Nearing the end of our incredible time in Colombia, we had one final destination to reach: Bogota. Although the journey itself was ultimately rather simple, figuring the path took some research. Given Salento’s popularity with visitors and it’s proximity to Bogota, we were quite surprised at the lack of information. We found dozens of posts on bus routes coming towards us, just nothing explaining how to actually get from Salento to Bogota. Although common sense suggests simply following one of those routes in opposite order would suffice, we’ve had some unfortunate experiences where it just wasn’t the case.
After a bit of digging, and several questions to locals around town, we had our answer. It seems that since the majority of visitors fly into Bogota, nearly all of Salento’s visitors arrive from there and then head to Medellin. If like us, you are making the trip south from Jardin (which we highly recommend!) we’ve saved you the time. This post will lay out the easiest way to get to Bogota from Salento, in Colombia’s breathtaking coffee region.
Salento to Armenia
Since Salento is a relatively small town, there are no direct buses to or from any major cities. Armenia is the largest city in the region, so you’ll need to get there first. It’s also worth noting that getting to Armenia is also required if you’re leaving from Filandia.
This is the simplest part of the journey from Salento to Bogota but can be a little tricky depending on how you arrived in the first place. Many buses drop visitors off in the main square, but the terminal to Armenia is down the hill on the far north edge of town.
Buses to Armenia costs 4000 COP and leaves Salento roughly every 20 minutes until around 10 pm. The bus itself is a commuter for a lot of locals, so the ride time varies depending on how busy it is, but should be around 45 minutes. The bus stops many times through Armenia but the bus terminal you want is at the end of the route.
Armenia Bus Station
Inside the terminal, you’ll find several companies selling tickets to Bogota. They have a sign in the window written ‘Bogota’. Prices range from 35000 to 45000 COP with varying timetables. The first bus leaves 5 am and the last bus leaves at somewhere around 10:30 pm. When we arrived in Armenia at the station there were 3 companies selling bus tickets, we asked every ticket vendor and took the cheapest one.
If you missed out on one final meal at one of these great restaurants, don’t worry. The station itself isn’t massive but there are several small shops and simple restaurants to grab a bite to eat or a few snacks for the road. Like other major routes in Colombia, the buses here are top-notch; nearly all will have toilets, air conditioning and comfortable seats.
We suggest taking the overnight bus for three reasons. First, you’re saving money on one night’s accommodation, which is always a bonus. This is also the reason we take a night bus almost every time we have the chance. Second, due to Bogota traffic, travelling at night can easily cut two or three hours from the overall journey.
We chose the last bus of the evening, simply because it was the cheapest. It left Armenia at 10:30 and arrived in Bogota around 6 am. Unfortunately, the sleep wasn’t as good as we’d have liked, the roads leaving Salento are steep and full of sharp corners. Kylee is prone to motion sickness, so she always makes sure to carry ginger candies or motion sickness tablets with her – she was glad she brought them for this one!
Also, dress in layers; the air-con can become a little overwhelming on Colombian buses!
Don’t Just Grab any Cab…
Upon arrival in Bogota, you’ll probably want to sit down for a nice hot coffee and a buñuelo before continuing onto your accommodation. The Bogota terminal isn’t the greatest station in the country, but there are a few small eateries similar to those in Armenia.
One last important thing to note before you head out into town. Taxis in Bogota are notoriously problematic. Cab drivers are known to scam passengers in varying ways, ranging from tampering with meters to outright armed robbery. Avoid picking up taxis on the street. From the Bogota bus station, head to the taxi booth, they’ll set you up with a taxi on site. The drivers are registered here and will avoid trying anything because they’re being tracked. Just be wary even here, a taxi driver approached us – the only obvious foreigners – while in line to the booth and offered to take us for cheaper. When we declined he walked away without speaking to anyone else. Though we’ll never no if he was planning something, it certainly stank of scam.
Your best bet is to stick with the taxi booth or use an app like Tappsi. There are several available for local taxis that work the same way as the booth service. Uber is another great option.
There, you’ve made it from Salento to Bogota! Don’t let that last bit about the taxi’s scare you off, Bogota is a phenomenal city!