I left the hotel at 6.50 and walked to the bus terminal. As I arrived to the terminal I bought a water and a coffee. While I was doing this a driver came over and asked if I was going to Bucaramanga (where I had to change) because the bus was leaving now. 7.05 the bus left the terminal in Pamplona and I thought I was very lucky and that I probably would reach San Gil not too late. Well, after 15 minutes it was a stop in the traffic (both ways) because of construction work and we were standing still for 50 minutes. Later we stopped for 30 minutes to eat. The road between Pamplona and Bucaramanga is going over the mountains and if you are sitting on the left side (leaving Pamplona) you can take photos with great views over both cities, but unfortunately I sat on the wrong side of the bus. After 4 h 45 minutes we arrived to the terminal in Bucaramanga. The ticket between Pamplona and Bucaramanga was 20 000 pesos (July 2008).
In Bucaramanga I waited almost an hour for the bus to San Gil. That ticket was 15 000 pesos and the journey took almost three hours. Once again the road is going over the mountains and there are many stunning views. There were a lot of trucks on the road and traffic was many times going very slow.
From the place where the bus stopped in San Gil a taxi to Macondo Guesthouse was 2600 pesos.
Photo taken of www.elportal.com.co/.../citytour
Bucaramanga has restriction time to the cars during the week. If you have your own car you have to take in mind this advice.
In Bucaramanga the taxi services is very save and cheap. You can take a taxi in the streets and it costs no more between US$ 1.5 to US$3.
The tip from above continues...
In El Banco the pick-up stopped outside the bus station. The next bus to Bucaramanga was leaving at 8am and it was with the company Cootransmagdalena and the ticket was 25 000 pesos(after some negotiation). It turned out it was not leaving from the station, but first we had to take a taxi to the river and from there a boat (chalupa) on to La Oreja (both taxi and boat fare was included in the price for the bus ticket). During the boat ride the boat stopped at a military control and all men in the boat had to go out (not the oldest ones) to have their id-cards checked. In the future the buses will leave from El Banco as they are now building bridges to link El Banco with the other side of the river.
At 9.15 the bus left La Oreja. The first hour, before we reached the main road, was very bumpy. So it is not strange that we later had to stop for half an hour to have a tyre changed and the bus fixed. The landscape in the beginning of the ride was flat, but then there was a lot of mountains. The bus arrived at the terminal in Bucaramanga at 15.45, so the bus ride took 6,5 hours. The terminal in Bucaramanga is situated between Bucaramanga and Girón and you can easily take a local bus to both places. I took a bus to Carrera 15 in Bucaramanga and it was 1050 pesos.
It was a long journey with a lot of changes and using different kind of transport, but I enjoyed it! It was more interesting than to sit on the same bus for the whole time.
It is not easy to go from Mompós to Bucaramanga. The day before you leave you must call (Elias 685 5109) to reserve a seat in a jeep to El Banco. They didn’t call from my hotel (they didn’t call from Simon’s hotel either), but there are plenty of shops in the town where you can make a phone call for 200 pesos a minute. I was told I was going to be picked up at the hotel at 4.30am. In the morning this had changed to 5am. At 4.50 the car came and then we drove around in Mompós to pick up more passengers. Half an hour later we passed my hotel again and soon after we left Mompós.
To sit inside the pick-up, where there was air-condition, it was 22 000 pesos. We sat outside in the back were the seats were 20 000 pesos (July 2007). The road was very bumpy and dusty, and early in the morning it was a bit cold, so a sweater can be good to have (the backpacks had been put on the roof).It took a little bit more than two hours to El Banco.
The tip turned out to be too long so it continues below...
It is easy to travel to Girón from Bucaramanga. The buses are frequent and takes about 30 minutes. They are not leaving from where my guidebook said but from Carrera 14. Coming back to Bucaramanga the buses stop at Carrera 15. In Girón I was interested to visit the old city and when I saw the church tower coming close I asked the bus driver where to get off. The bus ride cost 1050 pesos (July 2007) all days except Sundays when the price is 1200 pesos.
I took a city bus to the terminal outside Bucaramanga from Calle 15/Carrera 35 and as it was Sunday the ticket was 1200 pesos. At the terminal a kind man from the city bus wanted to help me buy a ticket for Tunja (where you can change buses). He went to the company Omega which is a good company and they have an office near the entrance. They had a bus that should have left ten minutes before, at seven, so I had to hurry up. The ticket was 35 000 pesos (and at this moment it was not possible for me to negotiate about the price). The bus was a big bus with very cold air-condition and seats you can almost make beds of.
Along the road we stopped as there had been an accident and later we stopped for lunch for almost half an hour.
Suddenly, when we were in Barbosa, I and another passenger had to change bus to a small crowded minibus as the bus was continuing to Bogota via Chiquinquira (and money was handed over between the buses for the tickets). We arrived in Tunja 7,5 hours after we left Bucaramanga (the woman in the office told me it was going to take six hours when I asked her).
In Tunja a minibus left immediatly for Villa de Leyva, but it soon stopped in another neighbourhood to wait for the bus to fill up. With the waiting time it took a bit more than an hour to Villa de Leyva. The ticket was 4500 pesos (July 2007). In Villa de Leyva the bus terminal is within walking distance from Plaza Mayor.
The approach to the city offers incredible vistas of red mountains and canyons around the city. The airport is small and consists of a single airstrip. Avianca flies several one-hour flights each day from Bogota on turboprops, and other airlines connect to other cities.
As in the rest of Colombia, taxis are plentiful and cheap. A ride from the airport to the city is about COP20K, less to Jiron which is right next to the airport. The road from the airport offers breathtaking scenery, but is dangerous. Pick an older driver who will be more likely to drive with sanity.