing and full of pure, silent joy. It also felt like the white walls were a canvas for the colors of the setting sun. Incredible!

  1. Mechanic flower – Floralis Generica in Buenos Aires, Argentina

It’s an unusual gift from an architect, Eduardo Catalano, for Buenos Aires. The steel flower opens its petals every morning to close them in the evening just like a natural flower would. It looks very fragile and gentle but at the same time it’s actually massive- 23 m high and 18 ton. Since building it in 2002 there were many issues with the mechanism and when we were there the pool underneath it was covered and under maintenance, but even so it was worth seeing it.

  1. Incan Empire- almost everywhere

We didn’t like standing in line to Machu Picchu and the crowds there manage to kill any magic in the place but… it’s not the only one. Incas ruled areas from North Argentina to South Colombia and they created really many cities, left many incredible artifacts and even mummies. All of their constructions were one of a kind and the majority was situated on a slope of a mountain which automatically assures you there is going to be a nice view from each one of them, and a good work out to get there.

  1. Street art- whole South America

Street art was very present in our whole travel really. It all started in Argentina when we arrived in Buenos Aires and we saw murals everywhere. It was just incredible for us that there artists get payed to paint on the buildings and that they get recognition for it. Each of the masterpieces was signed and some even with a web page. The art was not only beautiful but also made us think about so many issues in South America. It was political, cultural and funny, it was everything. The passion in the street art didn’t change all over South America. We saw some incredible masterpieces everywhere, especially in big cities. The bigger the city, the brighter and more daring were the murals.

  1. Wine- Argentina, Uruguay

Both Argentina and Uruguay produce amazing wines. Argentina is already very famous for it. Unfortunately Uruguayan pride- Tannat is not so popular. It’s a shame because it’s definitely one of the most delicious red wines we have ever had, very deep and dry. When it comes to Argentina we were very positively surprised with fresh, white, fruity Torrontes.


  1. Textiles- Bolivia, Peru

Especially in Bolivia and Peru we saw a variety of incredible textiles of all kind- ponchos, capes, blankets, carpets and all you could think about. They were all incredibly colorful and they told us a lot about local culture. Many of them were showing funerals, chicha production (corn beer) and other community events. The form and colors were all changing depending on the region and subject.


  1. Christmas lights-Colombia

Colombians say it’s a pity that Christmas lasts only one month- December. It really does! On the first of December EVERYONE has to have lights everywhere. The bigger, flashier, brighter the better. In big cities like Bogota, Cali, Medellin they create tiny villages of light. They are truly incredible and surprisingly they don’t have that much to do with Christmas anymore. But it still has the atmosphere of Christmas maybe because of the booze & food stands and the crowds surrounding it. Obviously the weather is far from winter snow and cold.


Salt Flats

A year in South America. How much does that cost? And why so much :)

In 368 days we traveled through Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and we paid short visits to Ecuador and Brazil. In total we spend of 24 938 euros for the two of us.

Can you do it cheaper? Yes, for sure. We met a guy who was only eating rice and sometimes for the variety leftovers from other people. We didn’t do that. We also didn’t drink water from fountains and we didn’t sleep in parks. We did volunteer every now and then. You can always volunteer more. It’s a reasonable budget of two people that like good food (mainly cooked ourselves during the travel), don’t mind sleeping in dorms but sometimes get a double room and definitely don’t go for drinks every other night. OK let’s break it down then:)

Which country was the most expensive?

As you can see below Peru was the most expensive country. We spent 75 euros per day with the two of us. In total 5227 euros over 70 days. That’s because we did a very expensive Salkantay trek and we went a bit crazy on very fancy dining and we bought a cheap laptop (around 200 euros). We also didn’t do any volunteering. Honestly speaking I definitely feel Argentina was the most expensive country. We spend 65 euros per day for us two but we saved a lot by volunteering there for a month out of 99 days in the country. During the month on the farm, where we volunteered, we didn’t spend anything as the food and bed and rats were all included:) Otherwise the budget per day would be much higher. While expenses in different parts of Peru are comparable, in Argentina they are really different. For amazing colorful mountains and delicious wine in the North we paid way less than for omnipresent ice and coldness in the South. In Patogonia for a bed in a dorm in low season (so in total winter) we paid around 18-20 euros while in the north for that price you can find a nice private room with private bathroom.


