Top Reasons to Take the Bus From Medellín to Pereira

Over at this forum’s thread about taking the bus From Bogotá to Bucaramanga, a female solo traveler who doesn’t speak Spanish was being advised by posters to fly from B to B instead of riding the bus.

I took my first-ever bus ride between cities in Colombia this weekend and was generally pleased with my decision to take the bus.

Based on that one-way trip from MDE to Pereira, here are my Top-Ten Reasons For Riding an Inter-City Bus in Colombia....

10.  Saving money.  Although the scheduled travel times terminal-to-terminal were similar -- about five hours on bus or plane -- I paid only about $14 US for the bus.  The best rate I could find for air travel between Medellín and Pereira for my travel date a few days earlier was about 10 times as much, plus tax.

9.  No need to change planes in Bogotá.  No long treks to a connecting flight.... FYI, I did not find any non-stop flights between the two cities at Cheapo Air.

8.  No scary air turbulence thousands of feet above terra firma if you take the bus.

7.  i believe Expats with little Spanish can ride the bus successfully.  See my ensuing post below with some language tips.

6.  There was Internet available on the bus for parts of the trip (not sure why it dropped out in the mountains). When I flew into Colombia on Avianca in late June, there was no Internet on the flights.

5.  No need to arrive at the bus terminal 1-1/2 hours early.  Buses to Pereira were running every hour, so I just showed up at my convenience, waited 12 minutes or so on a line, bought a ticket and went right to the gate where the bus was leaving in a few minutes.

4.  No security hassles, such as remove-belt-take-out-all-metallic-items -- nor any frisking or 'wanding.'  My bags went through a security detector, but that was nothin’.

3.  Enjoy a 30-minute travel break at a Colombian fast-food rest stop.  Cost of a large slice of pizza with mushrooms, a small salad and orange juice:  $3 US.

2.  I was pleased with the Flota Emperador bus’s security for the two bags I had in the hold compartment under the vehicle.  The bags were officially checked at Medellín with tickets issued for each.  Hardly any other passengers on this bus had checked any bags.

And the #1 reason to take the inter-city bus....

1.  Enjoy the Colombian countryside of verdant hills, lively rivers, cute pueblos and animals of many types and sizes.

cccmedia from metro Pereira

cccmedia :

i believe Expats with little Spanish can ride the bus successfully.  See my ensuing post below with some language tips.

Useful Phrases For Bus Travel in South America....

When is the next bus to Pereira?
¿Cuándo es el próximo bus hacia Pereira?

What is the round-trip fare?
¿Cuánto para un boleto, ida y vuelta?

Does the bus have Internet and A/C?
¿Tiene ello Internet y aire acondicionado?

Will there be a meal-break stop on the way?... How long is the break?
¿Será un descanso para comidas, en camino?... ¿Cuánto tiempo el descanso?

How many minutes till we get to Pereira?
¿Se faltan cuántos minutos antes de llegar a Pereira?

  -- cccmedia in metro Pereira

Bus travel is not without its own set of problems.

On my trip....

1.  The route was one-lane roads most of the way.  Vehicles headed in one direction had to stop sometimes while those headed the opposite way could proceed, then vice versa.  This added half an hour to the expected arrival time.

2.  My route had a lot of windy roads in mountainous areas.  This gave me temporary ‘travel sickness’ (nothing severe, mainly a headache and a little wooziness) until I stopped doing online stuff and making handwritten notes.

3.  Our meal stop came about four hours in.  That was a long, long time to sit in one seat.

4.  About halfway through the trip, a movie came on with loud audio, in español, of course -- dubbed from the original English.  It was a cops vs. bad-guys action romp with the customary bus-movie gun violence, set in Atlanta and Miami, with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.  After the movie, music was played continuously.  The first part of the trip, during daylight, there had been no forced entertainment and folks could enjoy the scenery in relative peace.

cccmedia from metro Pereira

I drifted south from Pereira and decided to do air travel to get back to Medellín.  I really wasn’t interested in sitting in a long-distance bus again for many hours.

Top Ten Things I Found When I Took the Plane

10.  The airfare was $170, one way, Armenia, Colombia, to Medellín, including taxes.  I paid no excess baggage fees.

9.  Avianca’s phone and Internet ticket-sales systems were below average (meaning I would have to use a word not approved for use on to describe how awful they are) and I ended up buying the ticket from a travel agent in Armenia.

8.  Security at Armenia’s airport, El Edén, was unbelievable.  A policeman took out virtually every item from my two carry-ons and two check-in bags.  Later, the carry-ons were inspected even more carefully at the security main checkpoint, where two common kitchen-knives were found and confiscated, before I eventually got on the flight.

7.  As is common, there was a connecting flight at Bogotá.  The BOG airport is huge, but seems efficient.

6.  There were no restaurants available at Bogotá’s connecting-flights areas, or at least I couldn’t find them after asking around.  I ended up getting a meal’s worth of snacks from a vending machine -- cheese, sliced pork circles, potato chips and liquid strawberry yogurt.  I ate the meal on the BOG-MDE plane.

5.  I got assigned to an emergency-exit-row seat where I was not permitted to stow my computer bag under the seat.  The flight attendant assisted me in moving to a different row when I told her I didn’t want to chance putting my laptop in the overhead area.

4.  Upon arrival at MDE, it was easy to get a taxi into Poblado.  65,000 pesos or about $22 US.

3.  There was free Internet available at AXM (Armenia airport) and BOG, but no Internet on the planes.

2.  There was USA-originated entertainment available on the BOG-MDE leg, including an episode of “Friends” viewable on a small screen on the back of the seat in front of passenger(s).

And the #1 thing I noticed while traveling by air instead of the bus...

1.  It was a pleasure to be able to move around from time to time and not be stuck in the same seat on a bus for almost six hours straight.  I was glad I made the decision to fly back to MDE. :)

cccmedia, from Medellín

i am taking  that bus sometime in august... looking forward to discover the countryside

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