Ipiales, Colombia - Polarsteps
Nov. 9, 2022 - Ipiales, Colombia—elevation: 2950 meters, 9678 feet. Yes, that's right, more than 9600 feet in elevation. In fact, Ipiales is one of the highest-altitude cities in the world. There are higher towns and communities, but for cities, it ranks among the highest. According to a list in Wikipedia, Ipiales is the 13th highest city in the world. Get this, in the top 20 highest cities according to that list, only 4 of them are not in South America. Bolivia has 5 of the highest, Peru has 6, Ecuador has 3, and Colombia has 2. The other four are in China and Ethiopia.
Anyway, back to Ipiales. Yeah, it's high, and it's friggin' cold! Yes, we're at 0° 49' which is very close to the equator, but because of the altitude, it's really cold here. Ipiales is located on the high plateau called "Tuquerres e Ipiales." The average high all year round is 15.7°C or 60°F, and the average low temp is 5.9°C or 42.6°F. That might not sound so cold to many people in the northern half of the world, but I've been living in the hot parts of Colombia for the past 9 1/2 years and before that, I was in southern Arizona (Tucson) for 7 years. So, I'm not used to these cold temps. And, being that I'm traveling with a backpack only, I don't have room for a fat coat. So I have a lightweight jacket. Today I wore a t-shirt, button-up shirt, and my jacket and was still cold. In the late afternoon, it started to rain so I hurried back to my hotel and ordered dinner from their restaurant—chicken fillet, fries, salad, and lemonade, all for the equivalent of US$3.06.
After exploring more of the town, I went out to the famous Las Lajas church, it's an incredible place. Just after it gets dark they turn on colored outside lights. The place really is incredible and a must-see if you visit Colombia. To get there I took a taxi, it was 12000 pesos. At first, I asked a taxi driver what the cost was and he told me 15000, and I looked at his passenger and asked her, and she just smiled and nodded her head in agreement. Then I went and asked another taxi driver, and he said 15000 pesos. I said 10000 or 12000 is what I expected to pay, and he agreed to 12000 (around two and a half US dollars at this time). Then after my visit to the church, I found a taxi and asked him how much for the ride back to town, and he said 20000 pesos. I said "Seriously? I got a ride here for 12000." Then the driver said 17000, and I said 15000. He didn't like that and repeated 17000. I said, "I'll find another taxi" and I started to walk away. He then said, "Wait, wait, okay, 15000." So it goes, sometimes you need to haggle a little, and it helps to try to get an idea of a typical cost before you start.
My South America Journey