Which country was the cheapest?

Bolivia. No doubt about that. Food, local transport and hostels are ridiculously cheap! And fun. While Colombia or Uruguay can be compared to Europe, Bolivia is definitely the furthest we got from the western world. The typical Bolivian Cholitas, their outfits and their hats- incredible. And I still can’t forget the dead baby lamas for good luck… On average per day we spend 45 euros so over 48 days “only” 2346 euros.

Salt Flats

What were the budget breakers in South America?

Well definitely Patagonia in Argentina. It’s one of the most beautiful things to see there but it’s really expensive. We went there in low season and it was still quite pricey and the variety of food was just ridiculous. We went there mentally prepared to eat instant noodles and potatoes and that was already difficult to find. That I’m not going to mention that we bought the most expensive pack of pasta there for 5 euros (nothing fancy just pasta).

Another one would definitely be Machu Picchu in Peru. We spend 843 dollars with the two of us to do an organized Salkantay trek to get to Machu Picchu. You can definitely do it on your own but Machu Picchu is still really expensive. Especially if you want to get a train to get there and then a bus and then maybe sleep somewhere close…

Machu Picchu, Peru

We also didn’t deny ourselves a paradise experience on the islands of San Andres and Providencia. We couldn’t cook there so we had to eat out every day and even though it was really cheap (around 5 euros for a meal) but it’s still not as cheap as something you cook yourself. We also didn’t go there to chill on the beach and count the seals. We went diving. Even though a two tank dive is only around 45 euros it’s still quite a lot of money for two people for more than one time.

One time we also decided to pamper ourselves with renting an apartment. We wanted to spend Christmas in a flat not in a dorm and we didn’t want to share a kitchen or bathroom. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even have to share a bathroom with each other.

OK, so on what did we spend all that money?

Accommodation was the most expensive part. We spend 6334 euros. We slept in many places. Countless dorms, some private rooms, sometimes a tent and a few times even a hammock which we definitely don’t recommend. A few times we went crazy on nice private rooms like in Minca for a room with a terrace and a nice view or Christmas when we rented a whole apartment for just the two of us. If we only slept in dorms we could probably cut the budget by 2000 euros.

Medellin, Colombia

To get from one place to another we spend 6212 euros. That includes also our flight to Buenos Aires from Paris (780 euros for both of us) and our flight from Colombia to Barcelona (1059 euros for the both of us). In South America our main mean of transport were local buses which were cheap everywhere except for Argentina. There for a 24 hour bus ride we paid around 130 euros (imagine in Peru an overnight bus was around 40 euros). And you need a 24 hour bus to get anywhere in this huge country. Colombia was the only country where we decided to fly around a bit since it was sometimes even cheaper than a bus!! God bless their Viva Colombia (Colombian Ryanair).

Food is not far behind. We ate for 6180 euros. Most of the times we cooked ourselves (really around 85%). But when we ate out we didn’t go to the cheapest places. We preferred to spend a bit extra to get good quality food. We also went for a few dates and a few drinks. Nothing too crazy. Well maybe except the 2 times we went for super fancy dining in Lima🙂

On tours, museums, fees and all things that you could call tourism we spend 4381 euros. Definitely a big part of it was our Salkantay trek on which we spend 843 euros and an 8-day kayaking tour through the amazon for 562 euros.

Jandirk took also an intensive Spanish course for a month, 4 hours a day which cost us 363 euros.

448 of our precious euros went for peeing in public toilets, medicine, books and other little things that out of the sudden became big money :O

On equipment we spent 966 euros that includes our new laptop, clothes that we bought along the way and other little things.

