City of the South Colombian West, with a population superior to the 400,000 inhabitants and capital of the department of Nariño. Pasto is one of the oldest cities of Colombia, located in the Atriz Valley, in the middle of the Mountain range of the Andes in the denominated mountainous bulk of the Pasto on the foot of Galeras volcano. The region is mountainous and surrounded by several indigenous towns.
Pasto is a city where different cultures are mixed. The dominant one, without a doubt, is the Andean culture. Unequivocal evidence of this is the Black and White Carnival, in which 'pastusos' (People from Pasto; local denomination) celebrate with colors and joy the incredible richness of their culture. The city is located in the Atriz Valley, at the foot of the Galeras Volcano, which can be observed from any angle of the city.
Pasto is a very religious city, with beautiful temples that certainly represent the architectural wealth of the city. Some of them are very ancient and have been mixed with the modern and colonial styles simultaneously.
Crafts are an important tradition in Pasto, from which the so-called Pasto varnish is the most well-known. Leather, ceramics, and wooden products also constitute the historical and cultural legacy of the city.
The Black and Whitre Carnival consists of various popular festivities that are held every year between the 2nd and the 7th of January by the extremely friendly and welcoming people from San Juan de Pasto (Pasto). During these days the streets of Pasto become an urban playground where men, women, children of all ethnicities and background use black, white and colour cosmetics to paint each other as a symbol of communion and joy in their ethnic and cultural differences. Besides the "painting each other" game, people enthusiatically join street parades which are the main highlight of the Carnival. Parades take place on January 4th (Castaneda family arrival), 5th (Black's day) and 6th (White's day) featuring floats artcrafted by local artisans and traditional dances and bands from other villages and in some cases countries like Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia.
Today the Black and White Carnival in Pasto attracts a considerable number of tourists from several parts of the world and became a "must see highlight" featured in the calendar of Colombian and World festivities. Joining the kind people from Pasto in their houses and streets to participate in parade floats and traditional dances is a togetherness experience that was treasured in the memories of lucky few and now is open to the world!
Unlike some areas in Colombia, Pasto has a 'cold' climate, with day-time temperatures oscillating between 13°C and 20°C most of the year. Occasionaly, temperatures can drop to 10°C and rise to 25°C. It is a good a idea to carry a sweater with you.
The Antonio Nariño Airport receives Flights from Bogota and Cali. The airport is 30 min away from the city, and enjoys frequent transportation by bus or taxi. It is open during daylight (6 AM to 6 PM).
Pasto is connected with paved roads, such as the Panamerican highway to the rest of the country. You could rent a car an enjoy the beautiful scenery in the area surrounding the city. Airport Car Rental.
Direct buses run from from Bogota, Cali, Popayan, and Ipiales (close to the Ecuadorian border). Connections are easy to make in any of these cities for any further destinations. The bus from Medellín to Pasto takes 18-20 hours 80.000 - 109.000 COP.
Get your tickets online or directly at the counters in the terminal Terminal de Transportes de Pasto
Some companies websites:
A short taxi run in the city costs around 3500 COP. If going from one end of the city to the other it can cost up to 3800 COP. Those prices are fixed! You can request a taxi by calling 7320000 or 7323743.
The price is 1100 COP. You can find seven different kind of buses; some of them are known as strategic (E1-E7) and the other ones are complementary (C1-C16).
La Cocha Lake Located 20 km from Pasto and 2,800 meters above sea level, La Cocha Lake offers a wonderful landscape of mountains, colours and water. It is 20km long and 5km wide. The name "La Cocha" originates from Quechua language, meaning lagoon. It is also known as Guamués Lake. The lake encounters several obstacles such as the Encano River. In 2000 and by means of Decree 698 of the 18 of April, the lake was registered as a landmark of international importance within the Ramsar agreement, being the first with this qualification in the Andean zone. The tourists can visit by boat one of its islands, from which "La Corota" is the one that stands out the most, due to its "Santuario de Flora y Fauna" (administrated by the University of Nariño). To get there catch a collectivo bus for 3850 COP from the hospital departamental, or taxi from the same place (Carrara 9 & Avenida Bolívar next to Park Bolívar and the Hospital) for 16000 COP split among 4 passengers taking about 45min. Boat ride to and around island for 25000 COP split among passengers. Trail on island with 1000 COP park entrance. Can do this trip in less than half a day. Can eat trout from the lake at one of the many restaurants.
Galeras Located at 9 km from Pasto between the limits of the central mountain range and the Patía River, the volcano reaches 4,276 meters over the sea level. You can hike along the volcano or you can also go by car on a route speeds up your way to the summit considerably. The volcano is active at the moment, so a guide will always be required. The ash that comes out of the volcano creates an incomparable landscape, but it can be dangerous at close distances.
