This article is for those of you that would like to travel from Bogota to the coffee region of Colombia, whether that be to Armenia or Salento.
Travel from Bogota to the coffee region by bus
You can travel to the coffee region from Bogota by bus or by plane, depending on your preference. For us, the bus won the competition for a few reasons:
- We want to keep our footprint as low as we can on this trip so the bus will always be our first choice where it’s possible (and doesn’t take days!).
- The land route to the coffee regions sounded absolutely beautiful and we didn’t want to miss out on it.
- Although internal flights in Colombia aren’t massively higher in cost than buses, we want to save money where we can so it made sense to go for the cheaper option.
Why choose Bolivariano buses
Several services make the journey from Bogota’s main bus station to the coffee region in the west of Colombia and we were told that you can just rock up on the day without buying a ticket in advance if you aren’t too picky. For us though, it was really important that we traveled with a reputable company and we’d heard that Bolivariano were the best in the business. When faced with a possible ten hour journey we wanted to make sure we were in good hands and these guys sounded like the perfect match.
The benefits of using Bolivariano include:
- Comfortable buses, including great seats, TV screens, lunch break and a toilet.
- Designated stops so you know that two hours won’t be added to your journey while you pick people up from every street corner!
- A ticketing system for luggage in the hold (for safety).
- Better working conditions for their drivers (our service had two drivers so they could take breaks). Working conditions are really important to us, and breaks are obviously crucial to safe driving!
As Bolivariano are so well respected they book up in advance and we made sure to get our tickets two days before we wanted to travel so that we weren’t disappointed on the day. They do have a website, but when we tried to book tickets online their system wasn’t happy with international credit cards (we’ve heard this has happened to other people), so we had to go to Plan B and made the journey to the bus station to get the tickets in person.
Another consequence of Bolivariano having such a good status is that their fares are more expensive than some of the other companies. When we looked at the difference though, it was just a few English Pounds which seemed more than worth it to us for the added benefits. For a rather epic journey we paid 59,000 COP each (just over £15!) which is more than reasonable in our opinion!
Traveling from Bogota to Armenia by bus
We were told that the journey from Bogota to Armenia could take 9.5 hours, luckily for us however it was only 7.5! The timings are unpredictable, and it really just depends on the roads at the time. In the mountain pass near Quindio the roads are pretty narrow – just big enough for two lorries to ride side by side. We heard one story where a truck had overturned and it blocked the road for hours whilst all the other traffic was stuck where it was until the road was eventually cleared.
When you look at the map, it will seem pretty surprising that this journey takes such a long time – it’s only 280km! Maps can be deceiving however and when you are sat on the bus looking through the window you can completely understand. The first four or five hours we made great time and distance, but on arriving at the mountain pass it was a completely different story! The road is windy, with sharp blind turns and steep drops, and as the road is a major route connecting the capital city to its northern regions, it’s full of large trucks carrying cargo.
Traveling from Bogota to Salento – no direct bus
There is no direct service to Salento (this is the same across all the bus companies), so if you are wanting to make a stop in this popular place you will need to take the bus from Bogotá to the city of Armenia (as above) and change. The bus drops you at Armenia’s Terminal de Transporte and from there, there are regular services to Salento which take one hour and cost 4200 COP. We stopped in Armenia for a couple of nights before moving on to Salento.
I suffer from quite bad travel sickness so you can imagine that I was pretty wary about the journey ahead! I made sure I took a tablet and wore some little pulse point wristbands – it could’ve been these, the comfortable bus, or maybe even a matter of mind over matter, but I felt perfectly fine the whole way!
- We would really recommend completing this journey by bus and during the day (we got the 9.15am service from Bogotá) – just look at the views below!
- Driving by the light of day also makes the journey safer – it’s better for driving and road security in general is much better.
- We really liked Bolivariano and would definitely travel with them wherever possible – they are worth paying the little bit extra for.
- If you are wanting to travel straight to Salento from Bogota, you will need to change in Armenia. There are currently no direct buses.
You can find inspiration for what to do while you’re in the coffee region in our Introduction to Salento post. If you are travelling around Colombia, you might find our other Colombia posts useful, check them all out here.