Colombia days 1-2: beginnings in Bogota + finally feeling ready

I have about a million thoughts to cover from my first two days in Colombia.

If I’m honest, I originally didn’t have the highest expectations for Bogota. I’m not the biggest fan of big cities and so I decided to stay in Bogota for only one full day to relax after flying from SF and then jump to the next destination. I was thinking one day wasn’t enough to fully dive into the experience, and that my trip would really start in the next destination…

Boy was I so, SO wrong.

My short time in Bogota absolutely exceeded my expectations by light years. So many amazing experiences lit a fire in me to be pumped for the rest of this trip, and best of all, it was shared with some really brilliant people who I got so close to in a short 24 hours. Let’s get to it:

Day 1: Biking around Bogota + soccer match + super fun night out with hostel friends

After a long travel day, I slept for 10 hours and woke up feeling refreshed, ready to make the most of my one day in Bogota. I wanted to do something active in the morning, and I read some travel blogs recommending a bike tour – what a fun way to learn about Bogota and see as much of the city as possible.

The tour itself was SO much fun. We saw five different neighborhoods in Bogota while learning the history behind different buildings; we even had a few authentic food tastings. I’m so glad I did this tour right at the beginning of my trip because learning more about Colombian history definitely makes me appreciate the culture more.

One cool observation was that the different neighborhoods in Bogota vary so much: cute, colorful houses in the town center, tall skyscrapers filling the downtown, graffiti walls & prostitutes in Santa Fe…fascinating

We got to try different smoothies with fruits I literally never heard of before. They were so fresh and delicious!

Thank GOD for my tour guide, Luis. Biking in Bogota is pretty frightening with all the cars and motorbikes, and he did such a good job directing traffic and guiding us through the city, while sharing some amazing stories. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to bike by myself!

Some ice cream never hurts 😊

An amazing part of Bogota – THE GRAFFITI. There were so many beautiful paintings on every corner.

Grabbed some arepas down the street for lunch. Only $2!

What an amazing morning! I was pretty tired afterwards so went back to my hostel to rest, and also to book things for the next day. One trade-off to this whole spontaneous day-by-day method of traveling is that I do need to take time during the trip to prepare and book things.

As I was sitting on the couches, I met some new friends who mentioned they were going to a soccer game and asked if I wanted to join – I thought why not! I didn’t have any plans for the rest of the day and seeing a soccer match was definitely a locals experience. Our crew turned out to be a big one, filled with backpackers from England, Wales, Germany, France, Australia, U.S, Peru…little did I know this crew would end up being my “Bogota fam” as we were about to have an amazing rest of the day (and night) together…

Side note: Of the backpackers I met in Bogota, all the girls were traveling solo and all the guys were in groups. Interesting 😉. I just loved instant connection among the female backpackers – we definitely gravitated towards each other and bonded quickly.

Pre-match, our big group grabbed drinks near the stadium.

Then it was game time!!

This was my first ever soccer game, and it was quite an experience. Being in the huge, lit-up soccer stadium felt pretty surreal – it could fit 40,000 people! We were cheering for the Bogota Billionaires as this was a championship match for a national tournament. There was so much energy and passion filling the entire stadium.

We stood up cheering on the team, while bonding with each other some more.

These fans were legit jumping and shouting their local cheers for 90 minutes straight…I was amazed. I have never seen such passionate fans for any sport.

After the game, our group had a lot of energy and we decided to make a night of it! For most everyone, it was either their first or last day in Colombia (I guess I wasn’t alone in using it as a one-day jumping point😉 ), and there was a “go big or go home” feel for our first or last nights.

We started off by drinking some more at our hostel. We pumped up some music and even got salsa dancing into the mix! Everyone was so open and genuine – I don’t think I’ve laughed so much in a long time. At one point, Camille from Paris turned to me and said “I can’t believe I just met you guys today…it feels like so much longer.” True that.

We continued the fun by going to a dancing bar nearby our hostel. I loved this bar since it was filled with locals having their typical night out. Our group broke off a bit but I ended the night chilling some more back at the hostel with the guys from Wales. What an amazing first day.

Day 2: Travel day + logistics in Leticia + parrots at sunset

I woke up in a lot of pain…my next few destinations are more chill/nature-y so I’m glad I got the partying out of my system in a big city like Bogota 😊. My morning was focused on recovery and just enjoying some final downtime in this wonderful hostel.

