When heading south through Colombia from Salento there are a few logical next places to visit Cali, Bogota or Tatacoa. All routes are not accessed directly and involve the same stopping point, Armenia. In this guide, I will describe how to get from Salento to Cali via Armenia.
Getting to Salento bus station
Terminal buses Salento is located just on the outskirts of Salento on the Via a Salento to the North of the town, easily walkable from centrally located properties. There is no need to buy tickets in advance as the buses from Salento to Armenia leave every 20 minutes.
Bus from Salento to Armenia
The bus route between Salento and Armenia is a small local bus which seats 20 people, no aircon but you are up in the mountains so you should be fine. All the side windows can open to keep the bus well-ventilated. The journey from Salento to Armenia took 50 minutes, we boarded the 8:30 am bus which arrived at 9:20 am. The bus cost from Salento to Armenia is COP 8,000 (£1.55/$2.20). Buses leave every 20 minutes.
Bus from Armenia to Cali
The bus from Salento to Armenia terminates at the bus terminal in Armenia, which will be the same place you get the bus from Armenia to Cali, Bogota or Neiva (for Tatacoa desert). Our plan was Cali, there are multiple companies operating the route, so head up the stairs to the main ticket area and head to one of the counters selling tickets to Cali. We booked ours with TransArmenia, which is located on the end wall. We opted for them simply because the woman called out to us and the bus was leaving 5 minutes later. The shuttle bus from Armenia to Cali cost COP 40,000 (£7.80/$10.00) per person. We were informed back in Salento that there are a number of companies running the route and so they leave every 15/20 minutes.
Upon stowing our bags in the back of the bus we found that the only seats left of the bus were dead in the middle on the back seat, great! It’s going to be a bumpy ride!
When the driver set off with the front 2 windows open and a perfect blow coming out of the aircon vents like it was powered by an asthmatic hamster blowing on you, we actually contemplated jumping off the bus. However, once we were moving the front windows were shut, and although the hamsters didn’t get any more power to their breaths by 30/40 minutes into the journey the temperature in the back was coming down to bearable. After the initial alarm of lack of aircon and no windows was over the journey wasn’t too bad, Becca managed in the back seats with her trusty anti-motion sickness bands and we made it to Cali. The total journey time was 4 hours including a short break at Tulua.
Unfortunately, there is no metro in Cali, but Uber does operate here. Uber is widely available and safe around Cali, however technically illegal. When booking your Uber you will find you need to book your car to the car drop off and pick up area, rather than from the taxi rank, and don’t be surprised if they ask one of your party to sit in the front. From the bus terminal to where we were staying in San Antonio (where most Gringos stay for their first time in Cali) the charge was COP 8,800 (£1.70/$2.20) for a 10-minute ride so it's a really affordable way to get around!
Summary of how to get from Salento to Cali by bus
The route is a well-trodden one so you shouldn't have any problems. We had a bit of bad luck with our shuttle from Armenia to Cali, speaking to other travellers on the Gringo trail it's a one-off, so don't be put off.
We’d love to hear from you if you use this guide on how you get on. Please also add to the comments if any details like prices change so we can update for future travellers.
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