life on pine ✧

cali, colombia

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cali isn't known as a big colombian tourist destination

it can be very hot and parts can be dangerous. as a whole though with some research, recommendations from a friend/local, and a great airbnb, we found it to be one of our favorite and most authentic cities that we visited. we were staying in the colonial neighborhood san antonio, which is generally safe and a beautiful place to spend time. in the middle of this part of a town is a huge park that becomes lively with great vibes as the locals and tourists alike gather to have a picnic, play live music and enjoy the cool night air [the temp always dropped at least 25 degrees every night]. 

some of the places we loved:

  • watching & dancing salsa in what is known now to be salsa's global must be experienced. best seen at night, we loved la pergola which is on a rooftop and has great drinks. we also wanted to dance at zaperoco or tintindeo which look more casual but fun too.
  • pao for breakfast or lunch;  part bakery, part pizza spot, salads, great iced coffee and cookies, pretty much everything they did was good and it is a great place hang from the heat. we went many times!
  • park at colina de san antonio come here around sunset to see 18th century church and crowd that gathers to hang for the night
  • cafe macondo for dessert, coffee, cocktails and often live music
  • empanadas obelisco random location and not the greatest setting, but these empanadas were on a different level and highly worth seeking out 
  • la colina – A MUST! maybe our favorite local bar of the entire trip. grocery store turned cultural icon, where the locals hang out, over some hot some empanadas and ice cold beers.
  • gallery alameda the city's 'farmer's market' which is a fun place to wander and grab snacks or fresh fruit and produce. 
  • museo la tertulia a cool museum featuring collections of modern art, an auditorium, an outdoor theater & a nice outdoor garden area

where to stay in colombia's coffee region: hacienda bambusa

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right in the middle of cali, medellin and bogota is colombia's famous coffee region, valle de cocora, home to lush scenery with trees and mountains and grass like we've never seen before. after our 4 days in cali we took a bus to armenia, a small transit town that is only 1 hour from our hacienda.

for the next 3 nights we cozied up, hidden amongst the lush scenery of colombia’s coffee region at hacienda bambusa, a working plantation that offers guests an ideal place to explore, taste coffee & chocolate, ride horses, or simply relax poolside. the area is rich in breathtaking scenery, flora & fauna with so much size and diversity, the jungletruly feels alive. it's also run by hard working, loving, and friendly people. the central courtyard is surrounded by 8 rooms, each with a private balcony where guests can relax with a book or take a siesta in the woven hammocks while listening to the birds sing [there are hummingbirds EVERYWHERE]. 

my favorite parts? the AMAZING food [which is included in the price], the intimate family feeling, the ever-changing dining experience [each meal is set up in a different part of the hotel], the cozy rooms, peaceful vibes, and incredibly kind staff. 




bambusa's activity list is extensive and includes things like:

  • coffee tasting 
  • cacao workshop 
  • cooking class with bambusa chef
  • zip lining
  • horse back ride (with an epic river crossing)
  • hot air balloning

we chose to go horseback riding and coffee tasting and loved every bit of the experience – the staff at bambusa makes sure that you're well stocked with snacks, water and safety for the day, yet you also feel completely rugged. my favorite part was definitely crossing the river on the horses! more photos below



driving from ecuador to colombia | las lajas sanctuary

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and it's pretty crazy to see in real life. las lajas was built between 1916 and 1949, but it has a much longer history. they say it was inspired by a miracle said to have taken place in this canyon hundreds of years earlier, in 1754 [you can read more about that here]. we found out about this place by chance [i think browsing adam combs instagram], and had planned to take the bus from quito to cali, with a quick stop here after we crossed the border. 


  • while this church is stunning and equally as cool in person as it looks in pictures, it is really the only main attraction to see in this area – something to be aware of (las lajas is 20 minutes from the border town of ipiales which isn't worth seeing. we slept at a small little hotel in pasto)  
  • the bus ride is long – so if you're in a hurry to cross the border, i wouldn't recommend this path as you'll likely have to sleep in a little town along the way 
  • the taxi prices are negotiable, and drivers will likely start with a price that is much higher than you really should end up paying

adventures in baños, ecuador

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baños is known as the backpackers destination in ecuador

and for good reason – this adventure town is filled with waterfalls, hot springs, hikes, SWINGS!, and many other adventures. after our peaceful weekend in cotopaxi national park we weren't sure if this backpacker town would be right for us, but knew that we had to see "the swing" and chill out for a few days. and was it worth it? 100% yes. that swing is good clean fun and we were all belly laughing and asking for another turn after turn. it might have been our timing, but it also wasn't packed with other tourists – we were the only people there for a good while and we got as many rides as we could in. 

want to see the swing?

read more about casa del arbol here, and don't listen to any of the bad reviews – its a grand ol' time. 

planning a trip to baños? some other spots worth seeing:

  1. PAILON DEL DIABLO WATERFALL | also known as devil's cauldron, this waterfall on the rio pastaza is a tributary of the upper amazon river basin. it's a relatively easy hike down to the waterfall and back, but you should allow a few hours to soak in both the waterfall itself, as well as the immense hydrologic power churning through the gorge. after descending into the gorge from town, the trail winds toward the entrance, where for a small fee, they allow access to an otherworldly set of stairs carved into the cliffs adjacent to this huge waterfall.

  2. CHECK OUT THE HOT SPRINGS | [if you're not weirded out by the freaky color] – we didn't get a chance to do this, but due to the town's name literally translating to bath, these healing waters are definitely something they're known for. 
  3. CAFE HOOD | this restaurant + hostel combo is a must if you're planning to eat out in town. their food is healthy, delicious and unique, we found ourselves coming back multiple times for lunch & dinner 
  4. LUNA RUNTUN OR HOTEL SAMARI | these two spots were a mini splurge for us {relatively}, but with their big pools, hot tubs, and comfy rooms – we were happy to pay a little extra to enjoy our only 2 nights spent in this little funky town. even if you don't stay at luna runtun, stop by their bar and restaurant for the a magical view over the town.

Y O U  M I G H T  A L S O  L I K E:

exploring cotopaxi national park, ecuador

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only an hour and a half drive from quito [ecuador's capital] lies one of the most unique and pure national parks we have visited. with the cotopaxi volcano being their centerpiece, the park's flora and fauna is mystically intriguing due to the very rich soil. we were able to see a lot of their diverse plants and pine vegetation, but sadly not enough of the native animals that live in the park other than the beautiful wild horses. also commonly found are wolves, pumas, bears, rabbits, condors, and foxes, or the extremely rare high altitude hummingbird that lives in the slopes of the volcano between 13,000 - 15,000 ft.

we checked into the hacienda el porvenir, a cozy spot tucked away just outside of the park. we spent our days here cozied up by the fire, drinking wine, wearing panchos, riding horses through the valley, exploring the park in our car and on foot, playing cards and enjoying the crisp mountain air. next time i would love to mountain bike down the dirt road from the base of the volcano which is offered by most local outfitters.



on our final day in the park we woke up early and drove 3 hours to the stunning quilotoa lake. this is actually part of a bigger trail, the quilotoa loop, however we didn't have enough time to make the full trek. considering making the drive to the lake? we would 100% recommend it! not only is the lake itself actually breathtaking, but the countryside drive is stunning. do be aware that if the clouds come in, they will completely swallow the lake. we watched this happen before our eyes and had we arrived 20 minutes later, we would have missed it all. 

ecuador is a country that completely took us by surprise and somewhere i look forward to visiting again soon. so many volcanoes, beautiful beaches, alpine lakes, and the warmest of people.