Then, I had some breakfast with some of yesterday’s crew. Most of us had flights that day and so we said our goodbyes, and I was off to the airport first.

Is it weird to say that I already miss these friends from Bogota? Yes, it’s probably weird. I feel like the comradery among backpacking makes people more open and makes you feel closer with people faster. I’m leaving Bogota feeling exactly like how I feel every time I leave a city: not quite ready to leave and wishing I had more time. But as much as I would like to stay for the people, as a destination my heart feels ready to move on. There’s just so many more amazing places to see. That’s definitely a hard part of backpacking – saying goodbye to people knowing that you need to be true to yourself and experience the next adventure.

I decided my next stop will be the Amazon Rainforest!! This isn’t on most people’s Colombia itineraries, but I’ve been dreaming of going to the Amazon since I was a kid, and couldn’t NOT go if I was already in South America.

I landed in Leticia in the afternoon and immediately felt at home. Leticia is an adorable small village on the triple-border of Colombia, Brazil and Peru. The whole town is dirt streets filled with cute shops and restaurants, natives riding motorbikes, while literally being surrounded by the rainforest. SO much my vibe. It’s used as the jumping point to the Amazon Rainforest as a lot of tours operators and hostels are based here.

After checking into my hostel, I went straight to finding a tour for the rainforest. I walked up and down the streets of Leticia and ended up finding a company that had a 3-day tour leaving the next morning – SOLD.

Afterwards, I spent some time shopping around for supplies for the tour. I mentioned this before but I definitely didn’t realize how much time you sacrifice on the trip when you’re not prepared! In the midst of all the errands, I did stop by Santander Park to watch the sunset. This was a site unlike any other, as thousands of parrots fly into this specific park from the Amazon Rainforest every single day at sunset to sleep for the night – the chirping sounds and chaos was an amazing site.

By the time I ate dinner, packed for the tour, and wrote this blog post, it was time for bed! Definitely a logistics-heavy day, but I’m beyond excited to completely leave the planning up to my tour guide for the next 3 days, unplug from technology, and just enjoy in the rainforest.

Now for some initial reflection…

If you can believe it, I was actually not very excited for this trip before coming here. My mind and heart were still focused on things back home, and on the plane ride here I was having lots of anxiety about whether this trip was the right decision, so much so that I seriously contemplated cutting this trip short. I had to give myself a pep talk, telling myself: I chose to be here. Some part of me wanted to experience this and I wasn’t going to leave until I found I why. And I DEFINITELY wasn’t going to cut my trip short before it even began. Just give it a chance, I told myself…

But wow, how my perspective has taken a complete 180…and I owe it to this first chapter in Bogota making me feel emotionally ready – I finally feel present and excited for these next two weeks. I know there are probably going to be some challenges and lonely moments, but these just make me more grateful for every genuine interaction, beautiful scenery, lesson learned, personal growth, spontaneous moments…that’s exactly why I love to travel solo. I am so beyond grateful for Bogota for reminding me of that.
And so begins an amazing 2 weeks in Colombia…😊


6 thoughts on “Colombia days 1-2: beginnings in Bogota + finally feeling ready

  1. I’ve been really curious about your trip. We always see cheap flights to Bogota, but I’m leery about traveling to Colombia because of what I read. Do you feel okay about walking around alone? Do you speak Spanish? Or is it easy to get by with English?

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    1. Colombia is actually super safe to travel, despite its violent history. It’s changed a lot in the past few decades and they’re very tourist-friendly! As far as Spanish…I don’t speak any and it’s been pretty difficult, not gonna lie, but I wouldn’t let that stop you from going – I’ve fallen in love with Colombia!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You Can get by with little problem as many people especially the younger have a high education mark especially in Bogota or Medellín but older folks in rural areas will Hardly speak a lick. Depending on what experience you’re after , learn a little so you can unroll some of these peoples personalities.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bogota also blew my expectations. From all the negativity of what other travelers told me I was shocked with what I uncovered. Although I’m not a big city fan, Bogota has a pulse you gotta let creep on you. Glad you saw the positives of the city too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed Bogota too! Agreed, it has a lot to offer for a day or two but don’t think much longer is necessary, maybe that’s where the negativity from other backpackers come in (those who stay longer)

      Liked by 1 person

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