Visit to Ipiales, Colombia

Nov. 11, 2022

First, in case you're curious, my wanderings around all the towns I am visiting are visible on my Strava profile. There's a link to it in the column to the right, or if you're on a phone or small tablet it's probably below these blog entries. So far, the towns are Buga, Popayán, Pitalito, and Mocoa. In each of those town I walked between 20 - 25 kilometers (12 - 15 miles) exploring them.

Ipiales, Colombia—elevation: 2950 meters, 9678 feet. Yes, that's right, more than 9600 feet elevation. In fact, Ipiales is one of the highest altitude cities in the world. There are higher towns and communities, but for cities, it ranks amoung the highest. According to a list in wikipedia, Ipiales is the 13th highest city in the world. Get this, in the top 20 highest cities according to that list, only 4 of them are not in South America. Bolivia has 5 of the highest, Perú has 6, Ecuador has 3, Colombia has 2. The other four are in China and Ethiopia. Anyway, back to Ipiales. Yeah, it's high, and it's friggin' cold! Yes, we're at 0° 49' which is very close to the ecuator, but because of the altitude, it's really cold here. Ipiales is located on the high plateau called "Tuquerres e Ipiales." The average high all year round is 15.7°C or 60°F; and the average low temp is 5.9°C or 42.6°F. That might not sound so cold to many people in the northern half of the world, but I've been living in the hot parts of Colombia the past 9 1/2 years and before that I was in southern Arizona (Tucson) for 7 years. So, I'm not used to these cold temps. And, being that I'm traveling with a backpack only, I don't have room for a fat coat. So I have a lightweight jacket. Today I wore a t-shirt, button-up shirt, and my jacket and was still cold. In the late afternoon it started to rain so I hurried back to my hotel and ordered dinner from their restaurnat—chicken fillet, fries, salad, and lemonade, all for the equivelant of US$3.06.

Today, after exploring more of the town, I went out to the famous Las Lajas church, you've gotta look at the pics in the photo album, it's an incredible place. I have pics before it got dark and after when they had the colored external lights turned on. To get there I took a taxi, it was 12000 pesos. At first, I asked a taxi driver what the cost was and he told me 15000, and I looked at his passenger and asked her, and she just smiled and nodded her head in agreement. Then I went and asked another taxi driver, and he said 15000 pesos. I said 10000 or 12000 is what I expected to pay, and he agreed to 12000. Then after my visit to the church I found a taxi and asked him how much for the ride back to town, and he said 20000 pesos. I said "Seriously? I got a ride here for 12000." Then the driver said 17000, and I said 15000. He didn't like that and repeated 17000. I said, "I'll find another taxi" and I started to walk away. He then said, "Wait, wait, okay, 15000." So it goes, sometimes you need to haggle a little, and it helps to try to get an idea of a typical cost before you start. Actually, I think the blog I read that said 10000 pesos for the taxi was a couple of years old.

Friday the 11th I will be crossing the border into Ecuador. My plan is to take a bus directly to Ibarra, a small city north of, and at a much lower elevation than, Quito. Quito is generally between 2800-2900 meters (around 9200 feet), while Ibarra is generally around 2200 meters (7200 feet). That may seem like a small difference but it is very noticable. In Ibarra the daytime afternoon temp always hovers around 75°F while Quito is around 65°F, nights are generally 58°F and 48°F, respectively. So, I'm planning on staying in Ibarra and visiting Quito.