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Which city first, Bogota or Medellin

Which city first, Bogota or Medellin

Old Aug 2, 18, 3:38 pm
  #1  
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Which city first, Bogota or Medellin

In March 2019, I'll be leading a student trip to Colombia and Panama, and would like to visit both Bogota and Medellin before continuing on to Panama. The question is: which to visit first, before continuing to Panama.

The main benefits, I see, to visiting Medellin first is that it's lower altitude and better for "easing" into the trip from the states than starting at 9000'+. In addition, if we visit Bogota second, the group will have more things to do with a free day at that point in the trip.
The main benefit to visiting Bogota first would be that there are more, easier, possibly marginally cheaper connections from the US. (Most, if not all, of us will be coming from SEA). Tickets between MDE/BOG and PTY appear to be comparable in price and pretty frequent, perhaps more so BOG-PTY. (The students are on their own to get to Colombia by the start of the trip; we're not doing a group flight)

It's really hard for me to judge the importance of the altitude situation, as I'm one of the lucky ones who doesn't have problems, but I have friends who get nauseated, have headaches, etc. I'm guessing it's not as bad as flying into La Paz (which I've done), but I want as many people as possible to have as pleasant a time as possible

So what would you do? SEA-MDE-BOG-PTY or SEA-BOG-MDE-PTY?
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Old Aug 4, 18, 8:35 am
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I don't have any experience with altitude sickness, but I think it's unlikely that a few days in Medellin before going to Bogota would make much of a difference. All things considered, I would do Bogota first so that they can adjust to the temperatures. Bogota will be only slightly warmer than Seattle in March, Medellin will be Spring-like weather and then Panama will be brutally hot.

I will make a couple of suggestions in case you had not thought about them:

First, you will want to remind the students that Bogota can be chilly at night. It gets down to the low 40's in March. Many people think that because they will be near the equator they won't need jackets or sweaters and pay the price. Heck, I've even made that mistake and shivered for two hours during a late-night layover in BOG.

Second, inexperienced travelers often shy away from South American airlines because they are unfamilar. You may want to tell your students not to be afraid to book their flights on either Copa or Avianca, as that will give them many more options than if they try to stick with USA-flagged carriers. Connecting on COPA in Panama is very easy.
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Old Aug 5, 18, 10:00 am
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Thanks, this is suuuuper helpful. The students are pretty travel-savvy and price sensitive, so unless there’s some negative safety reputation with either Copa or Avianca, they’ll fly whatever is cheapest/allows for use of miles and doesn’t involve terrible layovers.
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Old Aug 7, 18, 6:51 am
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Originally Posted by icedancer View Post
In March 2019, I'll be leading a student trip to Colombia and Panama, and would like to visit both Bogota and Medellin before continuing on to Panama. The question is: which to visit first, before continuing to Panama.

The main benefits, I see, to visiting Medellin first is that it's lower altitude and better for "easing" into the trip from the states than starting at 9000'+. In addition, if we visit Bogota second, the group will have more things to do with a free day at that point in the trip.
The main benefit to visiting Bogota first would be that there are more, easier, possibly marginally cheaper connections from the US. (Most, if not all, of us will be coming from SEA). Tickets between MDE/BOG and PTY appear to be comparable in price and pretty frequent, perhaps more so BOG-PTY. (The students are on their own to get to Colombia by the start of the trip; we're not doing a group flight)

It's really hard for me to judge the importance of the altitude situation, as I'm one of the lucky ones who doesn't have problems, but I have friends who get nauseated, have headaches, etc. I'm guessing it's not as bad as flying into La Paz (which I've done), but I want as many people as possible to have as pleasant a time as possible

So what would you do? SEA-MDE-BOG-PTY or SEA-BOG-MDE-PTY?
Really the altitude in Bogota is nothing to worry about. It is much lower than La Paz for example. I would not make altitude a factor in my decision!

Personally, I recommend spending 2 days max in Bogota.

Medellin is beautiful and fascinating so I would focus more of my time there. Enjoy the fabulous square with the Botero sculptures, ride the cable car to Alvi park, wander around the beautiful parks in the city.
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Old Aug 7, 18, 6:56 am
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I never found Bogota that interesting. I only stayed for a day after flying in later at night. MDE was certainly more enjoyable. If there had been direct flights then, I would have skipped BOG totally.

I stayed in an IHG property in BOG that I later saw featured in one of the Pablo Escobar movies.

Last edited by Jaimito Cartero; Aug 8, 18 at 11:53 pm
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Old Aug 8, 18, 11:03 pm
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I agree that Medellin is more attractive and interesting than Bogota. If I went back to Colombia again, I'd go to Medellin and not bother with Bogota.
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Old Aug 9, 18, 5:16 am
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Well, different strokes for different folks.

I live near Medellin and love it. However, unless you are looking for nightlife and/or want to leave the city to tour the Pueblos, there is not much to do. When I have visitors from the US, we never spend more than a day in the city. Bogota has a lot to offer, and I very much enjoy going there with my family for short trips.
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Old Aug 10, 18, 2:08 pm
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I would also spend more days in Medellin than in Bogota. In my opinion, there are more things to do and see in Medellin. But I would not say Bogota is boring; it definitely has its own charm and very interesting attractions. Maybe you can follow #2 advices: go to Bogota first to adjust to the temperatures, spend a few days there and then, travel to Medellin.
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