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Published: June 28th 2014
Our bus from San Gil arrived in the Bucaramanga terminal at 11:55am. The bus terminal is quite far out of the town centre so we caught a bus in. The arrivals section in the bus terminal is a road in the middle of the terminal. Go up a level and out and there will be another road with taxis on. Go right and there is a bus stop. We caught a bus with 'Centro / CR 17' on the front. It cost COP$1,850 each, go through the turnstile on the bus and pay the driver as you get on. It took about 30 mins to get to CR17 and we got out when it reached about calle 30. Press the stop button above the back door to make the driver stop. Where We Stayed
Hotel Amparo - calle 31 and carrera 21. COP$18,000 for a double room with TV and private bathroom. Although it was cheap I wouldn't recommend staying here. The lock in the door didn't work and the room was locked with a padlock. This meant that the door was never shut completely when we went out. There were a few undesirable
looking characters there and we saw kids taking the slats out of the window on the room opposite and climbing in (the windows went on to an internal courtyard and had no bars on) so we didn't think our stuff was really safe there. The toilet was flushable with a bucket you could fill from the tap outside. Also it was really noisy when we were staying there through the night. They had internet in the reception area.
Hotel FloridaBlanca - calle 31 and carrera 20. COP$24,000 for a double room with TV and private bathroom. Much nicer and more secure than the previous place we stayed and just down the road. Internet had a weak signal in the room. There is a reasonably priced restaurant downstairs. What We Did
VISITED PARQUE NACIONAL DEL CHICAMONCHA
We passed by this canyon on the bus trip from San Gil and felt it warranted more than a look out of a bus window. Aparently it is deeper than the Grand Canyon and has one of the longest cable car systems in the world.
We caught a bus there from the Bucaramanga bus terminal. There are buses
to the terminal from carrera 18 and cost COP$1,850. The bus drives past the terminal then loops back and stops there.
We were heading there before catching a night bus out so we stored our bags at the terminal. The storage is in the arrivals section, down and to the left as you enter the terminal. It cost COP$2,500 for each bag to store for up to 24 hours. You will need to show your passport when storing and collecting your bag.
The buses to San Gil which go past the national park are in module 2 which is to the right as you enter the terminal. The ticket offices are upstairs and we went with ContraSanGil which cost COP$10,000 each way. Once you have your ticket go down to exit 1 on the bottom level and out onto the bus. The bus left at 12:45pm. It then stopped at the edge of town for 15mins to pick up passengers. It arrived at the national park at 2:35pm.
Entry to the park is COP$42,000 including a return cable car trip or COP$17,000 admission only. There are nice views from the waterpark they are building over the road
This is the water park they are building oppsite the canyon park. This is where you can catch a bus back to Bucaramanga.
and also from the 360 viewing platform inside the park. There is a memorial and museum inside the park which you can visit for free but other attractions such as a zip line are charged. The cable car ride is about 1/2hour each way and goes down to the river in the canyon and up the other side where you can get out and see the view from the other side.
As we were leaving the park a woman was selling tickets for a bus to Bucaramanga for COP$12,000 but it didn't stop at the terminal. We crossed over the road and waited for a bus to come past. They were pretty frequent but a couple went past full. We caught a bus at 5:25pm and got to the terminal at 6:55pm. We paid the driver as we got out COP$10,000 each.
* This is an example of when it would have been better to plan our trip. We didn't know about the canyon until we drove past it on the bus from San Gil. It would have been better to get a bus to the canyon from San Gil, get out there and see the sights, catch
The massive reclining seats
This was on the bus to Santa Marta. You don't want to be stuck behind someone who puts their seat all the way back.
a bus to Bucaramanga and then get a night bus out as Bucaramanga City is nothing special. I believe according to the park website that there is bag storage at the national park but I didn't see it. *
The National Park is closed on Mon and Tue from July onwards apart from publlic holidays. About Bucaramanga
Bucaramanga is a sprawling City with not many attractions that we saw. It is not worth a visit unless you need to catch up on some shopping. Carrera 17 has a lot of shops and Calle 35 is a pedestrian shopping street. We arrived on a public holiday on Monday 23rd June and all shops etc were closed from lunchtime.
There is a tourist police department in the children's park on calle 30 and carrera 26 which have maps and one English speaking officer.
When we were in Bucaramanga we didn't want to walk around after dark. Where We Ate
There is a big market on carrera 16 and calle 34 with an overpriced food court on the top floor.
There is a supermarket opposite the market on carrera 16 which seemed to be cheaper than the big Exito on carrera 17 and calle 45.
There are several places around selling empanadas, about COP$2,000 for a big chicken one and a drink. Where We Went Next
We caught a night bus to Santa Marta. As you enter the terminal go left to module 1 for the company ticket offices. Berlinas offered us a ticket for COP$70,000 and Brasilia for COP$65,000 so we went with Brasilia. Both left out of gate 7 at the far left of the terminal.
We wanted to get a later rather than earlier bus so we wouldn't arrive in Santa Marta too early. Our bus was due to leave at 10:15pm.
In the bus terminal it costs COP$900 to use the toilet and the food is quite expensive.
After the bus is announced show your ticket at the gate office (about 15mins before the bus is due to leave). Bags go under the bus and you get a bag tag. The driver will come around and collect the ticket from you once you are sat on the bus before the bus leaves. Our bus left at 10:25pm. There was a toilet at the back of the bus and they showed one movie in Spanish. Of course the bus was cold so cover up.
We arrived in Santa Marta bus terminal at 8:30am.
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