Alto Bonito, Salamina, Colombia

Our tips to travel cheaply.

  1. Keep track of every peso, euro, dollar spend. It’s the most important thing! For all of our expenses we have a spreadsheet to keep track and understand on what we spend our money and why. It helped us to be conscious with our spendings
  2. Sleep in dorms, always choose a hostel that has a kitchen! Those two saved us a lot of money. Even in cheap Bolivia eating out is more expensive than cooking yourself
  3. Volunteer when you can! It’s an awesome way to meet the locals and their culture and save a lot of money on accommodation and maybe even food. We volunteered chasing chickens on a farm in Argentina (WWOOF) and in hostels in Colombia and Panama (via Workaway)
  4. When you go to Argentina try to take as much US dollars as you can. You save a lot of money exchanging dollars on the streets for the blue dollar rate. And it’s not as dodgy a business as you would think. No one will slice your throat when you do it. At least we didn’t have any problems... ever
  5. Do your research! Check how much things should cost, ask the locals! We always checked how much a bed should be or a taxi or anything. Otherwise people will let their imagination loose with their prices and you won’t even know
  6. Try to use local transport!
  7. Try to travel off season
  8. If you speak Spanish try to use it to be a translator for tours! It’s definitely a big save up when you can do tours for free because you can translate. I did that during the Lost City trek

On our blog you can also find detailed budgets from each country:) if you still have any questions we will happily answer them:)

Lost City hike, Colombia

Top TEN things we saw in South America (well one in Central)

„What did you like the most?” is THE question everyone asks us. So here we go, our top 10 of South America (and a tiny bit of Central). And all of these ten places we loved differently but equally as strong.

1. Off the beaten track to Choquequirao

That hike was absolutely the number one among the hikes for us. It was hard, painful but truly magical. While Machu Picchu is a beehive full of tourists, where you can’t walk around freely, it’s noisy and you can forget about peeing for some time, Choquequirao is peaceful and mystical. There are almost no people and the site is way bigger then MP so we could walk around freely and we saw just 3 people during the whole 1.5 day of walking around (yeah that’s how long it takes to see it). It’s also for only 40% excavated so the stones and terraces disappear in thick vegetation. When I even start to think about it I would like to go back and do it all over again.

2. Omnipresent ice in Calafate

The immense glaciers in Calafate were definitely one of a kind. The tourist attraction number one, Perrito Morreno, was breathtaking, huge and looking at the pieces breaking off was better than a football match. And it’s not so touristic in the winter…:) The Titanic-like pieces of glaciers floating around were just surreal to see, a bit like islands of blue ice in the middle of nothing. And hikes near Chalten where you could just walk around and see dry glaciers just like that was stunning!! I even miss the cold when I write it.

3. Under and above water wonders of San Andres and Providencia

Well, in San Andres we didn’t see any wonders except for garbage and general chaos. But Providencia was all we were hoping for and more!! Gorgeous beaches, water in 50 shades of blue and FOOD!! Everything we tried there was absolutely delicious and it was definitely the best we ate during our trip (except for super fancy restaurants in Lima). The best of it all was the diving: sharks, stingrays, crabs, families of fish and all just sooooo close and soooo many.

4. Warmth of the people and originality of the coast of Uruguay

Without a doubt people from Uruguay were the most educated of all nations we met. They knew so much about history of any country including Poland that I wish I could send all my future babies there for school. Not to mention people were genuinely interested in us and wanted to talk and talk and talk and … drink mate:) The coast has obviously stunning beaches with mostly hippie architecture (recycle houses, Heineken bottle floor etc) and cute little penguins and sea lions. In September you can also spot whales.

5. The Lost City of Tayrona

Simply incredible! When I googled it I was really not impressed but live, it’s another story. It’s immense, breathtaking and magical:) it’s so surrounded by thick vegetation that it gave us a feeling of a hidden place worth all the sweat and pain during the hot, dusty trek to it.

