For those of us that live in relatively flat, urban areas, it’s easy to become complacent about transport. Cars, buses, bikes and walking rule the roost, and their authority isn’t questioned.
In various parts of Colombia, however, drivers and transport experts are forced to use their initiative to deal with numerous variances, such as hills that are so steep they’re almost vertical, or the need to attach huge speakers and a stereo system to your two-wheeled vehicle.
This, friends, is transport: Colombian style.
1. Willys in the Colombian Coffee Triangle
Used in the Coffee Region of Colombia many years ago to transport fruit, coffee, humans and other commodities around in the steep, unforgiving hills of Antioquia. These Willy Jeeps might look unsuspecting at first, but just wait until you see them in action. They’re designed to take huge amounts of weight and, therefore, can actually ride in an almost upright position. You can still grab a Willy (teehee) if you travel to the Coffee Zone, and head to places around Salento for a neat little trek.
2. Chivas in Cartagena
While buses themselves are a pretty unique experience in Colombia, nothing compares to the chiva, which has become one of the symbols of Colombia. Traditionally, like Willys, they were intended to escort people and produce around. A disproportionate amount of people would crowd into the buses to get around, while chickens and much more crowded the aisles and the roof.
Today chickens have been replaced by vallenato bands and bottles of rum, as the buses have become akin to party buses. They’re a great way to do a tour of Cartagena as they show you the city by night, and take you to some of the hottest places in town.
3. BiciTaxi in Tolu
Do you like reggaeton? Doesn’t matter in Tolu, since whichever direction you go in you’ll find yourself facing an onslaught of huge stereo systems blasting out the bow dem riddem at full volume. But this isn’t just limited to households and shops, as you might expect if you’ve been on vacation to Colombia’s Caribbean Coast elsewhere. No, reggaeton is pumped out from BiciTaxis going in every direction, meaning the mess of noise is little more than a blur. These BiciTaxis are a cheap way of getting around in Tolu, and can be found all over town.
4. MetroCable in Medellín
Unique because the MetroCable isn’t just an impressive transport system – it’s also a progressive and successful initiative to bring together communities in Medellín and make the main city easier to access for people in vulnerable communities. The MetroCable has greatly reduced unemployment and other afflictions previously rife in the city, and continues to be a badge of honour for Medellín and her residents. If you travel to Medellín, it’s also a great opportunity to get some spectacular views of the city.
5. Funicular in Bogotá
Although a new pathway recently opened to the top of Bogotá‘s Monserrate mountain, those of us who want a little bit of energy when we get to the top will much prefer the Funicular. It doesn’t just conserve energy though, it also allows you to slowly observe the view of Colombia’s sprawling capital as you get further and further up into the mountain. And once you’re up there? Some of the most amazing views of the city you’re likely to see.