Once we got back from our five-day trek to the Lost City, we collapsed into our boutique hotel in downtown Santa Marta, and never really got up again. The weather was incredibly oppressive and the humidity finally gave way to rain – excellent timing given that we'd only just left the rainforest – but when I sat down to plan our next move away from the mind-bending Caribbean climate, I just couldn't decide what to do.
The challenge is that Colombia is a very large country with a lot of places that sound worth visiting, but connecting them up in a sensible manner is difficult, especially if you have a finite amount of time and don't get along too well with really long bus journeys. From the Caribbean coast, there are two main routes you can take: you can either head down the eastern side of the country towards Bogotá, or you can go down the centre towards Medellín, but in both cases the distances are huge. The problem is that the bus journey from Santa Marta to Medellín takes a whopping 15 hours, and it's an even more mind-boggling 18 hours to Bogotá, though at least with the latter there are some places of interest on the way (though the first one is still a good nine hours from Santa Marta). Whichever way you look at it, that's a lot of bus time.
Luckily, it turns out that internal flights in Colombia can be incredibly cheap, especially if you hunt through the Avianca website for last-minute deals (Avianca being the national carrier of Colombia). All you need to do is feel a little exhausted from exploring the rainforest, and have your credit card and an internet connection to hand, and all of a sudden you can find yourself holidaying rather than travelling. It turns out that it's a mere 70-minute flight from the Caribbean coast to Medellín, and when I looked at the dates that we thought we might want to travel, I found that we could fly from Cartagena for just £18 each. Sure, that would mean taking a four-hour shuttle from Santa Marta to Cartagena before hopping on the plane, but that's still a lot better than 15 hours on the bus. Even better, I found that if we then wanted to fly from Medellín to Bogotá, that would take us just 45 minutes instead of nine hours on the bus, and we could do that for just £28 each.
So we've ditched all those long bus journeys for flights, and our transport is now completely booked up to the end of our six-month trip, which ends in Bogotá in a couple of weeks. Yes, I know it's a bit slack and it does mean we're going to miss all the places in between, but after fighting our way through Central America, sailing across the Caribbean and rediscovering the Lost City, I think we've earned the right to take it easy in Colombia. And I'll have a gin and tonic with my in-flight peanuts, thank you very much.