6. Charming little frogs and nature in “Mouth of the Bull”- Bocas del Toro

From Bocas we didn’t expect much since it’s very touristic. But we were positively surprised. Our hostel was so cute, charming and comfy, food was delicious and little red-dotted frogs stole our hearts. Not to mention we saw a huge boa and stunning green forests everywhere. And that’s just because we didn’t stay on the main island but went to Bastimentos.

7. Lakes and mountains around Bariloche

Even though when we were there it was covered in ash after a volcano exploded in Chile, it was an amazing region to see. The town itself looks just like a Swiss mountain village so nothing too special. But the surroundings!! Insane!!! Lakes and mountains everywhere and really many! In between them forests. Pure nature.

8. Kayaking adventures in the Amazon

That was probably the craziest thing we have done. Observing crocodiles not even from a distance actually:P fishing piranhas all the time, getting bitten by all those crazy mosquitos and all that accompanied by noise from all types of monkeys. To fall asleep in that chaos of nature with stars above our head and fireflies was really one of a kind. Just priceless.

9. Wine drinking and colorful mountains in the North of Argentina

If we lived in Cafayate we would become alcoholics! And that drinking different wine every day (yep there is plenty). Not to mention really close from the wine there are colorful mountains and canyons.

10. The villages in the coffee region

Those stole our hearts. Calm, colorful, green and the locals were as colorful as the houses. Warm and friendly. We found one of the best hostels to volunteer in and definitely the best Airbnb. We made friends that hopefully we will see again. We even started drinking coffee :).

Open post
San Andres, Colombia

How much does it cost to travel in Colombia? Our budget and tips

With one euro being at least 3300 Colombian pesos everyone is a millionaire. But those millions fade away like in a casino in Vegas. In Colombia we spend 6686 euros for an amazing 110 day adventure. Per day that would give us 30.40 euros per person.


Where did we go?

From the amazing Caribbean islands of San Andres and Providencia to calm villages of the coffee region. From the salsa vibe in Cali to the excruciating hike to the Lost City of the Tayrona. And of course we also went to Bogota and the villages surrounding it including San Gil where JD tried some paragliding.

How did we travel?

To San Andres we obviously flew, to get to Providencia we took a boat but to go back we were forced to fly as a cargo boat sunk and no one wanted to risk it. On the main land we either took a bus or plane (in many long distance trips flying was cheaper than the bus check out Viva Colombia). In the big cities we got fancy with really cheap and handy Uber. Overal on the transport we spend 1060 euros.
Examples: return flight from Medellin to San Andres for both of us with luggage (Viva Colombia) was 719 960 COP so 210 euros.
Uber fare in Medellin: 4000-8000 COP so around 1.15-2.30 euros (depending on the distance and traffic)
Overnight bus from San Gil to Medellin was 140 000 COP so around 40 euros for the two of us.

Where did we stay?

On accomodation we spend 2130 euros sleeping 65 nights in dorms from which 2 weeks for free as we were volunteering in a hostel. One week during Christmas we rented a whole apartment in Medellin and the rest of the nights we stayed in private rooms in hostels or in airbnbs.

A bed in a dorm was around 9 euros except on Providencia where there was only one hostel and a bed in a dorm costed around 13 euros (when booked in advance). Private rooms were usually starting at around 20 euros.

What did we eat?

We mostly kept our habit of cooking at the hostels so a lot of vegetables, oven dishes, pastas, all fresh and delicious and way cheaper. But in some places like on San Andres and Providencia we didn't have a kitchen so we had to eat out. Tough life eating lobster and crab for almost no money at all but we managed (detailed budget about the islands). We also had to cool ourselves with some ice cream quite often and then bring back the temperature with some delicious coffee. In total we spend 756 euros on eating out.

How expensive are museums, tours etc?