Laguna Verde Located at 72 km form Pasto in the city of Tuquerres, this is a beautiful green lake located in the crater of the volcano Azufral. You can hike from the bus terminal (16 km), get a hourly bus to San Roque (1000 pesos then 10 km walk) or a taxi to the park entrance (20 000 pesos or less). Register at the park entrance and then the walk is 6 km. The entrance is around 3700 m high and the volcano reaches 4,070 meters over the sea . To get to Tuquerres, get a bus from the terminal in Pasto (6000 pesos) or a shared taxi (9000 pesos). This is also easily accessible from Ipiales and makes a great stop between the 2 cities.
Las Lajas Sanctuary The present church was built in Gothic Revival style between 1916 and 1949. The inspiration for the church's creation was a miraculous event in 1754. The current church was built with donations from local churchgoers. It rises 100 m high from the bottom of the canyon and is connected with a 50 m tall bridge to the opposite side of the canyon. The church is located close to the border with Ecuador (86 Km from Pasto and 10 Km from Ipiales).</see>
The ancient churches in this city are very important to the citizens and tourists. The best way to find them is walk around the address, and you will find them; if you try to ask somebody about the location, usually they only know the name of these churches in spanish.
Capilla de la Concepción - Convento de las Madres Conceptas(Chapel of the Conception - Convent of the Mothers Conceptas), Located in Carrera 27 with Calle 12. Mozarabic style inside the church. In this church you can find one of the most important religious statues in all the city, named "la Danzarina".
Capilla de las Visitandinas o del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús(Chapel of the Visitation or the Sacred Heart of Jesus), Located in Carrera 32 with Calle 16B. Gothic style.
Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes(Chapel of our Virgin of Lourdes), Located in Calle 13 with Carrera 27. Colonial architecture
La Catedral(Cathedral), Located in Calle 16 with Carrera 26. Classic style (Doric outside, Corinthian inside).
San Juan Bautista(John the Baptist), Located in Calle 18A with Carrera 25. This is the most ancient building in all the city and is located in one side of the main square of Pasto (Plaza de Nariño), and this nowadays church, at the beginning was Cathedral of the city. Romanic style.
Santuario Eucarístico de Maridiaz(Eucharistic Sanctuary of Maridiaz), Located in Calle 18 with Carrera 32. Regional architecture
Templo de Cristo Rey(Temple Christ the King), Located in Calle 20 with Carrera 24. Gothic-Romanic style. Is one of the most important places in the city.
Templo de Fátima(Fatima Temple), Located in Calle 18A with Carrera 13. Romanic ultramodernist style.
Templo de la Merced(Merced Temple), Located in Carrera 22 with Calle 18. Romanic classic style. In this temple (one of the most famous and visited temples in the city) is located one of the most beautiful Virgin Mary statues, named Virgen de las Mercedes.
Templo de San Agustín(Saint Augustine Temple), Located in Calle 16 with Carrera 24. Romanic style. One of the oldest temples in the city.
Templo de San Andrés(Saint Andrew Temple), Located in Carrera 29 with Calle 16B. Although its architectures do not have an exclusive style, most of the architecture of the temple would be cataloged as Romanic.
Templo de San Felipe Neri(Saint Philip Neri Temple), Located in Calle 11 with Carrera 27. Renaissance style.
Templo de San Sebastián o de la Panadería(Saint Sebastian Temple or Bakery Temple), Located in Calle 21 with Carrera 20. Modern gothic style.
Templo de Santiago(Jacob Temple), Located in Calle 12 with Carrera 22F. Colonial style. Beautiful place with a cemetery in one side, and a park in front of the temple.
Casa Museo Taller Relieves EBC, Calle 21 # 25-40. Telephone 7233275. Free admission but you need to call first to make an appointment.
Museo Alfonso Zambrano, Calle 20 # 29-79. Telephone 7312837. Free admission (Mon.-Sat. 08:00-12:00; 14:00-16:00)
Museo Casa Taminango, Calle 13 # 27-67. Telephone 7235539. 2000 COP or 1000 COP for those under 18 years old (Mon.-Fri. 08:00-12:00; 14:00-16:00 and Sat. 09:00-13:00)
Museo del Carnaval, Calle 19 with carrera 42 (Pandiaco cultural center). Telephone 7314598. Free admission (Mon.-Sun. 08:00-18:00). This museum was inaugurated the last 20th December of 2000. Here you will find a permanent exhibition about the main carnival of the south of the country (Carnaval de Negros y Blancos).
Museo del oro - Banco de la República, Calle 19 # 21-27. Telephone 7219108. Free admission (Tue.-Sat. 10:00-17:00). In three different rooms, this museum have 432 important pieces of ancient cultures from the south of Colombia
Museo Antropológico del Banco Popular, Calle 19 # 23-90.
Museo Fotográfico Luis Bernardo Esparza, Carrera 31C # 19-72. Telephone 7310102. Free admission but you need to call first to make an appointment.
