- Komen Yuk!
During my stay in Colombia, I joined several walking tours eager to understand more about the country, the people, and their cultures.
I believe that the best way to learn about a country’s history and cultures is by joining walking tours; the reasons why I joined 6 walking tours during my stay in Colombia which I really enjoyed. Furthermore, as I just started a walking tour in Jakarta, I learned more about the art of arranging one.
1. Get Up and Go Colombia (IG: @getupandgocolombia)
Get Up and Go Colombia offers 2 types of walking tours: a regular walking tour around the city’s central and a trekking tour to a hill called Cerro de Las Tres Cruces or Hill of the Three Crosses located at the west side of the city.
The city central’s tour was interesting as I learned a lot about the history and culture of Popayán, the capital of Cauca Department (from Spanish’s departemento), Southwest of Colombia. It turned out several presidents of Colombia were born in the city and we passed their residences during the tour. The best part of Popayán’s Central was the White City or La Ciudad Blanca. The complex of gorgeous colonial buildings was in white hence the name.
What also made the tour interesting was we stopped at a nice local restaurant that served empanadas and salpicon, a juice of blackberry with chunks of soursop. It was refreshing and delicious! We finished the tour by walking up the hill of The Tulcan and watched the sunset together. I seriously think nothing could top the ending of this walking tour. The sunset-watching from the top of a hill was amazing!
Th Get Up and Go Colombia tour is available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, which run twice a day at 10AMand 4PM. Of course, if you want to watch the sunset, you have to join the latter.
The second tour, to the Hill of Three Crosses, is only available every Sundays at 10AM. The trekking tour started at the city center then walking up directly to the Hill of Three Crosses. It was a short yet interesting walk through trees and bushes. At the end of trekking you would see an amazing view as the top of the hill stands 3 crosses that bless Popayán city. Don’t forget to try the empanaditas with their sour-spicy sauce when you arrive on top. They’re tasty!
Most of Get Up and Go Colombia’s guides are volunteers and what I love about them was the spirit! You can feel the friendliness the minute you meet them. They are all local residents, so they know about the city and culture.
Free Walking Tour Popayan: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10AM. and 4PM
Free Trekking Tour: Sunday at 10AM
Meeting Point: Parque Caldas, Oficina de Turismo.
2. Real City Tour (www.realcitytours.com)
I have heard that Medellín Free Walking Tour is the best walking tour in Colombia before I registered, so I couldnt wait to join. I also tried to contact the management to see if I could talk and learn from them. Fortunately, the founder himself, Pablo, agreed to meet me before the tour! Talking to Pablo was truly inspiring as he talked with a lot of passion about developing walking tours in Medellín, the capital of Antioquia Department. He gave tips, insights, and points of views that enriched me which I am truly grateful for.
Pablo told me, "There will be people telling you to do things, f*ck them!"
This tour lasted 4 hours – the longest I’ve ever joined – but it wasn’t boring at all! Everything was organized professionally. I like that they printed our names and checked whether we had registered or not, and then they asked us to put our emails on the list at their tablet that allowed them to send our group photos and a link to submit our feedback post the tour. Lastly, they gave us a piece of paper at the end of the tour for suggestions and tips. Everything was well-organized.
I admire my guide, Mary. She was energetic and insightful. She explained the complicated history of Medellín and Colombia in a more simple way, responded to questions nicely, and gave directions clearly. And when she explained about the history, her emotions were so raw that made us also felt the sadness, anger, depression, pity, but at the same time also feeling of hope, proud, and joy. Kudos to that!
Medellín Free Walking Tour: Monday – Friday at 9AM & 2.19PM
While on Saturday is at 10AM
Meeting point: Ticket booth of Alpujarra Metro Station
3. Free Street Art Tour (facebook: Streetart Cartagena)
I found the poster of the tour while walking around the area where I stayed, at the Getsemani, Cartagena City --a port on the northern coast of Colombia. The poster wasn’t really interesting, but since I am learning about organizing a walking tour, I decided to join it. The guide was Christophe, a young Belgium guy. I underestimated him for a moment as he wasn’t a local but how wrong I was.
He knew a lot about what was going on in Cartagena, especially in Getsemani, said to be the hippiest neighbourhood in the city. He took us to some notable drawings on the walls of Getsemani and explained about the artists, the philosophy, the meanings behind the drawings and everything in between. He was knowledgeable and pointed out that a lot of the paintaings were inspired by the local protests towards the pricing policy of properties in Cartagena.
Chrisophe explained that he started the tour 8 months ago, and it was still growing. And I believed him as it really was interesting! Arts always represent certain community’s struggles and way of living.
Free Street Art Tour: Every Day at 10AM
Meeting Point: Plaza de Trinidad.
4. Free Tour Cartagena (www.freetourcartagena.com)
Cartagena is so beautiful, and there are so many things to do in the city. However, I recommend joining the history walking tour to understand what had happened in the past, the traces that had been left for us to discover.
My guide, Paulina, is actually from Bogota but she has lived in Cartagena for a long time. She is a lively, chatty, and lovely person who explained about the history in an interesting way. She also has postcards for anyone who could answer her trivial questions correctly. I got one, by the way. Paulina also recommended a lot of venues based on her personal preferences, not because she got commission for doing so, which was very nice of her.
The tour lasted 2 hours. I joined the afternoon tour which ended a bit late because we wanted to enjoy the sunset from a wall that surrounded Cartagena, and the nice Paulina of course granted our request.
Free Walking Tour Cartagena:
Old City Walking Tour: Monday – Friday at 10AM & 4PM (English & Spanish)
Getsemani Walking Tour: Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat at 10.30AM & 3PM (English)
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