Bus trip from Bogota to Medellin

Bolivariano Bus from Bogota to Medellin, Colombia

The bus ride from Bogota to Medellin wasn’t at all what I expected. I guess I got used to the big beds, first class service and flat, open roads that came with an Argentine bus trip. It wasn’t 5 minutes into the trip that I knew this one would be a lot different.

I took the half hour taxi ride out to the bus station on Saturday afternoon, two days before I wanted to leave for Medellin, to ensure I could get a seat on one of Monday’s departure. Because of the holidays the bus station was packed and they were soldout until then.

Good thing I did because there were incredibly long lines at practically every bus company window when I arrived. Thankfully, all except the one I’d been advised to take! Bolivariano seemed to be on the higher end of the bus companies and maybe it was for that reason why nobody was waiting. I walked right up and asked for the first bus leaving for Medellin on Monday, January 3rd. $55,000 pesos (about $30 US) later I was all set.

On Monday I arrived early, easily found my departure (so much easier than in Argentina), checked my bags below and loaded onto the bus to make sure I could watch them close the luggage compartment without removing anything before we departed.

As I watched them load up the final bags from my comfy, oversized airplane style seat I felt a strong force pushing against my knees and upper thighs. Oh shit, this bus wasn’t built for big people. The guy in front of me settled in and already reclined his seat to full “semi-cama” (semi-bed) mode. I was stuck.

I tried positioning my feet out towards the isle tripping women and children as they boarded. No worries I thought, Just 12 hours of this and I’m home free. Commence sweating.

The constant rain slowed our bus to a near standstill for hours as traffic on the winding mountain roads inched on. Meanwhile, a Spanish-dubbed Ashton Kutcher and Camron Diaz blasted above me on the drop-down screen as they fought for their marriage. I’m not sure which did a better job of keeping sleep at bay but they both did a good job.

After the second movie, both the noise and traffic seemed to fade which allowed me to grab a few Z’s.

I was woken up as the window-seat guy tried straddling me to get out of the row and off the bus. I quickly let him know that wasn’t happing by grabbing my stuff and getting up in front of him.

I got off the bus with no idea where we were and why we were stopping. Everyone else seemed to make a b-line right for the cafeteria style pavilion setup. I missed the announcement so I had no idea how long we were staying so I skipped the service line and went to a side stand for a quick hot dog and empanada. Dumb idea. I sat on a bench guarding the bus to make sure it didn’t depart without me as everybody else dined on soup, fried chicken, rice, beans, the works!

Feeling cheated and hungry for something substantial I got back on the bus and sucked up the last 5 hours curled up in my seat with a stomach full of hot dog.

At about 4:30am we arrived at the beautiful bus station in Medellin (It really is nice). The place was a ghost town but finding a taxi was easy as was arriving at the Casa Kiwi Hostel in El Poblado.

I checked into my private room with the excitement of entering into a 5-star resort. I slept until mid-afternoon the next day and woke up and had a hot dog.

Here’s how they do things in Argentina… FIRST CLASS: Buenos Aires to Salta, Argentina

My name is Gareth Leonard, a Marketing Director turned World Traveler with a passion for slow, meaningful travel. I have been traveling the world full-time for the past 9+ years and document it all on Instagram and YouTube. Come join me!


  1. i am honestly waiting for the terrible trip to occur,,,but it never did ,, i am afraid i have to agree with Kevin on this,, you are a SNOB,,, and a BITCH,,,

  2. Damn.. harsh crowd.. the guy is probably really tall.. not a lot of tall people in Colombia so the buses probably aren’t made for him.. relax folks.. different strokes!

  3. The mid-trip food stop can be very confusing if you’re not expecting it! That’s why I always recommend people bring a snack with them in case they sleep through the food stop or decide to guard the bus like you did :).

    We’re a bunch of travelers that just launched a website to make comparing and purchasing bus tickets easier to do. That way you can skip those lines and have your ticket before you get to the bus terminal. As someone who has traveled with Bolivariano and others in Colombia, I’d love your feedback! You can check us out at http://www.pantrek.com. Cheers!

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