Museo Juan Lorenzo Lucero, Calle 18 # 28-27. Telephone 7314414. 2500 COP (Mon.-Fri. 08:00-11:00 and Sat. 08:00-10:00)
Museo Luciano Rosero, Calle 23 # 17-52. 1000 to 2000 COP (Mon.-Sun. 08:00-18:30)
Museo Madre Caridad Brader, Calle 18 # 32A-01. 500 COP (Mon.-Fri. 08:00-11:30; 15:00-17:00)
Galería Chavez, Carrera 27 # 23-90. Telephone 7231990
Bike path. Every Sunday and Monday holiday from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Avenida de los Estudiantes and other streets are closed to cars and hundreds of people turn out to bicycle, skate, jog and walk. You can join up on foot.edit
Freedom stadium (Estadio la libertad). The Postobon league, is the main Colombian soccer league, which is one of the most important soccer leagues in America. Deportivo Pasto is the name of the team of this city.edit
Eat outside is really cheap. But, some dishes could be quite expensive like Cuy. Anyway, you could try nice empanadas and tamales they are very cheap and different than in other places.
Cuy or Conejillo de Indias(Ginea pig). Animal of the Cavia sort and Porcellus species used in the department of Nariño and specially in its capital, Pasto, as nutritional source. With a high protein content 21%, and a low fat content, this animal is the typical and favorite dish of Pastusos. In Pasto the guinea pig is mainly fed with grass, and sometimes with concentrate. The cooking procedures for the traditional cuy is the roasted guinea pig, and it is obtained in different restaurants in the city or places nearby.
Empanadas: These are made of fermented-corn dough. In all Nariño, especially in the Andean zone, they can be filled with meat, rice and green beans. The texture of the dough gives them their characteristic sharp flavor.
Quimbolitos. This sweet cake is made in the north of Ecuador and in the south west of Colombia. The packing of this cake is in a big leaf of achira (canna) which gives taste and flavor to this dish.
Juanesca. The origin of this dish is Ecuador, although is cooked in many places in Andes mountains only during holy week. This dish is the perfect combination between some grains and fish. Take into account do not eat anything before, because is almost a challenge finish it whole.
Frito. This is a typical dish, really easy to make and delicious, and contain pork meat, steamed potato, peanut chili and popcorn. Peanut chili is a soft sauce, and contain besides of chili and peanuts, onion and egg.
Asadero de Cuyes Pinzon, Crr 40#19B-763, 7313228.
Casa Vasca, St 12A # 29-10 San Ignacio Neighborhood, Tel 7230242.
You could find chicha and Guarapo in many places in south america. But you should try 'Hervidos They are unique!
Chicha : Homemade fermented drink. It is made with the fermentation of maize.
Guarapo: Homemade fermented drink, sometimes it is just juice of raw sugar cane.
Hervidos = fruit juice + aguardiente
Guayusa. Ilex guayusa is an Amazonian tree; in many places called "peñas" you will find a beverage of the leaves of this tree, which is aromatic and have high caffein content. The purpose of this hot beverage is help to keep warm and stay awake all night.edit
It is magic to sleep in a city which is laying in the base of one Volcano. If you are lucky may be you could be able to see some ashes or even more spewing lava. There are many places to stay safe since you are in the city. E.g. an abundance of budget hotels are located near the bus terminal, for instance hotel 'Paola' ask for COP$ 12000 (single).
Hotel Paola, Calle 17 No 8-12, Barrio Venecia, next to the terminal, 7323843. Hostel owned by locals, comfortable and cheap, prices from 9.000 COP per person. Rooms with toilet and TV. (2013) This place has bed bugs, mice or rats in the walls and is extremely noisy all night
Hotel Torre del Bosque, Cra 44 No 18-12, . This is a modern hotel with comfortable rooms from US$17.00.
Chambú Hotel, Crr 20#16-74, 7213129-7213645.
Koala-Inn, Calle 18 No 22-37. Set in a old mansion, offers basic rooms w/cable tv for COP$22,000 per person. Administrator "Luis" is an extremely friendly host and acts as a great source of local information and for other parts of the country. WiFi and Breakfast for 8000, no kitchen access.
Catambuco In this small city you can find the typical food of the region, including "el frito" and "el cuy".
El Encano In this town you can see beautiful landscapes, and there is a big famous lake named "Laguna de la Cocha" or "Lago Guamués" (La Cocha Lake or Guamués Lake). Additionally, you will find the tipical food of the region and many kind of river food.
Mapachico If you like forest, mountain and rivers, this place is perfect to you. It is located close to Pasto (7 Km), in the north of the city and near to Galeras. In small and gorgeous typical houses of this zone you can taste the typical food of the region at low cost.
Las Lajas Sanctuary Is a basilica church built inside the canyon of the Guáitara River. The Shrine of Our Lady of Las Lajas is a temple and basilica to the Catholic Christian worship.