Ahhh, one of my absolute favorite parts of Colombia, the Zona Cafetera! Traveling south from Medellin to Armenia is to discover the beautiful region known as the Coffee Country. The climate is succulent, and the landscape consists of lush green valleys and handsome towns of the Paisa, the culture of Colombia known for its passion for quality and living well.
Many of the things to see and do involve going off on little tributaries to the east and west of the main highway, so try to get off the bus frequently and go off the main highway, then return.
It's a hard choice to make between two of the best botanical gardens anywhere, and both are on this route! The first one is right outside Cartagena on this route in the town of Turbaco, called Jardin Botanico de Guillermo Piñeres, where you'll see among other things two varieties of coca (the plant from which cocaine is processed). The other garden is in Mompox itself, doesn't have a name, but is just as good if not better.
IBARRA - SAN LORENZO
The border trim across the top of Ecuador from Ibarra to San Lorenzo is lesser traveled, and it's a shame because this is such a sweet, peaceful, and gorgeously climactic ride. The first time I took it, I resolved it would be the place I would want to retire some day because it made me feel so good inside.
The most important aspect is that you will be traveling through the heart of the Valle Chota, Ecuador's proudly distinctive Afro-Ecuadorian region, containing many small villages
The north coast of Ecuador is not as sunny as the southern stretch, but it is definitely more lush and spellbinding. It's important that you take buses that go up the coastal road rather than the more direct routes to Esmeraldas that go inland via Santo Domingo.
You may not get far out of Manta before you're ready to stop and retire in San Clemente, the most cozy little beach town, so friendly and warm in every way, halfway to Bahia de Caraquez. Bahia itself sits on a grand bay, studded with luxury high rises.
Arguably one of the most popular routes in Ecuador, you will often hear this route referred to as the Ruta del Sol or Ruta del Spondylus, as it's packed full of sun and sand.
Your start to great surfing or bathing begins by heading from Guayaquil to Playas. On the way there, make sure to stop and visit the UFO drome, a former military base that they converted to an extraterrestrial museum - no kidding! Also, for more excluded and perhaps camping beaches, from Playas just go down the road to Puerto del Morro