Pasto, Colombia 🇨🇴 Gringo's Guide
Boutique "hidden gem" city in the middle of nowhere!
I'm going to make no bones about it:
Pasto, Colombia is one of my favorite places in the world.
I don't live there right now, and have never lived there long-term, but I may consider permanently basing there at some point in the future, because this place has a lot going for it.
I also want to give a special shoutout to my friends at Streetmotion, Pasto's best motorbike shop, for helping me to write this article.
If you're a motorbike nut like I am and find yourself in Pasto, stop by — you will love it there!
Pasto, Colombia 🇨🇴
Just under 400,000 souls live within Pasto's city limits, with maybe another 80,000 or so people living within striking distance of the city.
Pasto's climate is very similar to that of many other Latin American cities in tierra fría, such as Quito, Tunja and, of course, Bogotá. It's average elevation is less than 100 meters of that of Bogotá, so this is no surprise.
Some people feel that the climate in Pasto is the same as that of Bogotá/Quito etc., others feel that it's colder, others a bit warmer.
The truth is that the temperatures here are very similar to those other places.
However, Pasto gets slightly less rain on average. On the other hand, it tends to be a bit windier in Pasto, and the humidity is a tad higher, which definitely makes it feel cooler.
For those of you who really like the heat, Pasto's climate may be a deal-breaker, especially for long-term stays. Others find this climate to be ideal.
As always, be extremely careful about that sun in the middle of the day. The high elevation pushes you that much closer to those solar rays and the cooler temperatures make you underestimate just how strong they are.
Why Visit Pasto?
It's a bit of a "time warp" experience because it's such a traditional place
Incredible human warmth and solidarity
Absolutely no "gringo pricing" here
Fantastic blend of cultures
If you like the bohemian type of women, you have found your paradise here!
The best carnival ever
Getting to Pasto, Colombia 🇨🇴
As I hinted at before, Pasto is more than a bit out of the way, unfortunately. In fact, this is the only major downside to Pasto, getting there or getting out when you need to.
This is a place to fly to, if at all possible, for many reasons.
If you're already in Cartagena, Bogotá, Medellín or Cali, you're in luck, because you can get a direct flight there.
The bad news is that flights to Pasto's airport, even from these four destinations, are strangely expensive.
You can expect to pay the same amount of money to fly to Pasto from these places as you could to fly all the way to Miami, which is 3-4x the distance, and has you crossing an international border. Unless you are really strapped for cash, however, I would recommend it.
The airport is actually located just west of the town of Chachagüí, which is quite a ways from Pasto itself. You will have to either take a bus for $10,000 COP or just over $2 USD. More likely, hop into a taxi for $40,000 COP or just over $8 USD.
If you do decide to go by land, it's not undoable, but there are two big downsides to the trip…
Firstly, it's going to take at least 20 hours to get there from Bogotá or Medellín, or at least 12 hours from Cali. You may want to break up the trip from those first two cities and stay a bit in Cali.
The roads range from excellent to pretty decent. However, the area from Popayán to the border of Nariño (the "department" where Pasto is located) takes you through Lower Cauca, which is, in most people's opinion, the absolute worst shithole in the whole country!
If you are going by private transportation, plan to do this stretch during daylight hours, and do not deviate from the Panamerican Highway.