On tourism we spent 1274 euros including entrances to museums, boat renting in Guatape, paragliding, trek to the Lost City and a few cinema dates (top tourist destination)

Examples: trek to the Lost City- set price of 200 000 COP so around 205 euros per person
Gold museum entrance: 3000 COP so under a euro
Cinema: around 1 euro depending on the time of the week

What else did we spend our pesitos on?

Medication, books, wool for my crochet, haircut etc. All that and more for only 140 euros.

We also spend 133 euros on "equipment" so clothes, a towel, sunglasses, underwater masks etc.

Our tips to save money in Colombia:

  1. Cooking on your own is the best way to save money. It’s healthier, often more delicious and almost always cheaper
  2. If you don’t want to use public transport in big cities in Colombia, use Uber! It’s easy, fast and very safe. And it’s not very expensive especially if you travel with the 2 of you or more
  3. Volunteer! We did that and it not only saved us some money but it gave us the opportunity to meet incredible people and stay longer in places. We used workaway to volunteer in the coffee region
  4. If you speak fluent spanish consider volunteering as a translator on the tours, they often need someone to translate to english. We used that for a discount to the Lost City Trek
  5. Try to go off season so not in December-February and not in July-August

P.S. Exchange rate used for the overal budget 1 COP= 0.00028 EURO

If you have any questions or you would like to take a look at our spreadsheet, let us know:)

Santa Elena, Colombia

Goodbye Colombia, hello Spain

The last days in Colombia were difficult, we were realizing that something was coming to an end. On one hand we wanted to eat as much papayas, granadillas and dragon fruit as possible on the other we were ready to go to Europe. 14 months in South America has been incredible but we were on for a change.Santa Elena, Colombia I think we were ready to leave the chaos, dirt and noise. At least for a while. We actually didn’t wait for our flight to do that, for the last couple of days we stayed in the middle of absolute nowhere an hour from Medellin. Santa Elena was a sleepy, green village in the forest. It was a different world. We stayed in a portable house which was just spectacular! Just us, nature and weird bugs.  Perfect scenery to contemplate our journey and the new chapter ahead of us.

Our flight to Europe was a long, long one. It stopped before it even started as they had to clean the plane. Nope, it absolutely couldn’t get cleaned before. It took 1.5 hr.

After many hours of movies, we reached Madrid and then Barcelona. Getting out of the airport we realized that 16 degrees in Europe is really cold. We were wondering if we were the only ones feeling that way because half of the tourists that we saw along the way were practically dressed for the beach. Possibly they thought that Spain is always hot or they were determined to get the best vacation pictures possible. Selfie sticks were everywhere and who didn’t have one could easily buy one on the streets. The local sellers are not screaming Gaudi anymore, now the only English words they know are “selfie stick”. And there are some pearls to photograph. Honestly for us everything was
beautiful, even food on the market. All well-presented and ready to buy. We were in heaven. We didn’t have to look
Barcelona, Spainat bananas 100 ways with rice. And there was no corn either. Just croissants, bread, ham, cheese, fruit and veg all of it was our dream coming true. After a nice dinner we could even flush the toilet paper. Only the prices were less of an excitement. The pearls of Gaudi’s architecture have reached just outrageous prices, unfinished Sagrada Familia costs 15 euros if you don’t want the view from the towers if you do 30… Batllo
house is now 22.5 euro and there are still plenty of people waiting in line. Even though it’s expensive Gaudi has created some marvelous architecture in Barcelona and it would be a sin not to see it so we did. The playful light in Sagrada Familia was just spectacular, Barcelona, Spain
incredible colors at every time of the day, I wonder how it will look in 2026 when it’s finished… and how much it will cost. Casa Bartllo was a masterpiece and walking around with kinda smartphones that were showing us how the house looked like when it was just built- insane idea. Obviously Bcn has so much more to offer except for Gaudi’s work and architecture in general. Shopping for example...:) unfortunately we didn’t manage to buy much. And now off to Galicia!!

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