Usually, we don’t talk much about our bus trips, but we talk about them if it was particularly funny or trying, like the one between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia.
After a month in Medellín, we decide to spend our last 10 days in Colombia in Bogotá, to facilitate our travels for our trip to the Amazon, then our next stop in Panama. As we were much too late for the plane tickets, we choose the bus, much longer but more economical.
I ask JB to choose us a “luxury” bus for tourists, with Wifi, touch screen like the one we took from Salento to Medellín, and two companies with a very good rating caught our attention:
- Expreso Bolivariano (between 65,000COP and 75,000COP/person)
- Flota Magdalena (between 60 000COP and 80 000COP/person)
Not having been able to pay for the tickets on the Expreso Bolivariano website (foreign credit card that does not pass), JB opted for Flota Magdalena and bought the tickets via a third party platform for a “Premium” bus.
Here are the proposed schedules: 6:20 am: 8:40 am (recommended); 10 am; 12:30 pm; 3:30 pm; 5 pm; 7:30 pm; 8:30 pm; 9:45 pm (recommended) and 11:30 pm
Unfortunately, the plan indicated on the site (2 floors) does not correspond at all to the bus we take (one floor only).
The logos praising the features of the bus reassure us a lot…
- acondicionado area: the air conditioning is at full blast, we have super cold. The locals seem to be used to it, they all have a blanket with them. Thermal shock in perspective when we get out of the bus. Fortunately that we planned a small vest
- Wifi : about correct except when you don’t receive 4G in the mountains (inevitable). And the route is almost only made of mountains 😀
- Banos : a (dirty) toilet is on board, and with many turns, it is impossible to use them properly. And unfortunately, there is only one stop in the middle of the day (to eat) and at the end of the trip, an unbearable smell emanates from the toilets – while there is still 1h of travel time left..
- GPS : apparently it’s a “security” argument, the bus is tracked during the trip. Concretely it doesn’t change anything in terms of comfort.
- TV : a TV in the middle of the bus, which broadcasts two very bad movies with a sound volume much too high. The driver chose a horror movie (impossible not to jump because of the screams) and an action movie (impossible not to jump because of the shots)
- Asientos recl inable: the chairs are reclining, and that’s good!
- JB thought he saw the logo of a “USB plug” somewhere, but nay, fortunately we have our external batteries, otherwise it would have been boring
As everywhere in Colombia, the journey planned for 8h turned into 11h – due to numerous works, the road with only 2 lanes and massive departures on vacations (3-day weekend on the horizon).
On the way to the bathroom, a Colombian woman sitting right in front of the toilet asks me a strange question:“no sabe a donde vamos?“(don’t you know where we are going?). I tried to ask how come she doesn’t know where we are going. Does she have a ticket, what is she doing here on this bus if she doesn’t know her destination… but we can’t communicate because she doesn’t answer any of my questions. Por qué? The mystery remains, I have seen her get off at the terminus (Bogota) like me, and I still wonder why she asked me that question.
Around 1:30 pm, we die of hunger and the few people who resisted the urge to go to the bus toilets show their impatience. The driver finally stops and gives us a 20 minutes break. Thinking that it was exactly 20 minutes, we do not dare to order food for fear that the service is too long. When we understood that the driver was landing to eat too and that we had much more than 20 minutes (almost an hour in the end), it was already too late to order. So we only ate 2 cakes, 2 snacks and a Coke 🙁 #fail
Fortunately, it should be pointed out that the luggage was taken care of with great care. We each have a personalized ticket and the driver checks that we have the right ticket to retrieve the right luggage, which reduces the risk of theft.
Moreover, the landscapes are sumptuous, the mountains higher and even wilder than what we have seen between Salento and Medellín.
These inconveniences aren’t unique to Flota Magdalena, it is the standing observed on the Medellin – Bogota route. After information, the bus Expreso Bolivariano isn’t better either (there are just some extra holds) but the bad movies are still there, the toilets smell too… In short, this trip isn’t recommended for those who can’t sleep in the bus, or who have a small bladder. Speaking of toilets, PQ isn’t provided so plan to take a little bit of it in your backpack.
If you still want to save money (not taking the plane I mean), and travel in better conditions I recommend you rather take a night bus with 2 floors (and thus save a night in a hotel)
- Expreso Bolivariano: Duo Bus it’s called, which leaves at 22:01 and 22:45 from the Terminal del Norte in Medellín
- Flota Magdalena: Double Premium, which leaves at 21:45 from the Terminal del Norte in Medellín
Salitre Terminal => Downtown Bogotá
After 11 hours by bus, the easiest and cheapest way is to take a cab from the Bogota terminal. Cabs in Colombia systematically put on the meter without having to ask. We paid 13,500COP (with caps) for 6.2km. A trip to the city center (10km) should cost a little more, within the 4€ maximum, it isn’t too expensive either.
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